How to deal with conspiracy nuts

“HAPPY FRIDAY,” I said to a reader on (you guessed it) Friday last week. Normally, I would consider this one of my less controversial statements.

But he thought otherwise, narrowing his eyes.

“Yes,” he said. “Only it’s really Saturday, right?”

***

mr jam meets readers

Before proceeding, I should explain that all columnists attract wacko conspiracy theorists, especially me. They see us as fellow stirrers.

Before I could escape, he explained to me that since this was a leap year, and we had recently had 24 hours of February 29, the day we were calling Friday must REALLY be Saturday, “to those of us who are not fooled”.

Feeling unusually patient, I explained that in leap years the dates change, but not the days of the week.

He remained suspicious. His stance reminded me of the peasants who revolted when the calendar was adjusted 11 days in 1582 because they thought 11 days had been “stolen” from their lives.

But then I remember thinking myself, as a child, that the extra day in leap years should be added in summer to give us one more day of sunshine, rather than one more day of rainy February.

***

To divert my conspiratorial reader from his theory that leap years were a devious trick, I pointed out that the Chinese calendar, the Hindu calendar and some Buddhist calendars don’t have leap days—they have leap months. (This is true.)

He was taken aback. “So you mean you think it’s one month but it’s really the previous month?”

I nodded.”That’s right. And as the decades pass, all those extra months add up, you know. That’s why I still wear fashions from 1970s.”

That thought silenced him.

I advised him that since this was a leap year, he needed to put his watch forward exactly one year. While he was working out how to adjust it, I sneaked away.

70sFashion

(Male 1970s fashion)

***

IN OTHER NEWS…..

A MAN who hogged an aircraft toilet for a long time was digging a tunnel. True story.

He removed the airplane toilet walls and managed to burrow his way into the hold, where he stuffed his clothing with bundles of cash stolen from luggage.

The passenger rebuilt the toilet before, several hours after first entering the tiny room, emerging.

fardel viking

(Grandpa Fardel)

I know this really happened because I heard this story from reader Christian “Grandpa” Fardel last week, an airport executive who had been present at the airport when it happened.

The villain left the plane “looking like the Michelin Man,” Christian said. (Full story in comments here.)

stuffed pockets

Okay, so the next time someone takes hours in the aircraft toilet, I won’t complain, I’ll just ask for a cut of the proceeds.

***

AS PART of a recent event to celebrate grammar, reader Kay Ross wrote a haiku:

Punctuation rules.

‘Let’s eat, Grandma’ is kinder

Than ‘Let’s eat grandma’.”

kay-ross-picture-frame

(Kay Ross)

***

THE OTHER day I heard someone on TV describe Mitt Romney as a “bedrock conservative”.

Isn’t Bedrock where Fred Flintstone lives? Is Romney that old?

mitt-romney-holding-dino-flintstone

***

CLEVEREST one-liner heard this week:

“There are 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary, and those who don't.”

If you get the joke, you pass computer science 101.

***

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