Freaky the Scary Snowman puts a little Halloween into your Christmas.

I’m surprised this guy hasn’t been sucker punched by someone yet.

Pranksters convince a couple to trash their hotel room.

In yet another example of the need for well-developed critical thinking skills comes this news story about a family on vacation that fell victim to a prank caller:

Lisa Kantorski took the call from the person who claimed to be a front-desk clerk about a gas leak in their hotel room near Orlando International Airport.

She frantically relayed the information to her husband, Mark, an Indian River County deputy. He followed the caller’s instructions … and smashed the window of his room with a toilet tank.

“When I broke the window, I got suspicious,” Mark said. “It didn’t seem right, but she [Lisa] was panicking, so I continued.”

Caught up in the heat of the moment I can understand this first action and the fact that he had suspicions at this point shows he’s not completely clueless, but rather than ask a couple of questions he kept going. He allowed his concern about his wife’s anxiety to override his common sense.

With Lisa clutching their three kids, Mark listened to the caller as he barked out more instructions:

Break the mirror on the wall. Check.

Use the lamp to bash in the wall to get to the trapped man on the other side. OK.

Throw the mattress out the window and jump for safety. Out the mattress went.

Room 204 of the Hilton Garden Inn on South Semoran Boulevard was a shambles.

“I’m not one to argue much with her,” Mark said. “When you slow down everything, the situation was kind of odd.”

Next time you might want to argue with her if necessary. Blindly following orders from a presumed authority figure during an emergency could get you killed. Your best chance for survival is to use your brain and think about what needs to be done.

Of course if it turns out that there isn’t an emergency and you were never in any danger, well, thinking clearly might save you some embarrassment.

The Kantorskis never got the chance to jump. Hilton Garden Inn manager Samir Patel appeared at the door to address a noise complaint, an Orlando police report states.

Patel broke the news to the Kantorskis: There was no gas leak.

When police officers arrived, Patel said he recently received a memo from his corporate office warning about “dangerous pranks” pulled at hotels in other states. Patel did not return calls Wednesday.

Police don’t know who called the Kantorskis, who were not arrested “because he was responding to what he believed to be an emergency,” said Sgt. Barbara Jones, a police spokeswoman.

These folks were pretty lucky not to be held accountable for their actions. The hotel is looking at a $5,000 repair bill which is pretty cheap compared to some of the other similar pranks that have taken place.

Here’s something from the article I wasn’t previously aware of: It seems these pranks are being carried out by members of a chat room called PrankNET. They have their own Twitter account and a YouTube Channel where they post about their pranks. This is one of many such pranks that have been carried out nationwide:

•In Arkansas, a caller posing as a sprinkler-company employee persuaded a motel employee to do more than $50,000 in damage to a motel as part of a “test” of the motel’s emergency alarms.

•At a Comfort Suites in Daphne, Ala., a caller ordered a guest to turn on the sprinklers for a fire that wasn’t. The result: more than $10,000 in damage.

•In Nebraska, a Hampton Inn employee was convinced by a caller to pull the fire alarm, later telling him the only way to silence the alarm was by breaking the lobby windows. The employee enlisted the help of a nearby trucker, who drove his rig through the front door.

The Nebraska incident appears to be memorialized by PrankNET. According to its Twitter bio, PrankNET is “pranksters in a chat room, doing the most epic pranks you have ever heard in your life.”

I’m of two minds about all of this. On the one hand I can appreciate a good prank and I have little sympathy for the overly gullible. On the other hand these pranks are far from harmless fun. The amount of damage being done and the potential for someone to be seriously injured makes these pranks criminal. Shattering windows isn’t without risk especially when you’re using a vehicle to do it. Not to mention that inciting panic on this scale is just plain cruel.

That said, it serves as a reminder of why we should be teaching critical thinking skills in school starting at an early age.

SEB Tip of the Day: When pretending to fall off a bridge don’t actually fall off the bridge.

I like a good practical joke as much as the next guy, but the humor of the “Oh noes! I’ve injured myself grievously! Ha ha!” practical joke is that you didn’t actually injure yourself! Here is an example of how not to do it:

Police got a call just before 5 a.m. Sunday from a 21-year-old man who said his friend fell off the Highway 77 bridge and into a marshy area about 30 feet below. The caller said he was driving north when his friend, who he said had been drinking, told him to pull into the bridge’s emergency lane so he could urinate.

The 23-year-old eventually climbed to the ledge of the bridge, then looked at his friend and pretended to fall. “He then in fact fell,” reads a press release from the Bloomingtin Police Department.

It also probably helps if you’re not drunk when trying to pull the prank.

Clever teens exact revenge by fooling automated speed cameras.

In places where they’ve been deployed the police tend to love anti-speeding cameras that snap a pic of your license plate and mail you a speeding ticket automatically if they catch you speeding. Why wouldn’t they? All the revenue of ticketing drivers without the hassle of actually writing the tickets yourself. Never mind the fact that they may not even realize they’ve been ticketed and thus won’t slow down anytime soon—which is what you really want them to do—hell that’s even better cause it could mean multiple revenue generating tickets!

Problem with automated law enforcement is that so far we’ve yet to invent a machine that’s as clever as a human out for revenge:

As a prank, students from local high schools have been taking advantage of the county’s Speed Camera Program in order to exact revenge on people who they believe have wronged them in the past, including other students and even teachers.

[…] Originating from Wootton High School, the parent said, students duplicate the license plates by printing plate numbers on glossy photo paper, using fonts from certain websites that “mimic” those on Maryland license plates. They tape the duplicate plate over the existing plate on the back of their car and purposefully speed through a speed camera, the parent said. The victim then receives a citation in the mail days later.

