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“Special” Pages and Rants

Now and then, something gets under my collar and I go on a rant. The resulting posts tend to be pretty popular with readers.

Then there are “Special” pages, where I know readers will want to debate a story.

Of course, some posts are both. So here’s the list of both Rants and “Special” pages, in order (by date, oldest first):

  • Don’t Say I Didn’t Tell You So - I had spoken about spam here and there in True, but in this issue I published the first installment of what would become my Spam Primer — a warning that unsolicited email advertising was now officially a serious problem on the net. (more…)
  • I Finally Nail a Copyright Infringer - One of the most irritating things about publishing online is people who think that if it’s online, it’s free — and they can copy it. Wrong! Copyright infringement is stealing. This week, a reader on True‘s free distribution is getting a check from me. Why? He was reading a well-known national magazine with a circulation in the millions, and saw a bunch of stories. Bizarre but true stories. “These are reminiscent of TRUE” he said in a note attached to […]
  • Special Fornigate Edition - The Monica Lewinski scandal didn’t really break (or “Go Viral” as we say today) until President Bill Clinton’s famous angry denial, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman …Miss Lewinsky.” That was Monday, January 26, 1998. All week, stories started coming out: Clinton’s use of weaselly words that cast doubt on his denial, rumors of a stained blue dress, and more. True doesn’t usually cover big breaking news, but the whole thing was just so comical, I couldn’t […]
  • The ‘Fornigate’ Response - Anytime This is True runs stories with (shall we say) controversial subjects, it generates letters. But nothing brings more letters than the division between left- and right-wing politics! Some of the people who read the column on President Clinton’s White House Intern ‘Fornigate Scandal’ thought I was unfairly biased. (One, from Arizona, said I’m a “fascist right-wing conspirator” and a “Christian Coalition prevericator [sic]”! Oh, my! How quickly they forget!) I get much more mail from conservatives ranting about supposed […]
  • Balance in the Media - Sure, the Columbine killings got a lot of press. Ever hear the other side of the gun issue? Probably not: it’s not fashionable in the media to tell about the positive aspects of guns — and there certainly are many. The following story is from the 8 July 1998 issue of This is True (and is included in Volume 5 of the True book series, titled This is True: Cost of Being Poor Rising.) (more…)
  • A Story Subject Responds - It isn’t often that someone featured in a This is True story writes to complain or argue about a story about them. The few that have written with comments are indeed generally not at all upset, but rather quite amused by the whole thing. So much so that I wish I got more such notes. (more…)
  • Losing my Tolerance for “Zero Tolerance” - “Zero Tolerance” Rules and Laws Require Severe Punishment Not Only for Possessing Drugs or Guns, but Also Any Item Which “Looks Like” a Prohibited Item. (more…)
  • Rants and Raves over “Austin Powers” - One of the first highly controversial stories in True, with some readers loving it, and others hating it. So let’s start with the story that started it all (in the 18 July 1999 issue): (more…)
  • Are You Sure? - If a friend sent you to this page, they may be trying to tell you something. If you found it by yourself, consider that a point in your favor. This article appeared in This is True‘s 23 January 2000 issue: (more…)
  • Why oh Why2K? - or, Ponderings on the New Millennium “I would like to take you seriously, but to do so would affront your intelligence.” –William F. Buckley, conservative newspaper columnist. It all started as a bit of musing in my author’s note in the first issue of the year 2000. Then, the more comments from readers I published, the more they streamed in. Let’s recap. In the issue published 7 January 2000, I pondered: (more…)
  • Mike the Headless Chicken - Update! See below. Sometimes you come across a story that really, really seems too weird to be true. Sure we’ve all heard about chickens who run around the barnyard after getting their heads chopped off. But for over a year? So in an effort to know, for sure, that this story really is True, I went looking for evidence that Mike was real. Here’s what I found — with the story from the 23 April 2000 issue of This is […]
  • They’re Trying to Make it Hot in Here - Blasphemy! Yep, that’s what I’m guilty of, if you believe “Santa”, one of several people who wrote about a story in the 23 April 2000 issue. Here’s the story: (more…)
  • Unclear on the Concept - One of my pet peeves is Public Relations Flacks. These are not to be confused with Public Relations Professionals — PR people who do a good job getting The Word out about their clients. They hate the word “flack,” but when they make their clients look bad — well, they’re inviting the derision. The following story ran in the 30 April 2000 issue: (more…)
  • Religious Freedom in the USA - It’s not a big controversy like some This is True stories have generated, but there has been considerable confusion generated by two stories from the 13 August 2000 issue. Now, it’s true that I write ambiguously on purpose sometimes to spark the readers to think about an issue. What did he mean by that, now? isn’t such a bad response sometimes. But with the two stories in question, I was perhaps too subtle, too ambiguous, in my sarcasm and criticism, […]
  • The Big Easy: Do As We Say, Not As We Do! - NOTICE: Includes NSFW Photo From This is True, issued 5 March 2000: (more…)
