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The Column of Lasting Insignificance: March 22, 2008


The columns that follow appeared in March 2007

THE WILCOCK WEB:  An archive of thousands of UFO sighting reports is being compiled by the French national Space Studies Centre to place on its website…. Virgin began taking reservations for its $200,000, three-hour space flights scheduled to begin in 2009…. “Natives wonderful, send ketchup,” was one of the winners in the New Scientist’s contest to imagine short text messages sent home by aliens who have just discovered our planet…. Seeking to promote scientific accuracy, Sense about Science, a UK charity, has issued a leaflet warning celebrities not to use their influential status to peddle misleading information…. New green nylon shoes from Electrolux contain tiny vacuum  cleaners which suck up the dust as you walk….. The FDA has approved Pfizer’s new drug Sientrol which is added to a dog’s food and reduces fat absorption… Banks may soon start asking customers to use a new smart pen that reads the fingerprint of the user….. “There’s no such thing as good pornography,” said Vincent Canby. “If it’s good it isn’t pornography”…..Using the newly-hyped nano-technology, Kraft is developing a colorless, tasteless drink that can be zapped at home with a special micro-wave to create almost any drink you desire…. Talking dolls ($74) with a vocabulary of more than 1,000 words — more than most gang members — are a big hit in Japan, programmed by their owners to match their daily schedules…. You can probably guess what this foreign language sign says in one country’s airlines: Schwimmweste unter dem sitz….. Star Syringe, whose interior self-destructs after a single use, is said to be mainly responsible for halving Uganda’s AIDS rates since 2003…. After talking about it for more than half a century, New York is finally ready to build the Second Avenue Subway… “Those who want to eat and slurp during a show should go to a supper club… why can’t Americans stop eating for two hours?” wrote critic John Heilpern, referring to the decision by 15 Broadway theaters to allow eating and drinking during performances…. Claiming to have invented the omnipresent New York custom of Sunday brunch in the 1980s, delicatessen owner Barney Greengrass explains that it was “a kind of Jewish alternative to church for families with nothing to do on Sunday mornings.”…. Time is an herb that cures all diseases. — Benjamin Franklin ( 1706-90)

THE WILCOCK WEB: If it costs more than one cent to make one cent coins and we reportedly need 800 billion more each year, why don’t they just stop making them instead of the usual bureaucratic nonsense that requires “permission” to phase them out…..? The original title of Leonard Bernstein’s musical West Side Story was East Side Story….. Of the average eight soft drinks the Chinese imbibe each year, only one is not a Coca-Cola product ….. Rupert Murdoch gave his six kids a million dollars worth of shares each….. Leonardo DiCaprio, who knew Tim Leary, is said to be considering the part of the LSD pitchman in a projected movie about his life….  The words hit/boom/hot meaning something fashionable are listed as the latest examples of “Tinglish” by Bangkok’s Guru Magazine which says that X (meaning sexy) and O (meaning everything’s fine) have also been added to Thai slang…… The standards on harshness and callousness have been streched out of shape in the era of shock jocks, narrowcasting, and niche cable channels ….. Due in May: a laudatory bio of Richard Nixon by accused embezzler and newspaper magnate Conrad Black…. “Since helium is lighter than air, does a helium tank get lighter or heavier as you empty it?” was the question that a reader asked Dr. Science in Funny Times which responded that the heaviness that was removed was sold to record companies “to give substance to popular music” ….. The wise and brave dares own that he was wrong.— Benjamin Franklin (1706-90)

THE WILCOCK WEB: Being rude to waiters is the most likely way to ensure no second date takes place according to a survey by the match-making service Just Lunch, which rates it even ahead of blowing one’s nose at the table….…. “We’re all seeking that special person who is right for us,” says Andrew Boyd “But if you’ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect that there’s no right person, just different flavors of wrong.”…. Aging customers at Kaiser’s Senioren Supermarket in Berlin can sit down in its trolleys, which are equipped with magnifying glasses. As they shop at the talking fruit and veggie stands….. Britain’s biggest liquor company, Diageo, plans to build in Scotland its first major malt whisky distillery in 100 years “to meet soaring demand from Indian and Chinese consumers.”… “Humor is the shortest distance between two points,” said Victor Borge …. It is illegal to lasso a fish in Tennessee or to get one drunk in Oklahoma …. A Slovenian named Marin Strel, 52, is attempting to swim the entire length (3,900 miles) of the Amazon River…. Xerox is developing a re-usable paper on which markings disappear after 24 hours…..His voice deepening with age, the most prominent of The Three Tenors, Placido Domingo, 66, has become a baritone …. “An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” —Plutarch (46-120AD)

John Wilcock is currently visiting Rome