Posts Tagged ‘history’
Pretoria, South Africa (AP) – Preparations for Nelson Mandela’s funeral next week have reached a fever pitch, with myriad world leaders and public figures scheduled to attend. But several prominent heads of state will be noticeably absent, and their expected lack of attendance has raised eyebrows.
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom accepted her physician’s recommendation not to travel. The 87-year-old monarch has taken an increasingly private role in British public affairs as she ages. It was unclear Sunday whether her son Charles, the Prince of Wales and first in line for the throne, would attend in her stead.
The exiled leader of Tibet , the Dalai Lama, also announced that he would not travel to South Africa for the occasion, refraining from participating in the funeral as a show of protest at having been denied a visa to visit the country on two occasions. The Dalai Read the rest of this entry »
Jerusalem (AP) – The Almighty convened a press conference this afternoon to admit that He created celery in a fit of silliness, but found that the way humans treated it as food was so entertaining that only when the joke got old could He bring Himself to reveal it.
Initially the family of celery plants were relegated to the countryside with myriad other rejects from the Lord’s experimental phase; many such species died out eons before humans developed. But as early as the second millennium BCE, humans were already treating celery – at least celery seeds – as either medicine or as food, and God was so tickled He decided to see how long people would keep falling for it. Read the rest of this entry »
Paris, France (Reuters) – A government-commissioned analysis of the late Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat’s remains has concluded that he did not die of poisoning, as some Palestinians had charged, but by natural causes. Arafat died in 2004 and no autopsy was conducted at the time. The report also noted that Francisco Franco, who took power in Spain in the 1930′s and held office for four decades, is still deceased, and that the Earth continues to make its way around the sun each year.
A resurgence of the poisoning allegations led to Arafat’s exhumation and testing of his remains and personal effects. A Swiss team found evidence consistent with poisoning by polonium-210, a radioactive substance, while a Russian report, soon retracted, found no such evidence. Arafat died in a French military hospital after suffering bouts of intestinal distress. Franco has not come back to life in the meantime, and, perhaps more surprisingly, the sun continues to function as the star around which the Earth moves. Read the rest of this entry »
Memphis, Egypt (AP) – Semillontep, the veteran butler of Pharaoh’s palace, nurses a grudge against viceroy Tzafenat Pa’aneakh, who, he claims, has failed to show sufficient appreciation for the butler’s efforts to free him from the royal prison.
When Pharaoh had a disturbing set of dreams, Semillontep recalled that two years earlier, a Hebrew slave was able to correctly interpret the mysterious dreams that the butler and chief baker had while they were in prison. He humbly suggested to the king that the Hebrew, known then as Joseph, might be able to perform a similar feat for His Highness where the court soothsayers had failed. Accordingly, Pharaoh summoned Joseph from jail, and indeed, the Hebrew gave a convincing, accurate explanation of the royal dreams, along with an astute set of administrative instructions to prepare for the epic events that the dreams portended. Semillontep anticipated a proper recognition for this act of generosity, which was not forthcoming.
As a result of his thankless efforts, says Semillontep, Pharaoh appointed the thirty-year-old Joseph as viceroy to administer the very system he had envisioned, and renamed him Tzafenat Pa’aneakh, “the decoder of the mysterious.” The butler understood that Pharaoh himself would not give more than a token expression of gratitude for his referral to Joseph, as he was obligated to serve his master loyally in any case. Moreover, Semillontep owed his own debt of gratitude to the king for the amnesty that spared him while his colleague the baker was executed – the very fate that Joseph had foretold in interpreting the pair’s dreams. But Semillontep still feels left behind in the face of the rapid advance of this lowly Hebrew nobody to whom everyone is suddenly genuflecting.
“I made him who he is,” hissed Semillontep to his wife, Sirrah. “And here I am, still stuck in a dead-end job with the threat of a death sentence hanging over me if I screw up one more time,” he lamented, recalling the episode that got him in trouble several years earlier, when Pharaoh found a fly in the royal wine goblet.
Tzafenat Pa’aneakh was unavailable for comment. His representative said the viceroy was busy traveling to all the major cities and towns of Egypt to oversee the grain-amassing project that he had proposed in order to prepare the land and region for an anticipated famine. Pa’aneakh’s spokesman claimed no knowledge of the butler’s contention, but he did note that Semillontep had for some reason forgotten about the languishing Hebrew in the prison for two years before mentioning anything to Pharaoh.
