The L.A. Times finally ran a comprehensive article on Online Myths (and I'm afraid I was the victim of one myself just last week, concerning an apparently fictitious "white power" site.) Anyway, the article reiterates what I've written here before: an e-mail message cannot hurt a computer, but executing an attached program or "Trojan Horse" can. Queries received by a computer security expert, however, reveal that these hoaxes are still "greek" to many geeks out there; for example: "Can this affect my cable box and TV? Is it safe to turn on my computer? I was connected to AOL last night. How do I stop my son from getting this virus? It has to be released by a foreign government. Make me a cure and send it to me..." (And send it to me too, while you're at it. You can never be too safe...)
And speaking of myths -- there's a move afoot in Israel to reinterpret the Massada story. According to the Time's Marjorie Miller, Hebrew U sociologist Nachman Ben-Yehuda reveals in "The Massada Myth" that most of the Jews who had purportedly fled the Holy City to hold a legion of Romans at bay for three years actually hadn't fought in Jerusalem and were probably "knife-wielding" members of the religious sect, Sicariis, who when ostracized, "murdered 700 Jewish women and children in the town of Ein Gedi before seizing their victim's food." Furthermore, he says, the battle only lasted a few months and that "Masada was not a last stand."
Although he does not dispute the suicide of the Sicariis, others do, "arguing that the survival of two women and five children who had hidden in a cisten...suggest at least as much coercion and murder as heroism." Sound familiar...?
PLYMOUTH, England (Reuter) - Twenty consecrated virgins from around Britain gathered at Plymouth Cathedral Monday to renew their lifelong vows of chastity. The mass marked the 25th anniversary of the revival of committed lay (sic!) virgins -- the forerunners to nuns in the Roman Catholic Church. The tradition, which ended in Britain in the third century, was phased out entirely by the Church during the 10th century. The Vatican revived the holy rite in 1970 and two years later Elizabeth Bailey, 64, became the first officially consecrated virgin in almost 900 years. Plymouth's Bishop Christopher Budd, who has six consecrated (sic!) virgins in his diocese, said: "It is always going to be a minority vocation. I don't think you will get hordes (sic!) signing up." Among those attending the service were several much younger women. Asked if she was considering the vow, 24-year-old Judy Toms said: "Definitely not. It's a bit too late for that." (Rev. R. Arnold.)
"17 Excuses to Use When You Call in to Work" (used by Wayne Newitt?)
Roger "I&I" Steffens writes: "It's willing suspension of 'dis-belief,' no?" (Well, yes, but that's not what the Times obit of Harry Blackstone, Jr. said, and they never lie.)
John "H" Mayer points out that if you change one letter: "Bop Voyage is a jazzy journey and Bun Voyage: a trip down Santa Monica Boulevard." Then he has the nerve to suggest that if the director of "It's a Wonderful Life" had worn faded khaki trousers, they would have been "Capra chinos."
"I made a purchase using my credit card over the weekend in the Haight-Ashbury district," writes Earl "I'm still alive" Jive, "and to sign the receipt, the good fellow handed me a cheap ball-point pen with a cluster of feathers taped to the end of a quill. I asked the clerk: 'Is this to prevent against inadvertent pilferage?' He responded: 'No. Sometimes people walk off and steal 'em by mistake!'"
Judy "castaway" Meyers informed me that a rather inhibited engineer finally splurged on a luxury cruise to the Caribbean. It was the "craziest" thing he had ever done in his life. Just as he was beginning to enjoy himself, a hurricane roared upon the huge ship, capsizing it like a child's toy. Somehow the engineer, desperately hanging on to a life preserver, managed to wash ashore on a secluded island. Outside of beautiful scenery, a spring-fed pool, bananas and coconuts, there was little else. He lost all hope and for hours on end, sat under the same palm tree.
One day, after several months had passed, a gorgeous woman in a small rowboat appeared. "I'm from the other side of the island," she said. "Were you on the cruise ship, too?"
"Yes, I was," he answered. "But where did you get that rowboat?"
"Well, I whittled the oars from gum tree branches, wove the reinforced gunnel from palm branches, and made the keel and stern from Eucalyptus tree."
"But, what did you use for tools?" asked the man.
