This Day in Failure: November 13

2008: In the first use of Virginia Tech University’s emergency alert system (VT Alerts), one of four methods used to alert students and faculty fails, as individuals with non-university accounts do not receive the relevant text and voice message when school administrators attempt to warn the campus about reports of gunfire in a dorm. The system had been implemented in the wake of an April 2007 massacre in which a student gunman killed 32 people (and himself) in a rampage that began in a dorm and ended in a classroom building.

2008: ESPN abruptly cancels plans for an ad campaign to be developed by New York ad agency Anomaly after a memo leaked to awfulannouncing.com reveals exactly what Anomaly would be looking for in actors who’d play students from specific colleges. For instance, the Tenneessee co-ed would need to be “slutty” and “crazy.” The Oklahoma student would be “as naive as they come.” And the Kansas student would “take great pains to point out that Kansas is very cosmopolitan.” In announcing the cancellation, ESPN’s Mike Soltys says: “The language and approach reflected in that document were not approved by us and in no way represent ESPN or the respect we have for the college community.”

1971: Paul Joseph Cini, 26, hijacks a Calgary-to-Toronto Air Canada flight using a sawed-off shotgun, and demands $1.5 million and passage to Ireland. The airline scrounges up $50,000, which it delivers to Cini at the small airport in Great Falls, Montana. Airborne again, Cini orders the crew to open one of the DC-8’s emergency exists, so he can parachute to freedom. But when Cini puts down his shotgun to open the package containing his parachute, a crew member hits him upside the head with the DC-8’s fire ax, fracturing his skull.

1970: A 120-mile per hour cyclone spawns a twenty-foot tidal wave that strikes the shores of the Ganges Delta, wreaking havoc on East Pakistan. The tsunami kills approximately 150,000 people, making it the century’s most lethal water-related natural disaster.