“One rather suspects motives other than the mere feeling of being slighted,” suggested the spokesman, noting that it was not unusual for native Egyptians to discriminate against people of other ethnicities, and to enslave them. “One has to wonder whether the same resentment would exist if His Excellency Tzafenat Pa’aneakh were born and raised in Egypt instead of Canaan.”
Newport News, Virginia (AP) – The relatively early occurrence of Hanukkah this year has sown perplexity among assimilated American Jews, who have become accustomed to combining or confusing the holiday’s practices with those of Christmas and not Thanksgiving. The first day of Hanukkah comes out this Thursday, which is also Thanksgiving.
The lunar Jewish calendar has a typical year lasting approximately 354 days, making it 11 days shorter than the solar year. A complicated cycle of leap years Read the rest of this entry »
Jerusalem (AP) – Polling stations across Israel are open today for the Labor Party primaries, in which the party membership will select its next leader for a period of continued marginal significance to national politics. Read the rest of this entry »
Memphis, Egypt (AP) – Despite getting a good deal on the purchase of a Hebrew youth, a group of Midianite traders is having second thoughts after spending the last several hundred miles listening to the boy prattle on about sheaves, stars, and dreams.
The caravan, on its way to Egypt, was transporting spices and fragrances to sell there when they encountered a group of herders near the Central Canaanite town of Dothan offering a healthy-looking, seventeen-year-old named Joseph for sale at the too-good-to-believe price of twenty silver pieces. Despite the low price, the traders found no physical defects in the youth, and decided to pool their cash to sell this Joseph at a handsome profit once they reached their destination. Read the rest of this entry »
Geneva, Switzerland (AP) Typhoon Haiyan has killed at least 10,000 people in the Philippines and rendered many times that number homeless, but the International Red Cross has stopped short of calling the destruction a “disaster,” preferring to reserve such strong language for when white people are the victims. The vast majority of those killed, injured, or suffering property loss are Asian, some of them Muslim.
Some European and American news outlets have devoted attention to the storm and its aftermath, but mainly to focus on the possibility of Westerners – i.e. white people – who fell victim to one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded. Read the rest of this entry »
Lausanne, Switzerland (AP) – In the wake of forensic evidence that the radioactive element Polonium-210 was present in some of the personal effects that late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had with him when he died, his widow Suha Arafat sees the hand of Israel in this and other deaths of prominent icons as far back as 2,000 years ago.
Arafat died in 2005 at age 75, after a period of physical deterioration and a set of mysterious symptoms that sent him to a French military hospital. Speculation and rumors surrounding the cause of death eventually led to the exhumation of Arafat’s body from its Ramallah resting place for further testing. The University of Legal Medicine in Lausanne, Switzerland, tested a number of the personal effects he had with him when he died and found elevated levels of the radioactive isotope of Polonium, infamously instrumental in the assassination of former KGB agent Alexander V. Litvinenko. Read the rest of this entry »
Jerusalem, Israel (AP) Israel announced final approval for the construction of 1,500 residential units in a neighborhood of Jerusalem that it captured in the 1967 war, causing the end of the world yet again. The occurrence marks the latest in a series of hundreds of construction projects that have brought about the complete and irreversible cessation of human civilization on Earth.
The move prompted condemnation from Palestinians, the United States, and the European Union, who each called on Israel not to bring all of world culture and human achievement crashing down by granting formal approval for several hundred buildings to be built on a dozen barren hillsides abutting an existing neighborhood. The neighborhood, called Ramat Shlomo, lies on the other side of the Green Line, the boundary that marked the 1948 cease-fire between Israel and Jordan. Each instance of Israeli clearing, digging, Read the rest of this entry »
East Rutherford, New Jersey (AP) – The New York Giants entered the 2013 NFL season prepared to follow the leadership of quarterback Eli Manning into the record books, but soon found themselves without direction, as the achievement of losing every single game in a sixteen-game season had already been accomplished by the 2008 Detroit Lions. They subsequently won a game, calling into question the team’s ability to achieve anything epic, even anything negative. Read the rest of this entry »
Moscow (AP) – The head of a Russian forensics agency ruled out the possibility that late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was poisoned with a radioactive substance, Russian media reported last Tuesday. As a result the Palestinians will be forced to resort to other accusations in order to paint the desired evil picture of Israel, he said.
