Posts Tagged ‘News flash’

News Flash: Count of Monte Cristo Hospitalized; Sandwich Blamed

July 18, 2017

Marseilles, France–Sources close to the household of the Count of Monte Cristo report that the Count was taken to the Marseilles hospital late last night with symptoms resembling either severe gastric distress or a heart attack.

The Count, whose opulent lifestyle caused a splash in Paris society six years ago, recently returned to his native Marseilles for an extended visit following a world tour, ostensibly to pursue his researches into haute cuisine, specifically the croque-monsieur sandwich.

Authorities are exploring the possibility that the Count’s research into the sandwich, a deep-fried ham-and-cheese sandwich with jam and powdered sugar, may have been the cause of this week’s hospital visit.  The Count is said to have been on a regular diet of the confection since before his return to France.

“The Count once spoke of having fulfilled his lifelong mission when he left Paris six years ago,” said Dr. Avrigny (retired), a friend of the Morrel family, who are said to be close associates of the Count.  “It’s not unusual that a person in such conditions would experience a bit of ennui before finding a new interest in life.  And while culinary pursuits can certainly be worthwhile, we seem to have reached the point of obsession–consuming three of these sandwiches a day seems excessive.”

Rumors of the Count’s illness elicited a variety of responses.

Health Minister Lucien Dubray issued a statement warning against over-indulgence in rich foods.  “It’s all very well to try to achieve the perfect croque-monsieur,” the statement said, “but one should try to ensure that Monsieur doesn’t croak in the process.”

“To me a heart attack seems unlikely,” said Mme. Danglars, a nurse at the Marseilles hospital and the former wife of one of the Count’s business associates. “You have to have a heart first.  Still, it’s hardly a surprise that he’s in ill health; when you eat that kind of food, it’s bound to wreak some kind of vengeance; it’s just a question of when.  It would serve him right if he died of it and ended up getting the sandwich named after him.”

Neither the hospital nor the Countess of Monte Cristo has released an official statement on the Count’s prognosis.

Copyright 2017

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News Flash: New Power Plant Runs on Outrage

November 12, 2015

Investors Hail Exploitation of Infinitely Renewable Resource

La Satira News Service

In an age of increasing concern over long-term energy security, physicist and venture capitalist E. M. Schock thinks he has the perfect answer.

“I was watching TV a while back–some daytime talk show–and I noticed how thoroughly people were getting worked up over things that ought to have had absolutely no personal relevance to them whatsoever,” said Mr. Schock.  “And I kept thinking, if only there were some way to bottle all of this energy….”

Within the next few months, Mr. Schock and his venture capital firm, Schock Value Management, plan to break ground on the world’s first operational power plant run entirely on outrage.  The project builds on the results of an earlier program to tap gymnasiums and exercise centers as potential sources of power as part of a new carbon dioxide capture system.

In the facility currently under development, groups of paid volunteers will operate stationary bicycles while watching politically-oriented talk shows.   The bicycles will be attached to electromagnetic turbines that will be in turn connected to power collection circuits.  As the volunteers see stories that make them angry, their adrenaline will rise and cause them to pedal harder.  Early research suggests that the outrage arising from watching talk shows increases the power output of each participant by 10-50%.

“The beauty of it is, it doesn’t even matter what side of the political spectrum the viewers belong to, or which channel is being shown,” said Mr. Schock.  “If the viewer is from the right and we show MSNBC, they’ll be hostile to the viewpoint.  Result:  outrage.  If we show them Fox, they’ll sympathize with the viewpoint but will be incensed by the content.  Result:  outrage.  Same thing if the viewer happens to be from the left–but the other way around, of course.

“And if the viewer happens to be from the center of the political spectrum, he’ll be annoyed by how worked up everybody is getting.

“We’re sitting on one of the few genuine sources of infinitely renewable power,” said Mr. Schock.  “As long as we have Washington and Hollywood, there’s no reason we should ever run out.  And talk shows.”

