Reading-Is-Fundamentalists Slaughter 52 Illiterates

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Vol 32 Issue 13

New 'Phone Book' Raising Serious Privacy Issues

PALO ALTO, CA—Alarmed by the "ever-shrinking security and rights of individuals in the information age," the Palo Alto-based group Citizens For Privacy is calling for strict controls to be placed on "phone books"—printed directories of all the telephone numbers in a specified area. "With this new piece of technology," CFP head Nadine Geary said, "anyone could know your phone number in literally seconds." Exacerbating the situation, Geary said, is the fact that, in many cases, the subject’s address is also printed right next to the number. "If this device is allowed to be distributed,” Geary said, "literally anyone would be able to track you down at any time. It’s frightening."

Entertainment Weekly Wins Excellence-In-Caption-Pun Award

NEW YORK—The National Society of Journalists honored Entertainment Weekly Monday, giving the magazine its 1997 Excellence-In-Caption-Pun Award. The magazine was specifically cited for its June 17-23 issue, which contained the caption "Pup Fiction" under a photo of Glenn Close from 101 Dalmatians, and the caption "Sofa, So Good" under a photo of Uma Thurman resting on a couch—considered by many to be the greatest caption pun ever. "At a time when journalistic standards are on the decline, the caption puns of Entertainment Weekly remind us all what this profession is supposed to be all about," society chairperson Hal Sisson said. Entertainment Weekly is currently working on a pun involving David Duchovny and a bucket.

Villain Contends He, Hero 'Very Much Alike'

JUSTICE CITY—Two seemingly diametrically opposed figures were compared Monday as evil crimelord Cyrus Darkheart confided to longtime nemesis Captain Freedom that the two are in many ways"“very much alike." "We are not so different, are we?" Darkheart said. "You see, like me, the source of your great power is the very thing that threatens to destroy you. And yet you refuse to face it." Darkheart then noted aloud the irony of his observation before activating his doomsday device.

NYSE Admits: This Is All Make Believe

NEW YORK—New York Stock Exchange officials released a statement Monday admitting that the exchange, one of the primary means by which the nation’s economic health is measured, is in reality a made-up and largely random mishmash of numbers and meaningless statistics. "The whole ‘stock exchange’ idea came about around the turn of the century at the request of publisher William Randolph Hearst, who was looking for something to fill the back half of his New York Journal," NYSE’s Ian Silver said. "So a man named Henry Tillman came up with the idea of a ‘stock-ticker’ device, which spewed out reams of bogus numbers for Hearst to reprint." NYSE has no plans to disband.

I Am A Mummy

In 1968, anticipating my imminent demise and wishing to go to the grave looking sharp, I took the precaution of having myself mummified. My major organs were carefully removed by eminent Egyptian physicians and stored in special alabaster jars. (Except for my spleen, whose jar was knocked over and subsequently consumed by field-mice, and my brain, which I still need.)

An Open Letter To A Starving Child

Dear Starving Child, I saw your picture in one of these "Feed The Children" magazine ads. It said your mother dumped you in a Sri Lankan back-alley trash heap, and that you've been a street urchin, begging for scraps from Bedouin traders, since you were five. And it said for two cents a day I could feed you. Well, I must say, I don't know how you can live like that. I mean, what are you thinking? If I were you, I'd high-tail it home and make myself a juicy ham sandwich with some cheese on it, then I'd put it in the microwave so the cheese melts and the sandwich is nice and warm. In fact, I'd toast the bread so it has a little crunch to it. And that brings me to why I'm writing you. I think I can offer you some basic tips on how to get along better in life. Instead of giving you a mere two cents a day, I'm going to give you a lifetime's accumulated wisdom. You see, as a successful carpet salesman, I do all right. And I think I can share a lesson or two about getting the most out of this crazy game called life. First of all, you've got to consolidate your debt. Those interest payments will kill you. I learned this one the hard way. And seeing how you don't have a home, you should be able to pay off any high-interest loans and start putting your money into no-load mutual funds. That's where the real growth potential is. It may not seem like much every month, but over time, you'll be building quite a nest egg. And when you get to be my age, it's nice to be able to pamper yourself a little bit with some of your dividends. Like just last night, I spent over $100 on a lobster dinner. We had lobster soaked in butter, mashed potatoes with chives, and yellow squash with yogurt sauce. I'm telling you, I was so stuffed, I felt sick. I came home and vomited! It was a great meal, but I hate when I stuff myself. That takes the pleasure out of eating. It's almost like I threw that $100 right into the toilet. But for a brief moment, it was heaven. Second, living on the street is no way to build equity. For as little as $1,000 down you can get a modest two- or three-bedroom home. This will not only help you build a financial future, it will help you build self-esteem. Homeowners are self-assured, productive members of society. And remember, the three most important things in real estate: location, location and location. So buy in a nice area. You'll want to look at schools, since you're eight years old. You know, it occurs to me that you don't even live in America. And I've got to know, what the heck are you doing living in Sri Lanka? What do they have there? Camels? Rugs? Well, I can tell you one thing they don't have: 100 percent grade-A American opportunity. America is the land of milk and honey. You can probably catch a flight here from Sri Lanka for as little as $2,500 if you shop around. So what's keeping you? Okay, I can imagine how it is: you live in a back alley and you eat garbage. And maybe you don't have the liquid capital to outlay $2,500 on a luxury-like first-class airfare to the U.S. Well, you can always fly coach for about a third of first-class fare, and if worst comes to worst, put it on the plastic. As long as you pay it off as quickly as you can, the interest won't cramp your style. (See Tip #1.) Now, since you're eating scraps from dumpsters, my guess is you could use a little shot in the arm when it comes to income. Well, maybe I'm tooting my own horn here a little bit, but have you ever considered a position in carpet sales? It's a high-profit industry, and commissions are good nowadays. With new homes being built at a record pace all across the country, and remodeling positively going through the stratosphere, there's never a shortage of demand for new, high-quality carpets. Thick shag, thin shag, knit, indoor, outdoor—any variety of color. Heck, I could take you over to the warehouse and show you some of my samples if you like. Well, I hope I've given you some fat to chew on. I'd like to know if I can be of any more help, so I'd appreciate it if you could write back. And FedEx it. I bet international mail takes forever.

