In a significant turn of events, the judge in the Michael Jackson case has today ruled that the prosecution may introduce previous allegations of sexual abuse into the trial. Furthermore, they may call anyone they feel like, regardless of whether or not they have any connection to the case.
Among the proposed witnesses are former child superstar Macaulay Culkin, who denies ever having been molested, Jordan Chandler, who dropped all charges in exchange for a pile of money taller that he was, and an unnamed 39-year old from Kentucky who bought a copy of the album ‘Thriller’ in 1987 and didn’t like it.
Jackson’s lawyers reacted angrily to the decision. “This is ridiculous.” said one, “It’s a clear attempt to undermine Michael with character assassination. That Kentucky guy has never even met him. He’s obviously just trying to make a name for himself.”
Defence attorneys did, however, manage to disqualify the testimony of former president Thomas Jefferson on the grounds that he died in 1826.
“Shucks,” commented District Attorney Thomas Sneddon, “having Jefferson on the stand? That would’a knocked the jury dead. No one’s gonna accuse him of lying.”
In a press conference shortly after the decision, Judge Rodney Melville denied that the case was turning into a circus, before riding away on a unicycle while juggling.
As we approach the release of the new Harry Potter book, fans across the world are desperate to get some small clues into what incredible adventures await our bespectacled hero and his two repressed teen love interests. Through detailed research, I believe I have come up with some definitive spoilers for the book for those who just can’t wait any longer.
With so much expectation, Rowling has left herself a huge task in this episode. Many fans believe this will be the one that ties all the links between the previous five books, but this in itself is no small task. The first problem for her is the role of the title character, the Half Blood Prince. Having established that this is neither Harry nor his nemesis, Lord Voldemort, we have also been able to establish it is none of the teachers at the school, any of the wildlife that lives in the woods and effectively all of the population of Inverness, who were fairly surprised to find themselves suspected in the first place.
We can infer one clue: he is a Prince of Half Blood. The other half of the Prince is probably treacle, or some sort of pasta. This rounds down the search considerably, though it does add a small portion of the population of Inverness back onto the suspects list. One thing we do know for certain is that during the story, he changes his name to an ancient magical symbol, and spends the remainder of the book being known as the Artist Formerly Known As The Half Blood Prince. We also know that he will be killed during the book when a bit of potion reacts badly with his blood or pasta or treacle.
Much of the story in this book will revolve around Sirius Black, who I believe is not the Prince either. Readers will remember that Sirius died in book five, which necessitates a certain amount of explanation. One explanation that I think is definitely, totally going to be in the book is that he kept himself from becoming fully dead by the desire to clear his name of murdering the Potters and a whole host of minor parking offences. Sirius really develops into a father figure in this book, spending long hours nursing Harry back to full health after a particularly tragic Quidditch accident. At the Christmas dinner, Harry eats so much that his new rounder figure is mistaken for a Bludger during a game and is attacked mid air by two Beaters who don’t notice his pathetic cries for help. Hermione, as ever, is the first to notice the mistake after a couple minutes, and goes off to work on a spell to save Harry. This takes a little over two months and by the time she emerges, the Beaters have left to have a sandwich and the rest of the story is almost done.
As has become tradition, there will be a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher this year. The most interesting and therefore most likely suggestion is that Professor Dumbledore takes the job because he realises it’s probably time he helped out with the one area of the curriculum that actually seems to come in handy every year. During the classes, they learn of the ancient skill of Running. They are taught that when they see someone likely to Avada Kedavra them something rotten, they should use their instincts to pick a direction that is not where the threat is, and Run in it. Dumbledore, despite his advanced years, coaches Harry in some advanced Running, helping to explain why he has still not been Avada Kedavra-ed after all this time. It comes in handy when Harry finally faces Voldemort and Runs so well that the curse misses by a long way. In his anger, Voldermort Avada Kerdavras Dumbledore in the back, when he wanders out to see how Harry was getting on.