As idealistic as the project may sound, it faces resistance on a number of fronts.  Some critics of the proposal claim that the early results have been falsified, and the actual energy output has been bolstered by an auxiliary power source:  the combustion of the works of any historical personage whose life featured some element deemed offensive or unacceptable by modern society.

Mr. Schock dismissed the fraud claim as absurd.  “It’s absurd,” he said.  “Destroying that kind of material would be detrimental to the Outrage Generation scheme.  Do you know how many kilowatts of outrage can be generated by suddenly revealing that a much-admired historical figure was in the habit of, say, picking his nose in public?”

Other critics questioned the practicality of the system.  “Using outrage as a power supply is a bit like trying to harness lightning,” said Professor Nicolai Westinghouse of the University of Punxsutawney’s College of Engineering and Applied Silliness.  “Sure, there’s a lot of electricity floating around in the clouds, but it’s highly dispersed, which means it’s hard to collect–until, of course, it discharges as lightning, and then it’s too violent to manage.  In any case, we may question the wisdom of developing a power system dependent on increasing society’s psychological angst.  Do we really want to be in the position that we’re dependent on people being mad all the time?  Or perhaps Mr. Schock has a solution for that,” Professor Westinghouse added, referring to Schock Value Management’s pharmaceutical subsidiary specializing in antacids, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications and operating under the name of Schock Therapies.

The scheme has also caught to attention of the so-called Citizens’ Civility Enforcement Brigade, which seeks to eliminate societal outrage.  “There’s already enough outrage on the market without deliberately generating more of it,” said Si Kopathic, the group’s leader and chief spokesperson.  “And it’s going to stay that way until we can get people angry enough to show that they just won’t take it anymore.”

The current schedule calls for the first stage of the power generation project to be complete in plenty of time for the Presidential debates.  In the event that the scheme doesn’t work out as planned, sources suggest Mr. Schock is already looking forward to his next energy solutions project: a proposal to build a power plant run on toddler-power.

News Flash: Tired of Waiting for Seating? Restaurant Tries Table-Metering

October 25, 2014

La Satira News Service

Patrons waiting for a table at busy restaurants may soon have a new ally, if one restaurant’s new policy works out.

The Ticking Clock, the trendy new bistro at 13th and Main, is trying a novel solution to the problem of restaurant congestion.  Starting Tuesday evening, patrons will find a surcharge on their bills for the amount of time they spend at their tables.

“The question of how long guests stay at a table is a sticky one for restaurant managers,” said Aldous Winfield, the owner of The Ticking Clock.  “You don’t want your customers to feel rushed when they choose to eat in your restaurant.  On the other hand, when the queue stretches out the door and it’s clear the people at table 27 aren’t going to order anything else, there’s the risk that your revenues may start trending in the wrong direction.”

The solution, according to Mr. Winfield, presents a compromise.  If customers wish to linger and talk, they are free to do so–in a manner of speaking–and the restaurant gets partial compensation for any lost revenue.  “We feel this is a more civilized approach to patron turnover than the usual method:  making the restaurant so loud that it’s impossible to hold a conversation and patrons get a headache if they stay too long.”

Reaction to the move has been mixed.

“I can’t believe they’re trying to charge us just for the privilege of occupying one of their tables,” said Penny C. Wise, a first-time client, in response to news.  “This is the last time I come here–I don’t care how long it takes to get a table at the other restaurants.”

“I suppose it makes sense,” said Unger E. Pallitt, a frequent customer of the bistro.  “We meter the parking to make sure people don’t camp out in the prime spots all day.  Why not the tables?”

This is not to say that the restaurant has nothing to offer those conscious of the cost of time.  “We are always happy for patrons to order online,” said Mr. Winfield of The Ticking Clock.  “That way as soon as they’re seated we can start their orders.  That’s especially helpful on our ‘Repondez’ Seafood Plate.  It’s always good to call ahead for that, anyway.”

If successful, the trial may be extended to Mr. Winfield’s other restaurant venture, The Nose and Grindstone, a lunch counter primarily serving downtown office workers.