This Lump Under My Arm Is Probably Nothing

Hey, how's it going? Everything okay? Hope so. Say, do you know any first aid? I don't really know what the problem is. Could be some sort of bug bite or something. Actually, forget it—I'm just being a worry-wart again. I'm sure this lump under my arm is nothing. I'm not going to fret about it unless it causes my shirt size to go up again.
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Reading-Is-Fundamentalists Slaughter 52 Illiterates

ROCKVILLE, MD—Militant pro-literacy terrorists struck here Friday night, as a pipe bomb exploded at Rockville Adult Learning Annex, killing 52 illiterates and injuring dozens more. Hours later, RIF, a radical reading-is-fundamentalist terrorist group, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Montgomery County coroner Ed Rovere examines a body at the Rockville Adult Learning Annex, where RIF extremists killed 52 illiterates with a pipe bomb Friday. Experts say reading-is-fundamentalism is a growing movement in the U.S.

Committed to the eradication of illiteracy "by any means necessary," RIF was formed in 1973 by a coalition of dissident librarians censured by the government for their extremist views. Some 500 deaths have been linked to the group in the past 24 years, including a 1991 incident in which an armored bookmobile exploded at a Ku Klux Klan rally outside Mobile, AL, killing 83 illiterates.

According to the group's 900-page manifesto, RIF is committed to fighting illiteracy by "first-hand targeting of illiterates." The manifesto also outlines a three-point plan to achieve its goals by "speaking to schoolchildren about the importance of reading, lobbying Congress for increased funding for literacy-awareness programs, and banishing illiterates to the very bowels of Hell."

"Illiteracy is a crime—a crime against God Himself," read a RIF statement delivered anonymously to the Rockville Post-Gazette Monday. "For too long, we have stood idly by while wonderful, absorbing books—books that can transport you to magical, far-off places like Lilliput and Treasure Island—go unread. The feeble attempts made by the Learning Annex to reform illiterates is too little, too late. God has spoken through us with this strike against non-readers. We know God's truth, for we have read it."

President Clinton, responding to the attack, made the following statement: "While, like the members of RIF, I support the eradication of illiteracy in the United States, I cannot condone the means by which they go about achieving this goal. Such acts of terrorism as theirs are unconscionable and cowardly, and must not be tolerated, even when done in the name of something as admirable as getting people to read."

Clinton said that steps are being taken by the State Department to establish a diplomatic dialogue with RIF leaders, and that officials are working closely with Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton, winner of the 1989 Helping-Hand Award for his pro-literacy efforts, who will serve as a liaison in the negotiations.

In addition to using terror, RIF has sought to eradicate illiteracy via a series of spots airing on Saturday-morning television, in which a hooded, armed representative of the faction warns children to read "as if your life depends on it—for it does." The group has also distributed videotapes to over 3,700 U.S. elementary schools featuring footage of abducted illiterates being shot in the back of the head by RIF members, followed by a music video, "Reading Is Where It's At," starring the group's mascot, Pages The Rappin' Raccoon.

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