As we all know (unless we’ve been living under a rock), Mr. Silly is a character in the Mr. Men children's book series by Roger Hargreaves. Mr. Silly is from Nonsense Land, where the leaves on the trees are red and the grass is blue. He’s known for doing outlandish things. (Don't ask me how it is that I know stuff like this... my head is jam-packed with useless knowledge.)
The thing is that I’m feeling a bit like Mr. Silly myself at the moment, because I just read this week’s email newsletter from This is True (www.thisistrue.com), whose tagline is "Truth is Stranger than Fiction Because Fiction Has to Make Sense."
Created by Randy Cassingham, this free weekly email newsletter contains a bunch of stories based on bizarre-but-true news items from legitimate news outlets from around the world. I’m sure that like me you sign up for email newsletters that you end up rarely reading, because there’s so much to do and so little time to do it all in. Having said this, I always make the time to read the This is True newsletter, because it both informs and entertains me.
The point is that sometime last year I wrote a column about a company called Eternal Earthbound Pets. The idea is that their employees are certified atheists, so when the rapture comes and the faithful are called up to heaven, the folks from Eternal Earthbound Pets will look after the pets that are left behind (assuming their owners have paid the requisite fee, of course).
I have to admit that I fully believed this tale, so you can only imagine my surprise when I read the following item in this week’s This is True newsletter:
The Wheels of Democracy Grind Slowly: When the lay radio preacher Harold Camping decreed that the world would end on May 21, 2011, Bart Centre sensed an opportunity. An atheist, Centre announced his company, Eternal Earthbound Pets, would, for $135, provide "certified atheists" to take care of the left-behind pets of the faithful who were raptured. The retired New Hampshire man's wacky response to Camping's wacky Bible interpretation caught worldwide attention, with news coverage as far away as New Zealand. A joke? Well obviously, but Centre is getting the word out to the media it was a joke -- really, really, really. Why? Because Centre has now been subpoenaed by his state's Insurance Department, which demands copies of any applications he received for the service so they can see "whether he is engaged in the unlicensed business of [selling] insurance in New Hampshire." (Washington Post) ...I just got a great idea for a new product: satire insurance.
So, as I say, call me “Mr. Silly”. The truth really is stranger than fiction. Although it’s also true that “stranger things happen at sea,” as my dear old grandfather used to say, and he should know because he was a sailor man and boy, but that's another story...
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