One more recent rumour is that the new book features a greater emphasis on magic. By this, I don’t mean the false sorcery seen in previous books, but the much purer art of card tricks and the use of a magic hat. In one leaked section, Harry attempts to win back Cho Chang by placing Neville’s hand under a handkerchief and hitting it with a hammer. However, not only does it break in nine places, despite the promises made by Harry to Neville the previous day over a croissant breakfast in the Great Hall, but the pain drives him over to the Other Side, and he starts a Junior Death Eater Club which meets secretly during lunchtimes.
The observant will note that the books have been getting longer with each edition. The first story was a mere fifteen pages long, with one page dedicated to an illustration of Harry’s scar and the final fourteen pages given up to an appendix on the use of magic. The second was longer at over a hundred pages, boosted by Ron becoming progressively more terrified and screaming incessantly for pages at a time. As time has gone on, more and more paper has be used to convey approximately the same amount of story, and this edition is no exception. Reports of over thousand pages have been unable to fit through my letter box, so I can’t specify exactly how long the book will be, but I can assure you, it will be pretty big. It’s also assured to be the best book you read all year and will probably clean up at the Oscars next year. The Oscar for Book.
Understanding women is one of the pivotal challenges of modern science. Outwardly, they seem similar to men in many ways; both are large hominids, both are capable of tool use, be it the monkey wrench or the hair dryer, and both have been known to enjoy watching Friends. But beneath the surface lie a multitude of differences which continue to confound evolutionary psychologists. It is some of these which this edition of The World… Explained seeks to highlight and explain.
The primary difference that must be considered is simple: women are not as good as men. In days gone by, this was considered to be a bad thing to say, an indication of uninformed chauvinism. But research commissioned by Project Brainstorm has shown it to be unequivocally true. The women’s 100 metre world record is 10.49 seconds. The men’s is a mere 9.78 seconds. Simple arithmetic proves men to be 7.26% better than women. Furthermore, men traditionally run the 110 metres hurdles, whereas women compete over 100 metres. This suggests that the true number may be higher. Experts still debate the true value of the number, but most estimates are of this order.
The fact that women are not as good as men is recognised quite widely. One result is that women are paid less than men. Employers recognise that a woman in the same job would be less effective than a man, and pays accordingly. A recent study showed that women in Scotland are paid on average 15% less than a man in the same job. The observant among you will have noticed that 15 is a larger number than 7.26. The other 7.74% difference is because employers realise that women would only spend the money on shoes. Men spend their money on more sensible things like fast cars, computer games and, less sensibly, shoes for women. The government is known to have a task force investigating how the latter may be prevented.
The pathological desire to acquire shoes is a curious feature of the female psyche. A man owns, at most, two pairs of shoes at any one time. This time is when he is returning home from buying a new pair, and has not yet had time to discard the old pair. Some shops now have disposal facilities located by the door, so that a man may simply wear the new pair home. Women, however, seem to think that the optimal number of shoes to own is 283. The fact that the number is odd is a consequence of them not noticing that one shoe of the pair is missing. Who would, with 141 other pairs to wear?
The manufacture of this many shoes is starting to place a drain upon the economy. Especially concerning is the rise in ‘wear once and discard’ shoes, which prevent the woman from feeling guilty about never wearing the same hideously uncomfortable pair twice. Strangely, these are still far more expensive than the single pair owned by the man, the ones which last him for several years.
Women are also known to occasionally suffer a nasty condition which involves their abdomen swelling to approximately twice its original size, then being forced to take several months off work. Given the length of their absence, it is possible that they are going to the toilet. During this time they are slowly deflated using a suction pump.
Experiments that involve observing women under controlled conditions have revealed a startling discovery; that they suffer mood swings on a near monthly basis. The precise cause of this is yet to be firmly established, but favoured theories currently point to a dependence upon the rotation of the moon about the Earth, and its gravitational effects upon the water in their brains. The effect is not observed in men for the reason that they have larger, more evolved brains which provide effective screening of the gravitational force.
While this is by no means an exhaustive account of the strange creature known as woman, it covers the basics well enough that you should at least have a decent edge in your encounters with them. Always remember; knowledge is power. And so they don’t stand a chance.
