Greetings, and thanks for joining me for another week. First, a valuable quote from Confucius! “Never contract friendship with a man that is not better than thyself.” I have done quite well in following those words. My relentless, inexorable, demanding slave-driving (can I say that?), whip-cracking webmaster of the past, well, many years is taking a forced, well-deserved break. He is the person who first gets my column each week, works his magic, and makes sure it gets posted. If I was late, I heard about it. If there was an error/typo, I heard about it. If a column was especially good (an incredibly rare occurrence), I heard about it. This past week, I switched web hosts (as I am sure you noticed), and until I figure out what it takes to get my offering posted (I am a person of words, as untechno and hands-off as one gets), he will have a week off. Once I get the process down, I will ask (on bended knee if necessary) if he wants to carry on the tradition. Besides what I said above to describe him, he is truly a wonderful friend and I love him dearly. He’s not going to get away that easily (unless he begs [on bended knee] and really wants to). And yes, he is a better person than me.
Next, so, was Dickens right about the law? He wrote “…the law is a ass….” Daniel Darrington was recently spared a murder conviction in even after admitting intentionally shooting Rocky Matskassy at point-blank range to “relieve his suffering.” The Melbourne, Australia, jury decided that Matskassy, in pain from an earlier accidental shooting, was indeed already dead when Darrington shot him. However, under the law of the state of Victoria, it is still “attempted murder” because Darrington believed that Matskassy was still alive when he pulled the trigger. [The Age (Melbourne)]
Finally, nom, nom, (crunch) nom. Benno, the Belgian Malinois, of Mountain Home, Arkansas, has eaten a ridiculous series of items over his four years, but his latest meal was 23 live rounds of .308-caliber bullets (all swallowed after Benno had partially gnawed them [I am thinking there could have been some free dental work there]). Among Benno’s other delicacies: a bra, lawn mower air filter, TV remote, styrofoam peanuts, drywall, magnets, and an entire loaf of bread still in the wrapper. [Baxter Bulletin]
Philip White of Eagle, Colo., who is blind, was at the Greyhound bus terminal in downtown Denver trying to get home, but he was told the bus he wanted to board was full, and he not only had to get off, he had to leave the station entirely. A bus station security guard called 911, complaining White was “trespassing.” The responding officer, Kyllion Chafin, found White on the phone — to 911, trying to get police help. White asked if he could touch Chafin’s badge — a common way for the blind to confirm someone is an officer. Chafin refused, grabbed White, and slammed his head into the ticket counter, leaving him bloodied. White, then 77 years old, was handcuffed and held for eight hours, and never charged with any crime. Now, three years later, a federal jury has awarded him $400,000 in an excessive force case, but Chafin wasn’t fired. “We reviewed the case,” a department spokesman said. “We didn’t find any violations of policy.” [Denver Post] Dickens was right.
Priorities! A Berman’s Bits Classic! The University of the District of Columbia, the only public university in the nation’s capital, is struggling to survive. To save money, the university has eliminated 17 academic programs, including economics, history, physics, and sociology. But UDC interim president James E. Lyons Sr has been ordered by the Board of Trustees to keep the university’s athletic program, which brought in $1.1 million in revenue last year — but cost the school $4.1 million to operate (sounds like it belongs in Washington). “It is critical to the life of a university that there be these types of opportunities,” explained university trustee Jerome Shelton. “Please understand, this is almost a life-or-death question for me.” [Washington Post]
People unclear on the concept: A Utah man accused of calling in a hospital bomb threat because he was upset he couldn’t attend his child’s birth is being charged in federal court. Michael Morlang faces up to 10 years if convicted, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah said in a news release. The threat recently led to an evacuation and lockdown at a hospital in Richfield, Utah. His wife and her father told investigators the day of the incident that Morlang made the bomb threat because he was angry about not being there for the birth, show court documents from state charges filed earlier this year. The woman’s father also told investigators that Morlang was upset because he heard his wife was going to have a procedure to prevent having more pregnancies. A nurse told police she spoke with Morlang, and that he was “extremely upset that they were going forward with the birth” while he was still in Idaho. [AP] “Uh, I’m going to be late – can you hold that birth until I get there.
Police have given a New Jersey man special recognition for sandwich throwing: They locked him up. The Fairfax City Police Department in Virginia says in a news release that 32-year-old Jonathan M. Magnes of Morristown was drunk when he threw a sandwich at a 50-year-old man at a Fairfax pizza restaurant and then drove away. Authorities say the victim, who was not injured, tailed Magnes before officers arrived and pulled over the suspect. It’s not clear what led to the dispute between the men. Magnes was charged with assault and battery, driving under the influence of alcohol and refusal of a blood and breath test. [sfgate.com]
Finally, who is guarding the guardians? 5-year-old enemy of freedom Levi Zilka and his father David were going home to Pennsylvania after Levi’s first trip to Disney World. In a flagrant disregard of federal guidelines, young O-Levi bin Zilka attempted to compromise the safety of the flight by smuggling aboard a Buzz Lightyear ray gun that his uncle had bought him as a souvenir. But the TSA at Fort Lauderdale International Airport was too quick for this little criminal mastermind. TSA and Department of Homeland Security guidelines require all realistic replicas of firearms be checked, but the Zilkas only had carry-on luggage. Just like terrorists would. Judging the bright purple and green plastic toy to be a threat, the stalwart TSA wrestled the ‘weapon’ out of the villain’s clutches and disposed of it. Since the Zilkas only had carry-on luggage, that meant chucking it into the nearest trash can, prompting the little Levi to burst into tears. It is worth noting that an undercover inspector general investigation conducted last year found that body-scanners and TSA agents missed banned items, including explosives, 95 percent of the time. But you know what didn’t make it through TSA security check points? A single purple and green plastic ray gun. [Bizarre News]