Friday, September 19, 2014

Florida Man Who Was Bummed About Moving In With Parents Now Won't Have To: Going To Jai

Good news! This guy won't have
to move in with his parents after all
because now he is going to jail.  
Frederick Wenzel IV, 28, of Deltona, Florida was really bummed out because financial circumstances meant he had to move back in with his parents.

No self-respecting man really wants to do that, unless it's to help ailing parents.

Wenzel was frustrated by the situation, says the Daytona Beach News Journal, so he had to let off some steam.

He chose to do that by getting drunk and firing rounds from his AK-47 into the air in his neighborhood at around 5:30 in the morning.

Well, at least he didn't hurt anybody.

And all this shooting led to some good news, of sorts, for Wenzel.

He no longer will be living with his parents, since Wenzel is now charged with six counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. That means he will be living in jail, not with his parents.

I wonder which he thinks is worse?

At last report he was at the Volusia County, Florida Branch Jail without bail. So he might be there awhile.

Let us know how the accommodations are, will ya, Frederick?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Happy Puppies Swimming: Photos You HAVE To See

An underwater puppy. Photo by Seth Casteel.  
A photographer named Seth Casteel has a book out that you HAVE to see.

He took underwater photographs of puppies swimming in a pool, often for the first time.  

This is a follow up to a book two years ago that was almost as charming called "Underwater Dogs." That one had adult dogs swimming.

The puppies, of course, are even cuter than the adults. I love how Castell captured the sense of wonder as the puppies experienced the fun of swimming.

Don't worry. The puppies were never endangered by this project. They were taught to swim, and were monitored closely so they didn't get into any kind of trouble while in the water. And it looks like they all had fun, so everything is good.

Once the puppies are comfortble with the idea of swimming, Casteel let's them go at it, and he goes underwater with a waterproof camera and fires away to get these photos.
A very happy underwater puppy, photographed by
Seth Casteel.  

As in "Underwater Dogs," the book "Underwater Puppies" used a lot of dogs rescued from shelters.

"I thought, 'Hey, let's use some incredible adoptable puppy ambassadors just to show people how terrific these little guys are,'" Casteel told NPR's David Greene.

Casteel has long been an advocate of adopting dogs who need homes. He's photographed lots of shelter dogs to make them look appealing to would-be human companions and to advertise the benefits of adopting dogs.

Casteel also has a good take on why puppies are so appealing:

Yet another underwater puppy. 
"You know, puppies lift our spirits. They don't care who you are, what you've been doing, where you're going, they just want to love you and they just want to be your friend. And I think that's always going to make us feel good."    

You can buy "Underwater Puppies through Casteel's Web site, or your favorite book retailer. You can also see lots more underwater puppies, underwater dogs and other great photography at his Web site.

Hat tip to my sister Lynn for alerting me to these swimming puppies.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Do Schools Really Need Army Tanks?

The San Diego School District is ready for
trouble.  They have a tank much like this
ready to, I don't know, invade their own schools.  
Kids these days.

You need an elite military operation to keep them under control.

That's what you'd think, anyway, by recent revelations that schools are buying enough military hardware to make Vladimir Putin blush.

A prime example is the 18-ton mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, or MRAP,  that the San Diego Unified School District recently bought.

You know, because of all those improvised explosive devices those snotty nosed kids are always leaving strewn around.

And Bonus! The MRAP was government surplus, so the San Diego Unified School district got this behemoth for the low, low price of $5,000, says KPBS, the San Diego area public radio station.

What a deal!

According to KPBS, San Diego Unified School District Police Chief Ruben Littlejohn said the MRAP is not at ALL militaristic. Oh no, not at all.

He said weapons were removed from the MRAP and replaced with medical supplies, teddy bears and other comforts in case there is an emergency at one of the district's schools.

Because the best way to help an injured or scared little kid is to blast through with an army tank. Sorry. I mean a pretty MRAP.

