The other day, one of my son’s friends went missing.
He turned up okay that evening, insisting he’d told his mother where he was going to be and that he hadn’t realized his cell phone’s battery was dead, but by then the police had been called in and a network of parents was phoning the boy’s friends and even friends of friends, hoping to get some idea of where he was or at least who’d seen him last and when.
And here’s where we discovered what might be the first new child safety tip of the new century: In situations like this, the directory published by the school giving the children’s home phone numbers is worthless – because most afternoons, nobody will be home.
What parents really need is a list of their children’s friends’ cell phone numbers.
Still on the subject of cell phone safety tips, this one originating in England and catching on in Canada and the United States: Add an entry named ICE to your cell phone’s contact list, with the phone number of a parent, spouse or next-of-kin, so paramedics or anybody else who needs it will know whom to call “In Case of Emergency.” If more than one person needs to be notified, you can use ICE1, ICE2, etc.
Once enough people adopt this idea, it will become routine for emergency personnel to immediately look for the ICE listing.
Last week, because clearly we’re always in need of more information about John Mark Karr, we got to read news reports about how, according to Sonoma County Sheriff\’s Department documents, Karr told a friend back in 2001 about his interest in young girls and his beliefs that it’s natural for young girls to experience sexual relations and for older men to fall in love with them.
As unsettling as this is, I think we all already understood that Karr is a pedophile: the hundreds of images in his computers, the child pornography charges he left the country to avoid, his continued belief that he had a relationship with 6-year-old murder victim JonBenét Ramsey…
Karr is a bone the media simply won’t let go of: Last month, well after the man’s 15 minutes of fame should have expired, he was interviewed by Larry King on CNN, Greta Van Susteren on Fox News, and pop psychologist Keith Ablow on NBC. Then Larry King interviewed Dr. Ablow about Dr. Ablow’s thoughts about Karr.
And you know there’s going to be a book written by (or “written by”) this delusional pedophile whose celebrity is based on the public’s fleeting belief that he was involved in JonBenét Ramsey’s death.
Up until last week, Muradif Hasanbegovic was serving a seven-year robbery sentence in an Austrian prison, with a job in a prison workshop where he packaged and shipped out parts for lamp-posts… until he packaged himself up and, with the help of fellow prisoners who loaded him onto the truck, shipped himself off to points unknown (though he broke out of the box and jumped from the truck as soon as he was clear of the prison).
The key question here should be, How did nobody see this coming?
In Michigan this past summer, partygoers were playing a game called “the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.” When it came to be Jerry Rose’s turn, he said he “shot a guy in the head.”
Which Rose’s girlfriend mentioned to police when they were questioning her about a series of unrelated break-ins. Which led to Rose’s arrest for the March 22 murder of a 60-year-old man and his arraignment on murder and armed robbery charges this past Friday.
All in all, the shooting might have been only the second stupidest thing Rose had ever done.
Monday morning, Kim Roberts – an exotic dancer hired to perform at the Duke University lacrosse team party where another dancer claims she was beaten and raped by three team members – revealed on Good Morning America that after the party, the accuser said to her (when Roberts tried to force her out of the car because she was acting and “talking crazy”), “Put marks on me. That’s what I want. Go ahead.” This revelation might have seemed a bit more credible if it didn’t come more than seven months after the rape allegation.
Roberts’s attorney claims Roberts had no idea this information might be significant.
Would it be cynical to suggest that Ms. Roberts has decided that the case against the lacrosse players is unraveling, and her best chance at extending her 15 minutes of fame – and perhaps seeing a nice paycheck for the rights to her story – rests with being the person who exonerates the defendants?
This coming Sunday (November 5), an Iraqi court is scheduled to announce a verdict and (if necessary) a sentence in the trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and seven co-defendants for the 1982 murder of about 150 Shiites from the town of Dujail. Dujail was the site of an assassination attempt against Saddam. If Saddam is found guilty and sentenced to death, he will be hanged within 30 days (unless he successfully appeals his conviction).
Bill Crozier, a candidate for Oklahoma State School Superintendent, has a plan to keep students safe from attack: bulletproof schoolbooks, perhaps lined with Kevlar (the substance used to make bullet-proof vests which, in fact, our government is having a difficult enough time supplying to our soldiers in Iraq). Crozier’s reasoning is that children can hold the books up as shields while running away from a school gunman. Assuming the gunman would aim only at the books.
Even if this notion made any sense (and clearly it’s intended to appeal to parental panic in the wake of three recent school attacks, rather than to logic), backpacks carried by middle school and high school students can weigh up to 40 pounds. That’s about 30% of the average child’s weight. Doctors caution that anything over 15% can lead to back problems and other injuries.
Here’s a thought, though: Have kids use the backpack itself for protection: Probably nothing short of an armor-piercing bullet would have much chance of getting through 40 pounds of books, notebooks, lunches, pens, mp3 players and cell phones.
Last week, Cocaine, the super-high-sugar and -caffeine drink (280 milligrams of caffeine per serving as opposed to 80 for Red Bull and 34 for Coca-Cola) whose name some parents believe will encourage children to try the actual drug, got a big publicity boost when 7-Eleven (which was carrying it in only a small handful of its stores) announced it would no longer be welcome on their shelves.
It’s one thing for the media to report that an English woman named Nona Paris Lola Jackson, claiming to be the biological mother of Michael Jackson’s three children, has filed a motion asking that she be consulted in discussions on the children’s custody – but she goes on to say that she and Mr. Jackson remain and always have been a sexually active couple, and that she’s written 3,000 songs for him.
At what point should the media decide that somebody isn’t newsworthy but is, in fact, merely delusional?
Or maybe there is no difference: After all, a month and a half after his claims of involvement in JonBenet Ramsey’s death were discredited, John Mark Karr was interviewed by NBC News, Fox News, and Larry King.
This might be a good time to mention that it was I who kidnapped the Lindbergh baby. I’ve never told this to anybody until now …well, except to my wife, Marilyn Monroe, whom I secretly married in 1953.
Mister King, I’m ready for my close-up.
Crime, Justice & America
The other day, one of my son’s friends went missing.