Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"Great-Grandmother Jailed For Refusing To Sign Traffic Ticket"

The law's the law. Don't think you can skirt it just because it is uncomfortable.

From KSAT:

SAN ANTONIO -- Bonnie Sundquist always wears her seat belt when she rides in a car.

But when Sundquist and her daughter were on their way to a Target store on Thursday, a police officer pulled them over to give the 74-year-old great-grandmother a ticket because she was wearing the seat belt -- the wrong
way. ...

"I had it across my stomach and across my chest," Sundquist said in an interview with KSAT 12 News. Sundquist said she doesn't wear it on top of her shoulder because it "chokes" her.

Right. Whatever. Just sign the ticket, please.

Since Sundquist refused to sign the citation, the police officer handcuffed her and took her to jail.

I bet she wears her seat belt the correct way from now on.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

"Two-Year-Old Found Wandering Alone"

Children seem to have no fear when they are two years old.

From WOAI:

The toddler somehow managed to leave the family home, cross the street, and get to the school, officials said. A teacher's aide spotted the child and realized he was by himself. ...

The boy’s parents told officers it was a misunderstanding. Each thought the child was with the other, officers said.

I know the area around Elrod Elementary School (where the child ended up), and traffic there can be quite heavy at times. The kid -- and the parents -- got lucky.

Friday, May 26, 2006

"Music Man’s Killer Reopens Victim’s Store"

This takes stones:

The family of a murder victim is outraged after finding out the killer reopened the same music store run by the victim before he was murdered.

Smith Music Store was founded in 1968 by a man named Heron Smith. Smith was murdered in 1981. Smith’s own stepson, Ned Sweat, was convicted for the crime.

When asked why he reopened a store originally owed [sic] by the man he murdered, Sweat told News 4 WOAI music is a big part of his life and his stepfather had intended for him to run the store. [emphasis added]

Perhaps they were his last words.

The victim's real son -- also named Heron Smith -- is understandably upset. His father's store is being run by the man who brutally murdered him, and, even though Sweat has paid his debt to society (10 years [!] in prison), it takes gumption for him to to go on record as saying this:
“I feel very proud. I think my father, my stepfather, the man that I killed, would be very proud of this. I really do.”

As I said, that takes some stones.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Junkyard dog out of a '66 Fury

Bob "Daddy-O" Wade has been asked to make a giant dog sculpture out of a 1966 Plymouth Fury. And his commission? Mechanical work on his old car.

From Scott Huddleston in the Express-News:

"We'll have public art on the South Side," said Jeff Morehouse, a lawyer and friend of Wade's who bought the property several months ago. "This will be our version of the boots."

In exchange, the salvage yard will refurbish Wade's broken down '57 Chevy.

The boots referenced in the above quote are the 40-foot boots in front of North Star Mall, which Wade apparently made many years ago. They have become somewhat symbolic of San Antonio since then.

Wade is also responsible for such pieces as shot-up cars, a Volkswagen football helmet, and tall signs for clubs and restaurants. His thoughts on his work -- especially the junkyard dog -- are pleasingly succinct:

In 1987, one of Wade's shot-up, rusted-out cars sat in front of the San Antonio Museum of Art. It was moved to the Blue Star Arts Complex, where passers-by bashed it, then finally it was crushed into a cube.

"I've had my art turned into junk. Now, I'm turning junk into art," Wade said.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Chili Queens return

Before the health department shut them down in the 1930s, the Chili Queens haunted the downtown San Antonio nights with their spicy fare. This weekend -- and on every Memorial Day weekend -- they return to Market Square.

From Wikipedia:
They would appear at dusk, building charcoal or wood fires to reheat cauldrons of pre-cooked chili, selling it by the bowl to passers-by. The aroma was a potent sales pitch, aided by Mariachi street musicians, who joined in to serenade the eaters.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

"2 People Kill Themselves In Front Of Police"

What's odd is these seemingly unrelated events occurred in the same evening.

SAN ANTONIO -- Two people shot and killed themselves in the crowded downtown streets on Friday night, KSAT 12 News reported.

Both shootings happened in the presence of San Antonio police officers. ...

"We don't see this every day, but when somebody has something they are planning on doing, there is pretty much ... [sic] nothing that anybody can do to stop it," said SAPD spokesperson Joe Rios.

As if they were putting on a show. Strange.

Friday, May 19, 2006

"Newborn Returned After Being Kidnapped"

Keep an eye on your newborns, especially with distant cousins around.

Law enforcement authorities said that Joanne Cuellar Martinez left with Isabella Lilly Schwartz from the baby's mother's home in Lytle about 4:45 p.m. without the mother's consent. Martinez is a distant cousin of the baby.

When Martinez was contacted by phone, she returned to the home, but without the baby, law enforcement authorities said.

A Texas Ranger, Lytle police and constables questioned Martinez for several hours until she eventually gave in and led authorities to the baby in Pearsall, law enforcement authorities said. ...

Law enforcement authorities said Martinez was apologetic about the incident.

I certainly hope she was.

Monday, May 15, 2006

"Police: Brothers Apparently Committed Suicide At Same Bridge"

In five months, two brothers both committed suicide, in the same manner and in the same place.

SAN ANTONIO -- A man found dead at the bottom of an overpass on the city's northwest side on Saturday is the brother of another man who was also found dead at the same location in January, police said.

According to police, Mario Cacho, 42, was found on Saturday. Carlos Cacho, 40, was found dead at the same place on Jan. 20.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Most un-jawdropping headline of the day

"Smoke Detector Alerts Family To Fire"

And, it's equally drab sub-hed: "No Injuries Reported"


Friday, May 12, 2006

Looking for temporary parents

What do you do when you are at the end of your rope and can't take care of the kids?

This woman posted them on the Internet.

A mother, living in San Antonio, wants someone else to take care of her kids and to find temporary parents for them; she put a request on the internet.

The woman, “Jennifer”, is a Hurricane Katrina evacuee, who says she’s running out of options. “Jennifer” tells News 4 WOAI she put an ad an [sic] internet site hoping to find someone who could take care of her children until she gets back on her feet.

Evidently, she didn't receive the whole parents' manual. Hers appears to be missing the "Don't give your children to strangers" appendix.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Car crashes into house

This is strange.

Police are now searching for a driver who crashed his SUV into a northwest side home early Tuesday. ...

Police say the SUV destroyed a section of the home's wall, slammed into an air conditioning unit, and shattered a sliding door.

No one inside the house was injured. The driver ran off on foot.

It seems to happen quite a bit in this town.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Suing for apes

If this is successful, what's next?

SAN ANTONIO -- An animal rights group has filed a lawsuit on behalf of seven chimpanzees and two monkeys, claiming the primates are not properly cared for at a Leon Springs sanctuary.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants a state district judge in Bexar County to appoint a guardian to oversee more than $235,000 provided for the animals' care at Primarily Primates.

The animals were transferred from their former home at Ohio State University in March to the 75-acre sanctuary about 15 miles north of San Antonio. The lawsuit filed last week follows the deaths of two other chimpanzees and the disappearance of a monkey that escaped its enclosure. [emphasis added]

But wait, I thought guardians were for dependent children. Oh, yeah -- this is PETA.

Wallace Swett, founder and president of the 28-year-old sanctuary in Leon Springs, said the nonprofit facility has done nothing wrong.

He said the lawsuit is part of a campaign by some animal rights groups to secure legal rights equivalent to humans for animals, particularly primates.

"It's not about the animals. The animals will be fine," Swett said. "They are definitely after the money."

He said PETA and some other animal rights groups are opposed to sanctuaries, which keep animals confined in enclosures while allowing them to live out their lives. [emphases added]

So, are we supposed to let them live their lives out in the wild, where they can be the victims of predation or starvation, or take them in like the guardians we are supposed to be? If so, where should we put them, if not in a primate sanctuary?

PETA doesn't seem to specify in this article. They just want "enrichment to improve their quality of life", whatever that may be.

UPDATE: Walter Olson at touches on this subject, with more on "litigious animal rightsers", here.

