a quick one, while [my ability to wrap these things up in a timely fashion is] away

i actually feel bad for some of these updates i am trying to move through, because at some point i took the time to get the topics together, vaguely think of what i was going to say about them (often along the lines of “Americans and non-Americans alike continue to disappoint me just by being themselves) … and then i just lost track of getting them done. true, this is not as sad as when i have some UNIQUE RANTING TOPIC that’s not a listicle, but clearly i have embraced the fact that since spending more energy on the former nets me no more gain than the latter, i might as well save that energy for… uh… writing introductions that are themed around me feeling sorry for myself?

but we’re getting caught up here! on with the updates!

7-year-old girl's Hot Wheels toy car
these dog leashes are actually somehow LESS safe than i pictured them when i was reading the article. good lord

grandparents of the year! couple tied 7-year-old girl’s Hot Wheels toy car to SUV-

let’s just pause right there before this headline gets COMPLETELY excessive, because it could go one of two ways: a) a little darker, if they’re not related to the 7-year-old (unlikely, since they’re identified as “grandparents”) or b) even more insane. really, could it get even more insane? it could get even more insane:

“Two Florida grandparents have been arrested after police say they hooked their granddaughter’s plastic toy Hot Wheels car to their SUV and gave her a ride. A Sarasota County deputy said he spotted the seven-year-old wearing a bathing suit and no helmet as she was towed behind the SUV on Sunday.”

so that’s pretty bizarre. and while pointing out her lack of a helmet is a nice touch –please take a moment to consider how outrageously DANGEROUS this scenario is– i have to wonder exactly how much good a helmet would do when you’re seven years old and riding in a plastic car that’s being towed by an SUV for some reason.

“Her toy car was tied to a trailer hitch with dog leashes. She was not harmed.”

correction: towed by an SUV WITH DOG LEASHES for some reason. however, i do dispute the fact that this child was not harmed: sure, the officer saved her and her helmet-free head from severe injury (and possibly the kind of severe injury that gets filmed by people’s phones and distributed on the internet), but at what cost? did he not ALSO save her from a childhood filled with the kind of awesome memories that are crafted by your grandparents dragging your fragile child’s car behind their much more powerful automobile? that sounds like ‘harmed’ to me.

“Paul Berloni, 49, was charged with driving under the influence, child endangerment and driving with a suspended license. Belinda Berloni, 47, faces a child endangerment charge. Both admitted they had been drinking. Belinda said they were just having fun and had been towing the child all day.”

additional correction: your DRUNKEN grandparents dragging your fragile child’s car behind their much more powerful automobile. i mean, okay, perhaps they were not drunk, but they were at least under the influence of alcohol, which does help make some sense out of why they would think this was a good idea … but which doesn’t explain why this drunken middle-aged set of grandparents (really, 49 and 47 with a 7-year-old granddaughter? sounds like drunken grandparents didn’t do a great job with their children, either) were able to tow her like this ALL DAY without anyone getting involved before a police officer RANDOMLY spotted them.

look, i’m no snitch or anything, but if i was driving around and saw this going on, i think i would at LEAST call the police before trying to free the child by shooting the dog leashes loose.

“The deputy estimated that the Hot Wheels car was traveling between five and ten miles per hour when it was stopped.”

this is either a) some fine police work or b) a bullshit claim of knowledge, albeit one that undermines the hazards supposedly involved here. i mean, five miles per hour is like a brisk walk or a slow jog, so somehow i doubt you’d be KILLED INSTANTLY if you were to fall out of your plastic Hot Wheels car going that speed. then again, i am a rugged man and not a 7-year-old girl, so it’s possible i am understating the risk her. POSSIBLY.

“Paul Berloni, who was driving the SUV, reeked of booze, had watery and bloodshot eyes, and his speech was ‘slowed and slurred’, according to the arrest report. When asked for his driver’s license, Berloni said that it was ‘revoked for 10 years for a DUI’, according to the Smoking Gun. Belinda Berloni was riding in the vehicle’s cargo area ‘with the rear hatch open cheering the child on as she was being pulled behind the vehicle’.”

