The April Fools' survival guide: Laugh till you cry

To help you separate fact from fiction on this mendacious day, we present six news stories that should be jokes -- but are not

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Credit: Thinkstock

I hate April Fools' Day, and not because it’s two weeks before Federally Mandated Pickpocket Day. It’s the one day people expect me to be more "Cringely" than ever, which somehow only refers to additional work and never extra scotch. It’s also the one day that all the serious journalists (suckers!) try to be “Cringesque,” which means I have loads of competition in the crazy pundit department.

You’ve undoubtedly already seen some of that competition: Microsoft’s new Linux distro; Google’s Pac-Man, and some weirdness about a Samsung Galaxy kitchen smartknife. There’s undoubtedly hundreds more viraling around the InterWebs, and many of their creators will be forced to issue tear-stained apologies tomorrow because several hundred thousand Web readers took them seriously and reformatted their hard disks in anticipation of Miux (I would have gone with Minx, personally) or cried hysterically because Pac-Man was too terrifying or threw out their Ginsu blades because only a smartknife could now satisfy their parsley-chopping needs.

It’s destructive and dangerous for sober people to wade into the territory of the drunken snark, even for only one day each year, not to mention inconvenient for me on a personal level. Forget alcohol-fueled fantasy and wild invention today. For this one, we’re sticking to the fully caffeinated facts.

But in keeping with my scotch-snark roots, we’ll stick to depressing facts -- real news that should have been April Fools' fodder, but because society is collapsing around us, isn’t. Maybe some of these will wind up being subtle pranks that managed to slither by me, in which case I’ll take a drink in their honor tomorrow. Tragically, I think they’re all real, and if that proves the case, I’ll take a drink in my honor tomorrow. Basically, I’m drinking tomorrow, which in no way implies I’m not drinking today.

(Before you ask, no, I was not one of the cross-dressers who tried to invade the NSA yesterday. They invited me, but it’s not the right time of year for summer shifts, so I had to opt out. Also, we’ll stick to tech/sci-oriented news, which lets Governor Pence off the hook.)

Amazon’s Dash button

Leave it to Amazon to come up with exactly what we need: another ADHD-inducing, couch-potato-promoting invention that will result in a few more million plastic doodads forming landfill mountain ranges because Amazon believes its users are too scatterbrained to remember a specific need long enough to log into a shopping site.

The Demopera

I hope I’m wrong on this one, but having once sat/slept/strained at my bonds through a three-act play about object-oriented programming (truth) and being personally acquainted with the cultural tastes of a number of Stanford grads, I’m pretty certain this is an actual crime -- er, opera.

AT&T GigaPower

The same company that said Net neutrality would cripple its ability to invest in infrastructure is now offering 1Gbps access in Cupertino as long as residents are willing to do the following:

  1.  Pay a hefty premium over other locales
  2. Have their Internet travels tracked or pay an additional hefty premium
  3. Suffer the strong sell on AT&T’s me-too U-verse video entertainment service

Apparently, Net neutrality cripples AT&T only when it comes to deploying reliable infrastructure in places where residents can’t afford hefty premiums for service the rest of the world takes for granted, like wherever you'll find the 7 percent of Americans today who can use only their smartphones to get online.

10 fastest Internet connections by country

Guess what? The list doesn’t include the United States … again. According to Akamai, Latvia has better Internet connectivity than we do -- Latvia. Dollars to Eastern European donuts, they pay significantly less for it, too.

Teenage, VoIP-spoofing swatters

Am I wrong to be surprised that people, even teenagers, think it’s funny to dispatch squads of heavily armed, adrenalin-charged SWAT cops to civilian locations for the fun of it, while idiotically believing nothing terrible could happen? It’s not only the two Satanic snot blossoms mentioned in the article, either. It’s a popular youth pass time, apparently, with a similar incident occurring a couple of towns over from me a couple of days ago. The only question now: After an innocent is inevitably shot dead by accident, will it ratchet the popularity of swatting up or down? I don’t want to think about that, so let's consider something pleasant -- like mustard gas.

White House vs. white hats

Just when you think you can almost tolerate a president, the White House works hard to pump out something with less of an upside than uterine fibroids. It’s OK for Uncle Sam to find and exploit technology vulnerabilities to keep tabs on us for little enough justification, but if white hats do it and tell anyone about what they find, they’re in trouble -- because that policy will keep us so much safer. Really!

I could keep going, but I’m running low on Johnny Walker and the will to live. Maybe April Fools' isn’t that terrible. At least it’s one day where we can pretend that the worst news we’re reading probably isn’t true. We can deal with reality over the other 364 days provided the scotch holds out. Hmm, maybe an Amazon Dash Johnny Walker button isn’t such a bad idea either.

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