Major Headlines Archives
John Bobbit: Immortalized Through Verbification
I use the term "Bobbitized" in this week's edition.
The first charitable organization plug in TJI was for earthquake relief, after a 7.2 shock hit Kobe, Japan, on January 17, 1995:
The Red Planet
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Pathfinder and Sojourner rover have completed their primary mission on Mars, returning 9,669 pictures of the surface and a huge amount of other scientific data about our red neighbor.
When the Clinton sex scandal broke, readers started feeding me stories. No worries: I was already on top of it (as it were). I find so many stories -- either on my own or as submitted by readers, I start thinking about whether I should do several stories in True on the subject.
But there are so many -- and I have so many "regular" stories in my queue already -- that I just threw up my hands and pounded out two columns today: a regular one, and a special Clinton Fornigate issue.
Trying to Work in the Days After 9/11
It was hard to write True this week. Very hard. It was hard to be funny, though the lead story is definitely not meant to be funny. I consider those two men's comments downright treasonous. But the response to last week's Premium edition (which many did not read until after they saw last Tuesday's morning news), and the response to the free edition Friday night, told me how much people need things to return to normal. How much people need to have something to smile over. So I did my best to meet both of those needs. If I can be one of the people to bring you a smile, I'm gratified.
9/11: The Aftermath
This week Premium subscribers wrote in huge numbers thanking me for speaking out strongly against the downright treasonous comments made by two of America's self-appointed "religious leaders".
And thanks so much for your notes of support for my decision to publish last week, to get back to "normal" as soon as possible. Charles in Ohio was one: "Thank you for your newsletter. Not only does it provide some levity during a somber time, but it also shows that life does and should go on. As you indicated, to let these tragic incidents disrupt our daily lives lets the terrorists succeed." Candy in Texas: "I would like to thank you for sending out this week's TRUE. I am saddened by the news, but I am hungry for diversions."
9/11: More (but Happy) Aftermath
Wow: what an incredible response to the last issue. There were kudos for being able to write an issue at all, kudos for staying on schedule, and overwhelming support for my American Taliban story. Yes, there have been a couple of complaints about it, as I expected, including one today about how the reader is tired of my "regular attacks on Chrisitanity", so I need to make something clear: I do not attack Christianity, I attack the stupid rantings of some Christians -- just as I attack the stupidity of some lawyers, politicians, school officials, cops, etc. I often get letters complaining when I "attack" religious stupidity, but I rarely get them from cops when (say) I "attack" something stupid a cop does. I'm often called "anti-Christian" but not "anti-cop". Why do you suppose that is?
After 9/11: Flying the Friendly Skies
Exactly six weeks after terrorists turned several of our airliners into guided missiles, I flew again. Going through security at Denver International was interesting: because my shoes apparently have metal in them, they asked me to remove them so they could run them through the x-ray machine. I actually think that's fairly smart; if you want to smuggle razor blades onto an airliner, that'd be the place to do it. The only gotcha: do you think they provided chairs for the dozens of people they were doing this to so they could put their shoes back on? Nope.
Babies 'R' Us? Yes They Are
A story this week brought in a huge reader response -- and an unbeliveable reply from "Babies 'R' Us" to my readers who complained to them:
The iLoo is Flushed
Did a story in This is True ridiculing an announced new product from Microsoft result in its cancellation? Let’s look at the evidence, starting with the story that appeared in True’s 11 May 2003 issue:
Wardrobe Malfunction? Hah!
Never Has One Boob Created Such a Phenomenon
You either saw it or you heard about it: the Janet Jackson "flash". I happened to be walking by the TV (my wife was watching the Super Bowl) at the exact moment it happened. I stopped in my tracks, backed up, and said to her, "Did I just see what I thought I saw?" My wife, a bit stunned, said "I think so...."
Dick Ebersol's Plane Crash
You may have heard about the plane crash last weekend (November 28, 2004) in Montrose, Colorado, mainly because a "celebrity" was aboard (NBC Sports head Dick Ebersol; his wife is actress Susan Saint James). Three people were killed. Montrose is the small airport I fly out of, about 18 miles from my house. It's the "big" town around here, but it's still pretty small -- the population is around 12,000. I live in the next county; by contrast, my entire county only recently passed 4,000 residents in its 550 square miles.
Before I get started each week, I do a last scan of the news to make sure I haven't missed anything big. And one of the first stories I found was a report that one of my mentors had died yesterday morning: Johnny Carson.
The Spectre of 6/6/6
Tomorrow (as I write this), it'll be 6 June 2006, which some have been shorthanding as 6/6/6 (except of course in Europe, where they put the dates in different order, in which case it'll instead read 6/6/6).
Looking Back at 9/11
So here it is, 9/11 -- the first time I've published a True newsletter on that date since the fateful events in 2001. "The" 9/11 was a Tuesday, so Premium had already gone out. That gave me a few days to get it together before I ran a free edition, and a couple of more days before I actually had to write again, which I do on Sundays -- that's why every column has a Sunday date on it. Kit (my "significant other") and I were Red Cross volunteers back then, and spent most of that week helping out at shelters taking care of hundreds of stranded travelers.
