Archive for the Hysteria Category

York, PA ice mystery begins to unfold

Posted in Evidence!, Fact Checking, Hysteria, Mysterious origins, Nature gone amok, The Unexplained with tags , , on October 22, 2008 by Eric S.

“Ice?” I hear old timers, raised in the days before global warming kicked into high gear, “Falling from the sky, you say? T’aint news. That’s what we old timers used to call snow.” Yeah, I threw in that “T’aint” bit because it sounded vaguely like the guy from the old Pepper Ridge Farms cookie commercials. Alas, it’s not the composition that makes this story a story in the news reporting sense of the word, so much as the girth of the invading particle and it’s mysterious origins:


(external video link)

Comet? Hailstone? So called ‘blue ice’? Sure, any of those *could* be the explanation. But come on, folks. How many comets, hailstones and hunks of frozen airline waste merit not only a full 2:10 news story, but demand the attention of a 4-person, multidisciplinary team of scientists including an earth scientist (e.g., code for ‘guy who knows how hunks of rock in outer space (not necessarily just Earth) are put together) and three (3!) biologists?? I’m not prone to alarmism, but this reeks of cover up. If the next thing you hear about this is reported by Tom Biscardi, I suggest you make sure all the supplies in your End of the World shelter are fresh.

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Video of high-speed chupacabra pursuit leaves sheriff baffled

Posted in Hysteria, Sighting!, The Unexplained, True Story with tags , , , on August 12, 2008 by Eric S.

First, special thanks to field correspondent David for tracking down this video of Dewitt (TX) County lawman Brandon Riedel’s pursuit of what may be a chupacabra:

Second, a special commendation to Corporal Riedel and partner for having the presence of mind to do what seems to have escaped all but the fewest of witness of strange and unusual occurances, and remembering to turn on the camera. Yes, yes, everyone thinks they’re remember to do it if it ever happens to them, but it takes a special presence of mind to remember mundane things like removing lens caps and pushing power buttons when you’re face to face with a mythical beastie, extraterestrial being or, say, killer robot. Koods to you, Corporal.

And third, jeers to CNN for being unable to resist using the word “baffled” in describing the reaction of a rural Texas sheriff to this incident. Sure, I appreciate the compulsion. A small, podunkesque town on the Texas/Mexico border? A C-list X-files premise? An authority figure on top enough of his jurisdiction’s law enforcement needs that he can probably spend a good amount of time with his boots on his desk (which, in the video, is suspiciously clear of heel marks) spinning yarns about the old days when things weren’t quite so peachy? Honestly, I’d have a tough time not takinga few Dukes of Hazzard jabs at him myself. But you, CNN? Come on… that’s the sort of crap we expect from Fox News.

Substitute teacher blacklisted… for wizardry!

Posted in Bizzare Behavior, Hysteria, Plots, The Man with tags , on May 7, 2008 by Eric S.

In defense of the supervisor, Mr. Piculas should be glad they didn’t burn him, as is the long standing custom among witchcraft-fearing inbreds. Things may have turned out very differently had he tried to make a student’s nose disappear.

Public art display causes panic in Shaghai

Posted in Hysteria, The Man with tags , , , , on April 9, 2008 by Eric S.

The Olympics fast approaching, the moral character of the Chinese at large has come under a lot of scrutiny of late. On one side of the debate: the event should be about the athletes, not the politics of the host country; on the other: it’s our moral imperative to boycott everything the person with the loudest-yet-most-righteous voice in the room can shame us into boycotting. Such debates all too often work their way around to the sorts of questions that, in 1984, led Sting to question if the Russians love their children. As it seems we’re likely going to see some manner of Artists United Against Something fundraiser between now and the lighting of the torch in Beijing in four months, it’s refreshing to see a story like this, courtesy of Ananova:

According to the report,

But passers-by mistook them for real people perilously clinging to the buildings, reports News Morning Post.

One grandmother reportedly required hospital treatment after the shock led to a heart attack.

Police say they received several calls about reports of people hanging from buildings and looking like they were preparing to jump.

Everything seems to be in order here, right? While the article is silent on what happened to Liu Jin, the perpetrator of this stunt, the story has all the elements of a properly executed human interest story as visualized by Currier & Ives. Lifelike naked people hanging from the ledges of buildings. Calls to police. Heart attacks by the elderly. An orderly response by trained security professionals. Not only a textbook example of how to respond to public art stunts, but a ringing endorsement that the Chinese are just regular folk who probably do indeed love their children.

Segueing into a separate rant, this story reminded me of a similar event in Boston not too long ago, during which a number of Lite-Brites hung around the city caused a panic not seen since Orson Welles reported Martians landing in New Jersey in 1938.

In the case of Hysteria vs. Aqua Teen Hunger Force, the response went something like this: sighting, panic, media alert, further panic, investigation/revelation of the facts, outrage, arrests, flippant response by perpetrators, further outrage, lawsuit, passage of new law making it illegal to “place a hoax device that results in panic.” I’m just waiting for the next case where the prosecution is tasked with defining what constitutes a ‘hoax device’.

I don’t bring this story up to embarrass Boston, but as an example of cultural solidarity. It’s really just the details that differ. In China, they see people hanging from buildings, call the police, and go into cardiac arrest for fear that some poor, naked stranger might be in peril. In America, we panic, call the police, and take legal action when it turns out we completely over reacted in the first place, in the hope that making people take their shoes off in airports will keep them from wanting to blow things up. They like to panic, we like to panic.

As a control group, I point to the Brits. When notorious street artist, Banksy, painted this little doozy across the street from a children’s hospital public outcry was quite different:

Critiquing the artist’s attention to detail. Where’s the panic? Where’s the outrage? Inhuman, those Brits.