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Rusty Saber

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by Joe McAdoo

With the holidays and all, my file of special news items is full. It's time to clear the file.

?You may have heard about the man in Iowa preparing to take his single-engine airplane up for a flight when the last thing he expected to happen, happened.

His plane was one of those old-fashioned models that must be started by turning the propeller by hand. He turned the propeller, and the engine started just as it was supposed to.

Then the plane did something it wasn't supposed to do: it taxied away and took off on its own. Without a pilot, the thing flew for nearly two hours before crashing. Sounds like something that belongs in "Believe it or Not."

When I heard this story, I couldn't help but think: What if he'd been carrying a passenger, one who wasn't a pilot? It's likely that the passenger would have set a record for learning to land an airplane faster than anyone in the history of flight.

Even worse, what if the passenger had been the pilot's wife? Assuming she survived the incident, how would the pilot have explained that the whole thing was an accident? "Oh, sure," I can hear her saying, "the plane just took off on its own while I happened to be in it!" I can visualize him sleeping with one eye open for a very long time.

?Just in time for Christmas came the results of a study appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggesting that fat in the diet appears to lessen the risk of strokes.

In fact, the risk is in direct proportion to amount of fat intake. I know, I know, this conflicts with everything you've been told: Eating fatty foods is more harmful to your health than calling Evander Holyfield a sissy and telling him you think you can take him out in one round.

Well, the study results have raised fears among the doctors who for years have been warning patients to avoid eating fatty foods the same way I avoid Roseanne's TV show. They fear the results will confuse the public and cause them to ignore their previous advice.

Of course it's confusing. I mean, the results were reported in JAMA, a highly regarded medical publication, not the National Enquirer. Why wouldn't it be confusing?

But the confusion was cleared up by Scot Grundy, director, the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Texas. About the researchers, he said, "I'm not saying they were wrong, but I don't think they are right."

?This story fits into the category: How Did Anyone This Stupid Manage to Figure Out How to Commit a Robbery? A man was in a Wichita, Kan., court accused of robbing a shoe store. Here's where the stupid part comes in.

The man showed up in court wearing a brand new pair of boots stolen from the store. He propped his feet up on a table so the judge could easily see the boots. I doubt that propping your feet up on a table is the best way to impress a judge, even while wearing your own shoes.

Sticking the stolen goods under the judge's nose creates a new definition of stupidity. The story has a happy ending, however. The man was found guilty and left the courtroom in his stocking feet.

?You may remember the name Philip Berrigan; he and his brother, Daniel, both priests, were anti-Vietnam War activists. Philip is still protesting something, because he was recently sentenced to two years in prison for vandalizing a Navy destroyer at Maine's Bath Iron Works.

Maybe Phil didn't get the word that the Vietnam War ended more than 25 years ago.

His latest prison sentence isn't the end of the story. Philip Berrigan has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. This isn't a typo: THE Nobel Peace Prize, as in the award given to people who work valiantly for peace. (The same award Jimmy Carter richly deserves, but has never received.)

Makes sense. Going to jail for vandalizing a ship is the best way I can think of to promote peace.

Why not a Nobel Peace Prize for Philip Berrigan? World renowned "peacemaker" Yasir Arafat has one. If he qualifies, anyone and I mean anyone does. Next, some numbskull will nominate the Unabomber for a Nobel Peace Prize.

That's the news for now.

(Joe McAdoo is former chairman of the communication department at Drury College and a Springfield public relations consultant.)

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