Make Yourself Comfortable And Have Some Nice Things!
Pour yourself another cup of coffee, turn off the Sunday gab shows (we have someone to watch 'em for you!), and let's all take a break from the firehose of terrible news, shall we? We'll get back to all that soon enough. I'll do my best to round up the nice things for you, although I currently have a big purrbucket sprawled all over me getting in the way.
Can I call in catted today?
Good Guy With A Hug Disarms Kid With Gun
(Content warning: discussion of suicidal ideation and violence) The Twitters have been burning up with just-released video of former Oregon Ducks foot-the-ball star Keanon Lowe, who's now a coach and security officer at Parkrose High School in Portland. Back in May, Lowe was praised as a hero for disarming a suicidal teenager, Angel Granados-Diaz, who had come to school intending to kill himself (but not to be a mass shooter -- the shotgun he carried had only one shell in it, it turned out). In response to a public records request, authorities released school surveillance video Friday, showing the moments just after Lowe took the gun away in a classroom and hugged the distressed kid.
The video shows Lowe (in the light shirt and baseball cap) holding the gun and handing it off to another teacher, while hugging Granados-Diaz, who after a moment hugs him back:
In a press conference shortly after the event, Lowe said,
After I'm in the classroom for 20 seconds, the door opens and I'm within arm's length of the door, about three feet away from the door, and there's a kid with a gun, a shotgun, as soon as that door opens. Pretty crazy situation, you know. In a fraction of a second, I analyzed everything really fast. I saw the look in his face, looked at his eyes, looked at the gun, realized it was a real gun and then my instincts just took over. I lunged for the gun, put two hands on the gun, and he had his two hands on the gun, and the students are running out of the classroom and screaming. I'm just making sure the barrel of the gun [wasn't aimed at anyone].
KOIN-TV reported that after he'd disarmed the 19-year-old, Lowe let the kid know he matters:
"I felt compassion for the kid, to be honest," Lowe said. "I had a real-life conversation. Obviously, he broke down and I just wanted to let him know that I was there for him. I told him I was there to save him — I was there for a reason and that this is a life worth living."
The Washington Post has more on the story:
Granados-Diaz had been suicidal for months leading up to the encounter, according to the Multnomah County district attorney. The high school senior was lonely after breaking up with his girlfriend, Oregon Live reported, citing friends and classmates.
He planned to commit suicide at school so that his mother would not discover his body, his defense attorney, Adam Thayne, told a judge last week, according to Oregon Live. He went to Parkrose on May 17 with a shotgun holding just one round [...]
School officials had already gotten wind of Granados-Diaz's troubled state of mind, according to the district attorney. A student had told the administration of Granados-Diaz's "suicidal statements;" Lowe set out May 17 to bring the teenager into the school office
Jesus, that's just the most heartbreaking depressed-adolescent thinking in the world: I'll shoot myself at school so my mom won't find my body.
The district attorney said Granados-Diaz had tried to shoot himself with the shotgun, but it didn't go off; then Lowe grabbed the gun away from him.
"It was emotional for him, it was emotional for me," he said, according to local news station KATU. "In that time, I felt compassion for him. A lot of times, especially when you're young, you don't realize what you're doing until it's over."
Lauded as a hero, Lowe tweeted that he took his jobs at Parkrose "to guide and coach young people whose shoes [he] had once been in."
And that's how heroes happen.
Granados-Diaz pleaded guilty to "unlawful possession of a loaded firearm in public" and was sentenced to 36 months of probation, which will include mental health and substance abuse counseling.
All in all, a far better outcome than the insistence that we need to arm teachers to blow away the bad guys.
And let's just take a moment to remind anyone here who needs to see it: if you're struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the national hotline, 1-800-273-8255. You can also text "CONNECT" to 741741 for free help.
Some Cool Reads For You!
We've been so busy with Book Club lately (see below for our next one, also too!) that we've fallen behind on bringing you links to fun things to read. So here you go!