Arafat was confined to his Ramallah headquarters during a 2004 uprising against Israel and developed still-unexplained symptoms. He died after being flown to France for treatment. Close aides, advisers, and relatives repeatedly accused Israel of assassinating him, though no hard evidence to support that charge was ever produced. Read the rest of this entry »
Geneva (AP) – The Iranian delegation to international talks over the country’s controversial atomic program has said that Tehran could in principle accept a reduction in its uranium enrichment capabilities as long as it could guarantee enough nuclear fuel to launch no more than four weapons at Israel.
Talks over the program have been going better than many experts expected, with Iran apparently showing more flexibility in its attitude toward international inspectors, slowed enrichment, and adherence to limits imposed by the International Agency for Atomic Energy. In an effort to loosen or remove economic sanctions that have been hurting the regime, Iran’s representative to the talks said they might be able to accept a limited arsenal that could only destroy Israel, but not threaten any other nations. Read the rest of this entry »
New York NY (AP) – An emerging movement in art circles is casting doubt on whether the people depicted in some of Pablo Picasso’s most famous painted works in fact looked anything like the figures in those paintings. The contention of those scholars threatens to undermine decades of established consensus on the artist’s work and significance.
Since Picasso first reached prominence in the early 20th century, experts and laypeople alike have marveled at the Spaniard’s ability to find and capture on canvas a striking number of deformed, strangely pigmented subjects. He specifically sought out people – almost always women, it would seem, but even that is not clearly visible in several cases – whose abnormally large facial features were not properly aligned, or whose physical proportions gave them a grotesque, almost cartoonish character. Read the rest of this entry »
Oyster Bay, NY (AP) – Noted singer-songwriter Billy Joel has maintained his and other suspects’ innocence in massive case of arson dating back to 1949, casting blame on more than a hundred other people, movements, and events. Joel repeatedly asserts that he and others did not start the fire.
While no one has named Joel or anyone else specifically as involved, the 64-year-old entertainer has issued an explicit list of persons of interest or other causes that, in his opinion, require investigation. The series of accusations began in 1989, with the release of his album Storm Front, on which the Bronx native spent more than three minutes listing the various characters who might have some light to shed on who started the fire.
The litany of alleged suspects includes presidents and other world leaders; entertainers and athletes; terrorist incidents; multiple foreign states; and the US government’s apparent neglect of veterans of the war in Vietnam, among others. However, at least one inconsistency in Joel’s words has led observers to question the veracity of the accusations. The singer claims the fire has been burning since the Earth began its rotation approximately 4.5 billion years ago, while none of the suspects he mentions was born earlier than the late nineteenth century.
Additionally, and suspiciously, every suspect he names attained some prominence in the news or in world affairs, leading some to wonder why Joel singled out only the famous, powerful, or notorious for an act of starting fire, which almost anyone can do.
Apparently unprompted, Joel rattled off the suspicious individuals and developments rapidly, beginning with Harry S. Truman, who began his second term as US President in 1949. Other prominent individuals who enjoyed fame around the same time are also included in Joel’s list. He proceeded almost methodically through the ensuing decades, mentioning names of celebrities, international crises, and medical disasters that made headlines during those years.
It remains unclear how the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, for example, could have resulted in a fire, but Joel has repeated his claims in many subsequent encounters, including in the presence of tens of thousands of people at various arenas around the world. In the 24 years since he began flinging the accusations, interest has waxed and waned in the list of suspects and their possible accomplices, but has not entirely gone away. Police, however, have not commented on whether they lend any credence to Joel’s claims.
Nassau County Police Chief Joseph Buonarotti declined to offer any information on the investigation, if any. Sources within the department who spoke on condition of anonymity cautioned that any such investigation would probably lie beyond the jurisdiction of the Nassau County Police, as the people and events to be investigated have only a marginal connection, if any, to the county.
At press time, Joel was on a Downeaster boat named Alexa, cruising through Block Island Sound.