Ability Meets Need
I watched the news reports last Wednesday from Platte Canyon High School in the small mountain town of Bailey, Colorado, with a bit of dread. (It was nothing like Columbine: some drifter took hostages, and killed one of them -- a 16-year-old girl he didn't know. He then shot himself.) Not only was it a small mountain town in Colorado -- and I live on a mesa in Colorado just outside a town of just 700, and so it felt pretty "close to home" -- but I know the school well: I was a Red Cross volunteer during the summer of 2002, when Colorado was hit by so many wildfires in that area, and one of them started on the hill behind that very school. I was stationed there as a liaison between the Red Cross and the fire officials who set up a command post at the school. My job was to keep Red Cross Denver Headquarters up-to-date on where the fire was going so shelters could be set up for evacuees.
I have something to say about last week's story "about the vice president" (as most people are terming it):
I do a lot of research when looking for stories, and I see quite a bit of amazing stuff. Most of it I use for stories, but sometimes even truly wonderful items just don't quite make it into the final product. This is one such case.
Janet Jackson 'Wardrobe Malfunction' Update
You all remember the Janet Jackson 2004 Super Bowl "Wardrobe Malfunction", I'm sure. The Federal Communications Commission slapped CBS television with a $550,000 fine over that, but today a federal appeals court threw out the forfeiture, ruling the FCC "acted arbitrarily and capriciously" in fining the network.
Another April, Another Mass Shooting
There was another mass shooting today, a nut with a gun at an immigration office in New York, with at least a dozen killed. Here's what I want to know: why do these things so often happen in April?
The War on Kids
There will probably be two responses to the first story in this week's issue: 1) I was too hard on the public library/librarian, and 2) I wasn't hard enough on her. To be sure, my tagline was judging her based on the standards of the American Library Association.
But first the story, from True's 10 May 2009 issue:
A few comments about this week's lead story. If the location sounds somehow familiar, it's because that's where I live. Ouray County is pretty big (550 square miles), but is otherwise pretty small (around 4,100 people). And since I'm a volunteer with both our EMS agency and (occasionally) the local sheriff's office, I was quite aware of this event while it was happening. (I'm happy to say it wasn't in my response area, so I didn't have to go.)
Bear Country Update
An update on the Bear Story from a couple of weeks ago.
Now that Donna, the woman who was feeding them, is dead, sure enough: more bears are now invading town, breaking into houses far more than before to try to find food -- Donna isn't there to feed them, and what they now know is humans = food. Winter is coming, and they need to fatten up for hibernation; they're ravenous. Last week another of my friends had her place broken into; she has two teen daughters; one was home at the time, and came face to face with the unafraid bear.
Yeah: Looks Like I Got It!
I've been out of the office for the better part of a week, and am even farther behind on e-mail and other work than usual. Last Thursday I drove with a friend to Reno, where we were both speakers at the Mensa "gathering" put on by a friend of ours there. I'll have more to say about that later, but my talk went very well. We drove back Sunday, through a couple of snow storms and a sand storm in the Utah desert, and again straight through -- I only took over at the wheel for a few hours. (My medic buddy Norm is a road warrior!)
Zero Tolerance and the 800-lb Gorilla
The New York Times had an article today on a ridiculous zero tolerance situation: a kid in Delaware who was so excited to get his Cub Scouts camping utensil -- a fork, knife and spoon combo -- that he took it to school to eat his lunch with. Yeah, a Cub Scout: Zachary Christie is just 6 years old. Wait: it had a dull, kid-appropriate knife included? Why, knives are weapons! Run in circles! Pull out your hair! Scream like a little girl!
Sendai Earthquake and Tsunami
A few thoughts about today's earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The video coming out of there is horrific. There will surely be many thousands of casualties.
Bye Bye Bin Laden
I find it difficult to "celebrate" any death, but I have to admit to feeling a bit of satisfaction that a man who declared war on us finally got a small measure of payback. ("I've never wished a man dead, but I've read some obituaries with great pleasure." —Mark Twain)
The End of the World: 2011 Edition
I can't just title this page "The End of the World", because that has been predicted before. And before that. And before that, and — well, you get the idea.
Ooh! Do It Again!
Last week I did a harder-than-usual "push" for subscription upgrades. You might like to know the excellent result: 32 upgrades. Just 32 upgrades is "excellent"?! Yep. The week before, it was four. The week before that was better: 15.
Remembrance and Reconciliation
There were a couple of stories I found earlier in the month, but decided to hold until the Memorial Day issue. And they get to be in the blog, since one of them has illustrations you need to see for the complete effect.
