ISSUE 43

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 The final journalistic investigation by the Washington Post—before it, you know, died—has uncovered that the moon is made of cheese. Yes, according to several reporters hovering at the edge of alcoholism, the mass government cover-up includes the highest echelons of scientists, physicists, politicians, dairy farmers, and one lonely teenager from Vermont who stumbled on the top-secret, non-password-protected NASA website in the last-ditch pursuit of Caroline Hodgkin’s telephone number.
 Astronauts only suspected something after Neil Armstrong licked a moon rock on Apollo 11 in a game of truth or dare, afterwards classifying the “whole damn thing as some sort of gouda.” Soon after, astronauts landed and reported their conclusions to officials, most of whom questioned why the US government had spent so much money to discover a massive block of cheese. President Nixon then reinforced the desire for the Russians never to know about America’s new cheese prowess and began Operation Tell No Cheese.  
 Suspiciously soon after that, an underground subsidiary of NASA designated the North Atlantic Cheese Association (NACA) was formed. This organization began to support most of America's East Coast cheese needs as well as funding research into the possibility of cheese weaponization.  
  Then, about twenty years after the first moon landing, other not-as-well-funded scientists noticed the moon had lost its spherical shape and that a massive cheese manufacturing facility had been built in the Sea of Tranquility. Some believed this was the effect of a lunar warming, while others suggested that a few gelatinous moon rocks had evolved into a factory and reinforced the idea that “these sorts of things happen occasionally.”
 Of course, the event—further known as “The Cheesiness”—had wide implications not only for moon expeditions, which from that point on were all manned by cheese connoisseurs, but also for journeys to Mars and beyond. Scientists didn’t know what to expect. Would all the planets be some sort of milk byproduct? Was Mars a giant Mars bar? Was space really one giant commercial experiment?  
 Unfortunately for scientists secretly funded by the Chocolate Candy Bars Intergalactic—a paramilitary group focused on bettering the universe with chocolate caramel candy and arbitrary violence—Mars was found to be composed of Styrofoam spray painted red, which scientists believed to be a leftover from an eighth-grade celestial science fair.
 Despite discovering this months before the Mars landing, scientists continued to spend 1.3 billion dollars building space rovers made of Legos. These painstakingly-built creations are now kept in a Pentagon storeroom with the Christmas decorations, Area 51 inflatable alien dummies, and several frozen Al-Qaeda members.
 After every single country (except Canada) had been informed of the moon’s true composition, they squabbled until they realized the situation was almost as bad as if the moon had been composed of rocks and dirt. And after time passed, scientists simply forgot to inform the wider population of this discovery. Washington Post reporters only uncovered it when rummaging through the Pentagon’s bins for top secret material and leftover pizza.
 When the truth was revealed, top physicist and conspirator Dr. Frederick Hiney commented that “it makes about as much sense as the universe already does.” When asked how this conspiracy managed to succeed with the amount of people involved, he shrugged.
 “After the initial discovery, we all moved on to important things: dark matter, imaginary numbers, mass mind control through Facebook, better ways to pop popcorn…  No one cared enough to bring the whole thing to light.”
 Nevertheless, with the truth revealed, the public has been asking more questions. Is the sun an illusion? If a tree falls on a bear in a forest, does the bear have the right to sue, if he or she has the proper legal counsel? And for Christ’s sake, is Pluto a planet or not a planet? Why? WHY?!
 But looking up into the night sky, perhaps individuals can gather a little of the awe of the universe, whether God created the moon as a practical joke on Jesus or dinosaurs were so devoted to milk products they somehow made a moon of cheese. Yes, it’s awe mixed with a little confusion, anger, and misery that gets people through. 
   
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