Saturday, May 17, 2014

Strange Apologies, Stranger Wildlife—Spring Potpourri

It’s time for a Spring Potpourri post. This one features news reports of strange apologies and even stranger wildlife items. Some are over a year old, but they were buried deep down in the news media, so you might not have seen them. There are not many headliners here, and for good reason.

My favorite is a quote from a February 2013 issue of Ad Age, which provides a fine example of hyperbolic understatement. “We would like to take this opportunity to apologize to our customers for any inconvenience caused.” This from U.K. company Findus after 100% of the meat in its “beef” lasagna was found to be horse meat. Inconvenience? Ya think?

Tyson Foods also had some problems with the contents of its meat products. In April of this year, 75,000 pounds of its chicken nuggets were recalled because of possible plastic contamination. I guess the recall was more cost effective than changing the ingredient labeling on the packages.

More embarrassing, but not a danger to your health: last Fall the Vatican apologized for misspelling a name on a commemorative medal honoring Pope Francis I. “Big whoop!” you’re thinking. But what if I told you the name with the typo was Jesus. Apparently it showed up as “Lesus.” Maybe the engraver was dyslexic. Or should I say: dysjexic?

This next one is not exactly an apology, but more of an explanation. Or perhaps an explanation that warrants an apology. Again in April of this year, Taco Bell president, Brian Niccol, was asked when their breakfast menu would be available in Canada. His answer, sans apology: “When you take Justin Bieber back.” It almost makes me want to find out what’s on that breakfast menu.

Moving on to stranger wildlife (stranger than Justin Bieber, anyway). These were reported in an April 2014 issue of Time magazine in a “Roundup” of unusual diplomatic gifts. First: a wine cooler shaped like a giant grasshopper (from French President George Pompidou to Queen Elizabeth in 1972). Second: a $51,000 crocodile-insurance policy (taken out in 2011 on President Obama by an official in Australia’s Northern Territory). No explanation on how they came up with the $51,000 coverage line.

Here’s a poignant one. The Ugly Animal Preservation Society (yes, there is such a group) in 2013 named the Blobfish the world’s ugliest animal. The competition was dedicated to "raising the profile of some of Mother Nature's more aesthetically challenged children." Said the Blobfish upon learning of its dubious honor: “Yeah? Well, sticks and stones, and all that.” It was an idle taunt, as it turns out. The Blobfish has no bones to break. It’s just a, well—blob. Like a heap of Jello that fell out of its mold before it set. The only thing it has to break is a tender, bruised heart.

Finally, here’s an item from the current issue of Time. A U.K. study found that one in five people would have sex with a robot. I haven’t decide whether the “strange wildlife” in this one is the homo sapiens who would consider this, or the humanoid robot willing to be its partner. Either way, there’s definitely something strange afoot there.

That’s it for this year’s Spring Potpourri. I’ll keep collecting this stuff if you’ll keep reading it. Who am I kidding? I’ll keep collecting it even if you don’t keep reading it.

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