2002: In Pace Requiescat [Part 2]

December 20, 2002

July 2002 – The results of a five-year study conducted at Oxford University found that vitamin pills were "a waste of time." Clarifying the statement by saying that vitamin pills are safe but ineffective in preventing disease. The doctors who wrote the study added, "You’d probably get more health benefits from eating the paper the study is printed on than you would from those silver multi-vitamins that cost you twenty bucks for a hundred." Side effects of eating the study include dry mouth, nausea, bloating, uncontrollable thirst, and increases the risk that you’ll be put in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first person to consume an entire medical study.

August 2002 – A lawsuit was brought against the University of North Carolina for asking students to read a book about Islam. The plaintiffs said their problem was that the book wasn’t critical enough of Islam. A compromise was reached when all references to the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Holocaust were removed from textbooks the students would be required to read.

September 2002 – The Scots got the Stone of Scone back. The Greek government has asked for the return of the Elgin marbles. The Egyptian government has asked for everything Howard Carter put his hands on. And if you haven’t heard, cuneiform tablets are available for sale on the internet. Leaving them all well behind, though, is this: In Pembrokeshire, Wales a group has begun calling for the return of some very important Welsh monuments: the bluestones used to build Stonehenge. Apparently the people who lived in what is now Wiltshire, 5,000 years ago, violated the rights of whoever was living in Pembrokeshire 5,000 years ago in taking the multi-ton stones and dragging them 250 miles…as if they could have done it without some help from the locals. A search is also underway for descendants of the original builders of the pyramids, in order to compensate them for their great great great great great great great great great grandparents’ unsafe working conditions.

October 2002 – In St. Petersburg, Russia, a statue of a giant nose intended to honor 19th-Century Russian writer Nikolai Gogol, was stolen. The statue was inspired by Gogol’s short story "The Nose" in which a civil servant’s nose detaches itself and goes for a walk while the owner pursues it all over the city. Apparently the statue of the nose has followed its inspiration. A city official said, "It could have been stolen by an art collector, or perhaps a person with a strange sexual fetish." He then added, "Of course if the latter is the case it would probably be better not to find it at all." The artist is re-making the sculpture, although this time he’s adding a birthmark, an important feature of the nose in the story which was left off the original sculpture. The artist explained this change, saying, "Hey, with all the publicity I thought I’d better read the story."

November 2002 – In Eistein, Chile, and not New York or Los Angeles or even London where you’d expect this sort of thing, a coffin thrown into the street by a car crash was left where it fell because passersby thought it was a work of art. A nephew of the deceased man actually described the event as "surreal", but apparently didn’t know at the time that people thought the coffin was an artistic "happening". I thought about mentioning the cow- eating hippopatomi in Ethiopia, which were also in the news in November 2002, but this story seemed much sadder and poignant. I’d hate to be on my final ride and have everyone think it was merely a surreal art event. I’d much rather have a parade, something everybody could get into.

December 2002 – In what is perhaps the greatest holiday gift he could ever receive, the listing for Christian Coalition leader Pat Robertson’s book "Six Steps to Spiritual Revival" on Amazon.com had a list of recommended alternative titles that included "The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex For Men". (This listing was changed in a record ten minutes after being reported in the online version of London’s The Register). Although he agreed with Jerry Falwell’s statement that homosexuals were, along with feminists, abortion providers, and liberals, responsible for the attacks of September 11th, 2001, he later backpedalled, claiming he hadn’t understood the Reverend Falwell’s remarks. He can also use that defense if anyone discovers a copy of "The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex For Men" on his bedside table.

Also in December, and also from the "I Just Couldn’t Resist" file, according to a poll, the country with the most Scrooges is…Belgium. On average Belgians spend about 608 Euros on Christmas festivities, compared to an average in the rest of Europe of 901 Euros. Ireland leads Europe, spending an average of 1395 Euros per person, although this is mainly due to the fact that, now knowing what Euros look like, the Irish can’t get rid of the dern things fast enough. A spokesperson for Belgium defended the country’s grinchy ways saying, "What do you expect from a country that’s not known for anything other than brussels sprouts?"

Enjoy this week’s offerings, the holiday, and I’ll see you in 2003.

Julie Andrews is getting old. (Aren’t we all? Well, yes, but then very few of us have the distinction of such a long and varied film career. ) If she were to do "The Sound of Music" NOW (40 years later) the words might be slightly different:

"In A Sound Of Music"
[Author Unknown]

Maalox and nose drops and needles for knittin’.
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittin’.
Bundles of magazines tied up with string, 
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cadillacs and cataracts and hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the pipes leak,
When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
Then I remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets, and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food nor food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heat pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Back pains, confused brains, and no fear of winnin’, 
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin’.
And we won’t mention our short shrunken frames
When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache, when the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I’ve had,
And then I don’t feel so bad.


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