Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Friday, February 24, 2012

End of the week wrap-up

Well, it's Friday, and "TGIF" is the slogan of the day here at Worldwide Wacko Watch.  But before we kick back for the weekend, there are a few stories we need to put to bed, all contributions by regular readers of this blog.

The first one, which comes from Hebei Province, China, is a tawdry story of bigamy -- a girl playing fast and loose with the hearts of two young swains.  Worse still, the parents of all three were aware, even complicit in, the affair.  (Source)

Worst of all, all three of the participants were dead at the time.

Apparently in this region of China, it's considered adding insult to injury if you die single.  Presumably being dead is bad enough, but being dead and not getting any is just intolerable.  So if a single family member dies, it's considered the only reasonable thing to do to find a nearby eligible person (eligible in the sense of being approximately the same age, unmarried, and also dead), and marry them to each other post-mortem.  The dowry, paid to the young woman's family, can run over 30,000 yuan ($4,700).

In this case, however, another young man's family wanted the same for him, so they hired grave robbers to dig up the woman's body, and married her off to their young bachelor, again at a cost of 30,000 yuan.

You have to wonder how the spirit world will handle all of these three-way goings-on.  Bigamy is illegal in China, so presumably the best thing to do would be to find a dead lawyer who is willing to write up divorce papers.  On the other hand, maybe the rules are different in the afterlife, so perhaps we should leave well enough alone if the happy, um, trio is okay with it.

Speaking of leaving well enough alone, we now travel to the town of Totnes (Devon), England, where a war is being fought over some gnome statues that were placed, by the approval of town officials, in a local roundabout.  (Source)

Well, to be more accurate, they're not your typical, quaint garden gnomes.  What they are is statues of the Seven Dwarfs, spray-painted bright blue.  The overall effect is that they look like the love children of Dopey and Smurfette.

Many Totnesians are not amused.

"Please assure me I haven't been imbibing an illegal hallucinogenic substance and that the shiny blue monstrosities on the roundabout in Totnes are not a figment of my fevered mind," said Hazel Fuller, of Dartington.

Another Totnes resident, Chris Keleher, said, "The offending gnomes may be appropriate in Las Vegas or in Disneyland but to claim that they enhance the image of Totnes in any way is to insult the values of what Totnes is supposed to stand for."

Apparently, a few folks have even called for the resignation of the mayor, Judy Westacott, for "a breach of public trust and humiliation."

Others have defended the gnomes (and the mayor).  In what may be one of the oddest non sequiturs I've ever heard, Ann Rutherford, of Totnes in Bloom (the organization that sponsored the gnomes in the first place), said, "Real Totnesians have fallen about with laughter at the blue gnomes.  They are great fun.  It is only uptight, humorless incomers who object.  Do we constantly have to go round in hair shirts eating organically grown food?"

So there you have it, Totnes: your choices are (1) fall about with laughter at the spray-painted Disney dwarfs, or (2) wear hair shirts and eat organically-grown food.  The choice, I think, is clear.

Speaking of choices, our last story brings us back to the US, where all of the furor over the 2012 presidential election is about to be resolved in a singularly spectacular fashion.

Some of you probably have heard about UFO Phil, and in fact I did a post on him last October (here) describing his plans to build a UFO refueling station on Alcatraz Island.  Now, he's back in the spotlight, for a different reason -- he says that by the power invested in the aliens from another galaxy who he's been talking to, he's going to assume the US presidency in November regardless of who wins the popular vote or the ballots cast in the electoral college.  (Source)

Now, before you say that this is impossible, remember that this is essentially what George W. Bush did in 2000, if you replace "aliens from another galaxy" with "his brother Jeb and other cronies from the state of Florida."

In any case, UFO Phil is content to let the debates and all continue for the time being.  "I'm going to become your new president," he said, brimming with his usual ebullient confidence.  "Don't worry, Obama, Mitt Romney and whoever else can still have their little election.  That's not going to affect me."

As far as what his platform is, he says that the first thing he'll do as president is to establish a "Senate for Terrestrial Relations," whose purpose would be to prepare for the arrival of "our brothers from space."  He would then decommission the military, and replace all of the airplanes and so on with spaceships.  Last, he would take down the Statue of Liberty, and replace it with a monument to Zaxon, the leader of the friendly aliens.

"He has very nice skin and will look phenomenal as a statue," UFO Phil told reporters.

Me, I'm okay with it.  It can't be much worse than what some of our other government leaders are currently doing.  So UFO Phil would have my vote, as long as he promises not to sing at his inauguration, because I've heard some of his songs (you can find plenty on YouTube), and I have to say that if I had a choice between listening to UFO Phil sing and removing both ears with a belt sander, it would be a tough call.

Anyhow, that's our news for Friday here at Worldwide Wacko Watch.  Chinese dead bigamists, blue dwarf statues in England, and UFO Phil destined for the presidency.  So thanks to all who submitted links, and a happy TGIF to all of you.

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