I enjoy useless news, and what could be more useless than learning that, recently, a homeless 17 year-old Kenyan found a more than 5000 dollar treasure hunt prize while urinating in a Nairobi park? Evans Kamande found a small box, with a piece of paper inside, between the forks of a cactus. The paper turned out to be a voucher for the prize, which Mr. Kamande later collected from the local radio station that had been conducting the treasure hunt.
What possible use could we get from that? Maybe if we played the lottery we could conclude that we might be better off urinating in city parks. But, realistically, what are the odds that a Nairobi radio station would leave a voucher for a cash prize in Denny Regrade Park? So all we get is an excuse to use the word "urinating" repeatedly. But we could have done that without the excuse!
Here's some useless news from Graz, Austria. Professors from the Karl Franzens University there are taking part in a project to bring the news to the homeless of Austria's second largest city that laughter is the best medicine.
That's right. Frolicking, happy-go-lucky, Austrian university professors are spreading the word to homeless people in shelters and drop-in-centers that if they would just laugh more their immune systems would work better. Here is an actual translation of an actual hilarious quote from the "act" of one of these professors: "Phrases such as laughing yourself sick should actually be turned around to read laughing yourself well." STOP, I'm NOT in stitches! I'm well!
Sure, it would be useful if homeless people learned to laugh better. It might also help if they got plenty of sleep and avoided sweets. But how about getting them shelter?
OK, that brings us to news concerning world-famous Australian architect Sean Godsell. This guy designs cheap housing intended to shelter the homeless. His works include a converted shipping container that has been on display at the Smithsonian design museum in New York, and a bus shelter house – a bus shelter by day, a homeless shelter by night.
How does that qualify as useless news? Well, ask yourself, why are these things always in museums and never in use? In order for a shelter idea to be useful, people have to permit it to be used. What good is a bus shelter house when every transit system in the world is so hostile to the homeless that they not only wouldn't want to install Godsell's creations but they would furiously destroy existing bus shelters wherever homeless people rest at them?
Godsell also has designed a park bench shelter. It's a park bench by day and a safe home out of the weather for someone at night. They say the only problem with it is, no city will have it. And when cities don't want something that tends to be the end of it. Except for homelessness itself, of course. That, you can't legislate away.
Which brings us to the least useful news of all. No more useful than that the sun will rise tomorrow. No more useful than that George Foreman has a kid named George. No more useful than my left nipple: knowing that the neighbors N don't want a shelter in neighborhood X. (X can take on any value in the universe of all neighborhoods, and N can be any subset of the residents of X.)
Guess what, some Kirklanders don't want Tent City 4 in Kirkland! Wow. You could knock me over with a feather. A twenty-pound feather with a three-foot handle.
Useless: "Not in my neighborhood." Useful: "What can I do to help?"
Useful is rare, useless is everywhere.