No Parking -- Lithuanian Style
I've had a couple of complaints about a story in the 7 August 2011 issue. Let's start with the story:
Honorary Unsubscribe: Yueyue
I don't often copy Honorary Unsubscribe write-ups to the True site: there's an archive for those. But I suspect readers are going to want to talk about this one, from True's 23 October 2011 issue:
The Worship of Joe Paterno
I'm having trouble with all the Joe Paterno worship I'm seeing today. Yeah, he was a "winning football coach" and all, but when he found out one of his assistant coaches was raping little boys in his spare time (even on campus!), he did the very minimum required by law (reported it to his supervisor). He did NOT make sure it stopped, he did NOT make sure that the police had been notified, he did NOT fire the assistant coach, he did NOT apparently follow up at all. Seems to me that failure to act as a human being WAY outweighs being good at a freaking GAME. Who seriously disagrees with that? Really: if you still respect the man, tell me WHY.
In less than 24 hours, more than 150 people clicked "Like" to that statement and question, and there are nearly that many comments, too.
Two Tiny Scandals
Two stories this week will, I think, generate some comments from readers. One has a zero tolerance theme, and the other is a minor political scandal. They're both from True's 19 February 2012 issue.
Curiosity: the Mars Science Laboratory
My writing time this week was interrupted, even I only started in the late evening, because I had my satellite TV tuned in to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where they were monitoring the landing of the latest rover on Mars, Curiosity (the best-named science craft ever); the mission itself is called the Mars Science Laboratory — accurate, if not as inspiring.
There Are Still Adventures
It's 2012. There are no more adventures. Been there, done that, seen it, ho hum, right?
There are still adventures to be had in this world, and several of them happened this past week.
Thinking about Newtown
Is it guns? Is it violent TV shows, movies, or video games? Is it crazy America?
Asking the Right Questions
After my previous blog post, the response from readers was fantastic — the clarity, the different ideas, the stating the problem without blaming or exonerating guns. But Rob in Sydney Australia didn't seem to "get" what I was saying that in the national "debate" about mass shootings, we're asking the wrong questions. It came to a head after this comment, by Tyler in Massachusetts:
Why I Embrace "Gay Marriage"
Simply put, I fully believe in the idea that "all men* are created equal" and are entitled to equal protection under the law.
*("men" being a generic word for humans, as in "mankind" — I believe the statement equally applies to women.)
Even Non-Weird Stories Can Be Weird
Yes, I know I'm weird. I know I see things differently than most people. I know I notice things that ...um... normal people mostly wouldn't. And I skim a lot of news stories while searching out illustrations of the Human Condition.
Bashing the "Lamestream Media"
A good friend “shared” something on social media not too long ago that really made me roll my eyes. It was about the wanna-be terrorist “Shoe Bomber” Richard Reid. Just before Christmas in 2001, Reid, a Brit, got on an American Airlines plane from Paris to Florida, and while in-flight he tried to light a bomb in his shoe. Other passengers subdued him, and his airplane bombing fizzled. He’s now in prison in the U.S., serving a life sentence without parole.
Part of the posting that my friend copied (he didn’t write it, he just shared it) was this:
Revenue-Virginius Mine Disaster
I write This is True (and edit the submissions of the contributing writers) each Sunday. On Mondays I write the surrounding features, like the Honorary Unsubscribe and the True Tidbit of the Week. It's a fair amount of material, and it's almost always possible to get it done in two days.
But not this week.
I Am Charlie
I Am Charlie. Unless you live in a cave, you probably have heard something about a terrorist attack on a weekly magazine in Paris this week. Charlie is Charlie Hebdo. Who’s he? Well, that’s French for Weekly Charlie — and they chose “Charlie” for Charlie Brown, the perpetual underdog in the Peanuts comic strip.
Another Politician, Another Hypocrite
Another politician, another hypocrite — this time, the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Missouri. Let’s start with the story, from the 17 May 2015 issue:
Two Good Friends
Sometimes It’s Really Tough to write True — to be entertaining and thoughtful when your mind is preoccupied by something so pressing, it’s all you can think about. This weekend was one of those times.
Thursday afternoon, I got a message from a friend in Minneapolis, a former member of the mastermind group I run for online entrepreneurs. “Randy, did you see this?” — and a link to a newspaper article.
Land of the Scared
I had to get something off my chest. I’ve been seething about this for awhile, but a story this week brought it to a head. You probable saw it: it was the talk of social media last week. So let’s start with that, from True’s 20 September 2015 issue:
Hillary vs. Trump: The Votes are In!
I Really Hate to Keep sending traffic to Facebook, since they’re eating the Internet already, but man, have I been having fun there lately. Baiting the political partisans is like shooting fish in a barrel: easy and hella fun.
Orlando: What YOU Can Do
You — Yes, You — Can “Do Something” about Mass Killings. A good friend of mine posted this yesterday, after he heard about the 49 murders at a “gay night club” in Orlando, Florida, overnight. The gunman was killed in a shoot-out with police.
Knowing Is Half the Battle
True contributor Mike Straw, who as you might remember is a fairly recently retired career U.S. Air Force officer, had more to say about one of the stories he wrote this week. We’ll start first with the story, from the 7 August 2016 issue: