CNN reports that “open” encyclopedia Wikipedia isn’t quite as open as it was. Due to the large number of factual errors, inadvertant and otherwise, that not so much creep as run head-long into the site, the publishers are “assigning editors to some of its entries. These trusted volunteers likely would have to approve public edits before they’re published to English-language stories about living people”. Since it is well known that Wikipedia users simply lie for the fun of it, this would suggest that it is no longer okay to lie about living people who can hire lawyers. On the other hand, it still seems to be open season on the living and the dead in any language other than English.
“We discovered that only English speakers lie” said Wilhelmina Straus-Grolsh, President in Charge of User Discipline at Wikipedia. To quote the CNN story: “In January, for example, Wikipedia entries about Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd falsely stated both U.S. senators had died”. Which of course is no longer incorrect, as Kennedy passed-away yesterday, and science has recently learned Byrd has been dead for over 16 years.
Another famous example is when television satire satirist Stephen Colbert exhorted his audience to change the Wikipedia entry for “Elephant” to indicate that Africa is currently suffering an elephant population explosion. In fact, because of wide acceptance of birth control by elephants (who are notoriously Protestant), there are only two left, both males, and in a comitted, loving relationship. Consequently the African pachyderm prophylactic industry has collapsed, leaving thousands out of work who have taken to poaching rhinos for thier horn, which Wikipedia states is a “guaranteed aphrodisiac”.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy died Tuesday; he was 77. He first served in the Senate in 1960 when appointed to fill his brother President John F. Kennedy’s seat, after the elder Kennedy was elected to the Presidency. Leader, statesman, legislator, and apparently a pretty good swimmer, “Teddy” was easily re-elected term after term until his death. His brothers John and Robert were both assassinated, while the oldest Kennedy brother, Joseph P. died in a plane crash during World War II. There were nine Kennedy siblings in all, most of whom died young as can be seen from this chart.
Ted Kennedy’s most lasting legacy may be that he lived to get old, as the plethora of dead siblings, neices, nephews, uncles, aunts, and cousins piled-up over his lifetime. Kennedy himself cheated the grim reaper numerous times by surviving plane crashes, automobile accidents, and avoiding being elected president. Others who rode-along with the lifelong Democrat weren’t so lucky: aide Edward Moss died in a 1964 plane crash, while campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne drowned in a 1969 car accident. Kennedy served in Paris during the Korean War, where he was lucky to avoid various venereal diseases.
Ted Kennedy practices escaping from a submerged vehicle in 1964
Kennedy made one run for the Democratic presidential candidacy in 1980, but dropped-out of the race due to the extreme probability of “health problems”. This was just one of a string of disappointments in his life, starting when he was kicked-out of Harvard for cheating on a Spanish test: “I was on the football team – I thought we were supposed to cheat” he may have said. Over the years he struggled with alcohol, drug, sex, and food addictions, as well as an unfortunate tendency to jowliness and a marked inability to drive safely at night.