You Got To Be Shitting Me Entry #92
December 16, 2013
by CHRIS INGALLS / KING 5 News

The Washington State Patrol is investigating a serious mishap that occurred Oct. 25th at its fire training academy in North Bend.

During a training exercise, firefighters mistakenly pumped jet fuel instead of water onto a flaming mock-up of an airplane crash.

KING 5 obtained video that shows an enormous fireball erupted when the fuel hit the flames at the training site.

“When the firefighters put water on a fire that had been deliberately developed for training the fire got bigger instead of smaller,” said Bob Calkins of the State Patrol, which is investigating the incident.

Calkins said investigators believe that the academy’s oil/water separator – which recycles the water used for fire training exercises – did not correctly filter the jet fuel used for the exercise from the reclaimed water.

So crews filled their tanks with water tainted with jet fuel -– a combustible combination.

Calkins said an expert hired by WSP is investigating whether the 1990’s oil/water separator malfunctioned or whether academy employees did not operate it correctly.

Two firefighters suffered minor burns.

You Got To Be Shitting Me Entry #91

December 5, 2013

By Joe Veix for Death and Taxes

Steven M. Bellovin, a computer science professor at Columbia, uncovered a startling fact. The launch code for all U.S. Minuteman nuclear missiles for 20 years used the same code: 00000000. Bellovin discovered this after finding a 2004 paper by Dr. Bruce G. Blair, a former Air Force officer who manned Minuteman silos.

The codes — known as Permissive Action Links (PALs) — came to be following the 1963-1964 Cyprus crisis, when NATO countries Turkey and Greece wanted to nuke each other. The PALs were meant to give only the president of the United States the power to use such weapons. Apparently, this security feature was largely symbolic. For two decades, multiple presidents carried around a briefcase with the allegedly constantly changing codes, though it may as well have been filled with shredded newspaper.

The code itself wasn’t very secret, either. According to Karl Smallwood on Today I Found Out, Dr. Blair explained:

“Our launch checklist in fact instructed us, the firing crew, to double-check the locking panel in our underground launch bunker to ensure that no digits other than zero had been inadvertently dialed into the panel.”

All of this basically nullifies the plot to every military thriller film from the ’80s.

But it’s not like our government would ever accidentally nuke us, right? Oh, they already almost did that? Nevermind.

You Got To Be Shitting Me Entry #90

November 30, 2013

by Robert Z. Pearlman, collectSPACE.com

A replica of a NASA space shuttle on display in Houston was defaced Wednesday (Nov. 27), when vandals sprayed racial and political graffiti on the side of the full-size mockup. The offending markings were quickly covered over within hours of their being found.

“Unfortunately, someone vandalized our high-fidelity mock shuttle,” said Melanie Johnson, the director of education for Space Center Houston, the visitor center for NASA’s Johnson Space Center where the model is located. “They wrote some offensive words and political statements.”

The graffiti, which included the phrase, “Houston, we are the problem,” was limited to the side of the space shuttle that faced away from the center’s parking lot. A bus driver was among the first to spot the vandalism and reported it to authorities early Wednesday morning. [8 Space Shuttle Facts (Countdown)]

“To the person who did this — you really need to check yourself, because you’re making it bad for all other decent people in this town,” the driver told Houston CBS-affiliate KHOU.

By 2 p.m. CST (2000 GMT) Wednesday, visitors to Space Center Houston were posing in front of the shuttle with no indication of the graffiti still visible.

“We immediately reacted and responded to it by covering up the derogatory terms, and then the secondary words as well,” Johnson told collectSPACE.com. “Now the shuttle’s back, it’s been painted over.”

Space Center Houston officials alerted the Harris Country Constable’s Office and filed a police report.

The 123-foot-long (37 meters) space shuttle replica, which in October was christened “Independence” as the result of a statewide naming contest, arrived in 2012 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, where it had been on display for 18 years.

