Join 3,551 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


UP
October 15, 2009 11:53 AM   Subscribe

"Authorities were scouring the skies Thursday for a 6-year-old boy who unhooked his family's experimental balloon-powered aircraft and floated away from home, sheriff's officials said."
posted by empath (1463 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
I would suggest that if you have a device capable of lifting itself 10,000 feet in the air, and the only thing preventing it from doing so is a rope that a 6-year-old can unhook, you have not thought this through enough.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:55 AM on October 15, 2009 [79 favorites]


Fingers crossed for a happy ending.
posted by kcds at 11:56 AM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Somebody at Pixar is frantically calling their attorneys right about now.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:57 AM on October 15, 2009 [10 favorites]


Btw, there is live video of it on the MSNBC website.

It looks like a stovetop popcorn popper.
posted by empath at 11:58 AM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'll show this to my wife tonight... so much for complaining when our son rampages through the bottom shelves of the fridge...
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:00 PM on October 15, 2009


Flight of the Navigator!!!
posted by Sprocket at 12:00 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


If that balloon were a little less ugly I'd call it an attractive nuisance.
posted by exogenous at 12:00 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Jesus. Is this happening now, the kid is floating in the air somewhere? The problem with helium balloons is that they can rise high enough in the atmosphere that the temperature drops to below freezing. And then they burst.

Helicopter, crossbow with a line attached, and a EMS crew with a giant airbag on standby. Pronto.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:00 PM on October 15, 2009


From Fort Collins to south of Milliken, hm? That'd put him floating toward Denver International Airport's airspace...
posted by not_on_display at 12:01 PM on October 15, 2009


Uh, waht's with the jokes people. This could end with a dead six year old kid.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:01 PM on October 15, 2009 [11 favorites]


Yeah, it's running with the sound off on one of the TVs here at work, and from a distance all I could see was the shape of the balloon and I was wondering if it was some kind of new NASA experiment.

I got close enough to read the banner and saw "6 year old trapped inside" and I thought

Well, someone, somewhere seriously fucked up.
posted by quin at 12:02 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


news of the weird or not, this is actually pretty fucking serious. this kid's chances of surviving aren't very high, as I understand it.

though anyone who knows better can feel free to reassure me as to where I'm wrong.
posted by shmegegge at 12:02 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wasn't joking. I was politely trying to say that I think the parents are culpable in this fuckup, and I hope it ends better than it might.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:03 PM on October 15, 2009


if the video i'm looking at is live, i think it looks like he'll be okay.... he doesn't seem very high up and it looks like it's slowly dropping toward the ground, but of course it's not easy to judge that kind fo thing.
posted by empath at 12:04 PM on October 15, 2009


This is seriously awful. I don't know if I would have realized how awful until I had a kid, or maybe I would have thought, awful, but in a detached 'isn't that weird' kind of way.

But now I think of that kid's mother and I kind of want to hide under my desk until someone tells me the kid -- please -- is okay.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:04 PM on October 15, 2009


I hope this flight ends with candy. Lots and lots of candy.
posted by adipocere at 12:05 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


this kid's chances of surviving aren't very high, as I understand it.

I saw somewhere that the balloon is "capable" of 10,000 feet. If it doesn't go much higher and comes down gently, I'd give him pretty good odds.
posted by exogenous at 12:05 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think he's been up in the sky for about two hours now and MSNBC just reported that he might be up in the air for eight more. I'm not at all sure how accurate that last number is though.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:06 PM on October 15, 2009


Yeah it's holding steady at about 7000ft, with a max of 10k, so if they can figure out how to get it down he should be okay.
posted by zeoslap at 12:06 PM on October 15, 2009


EVERYONE in my office is in the breakroom watching this on CNN.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:06 PM on October 15, 2009


Christ, so now instead of tasteless jokes, we're making books on him?
posted by 7segment at 12:07 PM on October 15, 2009


CNN just reported that the news helicopters have lost sight of the balloon.

It may seem like a jokey story, but it's not very funny when you're watching it (taped earlier) on tv. It looks sort of terrifying. It's estimated to be moving at 40mph, which could suck when you consider the impact, should it hit the ground. Damn.
posted by heyho at 12:07 PM on October 15, 2009


Why do I have a feeling that experimental aircraft was intended to make it's debut at next year's Burning Man? I mean, I was all ready to think "what kind of person builds an experimental aircraft out of helium and aluminum foil?" but my brain immediately answered "several people you know, every summer, and you usually end up helping them. Maybe they've posted the blue print online somewhere."
posted by ga$money at 12:08 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


How cold is it likely to be at 7000ft?
posted by Brodiggitty at 12:09 PM on October 15, 2009


I'd give him pretty good odds.

What's the temperature up there? Isn't there a chance he could freeze to death or suffocate?

And this might be a silly question, but does he have any oxygen to breathe? He is inside the balloon, after all.
posted by hifiparasol at 12:09 PM on October 15, 2009


I heard that it's flying at 15-20 mph. It looks to me like it's traveling faster than that, at least at times.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:09 PM on October 15, 2009


The news copters can see it just fine, I'm watching on CNN.
posted by zeoslap at 12:10 PM on October 15, 2009


It will be cold for sure, but he's in a little compartment under the actual balloon so no worries on the oxygen front.
posted by zeoslap at 12:11 PM on October 15, 2009


That's my town, full of all kinds of assorted weirdness. At least it's clear and warm today all over the Front Range - the last few days have been bitterly cold, windy, and foggy/rainy. I hope he's okay.
posted by peachfuzz at 12:11 PM on October 15, 2009


I'm hoping the kid isn't really inside it. Maybe he untethered it and hid and hid somewheres.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:11 PM on October 15, 2009 [18 favorites]


I'm getting hungry for some Jiffy Pop. I think I'll pop some and watch this unfold LIVE!
posted by fixedgear at 12:12 PM on October 15, 2009


That thing is hauling ass! 2 choppers, a big net, good pilots?
posted by Max Power at 12:12 PM on October 15, 2009


The boy's name is Falcon? This was made for TV.
posted by Brodiggitty at 12:13 PM on October 15, 2009


Weird; CNN did say that helicopters had lost sight (double-checked via tivo). I hate all the conflicting stories in the midst of breaking news. *sigh* They're following it live now.
posted by heyho at 12:13 PM on October 15, 2009


Aviation Weather Center reports temperatures over Denver at 9000' are 6 degrees C, or 43 F.
posted by exogenous at 12:13 PM on October 15, 2009


Starting at Ft Collins, 7000 ft in altitude really isn't that much. I mean, the city itself is at 5000 ft already.

Not saying that minimizes the danger to this child at all, but it's not like he started at sea level.
posted by hippybear at 12:14 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is seriously upsetting me. I suggested to my kids that we might build one of those helium balloons that college kids are building with cameras and gps that go up 100k ft. I hope they get the kid down.

How do you get the kid down? Drop a weight on it? Or a sky diver?
posted by Pastabagel at 12:14 PM on October 15, 2009


CNN (or maybe MSNBC) aviation specialist said helicopters will chop up the air too much and potentially suck the balloon around too violently or, god forbid, into their blades.

What about just sending up another balloon?

Oh, and for Christ's sake stop making jokes, people.
posted by hifiparasol at 12:15 PM on October 15, 2009


Maybe if they could somehow spray water on the top they could slowly increase the weight and bring it down slowly.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:15 PM on October 15, 2009


Can someone please post when the kid's okay or updates? I can't go watch this. It's kind of killing me to know this is even happening.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:16 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


2 choppers, a big net, good pilots?

I imagine that a big problem with this is that as a chopper approaches it, the turbulence from the rotor could cause complications with the balloon, so you'd have to use a really big net.

And I suspect that finding something like that nearby will be a bit of a challenge in and of itself.
posted by quin at 12:17 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Keeping him in my prayers.
posted by alms at 12:17 PM on October 15, 2009


I hope the kid is ok.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:17 PM on October 15, 2009


Watching the video, it looks like it is losing helium rapidly.
posted by mikepop at 12:17 PM on October 15, 2009


CNN was saying there are unconfirmed reports that a sibling saw the kid fall out of the balloon shortly after it left the ground.
posted by stavrogin at 12:17 PM on October 15, 2009


Right, vibro -- or maybe there's some kind of quick-hardening foam a la Demolition Man. I remember hearing about something like that being developed as a nonlethal weapon.

I don't think the problem is getting him down as much as it is not letting him get killed on landing.
posted by hifiparasol at 12:18 PM on October 15, 2009


Hang in there little guy.
posted by hellojed at 12:18 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Watching it live on tv is harrowing - because of the perspective of the helicopters filming, it at times looks like it's going far faster than it is, and it also looks, from time to time, as if it's careening toward the ground. They're now speculating that he's not in there. Gah; hope that's the case.
posted by heyho at 12:20 PM on October 15, 2009


His name is Falcon! The balloon is really losing altitude quickly and on one side, I keep expecting it to flip over, this could get really bad as it loses altitude.
posted by geoff. at 12:20 PM on October 15, 2009


Jesus, I hope this turns out OK.
posted by rollbiz at 12:21 PM on October 15, 2009


hello real life panic attack
posted by boo_radley at 12:22 PM on October 15, 2009


Oh God this is breaking my heart...
posted by LarryC at 12:22 PM on October 15, 2009


Life Flight is on their way to the scene.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:23 PM on October 15, 2009


CNN mentioned that it was around 7 degrees fahrenheit at the balloons assumed altitude.
posted by arcolz at 12:23 PM on October 15, 2009


It looks like it's moving so fast on CNN. :( That poor kid. I hope he survives.
"The structure at the bottom of the balloon that the boy is in is made of extremely thin plywood and won't withstand any kind of a crash at all," said Erik Nilsson, Larimer County emergency manager, according to CNN affiliate KMGH.

posted by zarq at 12:24 PM on October 15, 2009


How about experienced sky divers, as many as you can drop?
posted by Max Power at 12:24 PM on October 15, 2009


Stay positive, guys. Don't let it ruin your day unless we know for sure the kid is hurt or dead.
posted by hifiparasol at 12:25 PM on October 15, 2009


How about experienced sky divers, as many as you can drop?

I've been skydiving. I suspect they'd be likely to collapse the balloon.
posted by zarq at 12:26 PM on October 15, 2009


Radio controlled lighter than air vehicle, transported to area via helicopter, light net, long long tether.
posted by Reverend John at 12:26 PM on October 15, 2009


I wonder if they should try punching a hole in it. If it takes a while for the helium to drain out, then it might end up landing slowly.
posted by delmoi at 12:26 PM on October 15, 2009


What's wrong with making jokes? That's how people deal with the worst things in life.

Hope the kid's ok. But you've gotta admit, it is kind of a weird, almost surreal situation that lends itself to jokey comments.

This type of thing would never fly as an actual plot point in a movie. Real life, you are always surprising and often horrifying.
posted by m0nm0n at 12:27 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Holy shit. This makes my stomach turn. I don't have anything crazy like this at home, but I'm still going to double-check all my childproofing tonight.
posted by brain_drain at 12:27 PM on October 15, 2009


Wait, what, it's only at 1,000 feet now?
posted by setanor at 12:28 PM on October 15, 2009


I really wish they would not show this on the tube--we don't need to see a 6-year-old get killed on TV.
posted by etaoin at 12:28 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


If he hits the ground at an angle, which seems likely, that will blunt the impact.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:28 PM on October 15, 2009


Stupid question: The balloon looks like mylar, which means it won't pop if punctured. Can they shoot through the balloon with something like a .22, or a crossbow or a tranq dart to let it leak air slowly? so that it slowly descends?
posted by Pastabagel at 12:28 PM on October 15, 2009


I've been skydiving. I suspect they'd be likely to collapse the balloon.

I was thinking they go for the ropes.
posted by Max Power at 12:28 PM on October 15, 2009


2 choppers, a big net, good pilots?

Highly-skilled pilots have had a good track record in catching things in mid-air to prevent them from crashi - er, never mind.

...unconfirmed reports that a sibling saw the kid fall out of the balloon...

Gads, I hope not; this is the kind of oddball story that's supposed to end with a happy reunion and cute The View appearances shortly thereafter. Fingers crossed that everything turns out OK for the kid.
posted by AzraelBrown at 12:29 PM on October 15, 2009


Wow they are saying that the balloon could be complete helium so he would have no oxygen. This is scary.
posted by lilkeith07 at 12:29 PM on October 15, 2009


delmoi: looks like its already loosing helium
posted by Reverend John at 12:29 PM on October 15, 2009


"The boy is probably not enjoying the flight at this point."

O RLY?
posted by booticon at 12:29 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


The National Guard is launching a helicopter to attempt some sort of rescue.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:29 PM on October 15, 2009


"How about experienced sky divers, as many as you can drop?"

I'm not experienced at all, never got licensed, and only had enough money to complete two descents under my own canopy, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

I don't think there's any way. Matching altitude under canopy with a balloon would be... really difficult. And you'd have to somehow attach an enormous canopy - and where would they obtain such a canopy and with what would they fasten it? - while in the middle of some very difficult canopy control. I just don't see it happening.

The commentators on the live feed mentioned that he's possibly been asphyxiated by helium. I hope the kid somehow jumped out before it got too high.
posted by kavasa at 12:29 PM on October 15, 2009


"The structure at the bottom of the balloon that the boy is in is made of extremely thin plywood and won't withstand any kind of a crash at all," said Erik Nilsson, Larimer County emergency manager, according to CNN affiliate KMGH.

Also they are saying on CNN that he may have already fallen out. Also some concern whether the helium can leak into the compartment. Balloon traveling between 15 and 25 miles per hour.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:30 PM on October 15, 2009


Can they shoot through the balloon with something like a .22, or a crossbow or a tranq dart to let it leak air slowly? so that it slowly descends?

Who wants to be wrong? Who wants to miss?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:30 PM on October 15, 2009


I remember there being a NASA mission where they planned on retrieving a capsule by hooking the parachute from a moving helicopter. Link. This seems like the ideal way to do this, unfortunatly I doubt anyone in the area would have equipment.

The other idea, again with a moving helicopter, is to have a responder rappel out of the moving helicopter to grab one of the teathers. And it looks like thats what's being proposed.
posted by hellojed at 12:30 PM on October 15, 2009


we don't need to see a 6-year-old get killed on TV

They're on a delay, so if anything like that happens they won't show it.
posted by hifiparasol at 12:30 PM on October 15, 2009


I'm going to be so sad if this doesn't work out.
posted by Reverend John at 12:31 PM on October 15, 2009


Live stream on CNN
posted by clearly at 12:31 PM on October 15, 2009


CNN mentioned that it was around 7 degrees fahrenheit at the balloons assumed altitude.

I think they must be wrong. The weather link I posted before was for altitudes above sea level. Even up at 12,000' above sea level it's close to freezing, not 7 degrees F. Here's another source (sorry this probably also looks pretty cryptic, but I trust this a lot more than CNN getting numbers right in a rapidly developing story).
posted by exogenous at 12:31 PM on October 15, 2009


I wonder if they could land a skydiver or two on it, attach a grappling hook, and jump off or something. Or else scramble down there and get him and jump out. But how do you do that without losing both people? The kid may have already passed out.
posted by acoutu at 12:32 PM on October 15, 2009


it's only at 500 feet
posted by papercake at 12:32 PM on October 15, 2009


Oh, live TV. The first on-the-scene television reporting happened with a kid trapped in a well. (That did not, ahem, end well.)

For all the INTERNETS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS folks here, yes, sure, it's great that you all care. But given that your anguish has no causal relationship to any possible outcome here (unless you're in Colorado and have some sort of giant cushion you can deploy), and it's more fun to deflate, no pun intended, the tension around this, how about y'all relax about the kid who floated away? Your outraged sense of propriety is no more justifiable than clowning on this, and how about we wait on calling it a "tragedy" until, you know, there's a resolution?
posted by klangklangston at 12:32 PM on October 15, 2009 [12 favorites]


500 ft
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:32 PM on October 15, 2009


MSNBC just said it was about 60 degrees at that altitude, hypothermia would not be a concern.
posted by padraigin at 12:32 PM on October 15, 2009


They said on MSNBC that they won't show anything live as it gets closer to the ground.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:32 PM on October 15, 2009


This story went from deeply whimsical to deeply terrifying in my mind in a matter of seconds. And now that I'm seeing the video footage, there's an awful feeling in my stomach. Currently praying to whatever entity seems appropriate.
posted by naju at 12:32 PM on October 15, 2009


would it descend this quickly without a boy in it?
posted by papercake at 12:33 PM on October 15, 2009


Just now my mom called me "Are you near a TV?"

"Do you mean the balloon kid? It's on the internet."
posted by odinsdream at 12:33 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait, what, it's only at 1,000 feet now?

The land itself its about 5,000 feet above sea level, so even though it is at "6,000 feet" it is about 1,000 feet above the ground.
posted by mikepop at 12:33 PM on October 15, 2009


The reporter in the Sky9 helicopter says that it's at 500 ft now, and circling in a small area. The news channel has also announce that they are not going to show any video of the landing until they KNOW that the child is safe.

That poor kid. I've vacillating between absolute terror for the kid and utter rage at his parents.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:33 PM on October 15, 2009


Or how about a remote controlled airplane that drags a tether up to it.
posted by delmoi at 12:33 PM on October 15, 2009


I hope that kid isn't in there. Is it a helicopter following the balloon? Gah. It's like you can follow it all across, for a good hour, but are helpless to do a damn thing. Eye on the tv, cause tragedy thrills me, whatever flavor, it happens to be.
posted by cashman at 12:34 PM on October 15, 2009


David Shuster on MSNBC also pointed out that the kid, coming from somewhat aviation-skilled family, might be a little more knowledgeable about what do do in such a situation than a regular kid.
posted by hifiparasol at 12:34 PM on October 15, 2009


I am watching it live here:
http://www.breitbart.tv/watch-live-boy-in-balloon-aircraft-soars-out-of-control-over-colorado/

They keep pointing out that it is not going very fast, it just looks that way from a circling helicopter. Now is is descending slowly to the ground. Fingers crossed.
posted by LarryC at 12:35 PM on October 15, 2009


It looks to me like there isn't much of a load inside there. The movement just looks odd.
posted by bobo123 at 12:35 PM on October 15, 2009


His father's website. Warning - noisy, crappy music.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:35 PM on October 15, 2009


100 ft.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:35 PM on October 15, 2009


Impact!
posted by fixedgear at 12:35 PM on October 15, 2009


soft landing
posted by papercake at 12:35 PM on October 15, 2009


It just landed.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:35 PM on October 15, 2009


Just landed!
posted by hellojed at 12:35 PM on October 15, 2009


It just landed!!!
posted by oulipian at 12:35 PM on October 15, 2009


He just landed.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:35 PM on October 15, 2009


Oh it's on the ground. Jesus fuck.
posted by booticon at 12:35 PM on October 15, 2009


Just landed, very soft.
posted by LarryC at 12:35 PM on October 15, 2009


Please media outlets - pull back into a wide shot when the balloon gets to the ground. Do your tight zoom after you've confirmed Falcon is alive.
posted by jaimev at 12:35 PM on October 15, 2009


I hope you're right, but my father is a pharmacologist and my mother is a pharmacist. At age 6, I wouldn't have known the difference between aspirin and heroin.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:35 PM on October 15, 2009


soft landing, for anyone that stopped watching
posted by mikepop at 12:36 PM on October 15, 2009


Well thank god it landed softly!!!!
posted by cashman at 12:36 PM on October 15, 2009


Oops.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:36 PM on October 15, 2009


they don't know how to get into it
posted by papercake at 12:36 PM on October 15, 2009


Just landed, looked like it landed really soft, which is good.
posted by lilkeith07 at 12:36 PM on October 15, 2009


Landed!
posted by zeoslap at 12:36 PM on October 15, 2009


Well it's on the ground.
posted by chunking express at 12:36 PM on October 15, 2009


This is going to be awesome or terrible.
posted by clearly at 12:36 PM on October 15, 2009


How could he possibly be asphyxiated by the helium? He would have to climb up into the bag from the cargo unit, which seems like something even a six year old would be unlikely to do, or the gas would have to displace the normal atmosphere in the cabin, which is under the gasbag. That just seems unlikely.

Now, the cold up there, that seems like it might be an issue.
posted by mwhybark at 12:37 PM on October 15, 2009


No one is in there.
posted by fixedgear at 12:37 PM on October 15, 2009


open up the damned thing!
posted by papercake at 12:37 PM on October 15, 2009


I'm following this exclusively via MetaFilter. It's gripping.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:38 PM on October 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


OPEN IT!!!!!!!!!
posted by 8dot3 at 12:38 PM on October 15, 2009


David Shuster on MSNBC also pointed out that the kid, coming from somewhat aviation-skilled family, might be a little more knowledgeable about what do do in such a situation than a regular kid.

1) He's six. years. old.

2) He already did the most primarily unsafe thing, which was to get inside it and fly away.

Hope he's okay. It would be nice for this to just be a whimsical story about a flying Falcon.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:38 PM on October 15, 2009


This is the most fascinating, surreal video I've ever seen.
posted by oulipian at 12:38 PM on October 15, 2009


I think they know he's not in it, they're securing the balloon to the ground and don't seem to be going for the undercarriage right away.
posted by nowoutside at 12:38 PM on October 15, 2009


there's nothing in it. they're moving it too easily.
posted by papercake at 12:38 PM on October 15, 2009


It also doesn't look like the kid is in the balloon?
posted by chunking express at 12:39 PM on October 15, 2009


Where the hell's the kid? Is he even in there?
posted by scalefree at 12:39 PM on October 15, 2009


Is he in there?? Doesn't look that way...
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:39 PM on October 15, 2009


No one inside?!
posted by LarryC at 12:39 PM on October 15, 2009


It's empty.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:39 PM on October 15, 2009


The way they're hacking at it with axes, I'm guessing they have information that he's not in there. Sheesh.
posted by heyho at 12:39 PM on October 15, 2009


Nobody's in the basket...
posted by not_on_display at 12:39 PM on October 15, 2009


Balloon is empty.
posted by Lord_Pall at 12:39 PM on October 15, 2009


No one in it, they say.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:39 PM on October 15, 2009


He fell out/off somewhere.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:39 PM on October 15, 2009


MY TV IS DEAD SO I CAN'T FOLLOW THIS ON THE NEWS, everyone please keep posting updates!
posted by ErikaB at 12:39 PM on October 15, 2009


It's full of cans.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:40 PM on October 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


There's nobody in it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:40 PM on October 15, 2009


Hope they find that kid.
posted by cashman at 12:40 PM on October 15, 2009


Ugh.
posted by Reverend John at 12:40 PM on October 15, 2009


he must have fallen out as his brother said
posted by papercake at 12:40 PM on October 15, 2009


(wherever he is)
posted by cashman at 12:40 PM on October 15, 2009


This CNN anchor is an idiot.
posted by smackfu at 12:40 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


If he just untied it and ran away he is so fucking grounded.
posted by 8dot3 at 12:40 PM on October 15, 2009 [44 favorites]


Are they sure he was ever in there?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:40 PM on October 15, 2009


Wow there's nobody inside....I hope the kid is safe somewhere.
posted by lilkeith07 at 12:40 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Viral marketing for his storm chaser parents.
posted by fixedgear at 12:40 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


No kid! Hopefully he is safe at home...?
posted by LarryC at 12:40 PM on October 15, 2009


man, that reporter is out of shape. catch your breath, for chrissakes.
posted by papercake at 12:41 PM on October 15, 2009


Here's to me hoping that the kid is hiding for fear he'd be in trouble for setting the thing off. :(
posted by frecklefaerie at 12:41 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm thinking he was never in it in the first place. Let it go and now he's hiding in the bushes somewhere. How would he have been able to fall out with the balloon still sealed like that? Something doesn't compute.
posted by booticon at 12:41 PM on October 15, 2009


No kid is good. Missing kid, not so much.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:41 PM on October 15, 2009


If he was holding onto it as it went up, he might be blocks away, injured, on a roof somewhere or in a tree. I am going to refrain from making jokes until I know just what happened to this kid.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:41 PM on October 15, 2009


Al Capone's vault.
posted by shadow vector at 12:41 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Does this mean we can't call him Captain Falcon?
posted by clearly at 12:42 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


ok, now can we make jokes?
posted by mannequito at 12:42 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Of course, if he's hiding in his basement, I will let loose with some murderous sarcasm.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:42 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is so incredibly depressing.......
posted by caddis at 12:42 PM on October 15, 2009


CNN update: No one inside as balloon lands
posted by thewittyname at 12:42 PM on October 15, 2009


Wow, Colorado sure has big fields of nothing.
posted by smackfu at 12:42 PM on October 15, 2009


Adam Choad reporting for MSNBC?
posted by papercake at 12:43 PM on October 15, 2009


If his brother said he saw him fall out, they are looking for a body now (
posted by Max Power at 12:43 PM on October 15, 2009


Crazy.
posted by delmoi at 12:43 PM on October 15, 2009


Lay off the jokes -- do you have kids? Didn't think so.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:43 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


There goes his Darwin Award. Or would it have to be awarded to his parents (providing they agreed not to have any more kids)?
posted by Man with Lantern at 12:43 PM on October 15, 2009


How would he have been able to fall out with the balloon still sealed like that? Something doesn't compute.

While tethered, the door to the balloon's cabin was open and unlocked. It may have been damaged in the landing.
posted by zarq at 12:44 PM on October 15, 2009


More jokes, please.
posted by fixedgear at 12:44 PM on October 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


ErikaB: pick your favorite cable news channel, go to its website & watch the live feed. It's on all the channels.
posted by scalefree at 12:45 PM on October 15, 2009


too soon, fixed gear, too soon
posted by ouke at 12:45 PM on October 15, 2009


More jokes, please.

Two guys walk into a bar.
One guy says, "Shut the fuck up, we're talking about a 6-year-old kid."
The other guy says, "What the fuck is wrong with you?"
Insert your own punchline here, dick.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:45 PM on October 15, 2009 [16 favorites]


MSNBC says authorities did search the house, just in case the parents were mistaken and the kid wasn't in the balloon, and didn't find him.

This doesn't look good at all.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:45 PM on October 15, 2009


You know what? I've lost so much confidence in human decency over the years that I'm going to ask this question: Do we have evidence that Falcon ever existed in the first place and that this isn't some kind of publicity stunt?
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:46 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


If his brother said he saw him fall out, they are looking for a body now (

What is frustrating to me is that (and I'm not watching it anywhere, just following this on MeFi) that it seems like they devoted all the resources to catching the balloon, and none to finding the kid if he did fall out. Was there another team doing ground search and rescue that isn't getting this hardcore press?
posted by anastasiav at 12:46 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, someone just take it to MeTa already.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:46 PM on October 15, 2009


The Wife-Swap angle to this is just bizarre.
posted by HumanComplex at 12:46 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Lay off the jokes -- did you lose your experimental helium aircraft? Didn't think so.
posted by clearly at 12:46 PM on October 15, 2009 [40 favorites]


There's a sighting of something falling out along its flight, they're organizing a search of that area (Fox).
posted by scalefree at 12:46 PM on October 15, 2009


I tuned in late to the live video, and the first thing I though after seeing it to scale against the ground vehicles was "That's not big enough to lift a kid".

Didn't anyone see that episode of Mythbusters?

I bet the kid accidentally let it fly, and is hiding. (That's what I'd have done, I think, at that age.)
posted by pjern at 12:47 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Presumably they'll follow the thing's flight path and do a ground search along the way. I hope that kid is okay.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:47 PM on October 15, 2009


I imagine they're searching like crazy in the neighborhood he took off from and the rest of the flight path.
posted by papercake at 12:47 PM on October 15, 2009


Anastasiav, it's safe to say that since the image of the out-of-control balloon with a child (presumably) inside makes for much better television, we wouldn't really see any pre-landing coverage of any ground search activities. We should be hearing about those now.
posted by davejay at 12:47 PM on October 15, 2009


You know what? I've lost so much confidence in human decency over the years that I'm going to ask this question: Do we have evidence that Falcon ever existed in the first place and that this isn't some kind of publicity stunt?

*sigh*
posted by zarq at 12:47 PM on October 15, 2009


This article says that the family appeared on an episode of Wife Swap.

I have no further comment about any of this, becuase my mom always said, if you can't say something nice.......
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:48 PM on October 15, 2009


That sure is a silly police line on the CNN feed.
posted by smackfu at 12:48 PM on October 15, 2009


I bet the kid accidentally let it fly, and is hiding. (That's what I'd have done, I think, at that age.)

I'm sure that's what his parents are really, really hoping for right now. I know I am.
posted by davejay at 12:49 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


We don't really need evidence that it's not a publicity stunt. If somebody wants to make that accusation, they need to provide evidence that it was. Otherwise, this is exactly what it seems -- two adults who weren't as careful as they should have been and might have had a child die as a result.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:49 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ok, the empty balloon + empty house + ground search is sobering.
posted by 8dot3 at 12:49 PM on October 15, 2009


The family was on ABC's Wife Swap.
posted by HumanComplex at 12:49 PM on October 15, 2009


Is it just me, or did one damnfool cop actually PULL HIS GUN as the balloon touched down?
posted by elizardbits at 12:49 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Thinking he was never in it.... ohhhh, the hugs that kid is going to get..and then off to be early.
posted by Mojojojo at 12:50 PM on October 15, 2009


From dpx.mfx's link: Richard Heene has been described by friends as a sort of "mad scientist." He is a storm chaser and has a Web site, call[ed] The Psyience Detectives, which "investigates the mysteries of science and psychic phenomenon."
posted by zarq at 12:50 PM on October 15, 2009


HuffPo on the Wife Swap connection, with video.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:50 PM on October 15, 2009


Is it just me, or did one damnfool cop actually PULL HIS GUN as the balloon touched down?

I saw that too. No idea what the hell he could have been thinking.
posted by zarq at 12:51 PM on October 15, 2009


I bet the kid accidentally let it fly, and is hiding.

That would be great, but the print story on CNN says that his brother saw him get in before it took off. Hopefully CNN got it wrong in the heat of a fast breaking story.
posted by caddis at 12:51 PM on October 15, 2009


Heene family chasing Gustav.
posted by geoff. at 12:51 PM on October 15, 2009


Parents: are you as careful as Astro Zombie says you should be? Take our quiz and find out.
posted by rob paxon at 12:51 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I bet the kid accidentally let it fly, and is hiding. (That's what I'd have done, I think, at that age.)

Kids don't generally hide for over two hours at that age though. Six-year-olds aren't exactly great at hiding for long periods of time without being found, especially considering that police experts searched the house (and presumably the surrounding area). I would be very happy to be wrong, but I don't think this is going to end well.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:51 PM on October 15, 2009


MSNBC: "A mad scientist sort of family." And maybe it's not Falcon, but another brother?
posted by fixedgear at 12:52 PM on October 15, 2009


I say this as someone who HOPES it's some kind of hoax (I have a 4 year old and this is killing me):

I find it more than a little weird that it sounds like their first call was to the media?
posted by peep at 12:52 PM on October 15, 2009


Is it just me, or did one damnfool cop actually PULL HIS GUN as the balloon touched down?

Flying saucer... field in Colorado... you've been to the movies haven't you?
posted by clearly at 12:52 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Does anybody know about how many miles the aircraft traveled in the air?
posted by lilkeith07 at 12:52 PM on October 15, 2009


Is it just me, or did one damnfool cop actually PULL HIS GUN as the balloon touched down?

There was much activity by a couple of people trying to rope it to make sure it stayed in place. I would imagine the police officer may have been thinking "how can I quickly pop the balloon?" and luckily thought better of it.
posted by davejay at 12:53 PM on October 15, 2009


That would be great, but the print story on CNN says that his brother saw him get in before it took off.

I hope this is just a dumb-ass stunt the two kids cooked up. "Okay, you go hide -- I'll say you got in and took off!"
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:53 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


elizardbits: "Is it just me, or did one damnfool cop actually PULL HIS GUN as the balloon touched down?"

Who would be building "experimental aircraft" in their backyard in the first place?

That's right. Terrorists.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:53 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


We don't really need evidence that it's not a publicity stunt. If somebody wants to make that accusation, they need to provide evidence that it was. Otherwise, this is exactly what it seems -- two adults who weren't as careful as they should have been and might have had a child die as a result.

Only if you're the sort of person who believes what other people say.

I'm not making light of the situation, nor am I accusing anybody of faking anything. It's just a reflection on me that I can even conceive of somebody, somewhere, lying about something like this.

I hope the kid is hiding somewhere, scared but safe.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:53 PM on October 15, 2009


I can certainly conceive of it being a publicity stunt. I just have no reason, at the moment, to think it is, except that the parents seem a little publicity happy, which I think has become something of a national disease now, and is not limited to this family.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:55 PM on October 15, 2009


They just showed a replay of the landing and it seems really clear to me that no one thought he was still on the balloon when it landed. No one even tried to open the bottom part.
posted by smackfu at 12:55 PM on October 15, 2009


Yeah, but faking Bigfoot is one thing; this is something else entirely.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:55 PM on October 15, 2009


MSNBC just showed the landing, I definitely saw an idiot cop holding a pistol, pointed at the ground. At least it wasn't pointed at the balloon.
posted by scalefree at 12:55 PM on October 15, 2009


I hope this is just a dumb-ass stunt the two kids cooked up. "Okay, you go hide -- I'll say you got in and took off!"

we need Bruce Willis to come back from the future and tell us to all stop worrying about this, and concentrate on the death plague soon to be served to us by monkeys.
posted by mannequito at 12:56 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Here's the balloon in a rather surprising setting. And the family too.
posted by ouke at 12:56 PM on October 15, 2009


It seemed like the door/hatch thing was closed. They said the hatch was made of cardboard, but it didn't look torn.

I'm holding out hope that these two facts mean that the kid jumped out from a reasonable altitude and has a broken leg somewhere and will be found and rushed to the hospital and we'll be making snarky comments about the family interviews on Oprah next week.
posted by papercake at 12:57 PM on October 15, 2009


This is horrible horrible horrible horrible.

I seriously hope that kid is at home somewhere.....as the mother of a little person, this is so upsetting.
posted by zizzle at 12:57 PM on October 15, 2009


Just hoping that as people are suggesting he untethered it and realising what had happened and ran for it. As for 6 year olds don't run for more than two hours, I wouldnt be so sure about that. Hoping this ends well but not convinced.
posted by numberstation at 12:57 PM on October 15, 2009


zoinks. There is a video on the HuffPo page with the family denouncing 'overprotective' people as 'p*ssies'.
posted by drowsy at 12:57 PM on October 15, 2009


Nice. The heads on CNN seem to be complaining about the cost and resources used on a non-rescue. I wonder if they would even be saying that if there HAD been a boy inside?
posted by hippybear at 12:57 PM on October 15, 2009


I'm flagging poor taste jokes too, but I have to say that the Wife Swap connection and the description the news anchor gave about the family calling them and urging them to get thier news chopper in the area seem a little odd.

I certainly hope the little guy is okay.
posted by Big_B at 12:57 PM on October 15, 2009


Seeing this story covered by CNN and MSNBC and whatever other networks really disgusts me. They've taken one family's terrible ordeal and turned it into an easy-to-digest package of news of the weird story with a side of pathos for the viewer to consume. Thousands of other little boys around the world have faced mortal danger this year and probably thousands have died, but the media didn't throw up a live video feed for each one because their hearing about a kid who succumbed to AIDS and malnutrition or a kid that stepped out in traffic is boring, it doesn't make good entertainment. And let's be honest, that's all this story really is to the news networks and to us, the viewers at home: entertainment. And that sickens me.
posted by homuncula at 12:59 PM on October 15, 2009 [19 favorites]


It looks from the video that the "saucer" was mean't to be the other way up and not carrying a gondola on the bottom. This would jive with the concept that it was mean't to just hover while tethered. It must have tipped over shortly after takeoff.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:59 PM on October 15, 2009


Does anybody know about how many miles the aircraft traveled in the air?

Ten miles.
posted by Houstonian at 12:59 PM on October 15, 2009


Well, this is depressing.
posted by odinsdream at 12:59 PM on October 15, 2009


papercake: "I'm holding out hope that these two facts mean that the kid jumped out from a reasonable altitude and has a broken leg somewhere and will be found and rushed to the hospital and we'll be making snarky comments about the family interviews on Oprah next week."

Even before the dingus landed, the news was reporting that "victims' advocates" were with the family.

I am highly suspicious of the motives involved there.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:00 PM on October 15, 2009


Was the kid ever in the balloon? Maybe the brother let the balloon go and then told dad "Falcon did it! And he's ... um...in the balloon!" Meanwhile Falcon is playing video games at the neighbor's house.
posted by LarryC at 1:01 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


If this turns out to be a stunt, I might drive there and ... shout at them.
posted by papercake at 1:01 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


And I guess I should admit my own hypocrisy, because I'm as emotionally invested in this story as everyone else in this thread. I don't mean it as a callout of anyone who's following the story, or a callout of empath for making the FPP. My anger is at the media outlets pushing this story.
posted by homuncula at 1:02 PM on October 15, 2009


Supposedly the balloon was not designed to carry anyone. But it's not clear if that also means it was incapable of doing so. If that were the case, it's possible the kid was never in the air at all.
posted by tommasz at 1:03 PM on October 15, 2009


Seeing this story covered by CNN and MSNBC and whatever other networks really disgusts me. They've taken one family's terrible ordeal and turned it into an easy-to-digest package of news of the weird story with a side of pathos for the viewer to consume. Thousands of other little boys around the world have faced mortal danger this year and probably thousands have died, but the media didn't throw up a live video feed for each one because their hearing about a kid who succumbed to AIDS and malnutrition or a kid that stepped out in traffic is boring, it doesn't make good entertainment. And let's be honest, that's all this story really is to the news networks and to us, the viewers at home: entertainment. And that sickens me

Seriously, with no snark: you undervalue "entertainment" (I'd call it drama) as a human need.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:03 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


homuncula: "let's be honest, that's all this story really is to the news networks and to us, the viewers at home: entertainment. "

Well, while we wait for the miraculous/tragic ending of this story, here's Billy Wilder's classic Ace In The Hole.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:03 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Current theory being discussed on MSNBC and CNN is that the 6 year old (Falcon) let the balloon go ... got scared in that he'd be punished and he's hiding somewhere in the neighborhood.
posted by ericb at 1:03 PM on October 15, 2009


becuase my mom always said, if you can't say something nice.......

...tell everybody what your mom said?
posted by adamdschneider at 1:04 PM on October 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


I'm listening to the Colorado State Patrol dispatches, and there is a HEAVY ground search going on as would be expected.
posted by rollbiz at 1:04 PM on October 15, 2009


Wolf Blizter has the wall map out now. Good grief!
posted by jeanmari at 1:04 PM on October 15, 2009


Seeing this story covered by CNN and MSNBC and whatever other networks really disgusts me. They've taken one family's terrible ordeal and turned it into an easy-to-digest package of news of the weird story with a side of pathos for the viewer to consume.

Mars Girl by Jeff Garrity explores this in a fascinating way. Since I haven't had a TV for several years now, each time I come into contact with traditional media, this being a particularly relevant example, I think back on the way media works in his novel.
posted by odinsdream at 1:04 PM on October 15, 2009


...adds breaking news stories about boys in balloons to list of subjects that don't go well on MeFi...
posted by fixedgear at 1:04 PM on October 15, 2009


It landed. He wasn't even in the aircraft...
posted by spiderskull at 1:04 PM on October 15, 2009


So if it turns out the the gondola was really just a "cup", mean't to be on the top while hovering tethered, then it's been pretty much known to all involved that it's been impossible for the kid to have been with the balloon this whole time.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:04 PM on October 15, 2009


Where is the story which mentions what the older brother said (about seeing the boy fall or whatever)?
posted by iconomy at 1:05 PM on October 15, 2009


It's a basic problem of having 3 24-hour news channels. They have to fill all that time with something, and they have to fill it with things which will draw eyeballs to the channel so the advertisers will continue to fund their channels. They pick and choose, find the stories which will grab the most attention. Jessica McClure pretty much help make CNN in their very early days, so the "child in danger" coverage on this sort of channel is basically a staple.
posted by hippybear at 1:05 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is a fuckin brilliant publicity stunt.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 1:05 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is totally devastating, but I gotta admit, I've got a strange feeling about the parents.
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:05 PM on October 15, 2009


The Heene family appeared on ABC-TV's reality show Wife Swap last year. More about the family at the show's website.
posted by ericb at 1:06 PM on October 15, 2009


*Turns off "We're Sending Our Love Down the Well", turns on "I Do Believe We're Naked"*
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:07 PM on October 15, 2009 [13 favorites]


If it's a publicity stunt, it is going to backfire, hard. I wouldn't call that brilliant.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:07 PM on October 15, 2009


There's no way this is a publicity stunt, unless the parents are complete morons and/or unbelievably rich. These people are going to be in debt for the rest of their lives because of this. And no corporation would have paid them to do this as a viral thing -- if that ever came to light, they'd be screwed, too.
posted by gurple at 1:08 PM on October 15, 2009


homuncula, I don't know that it's entertainment. It's fascination. There aren't a lot of unknowns in a child dying of malnutrition or in a car wreck. A kid trapped in out of control homemade UFO? Virtually every word in that sentence invites questions.
posted by schoolgirl report at 1:08 PM on October 15, 2009


CNN.com is front-paging Richard Heene's "iReport" on Mars.
posted by setanor at 1:08 PM on October 15, 2009


The CNN meteorologist is so excited right now to be explaining the flight path of the balloon, winds, etc. At this point, the coverage is classic cable ridiculous.
posted by jeanmari at 1:08 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm listening to the Colorado State Patrol dispatches, and there is a HEAVY ground search going on as would be expected.

If I were a Fort Collins Police officer, with the evidence that he was never in the balloon to begin with, I would be damned sure the kid wasn't under his bed or at grandma's house down the street before allocating any more resources to this fiasco.
posted by clearly at 1:08 PM on October 15, 2009


On CNN, they keep saying that the parents "are cooperating." This seems strange to me. If it's really just a terrible incident, of course they are cooperating! So, why do they keep saying that?
posted by Houstonian at 1:08 PM on October 15, 2009


"When the Heene family aren't chasing storms, they devote their time to scientific experiments that include looking for extraterrestrials and building a research-gathering flying saucer to send into the eye of the storm. In this ultimate swap, the Heenes swap lives with a psychic mom who speaks to the dead and can control the weather, her husband and her children -- who believe they are destined to be stars. This show will feature aliens, punk rockers, past-life regression and, for the first time ever, the children from the two families will face off in a kids' table meeting. 'Heene/Silver,'the 100th episode of Wife Swap, destined to become a classic!

Wife Mayumi (43) and storm scientist Richard (45) take their three kids, Bradford (8), Ryo (7) and Falcon (5), out of school to go on storm chasing missions to prove Richard's theories about magnetic fields and gravity. If conditions are right, Mayumi wakes her family by shouting 'Storm Approaching, Storm Approaching!' into a bullhorn. The family sleep in their clothes so they can leap out of bed and into the storm-mobile. Richard calls Mayumi his 'ninja wife'; she maintains equipment, drives the storm-mobile, films tornadoes and waits with the kids while Richard jumps on his motorbike, heads into the eye of the storm and launches rockets to measure magnetic forces. At home the family are as chaotic as a twister: the kids have no table manners and throw themselves around the house, and while Richard devotes every moment to his research, he expects Mayumi to cook, clean and run the house without any help." *
posted by ericb at 1:08 PM on October 15, 2009


then it's been pretty much known to all involved that it's been impossible for the kid to have been with the balloon this whole time

The tricky bit is that CNN and the other networks are not included in "all involved".
posted by smackfu at 1:09 PM on October 15, 2009


Thousands of other little boys around the world have faced mortal danger this year and probably thousands have died, but the media didn't throw up a live video feed for each one because their hearing about a kid who succumbed to AIDS and malnutrition or a kid that stepped out in traffic is boring, it doesn't make good entertainment.

A balloon chase is telegenic, it goes on for hours & keeps people glued to their seats. That's ratings in the bag. Now that the balloon is down they have to start grasping to hold on to that audience, so they start spinning storylines about how eccentric the family is, looking for clues in the script of the TV show they were on, throwning everything to the wall & seeing what sticks.

You're right that it's grotesque, I don't need to know right this second what really happened to the boy so my TV's going off.
posted by scalefree at 1:09 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah I turned on MSNBC and they were talking about how the family had been on wife swap.

Looking at the design of the balloon, it's not all that clear how he could even have been on it, it looked like the bottom part was sealed in.

If he did fall, he could be anywhere along the balloons path, which looked like it was pretty long.
posted by delmoi at 1:09 PM on October 15, 2009


This is a fuckin brilliant publicity stunt.

