Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Return of the Antique Lamp with the Messy Legacy

May 6, 2018

Yes, that’s right:  one of my oldest blog entries (and a personal favorite of mine) is back, this time in the form of a video!

Check it out below…



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

Nutcrackers vs Elf on the Shelf

December 24, 2016


Merry Christmas from Punnery Productions and La Satira News Service!

News Flash: Aegean Maritime Board to Reverse Course, Allow Sirens

December 15, 2016

ITHACA–In a startling change of course, the Aegean Maritime Safety Board has voted not to pursue efforts to close down operations on the Island of the Sirens.

The island had been under investigation in the course of a larger study of potential hazards to navigation conducted by Odysseus Transport, Inc., along with other features such as the whirlpool Charybdis and Cyclops Island.  Previous studies had highlighted the Sirens as an attractive nuisance, potentially luring sailors to the island and causing them to wreck on the shallow reefs in the area.

“The island has produced a startling number of shipwrecks over the years,” said Lyabilites, the chief author of the report.  “However, we have demonstrated that the idea of the Sirens drawing all sailors to their doom is pure myth.

“Our research shows that the Sirens are only attractive to accident and personal injury attorneys.  Everyone else seems to find the Sirens to have a repelling effect; thus, they instinctively avoid the reefs and stay out of trouble.”

The report goes on to suggest that, while accident and personal injury attorneys play an important role in society, the Sirens provide a net service by weeding out the more aggressive and annoying ones.

The Board’s decision goes against the recommendations of the Aegean Association of Accident Attorneys (AAAA), who have threatened to sue the Board for negligence if the Sirens are permitted to continue operating.

In other action, the Board endorsed a recommendation to establish a coffee plantation on the Island of the Lotus-Eaters and approved the establishment of a meteorological forecasting office on the floating island of Aeolia.

Copyright 2016



Thoughts from an Introvert

August 3, 2016

Criticism of the person who stops listening to the other person in order to formulate a response fails to account for the other people who won’t stop talking long enough for a thoughtful response to be formulated.

News Flash: Lincoln Internet Quote is Genuine, Researchers Find

July 7, 2015

La Satira News Service

A popular quote making the rounds on the Internet was indeed spoken by Abraham Lincoln, researchers at the University of Pomme de Terre claim.

The quote, in which the 16th president purportedly lays question to the reliability of quotations posted on the Internet, is frequently used to invoke skepticism about the reliability of postings made by others.

“Naturally we were surprised to find evidence that the quote is genuine,” said Adam Smith of the university’s Department of Historical Research.  “Everyone has always assumed that Mr. Lincoln died long before the internet age.  And so he did.”

Prof. Smith points to new evidence that, owing to the questionable activities of certain time travel researchers from the University of Punxsutawney, the nation’s 16th president actually spent some time in the early 21st century, sharing an apartment suite with Elvis Presley.

“The facts clearly point to the conclusion that Mr. Lincoln spent some time in the not-so-distant past, or perhaps even the present,” Prof. Smith said.  “How else could he have such faith that the Union would survive the Civil War?”

Above:  An example of the meme.

Asked how Lincoln’s fateful trip to Ford’s Theater squared with his alleged knowledge of future events, Prof. Smith pointed only to Mr. Lincoln’s deep sense of destiny.

For its part, officials at the University of Punxsutawney denied the existence of any past, present, or future programs for studying time travel, and suggested that Prof. Smith’s imagination was perhaps running away with him.

Prof. Smith acknowledged that his claims were bound to meet with a certain amount of doubt.  “I can’t blame people for being skeptical,” he said.  “After all, President Lincoln’s quote is true, whether you believe he said it or not.  And there are far too many people who take things at face value.  Or, as Dr. Barney Cull, the octopus specialist in our Marine Biology Department, once famously observed, there’s a sucker born every minute.”

Copyright 2015

News Flash: Apples to Blame in Medical Shortage

October 4, 2014

La Satira News Service

Overwhelming barriers to entering the medical profession?  Forget it.  Difficulties in navigating the twin worlds of regulation and insurance?  Not the problem.  The rising cost of liability insurance?  Not even close.

A new study from the University of Pomme-de-Terre in Bayview, Idaho, suggests that the true reason for the increasingly acute shortage of medical professionals in the United States is as unexpected as it is counter-intuitive:  the proliferation of apples.

“Over the past sixty years, we’ve seen a strong correlation between the decline in the per capita number of practicing medical professionals and rising apple consumption in North America,” says Professor Jonathan Winesap of the University’s College of Statistical Folklore.  “And since First Lady Michelle Obama started her initiative on healthy eating, the problem has only gotten worse.”

Asked how the growing consumption of apples, generally regarded as a health food, could be prompting the medical shortage, Professor Winesap refused to go into specifics.  “There’s definitely room for more research on the topic.  The main thing we learn from this study is that the old adage about an apple a day keeping the doctor away is, in fact, true; we’re just learning that this isn’t always a good thing.”

The study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, is already attracting controversy.

“His logic is distinctly seedy,” said Professor N. V. Honeycrisp of the University of Punxsutawney’s College of Agriculture and Astrophysics, “if not rotten to the core.  I’ve never seen such a blatant example of the causation/correlation fallacy–not outside the comments section of online news articles, anyway.  Does he really think serious medical professionals have a vampire-and-garlic sort of relationship with apples?  If you ask me, Professor Winesap is really barking up the wrong tree.”

