Spare me the toilet-seat prodigy, time-shifting twins and $25K carat-cake

We're talking about three pseudo-news stories from this week - two of them widely circulated - on which I'm calling BS. None is about networking or high tech, but that's not going to stop me from labeling them what they are: three crocks of Shinola, served up by my fellow members of the media who take literally the old joke about never letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

First up we have the boy genius inventor of "Privy Prop," a foot-activated toilet-seat lifter, reminiscent of your kitchen-variety trash can. I have no quarrel with the invention, presume the lad is intellectually gifted, and will grant that "Privy Prop" was his idea fair and square. However, "Privy Prop" does not leap from a 9-year-old's imagination to being built; the news stories about his precocious achievement do not get written; and, our pint-sized wonder does not travel to Hollywood to appear on the The Ellen DeGeneres Show, if not for this fact found buried deep in the story at the end of paragraph number seven: "He made ("Privy Prop") for the school's Invention Convention with the help of his dad, Jason, who designs equipment for a living."

Oh, dad swears he just "supervised," but reading this story dredged up unpleasant memories of my Cub Scout days when the miniature Soap Box Derby competition (OMG, there's a museum) proved nothing beyond which kids had Norm Abram for an old man and which ones made their own wood cars even if it meant the models would turn out looking like cinder blocks with glued-on wheels. ... Bitter? You bet I'm bitter.

Next up are the time-shifting twins, who thanks to headlines such as this one - "Twin born second is the older of the two" - may have burned their 15 minutes of fame before turning 24 hours old.

Here's what happened: Peter was born first at 1:31 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4, and his twin sister, Allison, was born a half-hour later. Happens all the time with multiples (says this father of triplets) but between the former birth and the latter birth there was the little matter of falling back: as in clocks were set back an hour to mark the end of Daylight Saving Time. That's all; nothing to see here, move along ... yet this oddity rises outside of family lore to the level of alleged news.

The other day I asked my daughter this question (often attributed to Honest Abe Lincoln): If you call a dog's tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? Without missing a beat, she said four ... and she's only six. So what is so difficult about adults understanding that the first born is the first born no matter what anybody did to the clocks in the delivery room or what it says on a piece of paper?

And finally, we have the alleged $25,000 dessert, which amounts to a bunch of fancy-pants chocolate surrounded by - what's this? - "an 18-karat gold bracelet with 1 carat of white diamonds," topped with heaping mounds of free media hype. The so-called dessert "is eaten with a gold spoon decorated with white and chocolate-colored" - wait for it - "diamonds, which can also be taken home." Suppose the spoon might be consumed, too, depending on the sturdiness of one's digestive tract.

For the love of Willie Wonka, what's wrong with people? I mean you can plop a Hostess Twinkie on top of the world's most expensive diamond and call it an $8 million-dollar dessert, but that doesn't change the fact that it's really just a rock topped with sponge cake.

OK, the sponge cake is filled with creamy white goodness, mmmm, but it still wouldn't be worth $8 million - a headline, maybe, but not $8 million.

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