Copyright 2014

News Flash: Organization Declares National Greeting Card Awareness Week

July 11, 2014

La Satira News Service

Has it ever seemed like the greeting card industry keeps  trying to inflate the number of occasions that call for greeting cards?

The National Association of Greeting Card and Memorabilia Promoters (NAGCAMP) is fighting back by declaring this week National Greeting Card Awareness Week and encouraging everyone to send card to their friends and relatives to mark the occasion.

“Greeting cards play an important part in our social fabric,” said Dee Grusskarte, the Chief Publicity Officer for NAGCAMP.  “They’re part of our history.  Think about all those years spent exchanging Christmas cards and birthday cards.”

While most people these days use text messages or email to communicate, according to Ms. Grusskarte, these methods have certain drawbacks.  “Frankly, it’s nice to have something tangible, that you can hold in your hand, and that doesn’t get lost in the electronic noise,” Ms. Grusskarte explained.  “Besides, you know how it is:  we get so busy with everyday life that unless there’s an occasion we just never get around to passing on the mundane details, or even just stopping to say, ‘Hello, I’m still your friend.’  So our goal is to provide as many occasions as possible, to help people communicate.”

Ms. Grusskarte indicated that the organization would continue to seek Congressional recognition of the occasion.

Reception to the proposed new holiday has not been universally positive.  Hans Zweifler, spokesman for the Centers for Marketing in the Public Interest, accused NAGCAMP of cynically manipulating people’s sentiments.  “If they were really interested in helping people communicate,” Mr. Zweifler said, “they might consider expanding into telecommunications and internet technology, or even mediation services.  Instead, they’re trying to capitalize by guilt-tripping people into buying an ever-expanding array of greeting cards for non-existent occasions.”

Back at NAGCAMP, Ms. Grusskarte denied Mr. Zweifler’s allegations.  “Of course we make money selling greeting cards,” Ms. Grusskarte responded.  “We see it as a symbiotic relationship.  Most people have an emotional need to connect; we help provide a way to connect them.  So what if we make money, as long as everyone’s happy?”

The Postal Service would neither confirm nor deny rumors that they had provided assistance to NAGCAMP in developing the idea for the new holiday, but suggested that, if the Centers for Marketing in the Public Interest wished to stop proposals to make the National Greeting Card Awareness Week a formal holiday, a mail-out campaign would be a logical and relatively inexpensive first step.

Copyright 2014

News Flash: Cattle Ranch Implicated in Human Doping Scandal

April 14, 2013

La Satira News Service

The beef industry was rocked this week by allegations that prominent cattle ranches were involved in a conspiracy to boost production by injecting their cattle with growth hormones derived from human athletes.

Authorities initially became suspicious when a herd of cattle were observed racing through the village of Lower Sprocket on bicycles while wearing hoofbands and other sports equipment emblazoned with the logo of LIVESTOCK, a charity devoted to the elimination of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.

“If they’d asked, we could have told them years ago that something was wrong,” said Archibald McDonald, whose farm shares a small lake with the Augean Farms property.  “Usually a pond that deep would be enough to discourage cattle from crossing.  But not these–every so often, I’ll come out here and they’ll be swimming back and forth.  I think they’re using the brisket-stroke, but I could be wrong.”

The final straw came when investigators started to look into reports of massive quantities of weight-lifting equipment purchased by the farm.  When the investigators arrived, the cattle appeared to be having some sort of modified clean-and-jerk competition–or, in the words of the investigator, “clean and jerky.”

“It’s not hard to figure out what’s going on,” said Angus Hurd from the Department of Agriculture (DoA). “Farmers and scientists are always looking for ways to get food animals to build more muscle more rapidly; and of course human athletes are known for the lengths they go to–literally, in many cases–to improve their condition.  It seems someone found a way to extract human-derived steroids for injection into cattle.  Naturally, there are a few side effects.”

“This is obviously a violation of all sorts of health, safety, and food purity regulations,” Mr. Hurd continued.  “While growth hormones are hardly a novel tool for boosting beef and dairy productivity, this is absolutely beyond the pale.”

