Today’s a pretty good day to be me. Not that you’d want to do that, your family would have you committed, but if you were used to the rigors of living my life then today would not be a bad day in the great pantheon of days. Thanks to the Divine Ms. Freak I got the Christmas present I really wanted. Some would say sorely needed. Plus I scored a new gig for the new year and got to eat Chinese. Not a bad way to start a week if I do say so myself. In fact it was much better than some of the alternatives we’re going to look at here today. We’ll start in Florida, naturally, where a man was shot while robbing a home. What makes this story so Florida-like is that he was shot by his co-burglar and not the homeowner. The homeowner just added insult to injury by beating him with a bat until the cops arrived to take the poor sap to the safety of jail. After a stop at the local hospital to retrieve the bullet, of course.
Not to be outdone, a man in Connecticut shot himself while peeing. This incredibly difficult task was accomplished by dropping a loaded gun onto the edge of the toilet and having it discharge. Personally I think he should get a whole episode of Stupid Human Tricks dedicated to him. But, since he’s a convicted felon in possession of an illegal firearm, the cops just arrested him instead. After they finished laughing at him and getting him stitched up, that is.
Fortunately for humanity, not all idiots are armed. Some just reside on Facebook. Cops in Pittsburgh arrested one such moron after he posted pics of himself holding a bunch of stuff he’d just stolen. There was no word on whether or not they thanked him for making their job pathetically easy that day.
Of course, as regular readers know, danger can lurk in some very unexpected places. For example, numerous people were hospitalized in Chile when they tried a new recipe for Churros.
Chile’s Supreme Court has ordered a newspaper to pay $125,000 to 13 people who suffered burns while trying out a published recipe for churros, a popular Latin American snack of dough fried in hot oil.
The publisher of La Tercera must pay individual damages to 11 women and two men ranging from as little as $279 to $48,000 for one woman whose burns were particularly severe.
The high court’s ruling was announced Monday, seven years after the readers burned themselves while trying out the recipe.
Judges determined that the newspaper failed to fully test it before publication, and that if readers followed the recipe exactly, the churros had a good chance of exploding once the oil reached the suggested temperature. Grupo Copesa, which publishes the paper, said it will abide by the ruling.
Days after the recipe was published in the paper’s “Woman” magazine in 2004, hospitals around the country began treating women for burns suffered when the dough boiling in oil suddenly shot out of kitchen pots.
Seriously? Exploding food? How cool is that? Oh, wait, it wasn’t supposed to. Yeah, I guess I can see how that might be a problem.
But wait a minute there mister blogger person. What about aliens? You mentioned aliens.
Indeed I did.
The quiet of a rural strip mall in Connecticut is suddenly interrupted by the appearance in the sky of a glowing blue-green disk. Shoppers stop in their tracks, staring at the unexplained craft moving up and down, back and forth.
But it’s all a hoax, a very clever ruse concocted by Marc Dantonio, the chief photo and video analyst for the Mutual UFO Network.
And he did it for a very specific reason for a National Geographic Channel special, called “The Truth Behind: UFOs,” airing this month.
“They wanted me to do some image analysis, and when they said they were looking for some dramatic videos to kick it up a notch, I suggested to them that I could create a functional UFO that we can actually fly,” Dantonio told The Huffington Post.
Dantonio knows a thing or two about building sophisticated working models. His Connecticut-based company, FX Models, creates special effects for the History Channel and the Learning Channel, and has contracts with the U.S. Navy, Congress and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C.
So Dantonio set up his UFO hoax at a mall in Winsted, Conn. To do it just right for the National Geographic cameras, he launched three separate nine-minute flights.
“They used several main cameras — one to gauge crowd reaction — but they wanted to film it in ways that didn’t look obtrusive,” he said.
“Our point was to illustrate that technology can cause confusion, and we succeeded. And after we flew it, we totally exposed the technology so people could see exactly what we did,” said Dantonio.
What he and his company created was a “quadcopter” with a 4-foot circumference and an X-shaped configuration that had motorized propellers at each end of the X (pictured at right). Several inches beyond the propellers was a big circle of lights.
“My mission was to try and build a vehicle that would be big enough to be seen from a great distance, but small enough such that I wouldn’t need exorbitant power requirements to get it up into the air,” Dantonio explained.
“We flew it out from a big field behind the mall and then shot it vertically up and maneuvered it around, [and then] dropped it down to a lower altitude and shut off the lights on it. Then we rocketed the thing up in the air about 800 feet and turned the lights back on.”
Numerous people said it looked like it vanished from one spot and reappeared in another — a typical UFO eyewitness account.
“We wanted to hit that UFO myth and show how it can be accomplished with technology,” Dantonio added.
The overall point of this little UFO charade was to help people report UFOs in a way that better separates the truly unknown aerial objects from those that are easily explained.
“With the number of people who have recorded UFOs with their cellphones, there’s a much higher likelihood they’re going to capture objects in the sky. But not all of these things are true unidentified flying objects,” said Dantonio.
“My main tenet of doing this production was to show how there’s existing technology that can fool you into thinking you’re seeing a real UFO,” he said. “The more people are educated, that’s the way we’re going to find a real UFO someday.”
No, this will accomplish nothing of the sort. It will just encourage kids with RC copters to freak the crap out of their idiot neighbors. Which is perfectly acceptable as far as I’m concerned.
It’ll give me more to write about.
Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, Friday morning around 9:10
for his version of a New Year’s special!