Column Date 2008-12-21

The year in review: 2008 goofier than usual

This column begins a new, and we hope, annual, tradition here at the Tannen Weekly.

We're assuming that you've seen most of the big news of the year (Madonna's divorce, the shoe thrown at President Bush, and, oh yes, Oprah recently weighing in at 200 lbs).

Those earthshaking events are well covered by the major media.

We, on the other hand, believe that part of our mission is to point out the small, often overlooked, stories of our time -- stories that often tell us more about ourselves than the big stories.

Here, then, are some of our favorites (all true!) from 2008:

Lebanon & Israel in new conflict over hummus

A Lebanese trade group said they were going to sue the State of Israel for taking credit for hummus and other traditional Middle Eastern dishes. They want Israel to stop marketing these products as Israeli.

The President of the Lebanese Industrialists Association, Fadi Abboud, said "It's not enough that are stealing our land, they are also stealing our civilization and our cuisine."

The Lebanese group also claims ownership of baba ghanoush and tabouleh.

Prince gets Royal Pardon after selling political party headquarters

King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia pardoned his half brother who had embezzled $3.6 million from his own political party, 'Funcinpec,' by selling the party's headquarters to a developer.

The royal pardon allows Prince Norodom Ranariddh to return to Cambodia from Malaysia, where he had been living to avoid a prison term for his crime. 

He now heads a brand new political party, which recently won two seats in the latest parliamentary election.

Nebraska judge throws out lawsuit against God

In October, a Nebraska State Senator went to court to seek a permanent injunction against God. 

Senator Ernie Chambers claimed that He had made terroristic threats against the senator and his constituents in Omaha, and caused "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants."

The judge, in Douglas County District Court, ruled that the action be dismissed since the defendant (God) could not be served with court papers.

Philadelphia tour guides insist that ban on lying violates their free speech rights

The City of Brotherly Love had to postpone its plans to test and license tour guides when a federal judge temporarily blocked their efforts.

In April, Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter signed a law to stop the guides from "perpetuating gross inaccuracies in city history."

However, lawyers for the guides argued that the new city law violated their First Amendment right to free speech and the guides should be allowed to say whatever they want about the city.

Buddhist temple offers trial runs in coffins to prepare for re-birth

At Wat Prommanee in Nakhon Nayok, Thailand, visitors are given a chance to lie in coffins as monks chant for them to be reborn.

Then, after taking off their shrouds and offering a prayer, the visitors climb out of their coffins and leave for their new lives—cleansed and newborn.

The entire process takes a minute and a half before the monks bring in the next group of nine people who then climb into the waiting pink coffins.

Kentucky Atheists claim God cannot protect the state

Atheists are suing the State of Kentucky to remove part of the state's anti-terrorism law that requires the state's Office of Homeland Security to acknowledge that it can't keep Kentucky safe without God's help.

The atheists said "We're not aware of any other state or commonwealth that is attempting to dump their clear responsibility for protecting their citizens onto God or any other mythological creature."

And so it goes.

Happy 2009!

©2008 Peter Tannen