A spokesperson for the LIVESTOCK charity declined to comment directly on the case, instead encouraging everyone to allow investigators to go through their normal procedures and reach logical conclusions “before anyone has a cow.”

Copyright 2013

News Flash: Study Attempts to Define Value of Public Art

November 3, 2012

La Satira News Service

How much is public art really worth?  Researchers at the University of Punxsutawney’s College of Economics and Arts want to know, and they’re undertaking a project to determine exactly that.

Unlike previous research, which typically looks at the amount of money spent by various levels of government and private donors for such things as murals, outdoor sculptures, and street theater performances, the Punxsutawney research will attempt to nail down the actual benefit received by the viewing public.

“The arts community expects the government to subsidize their work,” said Dr. M. C. Friedman, Professor of Economics, “and they talk about the value of art, but what does it really mean?  It generally doesn’t have a direction contribution to the production of goods and services, apart from the production of the art itself.  Does it boost productivity?  If so, by how much?  Does it boost tourism?  If so, who gets to decide whose tourism gets boosted?  If they expect the public to pay for it, the public needs to know what they’re buying.  Otherwise, how do we know it’s a good deal?”

The study will attempt to quantify the social value of art by tracking several measures in areas where new public art is installed, such as property values, work productivity, and the amount per capita spent on psychiatric care.  The study will consider several different types of art, such as sculptures (indoor and outdoor), murals, street theater, and framed art.

“Of course it’s oversimplistic to say that all art is completely devoid of practical function,” Dr. Friedman said.  “We found one example of a neighborhood that put up an intricately detailed, profoundly abstract sculpture.  It was so thought-provoking that visitors to the area would often spend several minutes in awed contemplation of it, giving the locals ample time to mug them.”

The discussion of the value of art is, of course, hardly confined to academia.  “People say things about a great nation deserving great art,” said Ed Smith, a visitor in the sculpture garden in Antimasonic Park, “but what terrible thing did we do to wind up with Jackson Pollock?”

“Even bad art can have some value,” argued Milton Escher, another park visitor.  “Who hasn’t walked by some absolutely hideous sculpture or painting and thought, ‘Even I could do better than that’?  That little ego-boost ought to be worth something to the general public.”

“Art who?” asked Phil Stein, a visitor in another part of the park.

The research came about almost by accident following the merger of the university’s art and economics programs.  “It started with a conversation in the student lounge about the value of art,” explained the Dean of the College, Dr. Pablo Keynes.  “It just sort of grew from there.  We feel that the synergy from this study could revolutionize both fields.”

The unlikely merger between the School of Modern Art and the School of Economics was also a surprise.  “It wasn’t our first choice,” admitted Dr. Vincent Hayek, the University’s Vice President for Periodic Reshuffling.  “The economics school had some space available in its building, and the School of Modern Art was the perfect size to fit into it.  Naturally we were curious to see what sort of synergies would develop.”

Dr. Hayek vigorously denied rumors that the merger was done for the purpose of isolating the University’s two most depressing fields.

Copyright 2012

Wondering what else is developing at the University of Punxsutawney?  Check out these items…

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

September 12, 2012

La Satira News Service

Government watchdogs across the country are protesting a move by the Weather Bureau to raise much-needed funding by auctioning off the naming rights for next season’s tropical storms.

Since 1953, names for tropical hurricanes in the North Atlantic basin have been drawn from a rotation of six lists.  Some names have been retired on grounds of sensitivity following particularly deadly or costly storms.

Under a new program, the Weather Bureau has undertaken efforts to open up the naming process.  “In these days of cut-backs in government funding, we were naturally looking for ways to bring in some operating resources,” said Evan Wetherby, the Weather Bureau’s newly-appointed Assistant Director for Funding Opportunities.

The program also shares a percentage of revenues with the World Meteorological Organization, which in recent times has been responsible for maintaining the lists of storm names.

“It’s also a valuable opportunity for public outreach,” said Dr. Wetherby.  “How better to interest your child in meteorology than to have a tropical cyclone named after him or her?”

