In which our intrepid hero uncovers a worldwide plot.

One of the curses of being me is that I always have a number of half-completed projects lying around, all inching their way towards conclusion.

On a blog-related front alone, I have a series of five articles on Lovecraftian ghouls in D&D, an analysis of William Butler YeatsThe Second Coming, a critique of fantasy economics in the Economicon… and, of course, Chaddma’s Legacy, which I haven’t done anything on for about four weeks, despite WoAdWriMo finishing about three-and-a-half weeks ago. Then there’s the task of laying the groundwork for Opinion Month, which I mentioned at the bottom of this post

Remember, that’s just some of the blog stuff.

Anyway, just to let people know that I’m still alive (and to convince myself that I’m not completely mired down in procrastination and an attention span that would send a mayfly frantically dragging its kids to the ADD clinic if it ever saw the like in them), I thought I’d pop my head in, and comment on a few troubling articles I’ve come across lately.

It’s those goddamned animals, again, you see.

As my friends on FaceBook would’ve noticed (feel free to join them, by the way—the link’s to the right), the UK’s military has issued a press release recently:

[S]pokesman Major Mike Shearer said: “We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area [of Basra].

“We have been told these are indigenous nocturnal carnivores that don’t attack humans unless cornered.”

It seems that although the little critters have been around for at least two decades, some whackjob concocted a theory that the British have only recently plopped them in downtown Basra to terrorise the locals. The idiots around him apparently believed him—having failed to notice the metre-long predators for the last twenty years or so—and the rumour spread like wildfire from there.

I’ve known a number of Iraqis, and none of them struck me as particularly dumb. Certainly not this dumb. Then again, most of them had the benefit living in First-World countries for a number of years. In situ, things might be completely different.

In any case, I’m not really sure if it’s worth expending resources and human lives to bring democracy to a people daft and jumpy enough to declare war every time they notice a new mammal. They could easily end up with government by way of Lyndon LaRouche and alpha taxonomy.

Next up, proof that given the recent diplomatic hostilities between Iran and the United States, SAVAMA remains vigilant:

“In recent weeks, intelligence operatives have arrested 14 squirrels within Iran’s borders,” state-sponsored news agency IRNA reported. “The squirrels were carrying spy gear of foreign agencies, and were stopped before they could act, thanks to the alertness of our intelligence services.”

I’m really not sure to make of this. Whilst the Basra Badger Debacle could be explained away by mass hysteria, here we have an official announcement to contend with. Three theories come to mind:

  1. The military-theocratic complex has finally lost the plot, and are arresting rodents left, right and centre, lest they nibble away at the roots of the Persian world-tree. Ratatosk lives!
  2. Noting that the story was filed by an Israeli journalist, it could well be that there’s some Jewish version of April Fool’s Day that I’m not aware of.
  3. Steve Wozniak has taken over Mossad’s PSYOPS division.

On the other hand, the whole thing is almost bizarre enough to be true—Operation Acoustic Kitty comes immediately to mind.

Speaking of kitties, I stumbled across the following unusual tale in today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours.

His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live. […]

After about six months, the staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses. He would sniff and observe patients, then sit beside people who would end up dying in a few hours.

[In his essay in the New England Journal of Medicine, Brown University’s Dr David] Dosa said Oscar seems to take his work seriously and is generally aloof. “This is not a cat that’s friendly to people,” he said.

Oscar is better at predicting death than the people who work there, said Dr Joan Teno of Brown University, who treats patients at the nursing home and is an expert on care for the terminally ill.

Now, it might just be me, but there’s something suspicious going on here.

My cat, Maxi, has a nearly Bender-esque drive to kill all humans, so it’s not particularly far-fetched that another cat may share it. And given that a human caught serially bunking down with 25 soon-to-die senior citizens would be probably suspected of murder, it’s no real leap to suggest that a cat might have sinister motives, too…

As Dr Dosa said, Oscar isn’t friendly to people.

So there we have it: badger shock troops, squirrel spies and feline assassins. Medusa Johnson is on the loose again, and life imitates Leonard Part 6. This is an emargency! Get Cosby on the line now!

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