Rockville Centre, NY (AP) – The Lord God Almighty finally responded to repeated entreaties by a local man, instructing the 27-year-old to stop pestering Him and do something to improve his own life for once.
Gary Bonner, currently unemployed, has been praying for a windfall since he lost his job as a welder in late 2012. Rather than immediately seek another position, Bonner elected to place his trust entirely in the Lord, restricting his own revenue-related efforts to collecting unemployment benefits and buying various tickets from the New York State Lottery.
“Any God Who can provide for me by arranging a working position can also engineer events so that I don’t have to do any work to have a steady income, as well,” he reasoned, ignoring the Lord’s own pronouncements regarding the sweat of man’s brow as the default method for gaining bread.
Fed up, as it were, by the man’s attitude, the Lord appeared in a vision to Bonner and instructed him to cease all petition until he takes measures to indicate active participation in the live he was given. “I did not create thee to sit around on thy duff, waiting, as doth a goldfish in a tank, for magical food flakes to float down from Heaven,” the Creator of the universe informed the misguided soul. “Go forth and seek sustenance by thine own hand, and wait not, for thou art not a fetus in the womb that thy provisions be pumped directly into thy bloodstream.”
Unswayed from his lassitude, Bonner attempted to argue with the Almighty, citing the precedents of Elijah being brought food by the ravens, and the Israelites in the wilderness receiving a daily allotment of manna. “Lord, You’ve shown before that not everyone needs to work – why can’t I be one of those people, instead of the loser I am now?”
Although the Lord’s last serious debate occurred in the second millennium BCE, He demonstrated that He had lost none of His rhetorical sharpness. “Art thou Abraham, who beseeched Me to spare to wicked city of Sodom, that thou wouldst now engage in dispute?” the Lord retorted. “When was the last time thou sought to save anyone, let alone those whom others have dismissed as unworthy?”
“And as for your invocation of Elijah,” continued God, “when I see that thou hast devoted thy life to uprooting idolatrous practices and oppression of the meek, then shall I consider providing thee with thy daily bread through less effort of thine own,” admonished He Who spoke and the world was created. “And thou comparest thyself to the Israelites, My chosen people? The ones who followed Me into the wilderness, ready to accept My covenant of devotion when all other nations preferred to mire themselves in their orgies of oppression, castes, human sacrifice, and unbridled pursuit of power?”
According to witnesses, Bonner hesitated only a moment, but persisted nonetheless. “Lord, plenty of people have it easy, and they don’t seem to be doing anything worthy with their lives. Celebrities. Playboys. Bankers. I just want to be one of them instead!”
“Shut up already,” answered God, dismissing Bonner’s argument with a wave of His metaphorical hand. “Trust Me: if thou had any potential as an avatar of iniquity, thou wouldst already be decades into a life of debauched vanity. Now, for the second time, get off thy duff and seek gainful employment!”
At press time, Bonner was scouring the classified section of Newsday for available positions as corrupt dictator of a small Latin American country.
New York, September 8 (AP) – The classical music scene remains in a tumult several days after a prominent operatic tenor claimed that the lyrics to most, if not all, operas are composed of words, and not gibberish. The assertion threw into disarray legions of music scholars, producers, and performers, and threatens to reshape understanding of a centuries-old musical genre.
Jose Carreras, a Spanish tenor who has enjoyed operatic fame since his 1971 debut, wrote last week that in looking back over the hundreds of librettos he has seen over the years, it finally struck him that they were written in what might be described as a language, if in a crude, immature form.
Carreras further claimed that the operas could be grouped into several different languages, of which at least two are still spoken in various parts of the world – an assertion that immediately provoked demands that the singer produce evidence of such a claim.
It has long been axiomatic in opera that the librettist – who writes the text to which the composer fits dramatic music – is charged with producing a script that conveys the raw emotional and dramatic power of the music without actually resorting to the use of coherent words or phrases. Occasional exceptions are made for the insertion of names of principal characters in each work, but beyond those instances, gibberish has long been considered the preferred idiom.
If Carreras’s claim finds support among scholars, the entire body of operatic librettos will require reexamination to determine whether generations of musicians and audiences have been operating under a mistaken assumption. Each work will have to undergo reevaluation to determine what language, if any, the librettist used.
