Ramp worker dents plane, causes emergency landing

A foot-long hole in the fuselage of an Alaska Airlines jet caused the plane to lose cabin pressure, forcing the crew to make an emergency descent from 26,000 feet and return to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, authorities said Tuesday.

“There was a bang and the oxygen masks fell down… and I knew at that point that something was wrong,’ [passenger Damon] Zwicker said.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were investigating, along with the airline and the Port of Seattle.

A ramp worker has acknowledged he failed to immediately report striking the plane at the gate Monday with a baggage cart or baggage-belt machine, NTSB spokesman Jim Struhsaker said.

The worker told the agency that although the vehicle touched the plane, he was not aware he had dented it, Struhsaker said.

The bump created a crease in the plane’s aluminum skin, which opened up into a 12- by 6-inch gash as the plane came under increased pressure at 26,000 feet, Struhsaker said.

Alaska Flight 536 left the airport for Burbank just before 4 p.m. Monday. The flight crew reported a loss of cabin pressure about 20 minutes later, Boren said. Oxygen masks deployed for passengers and the plane made a rapid descent, landing at Sea-Tac just before 5 p.m., she said. — KOMO

The unnamed ramp worker is today’s stupid person of the day for causing fear, panic, an emergency landing, and repairs (and subsequently, passenger delays) all because he failed to do his job.

Man gets 2 year old drunk while mother is giving birth

Juan Reyes, 37, of Patchogue, N.Y., was arrested and charged with child endangerment Tuesday after Suffolk County sheriff’s deputies investigating a family court case went to his home and found him passed out on the floor and a two year old boy stumbling around drunk.

A three year old also in the house at the time was apparently sober.

They managed to rouse Reyes, who was the only adult at home with the two toddlers, ages 2 and 3, according to the sheriff’s office. The deputies said Reyes appeared extremely intoxicated.

The deputies also noticed the 2-year-old was having difficulty standing, had bloodshot eyes, smelled of alcohol and was lethargic.

The toddler was taken to the hospital, where tests revealed he was legally intoxicated, with a blood-alcohol content of 0.094 percent, the sheriff’s office said. In New York, a driver is considered drunk with an alcohol content of 0.08 percent or greater.

The second child was taken into the custody of Child Protective Services.

At the time, the children’s parents were at a hospital, where the mother was giving birth. — Associated Press

This is not the man you want babysitting your children, even if as in this case he lives with you. Juan Reyes, who is being held on $5,000 bond, becomes today’s Stupid Person of the Day. He will appear in court January 3.

Florida’s dumbest of 2005

Each year the St. Petersburg Times scours the news archives to find the dumbest, craziest news stories of 2005, and they got some real doozies this year.

For the past 12 months, we scoured newspapers, magazines and the Internet for all the futile, inane and moronic news stories in Florida. And as usual, we came away overloaded.

Here’s the best of the best. Keep in mind that it’s people like these who make Florida what it is.

Scary thought, isn’t it? — St. Petersburg Times

Go read them all and laugh your ass off.

Satan arrested for indecent exposure

Today’s Stupid Person of the Day is Satan.

That is, Roy Lee Henson, whom police found walking around naked and screaming in Eustis, Fla., on Monday night.

When deputies arrived, they found Roy Lee Henson walking with his boxer shorts around his ankles and screaming wildly, according to the report.

Henson then lunged at a sheriff’s deputy, the report said.

Backup officers arrived and took Henson into custody as the man screamed he was Satan. . . .

He faces charges of aggravated assault on a officer, resisting arrest with violence, exposure of sexual organs and disorderly conduct. — Local 6 News

There’s a difference between thinking you’re Satan and really being Satan. Kids, don’t impersonate Satan. Either one of them. Trust me on this.

Woman swallows cell phone whole

In one episode of The Simpsons, Homer swallows a cell phone, and then has conversations on it while it’s in his stomach.

A Blue Springs, Mo., woman apparently tried to repeat the stunt, and it didn’t quite work out so well.

Police said they received a call at 4:52 a.m. from a Blue Springs man who said his girlfriend was having trouble breathing.

When they arrived at the house, they found the 24-year-old woman had a cell phone lodged in her throat.

“He wanted the phone, and she wouldn’t give it to him, so she attempted to swallow it,’ Detective Sgt. Steve Decker of the Blue Springs Police Department said. “She just put the entire phone in her mouth so he couldn’t get it.’

Police said an ambulance transported the woman to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Blue Springs. A hospital spokeswoman said she couldn’t give details about the woman’s health because police have not released her identity. — Associated Press

Police said they didn’t know if the phone was set to vibrate or not.

The woman, as yet unnamed, is today’s Stupid Person of the Day.

How the possum stole Christmas

In Englewood, Pa., the O’Connor family picked up a beautiful 8 foot (2.4m) Douglas fir for the family’s Christmas tree. The tree had already been cut and bundled and was just waiting for a loving family to take it home.

So they did. And they decorated their tree, stringing it with sparkling lights and ornaments and even a star at the top.

And very early Tuesday morning, it happened.

Mary Kathleen O’Connor, 16, doing some studying for school about 6 a.m. Tuesday, said she was the first to be startled by an apparent Christmas tree stowaway.

“I’m looking at the tree and the angel just pops off,’ she said. “And a second later, this head just popped up. The eyes were, like, glowing. I was thinking, ‘Oh my God!’ And I screamed.’

Other family members came running. “We looked at it and I thought it might have been a fake,’ said her father, Michael O’Connor, a Frackville attorney. “But then it moved its head. And I thought ‘Holy Jeez. We’re in trouble.” — Associated Press

Now if that were the end of the story, you wouldn’t be reading about it here. As it turns out, not only do the O’Connor family not know that the possum, which is native to their area, is quite harmless, they apparently had trouble recognizing one when it was staring them in the face.

