Best-Laid Plans Of Mice And Men Faulted In 747 Crash

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Vol 37 Issue 15

Antarctic Observational Comic Running Out Of Ideas

BYRD, ANTARCTICA–Brad Swithers, three-time winner of the Molson Ice/Edge Gel South Pole Laff-Off, said Monday that he is running out of ideas for observational humor about life in Antarctica. "I've already made tons of 'What's the deal with those ice chunks that form between the huskies' toes?' jokes," Swithers said. "And, of course, I've done the whole penguins-and-smelt thing to death." Swithers added that he's currently working on a bit about the differences between Amundsen Bay and Voyeykov Ice Shelf women.

Restaurant, Staff Patronized

BOSTON–Attorney Derrick Carlisle patronized the Riverside Café and five members of its staff Monday. "Excuse me, but I've always been under the impression that Manhattan Clam Chowder is red, not white," Carlisle told server Diane Ptacek. "And, when you get a second, please tell the bartender that a proper old-fashioned is made with a dash of bitters, not a whole ounce. Thanks so much."

Grimacing Congressman Quickly Drafts Legislation For Charley-Horse Research

WASHINGTON, DC–Grimacing in considerable pain Monday, Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA) quickly drafted and introduced the 2001 Charley Horse Research Appropriations Act, which would allocate $100 million for "immediate research" to find a charley-horse cure. "Charley horses are a serious–oh, Jesus–medical condition that afflicts millions of Americans every day," Delahunt told House colleagues. "And so let us–Christ, this kills–pass this bill as soon as possible." When informed that the earliest the bill could be passed and signed into law is next Monday, Delahunt moaned and pounded the podium.

Depressed NRA Member Half-Hoping Son Will Accidentally Shoot Him

ROUND ROCK, TX–Despondent from the loss of his job and his recent divorce, National Rifle Association lifetime member Patrick Schramm is half-hoping for an accidental shooting death at the hands of his 10-year-old son. "I don't know what the point is anymore," Schramm said Monday. "Sometimes, I find myself wishing that Jeffrey would mistake me for a robber late at night and put me out of my misery." Schramm then absent-mindedly released the safety on his Browning 10 gauge and left it on the kitchen counter a foot from the cookie jar.

These Nerf Guns Really Liven Up The Office

When you're a manager at a software company, boosting employee morale is a full-time job. The best way to keep everyone focused and productive, I believe, is to strike a careful balance between hard work and whimsy. That's why, last Thursday, I ran over to KB Toys on my lunch break and bought a dozen Nerf guns. And, boy, let me tell you, those Nerf guns really liven up the office!

The Organ-Donor Crisis

The U.S. is critically low on organ donations. What is the nation's medical community doing to address the shortage?

All Women Don't Know What They're Missing

It's a situation we've all been in before: You see a pretty woman in a bar, mall, grocery store, restaurant, library, laundromat, bowling alley, car dealership, post office, student union, tattoo parlor, or hospital. Smiling suavely, you move in and strike up a conversation using whatever means you have at hand. But every time, you somehow wind up striking out. It's happened to me, and I'm as eligible a bachelor as they come. These ladies would be lucky to land a guy like yours truly, but still they say no. I'm telling you, all women don't know what they're missing.

Bananas Again Sweep Primates' Choice Awards

LOS ANGELES–In a gala, chimp-studded affair at the Shrine Auditorium, bananas swept the Primates' Choice Awards for the 42nd year in a row Monday, winning such categories as Best Food, Best Fruit, and Best Dessert. "This year, as in so many years past, bananas delighted and nourished the primate world," said Dole CEO David Murdock, who accepted the award for Best Potassium Source on behalf of bananas. "It is only fitting that we pay tribute in kind." The fruit's sweep proved popular with the 3,200 simians in attendance, who shrieked and jumped up and down in their seats each time it was announced as the winner while a photo of bananas was projected onto a giant screen.

