The Farmer File: Signs of the times


Strange times beget strange behavior in otherwise normal people, some psychologists believe. Odd events seem to come from nowhere and leave quickly, such as the Edsel, New Coke and TV commercials about prostate problems. Well, they’re still around, but hope springs eternal. Signs of the times to note:

The New York Times is eliminating 100 more newsroom jobs and canceling subscriptions to all other news publications. The Times’ remaining journalists must buy their own or become even more out of touch with reality.

My grapevine claims a neighbor’s kid found a Nobel Peace Prize in his Happy Meal. Must be a leftover.

On a Web site that sells Halloween face mask likenesses of prominent people, President Barack Obama’s and former Vice President Al Gore’s were selling for $19.99 each.

Former vice presidential candidate Sara Palin’s face masks were the same price at first, but soon were discounted to $14.99. That’s a puzzle. Was it because only she of the three, Obama, Gore and Palin, didn’t win a Nobel Peace Prize?

Gov. Palin’s critics keep up the campaign of bashing her at every possible turn. The latest I’ve seen is from the Web site, a faux newspaper with ironic headlines and news briefs.

With a picture of Palin looking thoughtful, the headline reads, “Sarah Palin’s 400-page Memoir Due in November. She says she ‘can’t wait’ to read it.” At least it’s funny.

Another gem from Ironic Times: “New Fossil Find Proves We’re Related to Chimps. New Fall (TV) Schedule confirms it.”

In these days of everyone suing everyone, a story from Cincinnati seems a welcome respite from litigious lunacy.

A guy there had filed 16 complaints with the Ohio Supreme Court and 21 lawsuits in the past two years. A fed-up judge ordered the man to stop filing lawsuits without the court’s permission. The outraged lawsuiter responded with another legal complaint against the state’s highest court. The Associated Press reports the man seeks justice on laws he says were made by God, not mortals.

School children in County Cork, Ireland, are taking toilet paper to school because the principal asked them to. (Pause for several 6th grade level toilet jokes.) The school insists that TP toting by pupils is voluntary and that it will help the school save money.

Whatever happened to just taking your lunch to school?

Now, in the “How low can we go?” category:

In Gaza City, the zoo is so poor it couldn’t replace its two zebras when they died of hunger because of the fighting among Israeli troops and Hamas guerillas.

So the zoo hired a painter who used hair coloring to paint some donkeys with black and white stripes. Voila! Zebras.

We’d better alert Smoky Bear to beware of an Arab sneaking around the park carrying cans of black and white paint. The Gaza zoo also is short on pandas.

A final sign of the times: Polls of congressional leaders’ popularity show Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s national rating is 38 percent. Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid, 27 percent. Republicans are even lower, with Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell at 25 percent and House Republican leader John Boehner at 21 percent.

In these bizarre times, the signs show that many politicians are even less popular than yellow-bellied sidewinders. Or even journalists.

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Don Farmer is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and CNN news anchor. He can be reached at

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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