More importantly, says musicologist Tilda Fatt-Ladysingz, scholars and laymen alike will need to discover by what means they had been fooled for so long, and, if the phenomenon proves widespread in the classical repertoire, whether the composers themselves were privy to the secret. “Musical historians will likely take a new look at the collected letters of many famous opera composers, combing the letters for hints that, for example, the German-speaking, Austrian Mozart knew that the Frenchman Beaumarchais, the librettist for The Marriage of Figaro, had actually used an as-yet-unknown argot,” she explained.
Until now, continued Fatt-Ladysingz, references to “Italian” or “Russian” had been taken merely as made-up words synonymous with “gibberish.” But if it turns out they refer to actual languages, the entire Western view of the cultural landscape will shift.
Except, said the musicologist, in the U.S., where the existence and significance of other cultures has never meant very much.
Washington, DC (AP) – White House public relations staffers are facing disciplinary action today, after a visitor to whitehouse.gov typed in a sequence of keystrokes known mostly among veteran video game players and walked away with the nation’s nuclear launch codes.
Toyooki Sonoda, who grew up playing on the Nintendo Entertainment System console, entered the “cheat code” up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, and was shown a dialogue box that said, “Congratulations! Here are the nuclear launch codes for this week,” followed by a series of alphanumeric sequences.
It remains unclear how the top-secret data came to be encoded in the files that support the White House web site. The content of the text and image files is maintained by non-technical staff, but the coding and back-end support are the work of a team of off-site consultants with mid-level security clearance that does not include access to information as sensitive as the nuclear launch codes.
Yet despite the severity of the security breach, Sonoda is unlikely to be accused of any crime. ”I was just fiddling around, because sometimes web site programmers are themselves former gamers who want to pay tribute to the Konami Code,” said Sonoda, currently a General Surgeon at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. He used the term by which the cheat code is generally known.
The Konami Code originated in the 1980′s, apparently when a programmer at the Japanese video game giant developed it to enable him to test a game more easily. The market version of the game was produced with the code still intact, and the code was intentionally included in many subsequent releases. Even several games not produced by Konami featured the key, in recognition of the popularity of the idea.
This is only the most recent debacle involving a government entity compromised by niche subculture references. Last month, a visitor to the National Security Agency site typed, “Do a barrel roll” in the home page search bar. The page appeared to turn 360 degrees, and in the process, transcripts of supposedly secure telephone conversations between foreign heads of state spilled onto the bottom of the screen.
In March, a Pakistani informant sent a text message to his CIA handler with the text, “All your base are belong to us,” triggering a drone strike on the informant’s location and the deaths of 3 civilians. Concurrent with the missile strike, the informant was sent an SMS reply with the words, “Somebody set us up the bomb.”
President Obama has yet to comment on the story, as he has been spending the day unsuccessfully trying to use the Konami Code on the online shoot-em-up game River Raider.
Washington, DC, September 2 (AP) – President Obama took the case for a limited strike against Syrian targets to Congress this week, arguing that a contentious, politically fraught process an and uncertain outcome were the only way to ensure that no matter what the result, the US would emerge with a diminished standing.
In an address to reporters and fellow Democrats, the President gave the rationale for delaying a strike, if any, until after Congress takes up the question instead of summarily deciding against military action. As Obama sees it, simply letting Syrian leader Basher Assad off the hook for using chemical weapons would not have the same deleterious effect on American global influence as a protracted display of cowardice, backpedaling, partisan divisiveness, and lack of political will.
“Iranian ascendancy remains only one possible outcome of many if the US launches strikes against Syria,” Obama told those in attendance. “But to simultaneously guarantee decades of profound Ayatollah influence in the Middle East and a retrenchment of American power not seen since the withdrawal from Vietnam, we have to approach the very idea of military action with a manifest absence of confidence; with an unwillingness to deploy the power in which we’ve invested trillions of dollars; and with an ironic obliviousness to the effect this compromising of principles has on both our allies and enemies.”
In fact, said Secretary of State John Kerry, the ultimate foreign policy goal is not merely withdrawing from leadership on the world stage and slowly fading into history. The Obama administration aims to set in motion an accelerated American decline so irreversible that no matter who succeeds Obama in the Oval Office, by 2030 the US will wield roughly the same level of international clout as it did in 1799.
