No Comment – amusing news reports on current events

No Comment – amusing news reports on current events – Brief Article

Silver Lining

From The Wall Street Journal: “Philip Morris Co. officials in the Czech Republic have been distributing an economic analysis … [that] totes up smoking’s `positive effects’ on national finances, including revenue from excise and other taxes on cigarettes and ‘health care cost saving due to early mortality.’ The premature death of smokers saved the Czech government between 943 million koruna and 1.19 billion koruna ($23.8 million to $30.1 million) on health care, pensions, and housing for the elderly in 1999, according to the report.” Philip Morris later apologized for the study.

So Much for “The Rules”

From an article in The Wall Street Journal on Rules III: Time-Tested Secrets for Making Your Marriage Work, the third in a series of controversial relationship books: “[The book] advises a married woman to be subservient to her mate and to wear her hair long, because men supposedly find it more attractive. And don’t go looking to your husbands for sympathy about life’s daily hassles, the authors caution, since men shouldn’t be expected to be good nurturers. … `A Rules marriage is forever,’ the authors proclaimed. … But as Rules III was being readied for print in mid-January, [author Ellen] Fein, forty-three, dropped a bomb on Warner Books. In a phone call to her editor, she revealed that she had filed for divorce from her husband of sixteen years.”

Virtual Democracy

From an article in State Legislatures magazine on EchoMail, a new e-mail system to manage constituent e-mail to U.S. Senate offices: The system will “sort through the Senator’s position papers on [relevant] issues, string together prefabricated paragraphs from its data bank, and then fuse them into a coherent, seemingly personalized whole that would be sent as a response. In most cases, a human aide in the Senate office would never read the constituent’s e-mail.”

Alternative Energy Plans

Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking to reporters about the benefits of new oil drilling technology that he says has little impact on the environment: “You `could put a rig on the White House lawn and it could suck oil from all over the metropolitan area.'”

IRS Renamed

From a form 1099-R, received by a taxpayer in Sacramento, California: “Report this income on your federal tax return. … This information is being furnished to the Infernal Revenue Service.”

The WTO Gets Hip

From an Alternet wire service story on a World Trade Organization P.R. campaign aimed at American teens. The campaign is outlined in a memo produced by the U.S. marketing firm Y Not, Inc.: “We believe we can realize significant market share for the WTO `brand.’ … We recommend the following media strategies: Team up with professional comedy writers to produce comic material relating to the `Anti’ competitor `brand.’ Discussions are underway with The Daily Show, Conan O’Brien, and Saturday Night Live. Recruit model/spokespersons. Polling indicates that `Anti’ has benefited significantly from association with high profile musicians/actors. (Note: 43 percent of teen girls identified U2 singer Bono as related to the `Anti’ `brand.’)…. Of teens reporting fatigue with the `Anti’ `brand,’ 46 percent focused on `Anti’ merchandise including puppets, bandannas, and gas masks. The relatively static nature of `Anti’ `brand’ merchandise creates the opportunity for the WTO `brand’ to effectively compete for market share by introducing its own product line.”

Foul Play

From a wire service story datelined New Brunswick, New Jersey: “Two former Rutgers basketball players and a team manager who said they were forced to do naked wind sprints can sue their former coaches Kevin Bannon and Tod Kowalczyk, an appellate court has ruled. … The nude drill followed a free-throw shooting contest during a 1997 basketball practice. The three agreed to shed a piece of clothing for every missed shot, but said they expected it would stop at undershorts.”

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