Pilot dives to avoid hitting planet


A PILOT MISTOOK Venus for an aircraft.

Catching sight of the planet in his cockpit window, the Air Canada Flight 828 pilot took evasive action, diving 180 meters and sending passengers hurtling to the ceiling.

Only after crew assured him that chances of actually hitting Venus were on the lowish side did he return the aircraft to its regular flight path.

Passengers, several of whom ended up in the overhead luggage bins, were stunned, literally.

I learned this from a reader named Emmy who found the tale in a recently published report from a Canadian transport safety organization. “How can you mistake a planet for a plane?” she asked.

Easy mistake to make, Emmy. They are both big things “up there”.

But to help Air Canada pilots, here are the three key differencesbetween Venus and aircraft.

1. Planes are 70-meter-long pointy objects.

Venus is a big round thing 12,000 kilometers in diameter.

2. Planes are planet Earth objects.

Venus is 40 million kilometers away in space.

3. Planes contain people.

Venus is the home of one of the girls from the Sailor Moon anime series.

That’s all you need to know. Hope that helps.



BAD NEWS for fans of high culture. CSI: Miami has been cancelled. No more close-ups of autopsies broadcast while we eat dinner. My liver carpaccio just won’t taste the same. Note to self: Buy more ketchup.


domanske flickr cc license 2.0

ASIA IS gripped by The Mystery of the Alcoholic Elephants, I hear from reader Syed Ali.

Since 1992, zookeepers in Pakistan have requested crates of booze for pachyderms, explaining that without it, the maddened beasts would “cause monetary losses and casualties”. (I had an uncle who was just the same.) For two decades, patient taxpayers paid for it.

But sharp-eyed veterinarians took just 20 years to spot a gap in the logic. Elephants don’t drink because they can’t digest alcohol (they prefer tea, Earl Grey, two sugars, petit fours on the side). Commentators are asking: Where did the booze go?

I suggest they talk to zoo staff. “Misshing drinksh? Don’t ashk me. Hic.”



AMAZING BUT true: Super-rich ex-banker Dominique Strauss Kahn has just taken out a lawsuit demanding US$1 million cash compensation from the hotel maid he tussled with, because everything was her fault. It’s like a bad joke. Next: DSK sues everybody in the world for rolling their eyes in disbelief.



SCIENTISTS HAVE created a stay-sober pill that will enable you to drink as much alcohol as you like without getting drunk. So now you can end each evening bloated, penniless and sad, AND you’ll be TERRIFYINGLY AWARE OF IT. Great.



CURSING IS good for you. Saying bad words provides measurable amounts of pain relief, researchers at the UK’s Keele University revealed last week. But it only works for people who use bad words rarely.

So if World War III breaks out and doctors run out of anaesthetic, Gordon Ramsay and Lady Gaga are going to be utterly miserable. But our mild-mannered local clergypersons will get through their medical treatments just fine, as long as they chant: “Oh #$%^! Oh $#@*!” Etc.


FROM A reader: “I went to an event labeled ‘garage sale’ but then realized they had left out the ‘b’.”


I KNOW just how he feels. Have a great weekend.