Well, the whole UFO as weather balloon theory just became a shit ton more credible.
posted by clearly at 1:10 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


This whole thing has made my stomach turn this afternoon. I am holding on to the hope that the kid is just hiding somewhere....

(When I was young, my brother, a neighbor and I did experiments flying toys around with helium balloons. I was always surprised at the amount of lift, but also how unstable it was. I am just picturing the time when my Sindy doll fell out and her head got smashed to pieces on the pavement... Urk.)
posted by gemmy at 1:10 PM on October 15, 2009


The three Heene boys' YouTube music video, called 'Not Pussified.'

Hoo-boy ... interesting family, to say the least.
posted by ericb at 1:11 PM on October 15, 2009


Just to clear things up, the family appeared on Wife Swap twice.

Heene/Martel

Heene/Silver
posted by trueluk at 1:11 PM on October 15, 2009


Attention MeFi Math Squad!
(well, the famous MeFi Detective Squad can't get all the respect...)

Could a mylar balloon measuring roughly 20 feet across and 5 feet high, full of helium, have enough lift to carry up a 50 pound child (and a very lightweight basket), at a starting altitude of 5000 feet above sea level? Show your work.
posted by Asparagirl at 1:12 PM on October 15, 2009 [11 favorites]


It's been fascinating following this almost exclusively on MeFi.
posted by HumanComplex at 1:12 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Pajamas are pussified!" -- out of the mouth of babes!
posted by ericb at 1:12 PM on October 15, 2009



There's no way this is a publicity stunt, unless the parents are complete morons and/or unbelievably rich. These people are going to be in debt for the rest of their lives because of this.


OK, ignorant Brit here. Why are they going to be in debt?
posted by vbfg at 1:13 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is clearly a viral marketing strategy for Don Delillo's new novel about a family in Colorado who went into viral marketing after their stint on a reality tv show Jesus Christ just NUKE THIS FUCKER FROM ORBIT ALREADY.
posted by The Straightener at 1:13 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


The brother saw the balloon go up, and went to tell a neighbor, who called the authorities. Where were the parents?
posted by Houstonian at 1:13 PM on October 15, 2009


CBS Denver profile of the 'Tornado Chasing Family.'
posted by ericb at 1:14 PM on October 15, 2009


vbfg-- this is a damn costly chase. They'll likely be forced to reimburse at least the city/state for their costs, if this was filing a false report.
posted by ibmcginty at 1:14 PM on October 15, 2009


Also, why weren't the kids in school in the middle of a Thursday?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:14 PM on October 15, 2009


Why are they going to be in debt?

They're likely to be charged for the search and rescue, especially if the incident could be categorized as "foreseeable" or "preventable". Its not unusual for people who do really stupid things to get billed for the cost of their rescue.
posted by anastasiav at 1:14 PM on October 15, 2009


Where were the parents?

Leno's Green Room.
posted by clearly at 1:14 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the front page of CNN.com:

Authorities who reached a balloon that was set adrift by a 6-year-old boy at his parents' Fort Collins, Colorado, home found it empty, according to CNN affiliate KMGH, citing a police report. The balloon landed south of Prospect Springs near Colorado Springs.

I despair for what the 24-hour-news cycle and relentless rush to be first has done to accuracy. I know CNN is based in Atlanta and the people writing this are maybe not so familiar with Colorado geography, but I saw that and said "wait, what? how long was the balloon aloft? That makes no sense."

I can't even figure out how you'd get that wrong. Plugging in "prospect reservoir, co" (which is all over the front page of KUSA, the local affiliate) to google maps doesn't get you anywhere near Colorado Springs.

I wish this wasn't the sort of thing that CNN and MSNBC and all the other cable channels picked up and broadcast over the country. What good does that do, other than make us all worry about the worst? There doesn't seem to be any redeeming value for national networks to cover this, particularly if they can't even be arsed to get the facts right.

I really hope that kid is okay.
posted by iminurmefi at 1:14 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Imagine the thread that would have existed if Metafilter were around back when little Jessica McClure* fell down that well.


*that was her name, right? Or was that the baboon heart baby? I'm too lazy to look it up and horrified that I actually remember her name.
posted by bondcliff at 1:14 PM on October 15, 2009


I, too, have been following exclusively via MeFi - the greatest moment sofar: the "Landed!" simulpost at 2:35 Central Time. I also, daresay, I can't think of a thing I'm missing from MSM, other than a lot of empty talking to avoid dead air.
posted by AzraelBrown at 1:15 PM on October 15, 2009


scalefree: " Now that the balloon is down they have to start grasping to hold on to that audience... throwing everything to the wall & seeing what sticks."

Did the boy ever spend a night at Neverland?
posted by Joe Beese at 1:15 PM on October 15, 2009


OK, ignorant Brit here. Why are they going to be in debt?

Because the city would sue them for causing the city to waste huge amounts of public resources on a hoax?
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:15 PM on October 15, 2009


ibmcginty: I see. But if they really thought the kid was in there, and it then turns out he wasn't, they surely don't have to pay for that?
posted by vbfg at 1:16 PM on October 15, 2009


Also, why weren't the kids in school in the middle of a Thursday?

There was an offhand mention on MSNBC that the kids were out of school today, or this week, or something. I know a lot of kids on year-round schedule who are off right now where I live, so it didn't surprise me.
posted by padraigin at 1:16 PM on October 15, 2009


They would, if this was preventable. You pay for negligence.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:16 PM on October 15, 2009


bondcliff: "Imagine the thread that would have existed if Metafilter were around back when little Jessica McClure* fell down that well."

Here's the 9/11 thread, if that helps.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:16 PM on October 15, 2009


The Psyience Detectives with hosts and producers Richard Heene, Scott Stevens, and Barbra Slusser: YouTube channel.
posted by ericb at 1:16 PM on October 15, 2009


OK, ignorant Brit here. Why are they going to be in debt?

Colorado counties are pretty good at smacking stupid people with the costs of search and rescue when the situation was created due to the person's own negligence. I recall there were a couple of high-profile instances of this when I was living there 10 or 15 years ago--people who should have known better going off totally unprepared to climb a mountain, that sort of thing.

I think (but am not sure) that families don't get billed for search and rescue when it's a unforseeable sort of thing.
posted by iminurmefi at 1:17 PM on October 15, 2009


I can't speak to what the pp meant for sure, but sometimes in the US, if a search and rescue turns out to have been unnecessary and resources were "wasted," then sometimes the town/city/county will require the person who was supposed to have been rescued to pay for the cost of the effort because the effort took time and resources away from other situations and people that perhaps could have really used them. It's supposed to be a way to keep people from crying wolf and is more commonly seen in missing persons cases where the person turns out to never have been missing or in someone filing false reports that take up the time of investigators.

The other way they would be in debt....well....if the kid did fall out of the balloon and is seriously hurt, the medical bills....and if the kid didn't make it.....Well, I won't go into that.....
posted by zizzle at 1:18 PM on October 15, 2009


They think he's hiding in the neighborhood; did not fall out of the balloon.
posted by Houstonian at 1:18 PM on October 15, 2009


There was an offhand mention on MSNBC that the kids were out of school today...

Yeah ... they mentioned on CNN it was due to a teacher conference day at the elementary school.
posted by ericb at 1:18 PM on October 15, 2009


Why weren't the kids in school? Why weren't the parents watching their 6 year old in their own back yard? Why did this family dare to dream the impossible dream? How dare they. They made a video FLAUNTING their lack of basic balloon safety. It all just makes me sick.
posted by rob paxon at 1:19 PM on October 15, 2009


Richard Heene, Science Detective -- MySpace page.
posted by ericb at 1:19 PM on October 15, 2009


Larimer County spokesperson said they think he is on the ground and scared. Never in the balloon.
posted by zerobyproxy at 1:20 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wtf Joe? Haven't you derailed enough lately?
posted by Big_B at 1:20 PM on October 15, 2009


This whole situation is screwed up. I'm going to give my baby an extra hug after work. And also remind him not to get into any lighter-than-air vehicles unsupervised.
posted by caution live frogs at 1:20 PM on October 15, 2009


Real quick rough math has a 20ftx5ft cylinder of helium able to lift 100 pounds.
posted by Diddly at 1:20 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't see this ending well, it seems like all the networks are bracing for the worst.
posted by hellojed at 1:20 PM on October 15, 2009


Now that we're confident the child is alive you may release the hounds of snark, Metafilter.
posted by The Straightener at 1:20 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't have kids, so I'll probably go home and hug my experimental balloon.
posted by notmydesk at 1:20 PM on October 15, 2009 [29 favorites]


This is clearly a viral marketing strategy for Don Delillo's new novel about a family in Colorado who went into viral marketing after their stint on a reality tv show Jesus Christ just NUKE THIS FUCKER FROM ORBIT ALREADY.

A nanosecond before reading your comment, I was musing about how Delillo-esque this whole thing is.
posted by jayder at 1:21 PM on October 15, 2009


As soon as Wife Swap comes on, I am going to hug my television. And then destroy it with an ax.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:21 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


homuncula, I don't know that it's entertainment. It's fascination. There aren't a lot of unknowns in a child dying of malnutrition or in a car wreck. A kid trapped in out of control homemade UFO? Virtually every word in that sentence invites questions.

That's the thing - humans have an innate tendency to rubberneck at accidents and a story that combines potential tragedy with bizarre circumstances is really fucking compelling. What makes me angry is the news networks that exploit this natural human psychology in order to convert a family's suffering into increased Neilsen ratings and page views.
posted by homuncula at 1:21 PM on October 15, 2009


But if they really thought the kid was in there, and it then turns out he wasn't, they surely don't have to pay for that?

It depends. If, in the judgment of the town or state, this was due to their own negligence they'll be asked to pay.

The classic example of this is that there are a handful of people who need to be pulled off mountains each year, despite the Forest Service clearly posting warnings that its unsafe to climb due to weather/landslides/whatever. They ignore the warnings and need to be saved, they pay.

This isn't as clear cut, but its certainly a different situation than, I don't know, a search and rescue because this boy snuck out of a locked house in the middle of the night. In the locked house scenario, the parents would have been seen to take reasonable precautions against the boy going outside. If it becomes clear that they could have prevented this -- either by tethering the balloon better or maybe they've left the kids unsupervised, or whatever, then, yeah, they'll get a bill.

In my experience its much more likely that they'll get a bill if the child is found alive and save than if the child is injured or dead.
posted by anastasiav at 1:21 PM on October 15, 2009



I don't see this ending well, it seems like all the networks are hoping for the worst.


end cynicism.
posted by Think_Long at 1:21 PM on October 15, 2009


Ah, now THIS is the Fort Collins I knew and loved growing up!
posted by scody at 1:22 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why weren't the parents watching their 6 year old in their own back yard?

I don't watch my six year old in our own back yard. To be fair, I don't have a giant fucking helium balloon back there, but what's to stop my kids from tying a kite to the chickens or something?

But god, the whole point of a back yard is safe space for unsupervised play. These parents made theirs potentially unsafe, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
posted by padraigin at 1:22 PM on October 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


I love that the dad, on his MySpace page, thinks television "sucks." I suppose he thought his family's two appearances on "Wife Swap" somehow elevated the medium.

Hope the kid is okay though.
posted by OolooKitty at 1:23 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


what's to stop my kids from tying a kite to the chickens or something?

what
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:23 PM on October 15, 2009 [10 favorites]


I just hope this happened early enough in the day to make it onto tonight's Daily Show.
posted by bondcliff at 1:23 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Richard Heene sounds like a real nutter, "I could also tell you how Richard is convinced that he has found the secret of an anti-gravity device in the cyclonic action of tornadoes"
posted by geoff. at 1:23 PM on October 15, 2009


Metafilter: tying a kite to the chickens or something
posted by mikepop at 1:24 PM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


Nah, MSNBC's David Shuster sounds really concerned, I keep hearing his voice crack.
posted by hellojed at 1:24 PM on October 15, 2009


padraigin: "what's to stop my kids from tying a kite to the chickens or something?"

(1 beak + 8 talons) * number of chickens
posted by Joe Beese at 1:24 PM on October 15, 2009 [18 favorites]


What makes me angry is the news networks that exploit this natural human psychology in order to convert a family's suffering into increased Neilsen ratings and page views.

Yeah, yeah, they do, but until MeFi has a helicopter crew to stream live to breakingnewsandshit.metafilter.com I'm glad that I was able to see it somehow - for, as you say, I am humanly compelled to do so.
posted by setanor at 1:24 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Speaking as a nerdy kid-at-heart who, at one point, really wanted to do exactly this - take off in a home-made helium balloon:


It was difficult to gauge the size of the craft before it landed and had people next to it, and now that it has - I'm nearly 100% certain that a helium balloon of that volume would not be able lift a 50-60 pound six year old. I've seen balloon clusters with volumes bigger than that at Disneyland being held by balloon vendors and those wouldn't even lift a cat. Note that the entire silver envelope is just a shell for what appears to be segments of helium envelopes inside of it, so the craft looks bigger than the actual helium volume inside of it.

For reference, see cluster ballooning. The volume required is an order of magnitude larger.

Previously: Lawnchair Larry Walters.

I'm guessing the kid accidentally released the balloon and hid. That or it's a media stunt or hoax. But I'm nearly certain that it wouldn't lift 50+ pounds of payload off the ground at all.

*goes back to lurking*
posted by loquacious at 1:25 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do the chickens have large talons?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:26 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


How many people have revised their Halloween costume plans based on this story?
posted by MegoSteve at 1:26 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


bondcliff said: "I just hope this happened early enough in the day to make it onto tonight's Daily Show."

It may be a last minute thing. I went to a taping once, and it started at 5PM, but they surely had the script written well before that.
posted by booticon at 1:26 PM on October 15, 2009


I don't see any resolution of this incident, publicity stunt or no, that doesn't involve the parents getting stuck with a giant bill.

Even if the authorities knew (or suspected) the entire time that the kid wasn't in the balloon, they still had to go chase the thing down and make sure no other air traffic hit it. No self-respecting municipality is going to let people jerk it around like that for free.
posted by gurple at 1:27 PM on October 15, 2009


No self-respecting municipality is going to let people jerk it around like that for free.

Nope. It's $20, same as in ...

My own fist just punched me in the face for some reason.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:28 PM on October 15, 2009 [22 favorites]


These parents made theirs potentially unsafe, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. poorly-tethered experimental helium balloon craft.

FTFY.
posted by odinsdream at 1:28 PM on October 15, 2009


bondcliff: "I just hope this happened early enough in the day to make it onto tonight's Daily Show."

I bet they won't cover it unless the kid is found within the next hour. The show is capable of doing a fast turnaround on stories, especially since taping hasn't started yet at this hour. But if they tape the show, snark on the family and kid, and it turns out the boy fell to his death... well, it wouldn't look good.
posted by zarq at 1:28 PM on October 15, 2009


I just watched that Wife Swap link and am now completely fucking enraged. The parents looks so blissfully ignorant. Each has their toys - him with his stupid fucking balloon, and her with her home studio so she can record her generic and simplistic three-chord blues rock horseshit and play it for no one but herself. It's so masturbatingly self-indulgent and egocentric. It's all laughs and good times. I wonder if they made some money house flipping in the roaring double-oh's.

To wit:

This would jive with the concept that it was mean't to just hover while tethered. It must have tipped over shortly after takeoff.

In other words, the guy wanted to build a stereotypical-looking UFO, is that right? If that's the case the guy who built it is a fucking moron.

You know why bread always falls butter side down? Because the center of mass is closer to that side. Of course the balloon would roll so the gondola was on the bottom, because that's where the center of mass is. That's why the stupid latex ballons you have at birthday parties float with the knot at the bottom. You'd think if you were going to build a craft capable of violating 94% of FAA regulations, you might pick up a physics textbook and jot down a force diagram or two. But no, that's work! Just build what's in the UFO book, that's SECRET ALIEN TECHNOLOGY.

In America, we have more money than sense. Lost of money to explore "psychic research" like the dad here, lots of money for home studios. But not a lot of concentrated effort. Instead of a home studio, study music composition. Believe me, I feel for the family worrying about their son. But maybe they should rethink calling protective parents "pussies" - their kids weren't in danger of dying on a balloon today.

But I have to say, I see that wife swap clip and I want certain parts of this country to fall into a depression so massive in erupts in rioting and anarchy. We desperately need to learn the lessons that our lifestyle here forced people in other parts of the world to learn ten or twenty years ago.

Shame on them for their pride in their ignorance. Shame on them for letting their stupidity run so far ahead of common sense.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:28 PM on October 15, 2009 [17 favorites]


Geeze, CNN! The kid was not in the balloon, which means that no one cares about it anymore. I don't care what it is made out of or how much lift it has. Please stop talking about something never really worked that well and now has nothing to do with anything. Where is the kid? Can we talk about that instead?

Okay, no more TV news for me. I lasted 20 minutes before yelling at the TV like and old man.
posted by Alison at 1:28 PM on October 15, 2009


This is what they have to worry about
posted by stormpooper at 1:29 PM on October 15, 2009


what's to stop my kids from tying a kite to the chickens or something?

Ok, but if the chicken flew off with your child, would the brother/sister run to you, or run to the neighbor? He/she would run to you to let you know, right? In this case, the brother ran to a neighbor. The neighbor called the authorities.

I'm betting the parents weren't at home.
posted by Houstonian at 1:29 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The fact that his other little brother was the one who "witnessed" him climbing into the non-habitable compartment leads me to believe that the kid never left the ground in the first place. It seems like the kind of story a little boy would make up to cover up some mischeif.

I'll be interested to see where he turns up.
posted by Avenger at 1:29 PM on October 15, 2009


It's an oblate spheroid, which I believe means that the formula to calculate the volume is:
4
- * π * (10*10*2.5) = 1047.19755 ft³
3
I'd guess based on some quick googling that 1. That'd lift about 60 pounds and 2. It's been a really long time since I've had to think about math so you shouldn't trust that number at all.
posted by togdon at 1:29 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


her generic and simplistic three-chord blues rock horseshit

Shame on her for not having innate musical proficiency!
posted by setanor at 1:30 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


I can't really argue with the reasonableness of the culpable carrying at least some of the costs of their actions in the sorts of situations that merit some kind of response. Seems a bit odd to me in a situation like this though.

Do you get a choice in whether or not they search for the kid or are your hands pretty much tied there?
posted by vbfg at 1:30 PM on October 15, 2009


60 pounds including the skin, and the skin of something like that is heavier than you'd think.
posted by smackfu at 1:30 PM on October 15, 2009


Do you get a choice in whether or not they search for the kid or are your hands pretty much tied there?

Do you mean, could the parents of a missing six-year-old tell the police, nah, don't bother? I hope to hell the answer is "no."
posted by Bookhouse at 1:32 PM on October 15, 2009


I want certain parts of this country to fall into a depression so massive in erupts in rioting and anarchy

Not the part where you live, though, right? Bastion of upright folk as it no doubt is.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:32 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


This balloon, it landed?
posted by Kalthare at 1:34 PM on October 15, 2009


yep, landed and basket was empty.
posted by ijaaz at 1:35 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


hope the kid is safe.

that is all
posted by edgeways at 1:35 PM on October 15, 2009


Am I the only one who thinks that there are/were more important things for the news to be reporting than this whole incident? Because, honestly, I just don't get what the big deal is.
posted by lunit at 1:35 PM on October 15, 2009


Could a mylar balloon measuring roughly 20 feet across and 5 feet high, full of helium, have enough lift to carry up a 50 pound child (and a very lightweight basket), at a starting altitude of 5000 feet above sea level? Show your work.

Assume a cylindrical balloon:
1.5 * (3^2) * pi = 42 m^3

Density of air at 5000 ft (1500 m) (Assuming usual relationship between altitude temp and pressure): 1.1 kg / m^3
density of helium at 22 deg. C (finally a use for Wolfram Alpha!): 0.17 kg / m^3

Lifting capacity of balloon = (1.1-0.17) * 42
= 39 kg or about a 86 lbs

So yes it would have enough lift
posted by atrazine at 1:35 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


AskMetafilter: How many unsupervised six year olds would it take to sufficiently subdue a six-pound chicken in order to launch it into the sky with helium balloons?
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:36 PM on October 15, 2009 [15 favorites]


Really horrible image, heartbreaking actually.

http://twitpic.com/lnewk

this may be the one unlatched compartment that fell - and he may have been in it. I hope he's only injured, if that. What a crummy thing to happen.
posted by luriete at 1:36 PM on October 15, 2009


Do you get a choice in whether or not they search for the kid or are your hands pretty much tied there?

Wow, I hope this wasn't a serious question.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:37 PM on October 15, 2009


How would you untie a balloon and then get on top of it? Especially when you're a six-year old? I think this kid is already in Mexico, laying low.
posted by notmydesk at 1:37 PM on October 15, 2009



Am I the only one who thinks that there are/were more important things for the news to be reporting than this whole incident? Because, honestly, I just don't get what the big deal is.


More important? Most likely.

More bizarre and therefore captivating (to almost everyone but you)? Probably not.
posted by orville sash at 1:37 PM on October 15, 2009


Also: whereisballoonboy.com is up and running. Good job, internets.
posted by frecklefaerie at 1:37 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


The Denver Post profiled Falcon's father in 2007.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:38 PM on October 15, 2009



Ok, but if the chicken flew off with your child, would the brother/sister run to you, or run to the neighbor? He/she would run to you to let you know, right? In this case, the brother ran to a neighbor. The neighbor called the authorities.


shit, I'd tell everybody
posted by Think_Long at 1:38 PM on October 15, 2009


Because, honestly, I just don't get what the big deal is.

Well the big deal here is, doubt that the full story is true given the circumstances. There's currently no closure for those that are hoping he's still alive. Its captivating in the same vein as those stories of a boy falling down a well, the true as well as the ones that were hoaxes gone wrong. There's outrage, greif, humour, speculation, and anticipation...that is what makes news these days. I think you get it, but rather don't like it (as many of us don't).
posted by samsara at 1:39 PM on October 15, 2009


I just watched that Wife Swap link and am now completely fucking enraged. The parents looks so blissfully ignorant. Each has their toys - him with his stupid fucking balloon, and her with her home studio so she can record her generic and simplistic three-chord blues rock horseshit and play it for no one but herself. It's so masturbatingly self-indulgent and egocentric.

Damn those fuckers for having hobbies! HOW DARE THEY!
posted by bondcliff at 1:39 PM on October 15, 2009 [33 favorites]


Because, honestly, I just don't get what the big deal is.

And yet you chose to read this thread...
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:39 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


More bizarre and therefore captivating (to almost everyone but you)? Probably not.

Also, there was live video of it. If a news helicopter can film something crazy happening, you can bet that they will and it will end up on TV.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:39 PM on October 15, 2009


Damn those fuckers for having hobbies! HOW DARE THEY!

Exactly, what the fuck?
posted by setanor at 1:40 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hope the kid is all right. :-(
posted by jock@law at 1:40 PM on October 15, 2009


Really horrible image, heartbreaking actually.

That is a few pixels out of context. It's easy to read something terrible into it if you want to, but it's also easy to read something total banal into it. Finding the video feed that cap is from would presumably be step one in resolving that conflict, and if said video had something shocking on it it's pretty much a given that it'd be making the rounds already as well.
posted by cortex at 1:40 PM on October 15, 2009


luriete: Is there any corroboration that that photo hasn't been doctored by whoever posted it?
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:40 PM on October 15, 2009


Wow, I hope this wasn't a serious question.

It wasn't, and it was a bit soon for that kind of thing. My apologies.
posted by vbfg at 1:40 PM on October 15, 2009


The three Heene boys' YouTube music video, called 'Not Pussified.'

Hoo-boy ... interesting family, to say the least.


Oh. My. God.

Did that kid say making fuck "My balls are itching - it's the fire ants!" ?
posted by cashman at 1:41 PM on October 15, 2009


1047.19755 ft³
Ok, with that volume it could indeed lift about 60lbs. If those sizes are accurate.
posted by atrazine at 1:41 PM on October 15, 2009


So assuming this was a "release the balloon" incident, and the kid never was inside or airborne, I'm guessing much of the subsequent weirdness has to do with the dad's apparent temper. Although I admit I know nothing about this family that I haven't learned from bullshit web sites in the last hour...

you know, maybe I should just stop right there...

But I'm apparently not...

the dad sounds like a little bit of a douchebag, and not one to react well if his kid wrecks the "science project" that has consumed his entire life and turned his whole family into whatever the hell they now are. I remember doing things at twice this kid's age that were phenomenally stupid and guaranteed to get me in serious, serious trouble, and I reacted very irrationally with truly insane schemes for getting out of trouble or covering my ass. I'm guessing that the kid's hiding out someplace, failing to understand that the whole mess is just getting worse with every passing minute. I'll also posit that that's why the sibling went to the neighbors instead of a parent.
posted by Naberius at 1:41 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


No problem, vbfg, it was just a little deadpan (you know the old CW about how expressive nuances are lost on the internet), so thanks for the clarification.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:42 PM on October 15, 2009


is it at all possible there were two compartments sandwiching the balloon? if the bottom one falls off, unable to support the weight of a child, the one on top would flip over, presumably. and sadly if at any altitude.
posted by nomisxid at 1:43 PM on October 15, 2009


Livestream: Denver FOX affiliate KDVR

Apparently dominant hashtag: #balloonboy (warning, lots of morbid humour)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:43 PM on October 15, 2009


I remember doing things at twice this kid's age that were phenomenally stupid and guaranteed to get me in serious, serious trouble, and I reacted very irrationally with truly insane schemes for getting out of trouble or covering my ass.

This is the plot of pretty much every episode of Leave it to Beaver.
posted by MegoSteve at 1:43 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


the dad sounds like a little bit of a douchebag, and not one to react well if his kid wrecks the "science project" that has consumed his entire life and turned his whole family into whatever the hell they now are.

I dunno, I mean, you're now suggesting that network reality television is an exacting arbiter of this guy's behavior?
posted by setanor at 1:43 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


That is a few pixels out of context.

Absolutely: shades of the 9/11 "Missile Bird". So what cortex said.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:45 PM on October 15, 2009


It seems like we don't need the MSM for wild speculation about the characterization of this family, we'll do it ourselves.
posted by Think_Long at 1:46 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I don't watch my six year old in our own back yard. To be fair, I don't have a giant fucking helium balloon back there, but what's to stop my kids from tying a kite to the chickens or something?"

I was being extremely sarcastic though I suppose I was a bit vague. I'm really irritated with people questioning the parenting (especially because the family dared to make some stupid family video about 'not being pussies') without even waiting for the body to go cold... or bothering to find out if the kid was ever in the damn thing... or if it even was possible to be a danger in the first place.
posted by rob paxon at 1:46 PM on October 15, 2009


Oh God. When I was that age I had a very Wile E. Coyotean grasp of physics, and I was always falling and busting stuff being proven wrong. I was forever building structures that couldn't possibly support my weight. I sincerely believed you wouldn't fall from a surface until both your feet were off it. I still have the scar from testing that hypothesis.

I desperately hope this kid got nothing more than a few bruises and a lesson about gravity.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:46 PM on October 15, 2009


It seems like we don't need the MSM for wild speculation about the characterization of this family, we'll do it ourselves.

This.
posted by setanor at 1:46 PM on October 15, 2009


Volume of an ellipsoid 20 by 20 by 5 is ~1050 cu ft. [V=pi/6*(major*minor*vert)]
That's 29.7 cubic meters.

Atmospheric pressure at 7000 ft is 78.19 kPa (101.32 kPa at 0 elevation)

Assuming a temperature of 5 F, (-15C or 258.15 K) at 7000 ft, that's (8.314472*258.15)/(78190*29.7) [n=RT/PV] = 1082 moles of Helium, or 4.3 kg of gas (GMM He assumed to be 4 g/mol).

Assuming gas to shrink at the same rate (a pretty safe bet between helium and air at the altitudes and temperatures we're considering), 1 mole (4g) of helium displaces 1 mole (28 g) of nitrogen, lifting 24 g of load, a factor of 6. Thus 4.3 kg of He lifts about 28 kg (6*4.3).

That seems a bit too low for lifting a 6 year old. Are boys that young 60 lbs or less?
posted by bonehead at 1:48 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm glad I haven't been around cable news (and God willing will not be around cable news) all day.
posted by codacorolla at 1:49 PM on October 15, 2009


"At this point, we are thinking that he did not fall out of the balloon and is somewhere on the ground," Larimer County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Eloise Campanella said. "The basket itself was not breached. It does not look like he fell out of it, but again, this is all conjecture." Watch balloon land »

Campanella said authorities are searching the neighborhood for the boy.

"I'm very confident we will find him. I think it's a matter of him being a little scared," she said. "Maybe he's not ready to be found."

Source
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:49 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Could a mylar balloon measuring roughly 20 feet across and 5 feet high, full of helium, have enough lift to carry up a 50 pound child

Assuming an ellipsoid, radii of 3 meters, 1 meter, 1 meter, (a bit bigger than the dimensions above but close), you're going to get a volume of 4/3*pi*r1*r2*r3 = 12 cubic meters.

According to wikipedia, "Helium provides about 9.8 N of lift (the force to lift 1 kg) per cubic meter of gas at room temperature and sea level pressure."

So about 12 kg (~ 26 lbs) of lift at sea level. Colorado should be less.

I'd expect a six year old to weight 40-50 lbs. That's too much.

But... on preview I see that some people have guessed at one of the radii being larger (3 meters, 3 meters, 1 meter), which actually makes more sense for a saucer shape rather than a hotdog/zeppelin shape. That's going to be 3 times as many cubic meters and therefore kilograms of lift. Still less a kilometer or two up from sea level but probably enough to get him off the ground handily.
posted by weston at 1:49 PM on October 15, 2009


Wow, this story has really taken off!
posted by Flashman at 1:50 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


50 lb. child = 22.7kg. According to this, you need 163.3 g of He for every 1 kg of lift, or about 3707 g. Figuring out the density of helium at that altitude and whatever temperature it was goes beyond my level of interest, so I'll just take it at STP, .1786 g/l, meaning we need 20756 liters of helium, or about 21 cubic meters. So if a cylindrical balloon were 1 meter high, it would only need to be a little more than 2.5 meters in radius to lift 22.7 kg, discounting the weight of the balloon and rigging. (On preview, other people are swifter than I am, which isn't news.)
posted by Zed at 1:50 PM on October 15, 2009


Twitter gold: Yo #balloonboy, I'm really happy for you & I'mma let ya finish, but Amelia Earhart had one of the best disappearing flight acts of all time!
posted by fixedgear at 1:50 PM on October 15, 2009 [16 favorites]


Are boys that young 60 lbs or less?

My skinny 7 year old is around 50 lbs, maybe a bit less. So yeah, maybe. I wouldn't think there'd be too much lift left though with the weight of the balloon and all. I'm wondering if anyone saw the observed rate of ascent so we might be able to deduce if the boy was on board. Probably the max altitude would also work.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 1:51 PM on October 15, 2009


bonehead: According to this CDC chart, boys are anywhere from 35 - 60 lbs at 6 years old.
posted by frecklefaerie at 1:52 PM on October 15, 2009


I was wondering when the media would create a new meme to replace the increasingly boring Missing White Girl and High-Speed Police Chase. Nancy Graceless has just filled her agenda through Thanksgiving.
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 1:52 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


You mean the Amelia Earhart from the film opening next Friday?
posted by setanor at 1:52 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't a balloon need to have a significantly greater lift than the weight of the child + weight of the balloon material to carry him into the air? From my basic understanding of things, if the lift was balanced with the weight, it would go nowhere. Only with a positive lift would the balloon rise, and it rose pretty fast, right?
posted by filthy light thief at 1:53 PM on October 15, 2009


They're saying someone saw something fall from the balloon halfway from where it started to where it landed.
posted by Outlawyr at 1:53 PM on October 15, 2009


Besides the Mars stuff mentioned upthread, the father also posted an opinion video on the US stimulus to iReport under a different account.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:54 PM on October 15, 2009


I'd knock at least 10 lbs for the weight of the balloon. So considering a terminal height (what I calculated) of 7000ft, a 50 lb passenger doesn't seem out of line.
posted by bonehead at 1:55 PM on October 15, 2009


I assume that cops have to file reports every time they discharge their service weapon. Do they also have to do so for simply unholstering it?

Because, if so, I hope the cop who pulled his gun when the balloon landed gets a lot of ribbing from the boys at the station house about it.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:57 PM on October 15, 2009


Damn those fuckers for having hobbies! HOW DARE THEY!

It's not the fact that they have hobbies, it's that their hobbies apparently consume their lives far more than parenting or anything approaching responsibility. I mean, I'm a reckless hobby-consumed dude, but I don't have three little kids I need to take care of and raise properly. Judging by that music video and the wife swap stuff, these parents just don't give a fuck.
posted by naju at 1:57 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


9News: "Authorities are searching for a box that was attached to the bottom of an experimental aircraft that took off from a Fort Collins home with a 6-year-old boy inside on Thursday morning."
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:57 PM on October 15, 2009


Damn those fuckers for having hobbies! HOW DARE THEY!
posted by bondcliff at 4:39 PM on October 15


Playing guitar is a hobby. Tinkering is a hobby.

Building a studio to play pretend-recording-star in is not a hobby. Building a giant UFO, calling yourself a storm chaser, and spending countless hours writing about "psyience" and UFOs is not a hobby. They are selfish and gross indulgences. They represent a complete lack of humility, precisely the kind of shamelessness and ignorant pride that TV loves.

Yes, to an extent the criticism is about the scale on which one indulges their hobby. They indulged theirs on the scale that landed them on television, first as part of a reality show, but then as part of a live news story in which we all suspected might end with the death of their child on television.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:57 PM on October 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


Asparagirl: "Attention MeFi Math Squad!
(well, the famous MeFi Detective Squad can't get all the respect...)

Could a mylar balloon measuring roughly 20 feet across and 5 feet high, full of helium, have enough lift to carry up a 50 pound child (and a very lightweight basket), at a starting altitude of 5000 feet above sea level? Show your work.
"

20x5x5 = 500cuft = 14.1584m3, via here.

according to this unvetted yahoo answers page, a rule of thumb for a cluster balloon is 1 cubic meter per kilo. I'm pretty sure that question actually pertains to sea level and not to 1/2 kilometer elevation so I'm guessing that the amount of helium needed per kilo near Denver is greater.

50 lbs in kilos is 22.6796185 kilograms.

Sooooo.... probably not enough helium.
posted by mwhybark at 1:58 PM on October 15, 2009


I ***HOPE*** the frame from the video is fake or doctored or out of context. I just don't know.
posted by luriete at 1:58 PM on October 15, 2009


Building a studio to play pretend-recording-star in is not a hobby. Building a giant UFO, calling yourself a storm chaser, and spending countless hours writing about "psyience" and UFOs is not a hobby.

Yes, they are. They are not hobbies you like. They are not hobbies you respect. That's fine. But plenty of people with even more idiosyncratic and complex hobbies have been praised as kitchy or weird or whateverthefuck.
posted by setanor at 2:00 PM on October 15, 2009 [13 favorites]


Building a studio to play pretend-recording-star in is not a hobby.

Then how would you describe what I do in my spare time?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:00 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


The guy on the news was talking about the landing and said that it landed softly and quicker then they thought, and that they thought it was going to go into the night, it was just a disappointing event. The way he said it made me think that he hoped it would keep flying into the night....
posted by lilkeith07 at 2:00 PM on October 15, 2009


20x5x5

I'd interpreted as an oblate ellipsoid (20x20x5), not a cigar. If your interpretation is correct, then yes, not enough lift for a 6-year-old.
posted by bonehead at 2:00 PM on October 15, 2009


Building a studio to play pretend-recording-star in is not a hobby.


You are simultaneously full of shit and banned for life from Mefi Music.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:01 PM on October 15, 2009 [28 favorites]


I'm not going to tell anyone what to discuss or not discuss, but it does feel like we've dug kind of farther into the "just how awful are these parents" neighborhood than there's any real reason to.
posted by cortex at 2:01 PM on October 15, 2009 [14 favorites]


Building a studio to play pretend-recording-star in is not a hobby

Yes, it's a fucking hobby.

Pretends-records a really fucking angry song
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 2:02 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Building a studio to play pretend-recording-star in is not a hobby

Whoah, hi there! Them's fighting words.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 2:02 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Judging by that music video and the wife swap stuff, these parents just don't give a fuck.

there is so much that's wrong with this assertion
posted by Think_Long at 2:02 PM on October 15, 2009


They indulged theirs on the scale that landed them on television, first as part of a reality show, but then as part of a live news story in which we all suspected might end with the death of their child on television.

Also, you're blaming unfounded media panic based on the eyewitness report of a small child on indulgence?
posted by setanor at 2:02 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Reporting that it got to 15,000 feet (from the live stream on Fox 31).
posted by zerobyproxy at 2:03 PM on October 15, 2009


ah, I should have rough cut toward 20x20x5, so, yes, I concur with the more-advanced math people upthread, in hindsight.
posted by mwhybark at 2:04 PM on October 15, 2009


9News: "Authorities are searching for a box that was attached to the bottom of an experimental aircraft...

AP and CNN are reporting the same.
posted by ericb at 2:04 PM on October 15, 2009


Yeah, it seems like there was in fact a basket attached when it was on the ground that is no longer with the balloon.
posted by setanor at 2:05 PM on October 15, 2009


Reporting that it got to 15,000 feet (from the live stream on Fox 31)

...above sea level. The Denver area is about 5200ft up already.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 2:05 PM on October 15, 2009


Hi, big fan of pastabagel here, with a defense: I think the point is, if they were excellent and attentive parents and so on, the home recording studio wouldn't be a negative. Because they appear to have their priorities dreadfully out of whack, it becomes a negative.

or something
posted by jbickers at 2:06 PM on October 15, 2009


Building a studio to play pretend-recording-star in is not a hobby. Building a giant UFO, calling yourself a storm chaser, and spending countless hours writing about "psyience" and UFOs is not a hobby. They are selfish and gross indulgences. They represent a complete lack of humility, precisely the kind of shamelessness and ignorant pride that TV loves.

No. Pretty sure those are hobbies.
posted by stenseng at 2:06 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pastabagel, have you ever seen wife swap. They're practically fed lines and stage scenes to play up all their "eccentric" angles. Even putting that aside, so god damn what. None of this indicates that the parents are irresponsible. It certainly doesn't put you in a position to judge their considerations for their childrens' well-being when you have pretty much zero idea how they live, zero idea how they look after their children, zero idea if this device posed a legitimate hazard (much less a perceived one), zero idea what sort of "neglect" was involved with a little kid playing in the safety of his own back yard, and zero idea if he even got in the damn thing. Don't you think you should figure out if the kid is dead and then reflect for a fleeting moment or two before you start condemning the commercialized, sensationalized fictitious version of a family from a "reality" show based on ridiculous, practically masturbatorial media coverage of a completely unresolved event?
posted by rob paxon at 2:07 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


jbickers, he asserted that playing guitar is a hobby, but building a home recording studio is not. That's pretty clear and devoid of any relevance or conflation with their parental skills. Don't bend too far over to defend an idiotic assertion.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:07 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


does anyone have information about what the ufo was originally intended to do? I've read that it was meant to chase tornadoes, act as a weather balloon, etc. was it ever supposed to carry a human?
posted by Think_Long at 2:07 PM on October 15, 2009


I just watched that Wife Swap link and am now completely fucking enraged. The parents looks so blissfully ignorant.

You do know that reality shows create a narrative around their characters, even where none existed?
posted by dhartung at 2:08 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Then how would you describe what I do in my spare time?

Sort of like tying a kite to a chicken while unsupervised in the backyard?
posted by clearly at 2:08 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Between the math-geek calculations and the parental-fitness expertise, the moratorium on jokes seems to be kind of moot. This whole thread is a joke.
posted by rocket88 at 2:08 PM on October 15, 2009


At 20' round x 5' tall, and converted to meters, I came up with 44.4 cubic meters of volume. If the formula above is correct, then this thing had twice as much helium as needed to pick this kid up. (Please correct me if wrong.)
posted by azpenguin at 2:09 PM on October 15, 2009


I like the part where we think anything seen on Wife Swap bears more than a passing resemblance to reality.
posted by dirtdirt at 2:09 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


If it did get to 15000 feet, I don't think it could have lifted the boy. 7000 is just barely possible, assuming optimal inflation and a fairly light superstructure. I can't see 15,000 being possible with a passenger.
posted by bonehead at 2:09 PM on October 15, 2009


And they just said 7 foot tall. So your YAMMV (your air mileage may vary)
posted by azpenguin at 2:09 PM on October 15, 2009


Okay yeah, I'm taking back my parent-condemning comment. Not too thought out on my part.
posted by naju at 2:10 PM on October 15, 2009


Judging by that music video and the wife swap stuff

!!!

posted by dirigibleman at 2:11 PM on October 15, 2009


does anyone have information about what the ufo was originally intended to do?

I read somewhere that the balloon was intended to be sent up into a storm, not to carry people at all.
posted by OolooKitty at 2:11 PM on October 15, 2009


Building a studio to play pretend-recording-star in is not a hobby

Yes, it's a fucking hobby.


There's a distinction that needs to be made here.

It's not a hobby if some jackass, irritating, attention-starved reality-TV family does it.

It's a hobby if a normal, non-attention-starved person does it.

Seriously.

I know people like that family, with their weird-ass projects, horrible manners, out-of-control kids, complete disregard for their neighbors, etc. Their activities do not deserve to be dignified with a term as modest and inoffensive as "hobbies."
posted by jayder at 2:12 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


The local TV news here (Boston) was saying that if the balloon got higher it could have made it to Virginia or all the way to the coast! That's some import news that needs to be leading the 5 o'clock news.
posted by lilkeith07 at 2:13 PM on October 15, 2009


that family, with their weird-ass projects, horrible manners, out-of-control kids, complete disregard for their neighbors, etc.

"I like the part where we think anything seen on Wife Swap bears more than a passing resemblance to reality.

"You do know that reality shows create a narrative around their characters, even where none existed?

FFS, people...
posted by setanor at 2:13 PM on October 15, 2009


None of this indicates that the parents are irresponsible.

lol.
posted by clearly at 2:14 PM on October 15, 2009


Pastabagel: "Building a studio to play pretend-recording-star in is not a hobby. Building a giant UFO, calling yourself a storm chaser, and spending countless hours writing about "psyience" and UFOs is not a hobby."

yes they are. hope this clears things up for you.
posted by shmegegge at 2:14 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Building a giant UFO, calling yourself a storm chaser, and spending countless hours writing about "psyience" and UFOs is not a hobby. They are selfish and gross indulgences.

Enough. You made your fucking point about ten hand-wringings ago. Go take a break and lay off the histrionics and value judgments for ten minutes. Jesus.
posted by tkchrist at 2:14 PM on October 15, 2009 [10 favorites]


Between the math-geek calculations and the parental-fitness expertise, the moratorium on jokes seems to be kind of moot. This whole thread is a joke

I don't think the math calculations are off topic. someone upthread asked for them to be done, and I feel like this is the type of thing that MF shines at
posted by Think_Long at 2:15 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Building a giant UFO, calling yourself a storm chaser, and spending countless hours writing about "psyience" and UFOs is not a hobby. They are selfish and gross indulgences.

...said the guy who's made roughly a thousand comments a year on Metafilter.
posted by hifiparasol at 2:18 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


No update on finding the kid yet?
posted by sandraregina at 2:18 PM on October 15, 2009


I'm just hoping the kid is okay, and I'm not quite sure I can laugh at the moment, but I must say that I wholeheartedly love Metafilter for going from

"OMG I HOPE HE'S OKAY"

to

"Assume a cylindrical balloon: 1.5*(3^2)*pi=42 m^3 Lifting capacity of balloon=(1.1-0.17)*42=39 kg or about a 86 lbs"

in 90 minutes. There's nothing like suggesting coconuts migrate to lighten the thread. Nerds FTW.
posted by tzikeh at 2:19 PM on October 15, 2009 [22 favorites]


CNN just reported that a Wells County deputy sheriff reported seeing an object fall from the balloon earlier today.
posted by ericb at 2:20 PM on October 15, 2009


> Enough. You made your fucking point about ten hand-wringings ago. Go take a break and lay off the histrionics and value judgments for ten minutes. Jesus.

Okay, okay. No need for name-calling.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 2:21 PM on October 15, 2009


Time travelers are, in fact, visiting the present day and stealing passengers from doomed aircraft.

I knew I remembered this from somewhere!
posted by setanor at 2:21 PM on October 15, 2009


sandraregina: "No update on finding the kid yet?"