  • Isn’t Life Already Short Enough? - A story in the 22 July 2001 issue really captured my interest — it amazes me how people will adapt to their technology, rather than make their technology adapt to them. (more…)
  • ZT Madness is Spreading! - You might think “Zero Tolerance” is a playground issue — just a way for school administrators to deal with violent kids. If you did, you would be wrong. ZT is a mindset of black-and-white rules applied to a gray world. “We tolerate no disobedience on the topic of [fill in the blank].” Thus, a “no guns” policy meant to keep firearms off school grounds (a laudable goal) gets applied to “squirt guns” (a silly result) — or even crude crayon […]
  • Fundamentally Wrong - Written 21 September 2001 And see the 2005 Update (more…)
  • Airline Insecurity — a Symptom of a Worse Disease - Some weeks after terrorists turned several of our airliners into guided missiles, I flew — and got to experience our greatly “improved” security. My experiences brought a lot of response from readers. (more…)
  • ZT: Legislative Action - I ran more “zero tolerance” stories last week, and I’m noticing a new trend: when I run the stories, I get mail from readers asking what they can do about this trend, since it obviously is a trend and not just an isolated happening. The new trend: many ask if I would please provide the mail/email address of the schools involved so you can give the administrators a piece of your mind. (more…)
  • Your TV Wants to Control You - Just how clueless is Hollywood? Very. It’s bad enough that they try to jam crap down our throats all the time, but they also demand that you sit and watch that commercial for “Tide” detergent — all 26 times it runs tonight. Why, it’s in your contract! Didn’t you read the fine print before you signed? From True‘s 19 May 2002 issue: (more…)
  • Let’s Go to Pluto! - Yes, True is about weird news. More importantly, it’s about thinking, which implies a quest for knowledge and understanding. That’s most evident in Randy’s editorials; here are two of them on the same subject, starting with one from May 2002: (more…)
  • The True Story of Leonard Carlo’s Bar - See Updates Below! I showed a friend the story below from the 3 October 1999 issue, and she found it way too hard to believe. I, of course, bet it was indeed true, and to prove it I drove down to Colorado Springs (about two hours south of me). As you will see, the story’s true. (more…)
  • The Argument Every Man Has Been Looking For - Sometimes I think of a funnier tagline after I publish an issue. Sometimes I think of a funnier tagline before I publish it, but I don’t use it — usually because it’s just too nasty. This is one of those cases, so if you don’t like crude, you’ve been warned. Otherwise, on with the story, from the 21 July 2002 column: (more…)
  • One Brave Girl - Welcome to the 21st Century Editorial comments from This is True for the week of 16 February 2003: It’s pretty rare that I get truly angry over a story. (more…)
  • Guns: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes - The way some people reacted, you’d think this publication was called Guns Digest. Truth is, we haven’t done a real “gun story” since the bit on John Lott way back in July 1998! To recap what led to this page, you need to see the relevant stories from the 20 April 2003 issue: (more…)
  • The Missionary’s Position - Or, Much Ado About Nothing! I got exactly one complaint about a story in the 6 July 2003 issue. Let’s start with the story, and then the complaint: (more…)
  • Hit Squad on Spammers? - I’ve been clamoring for action on the spam front since 1996. I’ve even dedicated a web site to a primer on what spam is, how spammers get your address, and other topics (which recently got some minor updates). (more…)
  • Home Schooling Looks Better Every Day - Sometimes I write taglines with the intention of provoking readers a bit, but usually they don’t rise to the bait. Other times, I’m astounded at what does trigger complaints. A good example of the latter is this story from the 15 February 2004 issue: (more…)
  • No, The Readers Haven’t Learned - I mused in the newsletter if the readers “have learned” that I’m not partisan: I call out stupidity whether it’s on the left or the right. It didn’t take long to get the answer. (more…)
  • When is Racism OK? - When some idiot in the public eye spews forth an outrageous racist remark or two, they’re always called to task! And rightly so. Well… are they really? What happens when people are afraid to call a racist a racist, because they’ll be called racist? This story was in True’s 29 February 2004 issue: Leading By Example After a briefing on the coup in Haiti, U.S. Representative Corrine Brown (Democrat from Florida) said President Bush’s policy for the country was “racist” […]
  • Paper-Based Spam - I’m getting sooooo sick of in-the-mail solicitations from credit card companies! But they’re starting to make me angry, and I hope you’ll join me in getting revenge. The major USA issuers subscribe to a service by one of the credit reporting agencies that will supposedly cut down on the mailings (toll-free: 888-567-8688). I called and registered with them, but I didn’t notice any slow-down in the junk. But it’s the new attitude they have that makes me angry. (more…)
  • Who “Deserves” Freedom? - We’re often told not to discuss politics or religion in polite company. But sometimes your hand is forced. It all started with two stories that appeared in subsequent weeks — in the 9 May and 16 May 2004 issues: Proof The Terrorists Have Won Girl Scout troops in Martin County, Fla., decided to have a Mother’s Day “scavenger hunt” at the Treasure Coast Square Mall. Fathers would accompany their daughters and go “window shopping” for items on the hunt list, […]
  • Cops Confirm: He Was Nailed! - Sometimes the story just isn’t complete without a photo …or two. From True’s 30 May 2004 issue: (more…)
