Mason County News
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Weird News
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 • Posted May 18, 2011

Mark Stephenson is, by far, the most valuable person associated with MSNBC. For years Mark has been gathering news stories that don’t really fit into any particular category, and putting them together on his News Of The Weird website. And now you can friend him on Facebook and receive constant updates to brighten your day.For example, Mark recently posted a story about the world’s most useless machine, which was a big hit a couple of years ago when it first made its debut. It was essentially a box with a switch on top. When you flipped the switch on, a lid opened up and a small metal arm came out and turned the switch back off. That was it.Then a hacker named Danukeru decided to make the machine even more exciting, if you can imagine. The new version does the same thing, until you try to turn it on too many times. Then it goes nuts, and starts sliding around in all directions, finally spinning madly in a circle. Then the arm comes out, turns off the switch, and goes back in the box. Then the switch retreats into its hole, and you can’t get to it to turn the box back on.This is what seems to be passing for an invention these days.But some of Mark’s stories are even more interesting than the one about the world’s most useless machine. For example, Marks posted a story that was evidently written by Michael Rollins for the Washington Post, about a 27-year-old man named Travis Hood who apparantly has a severe dislike for Don Michael Corleone, the mob boss from the movie ‘Godfather.’ Travis was practicing his quick draw in his home, using a poster of Corleone on the wall to aim at.In his zeal, or fervor, or whatever Travis was experiencing, he accidentally went a little too far. Instead of just drawing and aiming at Corleone, he actually shot him. In the shoulder. Which is not necessarily an outstanding shot, but at least he hit the guy.Unfortunately Travis lived in an apartment complex, and he and Corleone were not alone. The bullet traveled through the wall into the next apartment and hit a 40-inch high definition television set.Travis was arrested on charges of ‘recklessly endangering,’ according to the story. I’m wondering if Michael meant ‘reckless endangerment,’ but I’d rather not call him to find out. I think we should just let it go at that.Travis was additionally charged with first degree criminal mischief and unlawful use of a weapon. I’m also wondering if those charges might get bumped up to first degree murder of a television set, or maybe involuntary set slaughter, depending on the fate of the TV once a repairman has a chance to look at it.Now, I shouldn’t be too hard on Travis, as this kind of thing can happen to just about anyone if they aren’t careful. Practice drawing and dry-firing is pretty much essential for anybody who plans to carry a gun for self defense, especially folks who live in cities, and can’t get out to a range whenever they want for practice. But then, dry-firing is difficult with a loaded gun, as it tends to turn into live firing.Then there was the story Mark posted from the Orange County Register, written by Doug Irving and Sean Emery, about the 57-year-old man in Yorba Linda, California, who was jogging on a trail on La Palma Avenue when he was shot twice. The wounds, one in his arm and one in his thigh, were both made by a small caliber weapon. This is one of the many reasons I don’t jog – it’s unsafe.This unidentified victim drove himself to a fire station and reported the shooting, but later admitted that he had made the story up. He had accidentally shot himself at home, and told the tale about being shot on the trail because, evidently, he was embarrassed that he had gotten the drop on himself. But then, who wouldn’t be?Now, there seems to be a fairly large lack of information about this incident. For one thing, Brea Police Sergeant Jim Griffin, the police spokesman for the area, claimed he didn’t know what the man was doing to shoot himself twice at once. That would seem to be one of the more relevant questions a reporter would ask about this case, so you’d think the cops would find out. But no.We don’t even know if the guy shot himself in the leg and enjoyed it so much he decided to shoot himself in the arm too, or if he only shot once and the bullet went through his arm and lodged in his leg, or what. I’m leaning toward the one shot theory, but you never know. The guy does live in California.Now, after reading about those two guys, it should be much easier to believe someone would buy a machine that does nothing but turn itself off . . .Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who has never, yet, shot himself. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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