They are now looking for an "object" that people saw fall off the balloon, they have a very large area to search though.
posted by lilkeith07 at 2:22 PM on October 15, 2009


lol.
posted by clearly


Laugh it up. This is no more neglectful than having a lawnmower in your back yard. A 6 year old knows damn well not to fiddle with either, and both can be dangerous. Every house/property has things which are dangerous. Every kid is taught not to play with them. Every kid plays unsupervised on their property. Every parent allows this measure of risk to their children because what's the point of having kids much less even being alive otherwise. It's not even proven that this thing could have supported the kid. It sure seems that they believed otherwise as the neighbor said that the thing was only supposed to hover 20 feet. Of course, in your mind this is probably the hopeless idiot child of hopeless idiot parents who probably had gum stuck in his unkempt hair which fastened to the bottom of the balloon. He's already dead in your mind, of course, since that's the only way you can definitively scorn the parents.
posted by rob paxon at 2:23 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


...said the guy who's made ...

hold on, does he have a specially outfitted "studio" devoted to commenting on metafilter? does he have multiple web-traceable accounts across mutliple major sites documenting his pursuit of commenting on metafilter? did he consent to an obviously-gonna-be-over-the-top portrayal on national television of his wacky progeny? did he build a giant commenting-on-metafilter machine in his backyard and leave his 6-year-old with the keys?
posted by unregistered_animagus at 2:23 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


You can see something falling.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:24 PM on October 15, 2009


...said the guy who's made roughly a thousand comments a year on Metafilter.

1,000 comments a year on Metafilter are more helpful to the generalized progress of human culture than one iota of thought about visitations from little green men.

And neither changes the fact that there's a missing 6-year-old out there.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:24 PM on October 15, 2009


unregistered_animagus: "does he have a specially outfitted "studio" devoted to commenting on metafilter?"

And if he does, are there blueprints online somewhere? I could really use something like that.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:25 PM on October 15, 2009


did he build a giant commenting-on-metafilter machine in his backyard and leave his 6-year-old with the keys?

I think that was kathrineg
posted by mannequito at 2:26 PM on October 15, 2009


You can see something falling.

I can't tell what's falling from that, but it gives me an awful knot in my stomach.
posted by specialagentwebb at 2:26 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can see something falling.

Is that legit?
posted by setanor at 2:27 PM on October 15, 2009


have you ever seen wife swap. They're practically fed lines and stage scenes to play up all their "eccentric" angles.

Just a slight correction, based on pretty extensive personal experience with the production of reality TV shows, which may or may not include the first season of the series at issue here:

"They're practically literally fed lines and directed to stage scenes by producers standing just off camera to play up all their "eccentric" angles and to fit into a storyline previously scripted by the producers before filming even began."
posted by dersins at 2:27 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


You can see something falling.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:24 PM on October 15 [+] [!]


hmmmm . . . that youtube poster seems awfully excited to have "spotted" the fall. odd that the news crews didn't notice that immediately. . . methinks I don't trust mister borweb from youtube
posted by Think_Long at 2:28 PM on October 15, 2009


You can see something falling.

Yeah -- at the 14 second mark. BTW - has the video been deemed real and undoctored?
posted by ericb at 2:28 PM on October 15, 2009


setanor: "Is that legit?"

First useful YouTube comment in history...

Fell too fast. Doesn't even accelerate. Better luck next time?
posted by Joe Beese at 2:29 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


The favorites and flags just disappeared, but maybe that is a bug that should go to MeTa. Carry on with the parent-bashing and math.
posted by fixedgear at 2:29 PM on October 15, 2009


Dear pastabagel,

Snap judgement much? Sounds a lot like, from all that I have read and seen today, that the parents were extremely involved in their kids' lives. If you've bothered to do more than a cursory examination, it really appears that these parents are involved and engaged with their kids much more than your average helicopter parent. Yes, they're eccentric, they've got hobbies, but give me a break...

I have rarely seen this much just plain stupid from you, so I am going to chalk it up as a bad day.

Regards,

Cathedral
posted by Cathedral at 2:29 PM on October 15, 2009


You can see something falling.

Sourced to a foreign-language porn site. Not encouraging.
posted by cortex at 2:29 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can see something falling.

Yikes. I really hope that wasn't him.
posted by Kimberly at 2:29 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is no more neglectful than having a lawnmower in your back yard.

Your lawnmower must start much easier than mine. And your must lift into the air and travel for ten miles.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:30 PM on October 15, 2009


You can see something falling.

Also looks like the balloon changes trajectory as the load is jettisoned.
posted by fire&wings at 2:30 PM on October 15, 2009


You can see something falling.

Yup, the balloon was being trailed by news helicopters, emergency services on the ground and watched live by a big chunk of America and no one noticed that at as it happened.
posted by turaho at 2:30 PM on October 15, 2009


The favorites and flags just disappeared, but maybe that is a bug that should go to MeTa.

You were likely Previewing.
posted by cortex at 2:30 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hell if I know if it's real, just posting what I saw linked around.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:31 PM on October 15, 2009


And your must lift into the air and travel for ten miles.
posted by setanor at 2:31 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


The video is obviously fake. Do you think the news crews would miss something like that?
posted by yeti at 2:31 PM on October 15, 2009


Metafilter: more helpful to the generalized progress of human culture than one iota of thought about visitations from little green men.

Wait, no, I take that back.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 2:31 PM on October 15, 2009


Sourced to a foreign-language porn site. Not encouraging.

I hope that at the end of today I can say "lol I've been trolled".
posted by specialagentwebb at 2:32 PM on October 15, 2009


Yeah, I'm disbelieving the "something falling" videoclip. There would have been immediate attention payed to something like that, given all the focus that was on the balloon at the time. I hope I'm right -- that would be tragic and ugly if it were the boy. But it just doesn't make sense that anything falling from that balloon wouldn't have been spotted and investigated the instant it happened.
posted by hippybear at 2:32 PM on October 15, 2009


I never wanted to be faked out more than this.
posted by Senator at 2:32 PM on October 15, 2009


You can see something falling.

No you can't because its a photoshop. If you've actually been watching the live coverage on TV you'll see that very scene but without the fake falling kid. Furthermore, the basket had already detached at that point and the bottom of the balloon was sealed.

Flagged as stupid and offensive (not you, just the 'shop).
posted by Avenger at 2:32 PM on October 15, 2009


The reporters said there was a period of time (maybe an hour) that the craft was not being followed/filmed, and during *that* time a person saw something fall.
posted by Sufi at 2:33 PM on October 15, 2009


The reporters said there was a period of time (maybe an hour) that the craft was not being followed/filmed, and during *that* time a person saw something fall.

So you're saying that footage is from when they weren't filming the balloon?
posted by turaho at 2:34 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


leave it in for posterity's sake - when someone looks back on this thread they'll be able to track all of the relevant details, include the classless photoshops. plus, they'll find a link to a brand new foreign language porn site - where's the downside?
posted by Think_Long at 2:34 PM on October 15, 2009


You can see something falling.

Sourced to a foreign-language porn site. Not encouraging.


Look, that's how they do it over there, OK!?
posted by mannequito at 2:35 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Desrins, I was just trying to temper myself as I felt I was coming on strong in general as it was. I am definitely as cynical as it gets about 'reality' tv.

Astro zombie... I didn't realize the only way for a child to get harmed was to fly in the air. I appreciate your newfound open-mindedness in this thread though. If you have kids, I hope their safety vests are comfortable.
posted by rob paxon at 2:35 PM on October 15, 2009


You are simultaneously full of shit and banned for life from Mefi Music.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:01 PM on October 15


Oh, relax, I wasn't talking about you.

There is something decidedly non-serious about this family and how it pursues its interests. If you can't see the difference between what they are doing and how they are showing it off, and how someone else might record a song and put it on Mefi music, well, I don't know what to tell you. In my mind the difference is staggering.

As to the parents responsibility: there is a concept in tort law that if you create or introduce a hazard, your duty of care with respect to that rises in proportion to the harm it can cause. In some contexts, where the harm is staggering (like transporting deadly poisons on a traincar), the duty of care becomes infinite, at which point if the harm is actualized, no argument about whether you met your duty of care is permitted and you are responsible simply by virtue of the harm being caused in fact.

If you build a fucking balloon capable of picking up a kid and lofting him 8000 ft into the air, we can argue that whatever the duty of care relating to minimizing the risk of harm from accidental balloon launch, we know that the parents didn't meet their duty of care simply by virtue of the fact that the kid suffered the harm.

For a balloon capable of lifting 50 lbs 8000 ft in the air in contravention of FAA regulations, the duty of care is NOT TO BUILD THE FUCKING BALLOON IN THE FIRST PLACE.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:35 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you build a fucking balloon capable of picking up a kid and lofting him 8000 ft into the air

OH MY DEAR GOD YOU BOUGHT A CAR CAPABLE OF CARRYING A CHILD TO 140 MILES PER HOUR! AND LEFT IT IN YOUR DRIVEWAY

There is something decidedly non-serious about this family and how it pursues its interests.

As Seen On TV™
posted by setanor at 2:37 PM on October 15, 2009 [13 favorites]


Okay, Wife Swap can make a pretty normal seeming person into a saint or a villain, but nobody edited this guy into getting his three kids out of bed in the middle of the night with a bullhorn to pack them into the car to chase tornadoes, or made him drive into the middle of tornadoes with said kids in the car. Nobody edited him into refusing to do housework, and shrieking at the "new" wife that she was a "nag." He came across as arrogant and rigid, and much more interested in keeping up his "cool scientist" self-image than in actually interacting with or caring for his children.

And since his latest Wife Swap was with a "psychic" you have to wonder why he didn't get a warning about this happening.
posted by jfwlucy at 2:38 PM on October 15, 2009


Think_Long: "plus, they'll find a link to a brand new foreign language porn site - where's the downside?"

I can't wait to Какав you with my вашем until you мишљењу all over my квалитет ...
posted by Joe Beese at 2:38 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can see something falling.

Yes, you sure can see something falling.
posted by m0nm0n at 2:38 PM on October 15, 2009


Weld County EMS police scanner talking about no secondary gondola. The main compartment was tightly sealed.

I caught the tail end where they mentioned free-fall. Not positive.
posted by Lord_Pall at 2:38 PM on October 15, 2009


nobody edited this guy into getting his three kids out of bed in the middle of the night with a bullhorn to pack them into the car to chase tornadoes, or made him drive into the middle of tornadoes with said kids in the car. Nobody edited him into refusing to do housework, and shrieking at the "new" wife that she was a "nag." He came across as arrogant and rigid, and much more interested in keeping up his "cool scientist" self-image than in actually interacting with or caring for his children.

Not edited. Scripted.
posted by setanor at 2:38 PM on October 15, 2009


the duty of care is NOT TO BUILD THE FUCKING BALLOON IN THE FIRST PLACE.

I would think, actually, the duty of care would be not to leave it inflated in your backyard for no apparent reason. Building the balloon and taking it out for use on specific occasions is certainly not a problem. But just having it there, inflated, floating, tethered... That seems a bit odd to me.
posted by hippybear at 2:40 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good to see CNN have their priorities back in order.
posted by setanor at 2:41 PM on October 15, 2009


I'm still waiting for everyone in this thread to realize that this whole thing is a hoax planned by the parents in a misguided attempt to gain fame and fortune. I mean there's a few obvious questions that haven't even been asked yet:

a) Who filled the balloon with helium before takeoff? Or does it just ALWAYS sit in the backyard, ready for take-off?

b) I assume there has to be a sequence of events that takes place PRIOR to lift-off, no? Is a 6 year old capable of doing all of that by himself?

c) Since the kid isn't in the balloon and there's no evidence that he fell out of the balloon, shouldn't the authorities be questioning the parents right about now?

c) After gathering that this family is nucking futs, how can the parents not be the number one suspects at this point?

In my opinion this is clearly a hoax and it's laughable that the media (and most of America) fell for it. Dad must be loving every minute of it and his kid is probably in grandma's hidden basement. Give it a few hours and ...

"WE FOUND HIM! HE'S SAFE! NOW LET ME TELL YOU MORE ABOUT MY EXPERIMENTS!"
posted by GrooveJedi at 2:42 PM on October 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


sorry for the 2 c)'s

:)
posted by GrooveJedi at 2:43 PM on October 15, 2009


Not edited. Scripted.

This. Sorry to destroy your cherished illusions about "reality" shows, but I never worked on one that didn't have a script-- actual lines dialogue weren't pre-written, and some participants have the tendency to stray from the storyline more than others, but reality TV field producers are really, really good at convincing people to "be themselves" by doing profoundly stupid shit on camera.
posted by dersins at 2:43 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Or does it just ALWAYS sit in the backyard, ready for take-off?

They apparently had it inflated, as there was the potential for a storm.

I assume there has to be a sequence of events that takes place PRIOR to lift-off, no? Is a 6 year old capable of doing all of that by himself?

It was a helium balloon on a tether. All you need to do is cut the tether.

After gathering that this family is nucking futs, how can the parents not be the number one suspects at this point?

How, exactly, did you gather this?
posted by setanor at 2:43 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


The fact that anyone is judging their character based on episodes of Wife Swap is pretty rich.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 2:44 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pastabagel, you are operating on the assumption that this was capable (and indeed has) lifted a possibly 50 pound child possibly 8,000 feet in the air. While that's all quite possible, the fact you aren't willing to wait and see before you bask in self-righteousness says a lot about the thought you've put into your proclamations. So now people can't make balloons. Hot air balloons? Hang gliders? Nope! Fuck everyone's fun, in the name of Pastabagel and his FAA Regulations / Parenting for Dummies two-fer object thingy that people used to read before the days of instant gratification interglobal speculation wanktrains.
posted by rob paxon at 2:45 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Have you seen the videos posted at the huffingtonpost?

Potential for a storm you say? Looked like nothing but clear skies to me.

So you think they inflated it recently and just had it sitting in the backyard waiting for said storm to approcah? Sounds suspect to me.
posted by GrooveJedi at 2:45 PM on October 15, 2009


The fact that anyone is judging their character based on episodes of Wife Swap is pretty rich.

You know, you'd think that since this sentiment keeps cropping up the clearly misguided practice might, y'know, stop...
posted by setanor at 2:45 PM on October 15, 2009


c) Since the kid isn't in the balloon and there's no evidence that he fell out of the balloon, shouldn't the authorities be questioning the parents right about now?

umm. where do you think the parents are right now? following the story on Metafilter?
posted by Think_Long at 2:45 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


From The National Safety Council:

“Drowning claims the lives of over 4,000 people every year. Although
all age groups are represented, children 0-4 have the highest death
rate due to drowning.”

“In 1998, 500 children under the age of five drowned. Most drowning
and near-drowning happen when a child falls into a pool or is left
alone in the bathtub.”

500 children drowned in tubs and back yard swimming pools in one year.

So. How many kids have died in backyard experimental balloon accidents?

Maybe 1.

That one kid must have tipped the scales for you in terms of outrage, is that it? you been saving it all up till now.

I look forward to the Mefi sponsored Anti-bath Tub, Swimming Pool and Experimental Back -yard Helium Balloon Law.

After all this Experimental Balloon holocaust must be stopped.
posted by tkchrist at 2:46 PM on October 15, 2009 [18 favorites]


The boy may be below the 50th percentile for weight, which is around 48 lbs in a 6yo. So he might be around 40 lbs. Add some shoes, a jacket, shirt and jeans. How much for the plywood and the balloon skin? Seems pretty easy for the whole thing to weigh more than 70 lbs. But maybe he's at the bottom of the growth charts and only weighs 35 lbs or something.

I really hope the boy is hiding somewhere.
posted by acoutu at 2:46 PM on October 15, 2009


Have the conspiracy theorists weighed in yet?
posted by jsavimbi at 2:46 PM on October 15, 2009


Let Wolfram Alpha do the work.
posted by scalefree at 2:46 PM on October 15, 2009


I don't think any of us know what it is like to be thrust into the center of media attention and have our lives examined in minute detail by thousands of people looking for something to blame.

I think many of us know what it's like to be a pitchforked villager, and from some of the comments, relish in it.
posted by danny the boy at 2:46 PM on October 15, 2009


The fact that anyone is judging their character based on episodes of Wife Swap is pretty rich.

I had no idea so many Mefites watched it.
posted by fire&wings at 2:47 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm thinking the only thing worse than the horror of wondering whether your child is alive or dead (and beating yourself up for any and every mistake you've ever made, legitimate or no) while searching, is to go through something of same while the entire world discusses what an idiot you are on the internet and nationally broadcast television.

I'm reserving judgement until this whole thing gets sorted, and crossing my fingers that everybody is okay.
posted by pazazygeek at 2:47 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


And since his latest Wife Swap was with a "psychic" you have to wonder why he didn't get a warning about this happening.

Stay classy you Beautiful Child of God(tm).
posted by rob paxon at 2:47 PM on October 15, 2009


OH MY DEAR GOD YOU BOUGHT A CAR CAPABLE OF CARRYING A CHILD TO 140 MILES PER HOUR! AND LEFT IT IN YOUR DRIVEWAY

Yeah, but in fairness, I did lock the door, put a bear trap on the drivers seat, and surround it with anti-personnel mines.

If a kid can get through that, hotwire it (did I mention the lion in the back seat? Gotta get past that as well...) and get it out of my driveway, well that's one 6 year old who deserves a joyride.

*fingers still crossed that the kid's ok...*
posted by quin at 2:47 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


BTW this has Halloween hoax written all over it. Now that's OUTRAGEOUS!
posted by tkchrist at 2:47 PM on October 15, 2009


The fact that anyone is judging their character based on episodes of Wife Swap is pretty rich.

I'm not judging their character based on the episodes of Wife Swap, I've never seen those episodes. I'm judging their character based on the fact that they actaully went on Wife Swap not once but twice. I'm judging their character based on the wacky videos and the dad's website.

Not to mention the crazy alien shit. The family is beyond weird. You don't have to agree, that's just my opinion.
posted by GrooveJedi at 2:48 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I ever have to murder someone, I'm doing it in the most obscure way I can think of so tkchrist won't be outraged.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:49 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The fact that anyone is judging their character based on episodes of Wife Swap is pretty rich.

It's not that, it's their fucking hobbies.
posted by fixedgear at 2:49 PM on October 15, 2009


Not to mention the crazy alien shit.

If I were a kid, I'd like that so much more than all the other kids' parents and their crazy God shit.
posted by setanor at 2:49 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Local affiliate is showing a neighbor's footage of the balloon apparently soon after it launched. Terrible handheld camcorder stuff, can't make a hell of a lot out. I don't really see a basket, but who knows. Not sure if it's available anywhere.
posted by cortex at 2:49 PM on October 15, 2009


As to the parents responsibility: there is a concept in tort law that if you create or introduce a hazard, your duty of care with respect to that rises in proportion to the harm it can cause. In some contexts, where the harm is staggering (like transporting deadly poisons on a traincar), the duty of care becomes infinite, at which point if the harm is actualized, no argument about whether you met your duty of care is permitted and you are responsible simply by virtue of the harm being caused in fact.

If you build a fucking balloon capable of picking up a kid and lofting him 8000 ft into the air, we can argue that whatever the duty of care relating to minimizing the risk of harm from accidental balloon launch, we know that the parents didn't meet their duty of care simply by virtue of the fact that the kid suffered the harm.


I think you're mixing up strict liability doctrine (liability will be found if harm and causation are present, without assessment of breach) and the res ipsa doctrine (an evidentiary rule stating that breach will be considered proven for certain odd types of harm if causation can be demonstrated). In any case:

For a balloon capable of lifting 50 lbs 8000 ft in the air in contravention of FAA regulations, the duty of care is NOT TO BUILD THE FUCKING BALLOON IN THE FIRST PLACE.

... I don't see why that would be. It seems ordinary negligence analysis serves just fine here and there are many techniques short of complete avoidance that could easily prevent the harm, such as padlocking the thing to the ground and/or leaving it deflated when you weren't around, which could support a finding of breach-of-duty. No reason to get all strict liability on everyone.
posted by rkent at 2:49 PM on October 15, 2009


I assume there has to be a sequence of events that takes place PRIOR to lift-off, no? Is a 6 year old capable of doing all of that by himself?

My 6-year-old has demonstrated on several occasions that he is capable of initiating and supervising the full launch protocol for a helium balloon. He is, of course, a genius. But still.
posted by The World Famous at 2:50 PM on October 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


So they are kind of different? I haven't watched the (scripted) Wifeswap episodes but doesn't anybody think that it's kind of cool that this Dad does neat, sciencey stuff with his kids? Sure, a terrible accident may have happened but thousands of terrible accidents happen every day when the Dad is either not around, drunk in the basement or even the best, most aware, observant dad EVER. Shit happens, to good and bad parents. We are only seeing this one play out because of the odd-ness of the story multiplied by the slow news day, yada, yada, yada. I'd like to give the parents the benefit of the doubt until this is resolved. And he gets points from me from doing neat stuff and teaching his kids about his interests. I am really hoping for a good outcome but it's looking grim.
posted by pearlybob at 2:50 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good to see CNN have their priorities back in order.
posted by setanor at 4:41 PM on October 15


Garth Brooks retired? Fuck Metafilter, all these hours wasted and you haven't kept me informed at all. I gotta rethink my priorities.

I am a hundred percent convinced this story is not what it seems, one way or another, and the truth will come out in time. I don't believe that balloon was ever capable of carrying a 6 year old boy and I'm certain it wasn't from the way it was flying in any of the videos I've seen so far. When I saw it show up on the news I knew it was the kind of story guaranteed to bring out ten kinds of stupid in Metafilter (parenting, weird lifestyles, reality television, and psuedoscience all rolled into one!) and wow, it did not disappoint.
posted by nanojath at 2:50 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let Wolfram Alpha do the work

Done.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:50 PM on October 15, 2009


Live stream is KDVR, linked upthread I think. Looping this little bit a bunch.
posted by cortex at 2:50 PM on October 15, 2009



umm. where do you think the parents are right now? following the story on Metafilter?


Hopefully answering officers' questions. Where do you think they are?
posted by GrooveJedi at 2:50 PM on October 15, 2009


It's not that, it's their fucking hobbies.

Not the hobbies as such, more the non-serious methodology used in the construction of the home studio in which the wife breaks out her 3 chord jams.
posted by fire&wings at 2:51 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


pastabagel Are you seriously suggesting that the parents could or should have foreseen this event as a potential result of their avid interest in science & meteorology? You should be ashamed of yourself. Seriously, tort law for fucks sake! This is a horrible freak accident and nothing more. To suggest otherwise is despicable.
posted by aquathug at 2:51 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: guaranteed to bring out ten kinds of stupid
posted by Joe Beese at 2:52 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


They've "activated the posse" apparently?
posted by setanor at 2:53 PM on October 15, 2009


Theresa, spokeswoman from Larimer County

"Posse activated. Using news helicopters to assist. Reverse 911 activated. SAR searching house to house east of the family's house."

She seemed dumbfounded. Lots of nervous laughter.
posted by zerobyproxy at 2:55 PM on October 15, 2009


Not to mention the crazy alien shit. The family is beyond weird. You don't have to agree, that's just my opinion.
posted by GrooveJedi


Well I can see why that means they murdered their child. Christ, man.
posted by rob paxon at 2:55 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Posse activated. Using news helicopters to assist. Reverse 911 activated. SAR searching house to house east of the family's house."

Whoa. What?
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:57 PM on October 15, 2009


Richard Heene has been described by friends as a sort of "mad scientist."

Methinks he read too much of the Mad Scientists Club as a kid. I too wanted to build that flying saucer shaped helium balloon.
posted by nomisxid at 3:00 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Considering the interest MetaFilter's giving this story, I predict a member of this family will be the Republican Nominee for Vice President in 2012.

Yes, I'm commenting in this thread too. But I've openly admitted I'm evil!
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 3:00 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Inevitable t-shirts
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:02 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Apparently, police now say there was no basket.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:02 PM on October 15, 2009


Good to see CNN have their priorities back in order.

speaking of priorities ...

4 teens shot in Salinas, 1 fatally

Swine flu takes life of 5-year-old girl in San Diego

Oklahoma man arrested for killing 2-year-old

and, of course,

Pakistan bombing kills 40, including several school children


I'm not sure I want to be the asshole who makes this point, but why on earth does everyone care so much about this boy? No offense to family and friends.

STOP WATCHING CABLE TV
posted by mrgrimm at 3:02 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


So, now they are saying on CNN that no basket was ever attached.

"Posse activated. Using news helicopters to assist. Reverse 911 activated. SAR searching house to house east of the family's house."

Possified.
posted by inconsequentialist at 3:03 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Inevitable t-shirts

I dunno, I'm confident in my ability to avoid those shirts. Bleah.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:03 PM on October 15, 2009


Thus begins the possification of America.
posted by billysumday at 3:04 PM on October 15, 2009


The live feed just said "child has been located in Ft. Collins. Stand down search."
posted by OolooKitty at 3:04 PM on October 15, 2009


If you have a giant catapult in your backyard, please don't let your kids play around it. And disarm the trebuchet as well. Then, build a fence around the pool.
posted by longsleeves at 3:04 PM on October 15, 2009


Yeah, I should have said, "inevitably, t-shirts".
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:04 PM on October 15, 2009


STOP WATCHING CABLE TV

Um, I'm not? I have a tab loaded, as well as this one, while I'm doing a few hundred other things.

No, not a Tab.
posted by setanor at 3:04 PM on October 15, 2009


her with her home studio so she can record her generic and simplistic three-chord blues rock horseshit

you say that like it's a bad thing - what the fuck do you think rock and roll IS?
posted by pyramid termite at 3:05 PM on October 15, 2009


Weld County says "Stand down, stand down, child has been located in Fort Collins."
posted by harperpitt at 3:05 PM on October 15, 2009


Just over the police scanner, the child has been found in Ft. Collins. No word on his condition though.
posted by TungstenChef at 3:05 PM on October 15, 2009


He's at the house.
posted by Houstonian at 3:05 PM on October 15, 2009


Lots of commotion during this conference.

Boy located.
posted by setanor at 3:05 PM on October 15, 2009


Metafilter: THIS EXPERIMENTAL BALOON HOLOCAUST MUST BE STOPPED
posted by Extopalopaketle at 3:05 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


ALIVE.
posted by MegoSteve at 3:05 PM on October 15, 2009


live stream: "HE'S BEEN LOCATED, HE'S ALIVE, HE'S AT THE HOUSE"
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:05 PM on October 15, 2009


Stand down? What, were people looking for the kid bearing assault rifles?
posted by billysumday at 3:06 PM on October 15, 2009


He's alive and at the house. Confirmed via KDvR livestreaming news.
posted by jaimev at 3:06 PM on October 15, 2009


He is apparently at the house. Wow.
posted by azpenguin at 3:06 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another activated-posse success story.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:06 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Any word on how long he's going to be grounded for?
posted by elizardbits at 3:06 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


No, not a Tab.

Pepsi Free?
posted by hifiparasol at 3:06 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


All the media at the conference sound really, really angry at this news. "BUT WAS HE IN THE BASKET? OHHH, GEEEEZ..."
posted by setanor at 3:06 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Found at home safe!
posted by cosmac at 3:07 PM on October 15, 2009


OK. It's fine to joke about it now.
posted by idiomatika at 3:07 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


on preview. Yay they found him in the house.
posted by Extopalopaketle at 3:07 PM on October 15, 2009


Good to hear he's alive.
posted by inconsequentialist at 3:07 PM on October 15, 2009


Well, unleash those jokes you've been holding back then maybe? We can all use some catharsis.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:07 PM on October 15, 2009


Metafilter: Posse Activated
posted by The Whelk at 3:07 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


BALLOON BOY IS THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO
posted by Joe Beese at 3:08 PM on October 15, 2009 [12 favorites]


That is wonderful news.
posted by longsleeves at 3:08 PM on October 15, 2009


yeesh. that was more stressful than I'd normally expect.
posted by Lord_Pall at 3:08 PM on October 15, 2009


He was in the house?

Note to self: Begin committing crimes in Colorado.
posted by hifiparasol at 3:08 PM on October 15, 2009 [29 favorites]


Hey Falcon Imma let you finish but the Prodigal Son had the best family reunification story of all time. OF ALL TIME.
posted by billysumday at 3:09 PM on October 15, 2009 [14 favorites]


heh heh... the "Breaking News" on CNN's front page is:

Deputy: Object seen falling from balloon
posted by Joe Beese at 3:09 PM on October 15, 2009


He was in a box in the attic of the garage.
posted by setanor at 3:09 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


OH MY GOD NOW THE HOUSE IS FLYING
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:09 PM on October 15, 2009 [41 favorites]


He was in a box, in the attic, in the garage. His parents didn't know.
posted by Houstonian at 3:09 PM on October 15, 2009


He's ALIVE!! CNN reporting.
posted by ramix at 3:09 PM on October 15, 2009


Boy alive!!
posted by zerobyproxy at 3:09 PM on October 15, 2009


TungstenChef: condition = spanked
posted by queensissy at 3:09 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Turns out, the kid had a backwards "B" carved into his cheek...
posted by billysumday at 3:10 PM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


Yep.

MSNBC: "Colorado boy found safe in his house after runaway balloon chase, sheriff says."
posted by ericb at 3:10 PM on October 15, 2009


Any word on how long he's going to be grounded for?

12 years.
posted by mosk at 3:10 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


He was hiding in a box in the attic. Jesus.
posted by scalefree at 3:10 PM on October 15, 2009


what I've learned from this thread: I'm glad a certain segment of you fuckers live nowhere close to me, granted I don't have a child but I don't think I could stand the withering scorn of having non-standard hobbies. Lord help us all if I actually ever have enough money and time to follow through on some really "deviant" ideas.
posted by edgeways at 3:10 PM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


THE BOY IS HIDING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:10 PM on October 15, 2009 [41 favorites]


Thank you God!! Now, as a mother, I would BEAT HIS ASS!!!!
posted by pearlybob at 3:10 PM on October 15, 2009


he's definitely grounded
posted by medium format at 3:11 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Cue Drew Curtis: It's not news, it's CNN Time-Filler.
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 3:11 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's amazing how that box attached to the balloon fell gently into the attic. Didn't anyone see the hole in the roof?
posted by MegoSteve at 3:11 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


*Phew*

Now I can admit that I was thinking about what sort of odds Vegas would put up for fall vs. hide.

(My spread: -6.5 on hide)
posted by martens at 3:11 PM on October 15, 2009


What kind of parent allows open access to their garage attic?
posted by rob paxon at 3:11 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


So he was in hidden in the house, yet his brother said he had seen Falcon get in the balloon and later fall out? Wonder what's up with the brother.
posted by dilettante at 3:11 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


"...and when we say grounded, we mean GROUNDED."
posted by tzikeh at 3:12 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


They traced the phone call. It is coming from inside the house!
posted by zerobyproxy at 3:12 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now can we start making fun of the father? Not for having non-standard hobbies, but for this video in which he asks for video evidence that Hillary Clinton is a shape-shifting reptilian?
posted by condour75 at 3:12 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I laughed, I cried, I had my browser beachball multiple times because of the "new posts in this thread" greasemonkey script. 9/10.
posted by subbes at 3:12 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


he's definitely grounded

Thread over. Medium Format wins. Further comments will not be counted towards your final score.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:13 PM on October 15, 2009


On CNN's evening news wrap-up:

THE 2 1/2 HOURS WHEN AMERICA HELD ITS BREATH

posted by Joe Beese at 3:13 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


That one kid must have tipped the scales for you in terms of outrage, is that it? you been saving it all up till now.

I look forward to the Mefi sponsored Anti-bath Tub, Swimming Pool and Experimental Back -yard Helium Balloon Law.


sure is odd how subjects like kids drowning in bathtubs, starving to death, dying of AIDS, etc etc etc never come up until there's an fpp about something like a boy and a runaway balloon

is there some kind of site rule that says we can't make fpps about such subjects but have to wait until something like this happens before we can mention it?

there must be - because if there isn't, then the lack of fpps on such subjects must mean that you aren't really sincere when you complain about our paying attention to this one

if you were REALLY concerned about kids drowning in bathtubs you'd have made an fpp about it, right?
posted by pyramid termite at 3:13 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now the parents are faced with a real dilemma: will grounding Falcon lead to his eventual "pussification"?
posted by billysumday at 3:13 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


What boy? What balloon? I only follow news stories about IMPORTANT THINGS on the TV I DON'T OWN
posted by notmydesk at 3:13 PM on October 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


Can we snark now?
posted by Cogito at 3:13 PM on October 15, 2009


BOY FOUND SAFE STOP RELEASE ASTRO ZOMBIE FOR MURDEROUS SARCASM STOP REPEAT RELEASE ASTRO ZOMBIE FOR MURDEROUS SARCASM FULL STOP
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:13 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


YEAH MAYBE IF THE PARENTS DIDN'T SPEND SO MUCH TIME COLLECTING ATTIC BOXES INSTEAD OF PARENTING THIS NEVER WOULD HAVE HAPPENED SHAME SHAME SHAME
posted by hifiparasol at 3:13 PM on October 15, 2009 [12 favorites]


DAMMIT FLORENCE THOSE CAPS ARE MINE
posted by hifiparasol at 3:14 PM on October 15, 2009


Baloon boy is alive
posted by gagglezoomer at 3:14 PM on October 15, 2009


Of course the boy is alive. Reverse 911 was activated - from inside the house!
posted by panboi at 3:14 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


They're gonna ground that pussy for not getting in the balloon like he was told to
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:15 PM on October 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


Told you so.
posted by fixedgear at 3:15 PM on October 15, 2009


WTF YOU GUYS ARE BOTH A WEEK EARLY FOR THIS SHIT
posted by elizardbits at 3:15 PM on October 15, 2009


Now we can get started on the other 2,099 kids who will disappear today.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:16 PM on October 15, 2009


"Alright, there's other news. Remember the healthcare reform?" - Jack Cafferty, CNN.
posted by kidsleepy at 3:16 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


1,000 comments a year on Metafilter are more helpful to the generalized progress of human culture than one iota of thought about visitations from little green men.

Show me on the dolly where the little green man probed you.
posted by panboi at 3:16 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I want to be the asshole who makes this point, but why on earth does everyone care so much about this boy?

Because tomorrow there will be more child murders, and teen shootings, and deaths from influenza and bombings and war, just like there were a bunch yesterday

When was the last time a 6-year old child of UFO-freak parents going to take off flying over Colorado in a homemade storm-chasing balloon? I'll be very surprised if I see it more than once in my lifetime.
posted by magstheaxe at 3:16 PM on October 15, 2009 [11 favorites]


well, i'm glad the kid was found safe

poor kid - he's NEVER going to hear the last of it

"hey, how's the weather up there?"

"what's wrong, you feeling up in the air, today?"

etc etc etc
posted by pyramid termite at 3:17 PM on October 15, 2009


And now we're going to have to suffer through seeing him on every TV show in the world.

TV HOST: Were you scared of what mommy & daddy would do, is that why you hid?
FALCON: (NODS)
TV HOST: What's your punishment? Are you grounded?
FALCON: (NODS)
TV HOST: Are you ever going to do something like this again?
FALCON: (SHAKES HEAD)
ALL: (LAUGH)

Just shoot me now.
posted by scalefree at 3:17 PM on October 15, 2009 [33 favorites]


oh, yeah

"what's his favorite dead song?"

"in the attics of my flight"
posted by pyramid termite at 3:18 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


THE FALCON IS GROUNDED...REPEAT...THE FALCON IS GROUNDED...
posted by quin at 3:18 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


OMG, condour75 -- so you're saying that Richard Henne is actually Riley Martin?
posted by Madamina at 3:18 PM on October 15, 2009


Leave my zeppelin alone!
posted by ...possums at 3:18 PM on October 15, 2009


can we make jokes now?
posted by empath at 3:18 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Christ, I hid in boxes in the attic all the time when I was a boy. Did I ever get this kind of attention? No sir!
posted by maxwelton at 3:19 PM on October 15, 2009


So soon their going to roll out the pitch for a new "locate your child in your home" device, right?
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:19 PM on October 15, 2009


Man the news channels must just be delighted something like this actually happened today. People obviously aren't going to tune in for attacks in Pakistan or a UN debate on the Gaza report. I passed a TV earlier that had breaking news that a horse was stuck in a hole in the ground. I wish I was kidding.
posted by IanMorr at 3:19 PM on October 15, 2009


Almost 600 posts about a runaway balloon. Truly the best of the web.
posted by theCroft at 3:20 PM on October 15, 2009


All of the top 40 trending topics on Google are related to this with the excpetion of...

19. meghan mccain twitter photo
40. garth brooks out of retirement
posted by setanor at 3:20 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yay, I was wrong, the police are just not very good at searching houses apparently.
posted by burnmp3s at 3:20 PM on October 15, 2009


Whackety - schmackety - doooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!
posted by porn in the woods at 3:20 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


I kinda feel bad for the lyin' brother. I'm trying to imagine how this went down: they were horsing around in the back yard, playing with the ropes holding down the balloon, and it gets loose. The younger brother (maybe the one who was responsible for untying?) freaks out, and makes his older brother PROMISE to not tell Mom and Dad where he's hiding. The older brother.... is asked about the floating-away balloon, freezes (?), makes something up when asked.

Of course, I can't figure out how it works with going, finding a neighbor, and telling the neighbor. That just seems like an unbelievably malicious sort of lie to make up.

Or maybe they were just being stupid kids and let the balloon go to watch it fly away, and in the not-well-thought-out way that kids have, thought it would be funny to tell his neighbor that his brother was flying away with it. But then why would the 6-year-old hide for 2.5 hours? That's such a long time for a kid that young to hide, unless they fall asleep or are petrified of coming out and facing the music.

Strange, all around. I feel like it's not any of my business to know how, exactly, this happened, but I am really curious about what the explanation is.
posted by iminurmefi at 3:20 PM on October 15, 2009


What did Beyonce say to the parents of the 6 year old kid that flew away in a balloon?

If you liked it then you shoulda put a string on it
posted by idiopath at 3:20 PM on October 15, 2009 [51 favorites]


The search for him can't have been very thorough if he was in the attic the whole time.
posted by idiomatika at 3:21 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


That was like 9/11 with an inflated wine bag and a happy ending. Thank for for the catharsis Falcon, goodbye England's Rose and never forget.
posted by fire&wings at 3:22 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


So now their local FOX news is talking about how much of this effort will be paid for by the parents. Who has an idea about what this cost?
posted by Houstonian at 3:22 PM on October 15, 2009



Well I can see why that means they murdered their child. Christ, man.


What did you smoke for breakfast this morning? Where did I ever assert that they murdered their child? Christ, man.
posted by GrooveJedi at 3:23 PM on October 15, 2009


Almost 600 posts about a runaway balloon. Truly the best of the web.

And yet you posted here. It's time to take 'best of the web' up in a balloon and toss it out of the gondola
posted by fixedgear at 3:23 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I just checked MeFi and found this thread. And I admit, I page-downed to the bottom until I got to "boy found alive" before I read the rest of it. Real life needs a scroll bar.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 3:23 PM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


it's plain to me that we have to ban 5th dimension records before the youth of our country are corrupted any further
posted by pyramid termite at 3:23 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure I want to be the asshole who makes this point, but why on earth does everyone care so much about this boy?

Because it was happening live. Kinda unbelievable and tragic like the OJ car chase except we were all praying for a happy ending.
posted by cazoo at 3:24 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I want to believe.
posted by m0nm0n at 3:25 PM on October 15, 2009


A friend of a friend put on his Facebook page "I hope Fall Out Boy breaks up now."
posted by Skot at 3:25 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


At least his parents didn't name him Icarus.
posted by ...possums at 3:25 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Take two: I want to believe.
posted by m0nm0n at 3:26 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Grounded? That kid just got his Dad a million plus hits on his website and made his family world famous.
posted by GrooveJedi at 3:26 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


They're gonna ground that pussy for not getting in the balloon like he was told to

It gets in the balloon - or it gets the hose.
posted by panboi at 3:26 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow ya'll, seriously?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:27 PM on October 15, 2009


You keep busy with your balloon/kid distraction.

I'm looking for the Army of the Twelve Monkeys.
posted by mazola at 3:27 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Seriously took his parents and the cops this many hours to check the attic? I can hear every criminal in America starting their cars up and heading to Fort Collins right now.
posted by GrooveJedi at 3:28 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill.
posted by setanor at 3:28 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow ya'll, seriously?

Nah. Not serious.
posted by The World Famous at 3:28 PM on October 15, 2009


Can we now start calling him Attic Boy?
posted by The Deej at 3:28 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Now that Truman has walked out the door, we can all applaud, wipe away a few tears, and see what else is on.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:29 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


When I was a child The Red Balloon was my friend.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:29 PM on October 15, 2009


Wife Swap called us. (true story) They wanted a family with an overachieving national ice princess (which they mistakenly IDd my kid as) to pair up with god knows what kind of family. THEY PAY $20,000 TO MAKE YOU LOOK LIKE FOOLS FOR A WEEK. Me, I am happy to look like a fool for free, but that's a pretty nice paycheck. This guy has an expensive hobby. Don't like the show? Don't watch it.
posted by nax at 3:29 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


*clicks "remove from activity"*
posted by shmegegge at 3:29 PM on October 15, 2009


Twitter gold part deux: Yo #BalloonBoy, I'm a let u finish, but Anne Frank had the best attic hideout spot of all time
posted by fixedgear at 3:29 PM on October 15, 2009 [32 favorites]


You know when I was a kid we where too poor to fly away in a balloon.
posted by johnj at 3:29 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hiding in the attic? Balloon-based escape attempts? So, I'm guessing this kid's personal hero is George Bluth. Next he'll be sending one of his brothers to prison in his place.

I'M RYO

DOT COM
posted by hifiparasol at 3:30 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Wow, who would have guessed this story was not what it seemed?

I'm hoping the kid isn't really inside it. Maybe he untethered it and hid and hid somewheres.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:11 PM on October 15 [+] [!]


I mean, besides bonobo, me and the rest of the geniuses here...
posted by nanojath at 3:30 PM on October 15, 2009


HA HA HE SURE GOT YOU ALL GOING
posted by GuyZero at 3:31 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


That kid made us look like FOOLS!

LET'S GET HIM!
posted by mazola at 3:32 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


hey guys did you hear about that kid in the balloon it was on the news just now
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 3:32 PM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


Let's burn down the news stations so this can never happen again!
posted by never used baby shoes at 3:33 PM on October 15, 2009 [10 favorites]


So now their local FOX news is talking about how much of this effort will be paid for by the parents.

Apart from the obvious irresponsibility of having a large balloon like this where a kid could reach it, I honestly hope the amount they are expected to pay is pretty close to zero. If this had been a publicity stunt, or some guy recklessly ignoring "Do Not Climb This Mountain" signs, that'd be one thing, but a kid made a mistake and I'm of the mind that the parents shouldn't be bankrupted as a result.

Even as weird and dysfunctional as they may seem.

It's one of the reasons I like having a government. To step up and use resources to save people just because that is what they are supposed to do. It's one of the reasons I willingly and uncomplainingly pay my taxes; because one day I might be stuck in a runaway balloon, and I'd like to know that people were doing everything possible to get me down, regardless of the cost.
posted by quin at 3:33 PM on October 15, 2009 [14 favorites]


Man, this really validates pinning down the parents as indulgent douchebags worthy of heaping scorn and disgust, for sure.
posted by setanor at 3:33 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Falcon and the D'Oh!man.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:34 PM on October 15, 2009


Thank you God!! Now, as a mother, I would BEAT HIS ASS!!!!

FALCON PUNCH!
posted by clearly at 3:34 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Inevitable t-shirts

Air Whale?

And now we're going to have to suffer through seeing him on every TV show in the world.

Alfred Jenkins: To my right, Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie of Boston College.
...
Doug Flutie: Now for the rest of my life, what's going to happen? That was my moment in the sun. My moment in the sun was not even my moment...

Falcon Heene: You're telling me. I just untied a big balloon and hid in the attic. In a box! Not even a cabinet, or a closet. A box!
posted by filthy light thief at 3:35 PM on October 15, 2009


This is a teachable moment. Next week, that kid really is going to get carried away by a balloon, and NOBODY WILL BELIEVE HIM.
posted by bicyclefish at 3:35 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


So he was in hidden in the house, yet his brother said he had seen Falcon get in the balloon and later fall out? Wonder what's up with the brother.

Certainly gives a little support to the idea that it was a planned hoax by the parents.

Boy, I'm sure glad the kid is OK, so I don't look like asshole supreme.

Because tomorrow there will be more child murders, and teen shootings, and deaths from influenza and bombings and war, just like there were a bunch yesterday

I sure hope there aren't a bunch of bombings and child murders tomorrow.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:36 PM on October 15, 2009


Kid just needed a day to himself in a box in the attic. Years ago I asked one of my kids what he wanted for xmas, he said a box to sit in, I got it for him.
posted by mareli at 3:36 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


What's got silky white hair, was a gift to the King of Spain and hides in a box?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:36 PM on October 15, 2009


Who has an idea about what this cost?

