App astray; mockingbirds avenged; junk shot

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

 

THE WEST
Every day, about 20 carloads of befuddled-looking travelers straggle down the roads of a small rural subdivision on the Idaho-Wyoming border, much to the locals’ annoyance. “Is this Yellowstone National Park?” the drivers plaintively ask. Unfortunately, no; Yellowstone is about two hours away. It seems one bad app can spoil a whole getaway. If you hit the red pin instead of the green pine tree icon on your iPhone’s Apple Maps app, reports the Jackson Hole News & Guide, you will be sorry: “Hundreds of people are going to Yellowstone and finding out it’s a mailbox,” said Suzanne Arden, a resident. Her neighbor, Carol Gregory, tried to help by painting some rocks yellow at the subdivision’s entrance and posting a sign telling tourists they’d been led astray. Gregory said she’d notified Apple of the problem several times, but the app remained unchanged in late August. She did succeed in getting a sympathetic response from a customer rep named Vivian: “I completely get where you’re coming from,” Vivian said. “That’s something I definitely would want to get taken care of. If I was going to Yellowstone, I would not want to show up at your doorstep.” Meanwhile, Eugenio Bautista from Chicago was among the many hapless wanderers this summer who found himself in a housing development somewhere outside of Driggs, Idaho. There he found pleasant homes, but not a geyser in sight — not even a friendly elk or bison to photograph. “This is not it,” he concluded. “And now we wasted two hours already.”

THE NATION
The books we love tend to stay with us. Many of us remember what lawyer Atticus Finch told his daughter, Scout, in Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. “It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird,” he said. When Scout wondered why, her neighbor cited the birds’ innocence and beauty: “They don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.” The book’s moral message resonated in the mind of a federal judge in New York when she recently struck down a Trump administration rule change that allowed individuals and corporations to kill untold numbers of birds. All the offenders had to do was show they had not intentionally set out to kill the animals. U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni wrote, “It is not only a sin to kill a mockingbird, it is also a crime,” adding that nothing in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act permitted this radical change, which would have hugely benefited the oil companies that pay the bulk of the fines for violating the act, reports the Washington Post. Under the administration’s interpretation, BP could have dodged responsibility for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill by claiming it never really meant to dump 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It was just one of those things, we suppose. The disaster was one of the biggest in American history, killing an estimated 1 million birds.

CALIFORNIA
There is a “beef raging between online gun people,” reports Vice, over something most gun owners take for granted: “trigger discipline.” It’s generally drilled into gun owners: Keep your finger off the trigger (unless you mean to shoot), and never point a gun at someone — unless, of course, you mean to shoot. This sounds eminently reasonable, though one online group of extreme gun aficionados disagrees. At “Loaded Guns Pointed at (B)enis,” members delight in posting pictures and videos of themselves pointing loaded weapons at their manly parts. In May, Vice predicted that one of these days a weapon was bound to go off, and on Aug. 11, that’s exactly what happened: “A man posted a video of himself pointing a loaded 1911 handgun at his junk. There’s a brief pause before the gun discharges.” The unidentified San Diego-area man kept posting throughout the bloody aftermath — though the posts have since been removed. “God’s caliber (.45) went through my scrotum, mattress, box spring and floor,” the man explained, though it managed to miss the copy of the U.S. Constitution clearly visible on the floor. At first he thought he’d merely grazed his testicles, but a visit to the hospital revealed both an entrance and an exit wound. Presumably chastened, and (we hope) wearing a discreet bandage over his nether regions, the man went to work the next day, according to a “Loaded Guns Pointed at (B)enis” administrator. His suffering was not in vain: The next day, the group proudly declared him “king” of its site, saying he had learned his lesson and didn’t deserve “the entire world calling him an idiot.”   

Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected]tag photos #heardaroundthewest on Instagram or submit a letter to the editor

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