Last Week's Psychic Item: I found it wrong that a New York City psychic should be sentenced to five years in prison, as opposed to just put out of business, considering that spiritual-world claims made by psychics are uncomfortably similar to claims made with full respectability by clergy. (Your columnist is a churchgoer.)
Remy Taborga of New York City writes, "Many victims in psychic scams are people who are in emotional distress and in their desperation turn to someone who exploits their circumstances to steal from them. This was a rare victory in which a psychic was held accountable for her despicable acts." But clergy, televangelists and organizations such as the Salvation Army may pressure people for donations in cash or via will, and some of those pressured may have come toward religion because they are in "emotional distress."
Taborga continues with his killer point: "Most important, fortune telling is illegal in New York state. Persons are not allowed to claim to have real powers, and most disclose that the reading is for entertainment only. The convicted psychic did not do this. New York law reads, 'A person is guilty of fortune telling when, for a fee or compensation which he directly or indirectly solicits or receives, he claims or pretends to tell fortunes, or holds himself out as [possessing] occult powers.'"
Whether fortune-telling ought to be a crime can be argued; since it is a crime, New York police and prosecutors must pursue those who break this law. Apparently the psychic in this case was warned she was breaking the law, and told to desist. When she didn't, she made her own fate -- which she did not foresee.
TMQ's Christmas List: Each year, I highlight holiday gifts of questionable merit. Given the recent anniversary of the death of John Kennedy, perhaps you should look under your tree and find a scale model of the car he was riding in when he was shot. Or give that special someone in your life a travel pillow that causes a person to look like a cartoon space alien.
Disclaimers of the Week: Fuze has a TV commercial in which a dog rides a surf board. The tiny-type crawl says "Do not attempt." Are the dogs in the audience supposed to read that?
Your columnist is happily motoring in a new Acura with a stick shift -- there's a big item on car tech upcoming in TMQ. Recently I received a postcard from the dealer not offering any discount, just urging me to schedule a maintenance visit. The ad declared, "No one knows your Acura like we do." Below that statement, in tiny type: "Expires 1/15/14."