» Bizarre world ¦ What You Can Get Away With

This is real:

Cass Sunstein, a Harvard law professor, co-wrote an academic article entitled “Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures,” in which he argued that the government should stealthily infiltrate groups that pose alternative theories on historical events via “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine” those groups

This is The Onion:

I’d introduce the two of you, but it seems you’ve already met.

(Original link via Stuart Sharpe)

I blame Ben Goldacre, quite frankly. He was telling people on Twitter about a bizarre flyer that had come through his door – though seemingly not targeted at him personally – and my love of reading about conspiracy theories came to the fore and forced me to go look at David Icke’s Swine Flu website.

(By the way, according to Icke, men doing building work turning up in unmarked white vans is suspicious and indicative of a global conspiracy at work on the Isle of Wight. Yes, it seems that Icke wants to elevate White Van Man alongside the Black Helicopter in conspiracy myth.)

I could go through the craziness, but that would spare you the fun of reading it yourself. But what got my attention was Icke claiming that:

Something very big is about to go down. I can’t say exactly when, but we are talking months, not years.

Scary stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree. Not that Icke himself appears to, given that the front page of his website, rather than urging people to prepare themselves to hide from the coming ‘Orwellian control-system’ is exhorting them to come hear him speak at the Brixton Academy in May 2010. Yes, because global totalitarian dictatorships ushered in at the behest of our secret lizard Illuminati masters turn out to be surprisingly tolerant of mass gatherings of the supporters of The One Man Who Saw The Truth.

(Of course, I’m saying this because I’m a member of the secret Illuminati conspiracy, and the Finance And Audit Scrutiny Committee meeting I’m going to tonight is merely cover for the real business of the New World Order that we’ll be discussing afterwards)

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Odd story of the day comes from Peter Black:

As testimony to an enduring but rather extreme fascination with Egyptology, the mummy worshippers – many wearing robes and head-dresses – STROLL into the display room containing Tem Hor’s bandaged body and involve themselves in “unusual practices”.

Exhibitions officer Roger Gale said: “They were quite a problem before we introduced the security cameras but now they appear to have come back.

“They occasionally come to the museum on weekends and just seem to want to be in the presence of Tem Hor.

“They tend to bow low in front of the mummy case and mumble what appear to be prayers or incantations.

“The problem is they can appear quite menacing because they tend to wear strange clothes, behave rather oddly and want to stay for a long time. The display room containing Tem Hor is not big and they put other people off.

“We usually manage to get them to leave and it’s something we are keeping an eye on.”

I do love the way they’ve chosen to capitalise the most innocuous word in the story – STROLL – as though it might be quite normal behaviour as long as they strode, sprinted or walked purposefully into the room. Strolling or ambling into the presence of ancient Egyptian artefacts, though, is clearly evidence of the decline of moral fibre in the 21st century.

The best part of the story comes at the end, though:

a woman chanted before a display case of dusty Egyptian death masks, explaining: “They’re possessed by trapped ancient spirits. I must release them.”

The female visitor ignored requests to be quiet and it was only when staff at the Egypt Centre explained these particular artefacts were the modern creations of local schoolchildren taking part in a competition that she made her excuses and left.

There’s an entire series of the League of Gentlemen in that story – a bedragged Gatiss prostrate before the artefacts, Shearsmith the bemused museum director pestered by random acts of Egyptology while Pemberton teaches a class of creepily well-behaved Welsh children how to create Egyptian tomb goods, oblivious to the way their eyes glow as they work…

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We have a new contender for the list of Greatest Things Ever:

Via Graham Linehan, who states entirely reasonably: ‘This is my favourite news ever. Why isn’t this ON the news?’

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Now, I’m not a financial expert, but I’d like to give you a little bit of financial advice. If you’re investing any money following the recommendations of Investor’s Business Daily, I’d strongly advise you to reassess those investments.

Why? Because they’ve printed what may be one of the all-time great moronic statements in the history of the Internets, one so caked in ultimate wrongness that you can’t help but question just how they manage to turn computers on, let alone publish a website and financial advice. The context is in a discussion of the latest proposals for health care reform in the US, a debate that I’ve only been following peripherally, so can’t say how the rest of the article stacks up in the whole ‘truth vs oh-my-god-you-really-believe-that-nonsense’ stakes. (The article I got the link from seems to think it’s slightly bonkers overall).

But, let us cut to the chase and the idiocy you came here for. Strap yourself in and read this:

People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

Yes, someone wrote that, someone edited it and approved it to go out in the name of Investor’s Business Daily. Others have put it on the Internet and kept it there for well over a week, allowing the whole world to gaze at the stupid.

So remember – if you’re ever tempted to follow their investment advice: remember the stupid, and look after your money.

(Thanks to Mark on Facebook for the original link)

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I never win things – I’m one of the vast bulk of people who make up the non-winning section of the population, yet still enter prize draws and the like because of that perennial triumph of hope over expectation.

So, I was rather surprised to receive an email this morning letting me know that I have been selected for something. Well, I get those all the time, but this time it wasn’t from the Kazakhstan National Lottery telling me that I may have already won TEN MILLION ENGLISH POUNDS.

This was from One and Other, informing me that I’ve been selected as one of the people who gets to stand on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square as part of Antony Gormley’s latest project. So, between 5pm and 6pm on August 1st, I’ll be up there. No idea yet what I’m going to do beyond admire the view, but all suggestions are welcome – and if you can make it past the heavenly fire, plague of locusts and other obstacles that are no dount conspiring to thwart my triumphal pproach to the plinth, then feel free to come along and join the crowd.

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Via Jamie, a story for children from North Korea.