I'm glad this is coming to light, because it's all so silly and maybe we can get somebody to put a stop to this.

There's at least one sane San Diego School Trustee, Scott Barnett who says the tank, sorry, warm fuzzy MRAP is a huge waste and mistake. 

Meanwhile, we learn that the Los Angeles school district has invested in grenade launchers says the Los Angeles Times.

 Oh joy!

The school district also has automatic weapons and a tank just like San Diego, says the L.A. Times.  The school district says they have no intention of using the grenade launchers on students, say, when they start a food fight in the cafeteria.

I'm don't think I'm that reassured.

They just have the grenade launchers on hand in case the police department wants to borrow them. Um, then why don't you just give them to the police?  It would just eliminate the middle man during an emergency.

Talking Points Memo says a lot of school districts are getting military hardware from the Pentagon. School districts in Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada and Utah have received military equipment.

One school district in Edinburg, Texas has a full SWAT team ready to go.

Maybe all this military stuff is at the ready in case the Student Council declares independence and the school districts want to put down the rebellion?

Look, I get it. School administrators across the nation are understandably freaked out by school shootings like that awful one in Newtown, Connecticut back in 2012.  They want to be ready in case something really bad happens.

Will kids feel more secure, though, if they feel like they're in an armed camp, primed for war, instead of a school?  Will some troubled kid see all this military hardware and declare his own war, with his own gun?

I know it's harder, and much more uncertain, to discourage violence, or at least flag the right person to prevent anyone from picking up a gun at a school and opening fire.  In the worst case scenario, if a school shooting starts, will the military gear actually help?

I wonder if we should be teaching kids that we're perpetually on a war footing, and they ought to be afraid, too.

Teaching kids to be afraid all through life cows them, and discourages them from exploring, thinking, trying things, taking risks.

Or maybe these war-ready school districts WANT people to grow up to be easily controlled, obedient and never think for themselves?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Let's Join The Blue Angels In Flight

Let's join this Blue Angel guy on a wild flight.  
In what has to be the coolest video of the month, let's get into the cockpit of the Blue Angels and enjoy the flight.  

The video makes me want to sign up to be one of their pilots, but then again, I can barely manage the half hour drive down Interstate 89 from St. Albans to Burlington, Vermont.

So we'll just enjoy this video together and deal with this vicariously.

Just don't get motion sickness, OK?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Teen Does Typical Teen Dumb Thing; Pennsylvania Wants To Jail Him For Two Years.

This dumb teenager being dumb with
a statue in Pennsylvania might be locked up
for 2 years for being dumb.  
I swear, all 14 year olds do at least one incredibly dumb thing in the year they're at that age.

So it was in Pennsylvania recently when one 14 year old kid, decided it would be a Stupendously Brilliant idea to simulate oral sex with a statue of Jesus. (The kid was shirtless, but at least he kept his pants on.)

Then he posted photos of this exploit on Facebook.  Just to make everything worse.

What he did was insulting, not funny, and surely infuriating to the religious types out there. I'd punish him. Maybe pick up trash, write a well-researched essay on respecting people's property and religious affiliation, and tell him he's a jerk.

But I wouldn't send him to jail for two year. That seems a wee bit harsh for a stupid moment by a 14 year old.  If we sent every 14 year old to jail for being stupid here and there, we'd have to build a LOT more jails.

Yet according to Mother Jones, Pennsylvania wants to lock our 14 year old up in a juvenile detention facility for two years because of his misdeed.

He's charged with, according to Mother Jones "desecration of a venerated object, invoking a 1972 Pennsylvania statute that criminalizes 'defacing, damaging, polluting or otherwise physically mistreating  in a way the actor knows will outrage the sensibilities of person likely to observe or discover the action."

Mother Jones says an organization called Truth Wins Out, an LBGT advocacy organization, says the law is unconstitutional because it violates the establishment clause: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

They're also appealing on free speech grounds.