  • “An Insult to Every Black Man in America” - What happens when an academic type uses Political Correctness to excuse vile, reprehensible behavior — and then a lawyer gets hold of the idea? You get “justification” for beating a young child to death. True‘s home page notes that the stories are not all meant to be humorous, and this one sure isn’t. From True‘s 27 June 2004 issue: (more…)
  • Equal Time …to Invoke Indignant Anger - A fair number of governmental bodies have a minister say a prayer at the start of official meetings — an invocation. When criticized by those who favor a true separation of church and state, they often insist that the invocation is not really religious. So what happens when an atheist is invited to give an invocation? The officials sit in respectful silence, as they would insist an atheist should do when a Christian preacher gives the invocation, right? Yeah, sure. […]
  • Just in Time for Halloween Or…? - Another example of the photos “making” the story. From the 12 September 2004 issue. (more…)
  • Thanks to Zero Tolerance, You are Not Safe - The silly concept of “Zero Tolerance” may have started in American schools, but it certainly did not end there. It not only has spread to schools in other countries, what’s the expected result when all those schoolchildren get out of school, and into the Real World? They practice what they learned, of course! The story, from the 10 October 2004 issue: (more…)
  • Binge Drinking in College: No, Not Funny - I periodically remind people: the stories in This is True are not always meant to be funny. Even the funny ones are often chosen to drive home a point, but sometimes being funny isn’t the way to do that. A good example is this two-story line-up from True‘s 3 October 2004 issue: No Kidding A study by the Berkeley, Calif., based Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation finds that binge drinking among male college students […]
  • Dell Hell - A Few Reader Horror Stories Updates: A Happy Ending? Conclusion — and Lessons Learned I’ve recommended Dell computers for many years. But my confidence in them was shaken when I got a new laptop in Fall 2004, and I ended up in “Dell Hell”. As you might expect, I run my computers pretty hard since I work 10-14 hours/day, seven days a week to bring you True and other stuff, so I get a new one every three years or […]
  • We Don’t Need No Education - This is True often deals with education. That’s due to several factors, including: 1) We all spend so many of our formative years in school, 2) Kids have a knack for doing really dumb things sometimes, and 3) School administrators and teachers always want to outdo the kids, and thus pull even dumber stunts. There’s more, of course, and it’s far from all Zero Tolerance stuff. (more…)
  • These Photos are Not for Discriminating Consumers! - When is the discriminatory treatment of women not really discriminatory? How about when an ad campaign shows women and men being treated exactly the same? Nope: that’s still discrimination! At least, in South Africa. But to really judge, you need to see the photos, which follow the story from True‘s 13 March 2005 issue: (more…)
  • Skirmishes in the War on Drugs - This is True‘s 4 September 2005 issue had a line-up of several stories about druggies doing incredibly stupid things. It’s a fairly common theme in True, in fact: drug and alcohol abuse very often makes people do stupid things. In this case, though, it was a bit of a setup: the final story in the group had quite a twist: (more…)
  • Saaya Irie Photos - Saaya Melts Hearts — But May Break Yours A photo is “worth a thousand words,” so yes, we’ve got the photos (below). But usually you need some words to put the photos in context. Before exhibiting any lust, be sure to note the girl’s age! From True’s 22 May 2005 issue: (more…)
  • Bats, Iron Bars, and Bricks - Several readers wrote to complain about a story in last week’s issue (26 June 2005): (more…)
  • Canada: Outpruding the U.S. - See Update Below! The U.S. has its Janet Jackson scandal; Canada has a scandal over a completely clothed woman with a modest neckline. And naturally, we have the photos to illustrate this earth-shattering story from True‘s 21 August 2005 issue: (more…)
  • Still Fundamentally Wrong - After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I dubbed Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson “The American Taliban”. In the four years since, not much has changed. In 2005’s 9/11 issue of True came this story: (more…)
  • Higher Education - (aka, Ya’ll Grow Up Now, Hear?) I became aware of the Beaver Problem when researching the 18 June 2000 issue. People really enjoyed the resulting story. Pay particular attention to the second half: Beaver News Sam Pshyshlak says a crazed beaver attacked her dogs — two 200-lb. Newfoundlands. “It pinned them. I never thought beavers were capable of that,” said the Manitoba, Canada, farmer. “I’ve lost all respect for beavers. I never would have imagined this from a beaver.” Meanwhile, […]
  • Another Self-Proclaimed Religious Scholar - So I got this email from a reader demanding to know why I make my world-famous “Get Out of Hell Free” cards available. I’ve written about that quite a bit over the years, so I don’t intend to repeat it all here (see the GOOHF site if you’re not already aware of the story. The basic answer, though, is “Because people like them.”) (more…)
  • True: It’s Not for Everyone - Some people even whine when I say maybe they wouldn’t like to upgrade. Really. Here’s what I said in last week’s newsletter: (more…)
  • Zero Tolerance — the Next Step - The lead story last week brought an outraged response from a reader. First, here’s the story, from the 2 July 2006 issue: (more…)
  • Sadly, This Isn’t a Lawyer Joke - I expect to get a few complaints from lawyer readers about the lead story this week — a lot of my readers are lawyers. (I also have a relatively high number of cops and preachers in my distribution. Apparently those three professions particularly like this kind of reading.) My guess is that most of my lawyer readers are pretty decent people and doing a good job fighting for true justice, and they also find the sort of comments their colleague […]
  • Define “Political Correctness” - A story this week is notable not just because of my offered “definition” of “Political Correctness,” but for some interesting commentary it brought. First, the story, from True‘s 28 August 2006 issue: (more…)
  • The Power of Collective Outrage - The following essay was included in True’s email editions for the week of 19 November 2006. I had reserved this space tonight for a major rant. What makes one of my rants “major”? I was actually going to call for a boycott and a letter-writing campaign — I don’t recall ever doing that before. I wanted to show how collective outrage can make a difference. But you know what happened? Collective outrage grew on its own, quickly rising to a spontaneous […]
  • Peace Sign - In the 3 December 2006 issue I led with this story: (more…)
  • War on Drugs - I fully expect to be called “anti-police” for the lead story this week. One doesn’t have to be “anti” anything to decry stupidity, or even to call to task organizations you fully support when they do something wrong. Here’s the story, from True‘s 17 December 2006 issue: (more…)
  • Another Day, Another Cry-Baby - Quite a few Premium subscribers actually stay on the free distribution specifically to see the advertising. That’s cool: the advertisers pay for this free distribution, so it’s nice that people actually look at the ads! But now and then people whine about the ads. That’s dumb: without them, they wouldn’t be getting the newsletter at all, would they?! (more…)
  • Zero Tolerance: The Backlash Has Begun - Here we go again: more Zero Tolerance stories. This week (7 January 2007 issue) is, I think, the first time ever that the entire issue consists of ZT stories, starting with this one: (more…)
  • Super Bowl vs. Churches — NFL Loses - This week’s lead story brought a fair amount of mail from the Premium subscribers, many of whom were surprised by my take on the story. Here it is: (more…)
  • The Public Be Damned - In the 28 January issue I ran a story about two murderers who escaped from prison in England. I noted the story was an example of “zero tolerance” mentality migrating to the real world: (more…)
  • Zero Tolerance: Fighting Fire With Fire - Just when I think there can’t be even more outrageous examples of Zero Tolerance — in schools or in real life — I come across more that I just can’t resist telling you about. But there is hope, which I’ll get to in a minute. First, one of the ZT stories from this week’s (25 February 2007) issue to illustrate: (more…)
  • Pluto Planet Day - Long-time readers know I have a special place in my heart for the planet Pluto. It’s not just that I spent 10 years working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and worked on the precursor project to the probe that’s on the way there now. One of my earliest memories is going to the Griffith Observatory (I grew up in L.A. for the first 10 years), and insisting that I be allowed to buy a photograph of the outer planets at […]
  • True Milestone: Issue #666 Special - I started getting notes last month about whether I had “special plans” for issue #666. “Not that the number actually means anything, but it tickles me to have noticed the landmark,” noted one, Jordan in S.A., Australia. Indeed, I do consider it as much superstition as being afraid of the number 13. Wikipedia has a good article on the many variations — it addresses how the number came to be regarded with such disrepute; or should that be 616 that’s […]
  • Randy the Anti-Christ? - Religion and Politics. It’s said those are the two subjects one should never discuss in polite company, because it just leads to impolite arguments. But when you write a news commentary column about weird and stupid things, politics comes up often. And, indeed, if I rant about something stupid done by a politician from the left I’m branded a “stinking heartless Conservative”, and when I zing a politician from the right I’m called a “leftist Boulder liberal”. Dare I say […]
  • Public Humiliation vs. Real Punishment - Well of course I have the photos of the bikini-clad fireman. But first things first — here’s the story: (more…)
  • Kumari Fulbright Mugshot - Stories in True can almost always stand on their own, without illustration. But now and then, a photo really adds to the story. In the case of a so-called “beauty queen” law student who allegedly committed a major crime, it is definitely enhanced by a couple of photos. First, the story, from the 6 January 2008 issue. (Trust me: Scroll down slowly! Read the story first, then scroll down to see the first picture, and then go down to see […]
  • Men and Balloons - What is it with men who want to fly under balloons? I don’t mean hot air balloons, I mean toy balloons. This one’s a priest — he just wanted to get closer to God, I guess. From True‘s 27 April 2008 edition: (more…)
  • What Can I Do About ZT? - Ben in Victoria, Australia, sent me a note this week with the subject, “ZT — I’m just stunned.” He writes: (more…)
  • ZT v. Savana Redding: a Court Decision - A tremendous number of zero tolerance stories pass in front of me as I search for stories for True, and (contrary to what some readers think) I pass by most of them. I’ve previously encouraged those who are truly wronged by ZT to consider suing their schools. The family of Savana Redding, who was 13 when she was ZTd on October 8, 2003, did just that, suing the school district and school officials with the help of the American Civil […]
