30 January 2011

Annual Dilbert Post

Scott Adams, the cartoonist who created Dilbert, likes to say that there are only nine news stories, constantly re-written.

Every once in awhile I like to check the newspaper with his list in mind, to see if he is right. I'll start with his wording unmodified by examples.

1. EXTREME WEATHER BATTERS SOMEPLACE

2. IDIOTS KILL INNOCENT PEOPLE

3. POLITICIAN DOES SOMETHING ILLEGAL

4. PRIMATE ATTEMPTS INAPPROPRIATE SEX

5. EXPERTS WARN OF FINANCIAL CALAMITY

6. BIG COMPANY BUYS ANOTHER BIG COMPANY

7. FAMOUS PERSON DOES SOMETHING INTERESTING

8. A SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY MIGHT BE USEFUL IN TEN YEARS

9. GOVERNMENT FAILS TO ACHIEVE A GOAL

Does that break-down hold up for the news of the past week or so?

1. The extreme weather story. One word: Australia.

2. Idiots kill innocent people. Always too easy. I won't even include a link. Check your local paper this morning.

3. Politician does something illegal. For this one, I've got a cool link, and it brings us in imagination to sunny Italy!

4. Primate attempts inappropriate sex. A porn-film operation under the primatological name "Cheeky Monkey Inc." seems to have made inappropriate use of a food vending truck.

5. Experts warn of financial calamity. And the municipal bond market is the target of many of the latest warnings.

6. Big Company Buys Another Big Company. These mergers often take on a trans-national cast. That's nothing new. But when the industry that is consolidating is defense consulting, it's still news.

7. Famous Person Does Something Interesting. Ah, the celebrity news category! Ricky Gervais seems to have touched a few Hollywood nerves.

8. The scientific discovery that might be useful in ten years? That CERN thing -- wasn't it supposed to have found that all-important Higgs boson by now? How long will it remain elusive before particle physicists wonder (a) whether it exists and (b) if it doesn't, how to patch up their theories?

9. Government fails to achieve a goal. The governments of Europe have experimented in recent years with the creation of a unified currency zone. That experiment may be crashing to an end. Symptoms of the crash are in all the papers.

Yes, I think Scott Adams has a point.

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