October 16, 2009

"That's horrible. After the crap we just went through. No. No, no, no."

Richard Heene — the father of the Boy in a Box, the erstwhile Boy in a Balloon — protested when asked whether the whole thing was a hoax.

"I'm kind of appalled after all the feelings that I went through, up and down, that you guys are trying to suggest something else."

I'm kind of appalled too, that the media and the whole country is so easily distracted and has so little of the ballast of skepticism.

These people were on "Wife Swap" — I've seen the episode — and somebody had made a flying saucer shaped balloon...

Oh, what can I say? I don't want to hear it — the inevitable defense that your heart went out to that sweet little Boy in Danger.

Anyway, I missed most of the nonsense. I myself was aloft — flying, sans balloon, to Washington, D.C., for this symposium on judicial review.

We began yesterday afternoon with an extemporaneous talk by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is an ebullient man, capable of bouncing up and down on his feet at the idea of the invention that is the American Constitution, buoyed up, not by balloons, but by ideas — ideas into which I must plunge headlong today.

50 comments:

Boy In A Balloon said...

Love me. Love me. Say that you love me.

Michael Hasenstab said...

I just rec'd a tweet from an east coast friend. The balloon family is being interviewed on the Today Show (already aired in the eastern time zone, and balloon boy pukes on camera during the interview.

AllenS said...

If my father had made one of those contraptions, I'd have taken that baby for a ride.

Bissage said...

Mrs. Bissage said she wanted them to open up the balloon to find it full of Jiffy Pop.

She can be pretty funny sometimes.

edutcher said...

Ann said...

We began yesterday afternoon with an extemporaneous talk by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is an ebullient man, capable of bouncing up and down on his feet at the idea of the invention that is the American Constitution, buoyed up, not by balloons, but by ideas — ideas into which I must plunge headlong today.

Not so much the invention that is the Constitution as its perpetual re-invention at the hands of the appellate courts ever since John Marshall decided that being Chief Justice wasn't as august a job as befit him.

I know this is your bread and butter as a law professor, but it's depressing to see Americans pick up the Constitution and expect the country to be run the way the document reads, and not understand that, since Marbury vs. Madison, the document has been prostituted into whatever a given justice (or judge)'s agenda happens to be (I have to keep reminding myself of this, so I'm hardly unique).

MarkW said...

I'm kind of appalled too, that the media and the whole country is so easily distracted and has so little of the ballast of skepticism.

If you mean skepticism that the little boy *could* have been in the balloon -- remember that things like this have happened before. I'm still not sure if the balloon was big enough to have lifted a 40 lb little boy, but the idea that it might have that capacity is certainly not nutty.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Did Megan McCain have any comment or photo postings regarding balloons?

Speaking of helium.

Robert Cook said...

For what it's worth, my mother watched the interview of the family on Larry King last night (with Wolf Blitzer subbing, I think), and she's convinced the whole thing is a hoax.

I watched a few minutes of it before losing interest, and I certainly observed that the whole family, but particularly the father, displayed an odd and off-putting affect.

MikeDC said...

The paternalist looks at something like this and thinks "these rubes can't mind their own affairs".

The libertarian looks at this and thinks "we've made our affairs so overly complicated we can't enjoy a good story as it unfolds".

How about we do something crazy like make the world a place where the average person doesn't have to have a legal degree to get by? You know, simple taxes, less miles of red tape, not sticking our nose in every other person and country's business?

Pogo said...

I didn't hear about it until it was all over. I saw the blog title and conflated Boy in a Balloon with Boy in a Bubble, which gave me instant horrible images of the awful TV movie with John Travolta but happily dissolved into Paul Simon's song of that name then to REM's The Wrong Child and then for some reason Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells and then I forgot about the kid-in-the-balloon-hoax completely.

traditionalguy said...

Let me get bthis right: a fake wife swapper has a fake flying saucer and his children fake a story about the 6 year old being inside, but no questions about the reality of these goings on are concievable. The P T Barnum show rolls on with the Crisis of the Day Reality Show Networks. Why not have a President like Obama just for the fun of the TV coverage he puts out?.

Pogo said...

I hope Mr. and Mrs. Fakey Fakerson can afford the little rescue bill.

I wouldn't be surprised the children aren't theirs, either.

MadisonMan said...