Not to mention that the Denver airport shutdown flights with a northward path duirng the ordeal.
posted by ericb at 3:37 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also when they found him he had the head of the Jebediah Springfield statue
posted by hifiparasol at 3:37 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I was a child The Red Balloon was my friend.

My red balloon was a bit different...
posted by ALongDecember at 3:38 PM on October 15, 2009


What did you smoke for breakfast this morning? Where did I ever assert that they murdered their child? Christ, man.
posted by GrooveJedi


Somewhere between your twisted "blame the parents" and "suspect the parents" logics my obviously pitiful brain put that thought together.
posted by rob paxon at 3:38 PM on October 15, 2009


Honestly I can't believe people thought that thing would carry a child. Did no one see how many freaking balloons it took the Mythbusters to lift a four-year-old girl?
posted by nanojath at 3:38 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Now that the boy has been found safe, thank God, we can hopefully deal with the important questions raised by this episode:

1. Which TV host will claim the "get" ?

2. How much will their network pay for it?

3. Who will represent the family in the negotiations?
posted by Joe Beese at 3:38 PM on October 15, 2009


No DUH, it is scripted -- but no one can MAKE you act like a dick in front of a camera. That he CHOSE to go on the show and behave that way is what makes him an ass.
posted by jfwlucy at 3:38 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Would anyone care to guess at the cost of helium to fill that thing? My maths isn't that great, but I do know the stuff leaks fast. Seems odd to fill it and wander off.
posted by Leon at 3:38 PM on October 15, 2009


Harrumph.
posted by loquacious at 3:39 PM on October 15, 2009


I'm just thankful that 24 hour cable news did not exist when my sisters and I were kids. Potential CNN news tickers...

"Investigators looking for the real consumer of the Pringles from the empty can that mysteriously appeared in the room of a seven year old this week..."

"Girl throws goat bell at sister, chips her tooth, film at 11..."

"Five year old draws circus on backside of three year old with ball point pen, authorities investigating..."
posted by jeanmari at 3:39 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


CHOSE to go on the show and behave that way is what makes him an ass

Yeah, collecting $20,000 in a week for your family of 5 during a global recession is such an assholish thing to do. He should have thought of how he'd come off to you first.
posted by setanor at 3:39 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Not to mention that the Denver airport shutdown flights with a northward path duirng the ordeal.

Lawnchair balloon guy got a $1500 fine from the FAA. So they should be watching out for that bill at least.
posted by smackfu at 3:39 PM on October 15, 2009


I will not release a helium balloon, hide in the attic and cause international-level panic.
I will not release a helium balloon, hide in the attic and cause international-level panic.
I will not release a helium balloon, hide in the attic and cause international-level panic.
I will not release a helium balloon, hide in the attic and cause international-level panic.
I will not release a helium balloon, hide in the attic and cause international-level panic.
I will not release a helium balloon, hide in the attic and cause international-level panic.
I will not release a helium balloon, hide in the attic and cause international-level panic.
I will not release a helium balloon, hide in the attic and cause international-level panic.
posted by jimmythefish at 3:39 PM on October 15, 2009 [23 favorites]


Seems odd to fill it and wander off.

Apparently they were all out in the yard working on it just then, had gone inside (or somewhere else) and that was when the 2 brothers mischiefized the whole situation.
posted by setanor at 3:40 PM on October 15, 2009


I will only release another experimental helium balloon to get media attention for daddy once this has simmered down a little.
I will only release another experimental helium balloon to get media attention for daddy once this has simmered down a little.
I will only release another experimental helium balloon to get media attention for daddy once this has simmered down a little.
I will only release another experimental helium balloon to get media attention for daddy once this has simmered down a little.
I will only release another experimental helium balloon to get media attention for daddy once this has simmered down a little.
I will only release another experimental helium balloon to get media attention for daddy once this has simmered down a little.
I will only release another experimental helium balloon to get media attention for daddy once this has simmered down a little.
I will only release another experimental helium balloon to get media attention for daddy once this has simmered down a little.
posted by clearly at 3:42 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


It just landed!
posted by granted at 3:42 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


he could start a rock band - badly flown boy
posted by pyramid termite at 3:42 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Rocky Mountain Not-So-High
posted by scody at 3:42 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I honestly hope the amount they are expected to pay is pretty close to zero.

I agree with this; the cost is going to be enormous, and the family would be forced into bankruptcy. However, I do hope that someone (Child Protective Services or whatnot) checks in with that family at least once to make sure everything is OK there. That they take their children with them while chasing tornadoes is troubling.
posted by Houstonian at 3:43 PM on October 15, 2009


fucking sprint card
posted by granted at 3:44 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


I wonder if he was hiding in an experimental child-holding box in that attic. What a way to introduce a new and desperately-needed product to the world!
posted by m0nm0n at 3:44 PM on October 15, 2009


Did no one see how many freaking balloons it took the Mythbusters to lift a four-year-old girl?

OK Honey, I know you're only 3, but you do want to be in the Guinness Book of Records don't you? So just jump in the basket for daddy while he cuts the string.......
posted by panboi at 3:46 PM on October 15, 2009


I think it's safe to say we'd all have enjoyed this a lot more if it had been a Calvin & Hobbes arc. Hiding in a box fits it kind of perfectly.
posted by cortex at 3:47 PM on October 15, 2009 [18 favorites]


The irony of all this is that the Hennes usually punish their children by placing them in giant runaway balloons.
posted by hifiparasol at 3:47 PM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


Does Hallmark make a "Thanks for nothing, dumbass" card we can send to the people who reported seeing something fall from the balloon?
posted by Joe Beese at 3:47 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think it's safe to say we'd all have enjoyed this a lot more if it had been a Calvin & Hobbes arc. Hiding in a box fits it kind of perfectly.

The balloon was just a diversion from the trip he took in the time machine in the attic!
posted by setanor at 3:48 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Now that this is all over, I'm going to plot out a backyard experiment with the kids, wherein we fill up helium balloons, tie them to things, and see if they float or not. What could go wrong?
posted by davejay at 3:48 PM on October 15, 2009


The boy should be required to write a note of apology to everyone in the posse.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:49 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, the reputation of that shady foreign porn site is going to be forever tainted
posted by setanor at 3:49 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Liberal Arts College Application, 2021:

"Grand Master Hide and Seek Champion, 5-7 year-old class".
posted by amelioration at 3:49 PM on October 15, 2009 [16 favorites]


Somewhere between your twisted "blame the parents" and "suspect the parents" logics my obviously pitiful brain put that thought together.

Talk to me after the parents land a book deal, an Oprah Winfrey interview and a half hour on Larry King not to mention every other Cable News Network clamoring (and paying large sums of money) for an interview. But hey, they're all innocent, right?

By the way, that 6 year old climbed up into the attic all by himself?

Right.
posted by GrooveJedi at 3:49 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


fwiw the site was already pretty thoroughly tainted

IYKWIM
posted by cortex at 3:50 PM on October 15, 2009


By the way, that 6 year old climbed up into the attic all by himself?

You know, the dad being so crafty and all, I think he might have developed some means of ascending to upper levels inside homes un-aided!
posted by setanor at 3:51 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


When was the last time a 6-year old child of UFO-freak parents going to take off flying over Colorado in a homemade storm-chasing balloon? I'll be very surprised if I see it more than once in my lifetime.

Well, you haven't even seen it once.
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:51 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


GrooveJedi: "By the way, that 6 year old climbed up into the attic all by himself?"

WAKE UP SHEEPLE!

RON PAUL HAS THE ANSWER!
posted by Joe Beese at 3:51 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Pastabagel, I'm going to assume and give you the benefit of the doubt that you were not choosing your words carefully. Therefore, I will respond to your assertions one more time.

Playing guitar is a hobby. Tinkering is a hobby.

Building a studio to play pretend-recording-star in is not a hobby. Building a giant UFO, calling yourself a storm chaser, and spending countless hours writing about "psyience" and UFOs is not a hobby. They are selfish and gross indulgences. They represent a complete lack of humility, precisely the kind of shamelessness and ignorant pride that TV loves.

[insert about 15 comments telling you how that's a fucked up generalization]

Oh, relax, I wasn't talking about you.

That's condescending. Of course you were not talking TO me, but you said, quoted above, that building a studio to play pretend-recording-star is not a hobby. That is precisely what I, and many others in this thread, and countless others on MeFiMu and around the whole freaking world, do regularly. We like playing pretend-recording-star. We like building in-home studios. We like recording music and sharing it, even though we aren't huge celebrities. So yes, you are talking ABOUT us, if not TO us. That does not invalidate the reaction to your comment, which I was not the only one to express.

There is something decidedly non-serious about this family and how it pursues its interests. If you can't see the difference between what they are doing and how they are showing it off, and how someone else might record a song and put it on Mefi music, well, I don't know what to tell you. In my mind the difference is staggering.



That's great in your mind. Personally, I do not feel that I am adequately prepared with the information required to judge this family, or their level of "seriousness" with regards to their hobbies, specifically the music recording hobby. I don't know the difference between what the wife likes to do in her studio and what folks over at MeFiMu do, because I don't know her and have not heard her music. Apparently you do know her, otherwise I would be under the creeping suspicion that you are talking out of your ass. Please feel free to elaborate and prove me wrong, or to simply apologize for your pig-headed blanket assertion that pissed off quite a few commenters in this thread.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:51 PM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


I think we can all be glad the contraption took off from Fort Collins, CO, instead of say Hoboken, NJ.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:53 PM on October 15, 2009


This is a teachable moment. Next week, that kid really is going to get carried away by a balloon, and NOBODY WILL BELIEVE HIM.

The Boy Who Cried WHOOSH!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:53 PM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


It looked like he didn't go anywhere, but on his camera was 12 hours of static
posted by setanor at 3:54 PM on October 15, 2009 [29 favorites]


You mean I kept launching peanut butter sandwiches into the air for nothing?
posted by mazola at 3:54 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


So it was a hot air balloon after all!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:55 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


NBC Nightly News just reported that the father and Falcon were in the backyard at around 11:00 a.m. working on the balloon. It was the father who called news stations to get their help with their helicopters because he thought that Falcon may have somehow crawled inside the balloon. No mention of the brother running inside and/or to a neighhbor. The father appears to be the source of the "boy on-board" detail.
posted by ericb at 3:57 PM on October 15, 2009


To put it another way, if there is a "difference in your mind" that would recast your comment as something other than marginalizing people that like to record music in their homes instead of just "playing the guitar", you may want to express that difference in your original comment so that others understand it.

And when others react to that comment, without your mystically explicatory inner-monologue included, you may want to choose words other than a perfunctory "Oh relax" to assuage the negative reaction. We are not mind readers.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:57 PM on October 15, 2009


Letting the family balloon escape and hiding in the attic?

That's a paddlin'.
posted by tommasz at 3:57 PM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


Christ, I hid in boxes in the attic all the time when I was a boy. Did I ever get this kind of attention? No sir!

I tried hiding a few times when I was little - no one came looking for me so I gave it up.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:57 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


NBC Nightly News just reported that the father and Falcon were in the backyard at around 11:00 a.m. working on the balloon. It was the father who called news stations to get their help with their helicopters because he thought that Falcon may have somehow crawled inside the balloon. No mention of the brother running inside and/or to a neighhbor. The father appears to be the source of the "boy on-board" detail.

STILL NOT SUSPICIOUS IN THE SLIGHTEST THOUGH! :)
posted by GrooveJedi at 3:59 PM on October 15, 2009


You mean I kept launching peanut butter sandwiches into the air for nothing?

so that's why the crows keep banging their beaks against the sidewalk ...
posted by pyramid termite at 3:59 PM on October 15, 2009


I just checked MeFi and found this thread. And I admit, I page-downed to the bottom until I got to "boy found alive" before I read the rest of it. Real life needs a scroll bar.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 6:23 PM on October 15


page-up page-up page-up

I am entering the digital transmodulation node, preparing for the matter-to-signal conversion. I realize I have left my Kindle near the ionizer. I go in to get it, and the door locks behind me. For the last time in my life, I feel fear.

page-down page-down page-down

I am building a Mylar balloon to be filled with helium.

page-down page-down page-down

It turns out he was in the attic the whole time.

page-down page-down page-down

I am reading the final Harry Potter book. I wish I could say I am surprised at Hermione's sudden death, but I am not.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:59 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I like playing music. I like wiring things together. Building a recording studio would be a perfect hobby for me. I just need somewhere to build it, like a basement or inside a giant helium balloon1,.

Anyway, here's my "everybody's behaving like kids/adults do" take on this:

1. Parents leave half-inflated balloon in the backyard with their kids, and (for the upteenth time) tell 'em not to touch it, then leave the 6-year-old in the care of his older brother;
2. The older brother sees the 6-year-old playing around the balloon, but is not paying attention, off doing his own thing;
3. The 6-year-old is crawling around it, and it launches. 6-year-old runs screaming to the attic, because he doesn't want to get punished;
4. Older brother comes running at the cry, sees the balloon fly off, and can't find the 6-year-old. He panics because his dad's balloon is gone and so is his brother, and (since he's not standing there doing equations in his head) it is absolutely reasonable to assume his brother was in the balloon;
5. Panicked older brother doesn't want to call his parents, because losing your little brother is just about the worst thing that could happen (and the balloon, too), so he runs to a neighbor and tries to get help finding his brother and getting the balloon back before his parents find out;
6. Neighbor calls the police, and off we go.


1there is precedent for this; where do you think Alvin and the Chipmunks recorded?
posted by davejay at 4:00 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


That man couldn't Science Detective his way into a cardboard box.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:00 PM on October 15, 2009


Possification
Pontification
Pussification

This thread has it all.
posted by CynicalKnight at 4:01 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Found on another site
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:01 PM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


BREAKING FUCKING NEWS

The father, Richard Heene, has authored two VHS videos for children.

The videos are called.

...

Are you ready?

BOX TIME.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:01 PM on October 15, 2009 [15 favorites]


Okay, fess up. How many of you were amazed by just how much the video feed looked like a scene from a circa-1980 UFO movie? Just me?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:02 PM on October 15, 2009


Heh.

Millions of Americans Waste Entire Fucking Afternoon

COLORADO (The Borowitz Report) - Moments after a little boy who was believed to be in his parents' homemade helium balloon was found safe and sound, millions of Americans came to the realization that they had flushed the entire fucking afternoon down the fucking toilet.

"I watched the entire drama unfold and then it turned out that no drama had unfolded," said Carol Foyler, 32, of Missoula, Montana. "I can't tell you how pissed I am at that fucking kid."

At their Colorado home, the parents of six-year-old Falcon Heene said that they were relieved that their son was all right and that they were pushing forward with their plans to build a giant child-operated flame-throwing robot.

posted by jokeefe at 4:03 PM on October 15, 2009 [18 favorites]


in retrospect, it's completely hilarious that all of america thought they were watching him float away in a balloon when the whole time he was hiding in a box in the attic shitting himself. I wonder if he went there immediately or only after he realized the media was getting involved. It's such perfect kid logic, from "they think I'm in the balloon, OH SHIT I'M GONNA GET IN SO MUCH TROUBLE" to "they think I'm in the balloon....SO IF I JUST HIDE IN A BOX IN THE ATTIC THEY'LL NEVER FIND ME!!"
posted by granted at 4:03 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, the dad being so crafty and all, I think he might have developed some means of ascending to upper levels inside homes un-aided!

Oh really? What, did he construct some magical wooden stepped apparatus and just "walked" up there did he? Maybe he's also responsible for those "magic" boxes that go up and down buildings by just pressing a button.
posted by panboi at 4:03 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


This thread is like a fractal.
posted by The Whelk at 4:04 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


1) Cut a hole in a box
2) Put yourself in that box
3) Make the world believe you're helplessly floating across the sky

And that's the way you do it.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:05 PM on October 15, 2009 [17 favorites]


GrooveJedi, I know a certain IRC channel that has recently lost its resident nutcase conspiracy theorist. Let me know if you're interested in the position.
posted by rob paxon at 4:06 PM on October 15, 2009


Bradford, Ryo and Falcon Heene: That's awesome that the parents let Sarah Palin name their kids.
posted by Frank Grimes at 4:06 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Right, because publicity stunts and/or hoaxes never actually happen in real life, that's all conspiracy.
posted by GrooveJedi at 4:07 PM on October 15, 2009


hums softly: ninety-nine luftballoons, la la la la falcon's hiding...
posted by fixedgear at 4:08 PM on October 15, 2009


Exclusive interview with Falcon
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:08 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


He's not grounded. "We don't think like that."
posted by Houstonian at 4:09 PM on October 15, 2009


"We don't think like that."

what do they think like?
posted by pyramid termite at 4:10 PM on October 15, 2009


HERMIONE DIES?!
posted by heyho at 4:10 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Fast? That Falcon made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:10 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


i think falcon is a pretty cool guy, eh flies around in balloons and doesn't afraid of anything.
posted by booticon at 4:11 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wasn't this whole event a minor subplot in 12 Monkeys?
posted by Dr-Baa at 4:13 PM on October 15, 2009


1) Family has a history of seeking publicity and/or fame and money.

2) Dad creates children's videos about making a playhouse out of a cardboard box.

3) Helium filled balloon 'accidentally' gets launched and Dad calls the news media claiming his kid might be inside it.

3) Nobody (including the creator of the cardboard box videos) thinks to check the cardboard box in the attic to see if the kid is hiding in it.

4) America buys it, hook line and sinker

5) Media complicit as to hide their own incompetence in the entire matter.

6) Everyone shouts conspiracy as soon as someone points out the obvious.

7) Heene family sings cha-ching all the way to the bank.

Ahh well, back to work :)
posted by GrooveJedi at 4:13 PM on October 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


I'm the boy in the box
Hiding in the attic
Won't you come and save me (save me)

Feed on my lies (can you do the math?)
Search the skies (find your brother)
He who denies (STFU)
Will be vilified (what if it was your child?)

I'm the dad on TV
Paid to act like shit
Won't you turn the channel (channel)

Feed on my lies (can you pay the bills?)
Search the skies (find the saucers)
Swapping of wives (DTMFA)
Will get you vilified (but we got to make the balloon payments)
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:15 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


So the song is now "99 luftatticboxes?"
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:15 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Tonight, we all created a panic while hiding in the attic. I will never forget where I was when I found out he was in a box the whole time.

This calls for t-shirts and commemorative plates. And, yes, novelty balloons.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:16 PM on October 15, 2009


BUILD IT! ITÜS FUN!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:16 PM on October 15, 2009


Oh man. I just saw a kid fly overhead strapped to a kite and about 30 chickens.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:17 PM on October 15, 2009 [20 favorites]


Higgs Boson made him do it.
posted by qvantamon at 4:19 PM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


If this ever comes up again, we should send this guy to take care of it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:20 PM on October 15, 2009


So, this is where you guys have all been hanging out today ...

I am not yet sure what could possibly have generated 720 comments involving this story, but about to find out ...
posted by krinklyfig at 4:22 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


SPOILER ALERT
posted by mrgrimm at 4:23 PM on October 15, 2009


HERMIONE DIES?!

Yes, Dumbledore killed her. He was Voldemort all along.
posted by acb at 4:24 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hi, big fan of pastabagel here, with a defense: I think the point is, if they were excellent and attentive parents and so on, the home recording studio wouldn't be a negative. Because they appear to have their priorities dreadfully out of whack, it becomes a negative.
There is really no defense. There is no way to know anything about their parenting based on a few little clips. My experience is that parents who are really into hobbies often involve their children in them and spend a lot of time with them anyway.

The idea that you could declare these people "bad parents" based on the fact they have hobbies they are really into is insane.
There is something decidedly non-serious about this family and how it pursues its interests. -- Pastabagel.
Oh no! Not Non-serious!??!!?

Fucking ridiculous.
Wasn't this whole event a minor subplot in 12 Monkeys?
Yes, except it was a well, not a balloon. I don't think any film maker would include something like this in a movie because people just wouldn't believe it.
posted by delmoi at 4:26 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Balloon Boy is watching you snark.
posted by panboi at 4:28 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wasn't this whole event a minor subplot in 12 Monkeys?

Yes, except it was a well, not a balloon. I don't think any film maker would include something like this in a movie because people just wouldn't believe it.


And if there's one thing consistent about Terry Gilliam, it's his total commitment to realism in film.
posted by The World Famous at 4:30 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


MSNBC Breaking News: "During his time in the attic, "balloon boy" Falcon Heene says he played with toys & took a nap. He got up because he was bored."
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:30 PM on October 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


HERMIONE DIES?!

Yes, Dumbledore killed her. He was Voldemort all along.


No fucking way. DAMNit.
posted by heyho at 4:30 PM on October 15, 2009


Tie kits to chickens... how ridiculous!

The real fun is when you can get a remote control plane attached!
posted by gomichild at 4:30 PM on October 15, 2009


Speaking of Terry Gilliam, doesn't he have a film coming out, too?

What do you want to bet we'll see a couple of Jiffy-Pop UFOs floating around Colin Farrell?
posted by setanor at 4:31 PM on October 15, 2009


*kites dammit
posted by gomichild at 4:32 PM on October 15, 2009


It's pretty ridiculous indeed to tie your kit to a chicken.
posted by setanor at 4:32 PM on October 15, 2009


The father, Richard Heene, has authored two VHS videos for children.

Actually, Richard Alan Heene is an actor who appears in those videos. Do we know for sure that it's the same Richard Heene?
posted by ericb at 4:33 PM on October 15, 2009


Oh man. I just saw a kid fly overhead strapped to a kite and about 30 chickens.

Look, I want to make it clear that my kite/chicken hypothetical is not even remotely possible. It can not and will not happen.

Not because of the talons and beaks, as suggested, and not because of lack of means or motive: there are kites, there are kids, and there are chickens. It's because I haven't managed to get the kids to learn to tie their shoes yet.
posted by padraigin at 4:34 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


And if there's one thing consistent about Terry Gilliam, it's his total commitment to realism in film

The 8 Bush years made me think Brazil was prescient in some ways.
posted by edgeways at 4:34 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


NBC Nightly News just reported that the father and Falcon were in the backyard at around 11:00 a.m. working on the balloon

Dad: "I said 'LUNCH' not 'LAUNCH'!"
posted by mazola at 4:35 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, wait, a hold it. It is the same Richard Heene!

"Box Time #2 Fire Truck [VHS] - VHS Tape (Dec 19, 2000) -- Starring Richard Heene and Mayumi Heene"
posted by ericb at 4:35 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh man. I just saw a kid fly overhead strapped to a kite and about 30 chickens.

kid, we said BUCKET of cocks, not JUNKET of cocks ...
posted by pyramid termite at 4:35 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


It can't be Higgs boson as something from the future is holding that back.
posted by caddis at 4:36 PM on October 15, 2009


Somewhere there's a grown adult American who missed his chance to Waste His Entire Fucking Afternoon ... due to the fact that he was chilling out in a box in the attic.

That poor man has not even heard of balloon boy.
posted by mannequito at 4:36 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


what in the FUCK is this thread?!???
posted by nosila at 4:37 PM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


"[Richard Heene] told ABC News that he hoped the aircraft would one day help people commute to work." *
posted by ericb at 4:38 PM on October 15, 2009


He wasn't much of an adventurer
Although he had him a balloon
What set out to the stars one day
And floated to the moon
Millions they watched on
Quaking then at his fate
They thought that that young boy would die
As they watched the balloon deflate
The balloon crashed down in a dirt field
And settled on some rocks
And the police they cut it open
And reacted then with shocks
Falcon wasn't hadn't taken wing
As might his namesake's flocks
But there was one talent Falcon had:
The boy could sit in a box.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:39 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


This article says that the family appeared on an episode of Wife Swap.

Perhaps 'Nanny 911' would have been a better idea.
posted by mazola at 4:39 PM on October 15, 2009


Pardon my earlier Watchmen snark, but allow me to continue. Perhaps society doesn't need an alien invasion, gigantic squid, or Dr. Manhatten shooting explosions to bring about peace. Maybe all it takes is a young boy in a balloon to bring everyone together. Gay or straight, black or white, Fox News or MSNBC, everyone dropped everything to worry about that kid.

What we need is to send one child up in a balloon that will remain in the air indefinitely, if we care about peace. Sure, it's a major loss for the 6 year old who spends his life in the mid-atmosphere, but the good of the whole outweighs the needs of the one.

/modest proposal
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:40 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think it is important to keep in mind who we should blame: teachers. If it wasn't for their "conference," then these boys would have been in school not playing with balloons and boxes.
posted by soupy at 4:40 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


what in the FUCK is this thread?!

The reason why the mods have hit the hard stuff early this evening.
posted by The Whelk at 4:40 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Gay or straight, black or white, Fox News or MSNBC, everyone dropped everything to worry about that kid.

I picked a hell of a day to actually WORK at work.
posted by desjardins at 4:42 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Tonight... We Are All Falcon Heene.
posted by setanor at 4:43 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just maked this
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:44 PM on October 15, 2009 [38 favorites]


The police didn't look in the attic or search the house... for hours?

This is a either a hoax or the police are getting even dumber than they already are. The cops are fools for trusting the parents when they told them they already searched the house.


Bradford, Ryo and Falcon Heene: That's awesome that the parents let Sarah Palin name their kids.

I'll allow Bradford because it can be shortened to Brad.

Ryo- Japanese mom.

Naming your kid Falcon is just a mean thing to do. No wonder he hid in the attic.
posted by Zambrano at 4:45 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm still trying to work it out too, nosila, but the gist seems to be an episode of Wife Swap gone horribly wrong, where one family is discovered to have a child imprisoned in a box in the attic (which doubles as the family's home recording studio). In the end, the visiting wife rescues the poor child and they proceed to escape in a balloon, and they would have lived happily ever after too, if it hadn't been for the foreign porn skydivers with a assault rifles .
posted by mannequito at 4:46 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


HOW EMBARRASSMENT!
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 4:48 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think it is important to keep in mind who we should blame: teachers. If it wasn't for their "conference," then these boys would have been in school not playing with balloons and boxes.

I've got to admit I'm somewhat surprised to learn the Heene family aren't homeschoolers.
posted by dersins at 4:51 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just thought it would be awesome to be balloon boy for Haloween, then I realized that everyone else probably just thought that, too. Is Balloon Boy the Heath Ledger Joker of 2009?
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:54 PM on October 15, 2009



...is there some kind of site rule that says we can't make fpps about such subjects but have to wait until something like this happens before we can mention it?

there must be - because if there isn't, then the lack of fpps on such subjects must mean that you aren't really sincere when you complain about our paying attention to this one

if you were REALLY concerned about kids drowning in bathtubs you'd have made an fpp about it, right?


People can pay attention to and post about what ever your little hearts want. I salute your freedom.

But people might, just might, want to think and wait for the facts to come in before they post all sorts of premature, ill-conceived, judgmental nonsense about those items.

Consider that said people might then demonstrate that they have one or two extra chromosomes.

Consider said people might demonstrate that they have some how killed Nancy Grace, ground her corpse up into a nice fine powder, mixed her powdered remains with whatever other drugs render a person a complete hysterical dumb shit, and then snorted the combination fourteen grams at a time.
posted by tkchrist at 4:55 PM on October 15, 2009


Best. Metafilter. Thread. Ever.
posted by nax at 4:57 PM on October 15, 2009 [13 favorites]


Consider said people might demonstrate that they have some how killed Nancy Grace, ground her corpse up into a nice fine powder, mixed her powdered remains with whatever other drugs render a person a complete hysterical dumb shit, and then snorted the combination fourteen grams at a time.

Haven't we all done that at some point in college?
posted by qvantamon at 4:58 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The police didn't look in the attic or search the house... for hours?

Last thing I heard before I shut my TV off was an interview with one of the cops who searched the house. He said he searched the attic twice without finding him. Either the kid's really good at hide-and-go-seek or the cop's really bad at it.
posted by scalefree at 4:58 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


tank fly box boy jam nitty gritty
you're listing to the boy from the big bad city
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:59 PM on October 15, 2009


Oh. And. I Told you so.
posted by tkchrist at 4:59 PM on October 15, 2009


All of the top 40 trending topics on Google are related to this with the excpetion of...

19. meghan mccain twitter photo
40. garth brooks out of retirement


I was going to make a Meghan McCain boob-shot fpp but luckily for you all this happened first.
posted by empath at 5:01 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Next time someone takes a jab at me for not going out of my way to watch television I'm going to point at this.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:01 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Agreed, Nax. This merits a Metafilter In-Joke t-shirt. 600+ hilarious posts about a bizarre and developing story, to me, proves that this world is weird and unpredictable and worth fighting for. If that's not best of the web, I don't know what is.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:02 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Does Hallmark make a "Thanks for nothing, dumbass" card we can send to the people who reported seeing something fall from the balloon?

Nope, but Zazzle has your back.

40. garth brooks out of retirement

Garth Brooks retired?
posted by filthy light thief at 5:03 PM on October 15, 2009


Oh I for got to answer this precious nugget:

if you were REALLY concerned about kids drowning in bathtubs you'd have made an fpp about it, right?

I'm not. I am not the least bit concerned about kids drowning in bath tubs. I am so irresponsible in that way. I litterally never even think about kids drowning in bath tubs. This despite my hobby of collecting bathtubs and leaving them out in the back yard.

I should not be allowed to pursue my hobby of collecting bath-tubs and bathing in them. Which isn't really any kind of hobby now that I think about it.
posted by tkchrist at 5:04 PM on October 15, 2009


So three boys were trying to hide from the cops - Bradford, Ryo and Falcon. They all climbed up into the attic's garage and tried to find a hiding place there.

Seeing nothing but boxes, they each climbed into a box. The cops came into the attic, seeing no sign of the boys. So one of them started kicking the boxes to see if maybe they were hiding in there.

The cop kicked the box with Bradford in it, and Brad yelped "Woof! Woof!" so the cop would think maybe it was a dog. He kicked another box, the one with Ryo in it, and Ryo said "Meow! Meow!" so they would think it was a cat. Finally, just as the cop was about to give up, he kicked the last box.

And Falcon yelled, "I AM IN A BALLOON 10,000 FT ABOVE THE GROUND YOU IDIOTS, TURN ON THE TV!"
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:06 PM on October 15, 2009 [23 favorites]


http://www.imeem.com/people/BHAaS/playlist/-Wyx5P2w/in-the-air-tonight-songs-for-balloon-boy-music-playlist/
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:07 PM on October 15, 2009


I think it's irresponsible to collect bathtubs and not make moonshine on them.
posted by qvantamon at 5:07 PM on October 15, 2009


I like to take cards meant for other purposes and scribble out whatever text doesn't work and rewrite text that does. In this case, I might pick a Bar Mitvah card, It would be rewitten to read:

MAZEL TOV

Your family are so
proud of you
as today you climb the bima
caused a national panic
read from the torah by releasing your crazy father's UFO balloon
and prove that
you are a man
not pussified.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:09 PM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


Consider said people might demonstrate that they have some how killed Nancy Grace, ground her corpse up into a nice fine powder, mixed her powdered remains with whatever other drugs render a person a complete hysterical dumb shit, and then snorted the combination fourteen grams at a time.

will that help me play guitar like keith?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:09 PM on October 15, 2009


I think it's irresponsible to collect bathtubs and not make moonshine on them.

Oh I do. I bath in the moonshine. It may not soap up to good. But it tingles in all the right places.
posted by tkchrist at 5:10 PM on October 15, 2009


I am not the least bit concerned about kids drowning in bath tubs.

i knew that
posted by pyramid termite at 5:12 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


will that help me play guitar like keith?

Yeah, but in a non-serious way - you're just a pretend recording star!
posted by setanor at 5:13 PM on October 15, 2009


but you haven't heard my latest generic 3 chord wonder - i call it "wild horseshit"
posted by pyramid termite at 5:14 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Senior Cardgage wins with reason #594 why we should allow images again. Oh, the Humanity.

(and hey, SG, Fark's doing a balloon themed photoshop contest. Go and grab their $0 grand prize... I don't usually hang out at Fark, but today seemed the perfect day)
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 5:15 PM on October 15, 2009


Is Garth Brooks playing for the Vikings or Green Bay?
posted by fixedgear at 5:15 PM on October 15, 2009


I don't know why but having read through this thread, I now feel an overwhelming need to eat waffles.
posted by johnj at 5:15 PM on October 15, 2009


I was going to make a Meghan McCain boob-shot fpp but luckily for you all this happened first.

So wait. You're telling me we could have been talking about boobs this whole time?

CURSE YOU FALCON
posted by hifiparasol at 5:16 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


You know what would have been a good end to this? If Falcon was in the balloon, then with the eyes of the world on him had fallen, obviously to the horror of all those watching, them for him flex wings and soar across the sky. Then for clone Thor to blow a big hole in him.
posted by biffa at 5:17 PM on October 15, 2009


Remember when the news was jammed by the astronaut stalker lady driving cross country in diapers and Anna Nicole Smith dying in the same week? Today, we face Meghan McCain posting an inappropriate Twitter pic and a boy scaring the nation by hiding in box within mere hours of each other.

I propose that the tabloid-style news is accelerating at a geometric rate. Consider that between this outburst and Anna Nicole Smith's death, we dealt with five celebrity deaths, Sarah Palin's resignation, and Mark Sanford's affair within about a week.

By 2015, I predict we will experience bursts of 15 Octomom-scale news flashes per day.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:18 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Timmy O'Toole
posted by brevator at 5:18 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


If there is one thing I have taken away from this thread it's that we must submit an outline of our hobbies to the Federal Hobby Revue Board BEFORE we commit more than 40 hours to any single project. Becuase, as you all know, the threshold for Legitimate Hobby Certification MUST come before 40 hours. Or they take away your right to accidentally not kill a precocious child.

Okay. TWO things. The second thing I've learned is that is never too soon to begin harshly judging people on how well they don't accidentally kill their precocious children.
posted by tkchrist at 5:23 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


.
posted by kozad at 5:26 PM on October 15, 2009


I propose that the tabloid-style news is accelerating at a geometric rate. Consider that between this outburst and Anna Nicole Smith's death, we dealt with five celebrity deaths, Sarah Palin's resignation, and Mark Sanford's affair within about a week.


Reality itself is becoming more tabloid every day. Nanobots you know. By next month we'll reach Weekly World News levels and the Times will be reporting about hordes of Batboys and zombie Popes and loch ness astronauts and sharks that loose frikken lasers from thier eyes.

For entertainment we'll read about quiet afternoons and businessmen.
posted by The Whelk at 5:26 PM on October 15, 2009


Glad he's safe and so glad he wasn't in that balloon. If I were his mother, I wouldn't know whether to give him as much dessert as he wants for a year or to ground him for life (no pun intended).
posted by zizzle at 5:26 PM on October 15, 2009


Son...

I am disappoint.
posted by Avenger at 5:27 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, at least Madeleine Stowe will be convinced that Bruce Willis is from the future now.
posted by dirtdirt at 5:27 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


What the hell?

Something about a kid in a balloon and over seven hundred comments?

Man, you turn off the internet for four hours, come back and you've missed everything.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:34 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]



Man, you turn off the internet for four hours, come back and you've missed everything.

And yet, you've missed nothing. Meditate and reflect.
posted by The Whelk at 5:37 PM on October 15, 2009 [12 favorites]


Something about a kid in a balloon and over 9000 comments?



Might as well go full-Chan at this point.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:37 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Man, you turn off the internet for four hours

Please don't turn off the internet, I'm using it right now.
posted by qvantamon at 5:39 PM on October 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


Heh, did anyone else read the single review posted today for the "Box Time" video on Amazon posted above?

"I bought this video for my children, in order to introduce to them the fun, wholesome world of boxes. What happened instead was that they just decided to hide away in boxes all the time! I eventually told them "enough!" and put the boxes away in the attic, but that didn't stop them! They found it even easier to hide away for long periods because I never thought to look for them up there! It has gotten so bad that I cannot have any boxes around the house at all! Even the smallest boxes! I will sometimes find my youngest curled up in bed with a shoe box on his head, sound asleep, with that tissue paper that comes with the shoes stuck to his lip. It is wrecking my home! I will still be checking out Box Time #2, in case it offers a more healthy view of boxes and box activities."

I thought it was funny.
posted by DanielDManiel at 5:46 PM on October 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


I blame Obama for this.

But seriously, this has all been the best everyone-losing-their-shit-for-absolutely-nothing episode since that whale stuck in the ice. Once-in-a-decade stuff.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:50 PM on October 15, 2009


So is this the thread where we all watch 30 Rock?
posted by The Whelk at 5:50 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


800 comments and only 10 favorites :( there should be some kind of trade in program
posted by empath at 5:52 PM on October 15, 2009


Longboat time?
posted by sciurus at 5:53 PM on October 15, 2009


By 2015, I predict we will experience bursts of 15 Octomom-scale news flashes per day.

Centoventomom?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:57 PM on October 15, 2009


No, not longboat time.
posted by jessamyn at 5:57 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


And just when his Twitter feed was picking up steam.
posted by The Deej at 6:00 PM on October 15, 2009


I just wanted to say: I love you, MetaFilter.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 6:06 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think it's safe to say we'd all have enjoyed this a lot more if it had been a Calvin & Hobbes arc

I was busy this afternoon and did not have a clue that any of this was going down. The news link was updated to report the child safe before I even started reading this thread which meant I was fortunate enough to get the BalloonBoy NewsLite: All of the flavor, none of the angst. As a result, I thoroughly enjoyed the unique Metafilter touch. The drama! The excitement! The jokes! The condemnation of the jokes! The condemnation of the parents! The condemnation of the condemners! The math! The updates! The speculations! The relief! When I got to the part where the balloon touched down and read, "The balloon touched down." "The balloon touched down." "The balloon touched down." Wash. Rinse. Repeat. I started laughing. When I got to "He's in the house." "He's in the house." "He's in the house." I laughed so hard the tears streamed down my face.

I thank you all Good Meefs, for a lovely evening.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:06 PM on October 15, 2009 [27 favorites]


TMZ says the cops told them that the parents were "hysterical" until the boy was found.

If this was a Rupert Pupkin stunt to make his video famous, at least he went all out.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:08 PM on October 15, 2009


Here also is Richard Heene being hysterical (top video)
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:15 PM on October 15, 2009


I blame Obama for this.

Obviously.
And small boys and balloons are now added to the unAmerican list.
posted by philip-random at 6:22 PM on October 15, 2009


Nothing in this thread has been posted by box.

That is so wrong.
posted by dhartung at 6:35 PM on October 15, 2009


Gawker assesses today's winners and losers:

LOSERS: Cable news networks who in the midst of the health care, debate, the world exploding, etc., interrupted their programming for three hours to cover what turned out to be a huge mix-up. Oh yeah, and the internet for doing that too.

WINNERS: The few on Twitter who took the bold step to mock while it seemed a six-year-old boy was about to be smashed to death against a mountain before our very eyes. Their psychopathic insensitivity to human suffering is now vindicated.

posted by Joe Beese at 6:39 PM on October 15, 2009 [10 favorites]


Nothing in this thread has been posted by box.

Too little Sarah Palin :(
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:43 PM on October 15, 2009


Shame on them for their pride in their ignorance. Shame on them for letting their stupidity run so far ahead of common sense.

When do any of us feel shame over watching them or this event?
posted by rough ashlar at 6:48 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


MeFi, you've restored my faith in the internets.
posted by reductiondesign at 6:58 PM on October 15, 2009


That he CHOSE to go on the show and behave that way is what makes him an ass.

I thought it would make you a tool.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:01 PM on October 15, 2009


Metafilter: lefty homoerotic propaganda
posted by The Whelk at 7:13 PM on October 15, 2009


Nothing good like this ever happens in Hong Kong. All we get are greedy feng shui masters and celebrity porno. And nobody's seen a real-life flying dragon in nigh on to 20 years.
posted by milquetoast at 7:18 PM on October 15, 2009


Garth Brooks retired?

Yeah, that Chris Gaines thing didn't work out so super-well.

But Steve Wynn threw a private jet and a ton of cash at him and now all is well.
posted by blucevalo at 7:20 PM on October 15, 2009


okay, i'll do it:

Metafilter: Their psychopathic insensitivity to human suffering is now vindicated.
posted by empath at 7:22 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


All we get are greedy feng shui masters and celebrity porno.

I'd take greedy feng shui masters and celebrity porn over a false sighting in a UFO-like hot air balloon of a six-year-old kid of creepy "Wife Swap" alums any day of the week.

How apropos that this is my 2000th comment.
posted by blucevalo at 7:24 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


*sigh*
posted by Smedleyman at 7:29 PM on October 15, 2009


Nothing good like this ever happens in Hong Kong. All we get are greedy feng shui masters and celebrity porno.

Hong Kong . . . Hong Kong . . . Which part of Los Angeles is that?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:31 PM on October 15, 2009


I've seen The Big Carnival, so this is familiar to me.
posted by SPrintF at 7:40 PM on October 15, 2009


Next year, we need to march on Washington (or Denver Intl., your choice) for the 10 Values, 15 Principles project. We march not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans united together to save the boy at 7000ft in the air who lives inside all of us. Who is that boy? Why is he in the air? Is he more important than the boy inside us drowning in the bathtub? We don't know, but we do know that WE CARE, and that we will not let the boy DIE OF SNARK.

Let's not fall into the complacence we will hit on 10/16, or the obsession on real news regarding public health we fell into on 10/14.

No, on 10/15, we need to remind the stories about politicians and major events that they don't surround us, we surround them.

Ask yourself these questions:
* Do you watch the direction that the balloon in your heart is being taken in and feel powerless to stop it?
* Do you believe that weird news isn’t loud enough to be heard above the serious shit anymore?
* Do you read the headlines everyday and feel an empty pit in your stomach… as if you’re completely alone at 10,000 feet in the air?

PS: BYOBox

PSS: Also BYOBalloon

posted by mccarty.tim at 7:40 PM on October 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


when asked if he heard his parents calling, falcon threw out a few words, among them "you guys said we did it for the show"
posted by nadawi at 7:41 PM on October 15, 2009 [22 favorites]


It's a balloon, penelope.

prick
posted by davejay at 7:46 PM on October 15, 2009


"Did it for the show" raises the publicity stunt likelihood percentage for me, but I don't know yet by what amount.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:49 PM on October 15, 2009


I heard him say "Always blow on the pie."
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:50 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


BYOBalloon

If that means Be Your Own Balloon, then I'm all for it.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:51 PM on October 15, 2009


nadawi's link is pretty damning IMHO. The boy, obviously young and confused and not sure what the right thing to say is, seems to stammer out "you guys said we did it for the show" and then his father seems to have a hard time explaining around what he might have meant by that.
posted by secretseasons at 7:51 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Becuase, as you all know, the threshold for Legitimate Hobby Certification MUST come before 40 hours. Or they take away your right to accidentally not kill a precocious child.

This is a disappointment. It turns out I just got my certification this morning. My hobby is killing precocious children not at all by accident. I am not certain that my certificate is legitimate, but it was expensive, and it smells a bit like old bandages.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:51 PM on October 15, 2009


Courtesy Reddit
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:52 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hard to remember if I've seen this linked in this thread already... did you all see these clips from the wife swap show? Falcon seems to be the one who says, "Fuck this rule!"
posted by secretseasons at 7:56 PM on October 15, 2009


Could it just be a coincidence that the balloon was headed toward the Denver airport?
posted by lukemeister at 7:59 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


when asked if he heard his parents calling, falcon threw out a few words, among them "you guys said we did it for the show"

I just got really depressed. Like all this for nothing.

The cynics win again.
posted by notswedish at 8:06 PM on October 15, 2009


Where were you, when they found that boy in the attic?
Did you sigh relief, or did you think it was kind of lame?
Well, I, for one, believe in that boy in the attic.
nine-eleven, nine-elevennnnnn.....
posted by Navelgazer at 8:16 PM on October 15, 2009


These kids will have been used to doing stagey things for reality shows, and the parents decided to do a stunt even though they weren't scheduled to be on TV. Mission accomplished.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:20 PM on October 15, 2009


Could be that the kid is really crafty, figured he'd shift the blame onto the parents so he didn't have to live with it.
posted by setanor at 8:21 PM on October 15, 2009


This is precisely the hilarious ending I was hoping for the whole time. For the parents' sake, I hope it is a hoax, because they're going to be publicly kicked in the taint by the press and the blogs for a long time starting tomorrow, and I'll feel a whole lot better about that if they actually deserve it.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:25 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Oh, dammit! We just got rid of Jon and Kate, and now we got these people? And Wolf Blitzer breaks the (non-)story?!

This day keeps getting suckier.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:25 PM on October 15, 2009


How it will pan out next time.
posted by mazola at 8:28 PM on October 15, 2009


This day keeps getting suckier.
posted by dirigibleman


Eponhys-er-um. Huh.
posted by The Whelk at 8:29 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Kids that age aren't smart enough to come up with that good a blame shift, except maybe by blind luck.