However, if Congress ever passed a law against being stupid, there'd be a lot of people in jail. Including, a dare say, most members of Congress.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Facebook Post Turns Misunderstanding Into Ridiculous False Outrage

Demonstrators at a Michigan gas station
inadvertently protesting an incident that didn't happen.  
We have a little bit of a parable from Michigan today.

People are up and arms and protesting a gas station because someone on Facebook said the store clerk, of Middle Eastern descent, would not sell gasoline to an American serviceman.

Such an incident would of course be an outrage. How dare anyone disrespect someone who has risked his or her life and served our country! I'd be pissed, too.

The only problem is, the gas station didn't refuse to sell gas to our military guy.

It all started with a Facebook post from the military guy's wife, according to the web site MLive

It read as follows. (The Flint Journal had to file a Freedom of Information Act demand to police to get it. The Facebook post had been deleted.)

"Jason had to report to army reserves yesterday, on his way home he stopped to get gas, a drink and some jerky. When he went into the gas station, and got to the counter, the Arabic man looked at Jason, then his uniformand told him 'we don't serve gas here.'"

It turns out the clerk would have loved to sell the military guy gasoline. But he wanted Premium gas, and the station was pretty much out of it. So no sale, since the gas didn't exist, at least not at this particular business.

The owner said there was probably a misunderstanding. The clerk speaks with an accent, and the clerk and the would-be customer probably didn't understand each other. So the story morphed into an account of one of these Evil Muslims disrespecting America. Or something. says Jason's wife said in a subsequent post that she wanted the original one deleted to the television station to where she posted it, that she didn't get the full story from her husband, and it turned out they were just out of Premium.

But once you start something on the Internet, however unintentionally, it's next to impossible to get rid of it. Especially when people have an agenda. To eradicate those Evil Muslims. Or something.

So the misinformation spread like wildfire on the Web, and drowned out any attempts at spreading accurate information about what happened.

Some of the reaction was just incredibly violent. Someone on Facebook suggested burning the gas station to the ground.  Guys with guns (all the better to advocate for open carry) protested at the gas station. The people who owned it and work there are understandably afraid.

And people are digging in, refusing to believe there was a misunderstanding. On the MLive page, a typical comment was like this one:

"I'm not buying that excuse. This store owner has bit off more than he could chew... and this was the best he could come up with. My opinion."

A lot of people also were outraged, OUTRAGED at the store clerk's English skills.  You know. Those Evil Muslims. Or something.

They're demanding he learn English. Actually the clerk does speak English, but it's tough to lose your accent even years after moving from your home country.

Frankly, had the gas station clerk or owner been white, not Middle Eastern, this probably would not have gotten so out of control. But it fits the narrative of some people, who believe all Muslims are terrorists and out to get America.

Yes, some Muslims ARE terrorists and out to get America. (See: Third beheading by Islamic extremists yesterday)

Just like some Christians want to kill the gays, subjugate woman and establish a theocracy. But most Christians are totally reasonable. And so are most Muslims.

But that doesn't matter. A misunderstanding fit the narrative. You know. Evil Muslims. Or something. So a stupid moment of communications failure that could happen to anyone turns life miserable for the owners of a gas station.

And a woman who momentarily didn't get what her husband was saying, which again, could happen to anyone, feels terrible that this is happening. And no matter how she, the media, the gas station owners and everyone else try to set the record straight, the original, incorrect narrative thrives.

Because of the Evil Muslims. Or something.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Today's Time Waster: "99 Red Balloons" Played On Red Balloons

A novel take on "99 Red Balloons"  
The oddball 1980s anti-nuke hit, "99 Red Balloons" gets new life in this video when a guy cranks out the melody of the song using only red balloons.

Hmmm. Should I go out and take red balloon music lessons so I can gain my fame and fortune?

Maybe not.

Here's the bizarre, but strangely entertaining video: