This August, a garage in Old Monroe, Missouri burst into flames. There had been more than a dozen similar fires over the past year, a suspiciously high number for a town with a population of 265. When police reviewed security footage, they spotted a white Chevrolet Lumina parked outside the building minutes before it caught fire. They traced the car back to local volunteer firefighter Dustin Grigsby, the 19-year-old son of a fire district captain. Grigsby told police that he set the fires because he "needed a release."
"Daniel Fessler, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, has conducted research that indicates an adult's fascination with fire is a direct consequence of not having mastered it as a child. Fire has been crucial to human survival for around one million years, and in that time, Fessler argues, humans have evolved psychological mechanisms specifically dedicated to controlling it. But because most Westerners no longer learn how to start, maintain and use fire during childhood, we instead wind up with a curious attraction to it — a burning desire left to languish."
Remember last year when we heard about that house in Tennessee that firefighters refused to put out because its owners had not paid their annual fire subscription fee? And everyone was all, "You're kidding, right?" Well, they were not kidding then and they are not kidding now. Not burning to the ground is a privilege, not a right. How long before cash-strapped municipalities start going up to random homeowners and saying, "Nice house you got here. Be a shame if it caught fire, wouldn't it?" I would not be shocked to learn that it is happening already.
Here's a timelapse video of wildfires in the mountains around Flagstaff, Arizona, which has had a very hot, bad week this past week. With apologies for taking any joy from the suffering of a faraway city, it's amazing and beautiful to watch. And with apologies to anyone who is ever seen in my company, I will now admit that I really like the embarrassingly bombastic and melodramatic ballads of the Christian/goth/metal band Evanescence. (That's their big hit "My Immortal" playing over the video.) Why is a mystery even to myself. Except that they had already nailed the "my-emotional-life-is-so-important-to-the-world" teen-reversion fantasy magic that the Twilight franchise has been taking [...]
"A truckload of burning cheese has closed a road tunnel in Arctic Norway for the last six days."
It says terrible things about me or our age that my first response to a news story like this is one of absolute cynicism, because it is indeed a very heroic act on the part of anyone to run into a burning building and pull a victim of the fire to safety. But, you know, the Tweeting about it just does not help.
In lieu of a recipe from our Real American Thanksgiving Cookbook, please accept this safety video from the folks at State Farm, which combines the two great American pastimes of setting awesome fires and deep frying stuff. Enjoy!
My Classy Linkbait Of The Day Award goes to Us, for this incredible bit of shameless traffic trawling: "Usmagazine.com has exclusive, never-before-seen footage of Michael Jackson's Pepsi commercial accident, filmed in L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium on Jan. 27, 1984." Points off for the headline ("How Michael Jackson's Pill Addiction Began") and its attempt to provide justification through context, but otherwise this is a sterling achievement for which everyone over there should feel proud.
"In Berkeley, we are addicted to high taxes—in the 25 years I’ve lived here, I can’t even count how many times I and my fellow citizens have said a resounding yes to yet another tax hike or bond measure. Two weeks ago, I got my money’s worth."
"When 'Hunger Games' heroine Katniss Everdeen appears before a cheering crowd in a cape and headdress wreathed by flames, she earns the lasting nickname of the 'girl on fire.' But any ordinary person hoping to achieve such a fiery fashion statement without risking burns will have to wait for today's clothing to catch up with tomorrow's technologies."
The subscription model of government: "In this rural section of Tennessee, Gene Cranick's home caught on fire. As the Cranicks fled their home, their neighbors alerted the county's firefighters, who soon arrived at the scene. Yet when the firefighters arrived, they refused to put out the fire, saying that the family failed to pay the annual subscription fee to the fire department. Because the county's fire services for rural residences is based on household subscription fees, the firefighters, fully equipped to help the Cranicks, stood by and watched as the home burned to the ground… The fire reportedly continued for hours 'because garden hoses just wouldn't put it out. [...]