And the awkward bumbling and flustering of the parents after the kid said that seemed pretty damning.
posted by idiopath at 8:34 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


This day keeps getting suckier.

Hey, I heard about it after the whole thing was over. It was thrilling for about 10 seconds before I knew the kid was on the ground the whole time.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:37 PM on October 15, 2009


I wonder if the parents are gunning for a reality show of their own? It sure would be one way to make their life of storm chasing and alien hunting into a profitable one.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:38 PM on October 15, 2009


And Wolf Blitzer breaks the (non-)story?!

Blitzer didn't break a goddamn thing. Per his usual style, he was either too confused to catch it or to unwilling to hit it head on and let it slide. He tripped and fell face-first, Magoo style, into this.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:38 PM on October 15, 2009 [10 favorites]


Yeah. Stupid kid's life wasn't at risk at all.
posted by mazola at 8:39 PM on October 15, 2009


Wolf Blitzer finally pries at the dad over the "we did it for the show" comment.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:43 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Please feel free to elaborate and prove me wrong, or to simply apologize for your pig-headed blanket assertion that pissed off quite a few commenters in this thread.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:51 PM on October 15


First, I'm sorry if I offended you. I really did not intend my comments about these particular people to be blanket criticism of people who play guitar. Especially because I am one (I also play the piano and cello!). So let me explain better. The problem is not the hobby. The problem is that they participate in the hobby in such a way that the purpose is to project their fantasy to us as a reality. They aren't simply playing guitar. They are showing us that they play guitar in a home studio to convince us that they are not merely hobbyist guitarists, but serious guitarists, the proof of which is the studio.

In other words, my problem with it is that we are complicit in the fantasy because they are showing it to us for the purpose of having us believe it.

See, this isn't an example of the garage inventor toiling away in silence on some Next Big Thing with dreams of changing the world. That is a good thing, and should be encouraged. This also isn't a case of someone doing art or music as a way to express themselves creatively and to share that creativity with others. In those cases, the emphasis, the focus of the person in question, is the creativity.

This is a case of a family whose primary activity appears to be marketing. Thier emphasis is on showing off. They are showing us an image of themselves they want us to believe. That is the focus, on having the rest of the world buy into the fantasy, the identity they wish the world to attribute to them. "I'm a musician, because look at all the music stuff I have. He's a scientist, because he chases storms and builds balloons." They are focused on the symbols of the identity they wish to construct rather than on acquiring that identity as an incidental result of the work and practice to hone an expertise in the field over years. It lacks earnestness.

That is the opposite of what is happening on Mefi Music.

I suppose I did not appreciate the extent to which these shows play up the silliness of the people in them, I always suspected that reality TV wasn't reality, but I guess I didn't understand that they are actively and deliberately playing up the stupid.

And that is my problem. Playing up the stupid. There is stupid there to play up.

These people chose to create a public image of themselves that we see on their youtube videos. (Set the Wife Swap video aside). "We're not pussies, we're storm chasers!" We're not [WEAK THING], we are [STRONG THING]. Like the studio, and the construction of the UFO balloon thing, this too is a fantasy, because they want us to see the videos and believe that the fantasy is the reality. If you were really strong, it wouldn't be so important to try to demonstrate it to as many people as you can.

In other words, they are using their youtube videos, and later Wife Swap, to convince us that their assorted fantasies are real. He's not some jackass neighbor interested in nonsense, he's a UFOologist and storm chaser and here's his homemade video to demonstrate it. She's not a person who plays the guitar and record songs like you, she's a real guitarist, a serious musician, which you can plainly see by the fact that she has her own studio.

The products are acquired (the studio and the balloon are built) in the service of projecting the image. But whether the image is true or not is secondary.

My point, poorly expressed, is that this much fantasy coming out of one household is too much. Storm chaser, and psyience explorer, and home studio, etc. It's too much escaping from reality. That is my subjective opinion. People with kids in the middle of a bad recession need to be a little more focused on the long term that these people appear to be, judging by the videos they themselves put out. And they put them out for the purpose of being judged. (They assumed that enough people would judge them favorably, and they are undoubtedly right).

Furthermore, by too much, I mean they will let something very important slip.

And they did. To indulge his fantasy, he built a balloon that was capable of flying but not in the way that he intended. He didn't take the reasonable precautions we would all expect, like not leaving it inflated, weighing it down, locking it, etc. Even though the kid wasn't in it, there was a very real possibility he could have been (otherwise the parents would have told the cops that it would be impossible for the kid to be in it and the story would never have been "Kid trapped in balloon"). The dad wasn't thinking about these things because he hasn't been thinking period.

If Wife Swap is playing this up, they understand something very important that I didn't: that the audience wants to see this family living out their goofy fantasies. What I want to know is why does the audience want this? To mock and ridicule them? That rings hollow to me. Or because, like reactions in this thread indicate, people who share the interests of the contestants (but don't indulge in them to the extent that the contestants do) will sympathize with them, and emotionally participate in whatever contrived conflict is presented on the show. They'd probably pair them up with someone like me, who'll tell them to cut the nonsense out, at which point you in the audience hiss at me and don't change the channel during the commercials so you can see the tidy wrap up at the end. Is that the general idea?

In that scenario, consider that the audience is the rube. Everyone else involved laughs all the way to the bank.

So I hope that cleared things up, and again, sorry if I offended you.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:46 PM on October 15, 2009 [30 favorites]


The cynics win again.

If you can't beat em...

Then again, I got called out for rooting for the kids death so I could scorn the parents. (lol again, rob.)

Really, from the beginning, this whole thing was laughable. That 24/7 news turned into a reality show this afternoon shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Be skeptical, be cynical, be judgmental, because 95% of the crap you hear and see every day is advertising and marketing and absolute bullshit. It was one kid in Colorado, and as a few people in this thread have pointed out that there is far more important shit going on than an attention grabbing family baiting the life of their kid for publicity.
posted by clearly at 8:46 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well that was thoroughly entertaining.
posted by hellojed at 8:46 PM on October 15, 2009


Could be that the kid is really crafty, figured he'd shift the blame onto the parents so he didn't have to live with it.

That would require a lot of sophistication, really more than a six-year-old could have -- inventing "you guys said we did this for the show" would require him to understand the nature of the publicity he'd gotten, the fact that it could benefit his parents in some way, the plausibility of the scenario that they'd put him up to it. He just looked confused that his father was asking him this question. Six-year-olds tell lies, but they're on the level of "Brian did it," not "You guys set me up in order to get free publicity for your projects."
posted by palliser at 8:48 PM on October 15, 2009


Metafilter: overthinking a plate of 15 minutes of fame.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 8:51 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Via Reddit: a /b/tard felt it would be worth $45 to order a pizza to the family's house, just to see it whiz past the reporters. Result here.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:51 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


lolblitzer
posted by Flunkie at 8:52 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Just to clarify -- I think it's also possible that the dad is right, and Falcon just didn't understand the question, and was talking about being on all these interview shows. But I don't think he could have been lying.)
posted by palliser at 8:54 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]



Metafilter: overthinking a plate of 15 minutes of fame.


...and 60 or so minutes of unmanned flight.
posted by clearly at 8:55 PM on October 15, 2009


Should have previewed: it was a PR stunt? So the kid was never in danger. Which poves all the more that the dad especially is really focused on promotion. So my stantement about putting the kid at risk by indulding in the fantasy is now unsupported by evidence, I suppose, but the bigger point is that all this PR and self-promotion begs the question: What is he promoting? What great thing has he or his family done that he needs to get the word out on this scale?

Nothing. It's half-assed shit slapped together simply to have something to promote in order to feed his need for attention.

Do something. Work at something. Really hard. Make it the best you can, then show us it. Don't be so hungry to show us you.

I guess that's the difference between what I see in those clips and what something like mefimusic is about.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:56 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did someone fart in terror after the kid said, "we did it for the show," or was that added later?
posted by dirigibleman at 9:00 PM on October 15, 2009 [14 favorites]


Be skeptical, be cynical, be judgmental, because 95% of the crap you hear and see every day is advertising and marketing and absolute bullshit.

See, normally I am the skeptical guy. I don't even have cable because I know that it's shit. But someone posts an article that very unequivocally states that a 6-yr old kid is in a balloon 7000 ft above the ground, well that seems to me to be a story that shouldn't be susceptible to spinning. At no point in flight was the story anything other than "There is a kid trapped in the balloon you are seeing." Jesus Christ, that is an absolute statement of fact.

This isn't In Search of Schroedinger's Kid. This kid is in the balloon or not. This should be easy to determine, and one of the first things to determine. We all hate being duped, but hell, can you blame us?
posted by Pastabagel at 9:03 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Pastabagel - I think the issue that some people took with your comments was more how quickly and how seriously you passed judgment on these people. Even as you are proven right now, the way in which you characterized them seemed really unfounded and unnecessary, given the quality of the material you were referencing. I get that this sort of thing gets you wound up, I really do, and I understand, but most of your first posts were basically calling them out as idiots and ignorant douchebags and fucking morons, etc. and that didn't really seem like there was any way you could have known if that was accurate.
posted by setanor at 9:04 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pastabagel, I for one applaud you for seeing through the bullshit sooner than most.

I was just trying to understand all the strange bits. A weird-ass helium balloon? Loaded for bear, er, air? Some claim about flying above the commute? For a camera, or what? Then you had the math contretemps about whether it was big enough for a kid. That's the answer. It was exactly big enough to make us think it was plausible to hold a kid -- and no more. Because building it bigger would have been too hard (or cost too much in helium), and then there would have been those questions. So the thing really was purpose-built and the purpose was, in retrospect, clearly a hoax.

Then there was the neighbor's report that the other kid was videoing/photographing the balloon as it rose, while both parents were frantically searching the house or something. If you thought your kid was in the balloon, wouldn't one of you at least grab the car and follow it for hell or high water? So that was activity designed to create the appearance of concern.

And still, later, supposedly the mom was just sitting in her office when Falcon suddenly appeared. Wait, your kid is lost somewhere in the wilds of Colorado's range country and you're ... sitting around? Huh?

My bet is the money from Wife Swap ran out, the recession means he can't get work, and they're behind on the house. Answer: need new reality series starring us. This is sickening.
posted by dhartung at 9:05 PM on October 15, 2009


Be skeptical, be cynical, be judgmental, because 95% of the crap you hear and see every day is advertising and marketing and absolute bullshit.

You can be aware as a person and filter out all the bullshit without having to be skeptical, cynical OR judgmental.
posted by setanor at 9:16 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


schrodinger's balloon boy.
posted by extrabox at 9:20 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is a case of a family whose primary activity appears to be marketing. Thier emphasis is on showing off. They are showing us an image of themselves they want us to believe. That is the focus, on having the rest of the world buy into the fantasy, the identity they wish the world to attribute to them. "I'm a musician, because look at all the music stuff I have.

congratulations - you've just described 99% of professional rock musicians - it's about marketing, it's about image, it's about showing off, it's about fantasy

also, they're on tv, and the producers of that tv show want to SHOW people not TELL, as that's the ultimate purpose of the medium

it's not so much that you're wrong about what you say about these people - but that you think that they could possibly be allowed to appear in the public eye by any other means than the ones they've chosen

it's the nature of the beast - rock and roll musicians are immodest jerks and tv reality stars are narcissists

what's the goddamn difference between that and a guy telling his son what a kickass football player he was in high school? - it's all a parade of vanity, especially those who proclaim some kind of authenticity for people who aren't "showing off" ... but really are - trust me on that

In that scenario, consider that the audience is the rube. Everyone else involved laughs all the way to the bank.

because after all, what's really important isn't the story, or the presentation, or the outcome, but how you, as a member of the audience, are able to present yourself and your reactions as SUPERIOR to the other members of the audience

hmmm, maybe i've just come up with a definition of hipsterism
posted by pyramid termite at 9:20 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Apparently the kid just landed in a field. They're using shovels to get him out.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:22 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


idiopath: Kids that age aren't smart enough to come up with that good a blame shift, except maybe by blind luck.

Gee, I dunno, I was 2 or 3 when I disengaged the emergency brake in an MG and rolled down the hill and through the front window of a Venice Beach retirement hotel. By the time they pulled me, unharmed, out of the car I had formulated my story: "A man tried to kidnap me, and he started the car and it crashed." The posse was forming when one of the old folks announced they'd seen the whole thing and that the little girl was alone in the car throughout. Of course, none of this would have happened if my perpetually stoned dad hadn't left me alone in a car on a hill in the first place...
posted by Scram at 9:27 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Seriously, though. There was a balloon floating above Colorado. We thought a 6-year-old child was endangered. The balloon is down, and it turns out the kid was never in danger. There is no longer any reason for us to care about this. Let's all stop paying attention to it.

Thank you.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:31 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is no longer any reason for us to care about this. Let's all stop paying attention to it.

I would, but now there are terror farts.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:33 PM on October 15, 2009 [13 favorites]


We care because it looks like someone decided to freak out tons of people by using his child as a prop in an expensive and insane hoax, and as much as we get captivated by an innocent in trouble, we love a douchebag about to get his comeuppance even more.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:34 PM on October 15, 2009 [15 favorites]


it's not so much that you're wrong about what you say about these people - but that you think that they could possibly be allowed to appear in the public eye by any other means than the ones they've chosen

I'm down with consenting adult reality stars playing the Paris Hilton fame game.

When they start making their kids into pint-sized media whores, I think I'm right to be disturbed.
posted by dhartung at 9:38 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love that little pause in the news show clip.

"But you said..." Wait, why is Dad asking me about this? Should I say? He's giving me a Look. What kind of Look? What am I supposed to do? Ah, nuts, I'll just tell the truth. The truth is good, right? "...you said we did it for the show."

Long pause. Falcon sees his father's expression.

Crap.
posted by Scattercat at 9:44 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Be skeptical, be cynical, be judgmental, because 95% of the crap you hear and see every day is advertising and marketing and absolute bullshit.

Actually, just be skeptical. That's good mental health. Cynicism and judgment on the other hand are rather poisonous.

As for the kid ooops! telling the truth to Uncle Wolf. I love it. Hardest I've laughed all week. Hope I live long enough for him to live long enough to grow to maturity and write some kind of memoir.

I'm actually starting to like this story. Belly-laughs and all.
posted by philip-random at 9:45 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


John Kenneth Fisher: "we love a douchebag about to get his comeuppance even more."

To wit:

Hipster Grifter Sentenced, to Jail
posted by Joe Beese at 9:46 PM on October 15, 2009


Do all "wife swaps" pay $20K? Just curious. You know.
posted by maxwelton at 9:49 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


For two hours today, I watched a weather balloon float around the sky with a six year old in it. I was stoned, and some very serious sounding news people were assuring me this is what I was watching.


If this is a deliberate hoax, it is the best since War of the Worlds.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:49 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm compiling a short list of agencies that I sincerely hope will be billing this, yes, douchebag for the expensive recovery and search:
Weld County Sheriff
"various fire and police departments"
Colorado Emergency Management
Federal Aviation Agency & National Transportation Safety Board
Denver International Airport
Colorado Army National Guard

(I'm not sure any news outlets need reimbursement.)

This makes me feel like the nutbar who plagues my local newspaper website with incessant "taxpayers are hurting" comments to everything. But jeepers.
posted by dhartung at 9:50 PM on October 15, 2009


Okay yeah, I'm taking back my parent-condemning comment. Not too thought out on my part.
posted by naju at 2:10 PM on October 15 [+] [!]


Aaaaand back to the parent-condemning for me. Parents, I condemn you.
posted by naju at 9:55 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


If Wife Swap is playing this up, they understand something very important that I didn't: that the audience wants to see this family living out their goofy fantasies. What I want to know is why does the audience want this? To mock and ridicule them? That rings hollow to me.

I think you underestimate people's desire to mock and ridicule others so that they, themselves, can feel, uh, let's say adequate. Case in point, about five years ago I was in a city park, dressed like this, beating people with sticks and some guy comes up to me and starts asking questions about why I'm doing what I'm doing. I'm kind of preoccupied and he's obviously filming me, but I'm OK with that. And his girlfriend is looking really worried, which is odd, but whatever.

Six months later someone sends me a link to this video on college humor and he's trying really hard to make me look like a freak. Unfortunately, I'm just not playing along.

Thanks to reality TV that guy doesn't have to try to get me to say "What ho varlet" or whatever he wanted me to say, and his girlfriend doesn't have to worry about me putting him in traction. They can sit in the comfort and safety of their living room and people will line up to make asses of themselves.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:58 PM on October 15, 2009


So when does this kid get invited for a beer at the White House?
posted by armage at 10:08 PM on October 15, 2009


'Balloon boy' hoax fears after Falcon says 'we did this for the show'
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:13 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Coming home tipsy to an 800-comment Metafilter thread makes for a great evening. Yay! I wish every day were just like this, Groundhog Day style. It would also be a lot of fun to write "SPOILER: he's in a box in the attic of the garage" as the second comment and watch the aftermath.
posted by painquale at 10:15 PM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


So my spouse says to me this afternoon, "Isn't interesting that he made a weather balloon in the shape of a flying saucer".

And I'm thinking now, having his kid fake a balloon ride wasn't this guy's original plan.
posted by tgyg at 10:17 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Saw this today morning (South East Asia time) on BBC. The headlines first showed a middle-aged man running out of a bombed building clutching his daughter in Peshawar, and then shots of this kid and his dad, surrounded by police and media.

I'm not sure what my point is, just saying the contrast was rather stark.
posted by the cydonian at 10:18 PM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


What ho varlet
posted by mwhybark at 10:20 PM on October 15, 2009


Another we did it for the show

[doff paranoic hat (it has a peacock feather!)]

Isn't it interesting that today Obama was down in New Orleans. Bumped off the headlines and newstickers by a six year old. Sure would hate to show how badly off New Orleans remains. Sure would hate to show Obama promising to fix up that lingering disaster.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:21 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wish I could take credit for this:

Now, this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside-down.
I'd liked to take a minute, just sit right there,
& I'll tell you how I became the prince of hot air.
In Fort Collins Colorado, born and raised,
Chasin' storms is where I spent most of my days.
Chilln' out with my parents and my two brothers too,
rappin' bout when you're overprotected, not cool
then a couple of ropes, who were clearly no good,
released my big balloon above the neighborhood
I got in one little flight and my mom got scared.
She said "my son's trapped in a balloon floating up in the air!"
I whistled for a chopper, and when it came near
the side said "Channel 9" and there were cameras & gear.
If anything I could say that this ride was rare,
but I thought "man, forget it, I'm not really there!"
I got out of my box about seven or eight
and I yelled to Wolf Blitzer "Yo homes, smell ya later!"
Even though I was safe and had always been there
I'll forever be remembered as the prince of hot air.
posted by Ruby Stevens at 10:38 PM on October 15, 2009 [10 favorites]


Man's pet chihuahua trapped in a balloon
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:38 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'll also say that I have seven-year-old nephews whose words I wouldn't trust in this situation, and that the family obviously would have spoken with Falcon at great length before doing the CNN interwiew about being on TV. We don't know what the hell he meant. We just want to.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:47 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


That kid sure can get himself into trouble.
posted by mazola at 10:48 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh, man. I can see the South Park parody right now:

Phillip: Say, Terrance! Why did you hide in the attic when you let the balloon off?
Terrance: Well, Phillip, *pbfth!*
T&P: Hahahahahaha!
posted by dirigibleman at 11:13 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


How can you not love a six yr old kid who causes this much of a ruckus?

which isn't to say if he weremy kid i wouldn't ground him until he turned.....oh 99 or so.....that sounds about right.
posted by Skygazer at 11:32 PM on October 15, 2009


Isn't it interesting that today Obama was down in New Orleans. Bumped off the headlines and newstickers by a six year old. Sure would hate to show how badly off New Orleans remains. Sure would hate to show Obama promising to fix up that lingering disaster.

Ummmm, I'm pretty sure he was in San Francisco today. The Secret Service doesn't just show up at your work every day, you know.
posted by clorox at 11:37 PM on October 15, 2009


He was in both cities.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:42 PM on October 15, 2009


Just to recap: one ugly flameout, advanced physics, numerous tweets, at least 2 meme worthy photoshop jobs, twenty fake-Kanye quotes (at least two in the form of tweets), a cop pulling his gun on an empty balloon, a bunch of people freaking out about a nonexistent child falling to his death, and at least one good Palin joke.

Metafilter, I wanna kiss you right on your goddamn mouth.....
posted by lattiboy at 11:44 PM on October 15, 2009 [10 favorites]


Holy shit, at the same time? He IS the messiah.
posted by empath at 11:44 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


wait, i missed the flameout.
posted by empath at 11:45 PM on October 15, 2009


yeah, where's the flameout? (dammit, this is what I get for skimming an epic thread.)
posted by scody at 11:54 PM on October 15, 2009


Flameout (sorta, more just an ordinary derail) begins here.
posted by dhartung at 12:25 AM on October 16, 2009


That's not a flameout, that's a righteous rant. PB nailed that douchebag dead on.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:32 AM on October 16, 2009


All thanks to Wife Swap!
posted by setanor at 12:36 AM on October 16, 2009


I'm embarrassed to admit that dirigibleman is sending me into giggle fits.
posted by granted at 12:59 AM on October 16, 2009


All thanks to Wife Swap!

*grumbles* So, 800+ comments, here we go...
posted by From Bklyn at 1:19 AM on October 16, 2009


Sticherbeast: "Wolf Blitzer finally pries at the dad over the "we did it for the show" comment. "
I asked you to ask him why didn't he come out after he heard you and his mom and everybody else screaming for Falcon.

And you said to him "Falcon, why didn't you come out?"

And Falcon said "Mmmm... you guys said that, mmmm... we did this... for the show."

And you said "Mmmm."
Metafilter: Mmmm.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:19 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Coming home tipsy to an 800-comment Metafilter thread makes for a great evening... It would also be a lot of fun to write "SPOILER: he's in a box in the attic of the garage" as the second comment and watch the aftermath.

That's what reading it on Reddit would be like.

Also, more puns.
posted by rokusan at 1:35 AM on October 16, 2009


Alright, now that I'm caught up. This has been quite a thing, America. The only upside I can see is the whole "we did it for the show... pfft." Almost makes up for it all.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:49 AM on October 16, 2009


It sounds like the family went into this hoax without a very good exit plan.
posted by creasy boy at 2:27 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think statistically, the likelihood being on Wife Swap and having your kid involved in a riveting national mishap that dominates the news for three hours on a Thursday afternoon are pretty unlikely experiences to occur in the same life.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:55 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


That's not a flameout. Wait a over promise and under deliver.
posted by chunking express at 4:56 AM on October 16, 2009


Also, I'd like to take a minute just sit right there and i'll tell you how I took off in a balloon filled with hot air
posted by chunking express at 5:08 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


It sounds like the family went into this hoax without a very good exit plan.

...Parachutes?
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 5:37 AM on October 16, 2009


As for the kid ooops! telling the truth to Uncle Wolf. I love it. Hardest I've laughed all week. Hope I live long enough for him to live long enough to grow to maturity and write some kind of memoir.

I'm actually starting to like this story. Belly-laughs and all.


It made me hate America so much I'm googling for the nearest Communist Party recruitment center.
posted by DU at 5:38 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Kid Charlemagne: "I think you underestimate people's desire to mock and ridicule others so that they, themselves, can feel, uh, let's say adequate. ... Thanks to reality TV that guy doesn't have to try to get me to say "What ho varlet" or whatever he wanted me to say, and his girlfriend doesn't have to worry about me putting him in traction. They can sit in the comfort and safety of their living room and people will line up to make asses of themselves."

I'm a primate and make no apologies for it - having had no say in the matter. Which means that dominance hierarchies are a feature, not a bug. So when I finish a day of wage-slavery and settle in front of the idiot box [will that locution become mysterious as flat screens become the norm?] to enjoy Hell's Kitchen, I do so with the very conscious intention of jeering at the squirming haplessness of the contestants, whom Bourdain has so aptly described as "the lame and the halt". That this makes me no better, in the developmental scheme of things, than a hooting chimp flinging his excrement through the bars of his cage troubles me not a whit. Beats blowing kids up in Afghanistan, seems to me.

oh yeah... "What ho, varlet!" hee hee...
posted by Joe Beese at 5:59 AM on October 16, 2009


Beats blowing kids up in Afghanistan, seems to me.

With a bar this high, I marvel you manage to clear it every single night.
posted by DU at 6:03 AM on October 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


The Heene Boys' music video - SLYT:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBWJXXgaYBo
posted by jgirl at 6:03 AM on October 16, 2009


That would require a lot of sophistication, really more than a six-year-old could have -- inventing "you guys said we did this for the show" would require him to understand the nature of the publicity he'd gotten, the fact that it could benefit his parents in some way, the plausibility of the scenario that they'd put him up to it. He just looked confused that his father was asking him this question. Six-year-olds tell lies, but they're on the level of "Brian did it," not "You guys set me up in order to get free publicity for your projects."

Well, I think that's accurate, but at the same time I think it's possible that the kid was just "improvising". Like, he thought at the time that hiding and making people think he was in the balloon would be dramatic, so he he did it.

Then later he's asked why he did it and he says "for the show". That was the truth, but it was his idea, not his dads.

The I think that's the case is that if it had been for the show and his father put him up to it, then I think his dad would have told him not to tell anyone that. He would have said something like "Whatever you do, don't say we were doing this for the show, because if you do we'll have to pay for all the helicopters, etc!"

So I think falcon was telling the truth, but that he had decided to hide on his own.
posted by delmoi at 6:07 AM on October 16, 2009


Now that the potential tragedy part is over, I wonder how many of us are fixated on the story because it provides a distraction from the rest of our lives. It's rubbernecking to be sure, and I am not accusing anyone of following it just to feel morally superior to the family (though it's apparent that some do feel that way). It's just much easier to think about this story - which did not directly affect any of us than it is to dwell on sickness, unemployment, unpaid bills, or the dirty dishes in the sink.
posted by desjardins at 6:09 AM on October 16, 2009


It sounds like the family went into this hoax without a very good exit plan.

Oh, I get it now. This entire charade... the whole thing was one big allegory.

See, the father, that's Cheney, with his cloud chasing club representing the Project for the New American Century, you know, Wolfowitz, Bolton, Scooter, all those cats.

Now, Boy In Balloon, or Weapons of Mass Destruction, whatever you want, is a Big Scary Thing of which the public was to be convinced. Cue the brother who supposedly rang the alarm on this terrible Big Scary Thing -- or Colin Powell at the United Nations with the Salt Shaker of Terror.

The UN, by the way, being faithfully portrayed by the mother as a crazy, foreign, yet ultimately inconsequential accessory.

(The media, meanwhile, typecast as usual, play the media. Go figure.)

And so we arrive at the tragic hero of the operetta, little George W. Falcon, who never elected to be in this position but is now put forward to cut the cord of public opposition and thrust the balloon of war violently, aimlessly into Mesopotamian skies, its superior engineering and zealous tenacity ultimately thwarted as it strands in the muddy field of sectarian violence.

Asked about the whole ordeal, our hero mumbles, "You guys said... Mission Accomplished?"

The other brother can be Blair, or a tree or whatever. I don't care.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:09 AM on October 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


It could also have been cooked up by him and his other brothers, without his parents knowledge.
posted by delmoi at 6:14 AM on October 16, 2009


It's rubbernecking to be sure, and I am not accusing anyone of following it just to feel morally superior to the family (though it's apparent that some do feel that way)

Well none of my kids ever launched a rogue balloon, caused a worldwide panic and embarrassed me on national TV.


*Hrmph!*
posted by mazola at 6:15 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Has there been any confirmation this was actually a hoax, and not just a 6 year old being stupid.

Because, 6 year olds are pretty fucking stupid.
posted by chunking express at 6:16 AM on October 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


Now that the potential tragedy part is over, I wonder how many of us are fixated on the story because it provides a distraction from the rest of our lives. It's rubbernecking to be sure, and I am not accusing anyone of following it just to feel morally superior to the family (though it's apparent that some do feel that way).

Well, I think it's just a more obvious question of, you know, curiosity about something that held your interest. I don' think there's anything deep there. I do think the people who are rushing out to condemn these people are a bit trite.
posted by delmoi at 6:17 AM on October 16, 2009


DU: "With a bar this high, I marvel you manage to clear it every single night."

And yet, so many of my fellow monkeys don't. ["There are no good choices, but we can't simply leave..."]
posted by Joe Beese at 6:21 AM on October 16, 2009


Just to be clear, we can make jokes now, right? Because I haven't been this disappointed since the finale of the Sopranos.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:22 AM on October 16, 2009


Think of the thread we would have if Sarah Palin was strapped to a helium balloon and set loose!
posted by diogenes at 6:29 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


We can dream.
posted by mazola at 6:31 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


That "Pussified" music video makes me scared to have children.

No wait, it makes me scared of other people having children.



(and props to all you MeFi physics nerds. We love you.)
posted by Theta States at 6:36 AM on October 16, 2009


chunking express: "Because, 6 year olds are pretty fucking stupid."

But this theory does not account for the terror-fart that dirigible-man pointed out.

Any new theory must account for the terror-fart.
posted by idiopath at 6:36 AM on October 16, 2009


So I'm envisioning a trivia game:

Michael Jackson song OR Huge Media Circus?
The Girl in a Well
The Man in the Mirror
The Boy in a Balloon
Someone in the Dark
Little Elian
Little Susie

posted by gemmy at 6:39 AM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Think of the thread we would have if Sarah Palin was strapped to a helium balloon and set loose!

I'd be happy if she'd just stay in the attic.
posted by mazola at 6:42 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


That "Pussified" music video makes me scared to have children.

No wait, it makes me scared of other people having children.


It makes me scared of the boys having children.
posted by jgirl at 6:42 AM on October 16, 2009


Sure would hate to show Obama promising to fix up that lingering disaster.

Yea, be a shame to fix the place up then have it go underwater again as sea levels rise.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:50 AM on October 16, 2009


ME: I'm actually starting to like this story. Belly-laughs and all.

DU: It made me hate America so much I'm googling for the nearest Communist Party recruitment center.


Maybe I've just been deep in the hate for too long, hence the ice-breaking guffaws at the kid's oooops! live in a front a billion people admission that this entire episode has Emperors New Clothes built all over it (he said, mixing his metaphors as only a man deeply in neeeeed of coffee can).
posted by philip-random at 6:56 AM on October 16, 2009


Fun fact: October 14-16 are the dates that Jessica McClure was trapped down the well. Coincidence... or conspiracy?
posted by uncleozzy at 6:58 AM on October 16, 2009


or the dirty dishes in the sink

Goddamnit, why did you have to remind me of the goddamn dishes?! I mean, I was tired last night, OK?! I didn't want to do the dishes in the first place! Hell, I wouldn't have, either, balloon or no balloon, but, yeah, the balloon boy helped me forget that I was going to have to do them today. OK?! Are you happy now?

(ponders floating the dishes away in the box tied to a helium balloon)
posted by Reverend John at 6:58 AM on October 16, 2009


For the record, I am not the father.
posted by falconred at 7:03 AM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Pastabagel: The products are acquired (the studio and the balloon are built) in the service of projecting the image. But whether the image is true or not is secondary.

As a failed artist with a studio AND a blog, I just got really really depressed.
posted by nax at 7:06 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow, 900+ comments. Anyone else notice how that balloon resembles a portobello?
posted by Killick at 7:07 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


In Search of Schroedinger's Kid

Pastabagel, you need to write this book. About reality series and cable news hysteria and 15 minutes of fame and all that.

Seriously.
posted by nax at 7:11 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Hot Air" would be a great title.
posted by mothershock at 7:20 AM on October 16, 2009


For the record, I am not the father.
posted by falconred at 10:03 AM


Well played sir. Eponysterically well played.
posted by liza at 7:23 AM on October 16, 2009


Obama should have slipped universal health care through while everyone was distracted.
posted by marxchivist at 7:27 AM on October 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


Balloon boy gets sick during interviews
Six-year-old at centre of saga threw up during two separate U.S. TV segments, when asked what he meant by ‘we did this for a show'
Um... I'm ok with leaving this kid alone now.
posted by mazola at 7:28 AM on October 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


I might have missed it in these gazillion comments, but has anyone else noticed that this scene was right out of the opening of Enduring Love by Ian McEwan? Before the hiding in the rafters part, that is.
posted by keener_sounds at 7:30 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is just to say

I have untethered
the balloon
that was in
the backyard

and which
you were probably
saving
for your selfish and gross indulgences

Forgive me
it was awesome
so scripted
and so lame
posted by marginaliana at 7:32 AM on October 16, 2009 [26 favorites]


So, according to an interview the dad did late last night, the whole family was standing around watching when the balloon went up.

Wouldn't there be a big difference between how high and how fast an empty balloon would rise and how a balloon carrying a child would rise? Wouldn't this difference be obvious to a 'scientist' watching the balloon take off?
posted by marsha56 at 7:34 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't this difference be obvious to a 'scientist' watching the balloon take off?

But would a psyientist know?
posted by mazola at 7:36 AM on October 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


These parents creep me out on so many levels. I can't bear to watch any reality show that has kids in it, because I think parents lack the moral authority to sell their child's story to the highest bidder.

Once, when my kids were little, I told an amusing anecdote at a party that got a lot of laughs. Now, this wasn't my story, it was one of my kid's stories - something that happened to him - mildly embarrassing (in my opinion) but very cute. As people were laughing a caught a glimpse of my son's face in the other room where the kids were amusing themselves and he was mortified. I realized right there that I had crossed a line and I had no right to abuse my children's sense of self or privacy for my self aggrandizement.

When I saw that "pussification" video, it made my skin crawl. How dare they use their children as trained monkeys for a few minutes in the limelight. I heard this morning that the family has 55 videos on youtube, and made two appearances on WifeSwap. I'm pretty sure this was a stunt as they haven't done anything newsworthy in weeks and the chances of tornados in the near future are nil. Pure attention whoring on the kids' emotional dime.

WTF.
posted by readery at 7:39 AM on October 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


Anyone else notice how that balloon resembles a portobello?

What's That?
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:43 AM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Here he is throwing up
When I saw that "pussification" video, it made my skin crawl. How dare they use their children as trained monkeys for a few minutes in the limelight.
Give it a fucking rest. Who the hell are you to judge these people based on a few minutes of video. Disgusting.
posted by delmoi at 7:44 AM on October 16, 2009


Man, mom and dad got home schooled!
posted by mazola at 7:44 AM on October 16, 2009


I think parents lack the moral authority to sell their child's story to the highest bidder.

100% agreed. In fact, I've revealed my real name online (or to people I met online) in a few places, but never one of my kids, even as tiny newborns. Not because I'm protecting them (hiding their names would be neither necessary nor sufficient) but because that's not my information to reveal.

Six-year-old at centre of saga threw up during two separate U.S. TV segments, when asked what he meant by ‘we did this for a show'

Earlier, I saw that he'd thrown up once and didn't know he'd been asked that. I was already thinking some kind of child protection service should investigate. Now I'm extra sure. Unfit parents to put him in this situation and who knows what kind of stress they are putting him under behind the scenes. Poor kid.
posted by DU at 7:49 AM on October 16, 2009


New conspiracy theory: Did Balloon Boy's parents inoculate Falcon with the Swine Flu to keep him from telling THE TRUTH to the media?
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:53 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the ticker on delmoi's throwing up video: "Gubernatorial" is a real word?! I always thought it was joke.
posted by afx237vi at 7:55 AM on October 16, 2009


And by the way, all the people "Judging" these people now are doing it for no reason at all, essentially saying they are bad people for having hobbies that they are really into, for video taping themselves, etc. It's just absurd. Most families videotape themselves and take pictures of themselves and most people have hobbies. So fucking what? The only reason you've heard about these people was because they were involved in what we thought was a freak accident, but turned out (thankfully) to simply be the case of a kid running off and hiding for a while.

So what's the point in attacking them now? Nothing bad happened, people just want to attack them because they're "freaks" (except they aren't even that unusual) or because they're "egocentric" or attention whores or whatever Pastabagel is on about. It's fucking ridiculous.

And then idiots are convinced that the whole thing was some crazy hoax because the kid misunderstood a question earlier, or whatever. And are positively delighting in seeing the couple suffer after thinking their kid was dead or something for like an hour or two.

It really is fucked up.
posted by delmoi at 7:56 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Earlier, I saw that he'd thrown up once and didn't know he'd been asked that. I was already thinking some kind of child protection service should investigate. Now I'm extra sure. Unfit parents to put him in this situation and who knows what kind of stress they are putting him under behind the scenes. Poor kid.
Oh yeah let's take the kid away and put him in foster care, that will really improve his life!

That said, I do think they shouldn't have put him on TV if he was feeling sick like that.
posted by delmoi at 7:58 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah let's take the kid away and put him in foster care, that will really improve his life!

Without knowing how his parents are treating him, we can't really say if it will improve his life or not. That's why I said "investigate" not "immediately remove".

but turned out (thankfully) to simply be the case of a kid running off and hiding for a while.

This is not what the evidence suggests.
posted by DU at 8:01 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


My guess is the kid was feeling sick becase his parents were telling him to lie on national TV.
posted by exogenous at 8:02 AM on October 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


Nothing bad happened, people just want to attack them because they're "freaks"

I'm pretty sure people want to attack them because they suspect that the whole thing was a (possibly criminal) hoax that abused local emergency services, all in the name of famewhoring. Which, if true, means that something bad happened.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:02 AM on October 16, 2009 [15 favorites]


delmoi: "Nothing bad happened..."

Would you care to qualify that?
posted by Joe Beese at 8:04 AM on October 16, 2009


I'm not criticizing them for having hobbies. I'm criticizing them for having unlocked boxes where the kids can get to. I'm all for responsible box ownership, but when you're teaching your kids to have "Box Time," you need to remind them to do it under adult supervision, and keep your boxes flatpacked and locked up.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:05 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm going to go ahead and attack them for parading their kid in front of the media vultures, especially after he puked the first time. These aren't naive bumpkins, they're seasoned reality show veterans. They should know better.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:08 AM on October 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, Paul de Leeuw, Metafilter's favourite not-paedophile, found himself inspired.

single link for the impatient
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:10 AM on October 16, 2009


I’ll admit that from the little I know about them I, too, find something Not Quite Right about this family. But I’ll bet if the world thought my son had accidentally flown away in a balloon and I was on the news, the world would manage to find something equally horrifying about my family. I’m not sure what, but they’d find it. Because that’s what people seem to do, they need to find some reason why a parent is not fit. Some reason to judge. “OMG, he posts snarky jokes to Metafilter all day when he should be watching his kid!” Or “OMG, he built a video game cabinet, can you believe the nerve of that fucker?” “Look at him, camping in the winter, WHAT AN ASS! He is unfit to be that kid’s father!”

People do all kinds of crazy shit. People get passionate about their hobbies. People invest time and money into lots of stuff. And yes, people are attention whores. None of that says anything about what kind of parents they are.

This guy built a hot air balloon / weather balloon / fake UFO / whateverthefuck with his kids. Let me repeat that: He spent time building a giant balloon with his sons. I don’t care how many Coors cans it appears he crushes on his forehead after breakfast, he and his sons built a balloon together. He might be lacking in some areas of parenting, but he deserves at least one award for awesomeness for including his sons in such a cool project. Shame it turned out like this, unless that was the plan all along.

Yeah, it might all be a hoax to get attention and if it turns out it was then he should be charged in full for the cost of the search and rescue. But at this point none of us have enough information to judge whether or not they are fit parents.

Still, though, that shouldn’t stop us. Look at that, a recording studio. In their house! Take that kid away from those redneck fuckers!
posted by bondcliff at 8:14 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is not what the evidence suggests.

What evidence? The 6 year old's CONFESSION on CNN? Yeah, I'm not so sure that's particularly damning.
posted by chunking express at 8:34 AM on October 16, 2009


I judge the parents, not because of hobbies but because they take their children into tornadoes. If that's the parents' thing, great. But not kids. Maybe it's not a popular viewpoint here, but I think parents should not go "chasing weather" with their children in tow.
posted by Houstonian at 8:34 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


...when asked if he heard his parents calling, falcon threw out a few words, among them "you guys said we did it for the show "

Boy hints he hid out in attic ‘for a show’; dad denies to TODAY it was stunt
"In TV appearances by the family early Friday, the boy's father denied suggestions that the balloon flight and disappearance was contrived for publicity sake....Adding to the questions about what really happened was a new video released by the family showing the balloon in the moments before it floated away from the backyard. In the video released to NBC News, the father, Richard Heene, is heard counting down and releasing the silver saucer into the air. As the balloon slowly lifts off the ground, Heene becomes agitated because his wife was not holding onto a tether.

Original reports had only one of the boy's brothers witnessing the balloon's liftoff."
posted by ericb at 8:36 AM on October 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


This is not what the evidence suggests.
What does the evidence suggest?
Would you care to qualify that?
['that' being 'Nothing bad happened']

No one died and no one was hurt. Seems pretty straight forward.

--

The only thing I don't like is that he's still putting his kid on TV while he's feeling sick, but that's actually pretty minor. I guess he's thinking he wants to show how much stress everyone is under, or he thinks that if he goes on the air without the kid people will think he's hiding him so that he won't admit it's a hoax or who knows what.
posted by delmoi at 8:38 AM on October 16, 2009


You know, I like quirky, and kids can do worse than grow up in a household that is not considered "mainstream" (I'm sure many things I've done over the years may be questionable, but, hey, we're quirky), but what I don't like is the kids being used as pawns. My kids have posted videos to youtube and it doesn't involve mom's awesome guitar solo on the playground equipment. They remain behind a wall of user names that just their friend know. It's not my deal and I would not infringe my values on their activities, besides as oversight to see that they don't get into anything over their heads.

These kids for good or ill, will be forever known as the Heene Kids, and subject to speculation they did not choose to bear. If this is a hoax perpetrated by the parents, then they are really assholes. Should the kids be taken away, I'd hate to see it, myself, but this is just weird. On NPR this morning the timeframe was 1) Dad inflates balloon, 2) balloon escapes, 3) Dad claims other kid told him Falcon climbed inside, 4) Dad calls local news station to ask them if their traffic helicopter can help out, 5) authorities are alerted.


I missed this yesterday as I was at a client's actually working hard and away from all news sources, so I enjoyed reading thru this thread last night to get a quick read on the afternoon's saga. Thanks, Metafilter
posted by readery at 8:38 AM on October 16, 2009


a new video released by the family

Proper hyperlink to the family video.
posted by ericb at 8:40 AM on October 16, 2009


Proper hyperlink to the family video.

NBC's Lee Cowen: "This video is only going to add fuel to the fire perhaps that this could in fact be a hoax. The police insisted yesterday that they didn't think it was; that they weren't going to file any charges. Now, however, they say they have more questions for the family."
posted by ericb at 8:48 AM on October 16, 2009


Watch the new video. The father absolutely knew his son wasn't onboard. He gets pissed at his wife for not holding onto a tether; the balloon lists to one side. You can see how "flimsy" a take-off it is.
posted by ericb at 8:51 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm all for an investigation happening to determine what actually happened and if there is any need for blame/charges to be laid (and I'm sure this is happening/has happened), but I'm also for keeping a 6-year old out of the media spotlight.

Heck, it might do the family some good to request understanding and privacy and have statements issued by a family spokesman.

And the media really has no shame. I wish they'd focus this energy to things that actually mattered.
posted by mazola at 8:52 AM on October 16, 2009


I'm also for keeping a 6-year old out of the media spotlight.

Exactly.
posted by ericb at 8:53 AM on October 16, 2009


I'm all for an investigation happening to determine what actually happened and if there is any need for blame/charges to be laid (and I'm sure this is happening/has happened), but I'm also for keeping a 6-year old out of the media spotlight.

The Happening.


Where's the edit button?
posted by mazola at 8:54 AM on October 16, 2009


And the media really has no shame. I wish they'd focus this energy to things that actually mattered.