It's regrettable that the TV NEWS people didn't have someone well versed in physics, who could have quickly computed the volume of helium in the contraption and declared it unable to hoist a 70 pound tot. Then it would have just been a story about a crackpot and his errant toy.

Pogo said...

Absolutely, MadMan, but that would require a TV writer to know enough science to consider asking a scientist a relevant question. But most of them are goddamned morons (our public schools be praised).

Now, I would have watched a TV report about a crackpot and his errant toy. Crackpots, assuming they remain isolated, are fascinating in the delusional quests.

Hoaxers not so much.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Wife Swap? That show is advertised on Craigslist, innit?

wv: teners. The highest category of Wife Swap contestants.

Quayle said...

I blame Ted Turner.

24 by 7 news channels invert the world.

There can never be an hour where there isn't news, however local or stupid.

MadisonMan said...

There is hope for the little boy -- getting sick by telling lies tells me he has, still, a working conscience.

Peter V. Bella said...

I blame Obama.

MrBuddwing said...

It's regrettable that the TV NEWS people didn't have someone well versed in physics, who could have quickly computed the volume of helium in the contraption and declared it unable to hoist a 70 pound tot. Then it would have just been a story about a crackpot and his errant toy.

CNN had a ballooning expert who did just that - pointing out how the balloon was tilted in a way that made it doubtful that anyone was on board, and questioning the volume and amount of helium inside the balloon.

No slam against this particular poster, but I am bemused by all of the Monday-morning quarterbacks who are all saying, "Well, it was so freaking obvious the balloon was unoccupied. Anyone should have been able to tell that."

The balloon looked impressively big on TV - it wasn't until it had sunk to the ground that I realized how relatively small it was

And as for all of those geniuses in cyberspace who are second-guessing the authorities and rescue people, how about applying your superior knowledge to something more worthwhile, like what we should be doing in Afghanistan?

Pogo said...

"how about applying your superior knowledge to something more worthwhile, like what we should be doing in Afghanistan?"

If I were head of CNN or MSNBC or CBS or NBC or ABC or FOX I would so direct.

Wait, did you mean to e-mail this advice to their respective CEOs and editors-in-chief instead of this blog?

MadisonMan said...

And as for all of those geniuses in cyberspace who are second-guessing the authorities and rescue people

I thought that was the purpose of the internet.

MrBuddwing said...

I think it was George Burns who said, "What a shame that all the people who know how to run the world are too busy driving taxis and cutting hair."

sonicfrog said...

I guess this is the problem with "reality" TV. Nothing is real anymore.

Pogo said...

What a greater shame that all the people who run the world are too busy telling people how to drive taxis and cut hair.


"I would rather be governed by the first hundred names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty."
William F. Buckley

Bissage said...

The thing that I find troubling is the way they broadcast baseball games with all the replays, and the swooshing graphics, and the mini-montages of home runs, and the incessant yakking, yakking, yakking from the announcers.

God! That pisses me off!!!

Fred4Pres said...

If it was a hoax, pop's going to lose a lot more than his wife swap winnnings. Kids do things like this, so barring evidence of something else I would assume it is what it is. But the parents definitely need to be looked at long and hard for this one.

Rumpletweezer said...

I suggest that the father knew that the balloon would not lift his son. Therefore, if he didn't plan it as a hoax, he certainly went along with it.

ironrailsironweights said...

The balloon looked impressively big on TV - it wasn't until it had sunk to the ground that I realized how relatively small it was

Even in the last few minutes before it came down, when it was at very low altitudes, judging the balloon's size was difficult. It was above featureless plowed fields with nothing to use for perspective. Only when a man ran up to it after landing was it really possible to see that the balloon was quite small.

Peter

SteveR said...

The kid throwing up on TV is pefect. Yeah this is serious.. bleeech!

peter hoh said...

Times like this make me glad I don't have cable. I didn't hear about it until it was over.

The ultimate "look, shiny!" moment of the decade.

chuck b. said...

Otoh, this seems like a great way to get rid of unwanted children--seal them inside a helium balloon let them float away.


Oh...but how would they breathe?

Jeremy said...

And the same people who spent the day following this...and actually believing there was a kid in that thing...will probably read this idiot's book:

A new poll from Gallup reveals that Sarah Palin's approval rating has plummeted to an all-time low.