Students are even obtaining vehicles from their friends that are similar or identical to the make and model of the car owned by the targeted victim, according to the parent.

Gotta admit, that’s pretty fucking clever. Looks like your car and it has your plates, must have been you because no one would be so clever as to fake it, right? Try fighting that one in court.

“This game is very disturbing,” the parent said. “Especially since unsuspecting parents will also be victimized through receipt of unwarranted photo speed tickets.

The parent said that “our civil rights are exploited,” and the entire premise behind the Speed Camera Program is called into question as a result of the growing this fad among students.

[…] “I hope the public at large will complain loudly enough that local Montgomery County government officials will change their policy of using these cameras for monetary gain,” the parent said. “The practice of sending speeding tickets to faceless recipients without any type of verification is unwarranted and an exploitation of our rights.”

Gee, ya think? Perhaps you should try electing people who aren’t willing to turn law enforcement duties over to automated machines that can’t tell the difference between a real license plate and a fake one printed on paper. I’d start with replacing this guy:

Montgomery County Council President Phil Andrews said that the issue is troubling in several respects. “I am concerned that someone could get hurt, first of all, because they are speeding in areas where they know speeding is a problem,” he said.

Andrews also said that this could hurt the integrity of the Speed Camera Program. “It will cause potential problems for the Speed Camera Program in terms of the confidence in it,” he said.

He said he is glad someone caught it before it becomes more widespread and he said he hopes that the word get out to the people participating in this that there will be consequences.

Assuming, of course, that you can find some automated way of catching them because it’s clear you don’t want to have any actual policemen monitoring traffic.

Found via J-Walk Blog and ***Dave.

I wish my high school had been more like this one…

If this sort of thing happened at my high school’s football games I’d have actually bothered to attend them despite my dislike of watching sports:

Twelve female high school students sporting only their underwear and duct tape around their breasts ran across a football field during their school team’s home game last week in Delta, B.C.

[…] The streaking happened on Oct. 28 during a Delta Sun Devils game against the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers of Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary School from Surrey.

Video footage obtained by CBC News shows a dozen South Delta students wearing very little run across the field and spray silly string on the opposing team during half time.

[…] The girls, calling what they did a “harmless prank,” said streaking is a tradition at their school.

“It’s just kind of like a fun [graduation] prank for our year, and it’s been going on for a couple of years now,” said one of the girls, who wanted to be identified only as Rochelle. “It was pretty much out of fun.”

The principal, as most are wont to do, disagrees with it being a harmless prank:

“We don’t take it lightly. This is a school. [In] schools, we hold higher ideals than we do in, say, the mall,” Ted Johnson told CBC News in an interview.

Holy crap! Girls sometimes streak half-naked through Canadian malls? Which ones? When? Why the hell didn’t anyone tell me about this sooner?

Johnson said he warned students last month not to streak at this year’s final game of the season but was, obviously, ignored. Many parents and children left the game in disgust after the prank, he said.

“Our position is one that we don’t celebrate this. We don’t find it funny,” he said.

I don’t know. It seems kind of funny to me. There’s a blurry picture of the girls in action at the link. I’m sure the opposing football team is just traumatized by having a dozen mostly naked cheerleaders spray them with silly string. “Hey coach! When are we scheduled to play these guys again? Is there anyway we can just play them every week?”

On a more serious note: There’s an interesting distinction between America and Canada to be drawn from this news item. Here’s the consequences the girls will be facing for their impulsive bit of horseplay:

Johnson said he has told the girls involved that they will be suspended from school if they do anything else wrong.

They must also encourage younger students to end the streaking tradition, Johnson said.

That’s it. A stern talking to and a don’t-fuck-up-again warning.

Here in the U.S. the girls would probably be arrested and put on a sex offender registry because they, and the football players, are all minors and the person who filmed them would be arrested and charged with producing child pornography.

That’s an interesting distinction, don’t you think?

Sarah Palin gets pranked by Canadian comedians.

This is both funny and scary as hell:

The Canadian Press: Quebec comedy duo talks porn and politics with oblivious Sarah Palin

MONTREAL — In an over-the-top accent, one half of a notorious Quebec comedy duo claims to be the president of France as he describes sex with his famous wife, the joy of killing animals and Hustler magazine’s latest Sarah Palin porno spoof.

At the other end of the line? An oblivious Sarah Palin.

The Masked Avengers, a radio pairing notorious for prank calls to celebrities and heads of state, notched its latest victory Saturday when it released a recording of a six-minute call with Palin, who thought she was talking with Nicolas Sarkozy.

Throughout the call, which was making the rounds in U.S. political circles by day’s end Saturday, Palin and the pranksters discuss politics, pundits, and the perils of going hunting with Vice-President Dick Cheney.

“We have such great respect for you, John McCain and I, we love you,” Palin gushes, evidently unaware she’s speaking to an infamous Quebec comedian named Marc-Antoine Audette.

At one point, Palin even comes close to confirming her intention to one day run for president, when Audette slyly remarks he can see her taking over the big desk in the Oval office.

“Maybe in eight years,” she replies with a nervous chuckle.

Over the course of the interview, Palin doesn’t seem to realize she’s being tricked until Audette comes clean near the end of the call.

“Ohhhh . . . have we been pranked?” she says, in her inimitable style. Seconds later, Palin’s aide can be heard taking the phone before the line goes dead.

The thing is there are all sorts of clues dropped during the call that should have been huge red flags that this wasn’t real. You can listen to it yourself here:

Asked for their response, a representative of the Obama campaign said: “I’m glad we check out our calls before we hand the phone to Barack Obama.”

Vampire mirror prank.

I have no idea what these folks are saying, but they certainly seem somewhat taken aback by the mirror that seems rather selective about who it’ll reflect…