If the media can indeed expose a hoax, they're doing their job. If it turns out to be so, this may discourage others from trying similar stunts in the future. But, hey, who are we to kid -- there are many who will continue to seek their 15-minutes of fame nonetheless.
posted by ericb at 8:55 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Who the hell are you to judge these people based on a few minutes of video.

it's a little late to say "who the hell are you" after they've already said "everybody! LOOK AT ME!"
posted by pyramid termite at 9:00 AM on October 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


"On Good Morning America Friday morning, Scott Stevens, who used to work with Richard Heene as a storm chaser before he quit due to disagreements over whether Heene should bring his family on missions, described his former partner as a 'schemer.' He told ABC's Robin Roberts the following:
'I believe that Richard had a plan to send this craft aloft,' said Scott Stevens, who used to work as a 'storm chaser' with Heene. 'Whether it was to leave the illusion that there was a boy on board, I don't know. [But] I believe it was a premeditated launch.'
Meanwhile, Sheree Silver, who was a contestant on the show 'Wife Swap' with Heene and his family told The Early Show that her first instinct when she heard the word was 'Oh my God, Richard, did you do this on purpose?'" [w/video of the interviews] *
posted by ericb at 9:08 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Denver Post's Joanne Ostrow: "Now, with national networks marveling at the family’s unique hobbies and interesting personalities, it’s not too soon to ask: How long before they get their own reality TV show?"
posted by ericb at 9:14 AM on October 16, 2009


TMZ has the 911 call.
posted by marsha56 at 9:19 AM on October 16, 2009


Maybe this could open the door to a crossover series ("Kate + Freight")?

A celebrity divorcée and a high-flying kid could solve crimes together?
posted by mazola at 9:20 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


How long before they get their own reality TV show?

They already have one. CNN News.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:25 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Balloon boy gets note from Queen

Oh, wait...
posted by Artw at 9:26 AM on October 16, 2009


A hoax you say? Get out. Who would have ever thought?

Sheesh.
posted by GrooveJedi at 9:33 AM on October 16, 2009


I don't usually do one-off television quotes as a way of replying, but it seems to fit the caliber of the thread:

To America: I've mis-underestimated you
posted by codacorolla at 9:39 AM on October 16, 2009


I don't usually do one-off television quotes

I hate to break it to you now, but that guy wasn't a wacky television character.
posted by EarBucket at 9:49 AM on October 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


All three children in the interviews this morning look, to me, scared and very, very tired. I'll bet they experienced a hell-night as Dad went nutso preparing for this morning. No wonder the kid is puking: he must be under a ton of stress.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:55 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


TMZ has the 911 call.

911 Operator: "Are you sure that [Falcon] is in there?"

Richard: "Yeah, we looked everywhere ... and then my son just said ... yeah, he verified it ... he said yeah he went inside just before it went off....We had it tethered ... it wasn't supposed to take off."

Yeah ... bullshit. In the video released today you are there and arwe doing a countdown for the balloon's lift-off.
posted by ericb at 9:55 AM on October 16, 2009


I hate to break it to you now, but that guy wasn't a wacky television character.

Yes he was!
posted by Sys Rq at 9:56 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe this could open the door to a crossover series ("Kate + Freight")?

In related news: TLC suing Jon Gosselin for breach of contract.
posted by ericb at 9:57 AM on October 16, 2009


Yeah ... bullshit. In the video released today you are there and arwe doing a countdown for the balloon's lift-off.

There's certainly a chance he was just covering his ass to the 911 operator to avoid looking negligent rather than because this was a big scheme for publicity.
posted by mazola at 9:59 AM on October 16, 2009


All three children in the interviews this morning look, to me, scared and very, very tired. I'll bet they experienced a hell-night as Dad went nutso preparing for this morning. No wonder the kid is puking: he must be under a ton of stress.

Well the dad looked scared, tired, and under a ton of stress too. Did it occur to you that the reason the kids might be that way is because the whole family is being accused of doing this as a hoax, rather then because it was?
posted by delmoi at 10:12 AM on October 16, 2009


Watching the way that balloon moved on its launch, it's pretty clear that it doesn't have a payload at all. The sharp list just on take off corrects itself so quickly. Any sort of unsecured weight in the craft would have moved around and caused a more erratic movement. It rights itself, very smoothly.

Why the hell is the family releasing this if they want to make the case that they thought the kid was in there? If this isn't the first time the balloon was launched, the video is doubly damning.
posted by Jilder at 10:19 AM on October 16, 2009


LOL nutjobs/media whores. I hope they are prosecuted or wasting police time.
posted by dydecker at 10:22 AM on October 16, 2009


I guess he's thinking he wants to show how much stress everyone is under, or he thinks that if he goes on the air without the kid people will think he's hiding him so that he won't admit it's a hoax or who knows what.

The best way to prove it wasn't a hoax would be to say "no interviews" and not go on TV at all.

But I’ll bet if the world thought my son had accidentally flown away in a balloon and I was on the news, the world would manage to find something equally horrifying about my family.

You know, you don't have to go "on the news." Lots of people are very successful at that.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:30 AM on October 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well the dad looked scared, tired, and under a ton of stress too. Did it occur to you that the reason the kids might be that way is because the whole family is being accused of doing this as a hoax, rather then because it was?

delmoi, I'm curious. What good does making the rounds of network and cable "news" shows do?
posted by mrgrimm at 10:32 AM on October 16, 2009


take a look how worried the general public was for this kid, then ask yourself how the family was able to strighten themselves out and go before the cameras so easily. i'd still be puking today from worry if that was my son, probably breaking down in tears with relief that he was ok.

couple all that with the background info and you have a cynics feast.

and I'm starving.
posted by Frasermoo at 10:40 AM on October 16, 2009


You know, you don't have to go "on the news." Lots of people are very successful at that.

That's not always as easy as it sounds.

On a local level, I know a reporter who basically says the best way to be left alone is to first make a public statement to the media (i.e. give them what they want and maybe they'll go away).

I imagine it's harder to outright avoid media exposure when the story is sensational and national like this one is.
posted by mazola at 10:41 AM on October 16, 2009


...wasting police time.

Local and state police, as well as FAA, Colorado National Guard, U.S. Air Force, NASA and NORAD (which tracked the balloon on satellites), etc., not to mention those whose flights were delayed when Denver International Airport shut down northbound flights.
posted by ericb at 10:45 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


LOL nutjobs/media whores. I hope they are prosecuted or wasting police time.

Sadly, it seems that they won't be charged with making a false police report or be required to pay for the rescue effort. Also, 1,000 comments?
posted by fixedgear at 10:49 AM on October 16, 2009


Betcha they drugged up the kid to stop him talking but got the dosage wrong and that's why he puked
posted by dydecker at 10:49 AM on October 16, 2009


I imagine it's harder to outright avoid media exposure when the story is sensational and national like this one is.

It's not that hard. Susan Klebold didn't do an interview for 10 years. You stay inside, lock the doors and windows, and wait. The news crews will eventually leave.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:54 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, 1,000 comments?

Did I get it?
posted by mrgrimm at 10:55 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


YES!!!!
posted by mrgrimm at 10:55 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mazola's rule: thread quality deteriorates as posts approach 1000.
posted by mazola at 10:56 AM on October 16, 2009


I can't help but think of this related video about blimps, cause blimps are pimp yo.
posted by nomisxid at 11:00 AM on October 16, 2009


Well the dad looked scared, tired, and under a ton of stress too.

The thing is, the look for scared/tired/stressful is very different from the look for lying/guilty/pissed-at-son, and my face-reading sensors are going crazy for the latter. Really, just watching his performance and especially the crocodile tears, this guy is a bad actor and very bad liar. I'm a lawyer, it takes one to know one, lulz
posted by naju at 11:01 AM on October 16, 2009


Live police press conference.
posted by dydecker at 11:07 AM on October 16, 2009


I predict one comment for each foot of altitude.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:08 AM on October 16, 2009


And a lot of hot air.
posted by mazola at 11:09 AM on October 16, 2009


Having seen the Wife Swap episode myself, I attest this man should be behind bars.
posted by jefficator at 11:12 AM on October 16, 2009


Mazola's rule: thread quality deteriorates as posts approach 1000.


So does that mean the posts going to get better now?

/not helping
posted by phatkitten at 11:13 AM on October 16, 2009


Slight derail, but as we're over 1K posts I'm hoping it's OK:
So when I finish a day of wage-slavery and [watch] Hell's Kitchen, I do so with the very conscious intention of jeering at the squirming haplessness of the contestants, whom Bourdain has so aptly described as "the lame and the halt".
Found a fuller version of the quote:
This show is a freak show. It's a circus of cruelty, like shooting fish in a barrel with a cut-down 12-gauge shotgun. There's no cooking. It's just a bunch of dimwits -- the lame, the halt and the delusional -- and him pretending to be angry.
Wouldn't want to hire the "lame" or the "halt," right? next thing you know they'll be letting women and coloreds work in the kitchen... I don't care if this guy's food makes you have explosive mouthgasms, between this and the Hezbollah Tofu cracks I think he's proved that he's an ass.
posted by jtron at 11:14 AM on October 16, 2009


Also, this "event" and the resulting thread both gave me a feeling of deja vu, like when you watch a movie and have the plot sussed within the first ten minutes. I even had a feeling Pastabagel would leave at least one comment that was well-thought-out and right on, and at least one other that would make me headdesk, and whaddya know!
posted by jtron at 11:16 AM on October 16, 2009


I await the inevitable Werner Herzog documentary.
posted by dydecker at 11:16 AM on October 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


I don't care if this guy's food makes you have explosive mouthgasms, between this and the Hezbollah Tofu cracks I think he's proved that he's an ass.

Yeah; that's his schtick. He's the asshole food guy.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:17 AM on October 16, 2009


He's the asshole food guy.

I thought Ronald McDonald specialized in asshole food.
posted by mazola at 11:19 AM on October 16, 2009


I await the inevitable Werner Herzog documentary.

"I looked into the balloons box unt I zaw NOTHING!"
posted by Artw at 11:20 AM on October 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


The best way to prove it wasn't a hoax would be to say "no interviews" and not go on TV at all.

Talking to Wolfie last night, he asserted that they went on this interview as a promise they wouldn't have to go on others, but this morning they were on both GMA and Today. Whores and liars.

If it turns out to be so, this may discourage others from trying similar stunts in the future.

Actually ... well, I once said I sort of admired Octo-Mom (Suleyman) for having the nerve to become a national joke and then make that her career. Now I'm seeing the way this one is leaning and it has "trainwreck yet inexplicably famous" written all over it.

Maybe I've just been seeing too much Jon & Kate coverage (despite efforts to avoid it).
posted by dhartung at 11:24 AM on October 16, 2009


The Dad is brilliant. He knew the cops wouldn't be able to prove a damn thing and he'd get all the publicity and fame he wanted. Media scum pretty much guaranteed all of it.
posted by GrooveJedi at 11:25 AM on October 16, 2009


jtron: "Wouldn't want to hire the "lame" or the "halt," right? next thing you know they'll be letting women and coloreds work in the kitchen... I don't care if this guy's food makes you have explosive mouthgasms, between this and the Hezbollah Tofu cracks I think he's proved that he's an ass."

Without disputing your central point that Bourdain is an ass, I think it was metaphor rather than HURF DURF CRIPPLES.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:29 AM on October 16, 2009


I imagine it's harder to outright avoid media exposure when the story is sensational and national like this one is.

Especially when one is a media whore.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:36 AM on October 16, 2009


Having seen the Wife Swap episode myself,

Sure you want to admit that in a public forum, jefficator?
posted by dersins at 11:47 AM on October 16, 2009


Say as much as you want about the doubtful parenting techniques being exhibited here, one thing I don't doubt is that these kids are loved.
posted by philip-random at 11:47 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


He's the asshole food guy.

He understands that he's selling something, and he's understood that ever since "Kitchen Confidential." I think it's hilarious that he criticizes Gordon Ramsey for playing a part, because he does exactly the same thing. That said, if you actually watch No Reservations, you'll notice two things: (1) He can be an extremely respectful person when the situation calls for it. I read recently where he ate warthog in Africa that he knew to be tainted meat that would make him sick, because he didn't want to insult his hosts and embarrass himself. And (2) he's also not afraid to turn at least some of that attitude on himself.

As to the vegetarian/vegan thing, his attitude is hardly a rare one among chefs. I'd wager that among celebrity chefs, it's the majority one, if you caught them in an honest moment. Michael Ruhlman just last week "joked" that vegetarianism is an "eating disorder." That doesn't make it any less shitty, but he doesn't deserve to be singled out for it.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:49 AM on October 16, 2009


For the record, I was quoting Arrested Development, and actually forgot it was a Bush malpropism.
posted by codacorolla at 11:50 AM on October 16, 2009


I think the mom, Mayumi, is being ignored in all of this. The two of them are partners in every sense of the word. She was right there when the balloon lifted off so she knew her son wasn't in it, yet there she is on the 911 tape barely coherent and crying her eyes out. She's right there in this every step of the way.
posted by Danila at 11:50 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


middleclasstool: " He can be an extremely respectful person when the situation calls for it. "

Also, in Kitchen Confidential, he writes that he'd rather employ your average South American kitchen worker than your average Anglo culinary school graduate. So, you know, whatever kind of jerk he is, he's not a Rush Limbaugh kind of jerk.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:54 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


... and the talent agent says, 'That's a hell of an act, what do you call yourselves?'
posted by shakespeherian at 11:54 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


jtron, "the lame and the halt" is a Biblical idiom.
posted by dhartung at 11:54 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


delmoi, I'm curious. What good does making the rounds of network and cable "news" shows do?
It's obviously not doing any good but that doesn't mean it was a hoax.
You know, you don't have to go "on the news." Lots of people are very successful at that.
What are you talking about? It's pretty difficult to stay off the news if they're really interested in you, parked outside of your house, waiting for you to come out or whatever. Being the focus of intense media scrutiny isn't optional, and there are a lot of sleazebags in the industry. Obviously they don't have to be granting these interviews, and they probably should have waited a few days to do it, but not everyone is that media savvy.

But the fact that because people asked you for an interview and you granted it, doesn’t mean that the whole thing was a premeditated hoax or whatever.
The thing is, the look for scared/tired/stressful is very different from the look for lying/guilty/pissed-at-son,
Bullshit. The idea that you could "read someone's face" and tell why they are stressed, especially if you had never met them before is bullshit.
Sadly, it seems that they won't be charged with making a false police report or be required to pay for the rescue effort. Also, 1,000 comments?
Yeah, sadly. What a same that we can't ruin these freaks lives!!!!
posted by delmoi at 11:54 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the mom, Mayumi, is being ignored in all of this. The two of them are partners in every sense of the word. She was right there when the balloon lifted off so she knew her son wasn't in it, yet there she is on the 911 tape barely coherent and crying her eyes out. She's right there in this every step of the way.

Yeah, it couldn't possibly be that they just got confused and lost their common sense when they thought their son might have been on the balloon. Obviously she's just "In on it" with all these fake tears pretending to worried about her son!

*rolls eyes*
posted by delmoi at 11:59 AM on October 16, 2009


That 911 call is... just... wow.

Operator: "It was an experimental plane?"
Mom: "It's a flying saucer."
Operator: "It's a flying saucer?"
Mom: "Yeah."
...
Dad: "Well, it doesn't run, it's filled with helium, and it operates off of million volts to, uh, move left and right horizontal."
...
Dad: "I don't whether it's possible you guys could detect, uh, the electricity that it emits, but every five minutes it comes on for one minute, and, uh, it emits a million volts on the outer skin."
...
Operator: "And is it silver in color, or?"
Dad: "Yeah, uh, it's got aluminum foil on it, that's how it gets its charge."


Also, the next MuFi song challenge has to be about Balloon Boy, right? Ballads, remixes of the 911 call, covers of the pussification song, there's a wealth of material here people.
posted by togdon at 12:00 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


So, on the 911 call the Dad says that every five minutes, one million volts of electricity is sent through the outer shell for one minute. I'm not an electrician, but is that even possible? What would it take to generate a million volts inside a balloon?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:02 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


delmoi, you and the sherrif are the two people in America who think it's not a hoax. I'm not calling for 'ruining the freaks lives' but more like maybe we should disuade other folks from doing this. You wanna go on Wife Swap, make a flying saucer, rap video, have a home studio, chase storms? All fine. Maybe putting first responders at risk, wasting time and money, etc. not so fine.

I also heard that million volts stuff, he said something about it being used for steering?
posted by fixedgear at 12:12 PM on October 16, 2009


Live police press conference.

I just watched the press conference with the sheriff.

Some interesting points:

(1) The sheriff admitted that he had not yet watched the home video of the launch when asked by a reporter, but would do so after the press conference.

(2) The sheriff was asked whether or not he knew that it has been reported the Heene's have been actively pitching a reality show based on their family. The sheriff acknowledged that he was aware of that.

(3) The father did call the FAA and 9News before calling 911.

(4) Based on the CNN interview and the home video they will continue to investigate and will interview the family tomorrow. If they deem the incident to be a hoax, the only charge they can bring is a Class 3 Misdemeanor charge. They would, however, seek resititution for the search.
posted by ericb at 12:13 PM on October 16, 2009


BALLOON BOY IS HISTORY'S GREATEST MONSTER
posted by Joe Beese at 12:16 PM on October 16, 2009


I say float the kid out on the balloon now and everyone calls it even.
posted by mazola at 12:18 PM on October 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


delmoi, you and the sherrif are the two people in America who think it's not a hoax.

Actually, a reporter at the presser: "Sir, you have to be the only person in the world who doesn't think this is a hoax. Can you tell us why you believe that?" [paraphrase].
posted by ericb at 12:21 PM on October 16, 2009


(5) The sheriff said that the boy stated that he had taken toys and food with him when he hid in the rafters above the garage. The sheriff said that when they finally searched after the boy was found there was no indication of toys, food, etc.
posted by ericb at 12:22 PM on October 16, 2009


one million volts of electricity is sent through the outer shell for one minute. I'm not an electrician, but is that even possible?

It's straightforward to generate crazy-high voltage at low amperage, and vice versa, so, short answer: yes.
posted by Zed at 12:25 PM on October 16, 2009


delmoi, you and the sherrif are the two people in America who think it's not a hoax.

For the record, I think it's plausible that it's not a hoax.

But I'm in Canada so your point still stands.
posted by mazola at 12:26 PM on October 16, 2009


Also, building on what ericb said: the police did contact child services, and there's a chance an investigation will open up.
posted by naju at 12:29 PM on October 16, 2009


On this clip of one of their Wife Swap shows, they say that the kids are allowed to play anywhere, so long as they have their walkie-talkies to communicate with the parents. Wonder where the walkie-talkies were yesterday.
posted by Houstonian at 12:29 PM on October 16, 2009


Wonder where the walkie-talkies were yesterday.

Down a well?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:31 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, the next MuFi song challenge has to be about Balloon Boy, right?

Affirmative.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:33 PM on October 16, 2009


1000 comments and not a single Jeff Koons reference?
posted by Theta States at 12:33 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


So, on the 911 call the Dad says that every five minutes, one million volts of electricity is sent through the outer shell for one minute. I'm not an electrician, but is that even possible? What would it take to generate a million volts inside a balloon?

I think what he's imagining is that it would get charged by static electricity in the atmosphere, much as charge builds up in clouds prior to a lightning strike.

It's nonsense, of course.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:33 PM on October 16, 2009


I also heard that million volts stuff, he said something about it being used for steering?

Yeah. He's a crackpot.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:36 PM on October 16, 2009


The "million volts" parts of the 911 call probably explains the weird behavior of the rescue crew with the shovels and such. That makes the fact that they didn't just grab the balloon with their hands make much more sense.
posted by loquacious at 12:36 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wonder where the walkie-talkies were yesterday.

Down a well?


PROPERTY OF FALCON HEENE
posted by bondcliff at 12:38 PM on October 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


> Yeah. He's a crackpot.

Well, yeah. He's a crackpot.

But a balloon could be steered using an electrohydrodynamic ion thruster. But good luck lifting the power source and transformers with a balloon - you'd be better off with plain old fans and a battery pack.

That's probably what the dad is talking about in his fevered imagination, and it's a common point of interest with a lot of UFO nuts. "Look! Antigravity!" "Uh, no."
posted by loquacious at 12:42 PM on October 16, 2009


My favourite bit...
His neighbor, Bob Licko, said he frequently sees the father of three working in the garage on various scientific projects, including a "flying saucer" and a machine that "puts out more power than it uses." Licko said it's apparent Henne loves delving into scientific endeavors.
Perpetual motion inventors! I love them. Thank goodness that one doesn't need a technical background to get out there and science.
posted by Theta States at 12:51 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, it's Fox News, but...
"Richard Heene, 48, and his wife, Mayumi, owe thousands of dollars in connection to a company called My You Me Productions. Prior to moving to Colorado, Heene and his wife were aspiring actors in Los Angeles who met at an acting school....

A former associate of Heene's told Foxnews.com he met the aspiring actor and filmmaker during the mid-1990s while working in a restaurant in Woodland Hills, Calif. 'He was trying to be an actor, he was trying to be a filmmaker,' Perry Caravello said. 'He and his wife were developing films and they were developing ideas for shows and piecing together stuff for different companies.'"
posted by Houstonian at 12:54 PM on October 16, 2009


a machine that "puts out more power than it uses

I have a sick feeling that this guy may have actually, finally produced a real perpetual motion machine. There has, after all, been a disproportionately huge amount of energy generated from a relatively small action. Perhaps the media and the Internet, wired in series, will eventually power the future.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:01 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


1051 comments and I haven't added a damn bit of information to this thread, so please don't favorite me.
posted by crapmatic at 1:11 PM on October 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Wonder where the walkie-talkies were yesterday.

They thought it would add drama to have a soundtrack for the balloon video, but Falcon couldn't memorize all the lines for a 2 hour flight. They tried improvisation around some simple ideas (whimper, now ask to talk to Mommy again, now tell Daddy you're scared) but it was too much for a 6 year old.

Or... the father couldn't get the relay link in the gondola working so short range transceivers would work better near the balloon then back at the house. Should have used Xbee instead of psyience.
posted by morganw at 1:23 PM on October 16, 2009


oh delmoi... please just pick up a pitchfork and get on with it.
posted by Frasermoo at 1:30 PM on October 16, 2009


Everything about this screams "Hoaxy hoaxy hoax hoax hoax!" In all-caps.

If it is proven to be a hoax I hope (a) the family foots the bill; (b) that cable TV isn't so asinine as to actually give them a reality show. I really, really do not want these people rewarded for being such assholes.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:31 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm no Cal Lightman, but both parents' voices and "crying" on the 911 call sound fake-y to me.

I'm still listening to it... the 911 operator has the patience and demeanor of a saint.

As we were watching in my office break room, I called it a publicity stunt as soon as I heard the family'd been on Wife Swap. I'm no less convinced of that now.
posted by yiftach at 1:33 PM on October 16, 2009


delmoi: "Obviously they don't have to be granting these interviews, and they probably should have waited a few days to do it, but not everyone is that media savvy. "

I think most of us will agree that Balloon Dad has problems - but it doesn't sound like lack of media savvy is one of them.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:37 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


But for the Grace of God my six year old could be 8000 ft aloft, drifting in a flying saucer of my design.
posted by mazola at 1:43 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm just so amused that anyone who dared to mention that this might be a hoax yesterday was immediately ridiculed and put down in this thread even to the point of going as far as to imply that those folks were crazy conspiracy nuts.

I find human perception of the same events fascinating. One person looks at this and sees nothing but a hoax. Another person insists it's nothing more than a horrible accident and/or misunderstanding.

Then more information comes out and now suddenly everyone's on the hoax bandwagon.

Egg, meet face.
posted by GrooveJedi at 1:44 PM on October 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


delmoi, you and the sherrif are the two people in America who think it's not a hoax.

I'm not saying it's guaranteed not to be a hoax, but I just think it's unlikely and their behavior could easily be explained by the fact that they were panic-stricken at the time of the 911 call.

oh delmoi... please just pick up a pitchfork and get on with it.

I guess if it is true that he called the TV Station before he called 911 call that is a little suspicious, and the fact that they were looking to do a reality TV show about themselves. I hadn't realized that.
posted by delmoi at 1:57 PM on October 16, 2009


Okay, i just watched this family's Wife Swap episode and BOTH the wife and husband are pretty nuts, and the kids are evil little brats.

I can definitely imagine Falcon and his bro lying about going up in the saucer. I can even imagine Falcon deliberately said "You said it was for the show" on TV to blame everything on his Dad, and make it look like it was his father's idea. Evil little shits I tell ya

Hoax or not? I'm not sure.
posted by dydecker at 2:09 PM on October 16, 2009


FOR SALE: Proof That Balloon Boy Was A Hoax
There is allegedly proof that the story of balloon boy Falcon Heene was a stunt to help pitch a television show. But the purported proof will cost you thousands of dollars to get.
posted by mazola at 2:16 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's too bad Larry King had the evening off. I really wanted to hear him ask "So, Falcon, were you scared up there in the balloon?"
posted by longsleeves at 2:20 PM on October 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


mazola - That doesn't sound sketchy at all.
posted by Artw at 2:24 PM on October 16, 2009


Seinfeld destroying Larry King on-air. One of the great moments in television.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:31 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hate to break it to you now, but that guy wasn't a wacky television character.

Yes he was!


I have this fantasy that in the West Wing universe, where "That's My Bush" is a long-running, beloved sitcom, some right-wing blogger is complaining right this second about how cartoonishly evil they make the conservatives.

"It was bad enough when they had the vice president shoot an old guy in the face, but then they have all the Republicans vote against an anti-rape law? C'mon!"
posted by EarBucket at 2:35 PM on October 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


I guess if it is true that he called the TV Station before he called 911 call that is a little suspicious...

From the transcript of the 911 call:
Dispatcher: It's a flying saucer? And that's gone too, right? Is the flying saucer gone as well?
Mayumi Heene: Yes, um, about 20 minutes or so.
Dispatcher: They've both been missing for a bout 20 minutes?
Mayumi Heene: Yes. Oh my God, oh my God my son! ....

Dispatcher: OK. And so it was last seen 20 minutes ago?
Richard Heene: Um, probably. I'm gonna check the time. Probably, yeah.
So, they waited 20 minutes to call 911. Suspicious? In my book - yeah.
posted by ericb at 2:49 PM on October 16, 2009


"Gubernatorial" is a real word?! I always thought it was joke.

Well, it's a real word. But in many cases, still a joke.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 2:52 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not exactly following this on CNN. Can someone summarize the evidence that it was a hoax?
posted by delmoi at 2:53 PM on October 16, 2009


He was on Wife Swap!
posted by Artw at 2:54 PM on October 16, 2009


I'm an American who doesn't think it's a hoax. Well, I mean there's a not-insignificant probability that it is a hoax, but I'm leaning towards not.
posted by muddgirl at 2:54 PM on October 16, 2009


So, on the 911 call the Dad says that every five minutes, one million volts of electricity is sent through the outer shell for one minute. I'm not an electrician, but is that even possible? What would it take to generate a million volts inside a balloon?

I think what he's imagining is that it would get charged by static electricity in the atmosphere, much as charge builds up in clouds prior to a lightning strike.


Actually, he indicates that there is a device that generates the charge.

From the 911 call:
Dispatcher: So was it running then?
RH: Well it doesn't run, it's filled with helium. And it operates off of a million volts to move left and right — horizontal. And we were testing it to find out what effects we could get....

Dispatcher: Ok. So there's no electronics on it, there's no tracking device, right?
RH: No, no. I don't know whether it's possible you guys could detect the electricity that it emits, but every five minutes it comes on for one minute, and uh, it emits a million volts on the outer skin. And uh, if he takes a ride in it he could get electrocuted.
Dispatcher: Ok, so every five minutes it comes on for one minute and then shuts off again.
RH: Right.
Dispatcher: And it does that to charge?
RH: No, no, no, no.
I've heard of no news reports that any such device was found inside the balloon structure.
posted by ericb at 2:57 PM on October 16, 2009


I mean the evidence I've heard so far is:

1) The kid said "it was for a show" on TV,
2) They are out of work actors in debt, who have a history of being on reality TV shows
3) They called the TV stations before the police
4) It should have been obvious the kid wasn't in the balloon when it took off

Anything else?
posted by delmoi at 2:57 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


So, they waited 20 minutes to call 911. Suspicious? In my book - yeah.

20 minutes is a not-unreasonable time to search the house and garage for a missing person.

This is the part I hate the most, when actions are broken down piece by piece and analyzed and criticized and we can all sit back and make ourselves feel better that, in a scary situation, we'd do the exact right thing and the exact right time.
posted by muddgirl at 2:57 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wired: Cursory Glance Reveals Balloon Boy Fallacy. Summary: the balloon didn't deform as if it were carrying any significant weight.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:02 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is the video posted the launch, and not a launch?

I'm going to feel really foolish if this turns out to be a real hoax, but I've grown up with some real odd, not alltogether "here" characters. From my watching of the video, if it is the right video, the timeline could like this:

* Test launch of balloon.
* Realize that guide wires aren't tied down/held on to by wife,
* Call FAA because releasing a big balloon like that near an airport could be a huge problem,
* Getting upset, tempers flaring, realize boy is missing?
* Search the house, can't find kid, start making phone calls, including news organizations and then 911.
* Things get really out of hand.
posted by muddgirl at 3:02 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Re: Wired. Hindsight is 20/20, and WE THOUGHT THERE WAS A BOY IN THERE, YOU MONSTERS!

Plus, the 1 million volts would fix any deformations with the cage effect, if I know my UFOlogy science well enough.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:11 PM on October 16, 2009


I mean the evidence I've heard so far is:

1) The kid said "it was for a show" on TV,
2) They are out of work actors in debt, who have a history of being on reality TV shows
3) They called the TV stations before the police
4) It should have been obvious the kid wasn't in the balloon when it took off

Anything else?


What more do you need?
posted by fixedgear at 3:12 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


...we can all sit back and make ourselves feel better that, in a scary situation, we'd do the exact right thing and the exact right time.

Well, sure. For one thing, I would have built a bigger balloon.
posted by Floydd at 3:14 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


20 minutes is a not-unreasonable time to search the house and garage for a missing person.

This is the part I hate the most, when actions are broken down piece by piece and analyzed and criticized and we can all sit back and make ourselves feel better that, in a scary situation, we'd do the exact right thing and the exact right time.


I agree that it may indeed be quite reasonable to search for the kid for 20 minutes.

However, upon realizing that the search had not yielded the missing child, what would be the next most reasonable step?

A) Immediately call 911.
B) Look up the number for the local news crew, then call them.

The Heenes evidently chose option B -- yes, they called the local news before they called 911.

Now, I am not trying to flatter you or myself or anyone else in this thread, but I am virtually certain that none of us, no matter how frantic in that moment, would become so muddled from panic that we would do anything except call 911 in that moment.
posted by scody at 3:15 PM on October 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Anything else?

I think the most obvious evidence (alongside the report that they were trying to pitch a reality show) is not what the kid says, but the father's reaction.

Let's assume the father is innocent. The father asks, "Falcon, did you here us calling your name at any time? You did? Why didn't you come out?"

Kid says "You guys said... that um... we did this for a show."

What would the innocent father say? He would say "Huh?", or he would say "No..." and repeat the question, or he would say "What do you mean?"

Instead, he gives the most depressed and world-weary combination of a sigh, and the word "Yeah."

This is not the reaction of an innocent man who doesn't understand the kid's response. It's the reaction of someone who is shortly going to emit a terror fart because he knows he his crime has been discovered.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:15 PM on October 16, 2009 [19 favorites]


There's one thing I don't get. Do any zeitgeist accountants know if this incident makes dirigibles more or less desirable in the public mind? It's true they've been unpopular since the Hindenburg, but they've also been largely not talked about. In this case, we see a runaway balloon possibly risking the life of a child, but we also see the whimsical flight patterns of the balloon.

Also factor in the recent success of UP, as well as the common fear of flying in heavier-than-air crafts.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:16 PM on October 16, 2009


East Manitoba convinced me earlier, you can't watch his FIRST interview and not think he's full of shit. Then watch the Larry King one...
posted by rob paxon at 3:20 PM on October 16, 2009


If I was going for publicity, I would have actually put my kid up there. Just make sure that the helium actually does leak out...
posted by delmoi at 3:21 PM on October 16, 2009


It's not all that clear that there's a fart, it just sounds like someone's adjusting in his chair or something.
posted by delmoi at 3:25 PM on October 16, 2009


scody - I'm not sure about anything in that situation. I'm not saying that the father isn't a money-grubbing fame whore...

..fuck it, the more I think about this the more it screams fake, or at least partial hoax, like "Maybe they'll help me recover the balloon if I tell 'em a kid is on it!"
posted by muddgirl at 3:25 PM on October 16, 2009


Adjusting his chair with a blast of terror wind.
posted by cortex at 3:26 PM on October 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Here's a timeline. Basically the first 20 minutes were like this:

11:01: Balloon is launched.
11:04: Father calls FAA. FAA tells father to call 911.
11:10: Family searches for Falcon.
11:12: Father calls local TV stations.
11:22: Mother calls 911.
posted by Houstonian at 3:30 PM on October 16, 2009


20 minutes is a not-unreasonable time to search the house and garage for a missing person.

(1) Parents perform countdown and release balloon into the air.
(2) One son later says that his 6 y.o. brother climbed inside the "cardboard and plywood" gondola.
(3) Father calls the FAA and 9News, as he believes what his son has told him.
(4) Mother initiates call to 911 20 minutes later.
(5) Child's statement ("out of the mouth of babes"): "We did it for the show."
(6) etc.

It's not unreasonable for many to question the events. Parents involved in incident. Cardboard and plywood gondola. Call to 911 made 20 minutes after other calls, etc.

Granted ... when one is in panic mode, one's actions may indeed be irrational and unexplainable. (Hmmm ... but, they pride themselves as being in control during their storm chasing adventures.).

There is indeed, in my mind, a possible explanation for this being real and not a hoax (as I've come to believe). There are some reports that the father intended for the launch to be experimental and limited to a 20 foot vertical launch in the backyard. On the home video we see Richard get pissed at his wife for not holding a tether. Note, however, there are other unhitched tethers and his wife's tether is nowhere near 20 feet in length. Could his anger be that he fucked up and didn't secure a 20-foot tether when he released the balloon? But, as a "scientist," wouldn't he insure all was safe and "set-to-go" for his "experiment"? Could his anger, however, be that take-off was "less-than-perfect" with the balloon listing and scraping the outer branches of the tree?.

When, as reported, one son (Bradford) told Richard that Falcon had climbed into the gondola, did the father actually believe such was possible? In what timeframe could Falcon have done so?

It has been reported (by the sheriff in today's press conference) that the 8 y.o. was the source of the take-off video. A neighbor reports seeing two boys also on the roof with a camera.* One boy ground level for the NBC-released video + 2 boys on the rooftop = 3 boys.

And, knowing the construction of the craft (gondola made of cardboard and plywood*, lift capacity, etc.), as well as observing the listing takeoff did the father actually believe it was capable of carrying his son?

With the details emerging we may never know the truth. While skeptical I am willing to give the family the benefit of doubt. But, just only a little bit.
posted by ericb at 3:34 PM on October 16, 2009


Don't forget:

2:45: 4chan order's Papa John's pizza
3:14: pizza arrives at house
3:20: kids eat pizza
posted by GuyZero at 3:35 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh come on. 3 minutes to realize their child is missing and alert a tenuously related aviation authority, but 21 minutes to call 911. It's science fiction.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:36 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


ericb, the guy's clearly a bit of a kook and not a scientist at all. I don't think it's necessary to ascribe any explanation beyond incompetence to technical failures at the taped launch.
posted by muddgirl at 3:37 PM on October 16, 2009


I was here.
posted by everichon at 3:38 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the kid was supposed to be in the (poorly-tethered) balloon, but instead ran away and hid in the attic. That would be an awesome reverse-fail/child endangerment charge...
posted by muddgirl at 3:38 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


The immediate call to FAA is not unbelievable to me. They released a non-FAA approved balloon into the air, drifting toward an airport. The FAA needed to know, immediately. I think they didn't know at that moment that the child was missing.

However, once they did know, calling the media before 911 is suspicious (at best) or abusive (at worst).
posted by Houstonian at 3:38 PM on October 16, 2009


"TMZ has learned the Heene family has been pitching a reality show about the wacky family, as one TV source put it, 'all over town.' We're told Richard Heene pitched a series to Reality Real, as well as RDF Productions. RDF produces 'Wife Swap,' on which the family appeared back in March.

We're also told the Heene's have made the rounds at the networks, including TLC."

TLC Recently Turned Down Heene Family Reality Show Pitch.
posted by ericb at 3:40 PM on October 16, 2009


Houstonian, the story is "11:04am: Richard Heene calls the FAA to report the balloon accidentally launched and that his 6-year-old son may be inside." So apparently he did know at that time.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:43 PM on October 16, 2009


Right, I missed that.
posted by Houstonian at 3:46 PM on October 16, 2009


From my watching of the video, if it is the right video, the timeline could like this...

muddgirl -- I agree. That indeed could be the series of events.
posted by ericb at 3:53 PM on October 16, 2009


Physics of the great balloon chase.
posted by ericb at 3:58 PM on October 16, 2009


Am I the only one in America who thinks Falcon was actually on the balloon?
posted by mazola at 3:58 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't know if it will be proven but anyone who believes the family genuinely believed the child might be in that balloon at this point is genuinely deluded after the release of the launch video. That toy couldn't lift a house cat let alone a child and as stupid as that father is he isn't stupid enough not to know that. Every piece of evidence along with Occam's Razor says intentional hoax.
posted by nanojath at 4:00 PM on October 16, 2009


The details are personal, but suffice it to say that once I fell under suspicion for something I hadn't done but for which I couldn't even imagine a plausible explanation. So I can believe that by some million-to-one shot, a daffy but harmless backyard tinkerer, through an incredible series of mistakes and misunderstandings, might find himself in a situation like this.

What I can't believe is that this million-to-one shot just happened to befall a reality television performer.

I fault no one for wanting to assume the best of their brothers... but that dog don't hunt, son.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:01 PM on October 16, 2009


Maybe the dad isn't stupid but he could have been really high. I have believed some crazy, impossible stuff when I was high. Like, that an otherwise-healthy college student could literally be coughing chunks of his lungs out. If I did not have sober friends around to calm me down, I probably would have called the FAA, a news station, and 911, in that order.

(Turns out, the "lungs" were mostly green-tinted flour noodles in marinara sauce)
posted by muddgirl at 4:04 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Seinfeld destroying Larry King on-air. One of the great moments in television.

If by " one of the great moments in television" you mean "one of the great moments in face-offs between self-aggrandizing blowhards," then, yes.
posted by dersins at 4:04 PM on October 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


dersins: "If by " one of the great moments in television" you mean "one of the great moments in face-offs between self-aggrandizing blowhards," then, yes."

Yeah, I know, Seinfeld is an asshole. He's a comic. That's par.

But here he used his asshole powers for good instead of evil.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:10 PM on October 16, 2009


You know, I imagine in almost any emergency situation, a local media affiliate in any large North American city would be able to mobilize a helicopter search WAY faster than the local/state police could. They're already in the air all day on weekdays anyway, doing traffic-related stuff. In the highly unlikely event that this was not a ridiculous hoax, the dad maybe made a halfway decent decision by calling them first.
posted by elizardbits at 4:27 PM on October 16, 2009


I don't see it. I watch that Larry King interview, and it seems pretty clear to me that Larry is asking an establishing question for his listeners. It's clear in the phrasing, and his bemused reaction. He, himself, clearly said that Seinfeld had cancelled the show, not the other way around. He phrased it as a question to establish the point, not because he didn't know the answer. I am not a Larry King fan, but when I watch that, I do not see Seinfeld schooling King. I see Seinfeld so full of himself that he nearly creates a gravity well of ego. Seriously, I worried for a few minutes there that his indignant arrogance might be more of a threat than George W. Bush roller skating through the Hadron Collider.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:29 PM on October 16, 2009


Damn it Florence, you have to accept that Jerry Seinfeld is a terrible father whose tornado obession has deeply endangered his children
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:40 PM on October 16, 2009


Yesterday I thought this post was completely lame.

Now I think it is completely awesome.

The entire country is overthinking a plate of beans.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:40 PM on October 16, 2009


He, himself, clearly said that Seinfeld had cancelled the show, not the other way around. He phrased it as a question to establish the point, not because he didn't know the answer

STOP DERAILING THE BALLOON BOY THREAD

(i kid)

I agree King was asking the question to establish the point, but ...

LK: You gave it up, right?

JS: I did

LK: So they didn't cancel you? You canceled them?

JS: You're not aware of this?

The first question was fine, the second was stupid. It's like asking Alan Alda if CBS pulled the plug on M*A*S*H* *after* it's been established.

And King doesn't let up and say "Oh, I know you weren't canceled" when Jerry asks "You're not aware of this?" He baits him further.

I don't think it was a smackdown at all. I think it was planned theatre.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:47 PM on October 16, 2009


I think that Larry King's show is just about the last place I'd want to see anyone I was interested in seeing. Maybe Seinfeld felt the same way.
posted by cortex at 4:54 PM on October 16, 2009


BalloonBoyThread now ProverbialKitchenSink
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 4:55 PM on October 16, 2009


It seems at first that Seinfeld "destroyed" Larry King there, but then King brings up Bee Movie.
posted by ODiV at 4:57 PM on October 16, 2009 [13 favorites]


I think it was planned theatre.

Nice segue. Full circle. Also, the whole "Balloon Boy" thing has always struck me as a bit Larry Davidian (if not Branch Davidian). I wonder...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:58 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey, I got post 1111. And I wasn't even trying.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:58 PM on October 16, 2009


It's Raining Florence Henderson: "it seems pretty clear to me that Larry is asking an establishing question for his listeners. "

Well, that makes one of us.

75 million people watched what had been a relentlessly hyped episode. Posing that as an establishing question would be like beginning an Elizabeth Taylor interview with "So you got your start acting in childhood, is that right?"

Though, true, King is an incredibly lazy interviewer. So let's consider the possibility. Once Seinfeld started mocking him, don't you think King would have said something?

heh heh... I know, Jerry. Just thought I'd start out slow. Take it easy on an old man.

He's been on the air for God knows how long now. He could have come up with something.

But no, he just sat there disinterested. And not until he woke up enough to notice how badly he was coming off did he sound that grunt of affronted dignity. And then only, it seemed to me, in objection to the aggressiveness- not to the claim.

But I guess YMMV.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:00 PM on October 16, 2009


start making phone calls, including news organizations and then 911.

I'm sorry to keep nitpicking at this, but I think it's worth examining what, precisely, is required in calling a news organization vs. calling 911.

To call the news, you

1) have to acquire the phone number, by one of three methods:
1a. call 411, who will either connect you directly or give you the number, which you have to write down
1b. look it up online
1c. look it up in the phone book

Then you:
2) call the news organization (presuming that 411 didn't put you through directly), and ask to be connected to the appropriate reporter, news editor, etc.

By contrast, calling 911 involves:
1) calling 911.

Calling the news therefore necessarily involves more steps, more time, and more planning (even if that time and planning only amounts to a few minutes) than calling 911. (Unless, of course, you've got the news crew on speed dial, which raises a whole 'nother round of questions.) This is why it seems so implausible and counterintuitive that parents who genuinely believe their child is in a life-threatening emergency would first employ the more complicated, multi-step solution rather than the simpler, faster single-step solution. (I mean, not to drag out my paraphrase of Danny DeVito in Heist twice in one week, but "Everyone knows you call 911! That's why they call it 911!")

I imagine in almost any emergency situation, a local media affiliate in any large North American city would be able to mobilize a helicopter search WAY faster than the local/state police could. They're already in the air all day on weekdays anyway, doing traffic-related stuff. In the highly unlikely event that this was not a ridiculous hoax, the dad maybe made a halfway decent decision by calling them first.

That may indeed be a logistical possibility in major cities. However, Ft. Collins is not actually a large city; it's bigger now than when I grew up there, but it's still basically a college town. As I understand it, the news copters that got the footage were from Denver, which is 60 miles to the south. So in this particular case, emergency services in Ft. Collins would have indeed been much closer during the first minutes of the balloon floating away than Denver traffic copters.

But even supposing that they did think that the news copters could get there faster, they still ignored explicit instructions by the FAA (who they called first) to call 911. Instead, there was an 8-minute delay before calling the news, then another 10-minute delay before calling 911.
posted by scody at 5:03 PM on October 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


However, Ft. Collins is not actually a large city; it's bigger now than when I grew up there, but it's still basically a college town. As I understand it, the news copters that got the footage were from Denver, which is 60 miles to the south.

Aha. Ok, I was pretty much picturing a much smaller distance, as in Ft. Collins : Denver :: random village on the western edge of Nassau County : New York City
posted by elizardbits at 5:21 PM on October 16, 2009


During the time the boy was "lost," did the family/parents spend any time not panicking over the loss of their son, and instead spend time promoting UFOlogy, stormchasing, making music, or pitching their reality tv idea?

Because I think that would be a telling hint towards hoax or not. If they are absolfuckinglutely panicked and terrified of losing their son, that points toward one likelihood. If they are not panicked, and are in fact self-promotional, then I think that points extremely strongly toward the other likelihood.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:41 PM on October 16, 2009


Plausible out: family is filming the balloon launch for yet another of their "wacky scientist dad" reality TV pitches, hence "you guys said we did it for the show."