Many of you will remember I recently sponsored a child in the developing world, who sent me a letter. I, being a warm and tubular person, responded, expecting that would be the last I heard. It would seem, however, that the child has caught a bit of a writing bug, because I got another letter in reply, just a couple of days later.
I am glad to hear things are going so well for you and that my small donation has been well received. I also offer my congratulations to you on becoming the first president of Kualatumba.
I offer you the same advice that I give to all fledgling African nations. The most important thing you need to achieve is to unite your people. In many African countries, wars start because no one can agree who the leader is. You need to tell your people that your are their leader, and that they need to trust you. Running a country is hard by yourself, so you will need a few men around you to help and give you advice.
After that, I am pleased you are so focused on the economy. The well being of your people can not be achieved by fostering an atmosphere of love and trust, but rather through the accumulation of money and material wealth. The successful transition to a fully functioning economy is likely to be a hazardous one.
I leave you with one final thought. Many people used to refer to countries like yours as the Third World, but now we refer to them as the Developing World because the original term was deemed offensive and divisive. However, it’s important to remember that Third is a bronze medal, which is still quite an achievement, so you should all be proud of yourselves.
Dear Mr Craig
Since I last spoke to you in written form, I have been very busy. You may remember that we had begun to advance into more remote areas of Kualatumba, seeking to unify all the people of my country under my leadership. We have so far come across five other settlements, and everything has been peaceful.
Indeed, in each we found one man who was a registered voter and had travelled all the way to our settlement to vote for me. When asked why only one of them had come to vote, it turned out to be a misunderstanding over the One Man One Vote system we have here. Each settlement chose one man, and he had a vote. I asked these people how they decided who voted. They had a vote. Only one man was allowed to vote in this vote. He was the man who won the vote. Taking your advice on board, I have decided these five men display all the necessary attributes to advise me.
I made one of the men, Lahatma, the new minister for the economy. He has been asked to encourage settlements to specialise and trade in produced goods. Currently, four of the six settlements are producing mangoes, and are trading furiously. This has caused a few problems because his first act as minister was to introduce the mango as the unit of currency. Currently, a mango is priced between two and three mangoes. With current inflationary pressures, the price of mangoes is expected to rise to over five mangoes before the end of the year. Obviously, this is a worry, as mangoes form a major part of the Kualtumban diet, especially with them growing everywhere.
With all the increased activity, jobs are created at an incredible rate. Unhappily, Laco remains unemployed, while Riki now has three jobs. During the day, he works in a local mango farm, where he cuts mangoes off trees. In the evenings, he works in our new fledgling bank and is in charge of circulating the new currency, where he cuts mangoes off trees. He spends the remainder of his time telling people about the benefits of having a job. He offered Laco the job as a way to get him into work, but as soon as he did, there was no one else without a job to talk to, so he was let go almost immediately. He reapplied the following day, but was turned down because of his poor record in keeping a job for a decent length of time.
I have decided that educating our people is key to growing as a prosperous nation. We have begun to teach woodwork to young children from the surrounding villages, so they can build their own school. When the school is completed, I hope for a diverse schooling experience. We will naturally be teaching Kualatumban, which I believe is key to our national language. Study will mainly consist of examining Kualatumban literature, such as the classic poem, Oh God, That Lion Looks Hungry, which was found carved on a broken tree branch, unfinished and anonymous. As well as the obvious symbolic meanings, I believe the poem is also about one man’s struggle not to be eaten by a lion.
We will also be teaching our children how to use numbers. An elderly man from a nearby village has volunteered to teach all the numbers he knows. He seems knowledgeable on the first few, and he finishes well, but he sometimes gets muddled up with a few in the middle. We will be running classes in history (by a young man who seems very forward-looking), and religious instruction. The latter will be taught through a combined effort of seventeen people, talking over each other, each claiming their own religion is the true one.
I hope to hear from you soon,
President of Kualatumba
No, we don’t understand either. We have a team of crack researchers working on it.