The Cincinnati Riots

Riots erupted in Cincinnati last week following the shooting death of an unarmed black man by police officers. What do you think about the latest such incident?
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  • Night Out Consecrated With Opening Exchange Of High-Fives

    CHARLOTTE, NC—Kicking off the evening with their customary expression of excitement and camaraderie, a group of friends reportedly consecrated their night out on the town Friday with a ceremonial opening exchange of high-fives.

Holiday

Best-Laid Plans Of Mice And Men Faulted In 747 Crash

WASHINGTON, DC–Representatives of the National Transportation Safety Board, their "bosoms heavy with melancholia," announced the findings of their investigation of American Airlines Flight 251 Monday, citing "fate's cruel hand" as the cause of the Apr. 10 crash that claimed 411 lives.

The smoldering wreckage of Flight 251, which crossed the Stygian ferry.

"The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft astray," NTSB spokesman Frank Whelan said, "and leave us naught but grief and pain for promised joy. Such was the case when the 747 unexpectedly burst into flames and plummeted to the ground at 7:14 a.m., shortly after take-off from Chicago's O'Hare Airport."

According to NTSB investigators, the London-bound Boeing 747 relayed a distress call at 7:07 a.m., just 12 minutes after leaving O'Hare. Three minutes of desperate radio communication between the pilots and air-traffic controllers ensued before contact was lost and passengers and crew "shuffled off this mortal coil."

Speaking at the press conference, American Airlines CEO Donald Carty expressed sympathy for the victims' families. He stressed, however, that American Airlines accepts no responsibility for "this swipe of God's mighty hand."

"I am deeply sorry this tragedy occurred," Carty said. "But let us ask ourselves, what is so tragic about awaking to life immortal?"

Carty praised the members of the doomed 747's cockpit crew, who "struggled mightily to right the listing ship but were ultimately destined to go to a far better place."

"Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!" Carty said. "But I, with mournful tread, walk the deck my Captain lies, fallen cold and dead."

Based on air-traffic-control records and eyewitness accounts, the crash may have been caused by an explosion in the plane's left engine. Neither the NTSB nor American Airlines, however, plans to investigate.

"The call of death is a call of love," Whelan said. "Death can be sweet if we answer it in the affirmative, if we accept it as one of the great eternal forms of life and transformation."

American Airlines CEO Donald Carty asks reporters, "Who am I to question Flight 251's destiny?"

Victims' loved ones traveled from across the country to attend the press conference, hoping to learn more about the crash or simply share their pain with others.

"Why? Why?" asked Teresa Salton, 34, clutching a hand-knitted sweater her deceased sister had given her last Christmas. "Angela doesn't deserve this. It just makes no sense. It can't be."

Whelan urged Salton and other grief-stricken loved ones not to cry, telling them that they should envy the victims, who "now sing in the choir invisible."

"Out, out, brief candle!" Whelan said. "Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

A Chicago Tribune reporter asked Carty to respond to rumors that the plane's inspection record reveals a history of left-engine problems, and that service documents may have been falsified to allow scheduled flights to continue. Carty shook his head and gazed upward.

"How ridiculous to think we humans can control our own life and death as if setting a clock," Carty said. "One's days are numbered, one's hour is come, one's race is run, one's doom is sealed."

Of the plane's 411 passengers, 53 were children. Carty spoke briefly to the families of these particular victims.

"In To An Athlete Dying Young, A.E. Housman explained best why we should not shed tears upon the graves of these little ones," Carty said. "'Smart lad, to slip betimes away / From fields where glory does not stay / And early though the laurel grows / It withers quicker than the rose.'"

Despite the words of comfort, families of victims expressed anger and confusion over the NTSB's decision to forgo an investigation.

"How can they just do nothing?" asked Elgin, IL, resident Pamela Robinson, whose husband Anthony was on Flight 251. "Something needs to be done. We need to know why this happened."

The NTSB, however, remains steadfast in its refusal. Whelan said he has no interest in searching the crash site for the plane's black box.

"There is special providence in the fall of the sparrow," Whelan said. "If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all. Since no man of aught he leaves knows, what isn't to leave betimes? Let be."

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