August 28, 2003

A Cavalcade of Imbecility

WELL -- Mars gets dangerously close to the planet Earth, and now we can see the results!

FIRST UP ON today's Cavalcade of Imbecility are the folks at the Zippo Manufacturing Co. of Bradford, Pa. These individuals came up with the hot idea of creating a Web site devoted entirely to showcasing the tricks that can be performed with their lighters. They shut it down after public outcry, although the company's chief executive and its general counsel defended the site.

We live in an era where people have blamed young children's fire-starting on Beavis & Butthead. Furthermore, we live in an era where people let young children watch Beavis & Butthead. Hence, because so many people are so freaking stupid, but not stupid enough so that they can't figure out how to obtain legal representation, it amazes us that the Zippo people would take such a risk. After all, there's nothing like having some damnfool drunk hurt himself because he got blitzed on a case of Old Milwaukee -- and then decided to perform Trick No. 823-B ("That Scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark Where Indy and Marion Fight the Nazis in Nepal") -- when it comes to "unexpected charges on the expense side." Capital idea there.

NEXT UP IS a Michigan man whom we dislike because he allegedly has caused great embarrassment to our home state. The Associated Press reports that 31-year-old Michael VanStrate, of Owosso, allegedly bit off part of a man's finger, knocked out a 49-year-old woman and smeared cake over the face of a 9-year-old boy. All at a wedding reception.

Police said VanStrate got involved in the fracas after being involved in altercations with other people at the reception. This alleged assratchet faces two counts of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, one count of aggravated assault and one count of simple assault, the wire agency reported.

No word on whether there was an open bar. Again: we live in a litigious society. A very litigious society.

THE CANADIANS can no longer smile on passport photos. Of course we're not making this up. We're also not making up The Globe and Mail's helpful hints about how to have one's passport photo accepted: "As a general rule, hats are out."

As a general rule? You mean there are cases where hats are acceptable? What, pray tell, might those be?

OUR NEXT ITEM falls under the "Where Are the Customers' Yachts?" category. The New York Stock Exchange has decided to pay chief executive Richard Grasso $139 million in deferred compensation, according to the Financial Times.

For reaction to this development, we turn to William Donaldson, the former NYSE chair who now heads the Securities and Exchange Commission. His reaction is quoted in the FT story:

"I left too soon."

We'll say. Quite frankly, for $139 million, this fellow should be able to spin straw into gold. Of course, now that the tech bubble burst, that's downright impossible to do on Wall Street.

A SWISS MAN burned down three apartments after attempting to destroy a nest of wasps under his flat. The wasps attacked after he unloaded an entire can of bug spray into the nest. When he tried to defend himself with a cigarette lighter -- I don't want to know -- the fumes from the spray ignited.

Next time, call the Orkin man. Your insurer will thank you.

THEY'RE PENNY-WISE AND POUND-FOOLISH in Georgia. Consider that a full 8.6 percent of Atlanta residents surveyed said they'd consumed moonshine in the past five years. Consider that Boone's Strawberry Wine goes for about $2 a bottle down at the corner liquor store. Consider that a bill for an extended stay in hospital starts at about five grand a day, and gets worse when your body reacts to stuff that's brewed in a leaky car radiator.

It may not be brewed from grapes, but it won't kill you. Something to think about when you're deciding between the Champale or the stuff brewed out of your neighbor's old Chevy.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST on the Cavalcade is the Government of France, for its debate over the heat-wave scandal. For those of you who haven't heard, you should know that a heat wave caused 10,000 people to die in la belle France. How to make sure it never happens again? Take away a national holiday, says the Government!

The idea, which the government floated Wednesday, immediately split opinion and provoked one main question - which of France's 11 national holidays should go? Labor Day, perhaps, or a religious festival?

At least two ministers said Christmas should not be touched.

What's this "at least" bit? How about "only?"

Of course, this has caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth:

"There's no question of touching holidays," thundered Communist lawmaker Alain Bocquet. "There's no question of erasing May 8 and the memory of victory over Nazi barbarity and fascism!"

And the memory of collaboration! And the memory of Vichy! And the memory of Operation Torch!

Actually, to be fair, we should note that many French people fought valiantly against the Nazis, and that only a few French cared for their German overlords. That said, my friends, this gets even crazier:

Jean-Claude Mailly, a leader of the Workers' Force trade union, said a wealthy country like France should not have to make workers labor longer to finance health care. The union, he warned, would not take kindly to the abolition of the May 1 Labor Day holiday.

"It's enforced charity, totally unacceptable," he said in an interview.

What's so unacceptable, M Mailly? You do live in a socialist democracy, do you not? You do live in a nation which not only taxes income at stratospheric rates, but also one's total wealth, do you not? Explain, please, how enforced charity is unacceptable when it applies to you and perfectly fine when it applies to someone else. Or at least please stay consistent: that's all we ask.

Gawd. I hope some weird physical phenomenon beyond the knowledge of man is responsible for all this. If not, then God help us all.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at August 28, 2003 12:54 AM | TrackBack

Excellent post.

Much asshattery to be found.

Do they refer to what Grasso is receiving as a "golden parachute?"

Posted by: Kevin White at August 28, 2003 09:59 AM