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May 30, 2004 - New Urban Legends

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Odds and Ends: New Urban Legends


An explanation:

People didn't begin talking about "urban legends" until the 1930s and 1940s, but they have existed in some form for thousands of years.  Urban legends are simply the modern version of traditional folklore.  In most cultures of the world, folklore has always existed alongside, or in place of, recorded history.  Where history is obsessed with accurately writing down the details of events, traditional folklore is characterized by the "oral tradition," the passing of stories by word of mouth. 


In this tradition, the storyteller will usually add new twists and turns to a story related by another storyteller.  Unlike mythology, these stories are about real people in believable situations.  Just as with modern legends, old folk tales often focus on the things a society found frightening.  Many of the "fairy tales" we read today began life as believable stories, passed from person to person.  Instead of warning against organ thieves and gang members, these tales relayed the dangers of the forest.  In old Europe, the deep woods was a mysterious place to people, and there were indeed creatures that might attack you there.  We do have a lot of fears in common with our ancestors, of course.  As is clear in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," the fear of food contamination has been around for quite a while. 


The methods of passing urban legends have also evolved over time.  In the past 10 years, there has been a huge surge of urban legends on the Internet.

Yep.  Junk Journalism.  Conspiracy Theories.


And here are my two favorites for the week.


This one …


Word is spreading around Kodak Park here in Rochester NY and will break on national News tonight (5-25) that Kodak film experts have analyzed the Nick Berg video and some of the Abu Grhaib Prison videos comparing them for certain encrypted recording signatures.


Each video camera leaves a certain signature mark, much like a fingerprint or striation markings on bullets in gun barrels.  Same goes for CD-ROM Burners, they leave a trace or type of Cookies on the finished product.


These are tested by computer and not visible by the naked eye.  Experts here after lunch have concluded that one of the 2 video cameras used in the Nick Berg "beheading" was  also used to film US troop abuses of Iraqi detainees.


THIS is BAD news for BushCorp, Military, and CIA.


Yeah, yeah.


And this:


The President takes oral medication at least twice a day according to [redacted] because of an unspecified "indisposition' and this subject is strictly off limits for any casual staff conversation.


At one point during a staff conference, the President stood up and began to speak in an unknown language.  Mr. Rove was able to stop the President and get him to resume his seat.  It was reported by [redacted] that for a period of time (about fifteen minutes) after this incident, the President appeared to be 'somewhat confused and very inarticulate.'


If you click on this second link you find pages of “insider information” from “real sources” that the president is heavily medicated, kept from his staff and from the public unless absolutely necessary, pretty much locked in a room during the day, while Dick Cheney and Karl Rove and the rest of the team run the country.  The big secret that is being kept from the country is that Bush has serious brain damage from all those years of Jack Daniels and cocaine before he found Jesus when he turned forty – and so on and so forth.


Heck, this is only partly true.  (Just kidding.)


Ric of MetropoleParis comments on both these items in an email from Paris to your editor in Hollywood:


  • Has it not it occured to viewers that videos from Afghanistan and Iraq all look as if they were filmed with 1985 VHS video cameras?  All of them, all the videos ever shown as 'proof' of this or 'proof' of that look as if they are umteenth-generation copies of anaolg video.
  • Why is it, if these 'terrorists' are so rich, that they can't afford digital video? And then, why is it that only very bad copies of copies of copies are shown on TV?
  • Why hasn't it been generally acknowledged that the quality of the videos is so bad that they could only have been achieved in such a rotten state on purpose?  And then the conclusion is logical - they are all bogus.
  • I don't doubt that the cameras do leave some sort of 'signature' on videotape.  But whether this can be deciphered after countless generations of copies is doubtful.  I suspect that the bad copies are deliberate, made to conceal their origin.
  • CD-ROM recorders do not leave 'cookies' on the disc, but they probably record the 'checksum' number.  I think this number is probably generated by the operating system controlling the recorder, because even diskettes have these numbers. Finally, Microsoft's internal coding for Word documents becomes apparent if the file is translated into plain text, with a canopener.  It often gives the machine name, the name of the hard disks, the revision history, etc.  Moral - if you don't want your laundry read, don't send Word documents.  Send plain text only.
  • As for Bush's dope problem - he always speaks in an unknown language.  Anybody noticed that Mrs. Bush doesn't go around saying, "Just say no!"
  • But in his honor, France has raised its security alert to maximum for Normandy - to red.  When he arrives for D-Day+60 all France goes to red alert.
  • Meanwhile, D-Day in movies is an almost nightly attraction of evening TV programming here.  We will be thoroughly sick of reliving it.
  • On the copyright question - ALL of France is copyrighted.  All 75 million tourists visiting here annually with their cameras should beware.   Photographing anything in France is illegal.  Kodak is keeping this news under its hat.

Ah ha!


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
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