So Dad was so confused, he didn’t know what to do! He called the police.

But while he was doing that, mom Patricia picked up the entire tree — stand and lights and all — and threw it outside into the front yard!

A game commissioner came up and took the possum a few miles away and released it.

And that is how a possum stole Christmas from the O’Connor family and helped Michael and Patricia O’Connor take their rightful place as Stupid People of the Day.

Child pornographer fooled by e-mail turns himself in

Police charged a man in Germany who had child pornography on his computer after he turned himself in. The man had just received an e-mail apparently from the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) which said he was “under investigation.’

The e-mail was fake.

“It just goes to show that computer worms aren’t always destructive,’ said a spokesman for police in the western city of Paderborn. “Here it helped us to uncover a crime which would otherwise probably have gone undetected.’

The 20-year-old was caught out by a version of the “Sober’ worm, a prolific Internet virus which can invade computers and then send out messages from a host of fabricated addresses. — Reuters

This particular e-mail worm presents a customized message for several different countries, including the U.S. The FBI issued a warning regarding the e-mail, for instance. Ironically, so did the BKA. “These E-mails are not from the BKA,’ the notice reads. It directs visitors to more information from the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI).

The man, who was unnamed in news reports due to legal considerations, has become today’s Stupid Person of the Day. (Thanks)

Car thieves take pictures of selves with stolen car

Two car thieves in Redlands, Calif., stole a 2001 Mustang and took pictures of each other with a disposable camera they found inside. When they abandoned the car, they left the camera, along with fingerprints and other evidence, for the police to find.

And Redlands police were ever-so-grateful to 28-year-old Albert Engelsman of Redlands and 22-year-old Matthew Montanez of Rialto, who pretty much did all the legwork for investigators who recovered the 2001 Ford Mustang the men are suspected of stealing. . . .

“These are not the brightest people,’ said Carl Baker, public-information officer with the Police Department. “I think, in general, what I find is that crooks, as a class of people, are not the brightest. But every once in a while you run into some that make others look like Einstein.’

The Mustang’s owner had reported the car stolen on Oct. 30. It was found on Kenwood Drive in Redlands on Nov. 2. As detectives searched through the car, they came upon the camera and took it out to be developed, Baker said.

And there, along with a few photos obviously taken by the car’s owner, they found the clear mugs of their suspects, Baker said. Pictures and fingerprints led them right to Engelsman’s doorstep. — San Bernardino Sun

These two definitely qualify for, and share, today’s Stupid Person of the Day award.

Columbus mayor’s wife sentenced for drunk driving

Frankie Coleman, wife to Columbus, Ohio, mayor Michael Coleman, pleaded guilty to drunk driving and was sentenced Wednesday to three days in jail and a six month driver’s license suspension.

Columbus is the capital of Ohio.

Dash-cam video captured Columbus’s first lady having difficulty walking a straight line after apparently slamming her car into a parked truck.

Mayor Michael Coleman made the trip to the Bexley police headquarters, coming to the rescue of his wife after she failed a breathalyzer test.

At earlier hearings her attorneys challenged the legality of that test claiming the officer’s certification had expired. Ultimately that challenge failed, setting the stage for Wednesday’s formal sentencing.

At an earlier hearing, she plead guilty to driving while impaired and failing to control her car. — Ohio News Now

The incident has pretty much torpedoed any chance Coleman had of running for governor, and for that his wife, Frankie, is today’s Stupid Person of the Day.

New study: 75% of college graduates are stupid

A study (PDF) released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Education shows that only 25% of college graduates were “proficiently literate,’ that is, “using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.’

The results show a dramatic decline from 1992, the last year surveyed prior to this study.

“This seems like another piece of hard evidence, a fairly clear indication, that the ‘value added’ that higher education gave to students didn’t improve, and maybe declined, over this period,’ said Charles Miller, the former University of Texas regent who is heading the U.S. education secretary’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education. “You have the possibility of people going through schools, getting a piece of paper for sitting in class a certain amount, and we don’t know whether they’re getting what they need. This is a fair sign that there are some problems here.’

The report, which extrapolates its findings from a survey of 19,000 Americans aged 16 and up, aims to measure what the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, Mark Schneider, called “reading for purpose’ — how well citizens can process information to do what’s necessary to work and live (sample questions are available here).

It assesses three types of literacy: “prose literacy,’ which is the ability to comprehend continuous texts, like newspaper articles and the brochure that comes with a new microwave; “document literacy,’ the ability to understand and use documents to perform tasks, like reading a map or prescription labels; and “quantitative literacy,’ which are the skills needed to do things like balancing a checkbook or calculating the interest on a loan from an advertisement.

Based on their scores, participants in the survey were deemed to have “basic,’ “intermediate’ or “proficient’ literacy. (Whitehurst noted that a National Research Council committee that recommended the literacy levels initially called the highest level “advanced,’ but that department officials ultimately concluded that the skills required for that category — comparing viewpoints in two editorials, for instance, or calculating the cost per ounce of different grocery items — weren’t really all that advanced.) — Inside Higher Ed

A university degree was a rarity in the United States as recently as the 1940s — only 10 percent of Americans had even gone to college and 75 percent hadn’t even finished high school. And those lucky or privileged enough to attend university actually left school with real knowledge and skills.

Today, nearly a quarter of Americans have a university degree by the time they’re 25, and these college-educated dummies are confused by nearly everything they read. — Sploid

I’ve been saying for a long time that the quality of American education is in decline. We don’t need more studies to tell us there’s a problem. We need to begin addressing the problem. And the problem is the Department of Education itself. Since its creation the country has enacted laws and regulations which have chipped away at the quality of American education until by now we have three-fourths of college graduates unable to read properly.