Books Don't Take You Anywhere

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Vol 32 Issue 19

FBI Chief Releases Composite Sketch Of Dream House

WASHINGTON, DC—At a press conference Monday, FBI director Louis Freeh released an artist’s rendering Monday of the home he has dreamed of all his life. "We must find this home," a determined Freeh told an assemblage of FBI agents and reporters. “Just look at the outside. That’s cedar paneling. I’ll never have to paint." Distinguishing features of the house, Freeh said, include a circular driveway, tennis court and wrought-iron lattice-work fence. "The FBI has made the search for this lovely house a top priority," Freeh said. “We will not rest until I am relaxing in this sunken marble bathtub."

134-Year-Old Man Attributes Longevity To Typographical Error

NEW ORLEANS—Area dock worker Bert Greer celebrated his birthday with a quiet party at his home Sunday, surrounded by family. Asked the secret to his astounding longevity, the feisty 134-year-old credited "healthy eating, a good walk every evening, and a Social Security worker’s accidental striking of an extra digit while typing in my age." The remarkable Greer, who remembers meeting President Lyndon Johnson as a young boy, said he has “no plans to retire any time soon.”

Tractor Pulls Now Number-One Use For U.S. Tractors

WASHINGTON, DC—According to a survey released Friday by the Department of Agriculture, after more than 150 years on top, farming is no longer the number-one use for tractors in the U.S., surpassed by tractor-pull competitions. "Fortunately for tractor manufacturers like John Deere," said Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, "Americans’ declining interest in farm-based crop-tilling has been offset by a rising interest in stadium-based ass-kicking."

Santa Claus Killed In Electric-Razor Crash

STAMFORD, CT—Noted philanthropic elf Santa Claus was killed Monday in an electric-razor crash during a practice run for his annual global gift delivery. According to witnesses, at 11:20 p.m., while riding over an icy embankment, Claus lost control of the Norelco razor he was piloting, sending him careening into a suburban home. Long believed immortal, Claus was pulled from the mangled razor and rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. "We are shocked and saddened by this tragedy," Norelco CEO Steve Drucker said. "This is a terrible loss, not only for the Norelco family, but for all the children of the world." Control of KringCo, Santa’s massive non-profit toy-distribution franchise, was transferred to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, widely known to possess the same magic powers as Claus. Children are advised that Dr. Kissinger prefers "a nice green salad or fruit plate" to cookies.

African Child Dies Despite Merlin Olsen Endorsement

AKOBO, SUDAN—Despite a high-profile media endorsement featuring touching piano music, soft-focus photography, and the star power of former NFL great and television personality Merlin Olsen, Sudanese child Nwangi Botusa died Monday of what medical-relief authorities are calling "starvation."

The ONION's 1997 Man of The Year

Each year, The Onion's esteemed Board of Directors faces the daunting task of singling out one individual who most embodies the spirit of the times, who is most deserving of the title "Man Of The Year."
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Books Don't Take You Anywhere

WASHINGTON, DC—A study released Monday by the U.S. Department of Education revealed that, contrary to the longtime claims of librarians and teachers, books do not take you anywhere.

A sampling of the Department of Education study's findings.

"For years, countless educators have asserted that books give readers a chance to journey to exotic, far-off lands and meet strange, exciting new people," Education Secretary Richard Riley told reporters. "We have found this is simply not the case."

According to the study, those who read are not transported to any place beyond the area in which the reading occurs, and even these movements are always the result of voluntary decisions made by the reader and not in any way related to the actual reading process.

Phoenix-area 11-year-old Jennifer Gleason, who did not move in more than two hours of reading <I>The Wizard Of Oz</I>.

"People engaged in reading tend to be motionless," Riley said. "Not moving tends to make it easier to read."

In various field experiments, the study found that young readers are particularly susceptible to the reading-travel myth. One test subject, 11-year-old Justin Fisher of Ypsilanti, MI, began reading a fantasy novel by C.S. Lewis under close observation. After 40 minutes, the only trip Fisher took was to the bathroom, a journey he himself initiated because he "had to go." Further, at no point did Fisher's voyage to the bathroom involve evil witches, messianic lions or closet portals to other universes.

"I just stayed in my chair without moving that much," Fisher said. "I think I scratched my head a couple of times."

Another case documented in the study was that of San Diego 13-year-old Liz Kent, who read Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Over the course of more than three hours reading the pirate-adventure tale, at no point did she make a new friend or travel to a distant land.

The study did note one exception to the findings, citing situations in which people read on buses, cars, trains or planes. Even in these cases, however, the reading-travel link is tenuous at best.

"Many people enjoy reading while traveling," Riley said. "But it is important to note that the traveling always results in the reading, and never the reverse."

As a result of the study, it is expected that many young people will call into question what Riley termed "the empty promises of library posters and other pieces of pro-reading propaganda."

"I hate it when you get excited about a place and then you don't go there," 10-year-old Ashley Brandes of Atlanta said. "Reading sucks."

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