Celebrity K-nowledge

An amazing amount of my brain-space, which could presumably be dedicated to useful knowledge such as people's names or historical dates, has sadly been taken up by the effortless memorization of celebrity gossip. A fellow traveler recently gave me a list of celebrity blogs to trawl: YES! (And yet I refuse to subscribe to People or Us or EW because I think it'll be bad for me to have so much delicious fun. Instead I get National Geographic and can barely get through an issue.) Check 'em out:

I would also add www.celebrity-babies.com

Looking at these sites makes me want to bathe in pink Cristal and pretend I'm Kimora Lee. (Sorry, "Cristal Rosé.")

Bird flu isn't the same as pandemic flu, for one thing

I'm flummoxed by the bird flu hysteria that seems to have taken over the mainstream media. According to the April 12, 2006 issue of JAMA, "The White House strategic plan and congressional appropriation both devote more than 90% of pandemic influenza spending to vaccines and antiviral medications."* Elsewhere in the article it notes that the total approprations are $3.8 billion. Assuming that policy-makers are all in bed with big pharma (such as Rummy's association with Gilead Sciences, the biotech that owns the rights to the antiviral medication Tamiflu), this spending plan makes sense. The more they spend, the more they get to pocket. I feel jaded enough that this doesn't surprise me.
*Gostin, "Public Health Strategies for Pandemic Influenza," JAMA 295: 1700)

But I am surprised by the media's participation. Why does the public need to be stirred up so much that morning-show deejays are offering to shoot down wild birds to save us all? What is the point of creating panic among the common man? Is it to terrorize us? To take our minds off the screwed up war(s) where tons of the rest of "our" money is going? Because if you read closely, you'll note that pandemic flu doesn't even exist yet. Bird flu ain't it. It's a sickness that occurs in BIRDS. And who are we supposed to believe about its possible impact on humans? Do we believe top NIH scientist Anthony Fauci, who says bird flu is really not that big a deal? Or do we get with something like ABC News, which has a HUGE web component that seems designed to make us cower in our basements? Or maybe it's supposed to be entertainment? Or maybe people are just trying to use up funding and give themselves busy work? A loved one recently pointed out to me that even the Weather Channel is into terrorism--right now they have a show called "It Could Happen Tomorrow" about awful things happening all over the country... from weather. Check out their site at www.weather.com for "Today's Top Threat."

It just all seems frickin' ridiculous. I am not entertained. Nor am I terrorized. I'm mainly wondering why I'm supposed to care about this stuff. My sweetie told me gas will be going up to $4 a gallon this summer. Maybe we should freak out about that instead?

I need a unicorn chaser now, like they thoughtfully provide on boingboing. Or a movie with Chris Kattan in it would do quite nicely.

Humor in Official Documents

I followed a link from ibrattleboro.com to a Vermont State Auditor's report on financial inconsistencies at the Windham County Sheriff's Department. It is available at http://www.state.vt.us/sao/reviews/WCSD_FINAL.pdf. So far my favorite bit is part that was also posted on ibrattleboro, but I feel compelled to repeat it here:

"On May 17, 2005, Sheriff Prue charged $29.93 at Borders Books in Keene, NH. Sheriff Prue wrote that the charge was for “supplies for the drug/alcohol program.” Auditor requested a copy of the receipt which shows the charge was for Catholicism for Dummies, a pocketsized book of Psalms and a Bookmark. "

Oh lordy!

I also liked this one:

"Sheriff Prue was reimbursed $625.53 for uniform expenses for which she provided receipts. In addition, Sheriff Prue claimed $2,058.52 of credit and debit card transactions as a “clothing allowance.” Some of the clothing did not appear to be related to her duties as a police officer. Rather, they appeared to be civilian clothing. Audit work determined some of the items purchased included an athletic supporter, petite chinos and lace hipster underwear inconsistent with the gender, size and nature of the Sheriff’s uniform requirements."

This report is written with a delicious dryness sometimes and makes me wonder if the accounting office might have gotten a very slight kick out of enumerating the many and sometimes bizarre alleged improprieties of the WCSD.