“My address last week on the urgency of American-led military intervention in Syria was simply to raise the stakes in the event of the inevitable, agonizing reversal,” explained Kerry. “In fact, since the beginning, talk of an American strike never went beyond consideration of a limited, targeted operation with no boots on the ground, meaning that neither Assad nor the mullahs of Tehran would have to seriously contend with American military might.”
That might, he added, is the only thing that might deter Syrian loyalists, Hezbollah, or other, similarly allied interests, from fully prosecuting the war against the Syrian rebels, whom Washington openly supports, at least rhetorically. The very fact that the on-again, off-again military operation was never even conceived as a campaign with actual deterrent value, and would only be a slap on the wrist for getting caught using nerve gas, has allowed Assad, his supporters, and anti-American groups the world over to claim that it was their threats of retaliation against American interests that kept the US from getting more deeply involved.
Following the meeting with reporters and supporters, Obama was to meet with representatives of the Chinese government to negotiate how and at what pace Beijing will take over as the leading industrialized nation.
Moscow, Russia August 28 (AP) – Russian Foreign Minster Sergei Lavrov told reporters at a press conference this evening that if the Western powers decide to abandon their intention to launch strikes against its ally Syria, Russia would not impede the move.
A longtime supporter of embattled Syrian leader Basher Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed his foreign policy team not to oppose the supporters of the Syrian rebels in the event that those allies decide to continue not aiding the rebels militarily against Assad’s forces. The death toll in the two-year-old conflict has surpassed 100,000.
The announcement marks a clear shift in Russian strategy, which until now has focused on countering Western efforts to bolster Assad’s opponents. The new approach, says Near East Institute analyst Mark Mywords, takes a more circumspect approach that recognizes other countries’ ability not to intervene. For some countries, their ability even exceeds that of Russia, though the US and Iran, historically, have been loath to use it.
“What we’re seeing is a new appreciation by the Kremlin that sometimes the most effective form of inaction is to let others perform the non-action,” he explained. “In the rush to abandon much of the Communist government legacy, Russia was quick to let go of generations-old incentives not to do anything. But a resurgence of nostalgia for the simpler old times, as rough as they were, has prompted the leadership to revisit many of the Soviet practices such as providing no reason to do things at all, since the end result will be the same anyway,” he continued.
The change presents Washington and other Western governments with a new opportunity not to act, coming as hundreds of thousands of Americans have made a point not to demand US action. The Obama administration continues to weigh its options on how best not to respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, despite a vow by Obama that any such development would not be tolerated by the international community.
Discreetly getting out of the way of someone else’s not doing anything has a venerable history, according to military historian Anne Nabler, author of See No Evil, See No Evil. “Perhaps the most famous example of not standing in the way of non-action is the world’s reaction to Hitler’s annexation of the the Czechoslovakian Sudetendland in 1938,” she wrote in an e-mail. “But history is rife with nations standing idly by while other nations stand idly by.”
For years, Mrs. Kass has been studying various works by the Elizabethan poet and playwright with her middle-school English literature class, often choosing Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth. In her explication of the material, the teacher often points out literary devices, imagery, and occurrences of irony or foreshadowing that Shakespeare himself did not intend. As a result, says the Bard, the effect of the play in question becomes obscured or distorted in the minds of the preadolescent and adolescent students, he asserts.
“By my troth, this wench doth confound and conflate,” observed the greatest writer the English language has ever seen. “Teach she must not, grades seven nor eight.” He cited numerous instances of Kass’s imputation of meaning where none existed, and of completely missing the point.
“Wherefore doth she ignore the intended offense of Rosaline becoming a nun?” he wondered. “Wherefore would she deprive her disciples of the apprehension that the fair Capulet niece conveys to the protagonist that she would sooner remove herself from all men than concede to a coupling with him? Is the intent not clear as a summer’s day?”
“What man or woman of thirteen years would would relish not such a barb?” he continued.