  • The Truth about PETA - Does PETA protect and nurture the animals placed in its care? Find out — this story is from True‘s 17 July 2005 issue. (Letters and more commentary have been added to the very end of this page. Go there.) “Ethical” Defined After more than 100 dead dogs were dumped in a trash dumpster over four weeks, police in Ahoskie, N.C., kept an eye on the trash receptacle behind a supermarket. Sure enough, a van drove up and officers watched the […]
  • The Right to Be Offended - I continue to be astounded at the number of people who choose to be offended by things that don’t exist. I refer this time to a story in the 31 August 2008 issue about the Republican vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin: (more…)
  • Visiting the White House - I mentioned in my post last week that being in Washington D.C. was “more surreal than usual” because it was election time. Well, imagine being inside the White House just two days before the election! Because indeed, that’s where I was. (more…)
  • Zero Tolerance Trick, No Treat - Zero Tolerance is insidious. An abdication of common sense and professional ethics, in schools it seeks to apply one punishment — suspension, usually leading to expulsion — to any level of “crime”. (more…)
  • Guns in America: Why? - Anytime I run a “gun story” I get a lot of comment from both hugely polarized Americans, who want to rant for or against guns, and foreign readers, who don’t understand the American “obsession” with arms. I’m going to take a stab at helping foreign readers understand it a bit better. But first, the “gun story” that prompted this essay, from True‘s 15 February 2009 issue: (more…)
  • TANSTAAFL, Baby - Very often readers ask me for advice about starting an online business — when I started in 1994, there wasn’t anyone to ask, and I’ve learned a lot in the nearly 15 years since. Obviously one can learn some things by watching what I do, but there are others who are in the business of teaching such things, and that’s faster (and more generic). The problem is, a lot of those in the business are fly-by-night know-nothings who will gladly […]
  • The War on Kids - There will probably be two responses to the first story in this week’s issue: 1) I was too hard on the public library/librarian, and 2) I wasn’t hard enough on her. To be sure, my tagline was judging her based on the standards of the American Library Association. But first the story, from True‘s 10 May 2009 issue: (more…)
  • Don’t Talk to the Cops - Some readers will be a bit puzzled why I would spread this message in my blog: “Do not, under any circumstances, be interviewed by the police without advice from a lawyer.” You have a right to remain silent, and I urge you to exercise that right. Especially if you are innocent. (more…)
  • The Future of Newspapers - When I started True back in 1994, there weren’t too many people online — especially compared to now. Once I quit my Day Job to pursue online publishing full time, I was constantly looking for peers — people to talk with that would understand what it was I was doing. It was hard going at first, but I eventually found several communities of people using email discussion lists to communicate. I joined several, and was able to find a number […]
  • Zero Tolerance and the 800-lb Gorilla - The New York Times had an article today on a ridiculous zero tolerance situation: a kid in Delaware who was so excited to get his Cub Scouts camping utensil — a fork, knife and spoon combo — that he took it to school to eat his lunch with. Yeah, a Cub Scout: Zachary Christie is just 6 years old. Wait: it had a dull, kid-appropriate knife included? Why, knives are weapons! Run in circles! Pull out your hair! Scream like […]
  • Paul Clarke and British Zero Tolerance - Often when I include an article about “zero tolerance” in True, I hear from people outside the United States who claim some variation of “only in America!” Not so, of course. Some of the most outrageous examples happen in the British Commonwealth countries, including England. Such was the case this week (the 15 November 2009 edition), with this outrage: (more…)
  • Ed Freeman and Political Manipulation - I generally don’t want suggestions for True‘s Honorary Unsubscribe feature; my usual problem is having far too many possibilities for the one slot each week. In July 2009 a new trend started: people wanting me to do an Honorary Unsubscribe write-up for Ed Freeman, a brave Vietnam War helicopter pilot who saved about 30 shot-up kids and was awarded the Medal of Honor — the U.S.’s highest military decoration. (more…)
  • Patrick Timoney’s “Gun” - The “zero tolerance” stories just don’t stop, despite court decisions and legislators demanding “common sense.” A 2″ hunk of plastic isn’t a gun, unless you’re a hysterical grade school principal who demands that 9-year-olds in your care sign confessions when they bring a toy to school. (more…)
  • 1984 in 2010: a ZT Influence - My recent blog post analyzing a Zero Tolerance case (Patrick Timoney’s “Gun”) showed just how crazy people can get trying to control others, and their desire to punish non-transgressions just the same as if the person was actually doing something wrong. Most people fully got the point. Others, to my shock, didn’t. (more…)
  • FloriDuh - People often try to tell me California is the weirdest state in the union. No way, I always reply: Florida is. I find more weird stories there than from any other state, even though California (with about 37 million residents) has twice the population as Florida (with about 18.5 million). One of their newspapers even has a recurring feature called “FloriDuh” — they know the weirdness that permeates the state. (more…)
