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Journalists' new math and lap dancing

By Michael R. Shannon
web posted January 4, 2010

I was hoping my home publication would manage to avoid the madness, but unfortunately my it fell victim, too. I found the dreaded issue asking readers to pick the top ten stories of the decade on my driveway last week.

Now I'm a great believer in lead-time, but 368 days is probably a bit excessive for something as ephemeral as a newspaper contest. Particularly when the decade doesn't end until December 31, 2010.

It's pretty sobering to realize the profession the country depends upon for news, analysis and the latest on Michelle's upper arms simply can't count. A decade is ten years, but for some reason journalism is hell bent closing this one out a year early.

Possibly they can't wait to get the Bush Presidency behind them or the industry representatives don't think they will be around to pontificate when the real conclusion arrives next year.

Of course Y2K hysteria in 1999 is partly to blame. This was the panic where computers were going to revolt at midnight on December 31, 1999 and refuse to open pod bay doors, erase your bank account and steal the presidential election for George Bush.

Y2K was a computer programming problem compounded by journalists' congenital math ignorance as they simultaneously declared 1999 the end of the millennium.

Why this confuses journalists remains mysterious. When you count to ten, you start with one and that is the same way you count years in a decade. I would assume that if you borrowed ten bucks from a reporter and tried to repay him with only nine, he'd object. But he has no problem shortchanging us on our decade.

When B.C. changed to A.D. the count began at one and not zero, so every decade since ends on the ten year and not the nine year. Therefore, 2010 will mark the end of this decade — in spite of the misinformation you've read in Parade magazine.

This decade ignorance has been weighing so heavily on my mind that it came as quite a surprise to learn that while I was fighting calendar confusion, the head of Homeland Security, Janet "The Big Sneeze" Napolitano decided she wants someone to stare at my groin when I fly this month.

Intense official concern with airline passenger laps comes in the wake of an attempted Christmas Day terror bombing by Nigerian who would have been better off sticking to email scams instead of re–enacting an episode of Watch Mr. Wizard among his private parts.

Ironically, this particular attack is actually one of the rare modern afflictions that doesn't originate the groin area.

If the Underwear Police had prevented the BVD bomber from boarding there would have been no attack. By contrast, can you imagine what would have happened if a member of Westboro Baptist had gone into an Aryan Nation camp for a few weeks, cut off contact with his father and started frequenting Klan websites?

Billy–Bob Baptist's father is so alarmed he warns authorities. Billy–Bob then goes to the airport and buys a one–way ticket for Oklahoma City, pays cash and says he has no luggage.

You think Billy–Bob would have been allowed to fly? You think Billy–Bob would have made it back to the parking lot?

Only followers of the "religion of peace" can get away with this behavior. Until TSA can overcome its Muslimophobia (inordinate fear of Muslim backlash and career–ending publicity after instituting reasonable security precautions) we get to enjoy the latest "security measures" every time a jihadi decides to have a party in his pants.

First, passengers will be subject to pat–down searches. This is a win–win for Democrats and a textbook example of TSA irrelevancy.

Passenger poking will require major expansion of the soon–to–be–unionized Underwear Police, while providing additional employment for discrimination and harassment trial lawyers. Plus, none of the government gropers will ever touch any of the body parts where the bomber actually hid his equipment.

Passengers who make it on the plane with their virtue intact are now banned from leaving seats or opening the overhead bins for the last hour of the flight; they are not allowed to have any electronic devices in their laps; nor are they allowed to cover their laps with blankets, coats or strange women.

TSA has not clarified if clutching your groin after you miss the bathroom deadline will qualify as a violation of the policy.

Personally, I've seen morbidly obese passengers with enough stomach overlap to allow one to assemble furniture in complete privacy. Which member of the flight crew is going to volunteer to peek under that?

And how awkward is flying going to be now with self–appointed lap police casting sidelong glances at their neighbors?

I admit there was a period in my life when the thought of a stewardess ogling my lap would have been exciting, but age, maturity and the addition of males to the ranks of flight attendants has proven a permanent airborne fantasy killer for me. ESR

Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He is a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker. He can be reached at michael-shannon@comcast.net.




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