Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

News Flash: Researchers Bring Alda Quaintans to Mind

January 1, 2018

Mathematician’s Work Rediscovered in Remote Scottish Ruins

La Satira News Service

Researchers with the University of Punxsutawney’s College of Mathematical Archaeology announced the discovery of a site that sheds new insight into a lost golden age of Scottish mathematical studies.

Professors Abner “Ab” Bacchus and Adam McAdam announced the new findings on New Year’s Eve, the anniversary of the site’s discovery.

The discovery was initially made by accident after a fishing expedition encountered a storm and was forced ashore at the mouth of the Syne River, on the western coast of Scotland.  There, members of the expedition discovered the ruins of a village that had been buried under water and sand for more than three hundred years.

Initial investigations proved to be inconclusive, with speculation ranging from an ancient settlement by the Beaker people to the secret post-Culloden hideout of Bonnie Prince Charlie.  The only distinctive clues were unusual quantities of pens, parchment, and abacuses, as well as a primitive calculating instrument called Napier’s bones.

“Clearly this wasn’t your typical fishing village,” said Professor Bacchus in his presentation on the discovery.

The investigation had a breakthrough when archaeologists discovered a wall safe containing a small number of written records that miraculously survived the inundation.  The records pointed to the activity of Alda Quaintans, a mathematical professor of the medieval University of Mull, who envisioned Scotland as becoming a scientific powerhouse.  Professor Quaintans proposed a colony of researchers to promote the  practical application of science and math, as well as to compete with the work of Sir Isaac Newton in England.  (The emphasis on practical application seems to have been to differentiate the new institution from his own university, which was mainly dedicated–as one might perhaps expect–to purely philosophical research.)

Permission for the colony was ultimately granted, and a location was selected at the mouth of the Syne River.  The site was developed by diverting the Syne River through a shorter course to the sea.  This move was controversial among the existing population, who continued to reminisce about the longer course, referred to since as the Auld Lang Syne.

Meanwhile, the best scientific minds in Scotland were carefully recruited for the project, with scholars representing a variety of disciplines.  Dr. Quaintans also hired a small army of support staff to look after his scientists and ensure they would not be distracted by mundane matters.

The colony was only half-way through its first research project–an actuarial analysis of the risk of investment in the Darien scheme–when a prolonged rain upstream caused the site to become inundated by raging floodwaters, resulting in the loss of the colony and all its inhabitants, including Dr. Quaintans.  It seems the designers had under-designed the capacity of the new river channel, owing to a mathematical error regarding the quantity of water that the channel would conceivably be required to accommodate.

The full impact of the disaster naturally reverberated through the country, but was missed by most historians.  For example, decades after the event, Scottish poet Robert Burns famously asked the question:

Should Alda Quaintans be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should Alda Quantans be forgot
And Auld Lang Syne?

These lyrics were subsequently misunderstood by historians, linguists, and English audiences and taken completely out of context.

According to Professors Bacchus and McAdam, further research remains to be done to identify other, previously-undetected effects of the disaster on the national literature.

Copyright 2018


News Flash: Santa Sued Over Escaped Sable

December 20, 2015

Following the long holiday weekend, the justice system this morning is puzzling over a lawsuit against one S. Claus for unspecified damages following an incident in which a wild animal was left unattended with a Christmas tree.

The plaintiff, E. Kitt, filed the suit, which alleges negligence, personal injury, and breach of contract after she woke up on Christmas morning to find her living room in a shambles and her Christmas tree in ruins. The plaintiff discovered the culprit to be a live sable, which bit the plaintiff on the hand as she tried to restrain it.

A source close to North Pole Enterprises, Inc., denied that the company was liable, saying that the plaintiff’s Christmas list stated very plainly that she wanted Santa to “slip a sable under the tree, for me.”  “So he did,” said the source.  “What the sable chose to do after that is between it and the plaintiff.”

A spokesman for the plaintiff responded that, based on the materialistic nature of the other contents of the list, including but not limited to a ’54 convertible, a yacht, decorations from Tiffany’s, and the deed to a platinum mine, Santa might have figured out that she meant a sable coat, rather than a live animal. “Let’s face it; sables are vicious little creatures,” said the spokesman.  “If my client had wanted to keep animals, she probably would have gone for something a little more friendly.  Like maybe a few cats.”

The case is expected to go to court early in the new year.

Copyright 2015

News Flash: Arrest Warrant Issued for Frosty T. Snowman

December 25, 2012

Greater Snowmass, New Hampshire.  As part of a larger crackdown on traffic violations and other crimes, the city has issued an arrest warrant for Frosty T. Snowman on charges of jaywalking and endangering the welfare of minors.

The charge dates from an incident years ago, in which Mr. Snowman, while ostensibly having fun with a group of children, defied a direction from a policeman directing traffic and led the group across a busy street.

“The evidence clearly indicates a shocking level of irresponsibility on the part of Mr. Snowman, ” said Officer Hans Gotcher, a spokesman for the Greater Snowmass police force.  “We discourage jaywalking at the best of times, but to jaywalk with a bunch of children in tow is absolutely beyond the pale.  We made out a ticket at the time, but as Mr. Snowman has taken no action on it for years, we are forced to escalate this to a warrant.”