Numero Uno: Rolling Stone brings us a genuine oddity in Today's Online World: a mystery song that nobody seems to be able to identify! It's a catchy little New Wave song from a German radio broadcast sometime in 1984, recorded off the air but missing any identifying DJ talk. Go read the whole story for the deets, and here's the song:
THE MOST MYSTERIOUS SONG ON THE INTERNET - FULL VERSION FOUND! youtu.be
Also a YouTube discussion of the mystery, too:
The Most Mysterious Song on the Internet - Tales From the Internet youtu.be
Numero Two-o: The New Yorker looked at the development of predictive text -- artificial intelligence programs that anticipate, based on millions of emails or other datasets, how you're likely to finish a sentence. Along the way, we get healthy doses of neurolinguistics and discussions of how algorithms "learn" to produce text that almost seems human. New Yorker writers' jobs are probably safe for now, but... (finish that yourself, you robots.) Neat!
Numero Trois: RealClear Science summarizes a recent study that found painting zebra stripes on cattle reduced their likelihood of being plagued by biting flies.
the researchers painted six Japanese Black cows with black-and-white stripes, which took just five minutes per cow. They then observed the cows for three days, taking high-resolution images of them at regular intervals to count the insects on the animals and also recording any fly-repelling behaviors like leg stamping, tail flicking, and skin twitching. The same cows were also observed for three days with painted-on black stripes (to see if it was the paint chemicals, not the coloring, that repelled flies) and and with no stripes at all.
Spoiler alert: It worked!
Now we just need to wait for some silly creationist to insist this somehow disproves evolution, since cows haven't evolved the same coloration as zebras. And of course, for a zebra-striped cow to make a break for freedom.
Remember, Next Week It's Book Club Again!
For next week, we're diving in to The Testaments, Margaret Atwood's new sequel to 1986's The Handmaid's Tale. I'm a bit over halfway through the book and its Audible audiobook, and so far, I'd agree (spoiler-free) with the readers who've said the new book, set fifteen years after the events of Handmaid, is less unremittingly dark than the first one.
OK, and now a microspoiler, which by now you already have probably heard about; as Atwood said in this nfty NPR interview, the theme this time around is how a fascist regime falls.
This time around, the novel is written in the voices of three different characters, one of whom is Aunt Lydia, the tyrannical head of the Handmaid training school in the first book. Again, no spoilers about plot points, but Atwood has really done an outstanding job of fleshing out what had been a somewhat two-dimensional minor character in the first book. And that's all I'll say for the moment! Get it with a nice kickback to Yr Wonkette with this linky, borrow it from the libarry, or maybe you can even find a used copy by now (the wonklinky also directs to used copies).
For next week, October 27, we'll be reading The Testaments through Part XV, "Cat and Fox." We'll finish it for November 3. And yes, you're allowed to read ahead if you want, and as always, you don't have to have read the assigned reading to participate in the discussion! No book club anywhere has ever had a meeting where everyone read the book, and the themes are pretty damn universal to both dystopian fiction and The Current Situation. Maybe next week I'll finally make space to tell my story about ruining The Giver for a bunch of 8th-graders.
Let's Just Post A Bunch Of Cute Shit From Twitter
That's about the shape of things. Here, have a bearded collie:
You know the silly ska-rock-comedy band, The Aquabats? This critter wants to be their mascot:
From BoingBoing, a lovely video on how colored pencils grow in their natural habitat: A pencil factory:
How we make pencils youtu.be
(Shut up, category purists, we found it on Twitter. And colored pencils are cute! (Fine, you're right, it's a category breaker, so what?)
BABY KITTY! BABY KITTY!
Sorry, this is not how a data dog works.
This is, however, how a data cat works.
Adam Serwer isn't just one of the smartest damn political writers in America today (though not a Nice Thing, his 2018 piece on the Roberts Court as a throwback to the horrible post-Reconstruction era is mandatory reading). He also has two very popular internet cats:
He is also a new dad, and constitutionally entitled to make all the dad jokes he wants:
And yes, the babby and the keedies have met now:
Mr. Serwer is also coming to understand how things work now:
Hey, remember the Tucson lady with a roadrunner pal?
Texas-based squid biologist Sarah McAnulty recently met a roadrunner tour guide in Big Bend National Park!
We really like Roadrunner Friend Twitter, is what we're saying. Best dinosaurs ever!
(click the second tweet for the full photo, it's lovely.)
This is just wonderfully goofy:
And please read this entire lovely sweet thread by star-struck actor/comic Diedrich Bader, who met Bob Newhart.
Remember to read the first half of The Testaments for Book Club next week, OK you filthy fuckaducks?
Have a terrific Sunday, and stay toasty and enjoy your open thread!
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.