If you follow the news, you likely have heard all sorts of debate over unmanned aerial vehicles — otherwise known as drones. They are aircraft without a human pilot on board. Operated by remote control or an autonomous computer, drones have served many purposes — most notably, military purposes. Nikola Tesla, the famous “mad scientist” known for the Tesla Coil, described powered unmanned aerial vehicles used for combat dating back to 1915. Drones have been particularly controversial as of late: “Since Obama took office, media outlets have reported more than 300 drone strikes in Pakistan targeting al-Qaeda or the Taliban, outnumbering the Bush administration’s drone strikes five to one.” (1)

But the drones that have hit the news lately are of a completely different rhyme and reason. They do shoot, but only photographically. “Oregon officials plan to test drone aircraft taking smartphone photos of seabirds that eat salmon and steelhead heading to the ocean. The Department of Fish and Wildlife wants to see if it can use the technology to get useful, inexpensive photos without exposing human pilots to coastal dangers.” (2)

It is never a good idea to expose one’s self to dangers, coastal or otherwise. An Oregon dairy farmer learned this the hard way, when a methane leak was exposed to a spark. “A co-owner of an Oregon dairy farm says methane that was released from a methane digester ‘caught a spark,’ resulting in an explosion and fire at two large methane tanks. Betty Bielenberg is co-owner of Oakley Farms. She tells The Oregonian that no people or animals were hurt Wednesday afternoon and that the fire was mostly out by the time firefighters arrived.” (3)

An 8-year-old girl from Veneta caught a spark this week, too. But fortunately it was a charitable, not explosive, spark. “An 8-year-old girl is collecting supplies for care packages to send to kids all over the world this Christmas…She’s putting together boxes full of school supplies, hygiene products, and small toys for kids in third world countries.  Autumn’s goal is 100 boxes; she’s about halfway there now, and plans to ship the packages this November.” (4)

Speaking of shipping packages around the world: Netflix does that. And you know who never recovered? Blockbuster. A few weeks ago, Blockbuster announced “the Better Blockbuster Extravaganza,” an event to drive some business its way. “[Blockbuster president Michael] Kelly continued his PR pitch by saying that the video chain has created an easier way to find what customers are looking for and that Blockbuster has nearly 900 store locations (still) which makes them the largest video rental chain nationwide…But really all he’s saying is that Blockbuster is the last survivor of the old way to rent movies. To say Blockbuster is the largest video rental chain in the country is like saying you have the largest VCR store in the nation.” (5)

Of course, if you had the largest VCR store in the nation, people might think you are crazy. And if you are crazy and you live in Oregon, you are in luck: there will soon be a brand new hospital just for you. “Five years after state legislators approved funding to build a new state mental health hospital in Junction City, the construction equipment necessary to build it has finally arrived, bringing new excitement for the city’s future. Contractors have finally started moving dirt on the site of the future Oregon State Hospital in southern Junction City.” (6)

The opening of a new mental health hospital, though, will surely raise all sorts of questions—like, how will you treat the mentally ill? This was a question raised last week about Lane County’s current mental health facility, the Johnson Unit at Sacred Heart. “A 70-year-old man told his own success story, of having gone from checking himself into the Sacred Heart Behavioral Health Services inpatient care program (otherwise known as the Johnson Unit) to, after healing, wanting to volunteer at the Unit. But…according to him, the Johnson Unit only uses medication as therapy and would not allow him to talk to people who similarly did not believe in using medications for mental health problems. He said, ‘The Johnson Unit ignores the fact that medications do not work for 30% of the populace.'” (7)

Whether he is right about medication is up for debate. But what is not up for debate is both human and canine consumption of Springfield’s blue-green algae. “Health authorities have warned people who draw their in-home water from Walterville Pond that the discovery of a high concentration of blue-green algae could put them in danger…The algae produces toxins that can cause numbness, nausea and even breathing problems. No one has died from complications, but four dogs who drank the algae-tainted water have died.” (8)

The humans might have wished they died, though, once they see the Oregon Dental Association’s latest attempt to make brushing cool. “Kids don’t like to floss, but they love to do the Dougie.” So when the Oregon Dental Association was thinking about what to do for their next youth teeth brushing campaign, the choice was obvious: They’d teach their kids how to do the brushy.” (9)

It’s actually a matter for debate, whether kids “love to do the Dougie.” But what’s not a matter for debate is that a man burned down a home the other day to get back at his boss. “A man who approached police at the scene of a burning cabin told a state trooper the home belonged to his former boss and said he started the fire. His reason: He says he’s owed $25,000 in unpaid wages, and figured the cabin was worth about that. Alaska State Troopers say 54-year-old Willard Hutson’s math is a little off. The cabin was valued at $39,000.” (10)

If only that man was an Oregon public employee—then he might have been satisfied with his earnings! “An analysis by The Oregonian has found the formula used to calculate pension for thousands of retired Oregon public employees can be milked to deliver benefits that far outstrip the Legislature’s intent and taxpayers’ expectations.” (11)

Also exceeding expectations is former Duck player Joey Harrington. “Former Oregon great Joey Harrington will be joining FOX Sports as a college football analyst for the network’s college football pregame show, according to USA Today and The Oregonian.The former Duck standout, who accumulated a 25-3 record during his collegiate career, will appear alongside former ESPN reporter Erin Andrews and Ohio State legend Eddie George. Harrington last appeared in an NFL game in 2008 with the Atlanta Falcons.” (12)

Harrington was obviously smart enough to take the next step in his career. The question on the Eugene City Council’s mind, apparently, is “whether people are smart enough to learn to use reusable bags…The Eugene City Council will continue exploring a ban on single-use plastic bags in grocery stores at a public hearing Sept. 17.” (13)

After a week of using military technology to take cellphone pictures of seagulls, methane gas explosions, and a dental association using an outdated rap song to look cool, it makes sense why the Council would worry.