Not everyone, though, seems interested in sharing a name with a cyclone.  Computer giants Nectarine and Penguux have protested the names proposed following competitor Macrohardt’s successful bid for the “N” and “P” slots.  So far the Weather Bureau has declined to answer questions about how many names have been chosen by disaffected voters, disgruntled employees, dissastisfied employers, jilted fiancees (and fiances), defrauded investors, and the like.

All in all, though, Dr. Wetherby is unfazed by the criticism.  “Selling naming rights is becoming more and more mainstream,” he said.  “We’ve seen cases of selling naming rights for municipal infrastructure like stadiums and convention centers; even the occasional highway.  So why not hurricanes?  I expect we’ll weather this storm,” he said.

Blown away by this news item?  You might also find this story appetizing:

Road Builders Find Creative Financing Goes Better With Milk 

For more stories, look no further than the La Satira News Flash homepage!

Copyright 2012

News Flash: UFOs to Blame for Theft at Caterpillar Site?

August 8, 2012

La Satira News Service

Investigators from local police departments, the FBI, and the FAA are looking into a strange episode of theft at a storage facility for Caterpillar construction equipment.

“We don’t really know what happened,” said Vince Bachova, regional vice president for Kukla Dry Storage Solutions of Southwestern Nevada, the company that owns and manages the site.  “Vandals broke into the facility overnight and made off with most of the equipment we had stored here. ”

The facility, a long-term, outdoor storage facility for heavy construction equipment that has been temporarily mothballed, was created three years ago as a response to sagging demand for such equipment in the current economic downturn.  After only six months, the facility had reached its storage capacity, with no equipment being removed–until now.

The question of how the theft was done is a perplexing one.  The impressive security fences around the facility were intact, and none of the perimeter alarms were activated.  The facility itself lies in a valley surrounded on three sides by mountains.  The only road to the facility passes the residence of the site’s caretaker, who is not a suspect in the case.

The only clue in the case are large piles of steel foil left behind in place of each piece of equipment.  The foil appears to be some sort of protective covering for the equipment:  the sole piece of equipment not taken in the heist–an old, rusty bulldozer–was found wrapped in the stuff.

“It doesn’t seem likely that someone would take down the fence, steal the equipment, and replace the fence again once they’d gotten away,” said Bachova, the regional vice president.  “I guess they could have airlifted it out, but it would take a pretty big helicopter.  And even around here, people would notice a helicopter.  And even so, that doesn’t explain these piles of foil.”

While no suspicious helicopter activity has been reported, the theft did coincide with an uptick in the number of reported UFO sightings in the area.

“It didn’t look like a UFO, though,” said Morton Piattino, a resident who lives within a couple miles of the facility and who claims to have seen one of the mysterious objects.  “Or at least it didn’t look like the ones you generally see.  It landed on that outcropping of rock over there, so I got a pretty good look at it.  It looked more like… you’re not going to believe this, but it looked more like a giant mechanical butterfly.”

“That’s not true,” said Daryl Soukoup, another neighbor.  “The body shape was stouter, the antennae were feathery, and its wings in the resting posture were in a downward position.  It was more like a giant mechanical moth.”

Official sources discount the UFO tie-in and are continuing their search for more terrestrial indications.

Copyright 2012

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News Flash: Dynastic Change Drives Architectural Boom

January 14, 2012

December 15, 1604.

The face of England is changing.

Since the arrival of the Stuart dynasty in London last year in the person of HRH King James I (VI of Scotland), owners at country houses and other important buildings across the country have been using the occasion to engage in a bit of architectural spring cleaning.

“Tudor architecture, and Elizabethan architecture, for that matter, are so terribly last-century,” said Lord Whatchamacallit, the owner of a large estate in West Thingummyshire.  “The whole half-timbering motif just screams out its obsolescence.  These are exciting times, so it’s high time we had some exciting architecture to go with them.”