  • The Opposite of Zero Tolerance - Yet another astounding story from the front lines — our nation’s schools. From True‘s 28 November 2010 issue: (more…)
  • Fighting the Good Guys - There always has to be at least one idiot in the crowd. The people who fight against the fight against zero tolerance and zero thought, and create more problems for victims — like the girl I told you about last week who was raped at school. (more…)
  • Father of the Year, Or…? - A story this week by True contributor Jennifer Weiner struck me the wrong way, so I sent it back for a rewrite. I thought you might find the original story intriguing, as well as her reaction to my rewrite request. (more…)
  • The End of the World: 2011 Edition - I can’t just title this page “The End of the World” because that has been predicted before. And before that. And before that, and — well, you get the idea. (more…)
  • Ooh! Do It Again! - Last week I did a harder-than-usual “push” for subscription upgrades. You might like to know the excellent result: 32 upgrades. Just 32 upgrades is “excellent”?! Yep. The week before, it was four. The week before that was better: 15. (more…)
  • The Euphemism Treadmill - I ran a story in this week’s issue in part to provoke — and even though I didn’t post it here, there was a lot of thoughtful comment. So OK, I’ll post it here to help facilitate the discourse. First, the story, from the 19 June 2011 issue: (more…)
  • Forever Doomed to Repeat History - One of the best things about writing This is True is I’m always learning interesting things. (Usually I say “It’s really fun!”, which is certainly true too. But I get to research so many interesting topics!) And not just the regular stories: I learned something I never knew about before with this week’s Honorary Unsubscribe, too. (more…)
  • The Few, The Proud, the Falsified News Story - There’s a story that’s going around (and around, and around) that’s so full of crap, I thought it was time to set the record straight — it has turned into an urban legend. It also has some profound implications on how someone is trying to manipulate you. (more…)
  • Are You Liberal, or Conservative? - I think a couple of stories this week will make some people’s heads explode. “Confound it, Randy! Are you a heartless Glenn Beck conservative, or a bleeding heart Barney Frank liberal?!” (more…)
  • Rural Electrification, Meet the Rural Internet - Back in the early years of the 20th century, as cities were starting to get electrical power, that was the problem: only cities were getting electrical power. City clustering of homes and multi-family dwellings made for a lot of customers per mile of wire strung, and the payback to the electric companies came quickly. (more…)
  • Christmas Blues - Today I’m working while listening to my collection of “weird Christmas music,” which I’ve compiled over the years. Things like the “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” mashup duet — by Bing Crosby and David Bowie in 1977. Yeah, really. (more…)
  • Zero Tolerance: Alive and Well - When I run a string of zero tolerance stories, readers typically respond, “What should we do about this?” What I don’t want you to do is emailbomb the school officials or school boards involved. But first, let’s recap several of this week’s ZT stories (from the 1 January 2012 issue): (more…)
  • Don’t Forward That Warning! - Old jokes clogging your inbox are bad enough. Stupid “warnings” about the most unlikely hazards are worse: they irritate the smart people and panic the dumb ones. Now and then, when someone forwards an urban legend to a bunch of people, they really pay a big price. (more…)
  • The Worship of Joe Paterno - I posted this on Facebook on Sunday. The response was amazing: (more…)
  • Two Tiny Scandals - Two stories this week will, I think, generate some comments from readers. One has a zero tolerance theme, and the other is a minor political scandal. They’re both from True‘s 19 February 2012 issue. (more…)
  • Another Week, Another Pack of Clueless School Officials - Two stories this week deserve some follow-up: one that’s pretty light-hearted, and the other …much less so. Let’s start with the comedy; both stories are from True‘s 13 May 2012 issue: (more…)
  • “Gay-Baiting” - I’ve made no secret that I’m pretty much 100 percent egalitarian. I’ve defended the religious, the non-religous, the “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians“, and others in True‘s stories. I’m interested in whether people walk their talk, not whether they’re religious, gay, atheist, pagan, Muslim, employed, educated — whatever. (more…)
  • Ethics Train Wreck - Last week, my BS-o-Meter failed, and a fake story made it into This is True. It has happened a few times over the past 18 years of weekly columns, but luckily only a few times. Let’s start with the story, from True‘s 5 August 2012 issue: (more…)
  • There Are Still Adventures - It’s 2012. There are no more adventures. Been there, done that, seen it, ho hum, right? Wrong. There are still adventures to be had in this world, and several of them happened this past week. (more…)
  • “Never-Ending Pledge-Week” - After years and years on this distribution, Jeff in Virginia unsubscribed last week, complaining there were “too many ads for the premium edition — it like [sic] a never-ending pledge-week on PBS.” (more…)
  • Provoking Thought: Child Support Division - It’s nice when someone else goes on a rant, so I don’t have to! A story by Mike Straw in last week’s (30 December 2012) issue went for the laugh in the tagline. A reader — Wayne, in the U.S. military and deployed to Afghanistan — thought Mike should have gone more for “thought-provoking.” Let’s start with the story: (more…)
