Saturday, December 04, 2004

This is True

I have become addicted to the weekly emails from syndicated newspaper columnist Randy Cassingham.

He added a personal note to the usual zany developments in the news this week:

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD ABOUT the plane crash last weekend in Montrose, Colorado, mainly because a "celebrity" was aboard (NBC Sports head Dick Ebersol). Three people were killed. Montrose is the small airport I fly out of; it's the "big" town around here, but it's still pretty small -- the population is around 12,000. I live in the next county; by contrast, my entire county only recently passed 4,000 residents in its 550 square miles. So, obviously, the crash is The Talk of the area. There are two main topics of conversation: why in the world the pilot decided to use the short runway, especially considering a pilot's advisory had just been issued noting the runways were slushy, and the much-longer runway was only a 3-minute taxi away, and the way the news media is acting.

"National" news crews swarmed on the town. The local police and county sheriff actually had to pull cops off patrol to guard the crash scene because camera crews were trying to sneak into the scene. I've mentioned I'm a first responder for the local volunteer fire department, so I have radios where I can hear all the cops talking. And I've heard the alerts about camera crews trying to get around the blockades to get closer looks.

A plane crash scene is large: planes hit the ground going very fast, and the pieces spread out. Only by recovering as many of those pieces as possible do investigators reconstruct what happened, and here these idiots are trying to get in there and trample evidence buried in snow.

If that's not bad enough, Ebersol's 14-year-old son was in that wreckage until the next day. What were they trying to do, get video of the coroner removing his charred body? "Thanks," guys, for making me ashamed to be associated with your "profession".

Here is a more representative sample of his normally-lighter material emailed this week:

HANDS-ON EDUCATION: "We all call him Dr. Devon now," says Taru Mills of Oakland, Calif. Her son Devon, 5, helped her deliver his baby sister on the stairs of their apartment building when his mother couldn't make it to the hospital. "Devon's eyes were as big as his head, but he didn't panic at all," mom says. Was the boy scared? "Nope," he answered the reporter's question directly. Does he want to be a doctor? "Yep." And does the 5-year-old know where babies come from? "Yep," he said, finally adding some detail: "No storks." (Oakland Tribune) ...Well, that's more than most teens know.

RECESS IS CANCELED: At an assembly of 13-year-olds at St Matthew's High School in Moston, Manchester, England, a teacher told students an asteroid was on a collision course with Earth. The stunned children were told they would be able to leave school early to say their "final farewells" to family members. "Unfortunately a small number of pupils took the story literally," says Headteacher Kevin Hogan -- the end-of- the-world threat was meant as a lesson for students to "live each day to the full." When it became apparent that some of the children were crying, "the head of year visited every year-9 class and again told students that the story was untrue and made every effort to ensure that those students who had been anxious were reassured." (Manchester Evening News) ...Right. Everyone knows doomsday would only come after finals.

ON THE WRONG TRACK: Patricia M. Frankhouser says she was walking along the railroad tracks in Pittsburgh, Penn., when a train passed by and clipped her, injuring her finger. Rather than curse her own stupidity, she sought out a lawyer; Harry F. Smail Jr. filed suit against Norfolk Southern Corp., charging that the railroad failed to put up warning signs to notify pedestrians "of the dangers of walking near train tracks and that the tracks were actively in use" which "negligently provided plaintiff with the belief she was safe in walking near the train tracks." The suit seeks unspecified damages in excess of $30,000. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) ...And here all her friends thought she was untrainable.

CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME: Michael Parks, 49, of Macclesfield, Cheshire, England, donated some clothing to Age Concern, a charity for the elderly. When he realized that one of the coats in the pile had 1,200 pounds (US$2,250) in a pocket, he asked for the cash to be returned. "They said they had taken legal advice and the money was considered a donation so they were keeping it." A spokeswoman for the charity says they "hope that this isolated incident doesn't deter members of the public from donating to their local Age Concern shop." (AFP) ...The sad part is, she's serious.

ONE DOWN, THOUSANDS TO GO: "Lawyer Going to Jail for Telling Witness to Lie" -- Nashville Tennessean headline

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