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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


Targets of Charity

Surely the Good Book said alms -- give alms to the poor.

Or maybe it was a typo. That seems to be the conclusion reached by several British charities and church organizations, who are investing millions in companies that export arms, The Daily Telegraph reported this week. Among the ministering meek making moolah from munitions are the Church of England, the Royal Institute for the Deaf and the Scottish National Institute for the War-Blinded.

You might think the latter would be a wee bit wary of expanding its own ranks, but institute official Jim Munro said it was all a matter of who got blinded by the product of their investments. "I would have reservations if arms were going to undesirable countries," he declared.

For John Taylor of the Institute for the Deaf, it doesn't matter who gets killed or where or why: "The trustees' primary responsibility is to maximize the portfolio for the benefit of the trust," he said.

In keeping with this philosophy, we suggest these good charitable folk pursue investments in certain segments of Colombian agriculture. You'd get a hell of a return out of that.

Word Games

Not to be outdone in the misapplication of spiritual energy, British evangelicals said this week they may take time off from helping the needy and comforting the afflicted to -- what else? -- file a lawsuit.

The target of their righteous wrath, saith the Telegraph, is "The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged)," a play by those purveyors of rapid-fire absurdity, The Reduced Shakespeare Company. Pastor David Carson, of the Zion Tabernacle in Chester, finds the play offensive because it portrays Jesus Christ as a big fat foamy Teletubby and says the Virgin Mary was got with child by the "Holy Goat."

Following the time-honored tradition of outraged fundamentalists the world over, Pastor Dave says he has not seen the play. "I do not need to see filth in order to know it is filth," he said, echoing Jerry Falwell and the Ayatollah Khomeini. "I am outraged that this production is being allowed to go ahead."

Meanwhile, a local spokesman for the Church of England issued one of those bold and unequivocal statements so characteristic of that vibrant and passionate institution. "I'm sure many Christians will be able to enjoy it, but for others it will go too far," said -- or more likely murmured -- the Rev. Tim Barker.

Gates of Hell

Here's a novel idea: Make death threats and extortion demands against the richest man in the world, then when you're caught, claim you were simply doing research for a book.

That was the ploy tried by would-be auteur Adam Pletcher in a Seattle courtroom this week, The Associated Press reports. Pletcher sent several letters to Microsoft godzilla Bill Gates, each with a simple theme: "Your life for $5 million." If the cash (admittedly a couple seconds' worth of chicken feed to Gates) was not delivered, Pletcher vowed to put the hurt on the mogul, his wife and daughter, and one of his colleagues as well. To back up his threats, the 22-year-old squeaker of pip claimed to be a 34-year-old ex-Army Ranger "with a 100 percent kill rate."

"It was a kind of interactive story," he told the jury, obviously playing for technowonk sympathies in the cyberheavy region. "It was actually happening as I wrote it." The letters would form the basis of a novel, he testified, while the $5 million in Gates dough would be used to open "a non-alcoholic nightclub."

Unfortunately for Pletcher, the jury was a hard sell. They fined him $250,000 and downloaded him to the state prison for 10 to 20 years -- whether for extortion or for just being such a silly goose, it's hard to say.

The Great Pumpkin

Finally got a hot date with that tall drink of water from Accounts Receivable you've had your eye on for months now? Hoping to impress her in a really big way? Then nix those chocolates and flowers, Clyde, and scoot on over to the rynok for some pumpkins.

That's the advice from Alan Hirsch, director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, who says women will respond the fastest with the mostest to such scents as pumpkin pie, cucumber and baby powder, Reuters reports.

Hirsch says he obtained this wisdom by exposing women to various odors and then measuring their vaginal blood flow. (What exactly are the actual mechanics of such an experiment? We probably don't want to know.) He found that the above-mentioned odors -- as well as the licorice smell of "Good and Plenty" candy -- increased blood flow in the nether parts by a whopping 13 percent.

And what noxious noisome things turn milady off? Charcoal-broiled meat (best order the veggie salad, boys), cherries (ditch the Life Savers, too) and -- yikes! -- men's cologne. (So much for that gallon jug of Brut you just bought.) Oddly enough, Hirsch found that there was no odor that inhibited male sexual response (as measured by blood flow in the penis -- this experiment is all too easy to imagine). But men too were most strongly aroused by the aroma of pumpkin pie.

Guess that's why those jack-o-lanterns are always grinning.

Bum Rap

British legislators have voted to spare the rod in the nation's private schools, 12 years after outlawing beatings on public time, AP reports.

In an example of that elevated oratory that has ever distinguished the Mother of Parliaments, Tory MP Angela Browning gave the bill's Liberal Democrat sponsors a right caning.

"I have slapped a lot of little legs and I can see a lot of little legs that need slapping tonight," she said amidst the customary hoots and jeers.

Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster, who proposed the ban, called the practice "something that is wrong in principle -- it is barbaric and it is inhuman."

To which the hard-core hickory-stick Tories reportedly replied: "Your point?"