  • Why I Embrace “Gay Marriage” - Simply put, I fully believe in the idea that “all men* are created equal” and are entitled to equal protection under the law. *(“men” being a generic word for humans, as in “mankind” — I believe the statement equally applies to women.) (more…)
  • Bashing the “Lamestream Media” - A good friend “shared” something on social media not too long ago that really made me roll my eyes. It was about the wanna-be terrorist “Shoe Bomber” Richard Reid. Just before Christmas in 2001, Reid, a Brit, got on an American Airlines plane from Paris to Florida, and while in-flight he tried to light a bomb in his shoe. Other passengers subdued him, and his airplane bombing fizzled. He’s now in prison in the U.S., serving a life sentence without […]
  • Randolph Mantooth: Still Active in EMS - The NBC television show Emergency!, which ran 123 episodes on NBC from 1972 to 1977, plus six made-for-TV movies that aired in 1978 and 1979, did a lot to make the public aware of professional Medics, playing a significant role in elevating the profession from mere “ambulance drivers.” The show starred Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe as Paramedics Johnny Gage and Roy Desoto, running out of the fictitious Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Station 51. It was the last show […]
  • The First Paramedics - This article was originally written by Randy Cassingham for the now defunct site Every Medic, and moved here as that site was being shut down. (more…)
  • Merry Secularmas, Then? - This weekend, while watching the “War on Christmas” fights going back and forth on Facebook, I decided to research a specific line that I remembered using as a tagline …sometime awhile back. I couldn’t remember when, so I looked for it — and was quite amused to find that it had been 10 years ago exactly. (more…)
  • A Hex on ABC News - This week several readers sent a story suggestion, and it’s a pretty outrageous story: a school accused a 15-year-old student of “putting a hex” on a teacher, making him ill. The assistant principal brought the girl in for “aggressive interrogation” and then suspended her for 15 days. No, this wasn’t in Salem in the late 1600s, but rather “modern” Oklahoma. The link was to a page on ABC News, and it was the same link from each reader. (more…)
  • Why People Die in Gun Free Zones - I Think Alexander Went Too Easy on the schools in a story this week. First, let’s start with the story, from True’s 23 February 2014 issue: (more…)
  • NASA Outreach on Social Media - As a life-long NASA geek (and former employee of a NASA center), I pay reasonably close attention to the goings on at NASA. I spotted something in my Facebook feed, though, that made me roll my eyes about how not to inform the public about something that should be of great interest. (more…)
  • Loyalty Oath - I have quite a bit to say about the lead story this week. Let’s start with the story, from the 23 November 2014 issue: (more…)
  • I Am Charlie - I Am Charlie. Unless you live in a cave, you probably have heard something about a terrorist attack on a weekly magazine in Paris this week. Charlie is Charlie Hebdo. Who’s he? Well, that’s French for Weekly Charlie — and they chose “Charlie” for Charlie Brown, the perpetual underdog in the Peanuts comic strip. (more…)
  • Writers Write - In a discussion group I frequent, one of the members posed a link, and wondered: “Not sure if the writers here see the need for this….” The link was to a Kickstarter pitch for the “Hemingwrite — A Distraction Free Digital Typewriter” which “combines the simplicity of a typewriter with all of the modern conveniences of living in 2014: cloud documents, e-paper display, and full-size mechanical keyboard.” “Why?” the sales pitch asks. (more…)
  • The Taylor Swift Cop Video: Call Me a Contrarian - OK: Call Me a Contrarian. Sure the lip-synching cop was entertaining! The song is fun, and who can’t like the earnest and drop-dead gorgeous (and cute! — see below) Taylor Swift? But really: we are in a cycle of big distrust of cops in this country, so their solution is to lie about just happening to find this video of the cop in their random review of dashcam footage? (more…)
  • Freedom of Religion, Alabama Style - I Have a Few Comments on Mike Straw’s story this week. Let’s start with the story; it’s from the 18 January 2015 issue: (more…)
  • Because They’re Not Capable of Defending Themselves - What’s more patronizing: making a joke at someone’s expense, or the contention that the subject of the joke is not capable of defending themselves? This week it’s war veterans who are not capable, or so some readers seem to be saying. Let’s start with the story — from True‘s 8 February 2015 issue: (more…)
  • Overlooked Heroes - I Was Hoping to Write a different Honorary Unsubscribe this week, but couldn’t because I couldn’t get information. Debbie Crawford, a 25-year veteran paramedic in Denver, died this weekend. The scuttlebutt is that her PTSD got so severe, she committed suicide — she could no longer handle the stress of the job. If that is indeed what happened, and I don’t know for sure because none of the media outlets in Denver has covered her death at all, that’s truly […]
  • Another Politician, Another Hypocrite - Another politician, another hypocrite — this time, the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Missouri. Let’s start with the story, from the 17 May 2015 issue: (more…)
  • Forging My Own Path - What Would You Include as significant milestones in the “history” of weird news? I really had to roll my eyes this weekend when a reader sent me the URL to an article from the July/August issue of the in-print (and, obviously, online) Pacific Standard magazine: “Who, What, Where, When, Weird — How oddball items came to dominate the news business, and became normal in the process.” — billed as a history of “weird news” and where it’s going, what with […]