Mr. Snowman’s defenders suggest the situation was not a matter of carefree defiance of the law.  “As I recall,” said Peter Hawthorne, a participant in the activities in question, “the sun was hot that day.  We were faced with a medical emergency:  Frosty had to get out of town before he melted away.”

Officer Gotcher dismissed the validity of the “emergency” defense.  “If it were a true emergency, the appropriate action would have been to communicate the emergency to the traffic policeman, who could have then dealt with the situation accordingly.  As far as the evidence indicates, no such effort was made.”

Officers are advised to be on the lookout for snowmen sporting a corn-cob pipe, a button nose, two eyes made out of coal, and an old top-hat.

“He said he’d be back again some day,” said Officer Gotcher.  “We’ll be ready for him.”

The city also issued an arrest warrant for Suzy Snowflake, age unknown, wanted for trespassing and stalking.  Ms. Snowflake has a documented history of tap, tap, tapping at people’s window panes to let them know she is in town.

Copyright 2012.

Merry Christmas from The Punnery and La Satira News Service.

Related articles:

News Flash: Hostess Debacle Muddles Script at North Pole

December 14, 2012

La Satira News Service

The demise of Hostess, the confectioner responsible for manufacturing and selling snack cakes such as Twinkies and Ding Dongs, is causing unexpected repercussions across the country, and even as far away as the North Pole.  Sources indicate that abrupt termination of the “Ho Ho” brand of snack cakes is driving a re-write of one of the traditional rallying cries of the Christmas season.

“It’s left a Ho-Ho-Hole in the very middle of our schedule,” said Laeg Ollas, Santa’s Head Writer.  “Every year prior to this, the rallying cry has been ‘Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas.  But how can we carry on in the absence of Ho Hos?  Just saying ‘Merry Christmas’ seems terribly generic.”

“Saying ‘Swiss Roll, Merry Christmas!’ is hardly an improvement,” Mr. Ollas added.  “Or, for that matter, ‘Shovel, shovel, shovel, Merry Christmas.'”

The North Pole is reportedly scheduling discussions with the Green Giant to compare notes on the situation.  These discussions are part of a protocol developed decades ago to address issues arising from their joint use of the phrase “Ho Ho Ho.”

Copyright 2012.

Need something to make you go Ho, Ho, Ho?  Try out these Christmas-themed items from our News Flash Series:

News Flash: 2 Injured in Sleigh Wreck; NTSB Investigates

December 25, 2011

An accident involving a one-horse open sleigh sent two people to the hospital last night.

The accident occurred on County Road 552 when the horse-drawn sleigh, traveling northward at a relatively high rate of speed, encountered a snow bank, causing the two occupants to become upsot.  Both occupants were treated and released from the county hospital.  Although the driver of the sleigh was not identified, the passenger was named as Miss Fanny Bright, 20, of North Winesap.

“Our cheeks were nice and rosy, and comfy-cozy were we,” said the sleigh’s passenger, Miss Bright, describing the moments leading up to the crash.  “We were snuggled up together like two birds of a feather should be.  Then the next thing we knew we tipped over and we were up to our necks in snow.”

The horse was taken to a local veterinary hospital and was said to be in stable condition.

The accident is being investigated by the NTSB as part of its ongoing effort to highlight the importance of proper vehicular safety features.  “We don’t care how much fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh,” said Hector Barleyoats, the lead investigator for the NTSB’s local office.  “Sure, there weren’t any serious injuries in this case, but if things had been different they’d have been singing a different tune.  These one-horse open sleighs often lack the most basic safety equipment.  No seat belts, no air bags–and as this case clearly demonstrates, no rollover protection–and no audible collision warning system.  Someone in one of these sleighs would only hear bells.  Bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells–just the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.”

Miss Bright, the passenger, acknowledged the relative lack of safety features but wondered how making such equipment mandatory would alter the experience.  “Would one horse even be able to tow all of that around?  Somehow the notion of riding in a two-horse enclosed sleigh with complete rollover protection doesn’t sound quite as fun.”

Merry Christmas, etc., from La Satira News Service.  For more News Flashes, please visit our main collection.

News Flash: Ebenezer Scrooge Cited for Disorderly Conduct

February 8, 2011

London, 7 February 1844.

City businessman Ebenezer Scrooge appeared in the Old Bailey this morning to answer charges of disorderly conduct.

“I like a bit of Christmas cheer as well as anyone,” said Lucius Gimpthorne, one of his neighbors, “but there’s a time and a place for everything.  Must he continue to sing Christmas songs in February?”

In his defense, solicitor Sir Percival Grimes, Q.C., noted the abrupt change in character exhibited by Mr. Scrooge since Christmas and suggested that his insistence on singing carols merely demonstrated that he was making good on his promise to keep the spirit of Christmas throughout the year.  “There are, it seems, those who would prefer the dour, tight-fisted monster which we were obliged to endure prior to his ennobling experience,” Grimes was quoted as saying, “whatever that experience was, exactly.”

“Spirit of Christmas, he calls it?” said Gimpthorne.  “Spirit of something; don’t ask me what.  We’re all pleased at his improved character, but there are more ways to exhibit the spirit of Christmas than singing it.  What’s next?  People leaving their Christmas decorations up all year round?”

A verdict in the case is expected within the week.

For more News Flashes, please visit our main collection.