2003-We Hardly Knew Ye. [Part 2]

December 12, 2003

[Freethinkers Anonymous will be observing the holidays by going off-the-air until January 2004, when it will return with something about Uncle Rupert, or how companies that give you clever phone numbers like "Dial 1-800-QUANTUM To Reach Us!" should be fined heavily, or something like that.]

And now the final roundup of the barely notable, the barely noticeable, and the mostly unremembered big moments of the last six months of the year:

July 2003 – In Romania Prime Minister Adrian Nastase assured investors that he was making a Dracula-based theme park a "top priority" for the country, adding that anyone who didn’t like the plan would be impaled. There’s no word yet on when the themepark will be completed, but tourists looking to get themselves sucked dry can always visit EuroDisney.

August 2003 – Promoting a healthy alternative to corn dogs on a stick, pork chops on a stick, and chicken on a stick, the Midwest Dairy Association handed out "salad on a stick" at the Iowa State Fair. The "salad" consisted of a cheese cube and a spinach leaf on a toothpick, resulting in a lot of toothpicks and spinach leaves littering the ground. People who tried the salad-on-a-stick were also given a honey mustard dip for dunking, and also to remove any possible health benefits.

September 2003 – In the should-have-been-barely-noticed category, Magician David Blaine began living in a glass box suspended over London in September, thus demonstrating that in some countries wearing only one set of clothes, having poor bathroom facilities, and not eating anything can actually be called "magic", even though it’s how much of the world’s population has to live. But in the should-have-been noticed category, Apple Computer’s iTunes store put an "explicit" label on Handel’s "Messiah", raising the question, Is nothing sacred? Although a spokesperson for Apple Computer said the label was probably due to a technical error, I like to think they were secretly trying to encourage kids to listen to it.

October 2003 – From the under-the-water file, former firefighter, professional football player, and marathon runner Lloyd Scott spent twelve days walking from one end of Loch Ness to the other, and emerged on October 9th. He did the walk to raise money for the charity Children With Leukemia. Unfortunately several groups known collectively as Guys Without Lives who were hoping for Scott to provide proof of Nessie were disappointed.

November 2003 – From the overly-noticed file, the McDonald’s fast food corporation, known for campaigning to stop frivolous lawsuits while at the same time clogging the courts with unbelievably frivolous lawsuits, instead decided to clog the news with frivolous press releases expressing their anger over the term "McJob". The term was included in the latest edition of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, and the attention garnered by the press releases are sure to supersize sales of the dictionary.

With the month not even half over it’s impossible to say what will be some of the most significant events of December 2003, and with eleven other months of events ranging from the bizarre to the banal and back again it’s hard to see how even the month that brings you Christmas, Haunukkah, Kwanzaa, and Solstice will top the rest of the year. Here’s a few not-to-be missed news items:

-Genetically engineered zebra fish that glow in the dark are guaranteed to be a big holiday stocking-stuffer, despite attempts to ban them as a potentially dangerous genetically modified organism.

-The city of Seattle, Washington decided that cab drivers could legally dress like Elvis. The decision was made on behalf of cab driver Dave Groh who was fined $60 by cab inspectors who chided Groh for failing to adhere to a city dress code for cab drivers. Although most of Mr. Groh’s passengers seemed to enjoy the costume as long as the grease from his peanut butter and banana sandwiches didn’t drip on them, the case raised a serious question: Why are so many cab drivers named Dave?

And finally the largest known prime number, 6,320,430 digits long was discovered. Although researchers had spent years looking for the number, they did finally find it by taking Bill Gates’s bank account and converting it into Italian lire.

And finally, no words sum up the year’s end better than: To be continued…

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