According to the survey, the former vice presidential candidate maintains a 40% favorability rating, the lowest it has been since she emerged as a national political figure at last year's Republican convention.

P.S. Ann watches the wife swap show...and listens to the fat man?

Good lord...

MadisonMan said...

I learned about it via google news, which I click periodically at work. Right after that a facebook friend threw it up on her status.

Who needs cable?

Jeremy said...

"it's depressing to see Americans pick up the Constitution and expect the country to be run the way the document reads"

Do you include that "right to bear arms" thingie?

Try to imagine the Founding Fathers passing an Uzi or AK-47 around the table as they wrote the Constitution.

Most of the gun nuts here think they would approve.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Anything to be on TV. Yuck.

edutcher said...

Jeremy said...

"it's depressing to see Americans pick up the Constitution and expect the country to be run the way the document reads"

Do you include that "right to bear arms" thingie?

Try to imagine the Founding Fathers passing an Uzi or AK-47 around the table as they wrote the Constitution.

Most of the gun nuts here think they would approve.


They probably would. Imagine being out in the Ohio wilderness with a wife and some small kids with a rampaging band of Shawnees coming at you. An AK on full auto would make quite the neat little equalizer.

BTW That right to keep and bear arms is about local militias, not individuals. For an individual's right to arm him/herself, may I suggest:

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.


Yes, I know it doesn't have the imprimatur of the appellate courts, but (and I know I'm going to hate myself for expecting this of you) which makes more sense?

PS You cry, whine, moan, and complain bout Sarah Palin's negatives in Gallup, but you actually buy the idea a whole 56% of the people like the job Barry and the faux Romanovs are doing?

WV "toumsor" What Ahnold says when his toum hurts.

MadisonMan said...

Here's what would happen if I was being interviewed with a kid in my lap, and said kid threw up.

I stand up, leave the set and take the kid home. In fact, I'd hope the kid would tell me beforehand that they don't feel well, and I cancel the interview beforehand and take them home and put them to bed.

Falcon's parents don't parent. It's like I'm watching the slow evolution of parents into Mr. and Mrs. Spears. (If they're not already there)

I'll repeat that it's great that the kid throws up during what I perceive is a lie. Way to go conscience!

Fred4Pres said...

Baloon dad thinks Hillary is a shape shifting lizard?

Charles Johnson and his minions are everywhere.

Triangle Man said...

It may be impossible to determine motive or intention here , but it should be simple enough to "follow the money" as this progresses.

Charlie K. said...

I'm kind of appalled too, that the media and the whole country is so easily distracted and has so little of the ballast of skepticism.

So says the great Althouse, so was also distracted by the story and who did not envince any skepticism herself!

But that was yesterday. Today, Althouse tries to rewrite history and she pretends that she was skeptical all along.

What lameness!

PatCA said...

The "too good to check" media is no better than the parents, who apparently are shopping a reality show about their family around Hwood (TMZ).

The usual plan is run the boy/balloon story, or the Rush/racist story, enjoy the ratings, then retract it a couple of days later, on page 28, or on a tweet.

Pogo said...

"Althouse, so was also distracted by the story and who did not envince any skepticism herself!"

Yer a bleedin' genius, you are, Charlie my boy, seeing as Althouse's only comment at all on the matter was: &#@!!

I hadn't recognized the lack of skepticism inherent in an random expletive, but you, Charlie, you saw it!

Bloody good show, Charlie K!!
Keep up the bloggery concern!

c3 said...

And the same people who spent the day following this...and actually believing there was a kid in that thing...will probably read this idiot's book:

A new poll from Gallup reveals that Sarah Palin's approval rating has plummeted to an all-time low.


Huh!? That was one of the oddest transitions I've seen. Jeremy, if you're going to do that at least say "And now for something completely different...

Cedarford said...

MarkW said...
I'm kind of appalled too, that the media and the whole country is so easily distracted and has so little of the ballast of skepticism.

If you mean skepticism that the little boy *could* have been in the balloon -- remember that things like this have happened before. I'm still not sure if the balloon was big enough to have lifted a 40 lb little boy, but the idea that it might have that capacity is certainly not nutty.


Except the Dad didn't buy the thing at the local ChinaMart...he designed and built the thing as a prop for his weather video business venture, where he SELLS "exciting" video and his commentary to media outlets. .