…and the classiness of the grandparents continues to increase, although i do give the grandmother points for not only cheering on the child, but continuing to do so even while being pulled over. a lot of drunken endangering grandparents would just be content to drink their cheap beer and/or fortified wines while dragging their child to her certain death (or at least injury), but not Belinda Berloni!

“The arrest report said she told the deputy they knew it was dangerous but it was also fun and they had been doing it all day.”

ultimately, though, this is a reasonable lesson to learn: all kinds of things that are fun (and that you can presumably do all day) are at least a LITTLE dangerous.

and speaking of hazardous things you can do involving children and a car…

Indiana police, on the case
wait, they were strapped down with one of those ratchet tie downs you use to restraint furniture? really, though, i don’t know what else i expected

man arrested with four kids strapped to car hood

yet another story that could go a little darker, or even more insane … or maybe both?

“Two people are in police custody after they allegedly strapped four kids to the hood of a car after leaving a Fort Wayne liquor store Monday evening. Police said around 5:30 p.m., someone called 911 to report that a man and a woman had strapped the kids to the hood and left the Belmont Beverage parking lot at 2116 Fairfield Ave.”

wait, child endangerment near a liquor store and we’re NOT in Kentucky? something is going on here… anyway, as always, whenever children are attached in unsafe manners to driving cars, it’s a safe bet that alcohol is involved SOMEHOW. we really don’t need a police investigation. that said, three questions:

–FOUR children on the hood? this simply cannot be conducive to being able to clearly see where one is going;
–why exactly were they strapped to the hood? i suppose the article might get into this;
–ALLEGEDLY strapped? is this not something we can report as undisputed?

“A couple area residents saw the kids strapped to the car just before police arrived. “I couldn’t believe it! They had this strap across their legs. They were squirming to get out. They didn’t know what to do. And I told the people in the car, ‘Don’t do that!’,” said Bonita Gorsuch. “They were all drunk. They were all all high, or whatever. They’ve got babies on a car! That’s not nice,” said Tom Nowak. Shortly after Gorsuch confronted the couple, a U.S. Marshal saw the children near the intersection of Fairfield Avenue and Poplar Street and stopped the vehicle for police.”

for one thing, “a couple OF area residents.” (deep sigh) for another, squirming to get out? get out of what? aren’t they strapped to a hood? really, though, Gorsuch gets a pass for this one because misspeaking when excited is no big deal, and she did something NO ONE did in the first story: confronted the people who were driving around drunk risking the health of a child or children. also, way to have an out-and-out US Marshal appear out of nowhere like he was stopping a cattle rustler in the 1800s.

“Police said the driver, Aaron S. Stefanski, 29, of Fort Wayne, had a blood alcohol content of .17% and was charged with three counts of operating while intoxicated and one count of neglect of a dependent. His passenger, Jessica A. Clark, 29, also of Fort Wayne, was charged with one count of neglect of a dependent. Police said none of the children – ages four, five, six and seven – appeared to be hurt. Three of the children were Stefanski’s, one belonged to Clark.”

the absolutely best thing about this, in my opinion, is that i expected this to be one of those scenarios where we had some drunken white trash couple and their litter of children… but then it turns out it’s two random trashy people who have combined their forces to strap a legion of sad children to the hood one of their cars. EXCELLENT. one thing shall remain unanswered, however: WHY did we do this? i can see the reasoning behind drunken grandparents trying to entertain a child… and i imagine some equally ridiculous drunk logic is at work here… and i respect the fact that accused criminals PROBABLY can’t comment on why they’ve done the things they’ve done… but come on, where’s the speculating police spokesman when i need him?

“”I didn’t particularly think they would like to be an ornament the car. They were scared being strapped up there. It was very dangerous. It was really a sad thing because they could have been killed,” said Gorsuch.”

also, i do need to ask Gorsuch this: would it have been okay for them to risk being killed if they DID want to be an ornament for the car?

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