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Wednesday, October 8, 2008 • Posted October 8, 2008

Let’s say you have a friend, someone who works with you and makes a decent income. And let’s say for the sake of argument that your friend decides to invest a large sector of that income on Ding Dongs and Cheez Whiz and uninsured condos in Galveston and New Orleans. In a short time your friend is as poor as Job’s turkey, and comes to you for help. Would you give your friend a bunch of someone else’s money so he could continue to throw it away?

No. As an intelligent, conscientious adult, your reaction would probably be to laugh in your friend’s face. This is what you would have expected congress to do when AIG asked for $700 billion recently. Unfortunately, congress is made up of aliens from the planet Goober. So, instead of telling AIG to go sit on a tack, congress decided to pony up the cash. Your cash.

I don’t pretend to understand this situation, and it’s entirely possible I have it all wrong, and that congress is doing the right thing. It’s possible that AIG will take that money and use it wisely, instead of buying more Ding Dongs. It’s also possible that there is more than one definition of the word ‘is.’

But that isn’t the only strange news story making headlines lately. I have here an Associated Press article that says that Quilted Northern is coming out with a new product, namely 3-ply toilet paper. About time, is all I’ve got to say. I sent Quilted Northern an email asking to be named as its national spokesperson for this new product, but I haven’t heard anything back yet. I hear they’re also considering Mel Gibson, so if anyone wants to call them and put in a good word for me I’d appreciate it.

Another story sent to me recently, by someone who didn’t want to be identified since it was my wife, concerns one of the most maligned groups in America today – Florida voters. At least, I assume the guy in the story votes.

This NBC News article says that a fellow named, really, Greg LeNoir, a carpenter in the Florida Keys, is an idiot. Well, it doesn’t come right out and say that in so many words, but it seems to me that stupidity is implied.

What happened was, Greg took his rat terrier, Jake, to a marina for his daily swim. As the little dog paddled around, making bait-type noises, a 5-foot shark came along and grabbed Jake in its mouth. So far the story sounds like your typical application of the theory of natural selection.

But Greg had not intended to use Jake as bait, so he followed the U.S. Coast Guard standard operation procedure recommended for when your rat terrier is attacked by a shark – he yelled at the shark. For some odd reason that didn’t work.

So Greg abandoned Coast Guard procedure (the next step is to go have lunch). He dove into the water with his fists out in front of him and collided firmly with the shark’s back. This caused the shark to release Jake, and Greg grabbed the dog and headed for the dock. Basically, Greg became bigger bait, but fortunately he made it out of the water without being attacked.

What this is going to do, obviously, is cause other Florida voters to think they can get away with diving into shark-infested waters without being eaten. Which may make our presidential elections go a little more smoothly, but it won’t do a lot for the tax base along Florida’s coasts. At least the sharks will be happy.

Our last story comes all the way from England, from a town called Barrow on Soar. How a town could end up with a name like that I don’t have the foggiest, but that’s what the London Daily Telegraph said. Why a newspaper would be named the telegraph I haven’t the foggiest.

Anyway, 20-year-old Kay Underwood, according to the story, is liable to collapse whenever she laughs. She has cataplexy, which causes her muscles to suddenly and dramatically weaken due to strong emotion, such as excitement, anger, or joy. Which must be terribly inconvenient.

I wasn’t aware people could have that problem, but there is a breed of goats, commonly called ‘faint goats,’ that are inflicted with it. A loud noise anywhere near a bunch of faint goats will cause them all to fall down like they were pole axed. It’s amusing, although probably not to the goats.

It’s probably not amusing to Kay, either. Her ‘friends,’ the story says, are always trying to make her laugh, to see if she’ll fall down. She’s learned to grab onto something or lock her knees together to keep from hurting herself. Some friends.

My advice to Kay would be to stay away from South Florida marinas, and to definitely avoid congress at all costs. Toilet paper, well, there’s no way to avoid that . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who never swims where there are sharks, regardless of who’s drowning. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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