Meanwhile, Professor Winesap is already developing a strategy for reducing the country’s apple footprint.  “The first thing we need to do is rename a certain computer company to a different type of fruit.  Then we need recall all food products containing apples.  Oh, yes; and we need to recall all the copies of the game ‘Apples to Apples.’  It all sounds extreme, but it’s the least we can do to stop a medical catastrophe in the making.”

Copyright 2014

New Sponsor

August 31, 2014

Strangely, La Satira News Service seems to be picking up more advertisers even as they offer less and less actual content.  Or these days perhaps that isn’t so strange.  I understand Samuel Taylor Coleridge founded this company to help subsidize his poetry habit.



News Flash: Pet Rescue Group Rallies for Abandoned Pythons

April 6, 2013

La Satira News Service

A local animal rights group has added its voice to the chorus of disapproval surrounding Florida’s attempts to rid itself of invasive reptiles.  “All animals deserve to be treated with respect and love,” said Draco Narrasti, the head organizer of Runaway Reptile Rescue, an activist group seeking to end the barbaric treatment of Burmese pythons in South Florida.  The group seeks to stop hunts for the invasive species, seeking instead to introduce them into homes where they can get the love and care they deserve.

“That’s all any pet really wants, isn’t it:  a home where it can be loved, sheltered, and fed,” said Mr. Narrasti.  “Is it really so much?”

To some people, it would appear so.  “We would like to remind Mr. Narrasti and his group that most of the snakes in question have never in fact been pets,” said an unnamed spokesperson, speaking off-the-record for a department of the state government that wished not to be mentioned.  “We’re talking about reptiles, and wild ones at that.  They have no concept of love or affection… despite their reputation for being generous with hugs.”

The Runaway Reptile Rescue group has set up a picketing site in Tallahassee across from the office responsible for reigning in the rampant reptiles.

A second picketing site has been set up across the street by a group calling itself Houses for Mouses, which seeks to end the cruel practice of feeding live rats and mice to pet snakes.  “It really is the darkest side of the pet industry,” said Mick Saguaren, the spokesman for Houses for Mouses.  “We know what happens to all those cute little rats and mice that don’t get sold.  They aren’t given away–they’re just moved next door, as it were.  It’s high time the pet industry exercised a little self-control, and made the effort to find a good home for unsold rodents.”

Still, the news on that front isn’t all bad, said Mr. Saguaren.  “We just received word that there’s an organization in southern Florida that said they were interested in helping us out, and adopting all the unwanted rodents we could lay our hands on.  We don’t know much about them yet, just that they’re calling themselves ‘RRR.’  But they say they’ll be able to find suitable placement for them.”

“And that’s all any pet really wants, isn’t it:  a home where it can be loved, sheltered, and fed,” said Mr. Saguaren.  “Is it really so much?”

Copyright 2013

News Flash(es): A Premature Retrospective

April 1, 2013

One of the things that sometimes happens when artists go a long time without releasing a new album and there’s no new material to throw into the breach is that somebody gets it into their heads to release a “Best of…” album. I don’t know who makes this decision, or for that matter who decides which bits qualify as the artist’s “best,” or even what criteria they use.

On the whole, I’m not a great fan of “Best of…” albums. From the consumer’s perspective, while it may be nice to have all the “best” in one place, it’s somewhat irksome to spend money for tracks that one may already possess. To some extent this problem is relieved by services like iTunes, if you don’t mind going without liner notes (which I enjoy reading) and enduring the constant trickle of messages asking you to download, install, and agree to the End User License Agreement for the latest version (which seem to arrive about twice as often as I use the service).

From the artist’s perspective, “Best of…” albums, unless somebody bothers to indicate a time period, come with the tacit and uncomfortable admission that all one’s future endeavors are going to be, by definition, no better than second-best, and that career-wise it’s all downhill from there–in which case there’s no particular reason for customers to buy further albums.

But since it’s been a while since I’ve posted much in the way of new material, and since I do have a few readers who may not have run across some of the older stuff–and since you won’t have to pay for this one–now seems as good a time as any to post a “Best (so far) of…” list for my La Satira News Service news flashes. And since today is April 1st, the timing seems especially conducive. The listing is based entirely on the statistics provided by WordPress and is not indicative of tastes, preferences, or actual quality.  In fact there are a couple on the list that I found rather surprising.  But the facts are the facts.  Maybe next time I’ll post a “personal favorites” set.

So here we go. Read, enjoy, and feel free to share. 🙂

10.  News Flash:  License Agreement Dooms Supermarket Chain

9.  News Flash:  Kettle Arrested in Identity Theft Probe

8.  News Flash:  Exotic Snake Bites Man at Australian Themed Restaurant

7.  News Flash:  Weather Bureau’s Scheme for Storm Names Generates Whirlwind of Controversy

6.  News Flash:  Mob Seeks Vengeance for Weather Prank 

5.  News Flash:  Antique Lamp Leaves Messy Legacy 

4.  News Flash:  State Party Schedules 2016 Primaries–For 2013 

3.  News Flash:  Spelling-Deficient Zombies Reportedly Hunting Brians 

2.  News Flash:  Code Violations, Unpermitted Burn Tied to Valhalla Tragedy 

1.  News Flash:  2 Injured in Sleigh Wreck; NTSB Investigates 

Copyright 2013