Sunday, August 4, 2013

Short People Magazine: Shark Week Special

This week SPM joins thousands of adults and pre-teens staying up past their bedtimes in celebrating Discovery channel's shark marathon. Contrary to current programming, the big D was making sixty minute "documentaries" centered around a mere forty seconds of actual footage of the topic in the early '90s* (of course, the reigning champion is still the History Channel, which, after producers grew bored of historians' voice-overs while showing clips of colonial-era paintings, began airing crackpots' voice-overs while showing clips of artists' renderings of alien beings). The D channel kicked off this year with "Is Megalodon Still Alive?", a special wherein actual people pretending to be skilled scientists dipped each other into dark oceans filled with everyone's favorite bloodthirsty marine vertebrates (sharks), with the objective hypothesis of finding any shred of proof for the existence of the ancient over-sized predator, Megalodon. Citing proof such as "recently discovered" Nazi photographs, from an unidentified source, showing a large dorsal fin (actual science factoid: "dorsal" is science-speak for "back") and a beached whale with a severed tail (actual science factoid: we did not intend for that to rhyme), D-covery claims that the Megalodon is to blame for a recent boat capsize in South Africa. Jawbones of this gargantuan fish have been unearthed, but since they were found in soils dated back millions of years, scientists concluded that the Megalodon was an ancient animal.

D'channel, and many fans, beg to differ. An imaginary survey of 100 people in New York City's Times Square found an overwhelming majority of positive answers when posed the question "Megalodon: Fact or Friction?"

"Yes," replies native New Yorker Sally Bastille-Buttocks. "The oceans very big." Others see the Megalodon debate in a political light, accusing the United States government of covering up Megalodon sightings by the navy to bury evidence of global warming. Harrison Dolittle reports, "The government knows that this monster is real, and is a sign of things to come. They don't want us to know about it because it's in their agenda! The politicians don't want to help the average middle class working man." (Dolittle also notes that the government is hiding a natural cure for cancer while pushing a petroleum-based treatment; you can read more about it at his blog,

Discoverer's special ended with (SPOILER ALERT!) (THAT MEANS WE'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT HOW IT ENDS!) (NOT THAT IT MATTERS!) the "researchers" (not a single PhD among them) acquiring a jumbled recording of dark undersea footage (evidently they're not all that talented with cinematography, either). They did manage to shoot a tracking device, however, and watched it "dive" to a depth of 6,000+ feet, an unexpected drop for their objective. They took this as evidence for the Megalodon's extraordinary ability to swim down to depths with gut-crushing pressures. Others are still skeptical. "I think it sank," says Coach Z, the janitor on the explorer's vessel. (Of course, Z probably harbors resentment at his directors' record-breaking achievements.) Then again, as an anonymous PhD Candidate points out, "None of these people have published a single scientific paper, nor do they have any training. I'm not sure they know what they're doing."

Perhaps, perhaps not, but Twitter trends don't lie, and Shark Week is anticipated to dominate the social media this week. And THAT is a fact.

*Please note that 90s does not have an apostrophe, as it is not indicating possession.

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