As you may have noticed, content in this blog is frequently based on news items from the past thousand years or so. Newspapers often cough up something inspirational, so I search a variety of sources for material and then run my ideas past the editorial board (that would be me). Some news items seem at first glance to have promise, but wind up being cast aside because they are in questionable taste, or because I don’t want to get sued. Or sometimes, without reason, the editorial board just says “nah”.
An example of the poor-taste concern came up in November 2009, when the BBC, CNN, Associated Press and other reputable news sources reported that gang members in Peru had been arrested on suspicion of killing dozens of people. It was the motive that drew my attention: the victims were targeted in order to sell their body fat and tissue for use in cosmetics. I know — yeesh.
In no way do I mean to make light of the disappearance of at least sixty people who seem to have met a gruesome end. But you can’t help wondering if they’re eventually going to wind up on someone else’s face, right? Somehow it didn’t allay my queasiness when BBC reported that medical authorities are skeptical about a black market for human fat, “partly because of the wide availability of fat for use in surgical procedures.”
That’s enough to show you why the editorial board at Tom Reeder’s Blog decided to spindle that story.
An item that initially seemed more promising appeared in wire service reports a couple of weeks ago (5/15/10). It seems that the U.S. Postal Service recovered 20,000 pieces of mail — some dating back to 1997 — from the garage of a Philadelphia postal carrier. My first thought was, “So that’s why I never got thank-you notes for those wedding and graduation gifts!” On further consideration, though, it seems unlikely that all of those expressions of gratitude would wind up in Philadelphia, since they would have been sent to me from many other places around the country. So that approach to the story was a dead end.
I briefly thought about using the postman’s garage full of other people’s mail to reflect on the stuff all of us hoard in our garages and closets and attics. Why are we keeping it? Will we ever use it if we can’t even remember that it’s there?
Then I had an even better idea for this subject. How did the course of people’s lives change because that postman didn’t deliver… well, let’s say the flyer from Bed Bath & Beyond? The 20% off coupon expired decades ago, of course, but what if the addressees had gotten it on time? Mr. X could have purchased the pillow that would have eased his back pain. Maybe he wouldn’t have needed surgery if only he’d gotten the pillow. BUT — if he hadn’t had the surgery, he would never have met Miss Y, the attractive physical therapist. You see the potential here? It’s simply not possible to do that topic justice in a mere 500 words.
On the other hand, there’s the wire service report (5/6/10) about the man who walked into a police station in Grenada. He was carrying a bucket that had two severed heads in it. The only thing that makes that topic interesting is the man’s name: Steve Gory. No way I can get 500 words out of that.