Though that doesn't explain Dad's reaction. "No, not why we were filming the balloon, kiddo, why were you hiding in the attic?" would have been the response of someone who hadn't just been found out.

Also, Dad claims Hilary Clinton is a Reptilian. Wooo-woo!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:16 PM on October 16, 2009


Haha Check out Ariana Huffington asking why this was even a story after the boy had been found.
posted by delmoi at 6:20 PM on October 16, 2009


Just here to to put down my chip on hoax.
posted by diogenes at 6:36 PM on October 16, 2009


I'm pushing all my chips onto HOAX, also.
posted by jayder at 6:56 PM on October 16, 2009


Though that doesn't explain Dad's reaction. "No, not why we were filming the balloon, kiddo, why were you hiding in the attic?" would have been the response of someone who hadn't just been found out.

See, that's just nonsense though. The idea that you could somehow tell exactly what he was thinking, or what specifically he was worried about based on his facial expressions and what he did or didn't say as ridiculous as the "Hillary Clinton is a shape sifter" thing. It's pure B.S. "He didn't say what I imagine myself saying in a similar situation" is not the same thing as "GUILTY!"

It reminds me of all the people who say or said Cammeron Todd Williams was totally acting guilty because he was behaving "strangely" after his seeing his kids burned alive. Since was acting "weird" (compared to what?) he must have killed them, nevermind that we now know no one set the fire, his "unusual" behavior is enough to damn him.

Once you already suspect someone of something, you start looking at everything they do as a reflection of being guilty.

Now, who knows maybe it was a hoax but the whole mindreading thing people think they can do is bullshit. If he said what you would have him say people in this thread would be like "Well, howcome he knew exactly what to say?!"
posted by delmoi at 7:06 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Uh-huh. I'm sure we pretty much agree with you. I do: I do not know what really happened.

But the circumstantial evidence sure makes me feel that this is hoaxy hoax hoax. And I think the father's reaction is hoaxaramariffic.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:17 PM on October 16, 2009


Some people simply have better built-in bullshit detectors than others. Call it empathy or whatever, but there's nothing mystical about it. Facial expressions are possibly the best "tell" we have (aside from hard evidence of course), and it's what separates the good poker players from the bad. I didn't even know this was controversial?
posted by naju at 7:23 PM on October 16, 2009


I think the whole who to call first thing is beside the point.

This is a guy, after all, who storm-chases. He's got a specially-equipped truck, presumably based in no small part on Twister. He's got some kind of souped-up motorcycle.

But the point is this. If my six-year-old is up in the balloon in the room with the big blue ceiling,

I AM ON HIM LIKE GLUE with whatever conveyance I can get my hands on.

I think of the stepfather of Jaycee Dugard. He saw the kidnapping, and even though he had no car he ran after the Garridos' car until he could run no more. (And then he was considered a suspect for all that.)

I will now point out that I do, in fact, call 911 -- or police non-emergency -- fairly often. I live in that kind of neighborhood. Somehow, when something erupts, I am up off the couch, moving through the house, unpocketing my mobile phone, dialing 911 blind, and hopefully connecting by the time I'm out the front door where I can see. Meanwhile I am informing family members of what's going on. I am, as they say, multitasking. I have even been in situations where I'm on the cell and another family member is on the portable for the landline.

So the idea that they needed 20-odd minutes to contact three agencies seems a mite sluggish. By the way, most 911 centers have the capability to alert other agencies such as the FAA, and more to the point, the personnel to do so while you are still giving details to the operator.
posted by dhartung at 7:54 PM on October 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


Are we supposed to still leave Britney alone?
posted by maxwelton at 8:00 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Because I think that would be a telling hint towards hoax or not. If they are absolfuckinglutely panicked and terrified of losing their son, that points toward one likelihood. If they are not panicked, and are in fact self-promotional, then I think that points extremely strongly toward the other likelihood - five fresh fish

it's events like this, that bring us back together with MeFis we've not interacted with for ages.
posted by Frasermoo at 8:02 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is not the reaction of an innocent man who doesn't understand the kid's response. It's the reaction of someone who is shortly going to emit a terror fart because he knows he his crime has been discovered.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94


My thoughts exactly. Check out Dad's reaction to "We did this for a show" at 0:40

Falcon: "We did this for a show"
Dad: (With disappointed, breaking voice) "Yeah" (followed by exasperated farting sound with mouth)
Mom: No!!???
Dad: "You didn't, um, come out?" (Panic-stricken attempt to segue or back-pedal. I think we, uh, have clearly established that Falcon didn't come out. The question was: Why not?)
Dad: Whooooo. (HUGE exhale at 0:50, with whole upper body heaving)
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:03 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


the media circus pays, but trying to MAKE the circus pay.... that's dangerous.
posted by Frasermoo at 8:13 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I took the King-Seinfeld exchange like this: Larry starts by admiring Seinfeld's walking out on top, belabors the point in a excess of worshipfulness; Seinfeld then takes mock offense, riffing in an inside way on Larry's reputation for cluelessness; King recognizes Jerry's bit for the bit it is and declines to interrupt a master on a roll by deflating the bit.
posted by longsleeves at 8:42 PM on October 16, 2009


Bet zero pie.
posted by everichon at 8:52 PM on October 16, 2009


I was here.
posted by everichon at 6:38 PM on October 16


I tried to avoid it.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 9:14 PM on October 16, 2009


Fingers crossed for a happy ending.
posted by mazola at 9:16 PM on October 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


New York Times: Doubts Came Early in Balloon Incident.
posted by ericb at 9:31 PM on October 16, 2009


Adjusting his chair with a blast of terror wind.

Or, as they say in the biz, blowback.
posted by dhartung at 9:31 PM on October 16, 2009


Denver 7News ABC: Richard Heene's Stormy Life Marked By Fist Fights, Lawsuits, Debts.
posted by ericb at 9:36 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


So the idea that they needed 20-odd minutes to contact three agencies seems a mite sluggish. By the way, most 911 centers have the capability to alert other agencies such as the FAA...

Exactly.

From the transcript of the 911 call:
Dispatcher: Ok sir we've already contacted the FAA they've already been made aware of it. I'm gonna go ahead and call the Loveland airport and let them know as well, ok? Sir? Hello? Hello? Hello?
posted by ericb at 9:48 PM on October 16, 2009


This incident in Australia has become my antidote for the whole balloon saga - immediate, undeniable and egregious danger, horrifying spectacle, wrapped up with an untainted incredible happy ending, and best of all fully and satisfactorily resolved before I ever knew about it.
posted by nanojath at 10:38 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


that baby on the train tracks thing, totally a hoax. i'm calling it first.
posted by every_one_needs_a_hug_sometimes at 10:54 PM on October 16, 2009


ericb's link confirms the thoughts I had about the way the kids looked this morning. Scared, tired, cowed.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:18 PM on October 16, 2009


Has anyone long-distance diagnosed him as a psychopath yet? Because I am!

Some people simply have better built-in bullshit detectors than others. Call it empathy or whatever, but there's nothing mystical about it.

I know it's not cool to like Malcolm Gladwell anymore, but he talks about this in Blink. We do a ton of unconscious information processing, and much of it is amazingly accurate.
posted by diogenes at 4:10 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hope that when Dad has his day in court, the prosecutor uses video to introduce the Terror Fart into evidence. That will be a great day for justice. Justice may be blind, but she ain't deaf.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:42 AM on October 17, 2009


"I'm going to have a press conference out here at, let's say, 10 a.m. Okay?" Richard Heene said outside his home around 5:30 a.m. on Saturday. "So it's a few more hours. So, I'd like to speak everybody about a few things. Okay? So, it's a big announcement."
posted by Houstonian at 7:45 AM on October 17, 2009


The video footage and 911 call transcript seem consistent with the narrative presented make some sort of sense given the parties involved. Unless something else significant surfaces, I'm firmly in the 'not hoax' camp.

Accidents can happen to people I don't necessarily like.



That sounds like a threat...
posted by mazola at 7:51 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


After a commercial break, Wolf Blitzer tries to get an explanation of Falcon's "We did this for a show" comment. He asks Richard Heene to ask Falcon what he meant. Watch Heene's reaction, and tell me if your bullshit detector doesn't go off. Heene's discomfort finally segues into mock indignation. Remember, it wasn't Blitzer who raised this notion; it was Falcon.

My guess is that media people will spin this into a reality show with a heavy "Yay police/search & rescue" component, to placate all those who were conned into this wild goose chase.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:51 AM on October 17, 2009


Wolf Blitzer tries to get an explanation of Falcon's "We did this for a show" comment.

Pressing a six year old to justify a response on a question they may or may not have understood in the first place is kind of... icky.

Why didn't the press ever ask follow-up questions to Bush? Oh wait, because he never was asked questions in the first place. Bleh.
posted by mazola at 7:57 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pressing a six year old to justify a response on a question they may or may not have understood in the first place is kind of... icky.

Whoa, mazola:

Dad: "Did you hear us calling your name at any time?"
Falcon: "Uh huh" (nodding)
Dad: "You did?"
Mom: "You did?"
Dad: "Well why didn't you come out?"
Falcon: "Um. You guys said that, um, we did this for a show."
Dad: "Yeah."

You really think Falcon didn't understand the question?

Blitzer doesn't press Falcon to justify anything. He presses the Dad for the truth. Much more telling.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:34 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Eh.

Lots of things come out of my six year old's mouth that are non sequiturs. Lord knows what would happen under the glare of TV lights.

If that's the biggest proof for hoax, it's pretty weak. As the Sheriff said yesterday, it's not enough to have a feeling about this, it has to be something you can prove.
posted by mazola at 8:40 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


...the police did contact child services, and there's a chance an investigation will open up.

Yep.

Falcon Heene Balloon Case Referred To Larimer County Child Protection Agency.

Also -- "The AP is reporting that local law enforcement officers have suspected Richard Heene of abusing his wife, but there has never been sufficient evidence to press charges."
posted by ericb at 8:43 AM on October 17, 2009


The one thing I've learned from this circus is that if my child ever gets launched accidentally into the stratrosphere I'm not even reporting it.




For the record: that's so not true
posted by mazola at 8:46 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Lots of things come out of my six year old's mouth that are non sequiturs.

Except it's not a non sequitur, mazola. It makes a lot of sense. It's one of very few logical explanations why, if he heard them calling his name, he didn't come out. Another explanation might be that he was frightened. But he didn't say that. And who said it was proof? It's just an interesting bit that seems to fit with many of the other strange pieces of the Heene jigsaw puzzle.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:53 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


If there's an upside to all this, it's that little Falcon may well be giving all those news vultures the swine flu.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:57 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


You can watch Richard Heene's announcement at MSNBC.com here (starts momentarily).
posted by ericb at 8:58 AM on October 17, 2009


Well there's the rub.

It could be something that's a direct answer and understood and therefore damning. Or it could be something totally unrelated to the question asked (non sequitur) and therefore unimportant.

I tend to believe it was a confused kid but YMMV.

I also believe that type of questioning should be done in private by investigators (and it was. It should also be noted the questioning was done alone -- the parents were not present -- as indicated by the Sheriff yesterday) and not on national TV. I hold more weight on those answers than what pops out in the media circus.
posted by mazola at 9:00 AM on October 17, 2009


On CNN Live, you can see a real-time feed. The reporters are cussing him.
posted by Houstonian at 9:06 AM on October 17, 2009


CNN is also carrying the presser live on CNN.com here. (Still has yet to start).
posted by ericb at 9:06 AM on October 17, 2009


Hey just asked for all the reporters to put all their questions in the box, and he will come back out and answer them.

The guy sure likes his boxes.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:06 AM on October 17, 2009 [9 favorites]


Jinx, Houstonian. You owe me a Coke.
posted by ericb at 9:07 AM on October 17, 2009


He's playing a game with them. He said that "friends" told him there were lots of rumors, but he doesn't know what questions anyone might have because he "doesn't have cable." I don't have TV, yet I know. Seriously?
posted by Houstonian at 9:08 AM on October 17, 2009


The CNN live feed was PRICELESS!!!!! After his lame "put the questions in the box" announcement, lots of complaining was heard ("Oh, I LIKE being manipulated" "What?!" "Awww come on!" "What about the major announcement?") punctuated by a loud and clear "Ahhhhh SHIT!!!!!"
posted by The Deej at 9:09 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, and for those who missed it, the reporters said they only wanted to know if this was a scam or whatever, and he said he needed their questions "in writing." In the box. Then he went back inside his house.
posted by Houstonian at 9:10 AM on October 17, 2009


And he wants everyone back at 7:30 to hear his answers. I really, really, really hope not a single reporter comes back.

Oh, and that a cameraman shits in his box.
posted by The Deej at 9:12 AM on October 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


Interesting -- MSNBC has yanked the hyperlink to the "live coverage" from their homepage ... and the video link no longer resolves to the press corp. awaiting his statement.
posted by ericb at 9:14 AM on October 17, 2009


What an asshat!
posted by ericb at 9:14 AM on October 17, 2009


If he wants people to believe he's not a media whore, he's doing it wrong.
posted by Houstonian at 9:15 AM on October 17, 2009


The Deej: Totally. The absolute 100% best thing for the media to do at this point would be to completely ignore him. He'd be shouting into a media vacuum: He'd be all 'look at me! look over here! Hi ! Over here!!' and they'd be all 'what's that sound? a mosquito buzzing in my ear?' the way my brother did when he wanted to make me completely insane when we were little. Wanting attention and not getting it is the worst kind of punishment for this guy. I'd love it.
posted by 8dot3 at 9:19 AM on October 17, 2009


IMHO the guy is unstable.

If he's hoping that a production company will take on a reality show based on his family, I suspect he's ruined any chance of such, right along the lines of Jon Gosselin: "Shows won't hire Jon, even for free.

Online polls are showing a significant majority of people think it was a "hoax." Whether or not it was, public opinion runs against this family.
posted by ericb at 9:23 AM on October 17, 2009


This is interesting. It's a reporter's description of how he called the 10:00 press conference.
posted by Houstonian at 9:24 AM on October 17, 2009


That's it, the Sheriff's in on this too. He's announcing a new series on TLC featuring himself and the freaky family. "Law and Disorder" or somesuch thing.
posted by mazola at 9:29 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It could be something that's a direct answer and understood and therefore damning. Or it could be something totally unrelated to the question asked (non sequitur) and therefore unimportant.
posted by mazola


So 2+2=4 could be directly understood, or it could be a non sequitur, because 4 might be totally unrelated to 2+2, and actually be the wrong answer to a different question. You are right. I never thought of it that way.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:29 AM on October 17, 2009


You're welcome.
posted by mazola at 9:29 AM on October 17, 2009


MSNBC has yanked the hyperlink to the "live coverage" from their homepage ... and the video link no longer resolves to the press corp. awaiting his statement.

CNN, too.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:34 AM on October 17, 2009


Here's a clip of what happened during his "press conference."
posted by Houstonian at 9:45 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is this the part of the show where the guy murders his family?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:46 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


He wants the scripted reality show. He can't handle the unscripted reality show. Questions in the box, please.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:01 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


*sigh*

1) Cut a hole in a box
2) Put your questions in that box
3) Richard Heene cherry-picks them or makes them up, gets yets more media exposure

And that's the way you do it.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:02 AM on October 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Has anyone long-distance diagnosed him as a psychopath yet? Because I am!

That seems a little extreme, IMO. Daffy, horrendously ignorant of actual science, possibly abusive, and undoubtedly a complete media whore, sure — but where do you get "psycopath" from?

Unless you're being sarcastic as all hell. In which case, kudos.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:05 AM on October 17, 2009


So 2+2=4 could be directly understood, or it could be a non sequitur, because 4 might be totally unrelated to 2+2, and actually be the wrong answer to a different question. You are right. I never thought of it that way.

I'm neither here nor there on what was up with Falcon's answer there—he may have been uttering something revealing, he may have been confused and tossing out what's effectively a non-sequitur, and the idea that the latter case isn't really plausible coming from a six-year-old is pretty silly so I don't think there's a clear way to resolve it based just on what's been seen so far—but, yes, it could be exactly what mazola is saying.

Humans are great at fuzzy pattern recognition tasks. Our hardware makes connections like crazy. What we're not so great at is strict objectivity, and so validating those connections is kind of sketchy territory. Plenty of smart, well-meaning people have fallen victim to confirmation bias or false inferences or grabbed onto something too compelling to fact-check.

And if you feel like the 2+2=4 thing is way too pat to argue with, step away from the conveniently contained realm of mathematics and remember we're talking about natural language production here, where putting meaning to a phrase in ambiguous circumstances can go wrong in all kinds of ways, especially when there's a compelling narrative priming one interpretation in particular.

Richard Heene seems more and more like a nut, and I'm not feeling terribly optimistic about this presser, whenever the fuck it ends up happening, making him look any better than he currently does, but that doesn't have a lot to do with the validity of battling interpretations of a dazed six-year-old's confusing answer to a question on live TV.

Terror weather notwithstanding.
posted by cortex at 10:06 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


"The crowd [gathered at this morning's press conference] included two young men holding signs and occasionally yelling, 'balloon boy.' One sign read 'Put balloon boy on TV: America's Most Wanted.' The other read, '10/15/09. We will never forget.'" *
posted by ericb at 10:31 AM on October 17, 2009


Okay, so, I've seen the footage and listened to the 911 call and I've watched the Larry King + GMA + Today show clips.

Did it strike anyone else as odd that during both the GMA and the Today Show clips, Falcon needs to vomit RIGHT at the time that the father is questioned about what Falcon said on the Larry King Show? Both shows? Same moment in the interview?

Anyone ever been in a relationship with a lying, manipulative or abusive person? Family member or significant other? Ever been in a situation where you had to decide between backing them up in one of their lies, or opting not to do that and feeling their wrath?

Just saying.
posted by jeanmari at 10:32 AM on October 17, 2009 [16 favorites]


Balloon Boy's Dad Wastes Everyone's Time
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:36 AM on October 17, 2009


Sadly this features some of the most balanced reporting I've seen on the incident.
posted by mazola at 10:41 AM on October 17, 2009


Sadly this features some of the most balanced reporting I've seen on the incident.

Really? So, you don't think ABC, AP, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, New York Times, etc. have had balanced reporting?
posted by ericb at 10:46 AM on October 17, 2009


Sheriff Gives Balloon Boy's Fam the Weekend Off
"A rep for the Sheriff's Department in Larimer County tells TMZ they won't talk to the Heene family again until Monday -- unless of course the father says something stupid at tonight's press conference.

The department had planned to speak to the family today, but decided to give their officers the weekend off. However, Eloise Campanella, Larimer County Sheriff's Officer spokeswoman, tells TMZ they will be keeping an eye on Richard Heene's question box press conference scheduled for later tonight.

The presser should begin around 6:30 PM PT/9:30 PM ET."
posted by ericb at 10:49 AM on October 17, 2009


Really? So, you don't think ABC, AP, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, New York Times, etc. have had balanced reporting?

I'm glad language is never misinterpreted.
posted by mazola at 10:52 AM on October 17, 2009


And you're right. On reflection I realize I meant restrained reporting, not balanced.

More to the point: it's the Weekly World News for God's sake! They should be having a field day with this and it's buried with nary any hyperbole to be seen.

MY WORLD IS UPSIDE DOWN!
posted by mazola at 10:59 AM on October 17, 2009


It was not the first time someone from the Heenes' home has dialed 911. A Colorado sheriff's deputy responded to a 911 hang-up in February at the home, hearing a man yelling and noticing Mayumi Heene had a mark on her cheek and broken blood vessels in her left eye. She said it was because of a problem with her contacts.

Richard Heene said he was yelling because his children stayed up past their bedtime. The husband and wife said nothing had happened, and the deputy concluded he did not have probable cause to make an arrest.

posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:15 AM on October 17, 2009


Okay, so, I've seen the footage and listened to the 911 call and I've watched the Larry King + GMA + Today show clips.

Did it strike anyone else as odd that during both the GMA and the Today Show clips, Falcon needs to vomit RIGHT at the time that the father is questioned about what Falcon said on the Larry King Show? Both shows? Same moment in the interview?

Anyone ever been in a relationship with a lying, manipulative or abusive person? Family member or significant other? Ever been in a situation where you had to decide between backing them up in one of their lies, or opting not to do that and feeling their wrath?

Just saying.


I've only watched the first clip that includes vomiting, but I also thought it was oddly staged. Note that it appears the boy is putting his finger in his mouth to induce vomiting for quite awhile before he actually vomits. Also, there's a handy bucket. Though, knowing families like this, there are for whatever crazy reason, often handy buckets, so that's neither here nor there.

I haven't watched the other instances.
posted by odinsdream at 11:41 AM on October 17, 2009


Falcon needs to vomit RIGHT at the time that the father is questioned about what Falcon said on the Larry King Show?

Here's what I was getting at with my comment. It is possible that the stress that Falcon is under, at the moment that his father is lying to cover up the comment that Falcon made the night before, is so great that Falcon vomits. Twice. At the same moment his dad is engaged in the lie. I don't think that the kid is making himself vomit.

Being involved in a lie to cover up for someone you "love" or feel fearful of is pretty stress-inducing. You can feel light-headed, foggy-minded, and nauseous. Is that what is happening here? Who knows. But if you've been in a situation where you've been party to a lie and a relationship is at stake, you can relate.

That's all I'm saying.
posted by jeanmari at 11:53 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Some people simply have better built-in bullshit detectors than others. Call it empathy or whatever, but there's nothing mystical about it. Facial expressions are possibly the best "tell" we have (aside from hard evidence of course), and it's what separates the good poker players from the bad. I didn't even know this was controversial?
Well, I just think that the vast majority are not world class poker players. And after someone's been under a lot of stress they are not going to act "normal".

That said, I don't really think this guy has a lot of credibility anymore, especially given what we've learned about his record. But just watching one video and deciding he was "guilty" isn't appropriate.

The cops definitely need to question the kids separately. They can do a real investigation, rather then just guessing.
posted by delmoi at 12:15 PM on October 17, 2009


Maybe Falcon vomited because he'd had some of the Booger Soup they made for their mom (and yes, she tried it before they told her their secret ingredient).
posted by Houstonian at 12:23 PM on October 17, 2009


Is the mother pregnant? Or just wearing some sort of alternative-wear?
posted by jgirl at 12:54 PM on October 17, 2009


Note that it appears the boy is putting his finger in his mouth to induce vomiting for quite awhile before he actually vomits. Also, there's a handy bucket.

Handy bucket indicates something a lot less strained than Six Year Old Vomits On Demand: it says to me that Falcon had been pukey already, and the bucket was there in case he got sick again. That's basic sick-kid tactics, and to me he looked before the actual puking like a little kid who was feeling sick and might puke.

It's possible that the puke was primarily stress-induced; it's possible that the stress was from Falcon being conflicted over being given directions to prevaricate. I don't think anybody here has reasonable grounds to actually leap from possibility to certainty or anything close to it, though. But even running with that general scenario, the idea that the kid is vomiting on cue is just plain silly.
posted by cortex at 1:02 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think the mother just prefers the baggy-sweatshirt look. It was posted in May, so maybe it's still cold there in May? The father must have been the one holding the camera. It seems strange that he wouldn't have warned his wife before she ate it.

Someone in the neighborhood (I guess) took a home video of what was going on outside the Heene house before Falcon came out: Lots of people, TV vans, 3 helicopters landing in the park across the road. If it's true that Falcon was in the garage attic (and the video shows there's just a big hole in the ceiling to the attic; no door or anything), how did he not hear all that noise plus the sounds of people searching for him in the house, and get curious enough to step outside sooner?

If it was out of fear of punishment, that's pretty big fear to keep him up their for hours, especially given the activity outside, his young age, and his clearly active and curious disposition.
posted by Houstonian at 1:11 PM on October 17, 2009


But if your kid is pukey, why take part in the media dog and pony show? Can you imagine being questioned on live television while fighting the urge to puke?

Everything about these people's choices for the boys is questionable. I know that if they told the network people, "Sorry, Falcon's sick, we have to bring him home to rest" there would be a backlash due to the perception of them hiding from the media, but really why should they care? If indeed, it was all an innocent mistake, they could shut the door and have a spokesperson tell the awaiting press corps that they are allowing the kids to have some privacy and to decompress after this stressful couple of days.

That's not going to happen, but for Falcon and his brothers sake, I wish it would.
posted by readery at 1:16 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


But if your kid is pukey, why take part in the media dog and pony show?

Because they Heenes were making foolish decisions. It's dumb to sit a pukey kid on your lap during a live television interview. But being dumb like that—just not thinking through the "kid is sick, vomiting on TV would be pretty dumb, shouldn't let kid be prop in interview" out of either exceptional or characteristic lack of thoughtfulness after a long, stupid day—is a whole lot more plausible than the notion of training your child to do precision vomiting on command to assist in the dodging of questions.
posted by cortex at 1:22 PM on October 17, 2009


cortex, your Pollyannaishness is making me feel like I need to vomit.

Is it really so far fetched to suggest that the child has been drugged by covert CIA brainwashers and programmed to Manchurian Candidate all over the place when he hears the trigger question? This has MONARCH written all over it! It was probably the Freemasons trying to divert attention from last night's in-depth expose starring Dan Brown! WAKE UP SHEEPLE
posted by Sys Rq at 2:06 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's possible that the puke was primarily stress-induced; it's possible that the stress was from Falcon being conflicted over being given directions to prevaricate.

My personal hope is that it's a flu he's successfully passed on to all the media. They (the media) deserve it, they really do. The kids, not so much.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:21 PM on October 17, 2009


Gawker: "I helped Richard Heene plan a balloon hoax"
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:29 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


FOR SALE: Proof That Balloon Boy Was A Hoax
There is allegedly proof that the story of balloon boy Falcon Heene was a stunt to help pitch a television show. But the purported proof will cost you thousands of dollars to get.


Looks like Gawker bought the story. "For the first time, 25-year-old researcher Robert Thomas reveals to Gawker how earlier this year he and Richard Heene drew up a master plan to generate a massive media controversy using a weather balloon. To get famous, of course."
posted by Houstonian at 2:34 PM on October 17, 2009


Gawker: "I helped Richard Heene plan a balloon hoax"
My doubts and concerns about that story were verified when Falcon's parents asked him on CNN, "why didn't you come out?" And Falcon said, "you guys said we did this for the show." Lights went off in my head. Bells were ringing; whistles were whistling. I said, "Wow, Richard is using his children as pawns to facilitate a global media hoax that's going to give him enough publicity to temporarily attract A-list celebrity status and hopefully attract a network."
Well I feel dumber for having read that whole thing.

To summarize: there's no proof offered that the Falcon-onboard 911 call was an intentional hoax. Just more gut feelings.

It really does sound like this was a hoax gone wrong.
posted by mazola at 2:37 PM on October 17, 2009


Maybe Falcon vomited because he'd had some of the Booger Soup they made for their mom

oh, no - what - what is WRONG with these people?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:37 PM on October 17, 2009


From their TV show proposal: "Can we attract UFO's with a homemade flying saucer? We will modify a weather balloon, so that it resembles a UFO and will electrically charge the skin of the craft (Biefield-Brown Effect). We will capture the footage on film, and will utilize the media as a means with which to make our presence known to the masses. This will not only provide us with incredible footage, but will also generate a tremendous amount of controversy among the public, as well as publicity within the mainstream media. This will be the most significant UFO-related news event to take place since the Roswell Crash of 1947, and the result will be a dramatic increase in local and national awareness about The Heene Family, our Reality Series, as well as the UFO Phenomenon in general."

Also, the father believes the world will end in 2012, so he may not be thinking about long-term implications of his actions.
posted by Houstonian at 2:48 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


The lack of ironclad proof just delays the inevitable. Richard Heene's fate will be like being pecked to death by ducks. I pity his kids.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:50 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Gawker: "I helped Richard Heene plan a balloon hoax"

In a related Gawker article --

Reality Series Proposal from Richard Heene and Rob Thomas
"Below is a proposal drawn up by Robert Thomas on behalf of his friend, collaborator and sometime employer Richard Heene, father of Balloon Boy. Heene was trying to sell a reality science series to the producers of Wife Swap after he appeared on the show.

Of particular note is item 16, proposing an episode buit around a publicity stunt involving a 'homemade flying saucer.'

....16. Can we attract UFO's with a homemade flying saucer? We will modify a weather balloon, so that it resembles a UFO and will electrically charge the skin of the craft (Biefield-Brown Effect). We will capture the footage on film, and will utilize the media as a means with which to make our presence known to the masses. This will not only provide us with incredible footage, but will also generate a tremendous amount of controversy among the public, as well as publicity within the mainstream media. This will be the most significant UFO-related news event to take place since the Roswell Crash of 1947, and the result will be a dramatic increase in local and national awareness about The Heene Family, our Reality Series, as well as the UFO Phenomenon in general."
posted by ericb at 2:54 PM on October 17, 2009


What Houstonian said!
posted by ericb at 2:54 PM on October 17, 2009


FOR SALE: Proof That Balloon Boy Hoax Proof Was A Hoax
There is allegedly proof that the purported proof that story of balloon boy Falcon Heene was a stunt to help pitch a television show was a scam to cheat a scandal-hungry media outlet out of thousands of dollars. But the alleged proof of the purported proof will cost you thousands of dollars to get.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:55 PM on October 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


For Sale: Proof that Sys Rq...$5
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:59 PM on October 17, 2009


In other news, the mother is now at the Sheriff's office. Guess they decided to not wait until Monday, after all.
posted by Houstonian at 3:00 PM on October 17, 2009


...the mother is now at the Sheriff's office.

And she was "accompanied by a victim's advocate and a Larimer County Sheriff's deputy." "Earlier today, Richard Heene, Falcon's father, drove away from the home in his family's minivan."

I feel for the mother and kids. Hoo-boo ... what's next?
posted by ericb at 3:05 PM on October 17, 2009


Balloon Boy Box Bursting with Questions.

Something tells me that with the latest developments we a'int gonna see a presser with Richard Heene tonight.
posted by ericb at 3:07 PM on October 17, 2009


Maybe Falcon vomited because he'd had some of the Booger Soup they made for their mom

oh, no - what - what is WRONG with these people?


Um, they're little boys?
posted by EarBucket at 3:09 PM on October 17, 2009


This may turn out OK after all. Mayumi sells the story for millions, takes the kids...
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:10 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Thomas notes: Heene's attic is too small and difficult to access for a small child to hide in without assistance. Also, that Falcon was the most social, and that those kids never got disciplined by Heene. He never would've hid and feared retribution."*

Pretty lax discipline and structure. Yeah -- the father (assuming he was the videographer) was complicit in the kids serving their mother booger soup (as above).
posted by ericb at 3:13 PM on October 17, 2009


Handy bucket indicates something a lot less strained than Six Year Old Vomits On Demand

There was no bucket the FIRST time he threw up...it was a surprise and he started gagging, then told his mom he needed to be sick.

There was only a Handy Bucket TM in the second interview.
posted by jeanmari at 3:18 PM on October 17, 2009


AP: Father of boy in balloon saga meets with officers.
posted by ericb at 3:19 PM on October 17, 2009


Interesting from the AP article): in addition to reporters, neighbors have been putting questions into the box.
posted by ericb at 3:21 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


That cardboard box is worth $12,000 on eBay. Somebody is going to figure that out pretty soon.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:34 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, what a freak. I obviously gave him more benefit of the doubt then he deserved. Oh well.
posted by delmoi at 3:40 PM on October 17, 2009


Heene's attic is too small and difficult to access for a small child to hide in without assistance

I can almost guarantee that this is not true. I was a monkey as a child and could get up into the rafters of the garage without any problems whatsoever. Hell, push come to shove, I was able to climb up the garage door hinges to get within reach of a rafter, and then could easily swing myself up.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:53 PM on October 17, 2009


That cardboard box is worth $12,000 on eBay. Somebody is going to figure that out pretty soon.

Yeah. That'd be Richard Heene.
posted by ericb at 3:54 PM on October 17, 2009


Heene's attic is too small and difficult to access for a small child to hide in without assistance


I'm sure I saw footage of the kid climbing up, to show how he did it. I really can't be bothered to watch everything all over again to find it, though.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:59 PM on October 17, 2009


Balloon Boy Box Bursting with Questions

I know alliteration is awesome, Gawker, but that box isn't so much "bursting" as it is "mostly empty".
posted by cortex at 4:09 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really can't be bothered to watch everything all over again to find it, though.

I remember not long ago when people really cared about Balloon Boy.
posted by The Deej at 4:22 PM on October 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


I have not been following along as closely as some of you, so perhaps you seasoned Heeneologists can answer these questions:

(1) In light of the video footage showing Mr. Heene and Mrs. Heene standing there when the balloon was released --- and Mr. Heene being angry that Mrs. Heene released it --- is there an explanation now for why the boy felt the need to hide? Hasn't it been established that he had nothing to do with releasing the balloon?

(2) The balloon does not seem to be built in a way that would provide any place for a person to crawl in. Are they claiming that there was some sort of compartment Falcon could have occupied?
posted by jayder at 4:34 PM on October 17, 2009


...the mother is now at the Sheriff's office.

And she was "accompanied by a victim's advocate ... Earlier today, Richard Heene, Falcon's father, drove away from the home in his family's minivan."


In a similar investigation in that jurisdiction, such that there has ever been one, would a victim's advocate be the norm?
posted by jgirl at 4:44 PM on October 17, 2009


A victim's advocate was also with the family as they waited for Falcon to appear from the attic.
posted by Houstonian at 5:00 PM on October 17, 2009


jgirl: "In a similar investigation in that jurisdiction, such that there has ever been one, would a victim's advocate be the norm?"

Here is information on the victim/witness services provided by Larimer county.

From context, my speculation is that this is related to the previous incident of the 911 hangup call where the officers showed up to see her with a bruised face, alluded to upthread.
posted by idiopath at 5:01 PM on October 17, 2009


> I was a monkey as a child

Can we trot this out in the next evolution/creation thread?
posted by nowonmai at 5:08 PM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


See here, about yesterday: "Prior to finding the child, Messick described the family as 'very traumatized.' A victim's advocate arrived at the house at 1 p.m." I would guess that since a relationship already has been established between the family and the advocate, they are just continuing that.
posted by Houstonian at 5:09 PM on October 17, 2009


Here's a photo of the mother with the advocate, going to the sheriff's office today. She doesn't look unhappy.
posted by Houstonian at 5:15 PM on October 17, 2009


So the problem is that they want a reality TV show when clearly they are a web series.
posted by mazola at 5:53 PM on October 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


This could be either the worst, or the best, ARG ever, depending on how you measure such things.
posted by idiopath at 5:56 PM on October 17, 2009


MSNBC: "Colorado sheriff says criminal charges will be filed in 'balloon boy' case"
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:09 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


MSNBC: "Colorado sheriff says criminal charges will be filed in 'balloon boy' case"

That would be hysterical if a court summons was at the bottom of the box.
posted by mazola at 6:27 PM on October 17, 2009 [16 favorites]


Wow. I have to say, I did not expect any charges to be filed. I fully expected them to get a fucking reality show out of this.
With that said, the charges could be something that does not acknowledge the hoax question at all; like interfering with flight paths or something like that. I can't pretend that I don't think the dad is a verbally abusive assbag, and I'd like see the courts step in to provide them with family counseling over seeing charges filed against the parents. Usually guys like that take their failures out on the ones they love.

Barring that, I would LOVE a stipulation that there be lifetime ban from any kind of reality show as part of any plea bargain for any charges filed.
posted by 8dot3 at 6:38 PM on October 17, 2009


Bets it's a 'False imprisonment' charge?
posted by mazola at 6:43 PM on October 17, 2009


... because the kid was 'falsely imprisoned' in the balloon.


har?

posted by mazola at 7:05 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Balloon Boy video game.
posted by fixedgear at 7:14 PM on October 17, 2009



[ I N T E R M I S S I O N ]
posted by mazola at 7:16 PM on October 17, 2009 [19 favorites]


Great intermission!
"I haven't seen a balloon disaster like this since the Hindenburg!
Oh the humanity!....oh the humanity indeed."
posted by Flashman at 7:28 PM on October 17, 2009


MSNBC: "Colorado sheriff says criminal charges will be filed in 'balloon boy' case"

AP: Sheriff: Charges to be filed in balloon saga.
posted by ericb at 7:53 PM on October 17, 2009


Too soon, Flashman...too soon.
posted by Guy Smiley at 7:55 PM on October 17, 2009


If it quacks like a duck, it's likely a duck.
posted by ericb at 7:59 PM on October 17, 2009


Do you think the court will deem them a flight risk?
posted by mazola at 8:00 PM on October 17, 2009 [20 favorites]


ericb, thanks for that link. The videos linked to that article were interesting... the Sheriff must've heard one heck of a story.
posted by Houstonian at 8:04 PM on October 17, 2009


Sorry to destroy your cherished illusions about "reality" shows, but I never worked on one that didn't have a script-- actual lines dialogue weren't pre-written, and some participants have the tendency to stray from the storyline more than others, but reality TV field producers are really, really good at convincing people to "be themselves" by doing profoundly stupid shit on camera.

Ha! Stupid reality show watching sheeple.

Not Amazing Race though right? Amazing Race is totally real right? THERE IS NO WAY THE AMAZING RACE IS SCRIPTED!
posted by Bonzai at 8:04 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


If they deem the incident to be a hoax, the only charge they can bring is a Class 3 Misdemeanor charge. They would, however, seek resititution for the search.*
"'We were looking at Class 3 misdemeanor, which hardly seems serious enough given the circumstances,' [Larimer County Sheriff Jim] Alderden said Saturday. 'We are talking to the district attorney, federal officials to see if perhaps there aren't additional federal charges that are appropriate in this circumstance.'

He said deputies were seeking a search warrant for the family's home, and there would be more information at a news conference Sunday."*
posted by ericb at 8:04 PM on October 17, 2009


That Sheriff's shirt is a Class 3 Misdemeanor.*


----
* C.R.S. Citation 18-11-204 (3)

posted by mazola at 8:10 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


While I get the feeling that all Mr. Heene will get out of this is a mountain of debt and a bunch of visits from Child Protective Services, I've been playing out a little fantasy in my head where a judge sentences him to "Federal Pussification Prison," and then the government sells the security camera footage of Heene from his cell to pay off his debts to the state of Colorado.

Granted, as a pussified liberal, I don't think he deserves anything that bad. Like I said, it's a revenge fantasy for abusing so many people's trust and resources. The government wasn't being wasteful. What we have here is an overgrown 6th grader abusing the trust extended to him by the government. Truth be told, if he is shamed by the incident and if his name becomes toxic to reality TV producers, I think he'll have been punished appropriately enough.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:10 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I N T E R M I S S I O N

That clip from Downfall is the gift that keeps on giving. I've laughed my way through at least half a dozen variations on the theme, and I laughed at this one.

Mind you, I'm simple.
posted by maxwelton at 8:11 PM on October 17, 2009


I should clarify: In my revenge fantasy, Heene either never finds out the footage is being shown outside of jail, or it's edited to just show him at his conspiracy theory fringes, made out to be crazy, so that he's humiliated. It's not about giving him an outlet for his need for attention.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:16 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dude needs to quit wanking about with this "acting" bullshit, which is about as pussified as Marilyn Chambers public parts, man the fuck up and get himself a real job. Until he does, he's a largely useless sack of flesh and ego.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:18 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, he can always fall back on his music.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:22 PM on October 17, 2009


Video: ‘We're doing well,’ dad says.
posted by ericb at 8:25 PM on October 17, 2009


Video: Sheriff -- Charges will be filed in balloon case.
posted by ericb at 8:27 PM on October 17, 2009


A footnote to this saga: Balloon Boy Rescue Team Destroyed Family's Wheat Crop .
Balloon Landing Turns Crop to Crap
"The infamously boy-less balloon caused even more trouble than we thought on Thursday -- because its landing also wreaked havoc on a valuable wheat crop desperately needed by a local family.

The infamously boy-less balloon caused even more trouble than we thought on Thursday -- because its landing also wreaked havoc on a valuable wheat crop desperately needed by a local family."
posted by ericb at 8:33 PM on October 17, 2009


Sweet merciful shit they are going to be charged because it was a hoax. Am I dreaming? Is there actually justice in this world?

(And yes, the Sherriff's shirt was so bad it was almost good.)
posted by 8dot3 at 8:38 PM on October 17, 2009


What? What? ; )
posted by ericb at 8:45 PM on October 17, 2009


Does anybody have any spare wheat kicking around?
posted by Flashman at 9:28 PM on October 17, 2009


YOU F*CKERS!! NOBODY TOLD ME THERE WAS A PARTY IN HERE!

damn. popcorn's gone, too
posted by humannaire at 9:56 PM on October 17, 2009


maxwelton : Mind you, I'm simple.

Yeah, well, that makes two of us. I have to turn off my rudimentary high-school German enough to just read the subtitles, but I thought this one was particularly well captioned.
posted by quin at 9:58 PM on October 17, 2009


oh f*ck it I'm getting some popcorn
posted by humannaire at 9:59 PM on October 17, 2009


[munch munch munch] oh yes man YES this is the good shit

...and that ain't no HAMBURGER
posted by humannaire at 10:11 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


He said deputies were seeking a search warrant for the family's home, and there would be more information at a news conference Sunday.

Spoiler: The sheriff is going to briefly step outside the police station door with a small cardboard box for members of the press to put their questions in...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:20 PM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


And you're right. On reflection I realize I meant restrained reporting, not balanced.

Be sure to check out this report from NPR -- Sheriff: Charges will be filed in balloon saga.
posted by ericb at 10:27 PM on October 17, 2009


Does anybody have any spare wheat kicking around?

Anheuser-Busch and SNL do: "Anheuser-Busch is buying all the national ads on this week's edition of comedy mainstay 'Saturday Night Live' to launch its new brew, Bud Light Golden Wheat."
posted by ericb at 10:38 PM on October 17, 2009


That clip from Downfall is the gift that keeps on giving. I've laughed my way through at least half a dozen variations on the theme, and I laughed at this one.

Sadly, the Downfall internet meme is totally lost on me. My knowledge of german is too good and too deeply ingrained, and I cannot get beyond the cognitive dissonance which results when I watch one of the meme clips and the subtitles don't match up with the words being spoken. I wish I could watch them, I'm sure some of them are downright clever, but I've tried four or five times and still my brain won't read the words on the screen as actually being spoken by the people who are speaking a language which I can understand. It's not like the subtitles at the beginning of Holy Grail when they start talking about Yaks... It's just... ack.
posted by hippybear at 10:48 PM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is there a 12-step program for fame addicts yet? Because this guy could still turn it around if he's willing to let them film his rehabilitation, so others might learn and be uplifted by his example.



Oh wait.
posted by merelyglib at 10:49 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


humannaire: Don't you worry about the popcorn being all gone. I think Heene's gonna bust out that giant Jiffy Pop thing again as soon as the press gather for tomorrow's news conferece.
posted by 8dot3 at 11:00 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sadly, the Downfall internet meme is totally lost on me. My knowledge of german is too good and too deeply ingrained, and I cannot get beyond the cognitive dissonance which results when I watch one of the meme clips and the subtitles don't match up with the words being spoken.

Have you tried muting the sound?
posted by EarBucket at 11:04 PM on October 17, 2009


When Falcon was talking about the show, this is what happened: Earlier in the day when we were working on this craft,
I told Falcon that someday we would be famous and have our own show and when that happened, he would have to hide
in the attic to escape his fans. Are we clear?

posted by Flashman at 11:07 PM on October 17, 2009


When Falcon was talking about the show, this is what happened: Earlier in the day when we were working on this craft, I told Falcon that someday we would be famous and have our own show and when that happened, he would have to hide in the attic to escape his fans. Are we clear?

"As for (maybe?) Richard Heene's TMZ comment..."*

My bet -- that comment left on TMZ [Posted at 8:01PM on Oct 17th 2009] is not really from Richard Heene. It's fake. Richard Heene is keeping his mouth shut now that he knows charges are pending.
posted by ericb at 11:20 PM on October 17, 2009


"Richard Heene is keeping his mouth shut now that he knows charges are pending."

And we all know that Heene is capable of applying common sense when it is in his own self interest HAMBURGER.

Also, I think I may have a real problem, I just can't stop looking at this trainwreck of a media spectacle and I wish I could SCHROEDINGER'SHAMBURGER.
posted by idiopath at 11:26 PM on October 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


Have you tried muting the sound?

What's the point of watching "subtitles" with the sound muted? The entire point of that exercise (the Downfall meme) is to create a set of fake subtitles which will somehow go with the tone of voice and delivery contained within the original German clip and will end up being funny as Hitler rants and raves about *whatever*. With the sound muted, it's just a bunch of sentences which are for some reason playing against the background of a silent film. It has no context, no weight. It's just really not funny.

