The White Shoe Irregular:
It was fun while it lasted.

In Brief, Volume III

Holly Smith

Papua New Guinea

Upon discovering a previously unknown group of indigenous peoples in this jungle nation, British anthropologists shocked colleagues abroad by pronouncing the tribe "a bunch of morons."

Rather than being feted for its inherent wisdom, purity, and simple virtue — as is the case with most happened-upon primitives — this tribe, known as the Q'egs, has earned nothing but scorn from European observers.

"No social hierarchy, no rudimentary though meaningful artwork, and a stunning lack of symbiosis with the environment," said disgusted researcher Lance Whittingham, noting the Q'egs habit of clear-cutting the rainforest purely for sport.

"Frankly," added Whittingham, "I doubt these cretins even care that they're failing to teach western man a valuable lesson about himself."

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New York

Due to sluggish donor largesse during fiscal year 2001, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting predicts drastic cutbacks in its funding of hyperbole. Filmmaker Ken Burns is expected to be hardest hit.

"While viewers will enjoy continued quality programming such as Sesame Street and Masterpiece Theatre, these cutbacks are potentially devastating to the puckish documentarian," said CPB spokesman Alan Wilkes.

Known for revelatory works like Baseball and Jazz, Burns's films typically profile scores of noteworthy Americans — each greater, though more obscure, than the last. Without wildly inflated descriptors, Wilkes doubts Burns can adequately capture the near messianic profundity of these totally anonymous figures.

Happily, there is some good news. "Despite rumors to the contrary," said Wilkes, "CPB will continue funding relentless 'zoom in, zoom out' camera work."

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Washington, D.C.

The American Psychiatric Association has finally quantified the relationship between excessive cat ownership and mental illness. The verdict? Three is the magic number separating healthy feline appreciation from diagnosable nuttiness.

"There are obviously stable, productive individuals who own four or more house cats," said APA researcher Cynthia Maddux. "Unfortunately, we were unable to locate them for the purposes of this study."

Maddux added that while having three cats falls within normal limits, it too can indicate neurological atrophy when found in conjunction with certain behaviors.

"Collecting Longaberger baskets and/or Princess Diana memorabilia is alarming in and of itself," she said. "Combined with an even moderate array of cats, it becomes a leading indicator of eventual mental collapse."