And as builder and designer knows
- likely down to the gram - what ballast/payload the thing can carry. And when you saw how small it was, all us engineering geeks immediatly went to our calculators and plugged the numbers in. 10 foot radius balloon - use calc for bevelled disc. Pi times 10 exp 2 times calculus of beveled disc 5' at center tapering to zero at edge. Roughly 3.3 feet. For a total volume of 1073 ft3.

But balloon only half-filled with helium to allow expansion of gas at high altitude. 536 ft3.

The lifting capacity of helium is 0.064 lbs/ft3.

34 lbs.

But from that you also have to subract the weight of the balloon material, internal structure that holds it in disc shape, and Richard Heeme's hand-built gondola that may or may not be pyshically able to squeeze a boy in (Heeme built it and should know instantly)
That may weigh 15-20 lbs.

Leaving a "payload"...meaning anything other than the balloon...of 14-19 pounds.

And last night fellow geek John said you also have to factor in the diminution of standard helium lift capacity at sea level for Ft Collins being at 4,000 feet or so.

And finally, lets add this "weather chaser" dude is attuned to weather forecasts almost every hour of every day to see if there is some weather phenomenon he should chase and try selling his video product to media outlets. The day "the whole world watched!!!" was a windy day. Very windy. You don't launch balloons on days you expect to have to travel 50 miles away (where the Heene's contraption landed) even hundreds of miles away.

So why did Heene gas up his invention in the 1st place?

And you can see the balloon immediately rising and moving horizontally away from the Heene house.

How do you see that? Well, fortunately, a Heene family member JUST HAPPENED to be videotaping the WHOLE EVENT as it happened!! You know, the balloon breaking free and Heene Sr. and older boy in the foreground "emotionally reacting" to the possibility of Dear Little Falcon (wonderful name, sort of like Dwayne Bobbit in a different context).

So you have Momma Heene set up in the backyard with a video recorder on a tripod. Heene Sr and the older boy also in the backyard within 15 feet of Heenes homebuilt saucer. Momma Heene merrily videotaping away as her husband screams her son might be onboard, as the balloon rises and is swept away by high crosswinds.

Fortunately, a journalist with a checkbook was able to purchase this invaluable piece of reality footage!

Not that I am a skeptic!! I should be more like the Larimer County Sheriff, who takes the position that the main things people should know is that (1) cops and emergency response people are all heroes and everyone should be grateful they even exist to deign to take a paycheck from the motley masses of Ft Collins. (2) Everyone should be "grateful" Little Falcon was found safe and sound hiding in his house.

Of course, a women who swapped with the family on the Reality TV show "Wife Swap" said she thought this weather chasing family appeared to be extraordinarily hungry for attention and publicity. And that Richard Heene had a dual personality.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Try to imagine the Founding Fathers passing an Uzi or AK-47 around the table as they wrote the Constitution.

Try to imagine that the guns that theyfounding fathers were envisioning at the time of writing, were the state of the art weapons for that period. Much better than the guns of previous generations.

Most of the gun nuts here think they would approve.


Heck Yeah, they would have approved.

Comrade X said...

hey jeremy, are you going to post a retraction of those fake quotes you were too stupid to recognize as fakes?

Joe said...

From the article. According to an expert, The balloon could probably handle a payload of about 80 pounds. The child weighed 37 pounds.

The guy may be eccentric, but why all the hate? They let the balloon go, the kid was gone, they freaked. Big deal.

I'm amazed we didn't burn down our town when we were kids and let our balloons powered by paraffin candles go. (It took several attempts; the final two that worked used a dry cleaning bag with a balsa wood holder for the heat source and then we filled the thing with a hair dryer if I remember correctly, though i also seem to recall we used a propane torch since the hair dryer didn't give enough heat.

It was pretty cool, especially since the last one flew even better than designed. Homemade rockets were more cool, but failed, though in a rather awesome way.

Ah, growing up in the age of danger.)

Charlie K. said...

It's amazing you are still invited to such events, Althouse, given your complete lack of productivity in recent years.

What quota do you help fill, I wonder.

Michael McNeil said...

That right to keep and bear arms is about local militias, not individuals.

No it's not, as legal scholars have quite adequately demonstrated over the last couple decades, and the Supreme Court held by 9-0 in DC v. Heller last year.

chickenlittle said...

Balloonboy hoaxes Hitler: LoL!