  • Dangerous in the Wrong Hands - Some Readers Seem to Want to top recent examples of “Stupid Reasons for Protest Unsubscribes”. This one’s hilarious: in Friday’s free edition, having no paid advertisers, I ran a house ad for my drone site, Drone Pilot Wings. I haven’t been doing much in the way of articles on that site lately, but several that I have done really push for pilots being more responsible with drones, vs. doing stupid things like getting in the way of airplanes trying to […]
  • Land of the Scared - I had to get something off my chest. I’ve been seething about this for awhile, but a story this week brought it to a head. You probable saw it: it was the talk of social media last week. So let’s start with that, from True’s 20 September 2015 issue: (more…)
  • Alert the Media. - There Was a Protest Unsubscribe after I ran the plug (below) for Get Out of Hell Free cards in Friday’s edition. (more…)
  • “Ridiculous Reactions” - Nick in Arizona recently re-subscribed after an absence. He wrote: “I’m looking forward to getting TRUE in my mailbox again. It’s been a long, long time, and what reminded me was the Get Out of Hell Free cards. I came across a few in one of my storage boxes (I remember mailing in my request for several orders, including the nice plastic cards in addition to the card stock version, which I had been handing out like breezy many years […]
  • Gasping for Breath …Still - The Two Lead Stories this week (the “asthma stories”) were by far the most-suggested stories by readers recently. I think every one of them just suggested one or the other, and they probably didn’t know about the other. The two stories, which happened about a week apart, and about 165 miles apart, are pretty amazing together. Let’s start with the two stories, in True’s 24 January 2016 issue: (more…)
  • Why I’ve Removed Google’s Ads - It’s a Matter of Control. This is True went online in the first half of 1994, so True has been in business longer than many big names in the Internet biz, including Google (1998). As a classic feature column, I received (and turned down) syndication offers from two different newspaper syndicates, including one of the biggest in the business, because I wanted full control of True’s publication rights — including its online presence. And as of today, I’ve turned off […]
  • Jay Jay is Cray Cray - Sometimes it’s fun to poke at obliviots — especially when they’re truly oblivious to their idiocy. (more…)
  • Orlando: What YOU Can Do - You — Yes, You — Can “Do Something” about Mass Killings. A good friend of mine posted this yesterday, after he heard about the 49 murders at a “gay night club” in Orlando, Florida, overnight. The gunman was killed in a shoot-out with police. (more…)
  • Behind the Scenes at JPL - Long-time readers know that This is True was created while I still had a Day Job. It was a very cool job: I was on the engineering staff at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1986-1996 — True was started in 1994, so there was a two-year overlap). Shortly after I left to pursue True full time, a friend of mine there took over a public outreach program: the “Solar System Ambassadors” who help educate the public about what NASA (and JPL […]
  • What to Look for During the 2017 Solar Eclipse - Updated with Post-Eclipse photos and video. (Jump to Updates) A solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets between the sun and Earth, casting a shadow on the Earth’s surface. This can happen only during a new moon when the sun and the moon are in conjunction as seen from Earth in an alignment referred to as syzygy. In a total eclipse, the disk of the sun is fully obscured by the moon, as seen from Earth. In partial and annular […]
  • Podcast 010: Zero Tolerance - In This Episode: No Longer Weird: An obliviot trying to pass a 99-cent “$1 million bill”. And it’s Episode 10: you’re darn right it’s time to do a bit of a rant on zero tolerance! We talk about an older case that was so clearly a case of “Sue ’em!” — that the family did. But it sure wasn’t an easy road, in part because the offending school fought it hard. Show Notes: https://thisistrue.com/podcast10
  • Podcast 014: An Act of Charity - In This Episode: A mostly seasonal segment for No Longer Weird. Then, it seems like just a funny story, but a crusty donation to a food bank maybe isn’t so charitable after all, and — when you think about it — demonstrates the value of thinking about your actions before doing. Show Notes: https://thisistrue.com/podcast14
  • Mailchimp Makes a Monkey of Us All - In my recent post about watching the Internet “grow up,” I noted True was a driving force in setting the “best practices” around email publishing — I pushed the first true Email Service Provider to add features I wanted, and one of those features was “double opt-in.” I don’t claim to have come up with the idea for verifying subscribers, but the first distribution package I used not only broke when there were more than 10,000 addresses on the list, […]
  • Podcast 019: The Headlines Lied - In This Episode: Announcing a new podcast. Another No Longer Weird. And then there are the lying “Marijuana Overdose Death!” headlines: agenda-driven clickbait shockers that many other media outlets jumped on with without checking the facts first. It’s stupid, and wrong. Plus: a fun Easter Egg. Show Notes: https://thisistrue.com/podcast19
  • A Very Bad Gamble - I have a little bit to say about a story this week, so let me start with that story — from the 26 November 2017 issue: Bad Gamble When a lone armed robber hit a Chase bank branch in Chicago, Ill., she was pretty clear on what she wanted the tellers to do: “Let’s go to the vault,” she ordered. That, and “If you look at me, I will shoot.” An employee said he couldn’t get into the vault, which […]
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