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  INCOMING! NOVEMBER 21, 2005.  


Hello! If at least 10 people are reading this right now, then we've just done our duty as participants in World Hello Day. Started in 1973 in response to the Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War, today's holiday seeks to promote the importance of using personal communication, rather than force, to preserve peace. Official participation consists of nothing more than greeting 10 people, making the holiday one of the easiest ways to feel good about yourself for making a well-intentioned but essentially pointless gesture toward a world without war. World Hello Day supporters encourage greeting strangers as well as friends, but if you're the shy type or feel you don't know enough people who deserve such an enthusiastic salutation, you might prefer taking part in the less-formal "World Hey Day," or the even more casual "World Acknowledge Someone With Barely Perceptible Nod Of Head And Mumble 'W'Sup' While Passing In The Corridor" Day.

Also today in 1877, Thomas Edison announced the invention of the phonograph following successful experiments recording sound waves on a tinfoil cylinder. Ten years later, Edison would invent planned obsolescence by perfecting the wax cylinder phonograph, forcing consumers to undergo the costly process of updating their music collections from tinfoil to wax. Edison's brainstorm is a perfect complement to today's holiday given the wealth of relevant songs available on recorded media: "Hello, It's Me;" "Hello, I Love You;" "Hello Goodbye;" and of course, simply, "Hello". What better way to encourage peace than with music? As soon as those Iraqi insurgents hear Lionel Richie crooning, "Are you somewhere feeling lonely/or is someone loving you?/Tell me how to win your heart/for I haven't got a clue," guaranteed there'll be a lot less bombing and lot more smooching.






From "hello" to Halo. Today, Microsoft officially releases its next-generation videogame console, the Xbox 360. With its three 3.2 GHz processors, a custom ATI graphics processor and 512 MB of RAM, the new system is guaranteed to provide a whole new level of making you feel ancient for remembering a time when tossing turtle shells off your Mario Kart seemed like the pinnacle of gaming. And remember, kids: With the bare bones "core" system starting at $299.99, you'd better start whining now if you hope to irritate your parents to a level anywhere near the point where they'll cave in and buy it for you.

Also, Charles Darwin's On The Origin Of Species went on sale on this day in 1859. Priced at 15 shillings each, the initial print run of 1,250 copies sold out on the first day, and judging from what seems to be today's prevailing attitude towards evolution, nobody's bought a single copy since. Though old Chucky D. didn't live to see the ludicrous "debate" that proponents of intelligent design have perpetrated on a public increasingly afraid of science, he'd probably be happy to know he still has a few supporters. In 2004, the school board of Dover, Penn. adopted a policy requiring biology students to hear a statement on intelligent design before learning about evolution. Two weeks ago, all eight school board members running for re-election were naturally selected out of office by Dover residents through a mysterious evolutionary process known as a "local democratic election."

Still, the very fact that stories like this make headlines, letting the intelligent design camp get their ideas in print, means the ID people are winning. Their insidious manipulation of language would have you believe that there is some sort of "controversy" over the truth of evolution. There is not. Then again, I can understand how it would be impossible for one to conceive of an Incoming! as good as this one having been created without the guiding hand of a superior being. So, I guess you make the call.






The brand new Georgia Aquarium opens today in Atlanta - the largest of its kind, featuring eight million gallons of fresh and marine water, more than 100,000 animals from 500 species, a coral reef, and even ballroom and event space available for rent. We can see the T-shirts now: "Something's Fishy At Jared's Bar Mitzvah." With expected revenue of $1 billion over five years, the aquarium is expected to be the biggest economic stimulus for the city since the 1986 launch of the Georgia Satellites, a venture that was unfortunately discontinued after being unable to maintain the attention that accompanied the project's initial release.

And for all you members of the Bahá'í faith out there, well, we don't have to tell you what today is. It's the Feast of Qawl, or Speech, the first day of the 14th month of the Bahá'í calendar. The holiday is a time to recognize the power of speech as one of God's gifts, and to appreciate our ability to use speech in the service of God and truthfulness, rather than in hurtful ways. In honor of the occasion, The Black Table asks for a 24-hour moratorium on all drunk dialing of your exes. You shouldn't be so drunk on Wednesday, anyway.





Today, The Black Table wishes you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving and reminds you that turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid that plays a role in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays a role in sleep. If you're feeling drowsy after a big meal today, please, don't drive without first smoking a little crystal meth to get those eyes open again.

Popular wisdom has it that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 to commemorate the first harvest after the Pilgrims founded the Plymouth settlement, a bit of lore you no doubt remember from that morning assembly play you put on in second grade when you played a Mayflower Pilgrim and looked so adorable in your big black hat and had to say a line about "religious persecution" only you couldn't even pronounce the word "persecution" much less know what it meant, and when you stumbled over it the audience laughed and you could feel your eyes welling up with tears even though you promised yourself you wouldn't cry in front of the school again, and you probably wouldn't have only you were the only kid in class whose Mommy and Daddy didn't come to the performance, what with Daddy being too busy at work again and Mommy promising she'd make it but you knew she was probably just too hungover from the night before, and there you were, on stage, staring at those two empty seats in the audience, praying to God you got through the play without wetting your pants because you knew if you did it would not only compound your humiliation but also most likely get you smacked when you got home or at the very least sent to your room where you would practice saying the phrase "religious persecution" out loud over and over again because, if nothing else, it provided some sweet distraction from Mommy and Daddy yelling downstairs.

So anyway, today is a day to remember all you have to be thankful for.






Get your turkey-stuffed ass out of bed and to the mall early today, because today is "Black Friday," commonly known as the biggest shopping day of the year. The nickname derives from old accounting practices, with today being the day retailers would traditionally find themselves back "in the black" for the year, though the term "Black Friday" has also come to be associated with the color of shoppers' souls when battling to the death to get the last Xbox 360 left on the shelves.

Not interested in the shopping chaos? Then burn your wallet in celebration of International Buy Nothing Day. Started by the Adbusters Media Foundation in 1993. the event takes aim at rampant consumer culture by challenging participants to purchase absolutely nothing for 24 hours. As you might expect, the occasion brings with it a host of protests and demonstrations around and against major corporations and retailers, so whether or not you choose to take part, get ready for a scuffle with a bearded, pig-mask-wearing, placard-carrying liberal type, should you deign to pop into Starbucks for a gingerbread latte.

Honestly, though, it's worth it for the gingerbread latte. Have you tried it? It's like if crack tasted like Christmas.




Jason Reich is a two-time Emmy-winning writer for "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart."


INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.