I'd rather read a few paragraphs which are designed to be humorous when read without a movie attached. And I'm sorry to say, there have been exactly zero Downfall meme iterations which are actually funny to read in paragraph form.

I'm okay with it. Really. Not all internet memes are funny to everyone.
posted by hippybear at 11:53 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It just keeps getting better & better.

The breaking point: Heene told his then-assistant of Reptilians who could shape-shift that were running the shadow government, and that his fame would enable him to communicate with the masses and expose said Reptillians. He also told Thomas the world was gonna end in a solar flare in 2012, and that they were running out of time.

Heene's a David Icke believer. You couldn't write this stuff if you tried.
posted by scalefree at 1:50 AM on October 18, 2009


Can we all finally agree in unison that this is a hoax? Or are there still some clueless fucks out there that believe this bullshit story?
posted by GrooveJedi at 3:33 AM on October 18, 2009


Can we all finally agree in unison that this is a hoax? Or are there still some clueless fucks out there that believe this bullshit story?
Can we attract UFO's with a homemade flying saucer? We will modify a weather balloon, so that it resembles a UFO and will electrically charge the skin of the craft (Biefield-Brown Effect). We will capture the footage on film, and will utilize the media as a means with which to make our presence known to the masses. This will not only provide us with incredible footage, but will also generate a tremendous amount of controversy among the public, as well as publicity within the mainstream media. This will be the most significant UFO-related news event to take place since the Roswell Crash of 1947, and the result will be a dramatic increase in local and national awareness about The Heene Family, our Reality Series, as well as the UFO Phenomenon in general.
Yeah that's a toughie alright.
posted by scalefree at 5:35 AM on October 18, 2009


Can we all finally agree in unison that this is a hoax? Or are there still some clueless fucks out there that believe this bullshit story?

I'm not sure what this story is about anymore. I've been under the assumption that a balloon got loose and it was thought a child was onboard. A search and rescue occurred. The child was not on board.

Some people want charges or compensation because the search was for nothing. This makes sense if the 911 was a hoax -- the callers knew at the time the whereabouts of their child and made false claims.

I've seen no evidence of this. I've seen plenty that the family was kooky. More particularly that the father's probably a nut.

I've seen evidence that the craft was probably not for traditional scientific work. The balloon itself was probably constructed to be part of some publicity seeking hoax (yes, I said the word hoax). But it is not clear to me that they intended to launch the craft when they did and it is not clear to me that the missing child was part of some sort of publicity plan.

I said upthread earlier this could plausibly be a hoax gone wrong (balloon got away before it was time) and the panic over the child was authentic.

So yeah there still some clueless fucks out there. I trust the investigators will do their jobs and act accordingly and whatever else happens I think the media is applying its might and resources to low-hanging fruit. I mean, they grow balls when they're confronting a six year old?
posted by mazola at 7:37 AM on October 18, 2009


I like SHAMBURGER.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:05 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, and

MetaFilter: are there still some clueless fucks out there that believe this bullshit story?
posted by mazola at 8:08 AM on October 18, 2009


The sheriff's press conference will be at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern) this afternoon.
posted by ericb at 8:18 AM on October 18, 2009


Well the Heene's can't be all bad, they use Macs.
posted by mazola at 9:49 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mazola: Brilliant! The only things this thread lacks are the mac vs. pc debate and a derail on declawing.
posted by 8dot3 at 9:54 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


So it is written, so it shall come to pass.
posted by mazola at 9:57 AM on October 18, 2009


mazola: They did it for the show.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 9:57 AM on October 18, 2009


Sheriff says it IS a hoax and a publicity stunt. Live feed on CNN.
posted by marsha56 at 10:02 AM on October 18, 2009


Do you think the court will deem them a flight risk?

Either that or they'll just go into hiding.
posted by idiomatika at 10:02 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sherriff: "balloon" was not capable of lifting off with a 37 pound child on board.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:06 AM on October 18, 2009


The live feed says it was definitely a publicity stunt for a potential reality show. A professor of physics, at Colorado state, Brian Jones, says that the launch would have been possible with the boy, based on Richard Heene's calculations; but recalculating based on better information showed that it would not have taken off. The whole balloon thing was made of tarps, string, cardboard, and duct-tape.
posted by idiopath at 10:07 AM on October 18, 2009


Sheriff Jim Alderden: "They are actors....they put on a good show and we bought it."
posted by ericb at 10:13 AM on October 18, 2009


...tarps

Tarps covered with aluminum foil.
posted by ericb at 10:13 AM on October 18, 2009


Sheriff suggests that they may have gotten a confession? Says he is bound by Colorado law not to reveal whether or not they gave polygraphs. Says they obtained a search warrant and searched the house last night.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:15 AM on October 18, 2009


Sheepish sheriff says "this was a hoax." Expects to eventually recommend conspiracy charges, false report and contributing to deliquency of a minor. Looking into possible fed charges with FAA.

They got Heene to come in by telling him they would give him back his balloon. At the same time, they went to get Mrs. Heene, to talk to them separately.
Strongly hints there was a confession, though says that by law he can't say if there was.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:18 AM on October 18, 2009


This sheriff is showing he was much smarter than he seemed.

The charges they plan to bring: Left out: endangering public transportation.
posted by idiopath at 10:18 AM on October 18, 2009


Sherriff says they have a file-able case with DA; possible charges: conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, etc. Is meeting next week with FBI and FAA to consider Federal charges. Suggests there will be restitution charges.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:18 AM on October 18, 2009


I feel really sorry for those kids.
posted by Houstonian at 10:22 AM on October 18, 2009 [15 favorites]


WOW. They also think that maybe "certain media outlets" were part of the conspiracy, and so might be part of the conspiracy charges.
posted by Houstonian at 10:24 AM on October 18, 2009


They are looking into the possibility that "other media outlets" were in on the conspiracy to commit the hoax.
posted by idiopath at 10:24 AM on October 18, 2009


Other media outlets? Oh shit. NOW it gets interesting.
posted by 8dot3 at 10:27 AM on October 18, 2009


The ACLU possibly is representing them, as their attorney? How has their civil rights been trampled?
posted by Houstonian at 10:30 AM on October 18, 2009


this is just one of those stories that as it goes along, seems to say more about our society, doesn't it?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:30 AM on October 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


They've solved 110% of the murders?
posted by mazola at 10:31 AM on October 18, 2009


Sheriff says all three children had 100% prior knowledge that this was a hoax. Says it was planned for at least two weeks in order to get publicity.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:34 AM on October 18, 2009


What was the hoax, as the sheriff understands it: a planned event for at least two weeks to launch the "space craft" in order to gain media publicity, the plan was to create a situation where it appeared Falcon was in the craft with his life in jeopardy.
posted by idiopath at 10:35 AM on October 18, 2009


Why are they having this press conference, but still have not arrested the parents? What's holding that up?
posted by Houstonian at 10:38 AM on October 18, 2009


About recovering the costs: At least one of the media outlets has contacted them about their story (and paying them for it).
posted by Houstonian at 10:44 AM on October 18, 2009


The morbid curiosity is getting the better of me. I can't stay away.
posted by m0nm0n at 10:45 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


"We have doubts that Falcon was in the attic at all."

"Richard's anger demonstrated on the launch video was part of the act."

/paraphrasing
posted by ericb at 10:50 AM on October 18, 2009


I feel really sorry for those kids.

Let's just hope the father doesn't do something stupid now. He is obviously unstable.
posted by ericb at 10:51 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Favorite quote: "He may be nutty but he's not a professor."
posted by The Deej at 10:54 AM on October 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


That's why I wish they'd at least arrest the father: To protect the kids, especially Falcon. His father has no problem using the kids for his own advantage, and putting them in preposterous situations, and he has a temper probably even hitting his wife. And here's little Falcon, who kinda blew it with the interview, so it's "his fault" in his dad's eyes, maybe.

Did anyone else hear him say that there was someone who wasn't police, but part of a community group related to the police, who was coaching the father about what he could/couldn't do before/during the hoax?
posted by Houstonian at 10:56 AM on October 18, 2009


"someone who wasn't police, but part of a community group related to the police, who was coaching the father about what he could/couldn't do before/during the hoax?"

I think this is a reference to someone who works in criminal justice who is a family friend, who was also referred to as being a neighbor of the Heenes whose house was Falcon's true hiding spot. He was giving Richard Heene advice on how to deal with the investigation.
posted by idiopath at 11:01 AM on October 18, 2009


The sheriff mentioned that their strategy from the get-go was to gain the trust of the family. That's why they came out on Thursday/Friday and said they believed there was nothing untoward about the incident. And the family did indeed trust them and cooperate. He said that concurrently they told a few "trusted media" off-the-record what the strategy was. He then apologized to the remaining media for misleading them and the public, but it was necessary in the officials' minds to do so.
posted by ericb at 11:01 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


*whose house was POSSIBLY Falcon's true hiding spot
posted by idiopath at 11:02 AM on October 18, 2009


At the very least I would assume that the house and parents are now under 24-hour surveillance.
posted by ericb at 11:04 AM on October 18, 2009


Every time I think things can't get more ludicrous they get ludicrousier.

Congratulations sceptics!
posted by mazola at 11:07 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think the kids need to be removed from the house by the sheriff.

This is one of those situations where a murder-suicide is the obvious choice for Heene and his wife. Don't want the kids caught up in that.
posted by jayder at 11:09 AM on October 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Another interesting point: when asked if the authorities searched for drugs the sheriff said "no," because they didn't have probable cause to do so for last night's search. They could only search for computers, files, etc. But, he did say that when viewing the family on their Friday television interviews they wonder about the potential of the boys having been drugged due to their demeanor, etc.
posted by ericb at 11:11 AM on October 18, 2009


So wait. Now I can't even call him Attic Boy?!
posted by The Deej at 11:13 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think it's very possible Falcon was not drugged. That Good Morning America interview was done at 3 AM their time. The kid was tired and stressed. I'd throw up if that man was my dad, too.

I agree with jayder that hopefully the Sheriff removes the children from the parents. Even with surveillance, it just doesn't take long for someone to kill their family.

My guess is that, when it all comes out, the woman was abused but will "stand by her man." They will serve no prison time. A book and made-for-TV movie will come out, and a protracted trial will result to decide if the profits from those will go to the Heene family or to the people who try to recover damages from the hoax.
posted by Houstonian at 11:16 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Boy was I naive!

I guess the one good thing to come out of all of this is that we'll never have to hear about them again.
posted by mazola at 11:17 AM on October 18, 2009


The Deej: "So wait. Now I can't even call him Attic Boy?!"

Regardless of where he really was when they were chasing the balloon, he will remain "balloon boy" until he earns a new name for himself. This is a throwback to tribal naming practices, and who are we to doubt the wisdom of our ancestors HAMBURGER.

Really, call him Falcon, or better yet, stop focusing on the kid altogether, because he is just some six year old that got used by his dad as a prop in a publicity stunt. I hope the kid goes into witness protection or something similar so he can try to live a normal unhumiliating childhood.

Anyone got any good names for the dad? "Balloon Dad" is pretty meh.
posted by idiopath at 11:19 AM on October 18, 2009


Oh, we'll be hearing about them for quite some time.
posted by ericb at 11:19 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Douchebag Dad!
posted by ericb at 11:20 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]



This is one of those situations where a murder-suicide is the obvious choice for Heene and his wife.


Just offhand, the wife's situation raises some concern. There was that 911 call, when she had a mark on her cheek, and then there was the "Booger Soup" incident people here keep mentioning. Oddly, that one sets me off at least as much as the 911 call; encouraging the kids to make fun of their mother by tricking her into eating something disgusting? Something's off there.
posted by dilettante at 11:21 AM on October 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Good call, how about shortening it to "Douche Dad", it scans better.
posted by idiopath at 11:22 AM on October 18, 2009


They will serve no prison time.

I wouldn't be so sure about that. Sure, as far as state charges are concerned, I don't think they're looking at any incarceration.

But if the Feds can find federal charges that stick, the dad and mom may very well be looking at prison time. Federal sentencing is pretty draconian, especially for something so deliberate, well-planned, and inexcusable, that cost the government so much money. I can imagine quite a few enhancing factors in the sentencing guidelines that would bump this into incarceration territory.
posted by jayder at 11:24 AM on October 18, 2009


Those kids' lives are now totally upside down. How can they return to school? The ridicule, etc. There's gonna be alot of counseling needed for them. Their innocence has been cracked (shattered?) due to their selfish wacky parents' behavior.
posted by ericb at 11:27 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, we'll be hearing about them for quite some time.

I was being sarcastic. Didn't you notice the period at the end of the sentence?
posted by mazola at 11:29 AM on October 18, 2009


Those kids' lives are now totally upside down. How can they return to school? The ridicule, etc. There's gonna be alot of counseling needed for them. Their innocence has been cracked (shattered?) due to their selfish wacky parents' behavior.

Agreed. This thread has been hoots and all, but there's nothing fun about putting a family under a microscope and witnessing their destruction, whoever they might be. This is really a sad story.

"Oh, the humanity!" indeed.
posted by mazola at 11:37 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is nothing fun about putting a family under a microscope, but it is hard to blame us manipulated observers for taking a few sarcastic pot-shots at the guy who put his whole family under the microscope under false pretenses in hopes of exploiting the situation financially and to feed his grotesque ego.
posted by idiopath at 11:41 AM on October 18, 2009


There is nothing fun about putting a family under a microscope

Then why did Rick Moranis make an entire film about it? Oh yeah you're right: there is nothing fun about putting a family under a microscope.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:48 AM on October 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


I saw that movie. My point stands.
posted by mazola at 11:50 AM on October 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Apart from the douchiness, I find Douche Dad kinda hot. Is that wrong?
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:53 AM on October 18, 2009



Apart from the douchiness, I find Douche Dad kinda hot. Is that wrong?


No. I do, too.
posted by jgirl at 11:58 AM on October 18, 2009


"Apart from the douchiness, I find Douche Dad kinda hot. Is that wrong?

No. I do, too."

My god guys you are feeding the PUA ladder-theory-douchebags right now...
posted by idiopath at 12:01 PM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


It bugs me that the Dad is still going to end up benefiting from all of this. Even if he takes his lumps in the judicial system and gets a pricey bill to pay, he's still going to get what he wanted.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 12:01 PM on October 18, 2009


PUA ladder-theory-douchebags right now.

What is that?

He's good looking in a handyman kind of way.
posted by jgirl at 12:04 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


The ladder theory is a thing the Pick UP Artist douches are into, the idea is if you want to get into a girl's pants you have to be a douche because if she sees you as a friend you don't have a chance and that means you have to belittle and humiliate a woman in order to make her want you. Or something like that. The whole thing seems really sexist and absurd to me.
posted by idiopath at 12:07 PM on October 18, 2009


Even Geraldo Rivera is outraged at the media-whoring, expressing his disapproval during an interview with the psychic who was paired with the Heene family on Wife Swap.

There's so much wrong with that sentence.
posted by Houstonian at 12:08 PM on October 18, 2009 [17 favorites]


Well, if Geraldo's outraged, then you know it's bad.

Maybe now jurisdictions can start putting limits on filming reality shows featuring minor children.
posted by jgirl at 12:13 PM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


This makes me want to reread 'The Mosquito Coast' for some reason.
posted by merelyglib at 12:24 PM on October 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Now that this thread includes Hitler and the PUA community, it really IS the thread to end all threads. I suspect the LHC / Higgs bosons are involved.
posted by naju at 12:29 PM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ugh. The worst part is they'll probably get a reality show out of this anyway, just as they planned.
posted by something something at 12:57 PM on October 18, 2009


Maybe now jurisdictions can start putting limits on filming reality shows featuring minor childr

This is a great idea.

And, um, this (comment number two):

Fingers crossed for a happy ending.
posted by kcds at 11:56 AM on October 15 [6 favorites +] [!]

posted by From Bklyn at 1:02 PM on October 18, 2009


Fox News has photos of the balloon at the Sheriff's office. Looking at the photo -- with its pitiful little cardboard box bottom and bucket from Ace Hardware, and its strings for tethers -- I feel ridiculous that I ever believed a boy could be in there. I bet the Sheriff did, too, as soon as he saw it himself.
posted by Houstonian at 1:07 PM on October 18, 2009


The family had also released a video to Inside Edition, in which Falcon "tells his older brother Bradford, who's shooting the video, that he's going to hide in the homemade helium balloon."

I wonder if that was one of the "media outlets" the Sheriff mentioned.
posted by Houstonian at 1:13 PM on October 18, 2009


And, um, this (comment number two):

Fingers crossed for a happy ending.
posted by kcds at 11:56 AM on October 15 [6 favorites +] [!]


I'll admit it - I was totally suck(er)ed into this story from the get-go. I heard the update that the boy had been found alive and well while I was driving, and I breathed an actual sigh of relief. But as I followed the comment thread here, I became more and more convinced that I, along with many other people, had been "had", and that this was a hoax.

Now that it seems more and more likely that the father may well have charges to answer, and the potential of a huge fine and even jail time for his role in this hoax, I have to say it is beginning to look like I might get my wish after all :-)
posted by kcds at 1:25 PM on October 18, 2009


My god guys you are feeding the PUA ladder-theory-douchebags right now...

Hope those guys got chased off of Metafilter and back to the SA Forums where they belong. Myself I can definitely see it. Guy reminds me of a bipolar ex, conspiratorial creativity and all. Crazy eyes and good looks have started a lot of cults and suicide pacts.

I hope those kids have sane family somewhere who can bear to raise them. Three wild, spoiled little boys are a tall order, but they need a stable, staid, and media-free home.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:36 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


YO BALLOON BOY IMMA LET YOU FINISH BUT THE MOON LANDING WAS THE GREATEST HOAX OF ALL TIME. ALL TIME!
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:48 PM on October 18, 2009 [18 favorites]


Yo spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints Imma let you finish but this comment is the greatest comment of all time!!!
posted by The Deej at 1:50 PM on October 18, 2009


I feel it likely that this thread shall be renamed Excalibur
posted by humannaire at 2:26 PM on October 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


The family had also released a video to Inside Edition [...] I wonder if that was one of the "media outlets" the Sheriff mentioned.

My money's on the Weather Channel. It'd make sense, with the storm chasing and weather balloons and whatnot.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:01 PM on October 18, 2009


Encyclopedia Dramatica's reaction to "a 6 year old boy trolling the world."
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:30 PM on October 18, 2009


Sys Rq, I doubt that. If the Weather Channel hired him, they'd have a vocal opponent of the doppler radar system. He'd be going on and on about how magnetic fields from inside the mantle of the earth make the weather and not atmospheric pressure. Then, they'd get crankcase letters from people who think Heene really is a weather expert, demanding that they instead use magnetic telescope satellites to predict the weather.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:37 PM on October 18, 2009


The family had also released a video to Inside Edition [...] I wonder if that was one of the "media outlets" the Sheriff mentioned.
My money's on the Weather Channel. It'd make sense, with the storm chasing and weather balloons and whatnot.
Given that the father is a psyientist, I'm going to go with Syfy.
posted by Flunkie at 3:38 PM on October 18, 2009


In the spirit of Chaotic Neutrality, Anonymous ordered the Heenes some pizza. And, being Anonymous, having infinite time, and no cash or empathy, they ordered it to cash on delivery so that the family has to pay for it.

Considering the Heenes will owe about $500,000 (which seems appropriate), it strikes me as both adding insult to injury and a mere drop in the ocean.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:43 PM on October 18, 2009


Anonymous ordered the Heenes some pizza.

As per above:
2:45: 4chan order's Papa John's pizza
3:14: pizza arrives at house
3:20: kids eat pizza
posted by ericb at 4:20 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


This sheriff is showing he was much smarter than he seemed.

Indeed, to the point that I believe the American flag shirt was a deliberately buffoon-like fashion choice.
posted by dhartung at 4:46 PM on October 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Oh God, I just watched that Wolf Blitzer interview. My teeth are chattering from the douche chill. The dad reminds me of Richard Pryor imitating kids lying:
"Who broke this??"
"........Huh?"
posted by granted at 5:00 PM on October 18, 2009


That pizza stuff is...huh. I'm not sure I quite buy the "while he was supposedly mid air" bit; Anonymous could have easily noticed the pizza delivery on TV and had the pizza delivered at a later time.

It brings up a few questions, though: Which kid is that accepting the pizza, anyhow? (Falcon? I think it is!) Why is the kid opening the door to random strangers bearing pizza? Did anyone else (a reporter, say) try ringing the doorbell? Are Papa John's deliveries usually documented photographically? Shot of kids playing in the garage attic hole, in plain sight, supposedly while Falcon was hiding there? "media outlet"=4chan? Richard Heene=/b/tard?

What the hell is going on?

posted by Sys Rq at 5:04 PM on October 18, 2009


The other thing about the Wolf Blitzer video: When the mom repeats the question to Falcon ("Did you hear us calling for you?") She is nodding her head "yes" in an obvious attempt to coach his answer. For someone who has been on TV so much, does she not know the camera sees and magnifies everything?
posted by The Deej at 5:06 PM on October 18, 2009


Why am I nostalgic for Columbo all of a sudden?
posted by Danila at 5:11 PM on October 18, 2009


It brings up a few questions, though: Which kid is that accepting the pizza, anyhow? (Falcon? I think it is!) Why is the kid opening the door to random strangers bearing pizza? Did anyone else (a reporter, say) try ringing the doorbell? Are Papa John's deliveries usually documented photographically? Shot of kids playing in the garage attic hole, in plain sight, supposedly while Falcon was hiding there? "media outlet"=4chan? Richard Heene=/b/tard?

OK, now this is getting weird.
posted by dirigibleman at 5:38 PM on October 18, 2009


Papa John's? No wonder the kid was puking.
posted by albrecht at 5:44 PM on October 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


OK, now this is getting weird.

Yeah, 'cause up to this point, this has all seemed so sane and ordinary. HAMBURGER
posted by marsha56 at 5:45 PM on October 18, 2009


Neighbor's flickr feed
posted by Sys Rq at 6:25 PM on October 18, 2009


What the hell is going on?

Seconded!
posted by diogenes at 6:25 PM on October 18, 2009


I thought I was finally hip to this thread, but HAMBURGER has me flummoxed.
posted by diogenes at 6:27 PM on October 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


HAMBURGER
posted by Flunkie at 6:38 PM on October 18, 2009


HAMBURGER.
posted by idiopath at 6:40 PM on October 18, 2009


HAMBURGER is something that is being chased down in Metatalk.

(Not HAMBURGER-IST)
posted by jeanmari at 6:40 PM on October 18, 2009


Why do all the photos from the neighbor's flickr account say they were taken in Jan of 2005?
posted by 8dot3 at 6:40 PM on October 18, 2009


Jinx!
posted by jeanmari at 6:41 PM on October 18, 2009


(flickr via reddit, where the neighbor dropped some juicy gossip)

Why do all the photos from the neighbor's flickr account say they were taken in Jan of 2005?

I don't know. Is that info entered manually? There's two pages there, one of the Wife Swap taping and one of the Balloon Boy stuff, and the dates appear to be swapped.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:45 PM on October 18, 2009


Weird. In my experience that stuff is automatically uploaded, but it does look like the two sets have reverse information.
I do admit my first thought, on noticing the wrong dates, was 'Jesus does ANYONE in that town tell the truth????'
posted by 8dot3 at 6:52 PM on October 18, 2009


9News in Denver has video of the entire press conference, except for the part where reporters were taken to the 'evidence bay' to view the 'spacecraft'. It's in four parts, each one roughly 10 to 15 minutes in length.
posted by marsha56 at 6:59 PM on October 18, 2009


that's just the time his camera thought it was, probably date of manufacture or something similar gets set whenever he changes the batteries. The uploaded date is recent.
posted by nomisxid at 7:19 PM on October 18, 2009


The way they're hacking at it with axes .... view the 'spacecraft'. It's in four parts, each one roughly 10 to 15 minutes in length.

In the 'done the kestel run in 12 parsects' way?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:40 PM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I did a kegel run once, and let me tell you that was a pain! 'Specially for a guy.
posted by The Deej at 7:50 PM on October 18, 2009


Relevant posting from projects.
posted by idiopath at 8:04 PM on October 18, 2009


I did a kegel run once, and let me tell you that was a pain!

anyone who's ever thrown a party knows the kegel run out eventually
posted by pyramid termite at 8:17 PM on October 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


I did the Ketel run once. I don't remember that night.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:23 PM on October 18, 2009


something something pony kegel something
posted by cortex at 9:30 PM on October 18, 2009


Hey, my kid was bitten by a pony today. The idea that that pony could have been doing kegels at the time kind of makes me want to go kick it in the taint.

Seriously, he was bitten by a pony. Poor little dude.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:49 PM on October 18, 2009


Oh, I didn't realize someone already mentioned the pizza. This thread is getting so long that I can no longer keep up with it. Maybe Metafilter needs a new Balloon Boy section. It'd be like Ask Metafilter, but all Balloon Boy, all the time. He clearly speaks deeply to something inside us, what with the 1200+ comments.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:49 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


He clearly speaks deeply to something inside us

That wasting a Friday afternoon is not enough?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:08 PM on October 18, 2009


It brings up a few questions, though: Which kid is that accepting the pizza, anyhow? (Falcon? I think it is!) Why is the kid opening the door to random strangers bearing pizza?

The biggest discrepancy is the Papa John's truck and the Pizza Hut warmers. That photo is credited to Getty Images and probably represents a delivery that happened later, after he was "found" -- there was pizza following the press conference.

Basically I think this was a typically 4chan prank in that it had no point beyond being chaotically neutral. It didn't substantially affect events -- the delivery passed essentially unnoticed. And while some people seem to be inferring that it proves Falcon was bouncing around the house and even answering the door while people thought he was missing, that's probably impossible given the presence of investigators (including a victims advocate) and media, and it actually is two separate pizza deliveries.
posted by dhartung at 10:45 PM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, this just sucks! If you can't believe 4chan, who can you believe?! Everything about this story is a fraud! I'm beginning to think this website, and even the color blue, don't actually exist!

Who am I? Who am I?!
posted by dirigibleman at 11:10 PM on October 18, 2009


4chan is the one true website, and the sole source of truth. Anybody who tells you otherwise is a heretic who should be burned.
posted by empath at 11:15 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Basically I think this was a typically 4chan prank

Ya' think? The picture of Falcon accepting the pizza is ridiculous, and not to mention those look like Pizza Hut boxes not Papa Murphy's.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:33 PM on October 18, 2009


actually is two separate pizza deliveries

Damn! I so wanted it to be true.
posted by diogenes at 6:06 AM on October 19, 2009


lol dirigibleman thought blue existed
posted by cortex at 7:12 AM on October 19, 2009


Why do all the photos from the neighbor's flickr account say they were taken in Jan of 2005?

OH GOD THEY"RE TIME TRAVELERS TOO!!
posted by odinsdream at 7:17 AM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


The couple's attorney, David Lane, issued a statement later Sunday saying the Heenes were willing to voluntarily turn themselves in to face charges. Lane said he advised the family against making public statements.
Well that advice is about damned time.

(and was I the only one disappointed that the Heene's were being represented by David Lane and not David Blaine?)
posted by mazola at 7:29 AM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Psyience Detectives website has been updated with some creepy flash.
posted by splatta at 9:54 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I feel kinda sorry that this guy is giving otherwise-legitimate cranks, kooks, and dreamers a bad name. Next time my buddy builds and launches a giant mylar airship, I'm afraid someone's gonna think he's doing it to get on TV.
posted by muddgirl at 9:59 AM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Makes me kind of wish he was a Steampunk.
posted by Artw at 10:02 AM on October 19, 2009


When I saw that "pussification" video, it made my skin crawl. How dare they use their children as trained monkeys for a few minutes in the limelight.

Give it a fucking rest. Who the hell are you to judge these people based on a few minutes of video. Disgusting.


I'm pretty comfortable judging someone based on the fact that he produced a music video in which his six-year-old son raps about murdering a faggot, actually.
posted by EarBucket at 10:06 AM on October 19, 2009 [18 favorites]


The Psyience Detectives website has been updated with some creepy flash.

Creepy? I think it's pretty much spot on. As I pointed out elsewhere (with perhaps a bit too much hyperbole), this whole "Situation" is nothing if not a bright and harsh light which illuminates just how cataclysmically STUPID the mediascape can be ... and that includes us, who are are necessarily part of it.

For his part (or perhaps non-part) in all this, I salute Falcon the Balloon Boy, and wish him a long, fulfilling life in the land of the weird.
posted by philip-random at 10:12 AM on October 19, 2009


Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to 3.

Done, done, and done. Then I got CNN. :\

Oh God, I just watched that Wolf Blitzer interview. ... The dad reminds me ...

I think Falcon's and the other son's reactions to dad's questioning are much more interesting.

When it's clear Blitzer is gonna ask dad about it ("and I asked you to ask him why he didn't come out when he you, and his mom, and everybody else were screaming ..."), Falcon reacts with a loud but temporary "ARRRRGH!"

Then the kid sitting on mom's lap performs a palm-to-head slap, complete with the hand slowly running down his face.

Then Falcon shifts his face into an odd smile, almost a rictus, as if someone has coached him that his question is coming and he needs to not look upset.

Then when Blitzer mentions "you guys said that. mm. we did it for the show," Falcon rolls his eye hard up and towards his father.

As the question finishes and dad prepares to respond, Falcon's face is frozen and it looks like his heart is beating a mile a minute.

We may not all be world-class poker players, but when watching a six-year-old play on tape, I'm pretty sure I would be able to tell if he's got the nuts or if he's bluffing.

Also, watch mom while the question is asked. Slowly nodding as if to indicate "OK, we knew this was coming, we talked about it kids. Big smiles, everything is normal ..." while the kid in the middle continues to smile oddly at weird times.

Disturbing on so many levels. I didn't follow the story at all over the weekend, but the question box at the press conference defies credulity.

Metafilter: And you said "mm"
posted by mrgrimm at 10:17 AM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty comfortable judging someone based on the fact that he produced a music video in which his six-year-old son raps about murdering a faggot, actually.

Yep.
"I look up in the tree. What do I see? I see a faggot trying to pee on me. I pick up a rock. Threw it at his cock."
posted by ericb at 10:46 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just want to point out how apt and prescient my 'parentoftheyear' tag was :)
posted by empath at 10:50 AM on October 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


THE YEAR'S NOT OVER YET, EMPATH!
posted by mazola at 11:01 AM on October 19, 2009


"I look up in the tree. What do I see? I see a faggot trying to pee on me. I pick up a rock. Threw it at his cock."

To be fair, the faggot was trying to pee on him.
posted by mazola at 11:06 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


THE YEAR'S NOT OVER YET, EMPATH!

Indeed.
posted by dersins at 11:29 AM on October 19, 2009


Parents in Balloon Case to Surrender

DENVER — The Colorado parents accused of concocting a publicity stunt by pretending that their young son had climbed aboard a homemade helium balloon and was hurtling through the skies above Fort Collins, Colo., will voluntarily surrender to authorities as soon as charges are filed, which is expected to happen on Wednesday, the lawyer for the father said Monday morning.

David Lane, a Colorado civil rights lawyer who is representing Richard Heene, said both Mr. Heene and his wife, Mayumi, would plead not guilty and would turn themselves in to avoid further public spectacle. Mr. Lane also noted, "Mommy's all right. Daddy's all right. They just seem a little weird."
posted by scody at 1:11 PM on October 19, 2009


Shot down by the Shat.
posted by dhartung at 2:15 PM on October 19, 2009


Wow. Have you all seen Richard Heene's updated website?
posted by kellygreen at 4:10 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


From scody's link:

>Mr. Lane contended that placing handcuffs on the Heenes, in the full glare of the news media and for their children to see, would be abusive to the youngsters.

...
posted by merelyglib at 4:32 PM on October 19, 2009


Wow. Have you all seen Richard Heene's updated website?

Whoa! Is he the matrix?
posted by Servo5678 at 4:45 PM on October 19, 2009


I'd sort of imagined that the whole family was going to be arrested and thrown into jail together - like what happens to the Simpsons from time to time.
posted by Flashman at 4:48 PM on October 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Wow. Have you all seen Richard Heene's updated website?

That really makes me rethink the murder-suicide possibility - and not for the better.
posted by jgirl at 5:11 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Come on - that website! That's gotta be 4chan fucking with it.
posted by Flashman at 5:17 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, if so, they did a great job!
posted by jgirl at 5:33 PM on October 19, 2009


If Richard Heene is going to jail, I expect that one day he'll go to the prison yard and unceremoniously pull out a massive balloon he made from food wrappers he scrounged in the cafeteria, complete with a gondola. Then, the ballon slowly, gracefully floats away, as the guards in the towers sound the alarm and freak out as they contact the FAA and local medivac helicopters to somehow find a way to get Heene back in his cell. All the guards are scrambled to run after the balloon. Several prisoners take advantage of the chaos and escape.

Meanwhile, Heene has been sitting in his cell the whole time, tearing pages out of a meteorology book from the prison library, happy as a clam.

Then, the media picks up on the story, and offers the warden a massive check in exchange for letting Heene do the press junket. He's taken to a Four Seasons hotel and locked inside a conference room on the 6th story with interviewers from all the major stations.

Little do they realize that Mayumi and her boys are launching yet another balloon from a pickup truck just below the window...

As for where he got the helium, he built a fusion reactor out of some soup cans and a radio he got for good behavior.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:50 PM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


hold your breath make a wish count to three
posted by subbes at 6:27 PM on October 19, 2009


I'm in a Box (I'm on a Boat parody)
posted by Nattie at 6:47 PM on October 19, 2009 [12 favorites]


I'm in a Box (I'm on a Boat parody)
posted by Nattie


Holy shit. That video is just....fucking....well done. How young are those kids? Is it really that easy to make something look and sound fairly fuckin pro now? Damn.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:33 PM on October 19, 2009


If you click on the little dot in the lower left corner of the Heene site it brings you to Lieblein the pretentious art fuck.
posted by merelyglib at 7:44 PM on October 19, 2009


Lieblein the pretentious art fuck.

And he/she's good at it, too.
posted by jgirl at 7:56 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


That really makes me rethink the murder-suicide possibility - and not for the better.

You mean you're worried he may not go through with the murder-suicide of himself and Mayumi?

Let's not give up hope just yet.
posted by jayder at 8:22 PM on October 19, 2009


HA HA!

'CUZ YOU WANT thE SumMABITCH DEAD -- I GEDDIT ! !!
posted by mazola at 8:37 PM on October 19, 2009


What's a TV sitcom without a wacky neighbour?
posted by mazola at 9:29 PM on October 19, 2009


For a lot of people the outrage seems to be rooted in concerns about the parenting, or possibly just the burning anger at having been duped. I know one of the things that I keep coming back to is the fact that the Air National Guard came very close to implementing a risky mid-air rescue (confirming rumors), for naught.
posted by dhartung at 12:21 AM on October 20, 2009


That's a pretty awesome Photoshop of the balloon and a helicopter on that TV news page.
posted by smackfu at 6:58 AM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Video: Balloon incident was planned, ex-pal says.
posted by ericb at 7:50 AM on October 20, 2009


This story is still going on? Huh.

The ACLU possibly is representing them, as their attorney? How has their civil rights been trampled?

"A number of recent news reports have included an erroneous assertion by Larimer County (Colo.) Sheriff Jim Alderden that the American Civil Liberties Union is representing the Heene Family of Fort Collins, Colo., which is reportedly being investigated for allegedly perpetrating a 'balloon boy hoax' for publicity purposes. Neither the ACLU nor the ACLU of Colorado has any involvement in the representation of the Heene family."

... But the story line began to fray when, hours after the ballon escapade, Falcon said on CNN's "Larry King Live" that "we did this for a show" -- a remark subjected to wide and sometimes outraged interpretation.

On Sunday, Alderden called that CNN comment "our first 'aha' moment."


Oh, really.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:17 AM on October 20, 2009


A number of recent news reports have included an erroneous assertion by Larimer County (Colo.) Sheriff Jim Alderden...

Remember, folks, that this is a Colorado county sheriff, which is usually a politically elected position and not, like, awarded to a senior officer of the police department on merit. When these guys get up in front of a camera, with all those reporters asking tough questions, they tend to answer from the hip. I really wouldn't believe what they say unless it's backed by an independent confirmation.
posted by muddgirl at 11:45 AM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was surprised at how 'from the hip' that press conference was. I would expect comments to be more tight-lipped a la "we don't comment on cases before courts / being actively investigated" but that might be the uptight Canadian in me.

I thought many comments were kind of getting ahead of things seeing as there has been no verdict in the case (and in fact, no charges have yet been laid).

I look forward to seeing what the actual evidence is that backs up the list of proposed charges. I would assume there has to be more to this than what's already public for them to proceed, but what do I know?
posted by mazola at 12:16 PM on October 20, 2009


The charge that intrigues me the most is the whole "attempting to influence a public official" thing. The first thing that jumps to my mind when I see that phrase is either bribery or blackmail ("hey, sheriff, play along and you'll get to be on my cool new TV show, otherwise I'll out you as a member of the Lizard People!"), but I don't know if it may in fact have a different legal definition than that. Anyone know?
posted by scody at 12:33 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


the whole "attempting to influence a public official" thing. The first thing that jumps to my mind when I see that phrase is either bribery or blackmail...

The sheriff addresses the charge in Saturday's presser and does acknowledge that most people interpret it to be about blackmail. He clarifies and indicates that it has a broader definition and scope.

BTW -- official charges are not expected to be filed until next week. They are still analyzing evidence (e.g. computer hard drive, phone records, financial documents, etc. gathered in the search of the home). As well, they maybe waiting to bundle charges with any federal charges that the FAA (and possibly the FBI) might be filing.
posted by ericb at 1:03 PM on October 20, 2009


Violent past of father of balloon boy begins to emerge
"More details about Fort Collins, Colorado's Heene family, and in particular, father Richard Heene, are coming out, and it appears that Heene had a past that was filled with violence. Heene is the father to 6-year old Falcon Heene, who is now known by many as balloon boy, and there are three criminal cases in his past that are now coming to the surface.

In 1984, he was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to three years probation. Then, in 1991, Heene was arrested for corporal injury on a spouse, but he was not convicted. And finally, in 1997, he plead no contest to vandalism and also spent four days in jail. This charge arose out of an incident where one of employees, whom he owed money to, came to Heene's house to get his money, but a violent argument broke out. Heene apparently tried to hit the employee with his truck, but instead he hit the man's car. He did this an additional two times, according to the police report."
posted by ericb at 1:09 PM on October 20, 2009


Colorado law could prevent Heenes from making profit off 'balloon boy hoax'.
posted by ericb at 1:33 PM on October 20, 2009


What's a TV sitcom without a wacky neighbour?

I didn't think the neighbor was "wacky," I think the neighbor was fed up, and rightfully so - those press guys were acting like major assholes and they are lucky that he wasn't more "wacky" and ran them the hell over.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:34 PM on October 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


I just realized something quite extraordinary, and now I have come to believe that this whole episode is indeed a first step on our march towards the end times of 2012.
For months now, every time they've talked about the 'H1N1' virus on TV, I've corrected them to myself, invariably out loud, with how I think this name should be pronounced: Heenie.
posted by Flashman at 9:15 PM on October 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


The charge that intrigues me the most is the whole "attempting to influence a public official" thing. The first thing that jumps to my mind when I see that phrase is either bribery or blackmail ... but I don't know if it may in fact have a different legal definition than that.

18-8-306. Attempt to influence a public servant.

Any person who attempts to influence any public servant by means of deceit or by threat of violence or economic reprisal against any person or property, with the intent thereby to alter or affect the public servant's decision, vote, opinion, or action concerning any matter which is to be considered or performed by him or the agency or body of which he is a member, commits a class 4 felony.


I'm guessing the "means of deceit" may be involved, though I'm not sure why that wouldn't just fall under an ordinary obstruction of justice charge.

[On Sunday, Alderden called that CNN comment "our first 'aha' moment."]

Oh, really.


I know most of us were already there, but I think he means that was a starting point for an investigation. If the entire family had remained on script they may never have had anything to proceed with.

I was surprised at how 'from the hip' that press conference was. I would expect comments to be more tight-lipped.... I thought many comments were kind of getting ahead of things seeing as there has been no verdict in the case (and in fact, no charges have yet been laid).

Law enforcement has a little more latitude than prosecutors. They will be tight-lipped (as they were for a couple of days last week) when it serves them, but may be tempted to try the case in the media when they are sure of themselves. I think it's possible the attention is feeding on itself at the sheriff's office as well.
posted by dhartung at 2:49 PM on October 21, 2009


Balloon saga mom will ‘go down with the ship’ -- "Friends: Stoic woman is loyal to family, sometimes subservient to husband."
posted by ericb at 7:54 AM on October 22, 2009


He gave me Stockholm Syndrome, and it felt like a kiss...
posted by Sys Rq at 9:46 AM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Affidavit: Balloon mom admits hoax.
posted by ericb at 4:50 PM on October 23, 2009


The pafrents now have separate attorneys. Richard Heene's attorney is David Lane; Mayumi Heene's attorney is Lee Christian.
posted by ericb at 4:53 PM on October 23, 2009


I'm finding myself nostalgic for the dizzy heydays of last week, when balloon boy was fresh. Where's the beef, indeed.
posted by subbes at 6:45 PM on October 23, 2009


"Mayumi described that she and Richard Heene devised this hoax approximately two weeks earlier.... She and Richard had instructed their three children to lie to authorities as well as the media regarding this hoax," the affidavit said.
Oh, Richard Heene, you are — deservedly — in for a world of hurt. And not so much from the Sheriff's office, but the FAA, is my guess.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:58 PM on October 23, 2009


Maybe she was being sarcastic. {/}
posted by mazola at 9:23 PM on October 23, 2009


A report from family friend, Dean Askew:

With reporters at the front entrance, sheriff's officials offered Heene the option of leaving by a private exit.

"He was adamant about going out in front," Askew said. "Then it just dawned on me. This man is seeking fame. ... I got angry. ... I couldn't understand why he wouldn't want to take the safe route."

posted by marsha56 at 11:54 PM on October 23, 2009


Where's the beef, indeed.

Oh, I think this latest about the parents having separate attorneys is pretty beefy.
posted by jgirl at 10:44 AM on October 24, 2009


Who beefed, and was that the reason the balloon was bouyant?



Yes, it's progressed to fart jokes. I'll be here all week, folks.
posted by subbes at 3:13 PM on October 24, 2009


God, you people are still talking about this?

STOP CLUTTERING UP MY RECENT HISTORY WITH THIS CRAP
posted by hifiparasol at 11:01 AM on October 25, 2009


STOP CLUTTERING UP MY RECENT HISTORY WITH THIS CRAP

Try hitting (remove from activity), dum-dum!
posted by Sys Rq at 11:04 AM on October 25, 2009


Don't mind me. I'm just commenting to annoy hifiparasol.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 5:48 PM on October 25, 2009


Yeah -- we'll likely still be talking about this when charges are filed this coming week? Any bets on Federal charges from the FAA?
posted by ericb at 5:52 PM on October 25, 2009


MetaFilter: I'm just commenting to annoy hifiparasol
posted by mazola at 5:57 PM on October 25, 2009


'parently Heene beat the living shit out of some guy's car in a fit of anger. Got himself some prison time for that, though sadly only a few days worth.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:20 AM on October 26, 2009


I'm imagining him shouting "See what happens? See what happens? See what happens when you fuck *wham* a psyientist *wham* in the ass?" and nodding approvingly.
posted by cortex at 10:24 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


...'parently Heene beat the living shit out of some guy's car in a fit of anger.

Yeah -- see above linked articles. Heene tried to run down an employee with his truck and then bashed into the employee's VW.
posted by ericb at 10:41 AM on October 26, 2009


"In Defense of the 'Balloon Boy' Dad" - NYT

Interesting comparisons of reality TV to Depression-era talent contests and dance marathons.
posted by jgirl at 4:42 PM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wish this whole event had somehow brought down Wolf Blitzer as well. I am completely positive that every intern and mailroom employee in the CNN organization would have better onscreen charisma than him.
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:24 PM on October 27, 2009


I was at an event a year or two ago waiting with a friend in line at the bar to buy drinks. Wolf Blitzer literally elbowed his way between us and others to make his way to the front of the line. I think everyone who got shoved aside was too dumbfounded to say anything; maybe it takes a few seconds for the brain to process "Wolf Blitzer just totally cut in line."
posted by brain_drain at 3:03 PM on October 27, 2009


"Wolf Blitzer just totally cut in line."

Headline: Blitzer blitzes to get blitzed
posted by Sys Rq at 5:50 PM on October 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


« Older There's lots going on with HTML5. Get the latest f...  |  Foreclosures hit a record in t... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments