Saturday, June 16, 2007

News you need to know about!

This came right down the wire, hot from Reuters—you know, the people who always put the word 'terrorist' in scare-quotes: that's "terrorist", please; for we're Reuters! That's the "news" agency, we're talking about; just in case you're wondering: the one who brought us this...

Squirrel goes on rampage, injures 3

BERLIN (Reuters) - An aggressive squirrel attacked and injured three people in a German town before a 72-year-old pensioner dispatched the rampaging animal with his crutch.

The squirrel first ran into a house in the southern town of Passau, leapt from behind on a 70-year-old woman, and sank its teeth into her hand, a local police spokesman said Thursday.

With the squirrel still hanging from her hand, the woman ran onto the street in panic, where she managed to shake it off.

The animal then entered a building site and jumped on a construction worker, injuring him on the hand and arm, before he managed to fight it off with a measuring pole.

"After that, the squirrel went into the 72-year-old man's garden and massively attacked him on the arms, hand and thigh," the spokesman said. "Then he killed it with his crutch."

The spokesman said experts thought the attack may have been linked to the mating season or because the squirrel was ill.

The immense significance of this event was emphasized by the item being at the top of the 'Most popular on Reuters' list, with extra large type—and, so I wondered, how something gets to be at the top of that list? who votes on it? how? dare I even consider that it's the top of the journalists' popularity list? or the marketing departments? or is it really just the readers? and if so, then how is this statistic generated?


I read the item with lively interest, not only because it was there, but because of its significance for the science of biology and the theory of evolution. I mean, imagine this geriatric squirrel, crutch and all, indulging in all this risquĂ© kind of behavior, and then ending up 'massively'—that means hugely seriously, right?—attacking a 72 years old man and killing it with his crutch! I am inclined to visualize things I read, because it's become a habit bred by writing fiction. But here my powers of imagination quailed before the enormity of the task. I ended up with something cartoonish in my head. You know, like Chip and/or Dale attacking a wizened Elmer—after hanging off a woman's hand and being fought off with a measuring pole shortly before. The mind and the imagination boggles and twists and reaches a major constipation-like state—you know, of the kind where you really, really want to go but just can't.

OK, OK, so I admit it. I'm just taking the piss out of Reuters. But it's so easy! For the style is awful, and even excusing it by attributing it to a German correspondent for whom English is a second language doesn't fly. Hey, I was born in Germany, too, and had to learn English at school there as a 'second language'—officially the third actually, after Latin; and not counting the Spanish I learned by immersion long before that—and let me assure you that this kind of gibberish would never have crossed my lips, flown from my pen or been typed into a word-processor. Hell, no. I would have made it into a science-fiction story, with a vicious alien creature disguised as a squirrel, trying to escape from the clutches of the mad scientist, who had captured it as it landed in its UFO and who was torturing it in the jury-rigged lab in his apartment above the one belonging to the 70-year old woman (first victim!), in order to elicit the alien's secrets of the star-drive and immortality and how to dominate the world. No wonder the creature had a less-than-favorable impression of humans. Can anybody blame it for being a bit tetchy?

Now, you see, that would have been a story worthy of wasting bandwidth on!

Oh, and, yes, I admit I should maybe evince more compassion for the victims of these vicious, unprovoked attacks—though who really knows if 'unprovoked' they were?—but my hands are still shaking and my belly still hurts from laughing so much.


Carys said...

I've gotta get me a squirrel...

Who needs all this martial arts training when you have one of them by your side?

Till said...

Yep. Vicious little sumbitches. Especially the grey ones. Grey ones are evil.