"There was a very unusual strata of alluvial rock exposed on the south side of the island. I discovered that if I fired it to a certain temperature in my kiln, it melted into forgeable ductile iron. Anyhow, that's how I got the tools. But, enough of that," she said. "Where have you been living all this time? I don't see any shelter."
"To be honest, I've just been sleeping on the beach," he said. "Would you like to come to my place?" the woman asked. The engineer nodded dumbly.
She expertly rowed them around to her side of the island, and tied up the boat with a handsome strand of hand-woven hemp topped with a neat back splice. They walked up a winding stone walk she had laid and around a Palm tree. There stood an exquisite bungalow painted in blue and white. "It's not much, but I call it home." Inside, she said, "Sit down please; would you like to have a drink?"
"No, thanks," said the man. "One more coconut juice and I'll throw up!"
"It won't be coconut juice," the woman replied. "I have a crude still out back, so we can have authentic Pina Coladas."
Trying to hide his amazement, the man accepted the drink, and they sat down on her couch to talk. After they had exchanged stories, the woman asked, "Tell me, have you always had a beard?" "No," the man replied, "I was clean shaven all of my life until I ended up on this island."
"Well if you'd like to shave, there's a razor upstairs in the bathroom cabinet." The man, no longer questioning anything, went upstairs to the bathroom and shaved with an intricate bone-and-shell device honed razor sharp. Next he showered -- not even attempting to fathom a guess as to how she managed to get warm water into the bathroom -- and went back downstairs. He couldn't help but admire the masterfully carved banister as he walked.
"You look great," said the woman. "I think I'll go up and slip into something more comfortable." As she did, the man continued to sip his Pina Colada.
After a short time, the woman, smelling faintly of gardenias, returned wearing a revealing gown fashioned out of pounded palm fronds. "Tell me," she asked, "we've both been out here for a very long time with no companionship. You know what I mean. Haven't you been lonely, too...isn't there something that you really, really miss? Something that all men and woman need? Something that would be really nice to have right now!"
"Yes there is!" the man replied, shucking off his shyness. "There is something I've wanted to do for so long. But on this island all alone, it was just...well, it was impossible."
"Well, it's not impossible, any more," the woman said.
The man, practically panting in excitement, said breathlessly: "You mean... you actually figured out some way we can CHECK OUR EMAIL!!??!!"
TOKYO, May 20 (UPI) -- Blast-testing of rocket-thrust chemicals in Hokkaido, northern Japan may have killed nearly 500 chickens at a poultry farm, a Japanese daily newspaper reports. The mass circulation Asahi Shimbun says Tuesday, the National Space Development Agency will suspend its test explosions because they are suspected of having scared the farm birds to death. Officials from the agency said that in the absence of another explanation, they could not deny that noise from the explosions had killed the chickens.
In the town of Atsuma, on Japan's northernmost main island, inhabitants of a poultry farm chicken coop were found dead following a series of three test explosions last week. An investigation is under way to determine the cause of the deaths, while officials have suggested that an overcast sky that day may have amplified the sound of the blasts. (Richard Arnold-san) No wonder they love virtual pets there!
More reasons to freeze yourself as soon as possible and get defrosted in 2001: "Get your virtual pet he-ah! Step right up!" Yes, Giga Pets (Gaga me with a spoon) are coming to our shores as well! And I mean Digital Doggies, Compu Kitties, Microchimps, Bit Critters, Virtual Aliens and even Baby T-Rexes (Lost World," indeed)... Then in Home PC Magazine, a few new games caught (or nearly put out) my eye -- "Redneck Rampage" described as having "All the killin', twice the humor...half the intelligence." And for the dweeb who has nothing to play with, is "BLOOD, with more bloody features and Gore Galore (Al's mistress?) in true rooms, over-rooms and hidden hellholes (Al's mistress?) featuring team play and all new humiliations, (Al's ...?) 12 sick, sick weapons, including voodoo dolls, tesla cannons and life leeches, and 17 ugly-ass enemies like hell-hounds, phantasms, chrysalides and the almighty Tchernobog (That's her REAL name...) Or build your own abomination! Blood -- Spill Some More."
As Cronenberg says, "I think art is a benevolent dictatorship, not a democracy."
© 1996/2002 by Phil Proctor