UPDATE II: The San Antonio Current also covers this subject, and they get the point of view of the woman who worked with the chimps for many years, Cognitive Primatologist Sally Boysen. An advocate for the apes, she originally did not want them to move to Texas.

In the end, Boysen tried to halt the move with a temporary restraining order, which held that OSU had not fulfilled its original MOU with Chimp Haven, and that the chimps were her intellectual property, but the judge did not uphold the TRO.

On the day the chimps were removed, Boysen chained herself to the university’s gate, surrounded by supporters. Many were weeping. She now equates losing Bobby and Kermit with losing two sons. “It’s not ‘as if’ I’ve lost two children,” she says, “I have lost two children.” [emphases added]

But what's interesting is that (in addition to the irony of her anthropomorphizing the chimps after claiming them to be her property) Boysen thinks the efforts of PETA on behalf of the apes will ultimately be disastrous.
Boysen has declined to contribute to PETA’s lawsuit. “That’s not how you get things done,” she said. “If the plaintiffs are the chimps, the judge is just going to throw it out. In the end, they are undermining our efforts to do the right thing. They want Primarily Primates to build a shelter for the chimps, but we don’t want them there. How does that help?”

Strange that a person who actually cares about the animals enough to refer to them as her children does not want the help of the most prominent of animal rights organizations. But, then again, we are odd primates.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

"Family Attacked With Urine"

This is indeed strange.

[Onan] Salazar tells News 4 WOAI he and his cousins were in the garage, watching television, when the suspects attacked them with bottles full of urine.

"I never had heard of urine being used as a weapon,” says Salazar. “But I guess they do now."

The victims say they never saw the suspects coming. They believe the suspects hopped a fence, came over the garage, and cut the wire that supplied power. Then the suspects kicked in the door and began their attack.

With human piss.

And, Salazar claims, after the police took the report, they returned and attacked again, getting away with building supplies only. And Salazar says he did not get a good look at them.

Something stinks here, and it's not just the garage. I wonder if those supplies were insured?

Inventing a slime gun

New Scientist's Invention blog reports on an invention being developed at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio: a riot slimer.
The institute has developed a super-slimy substance. When fired at an unruly mob it causes rioters to simply slip over.

That would be much cooler -- and less painful -- than a water cannon.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Jogging worse than flogging

It won't be long now before The Da Vinci Code hits theaters. You probably know that the movie -- based on the popular novel of the same name by Dan Brown -- has stirred a bit of controversy among Roman Catholics, and a big beef they have with Brown's book is the insistence that certain details about the Church are factual when they aren't.

One of the "factual" depictions is that of Opus Dei, a Catholic organization founded in 1928 as a way for members to strengthen their faith. It turns out that San Antonio has its own former member of Opus Dei, and he was willing to talk about the organization to WOAI-TV. That person is Archbishop José Gomez.

Gomez (who happens to be a CPA) heads up the Archdiocese of San Antonio. No small position. So, when he speaks out about Opus Dei, his characterization should carry more weight than Dan Brown's, at least among the faithful.

Which is why this is interesting:

But "The Da Vinci Code" spotlights practices of Opus Dei that might sound like fiction.

"It's just a way of controlling yourself better, and giving more importance to the spiritual than to the material," explains Gomez.

Some members use unusual "instruments" to practice daily self-discipline to remind them of their faith and sacrifice. "They call it the cilice and the discipline."

A cilice is a kind of chain worn around the thigh, for a couple hours a day. The discipline is a small whip. Both are used to inflict pain on yourself.

Gomez admits that he has used such instruments in the past, but that their use shouldn't cause others to fret. Now that he is archbishop, he says that he is too busy for such minor punishments, and he seems to find regular living to be much more brutal.
Gomez insists he doesn't use the instruments anymore. "Not anymore. I don't have time. For me, I have bigger things that are sacrifice for me. It's much more difficult to get up in the morning and go jogging for an hour, than to use that thing." [emphasis added]

Well, if that's not an excuse to not work out, I don't know what is. And you have the Archbishop's word on that.