As for Kass’s insistence on reading into Shakespeare’s use of light and dark in contrast to symbolize the love and hate that bring the lovers together and ultimately keep them apart, respectively, the Bard admits nothing of the sort. “What ho! That the brawling be in daytime and he trysts at night, would she read as poesy? Brigandess! Villainess! Impute not what thou imputest, foul teacher-woman! For it be nary more than simple convenience of the plot!”
A similar instance occurred several years ago when Dr. William Lee, a professor of English Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, saw Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea as a political allegory of the Jewish struggle for a homeland in the territory of Palestine, foreseeing decades of ultimately Pyrrhic struggle to control the land and the hostile Arabs within and around it. The author, who committed suicide in 1962, made his displeasure known.
The same happened when Herman Melville denounced most of the literary analysis of his Moby Dick, insisting that is was simply a good story of an eccentric sea captain, if somewhat long-winded.
What used to be Phoenix, Arizona, August 4 (AP) – Human civilization ceased to exist this morning (Sunday) after Jon Swarz, 4, of Scottsdale, was not given what he demanded.
While Jon’s mother was preparing a wholesome lunch consisting of homemade broccoli pizza and a side of carrot sticks, the pre-K student requested a chocolate ice cream cone. His mother, Beth, gently refused, reassuring Jon that there would be plenty of time later in the day for a treat, but now was time for lunch.
Unwillling to accept this rebuff, the junior Swarz continued to agitate for the creamy frozen delicacy, proclaiming the he was uninterested in lunch and wanted a chocolate ice cream cone forthwith. His mother set down the carrots she was slicing and threatened to send the young man to his room without lunch if he continued to behave in such an unbecoming manner.
Details are still sketchy on the events that then occurred, but the available evidence indicates that as soon as Jon discovered that his wishes would go unfulfilled, massive earthquakes struck major population centers and volcanic eruptions flooded low-lying regions with deadly hot lava. In this initial apocalyptic wave, approximately 800 million people perished in fear and pain.
Almost immediately afterwards, when Jon was on his way to his room, several asteroids the size of Iowa, with one more of them at least as big as Montana, entered Earth’s atmosphere and impacted at points in the Americas, Africa, Northern Europe, Japan, and eight locations across China. While living things directly in the paths of these interstellar rocks were incinerated even before direct impact, the kinetic energy and atmospheric disturbances wrought by the asteroids resulted in conflagrations that consumed thousands of square miles of woodlands, farms, and residential areas throughout the world. This second episode of destruction claimed an additional three billion lives. Among the victims were Jon’s parents, who failed to foresee the calamity that would be the inevitable result of refusing to honor their son’s wishes.
As the earthquakes and fires continued, the entire world’s nuclear stockpile detonated simultaneously, leveling all remaining cities, melting the polar ice caps, and inundating coastal regions up to fifty miles inland. Radiation poisoning quickly set in among the few surviving humans, condemning them to a brief, miserable time until death claimed them, as well.
Although this is the first time that the human population has been completely wiped out as a result of a preschooler not getting what he wanted, there have been several close calls. In 1980, Melanie Carter, 3, of Montreal, sneaked into the living room and turned on the television set in defiance of her parents’ explicit instructions to go to bed at once. Ms. Carter’s initiative narrowly averted the sun transforming into a red giant and making life on Earth impossible.
Similarly, in approximately 2500 BCE, a deluge of Biblical proportions erased all human life except for one family. That catastrophe occurred when one of that family’s sons was ignored by a parent who was too busy building a wooden boat to properly address little Ham’s request for an extra bit of pigeon steak with olives. Only when that need was finally met did the waters begin to recede in earnest.
Only ten generations later, four cities in what is today the Dead Sea region were annihilated by fire and brimstone when a young woman was refused some salt with her flatbread.
Prospects remain unclear for a reestablishment of human life on Earth, but public opinion seems not to be in favor of such a development, as it would most likely entail another plague of people with an overgrown sense of entitlement.
New York, August 11 (AP) – Still reeling from revelations that the institution covered up and did not adequately address allegations that members of its staff had abused high school students in its care in the 1980′s, the Yeshiva University leadership nevertheless sees a silver lining to the scandal.
The flagship institution of the Modern Orthodox movement in Judaism anticipates that its emerging history of treating pedophile faculty with kid gloves will attract other potential teachers to its high school, teachers in search of an environment that better accommodates their attraction to adolescent males.