Though currently exhibited on the ground atop pedestals, Space Center Houston has announced plans to mount the Independence atop NASA’s historic Shuttle Carrier Aircraftas part of a new $12 million, six-story attraction scheduled to open in 2015. The modified Boeing 747 jumbo jet was used to ferry the orbiters across the country following their return from space.

The original Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, referred to by its tail number NASA905, was retired in 2012 after delivering the shuttles Discovery, Enterprise and Endeavour to Virginia, New York and California, respectively, for public display.

“We’re going to rise above this and keep moving forward,” Johnson remarked. “We are going to have the opportunity to teach hundreds of thousands of more people about the space shuttle.”

You Got To Be Shitting Me Entry #89

November 22, 2013

By Brian Anderson – Downtrend.com

If you don’t read the terms of service on the websites you visit, you’re not alone, but a recent incident might change your mind. A Utah woman got hit with a bill for $3,500 for failing to do so. KlearGear.com, an on-line retailer that sells nerdy gadgets, has a pretty rotten “non-disparagement” clause and is using it to collect money from Jen Palmer, who wrote a negative review of the site.

The story goes like this: Palmer’s husband ordered something for her on the website, but it never arrived. She was able to get a refund but her attempts to contact the company’s customer service were unsuccessful. Feeling her experience was bad, she wrote as much, leaving a negative review on Ripoffreport.com

She wrote in the review that: “There is absolutely no way to get in touch with a physical human being.” And accused KlearGear.com of having “horrible customer service practices.”

Three years later, Palmer received an e-mail from KlearGear demanding $3,500 for violating the company’s non-disparagement clause, which reads:

In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts KlearGear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.

Should you violate this clause, as determined by KlearGear.com in its sole discretion, you will be provided a seventy-two (72) hour opportunity to retract the content in question. If the content remains, in whole or in part, you will immediately be billed $3,500.00 USD for legal fees and court costs until such complete costs are determined in litigation. Should these charges remain unpaid for 30 calendar days from the billing date, your unpaid invoice will be forwarded to our third party collection firm and will be reported to consumer credit reporting agencies until paid.

The reason for this clause was an attempt to improve KlearGear’s “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Jen Palmer was terrified upon receiving the e-mail and tried to get Ripoffreport to take down her review, but the site refused. The Palmers did not pay the “fine” and, true to their word, KlearGear has passed it on to a collection agency. Now Jen and her husband have a black mark on their credit report and are having trouble getting a car loan.

You’re probably thinking: how is this even legal. It’s not, but that doesn’t matter. The damage to the Palmer’s credit has been done and it would cost them a hell of a lot of money to fight this thing. What this amounts to is extortion. KlearGear is not only stifling people’s freedom of speech, they are saying: pay us or we’ll ruin your credit rating.

KlearGear had to know this action was going to be viewed negatively and it appears the backlash is already affecting them. The interwebs are all abuzz about this and the company’s website is experiencing some “technical difficulties.” I think it’s just a sign of the times.

You Got To Be Shitting Me Entry #88

November 21, 2013

By Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News

An Amtrak train en route to New York City from Harrisburg made a wrong turn last week and got lost in the Philadelphia suburbs, officials say.

According to CBS’ Philadelphia affiliate, the train left Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, apparently missed a signal and accidentally wound up on tracks used by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.

The train, with 130 passengers on board, stopped at a train station in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., where local crews helped the crew return to Philadelphia. Passengers were put on a different train and arrived in New York several hours later.

Amtrak said it has launched an investigation into the Nov. 14 incident.

Steve Kulm, Amtrak’s media relations director, added that the train’s “crew has been held out of work until they can be fully debriefed and additional training can be conducted.”

You Got To Be Shitting Me Entry #87

November 15, 2013

By  JOSH HASKELL ABC News

A passenger fell out of small plane and plummeted into the water in Miami’s Biscayne Bay today, police said.

The plane was flying at 1,800 feet at the time.

Air traffic control received a “mayday” call around 1:30 p.m. ET when the Piper PA 46 was flying roughly eight miles southeast of Tamiami Executive Airport.

“Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! I have a door ajar and I’m heading toward Tamiami,” the pilot told air traffic control. “I have a door ajar and a passenger that fell down. I’m six miles from Tamiami.”

“You said you’ve got a passenger that fell out of your plane?” the air traffic controller asks the pilot.

“That’s correct, sir. He opened the backdoor and he just fell out the plane,” said the unidentified pilot.

The aircraft continued onto Tamiami Airport and landed.

Miami-Dade Police tell ABCNews.com that their homicide unit was dispatched to the airport Thursday afternoon to question the pilot. The only people aboard the plane had been the pilot and the passenger, police said.

Detectives are currently at the Tamiami Airport “talking to the pilot to see what transpired before the passenger fell from the plane.”

Divers with the Miami-Dade police department are searching the area where the man is believed to have fallen into the water. That area is between the Cape Florida Lighthouse on Key Biscayne and the seashore so some-where in that section of Biscayne Bay.

The Coast Guard station Miami Beach sent a search and rescue boat to search the waters and Miami-Dade County Air Rescue dispatched one of their helicopters as well. That helicopter has since been called off.

You Got To Be Shitting Me Entry #86

November 14, 2013

Liz Klimas | The Blaze

It’s similar in size to a radar gun — and it too is meant to hunt down offenders. This telescopic-shaped device in the hands of investigators isn’t held at eye level though, but at their noses.

nasal ranger

The “Nasal Ranger,” as it’s called, is being used by authorities in Denver to investigate odor complaints, including marijuana-related scents.

According to the Denver Post, Ben Siller, an investigator with the Denver Department of Environmental Health, uses the device to help track down odor law violators.

In a city where backyard marijuana smoking is now legal and state where pot stores and legal growing will be allowed by 2014, such devices might come in handy. But Siller said its unlikely pot will result in any official code violations.

In order to actually violate the law, the smell needs to be pretty strong. The Nasal Ranger would need to register the offensive smell as exceeding a 7-to-1 ratio.

The Nasal Ranger, made by St. Croix Sensory, is described as a device that can be used for “proactive monitoring ” or as an “enforcement tool”:

A Nasal Ranger Field Olfactometer creates a calibrated series of discrete dilutions by mixing the odorous ambient air with odor-free (carbon) filtered air. Field olfactometry defines each discrete dilution level as a “Dilution-to-Threshold,” D/T, ratio. The “Dilution-to-Threshold” ratio is a measure of the number of dilutions needed to make the odorous ambient air “non-detectable”.

Siller said smoking and growing pot won’t set off the alarm. Even if the herbal smell of marijuana smoking or growing doesn’t violate a law though, Siller told The Denver Post it’s a good practice to make an effort to reduce odors.

“If I was hosting a birthday party for 7-year-olds in my backyard and the neighbors’ marijuana smoke was drifting over the fence, I would be concerned,” Councilman Charlie Brown told The Post. “The best way to prevent that is to communicate with your neighbor. The truth is creating an ordinance to prevent it is very difficult, but the council is looking at a variety of options.”

The Post noted that several odor complaints within a specific time period could result in citations.

According to KMGH-TV, odor complaints related to marijuana more than doubled from seven to 16 between 2010 and 2012. The smell of pot accounts, on average, for one out of every eight complaints.

Gary Lasswell, the city’s manager of environmental operations, told KMGH they developed a best management guide for marijuana operators to mitigate certain effects, such as the smell associated with cultivating the drug.

When a complaint comes in, Siller is on the scene with the Nasal Ranger to evaluate if it would count as a violation or not.

According to the Post, there hasn’t been a legitimate violation since 1994.

Denver’s city council is evaluating odor laws further Tuesday.

“Odor can be subjective,” Council President Mary Beth Susman told the Post. “It’s hard to legislate odor. The strength that is required to register on the Nasal Ranger is something we need to look at. I also wonder if people will get used to the smell and the dislike of it now may change over time.”