Yes, I realise that this should have been written on Sunday. Must do something about that.

This week’s Idiot of the Week Award goes to the Moon Landing Deniers.

Even if the moon landings were faked (which they weren’t), it’s still a better movie than James Cameron’s ‘Titanic’. Pic from worldofweirdthings.com

Following the death of Neil Armstrong on Saturday, his passing was noted by pretty much every news organisation on the planet. He’s one of the most famous humans in history. So much so that in a few hundred years, it’s quite possible that only three things from the twentieth century will be significant enough to be known by a typical eight-year old: the two world wars and Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. While many people were recalling the achievement of Neil Armstrong and NASA on Saturday evening, the Moon Landing Deniers were reminding everyone that they don’t believe that it happened. I realise that a chunk of them like to call themselves Moon Landing Truthers or Moon Truthers but, either way, it’s pretty clear to whom I’m referring.  Discussions as to whether the Apollo missions actually reached the moon or the moon missions were all a hoax shot on a soundstage have been active since the mid-1970s, with flames initially fanned by Bill Kaysing’s self-published book We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle. Obviously the Flat Earth Society had some profound views as well.

Over the years, photos and video footage from the missions have been examined at great length by scientists and non-scientists, leading to a series of accusations and rebuttals on the topic. Short view: there are too many people in the world who make up their minds based on one or two badly-made documentaries by people looking for attention. There’s a comprehensive wikipedia page examining the claims and evidence, which is a nice embarkation point if you’d like to check out what people have been claiming for forty years. A simple google search for “moon hoax” will give you as much information on both sides (crazy and sane) as you’d ever need to know. To a committed conspiracy theorist, evidence is nothing compared to what they really know in their hearts so if you’re convinced that Stanley Kubrick directed a series of movies for NASA depicting faked landings on a holographic moon that is only 30,000 feet above the surface of the Earth, there’s nothing that anyone can say to convince you that it actually happened. Still, don’t worry – you won an award this week. Even if it’s the Idiot of the Week Award from someone you’d consider one of the sheeple. Everyone loves awards.

Here’s a two minute sketch from series 4 of That Mitchell and Webb Look. If we’re going to talk about moon landings, we may as well get a laugh out of them.

 

NBC was first with the story of Armstrong’s death and NBC staffers got everything correct in their tweet announcing that Neil Armstrong had died. Unfortunately, on the NBC website, they didn’t.

NBC’s announcement of the death of “Astronaut Neil Young, first man to walk on the moon”

We’ve all thought one thing and typed another. But just for the record, Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon, died on Saturday. Neil Young, Canadian rocker who released an album called ‘Harvest Moon’, is still alive.

 

Dishonourable mentions:

 

The Todd Akin “legitimate rape” incident has turned into a minor saga since last week, mostly due to Rep. Akin deciding that he needed a bigger hole to sit in. He’s continued to dig down, hoping to find sanctuary, forgiveness and a group of voters who will assume that he’s just a misunderstood good ol’ boy. Let’s remember his original quote from last Sunday:

“Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

When his comments became international news, Akin’s first reaction was to assume that the problem was with the use of the word “legitimate”. He said that what he meant was “forcible rape”. Over the next few days, he gradually realised that the greater problem was with his statement that the female body has a built-in alarm system to prevent pregnancy when a woman is raped. He eventually said that his statement was incorrect, asked for people’s forgiveness and their prayers. One can reasonably assume that he’s made peace with his God over the issue as he sees him in the mirror every morning.

Rep. Akin has confirmed that he’s staying in the Senate race in Missouri, despite GOP leaders pleading with him to drop out and withdrawing central funding for his campaign. John Cornyn, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, accused Akin of “endangering Republicans’ hopes of retaking the majority in the Senate”. Since Akin’s comments were made public, his lead in Missouri opinion polls has turned into a nine-point lead for Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill. He’s clearly “endangering Republicans’ hopes of retaking the majority in the Senate”.

The Renegade Raging Grannies took some time out to record this song with a message for Todd Akin. As it’s sung to the tune of Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, it’s pretty darned catchy.

 

Most people have become used to the reality that large corporations are not charitable organisations and have profit-generation as their primary purpose. Still, no-one expected Chris Mahoney, director of agriculture trading at Glencore, to come out with this humdinger in relation to difficulties in feeding all the people on the planet: “The environment is a good one. High prices, lots of volatility, a lot of dislocation, tightness, a lot of arbitrage opportunities.” You could reasonably say that he’s just being honest – CEOs at some of the large food companies are probably rubbing their fists with glee as a result of the failure of local crops in the US Midwest and across Russia. Wholesale food prices have soared this year as crop yields have taken a beating, leading to food shortages across the world. With a few short comments, Mahoney managed to remind anyone listening that he’s planning on making a fat pile of cash out of it. There’s probably a team of PR people in his office trying to teach him how to act a little more sad about it.

