Sunday, January 18, 2015

In the Local Newspaper 1

We subscribe to our local newspaper - in print. It arrives every morning that is not a Sunday or a holiday, and an extra fat edition arrives on  Saturdays. I'm one of those old-fashioned types who still likes to page through the things I read rather than scrolling and clicking. This paper is three times the size of the local paper in my hometown in the U.S. and contains all kinds of articles of local interest after the sections devoted to Germany, Europe, the world, the economy, and sports.

Quite often I come across an article that I think would be fun to share and comment on, and so I'm going to try out a new thread called "In the Local Newspaper." I even got M to play along by setting up his fancy photo tent and taking some pictures for me!

I'm finally starting this thread because an article that appeared on Friday is just too good to skip. And it's about something from my homeland. Not really my homeland - this news comes from the fair state of Alabama whereas I am from Wisconsin in the North. Might as well be two different countries. But I digress...

Apparently a principal in a middle school in Alabama has recommended that parents send their children to school with cans of vegetables to use against intruders who might enter the school. To be fair and not to discriminate against canned fruits, the term "canned food item" is used in an English article I found.

In Germany various sizes of canned goods are readily available.
This is what we found in our pantry.
In case of an Amoklauf (shooting rampage) in their school, the 11- to 13-year-old students would be able to grab the canned food items, which would be stored in each classroom so the kids don't have to carry them around all the time, and hurl them at the intruder thereby catching the killer off-guard and perhaps even knocking him out.

The German article says parents should give their kids canned food items so that they can be prepared in case one day something awful happens (my translation). It also says (and this is not in the English article) that the students would be taught to throw various objects - basically whatever they can get their hands on - to defend themselves as a last resort if they were not able to escape from the building.

The German reporter goes on to say that it's probably true that a crazed shooter wouldn't be able to shoot freely all around him with a group of children pelting him with chairs, books, staplers or canned vegetables. "In a country where an average of 14-34 students die in school shootings every year, it seems futile to hand a child a can of vegetables" (my translation). Indeed it does, but perhaps there's something to the idea of giving kids an idea how to defend themselves and the training and means with which to at least try.

Heck, Nick "Crocodile" Dundee uses the same technique to down a purse snatcher in New York City (fast forward to 1:22)...

I'm happy to see that no one has yet suggested that we arm American middle or high school students with pistols, rifles, or semi-automatic weapons, though it wouldn't surprise me in the least to hear that suggested sometime in the next decade or two. It's already been suggested (and is in practice in some schools) that teachers be armed with guns and trained how to use them. Let's definitely not look for a way to get guns out of general circulation and dangerous people out of schools; that's simply unrealistic. Just make sure school children are at all times armed with cans of beans.

The German reporter did get one thing wrong. He called the vegetable-wielding students tenth graders. Tenth graders are 15-16 years old, attending high schools, and (in the U.S.) driving. The students at this middle school, who would/will be trained to hurl canned food items at intruders, are in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade.

We don't have young children, but I went down to our pantry to see what I could offer them if we did. The cans of peas and corn are pretty small and wouldn't be very effective. The pineapple would be better as it's slightly larger than a Campbell's Soup can. But the can of lentils and soup greens! That sucker weighs 970 grams (2 pounds). I wouldn't be able to throw it with much accuracy, but then I lack the training.

At the end of the school year, unthrown canned food items will be donated to a local food pantry.


  1. Oh wow, I can see why you wanted to share this! It's nice that the kids are being given the means to defend themselves, I suppose, but surely there are better ways?!

    Funnily enough, we've just unsubscribed from the paper edition of Spiegel and switched to digital. Jan was taking so long to read them that we ended up with piles and piles of Spiegels all over the flat. This way is much better :-D

    1. What on earth will you use for the lining of your Biomüll container?!? :-) I usually use the sports section...
      I admit, I fall behind too often as well, and we sometimes have piles of newspapers sitting around.

      I found the above article absurd (cans of vegetables? Really? When was the last time you saw a 6th grader throw something?), though not more absurd than what the gun slingers say defending their right to carry deadly weapons around town while they run their errands.

    2. Whatever's in the paper bin. There's usually something in there that can be used. Adverts and stuff ;-)