“This episode could really work in our favor,” said Dr. Seth Taylor, Principal of General Studies at the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy, the high school in question. “There are untold numbers of educators out there who could expose our students to everything imaginable, but who are deterred by the potential career and personal fallout from their tendencies.”
“But now that it turns out YU – and the boys’ high school in particular – has been friendly to those who have a more open way of expressing attraction to teenage boys, we fully expect to find quality applicants for teaching positions who would be afraid to apply anywhere else,” he concluded.
Head of School Rabbi Michael Taubes concurs. “MTA has unwittingly placed itself in the vanguard of institutions vying for the experience - both inside and outside the classroom – that this uncharted demographic can get a better feel than most for the students’ bodies – I mean the student body,” said Taubes, who assumed his current position during the previous school year, referring to the boys’ high school by the initials by which it is popularly known.
In the cases that received recent media attention, several men who attended MTA in the 1980′s charged that the school had ignored their accusations that the principal at the time had engaged in inappropriate physical activities with students, such as wrestling; the principal and another faculty member were quietly advised to resign, and found employment in other Jewish high schools elsewhere in the country. YU declined to inform those institutions of the questionable background to those former employees’ resignations.
In a letter marking his retirement as Chancellor of the university, this year Dr. Norman Lamm, who served as president when the faculty members were accused of the misconduct, acknowledged that he and other administration figures mishandled the cases. In a response to that portion of the letter, current YU president Richard Joel honored Dr. Lamm’s expression of regret, but asserted that in fact the erstwhile scandal would in the end benefit Yeshiva by demonstrating its longtime commitment to protecting faculty who stray.
“Recent events in academia have shown what top-notch educators and leaders can do for our children when left unmolested,” wrote Joel, making reference to the saga of Penn State University athletics figure Jerry Sandusky. “We at Yeshiva fully resolve to pioneer a new avenue in the recruitment of faculty, drawing those teachers to us who would be uncomfortable anywhere else.”
Bethesda, MD (AP) – The National Institutes of Health has released a new study linking parenting failures with children who suffer from allergies.
Covering research spanning more than two decades, the most recent study reviews and analyzes more than 600 surveys and clinical initiatives involving children living with at least one parent. It catalogs the steep documented rise in the incidence of allergies among children and correlates it with the manifest decline in parenting competence since the Baby Boomer generation’s children began having children themselves.
To ensure that the correlation actually indicated causation and that the link was not the result of third factor, the researchers investigated the prevalence of bad parenting before and after the documented increase in children’s allergies. They found that bad parenting practices increased by a significant margin several years before the spike in allergies.
Certain environmental allergies had always been relatively common, such as hay fever and, to a lesser extent, some dietary allergies, such as dairy or nuts. But in the seventies, eighties and nineties, as exposure to disco, cable television, George Steinbrenner, bell-bottoms, the British royal family, platform shoes, Prince, My Little Pony, the 1972 Presidential campaign, Mike Tyson, the acting in the MacGyver series, and myriad other evils increased and parents failed to adequately shield their children from those malignant influences, the incidence of allergies began to rise. It increased steadily through the nineties and into the first decade of the twenty-first century as parent continued to knowingly allow their children prolonged encounters with such harmful forces as Lindsay Lohan, Dubstep, a New York Rangers Stanley Cup, George W. Bush, Rush Limbaugh, and Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey flavor ice cream.
Today, nearly one in four children suffers from an allergy of some kind. According to the NIH report, “this phenomenon can only be attributed to the atrocious parenting exhibited over the last several decades.” The report noted that outside the US, where the aforementioned pernicious influences are much less intense or prevalent, allergy rates are much lower. “In other developed countries, such as Israel or most of Western Europe, the frequency of life-threatening allergic reaction to peanut butter is close to nonexistent,” the researchers noted, pointing out that, for example, Keanu Reeves films and anchovy pizza remain only mildly popular in those locations.
The NIH has yet to formulate public policy guidelines as a result of these findings. Harvard University Professor of Public Policy Barkeen Guptha Wrongtree explains that a good number of the officials who would have to approve, implement, or oversee such a policy are themselves part of the problem, not least because of their own demonstrated failings as parents.