Lord Whatchamacallit is renovating his main residence to reflect what experts are already referring to as “Jacobean” architecture, with an emphasis on pilasters, arches, and parapets.  Nor is Lord Whatchamacallit alone:  this year’s issue of the Daily Architect reports fifty-seven manor houses across the country are undergoing similar renovations.  Fifteen more houses under construction have issued change orders to include new features more in line with the new style.

This spate of activity has been a boon for the building industry, which has suffered amid the declining economic situation of the past several years, as well as the relative stability of the major aristocratic families.

“We haven’t seen this much activity in the industry since Queen Elizabeth’s early years,” said builder Egbert Entwistle, who is overseeing work on Whatchamacallit Hall.  “Or for that matter since the Wars of the Roses.  The more turnover there is in the aristocracy, the more often these houses change hands–which means the more people there are wanting to add their own personal touches.  And that means more business for us.”

Of course the new style without its critics.   The Earl of Greater Pipsqueak suggested the new style was more evolutionary than revolutionary.  “Sure, we’ve got pilasters and arches going up everywhere,” he said, “though I notice a lot of the ornamentation hasn’t changed that much.”

Another critic, Lord Atwitsend, had less to say about the new style but more about the building boom driving it.  “I wonder how many of these building projects represent spending to accommodate changing needs, and how many of them are just updating for the sake of updating.  At any rate, it makes you wonder just who comes up with these new styles.  And what authority they have to inflict them on the rest of us.”

Asked about his personal tastes with respect to the new schools of architectural thought, Mr. Entwistle professed ambivalence.  “It doesn’t really matter to me what they want.  If they want pilasters all over the place, what do I care?  This whole dynastic changeover has been wonderful for business, and I can’t help thinking it wouldn’t hurt to change dynasties more often.”

Mr. Entwistle’s trial for sedition and high treason is set for next week in Star Chamber.

News Flash: Tintin Fired for Breach of Contract

November 8, 2011

Reports out of Brussels this week are corroborating rumors that world-famous journalist and adventurer Tintin has been fired from his newspaper.

Hercule Furet, editor of the newspaper that was employing Tintin, confirmed the news.  “It is with the greatest regret that we take this step, but it has become inevitable,” he said when asked for comment.  “While we have been extremely honored to have Tintin on our staff, the fact remains that he hasn’t contributed a single article in over sixty years.”

While Tintin himself could not be reached for comment on the matter, long-time friend and confidant Captain Haddock said, after a long string of obscure invective, “Those certified diplodocuses must be crazy to be giving him the boot now, after all this time.  Look at all the good he’s done over the years:  the crimes he’s solved or prevented, the lives he’s saved, at great personal risk.”

While not disputing Tintin’s bravery or heroism, M. Furet pointed out that these were not the issue.  “We, too, have enjoyed reading about his adventures, but our enjoyment has been tempered by the fact that we always seemed to be reading about them in someone else’s paper. The only report we get from the field is the occasional expense report. It wouldn’t be so bad if we at least got some name recognition for the paper.”

Detectives Thompson and Thomson also offered an opinion.  “It’s an outrage that this is happening to our courageous friend,” said Thompson.  “To be precise,” Thomson added, “We’re outrageous.”

Media analyst Jacques Chou suggested the case highlighted a long-standing debate in the field of journalism:  the problems that arise when the journalist goes beyond reporting the story and instead becomes the story.  “It’s a common conflict,” said M. Chou.  “Most young journalists want to get out in the field and make a difference, and maybe become famous along the way.  The notion of sticking to strict observation and reporting, and letting someone else fix the problems they’ve highlighted, is sometimes a little hard.

“On the other hand, you don’t want journalists to become so callous that they stand by and film someone dying when a bit of CPR could save a life.  It’s a balancing act.  But if the newspaper is paying the bills, they deserve to get at least the occasional story.  It’s not like Tintin spends all his time gallivanting around the world.”

Asked to comment on the matter, noted scholar Cuthbert Calculus replied, “No, I don’t think Tintin is getting fatter.  And it’s very impertinent of you to suggest he is.”

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