 

Spare a thought for Ole Derje, the director of the Soli Brug Gallery in Greaaker (Norway), who has been saving his gallery some money, pennies at a time, by not using courier services to transport artworks bought for the gallery. This week a Rembrandt went missing in the post. Mr Derje said that the painting is worth 40,000 to 50,000 crowns. The Norwegian postal service is offering him compensation of about 2% of its value as it was sent via regular post. They have “advised him to use a more appropriate form of mail when sending items that are worth as much as this with the appropriate insurance connected”. Mr Derje has presumably now realised that all of the money he saved the gallery over the years by using regular post has been dwarfed by the amount of money lost when one parcel went missing.

 

Barack Obama is “110% behind our teachers”, according to a tweet from today. I realise that this is a personal bugbear of mine but this 110% thing has to stop. Saying that you’re 110% behind anything is bad enough on a regular day but when you’re president of the United States, you’re not helping. When you’re using the magic percentage to refer to supporting teachers, including mathematics teachers, you’re reaching for the idiot box. I didn’t think that Barack Obama would make the weekly list this early as he’s rather smarter than his predecessor but I’ve attached the tweet below for your own head-shaking pleasure.

 

Driving while intoxicated is a bad idea. It’s also illegal and rightly so. New Zealand forklift driver Ryan Scott Thompson was so drunk that he went off the road and ploughed his car into the living room of an elderly resident of Woodend, New Zealand at the end of July. His court case was last week, which makes him eligible for the week’s Idiot award. But there would have to be more to the story to make the cut and, of course, there is. It wasn’t enough that his blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit. While the police officer on the scene was taking some details, Thompson was busying himself by urinating into the box of breathalyser tubes. Yes, that’s right. He pissed all over 301 breathalysers without pausing. Apart from the expected driving ban and fine, he’ll also have to pay for the breathalysers. And suffer people poking fun at him on the Internet.

 

British para-cycling world champion Jon-Allan Butterworth has accused non-cyclist members of the UK’s Paralympic squad of “just having a laugh” in an interview with the Daily Telegraph. His blunt comments included: “The para-cycling team won 17 gold medals and three silvers in Beijing from a squad that was only 13-strong. Athletics had 30-odd people there and they won two golds, so where’s that money gone? Scrap all their funding, give it to cyclists and we’ll win double the medals we do already.” Coming only a few days after Lance Armstrong’s decision not to contest the US Anti-Doping Agency’s case that Armstrong had been using prohibited substances in his cycling career, it hasn’t been a good few days for the image of professional cycling. Butterworth apologised for his comments earlier today, after realising that other athletes would probably hear about them.


Tyra Banks seems intent on telling everyone that she’s a graduate of Harvard Business School following her completion of an Owner/President Management Program at the college’s open-enrollment extension school.  Tyra Banks is very far from a dummy but she’s not doing herself any favours here.

 

British smalltime shoplifter Marcus Banwell managed to outwit himself by chewing down on a Scotch Bonnet pepper that he’d lifted from the Singh Stores in Bristol. After drawing attention to himself by vomiting outside the shop, police discovered another four chilli peppers in his pockets (which he was presumably planning on enjoying later with a nice glass of milk and a hospital), a clarinet tucked into his trousers, determined to have been stolen from a nearby music shop, and some crack cocaine and heroin. A Scotch Bonnet pepper has a heat rating of 12-40 times that of a typical jalapeño pepper. Not recommended for consumption on an empty stomach. Or, if you’re me, ever.

 

Let’s close with something cute from the land of leprechauns (as I live in the land of leprechauns, I’m happy to remind you that there are no leprechauns).
The Irish Department of Finance has done some crazy things in the past decade. Failing to adequately respond to an overheating housing market, turning massive losses incurred by non-state-run banks into into debts owed by the state and taking an economy with effectively no unemployment into one with 15% unemployment in under four years. This could be true of most governments in Europe in recent times though. Here’s a new form of craziness: the Department of Finance is actively considering a change in car number plates next year to avoid the number 13. Even nuttier is that the proposed change won’t actually get rid of 13 from the licence plates – it’ll add a ‘1’ or ‘2’ to the end of the number. There are some other reasons for doing so – as the current system effectively groups all cars bought in the same calendar year for ageing purposes, the new system would make cars purchased after June seem newer to buyers. The government hopes that this will encourage more people to buy cars, thereby supporting the car sales market. Ireland has no car manufacturing industry and also has an issue with import-export trade balances. Clearly, this is a country that needs to import more cars.

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