Queen Elizabeth honoured with frozen hellhole - 10 things
Well, it's been a big, banner year for international legislative changes made in the wake of preventable deaths. First up, the Irish government have announced they will be introducing laws to make abortions legal in cases where the mother's life is at risk, and all it took to get it on the books was the agonising death of Savita Halappanavar in November, who died of septicaemia in hospital after doctors explained that sure, there was no possible way that her miscarried fetus was going to live, but since it still had a heartbeat they couldn't possibly remove it from her body because Jesus. This absolutely necessary change is a massive step forward for the staunchly Catholic country, although there's no sign of any exemptions for rape or anything like that - so don't worry, women can still defer to the clergy on matters of their own health and fertility, just as God intended.
Similarly, the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting has triggered the White House to actually address the question of gun control: Congress has already pledged to introduce "a comprehensive series of measures", with pro-gun lobby senators from both sides of US politics indicating that they would support the moves in coming weeks. However, that doesn't mean that everyone's on the same page: in a reading of the national mood that seems ambitiously original at best, Republican Oregon state representative Dennis Richardson has followed up his statement earlier this week that the problem is that everyone should be more armed by issuing an email to his constituents saying that no, seriously, arm the fuck out of everyone. "Instead of responding to the latest mass murder with calls for more gun-control, the real issue should be ensuring the protection of our children and educators from armed psychopaths," he adorably reasons. "Currently, when a killer begins his rampage the only armed person in the school for at least five minutes after the sound of the first gunshot is the mass murderer." And that's a real shame, so he proposes that every school have "Campus Responders", secret armed staff members who would go all Batman on that shit if someone came in with a gun, because the more bullets you have flying around a school, the safer those children are.
Oh sure, you've heard the "official" stories, you've seen the so called "historical record", but you and thousands like you in bars and cellars and private homes all over the world have all been asking the same question: was Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses III murdered in 1155 BC? Well, now the mystery looks solved: either yes, or he was terrible at shaving. A CT scan of the mummified remains of the so-called "last great pharaoh" at Cairo's Egyptian Museum have revealed that the bandages covering his neck cover the fact that his throat had been slashed. Those hoping that justice will be done are probably too late, though - although this discovery backs up papyrus documents suggesting that Ramses had been the victim of one of his wives, Tiye, who wanted her son Pantawere to take the throne, and a body tentatively identified as Pentawere's was found in Ramses' burial chamber, unembalmed and wrapped in goatskin (a huge insult for the next-life-obsessed Egyptians). Case closed!
In other celebrity death news, it has been announced that Koko - the titular red dog in the inexplicably successful Australian film Red Dog, has died of congenital heart failure in Perth - which is very sad, not least since unknowns raised to sudden stardom are supposed to die after a nightmare descent into booze and pills.
Last month the University of Chicago received an unexpected parcel: the diary of one Professor Abner Ravenwood, addressed to Dr Henry Walton Jones, Jr. Now, if you're as big a nerd as we assume most readers of TheVine are, you've already gone "um, isn't that the mysterious parcel that triggers the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark ?" And yes, it is. And the university was freakin' bamboozled: was it a prank? A marketing ploy? Some sort of Sliders-esque tear between our world and an alternate universe where the Nazis won, people ride dinosaurs and 80s blockbusters have become glorious reality? None of the above, as it turns out: it was part of a package of replica Indiana Jones memorabilia, sold on eBay by a company in Guam and sent to the buyer in Italy. Somehow the parcel came away from the rest of the package and was mistaken for actual mail to the University (despite the postage stamps also being fake). The seller has reportedly told the university they can keep it, and there are moves to have it put on display in the library. Which is all well and good, but no-one seems to be addressing the bigger issue: with the diary in university hands, the Nazis are closing in on Marion even as we speak.
Today in Shitty Names For Shitty Places news comes the announcement that our beloved monarch Queen Elizabeth II has been honoured be having her name used to mark a barren piece of windswept nothingness. Yes, Liz now has proud dominion over the penguins (who have traditionally been ruled by their own Emperor) since a piece of land in Antarctica has been been given the evocative name "Queen Elizabeth Land", which sounds like either the world's dullest amusement park or that the person tasked with the job of naming the place was hungover on his last day of work. It's part of the British Antarctic Territory, which is the territory in the Antarctic owned by Britain. Wow, the English really just don't give a shit about naming things down there, do they?
Ah, there's something in the air at this time of year that makes it clear that we're in the festive season: houses done up in fairy lights, carols blaring out of every store, and massive layoffs in the media. News Ltd have provoked the ire of the Media & Arts Alliance, union of media workers, with staff at News Ltd in Brisbane passing a motion of no confidence in the company's national management after having yet another wave of job cuts sprung on them with no consultation. A strike motion was narrowly defeated, but may yet be on the cards down the track. And it's worth mentioning in the spirit of fairness that Fairfax, the other major news organisation (and benevolent overlords of this very site) have made major cuts this year too. So, um, merry Xmas, fellow word jockeys.
Meals are in danger of being woefully underphotographed with the news that Instagram users are leaving the service in droves - well, announcing that they're going to do so via a Twitter hashtag, which is the Occupy Wall Street of online activism - in response to the new terms and conditions which include disquieting things like "…you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions… You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such." Which is the sort of blanket all-your-base-belong-to-us legal move that's become ubiquitous online, is more or less the same as the existing T&Cs of Instagram's owners Facebook, and probably don't mean that your lunch and beach pix will be used in a secret promotion for the KKK - but, technically, if it happened, recourse would be tricky.
Can Naltrexone work to short circuit the addiction patterns of problem gamblers? That's what a trial being conducted in Victoria is set to work out. The drug's been effective with alcoholics and heroin users, so the University of Melbourne are looking for pathological gamblers to be part of the 12 week trial. The science appears solid: we give it a solid five-to-two on working. Come on, lucky seven: papa needs a new therapeutic method of curbing his self-destructive behaviour!
And finally, because it's that sort of a week, watch a video of a dancing spider. Because why not?