Monthly Archives: November 2010

Samuel Hengel. So, who’s gun did he use to kidnap the children and kill himself?

Samuel Hengel is, or should I say was, a mentally disturbed, probably depressed student in a rural area of Wisconsin who showed up at school yesterday with a pistol. He used the firearm to hold the teacher and students in one of his classes for several hours. (details here)

Scary part (well, there’s several scary parts): He actually fired the weapon a few times and kept everyone in the room for something like an hour or an hour and a half before school authorities were aware that there was a problem.

Anyway, he fired his weapon a number of times, shooting various objects, and finally on one of those occasions police stormed the room and Hengel shot himself. The word has just come down that he died in hospital of the self inflicted wound.

So yes, Samuel Hengel wins this week’s Poster Boy for Gun Control Award. But what we really, really need to know is this: Where did he get the damn guns (there were two pistols)? A related question: Why is it not routine for reporters to insist on knowing, and thus reporting, this fact in cases of rampage, school shooting, or other violent acts involving a firearm? Sometimes we find out, sometimes we don’t. In this case, no one is saying anything about it,and that’s fairly typical. The current story mentions “where” the weapons may have come from only in the context of how he got them from a hiding place outside the classroom, into the classroom. The real question is this: What is the name of the adult who owned the two pistols Hengel used?

Gun control. I used to be against it. Then I was indifferent. Now I’m realizing that we need it big time, because people are too stupid to be trusted to behave intelligently (is that a tautology? sorry..) without strict regulation from society, when it comes down to it.

Prove me wrong.

PS: This is a great example of how arming principals and teachers and janitors and stuff would have little effect. They didn’t even know it was happening. If the teacher in the room was known or suspected to be armed, he may have shot her dead first, instead of merely blowing away the projector.

Palin demands that Wikileaks director Assange be hunted down and captured or killed

Or, at least, that’s what I assume she means when she asks “Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?”

Equating her recent book with the quarter-million or so cables among US embassies and the state department, she is known to have tweeted:

Inexplicable: I recently won in court to stop my book “America by Heart” from being leaked,but US Govt can’t stop Wikileaks’ treasonous act?

And imagine, we actually passed by an opportunity to have Sarah Palin in the White House!

Much more here.

Do you think Julian Assange violated the 1917 Espionage act?

That’s the Wikileaks guy.

Believe it or not, there’s a poll! The act makes it a crime ” To convey information with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the armed forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies. This was punishable by death or by imprisonment for not more than 30 years or both, or to convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies when the United States is at war, to cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or to willfully obstruct the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States. This was punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000 fine or by imprisonment for not more than 20 years or both.”*

The poll is here. So far, it looks like he’s cooked, 380 to 167.

Just when you thought it was safe to call the season over …

Today is the last day of the official Atlantic Hurricane season, and that seems right because for the last several days there has been no significant tropical storm development in the region. However, there is evidence to suggest that the Atlantic Hurricane seasons have been getting longer, perhaps requiring a change int he expected end date.

Well, today a storm is blowing up along side the Isthmus of Panama which has the potential for developing into a named system. The chances are very slim that this will turn into anything.

I’d love to sit and chat with you more but I have to shovel the snow out of the driveway …

NASA mystery press conference: Did they find ET?

NASA has slyly, or inadvertantly, let out a handful of clues that a planned news conference will reveal details of an important new finding regarding life on other planets. There have been a number of moments in the history of astrobiology where an important find has gotten us all very excited, including the discovery of isotopic profiles on a Mars rock (a meteorite) indicating a biological pathway, parallel findings on Mars, various discoveries related to water on Mars, and analysis of places like Europa and Titan, and so on. The word on the street is that this is going to be one such moment.

The press conference is scheduled for 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2. Speculation based on who will be present at the press conference has suggested that this is a about Mars, or Titan, or Photosynthesis, or something.

Specifically, NASA has said that they will discuss: “an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.” To me, that could mean that something has been found on another planet or moon that is or was alive, an actual finding out there, or it could mean a new technique or model (the finding) that will unfold as a project (a mission).

King Tut’s Tomb Discovered!!!

A frail elderly woman would have a hard time walking a few blocks, from her apartment to the subway, then from the subway to the MET, with winds gusting to near hurricane strength. So, the patron of the arts and of archaeology, who happened to be a cousin of my first wife, called around to find a worthy pair to use her tickets to the private opening (for major patrons) of The Treasures of Tutankhamun, the exhibit of King Tut’s tomb. The public opening at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City would be several days later. When it was found that the two only archaeologists in the extended family were in town, they (we) were located and given the tickets. And so it was that I was to be one of the very few people to take in the art and artifacts of the most famous Egyptian tomb, which housed one of the least famous Egyptian rulers, without the crowds and long lines, even tough those in attendance were rather overdressed.
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