Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Rifles

Things warp when they change temperature.
Things like, say, rifle barrels, which warp at different rates than wooden stocks.

When it's cold out (like, say-- 38 degrees), the difference between the inside of a rifle barrel and the outside (except where the barrel is shrouded in wood) is more pronounced.

This interferes with accuracy.

This REALLY interferes with accuracy when the barrel in question is extremely lightweight, and the temperature rises quickly.

From, say, a significant centerfire cartridge like the .30-'06.

Now-- let's say that you pick up the rifle for the first time in years, and go to qualify with it, and discover that it's 2.5" left and an inch lower than you wanted at 100 yards? Why, you'd take the extra cartridges that you brought, and sight it in, wouldn't you?

First two shots-- cover with a dime. Next shots-- cover with a quarter. At 6 shots-- cover with a silver dollar. At 10 shots-- cover with, oh... a dollar bill. Gawd.

While waiting for the too-hot-to-touch barrel to cool, the rangemaster said to me: "I gotta close up in 15 minutes."

So I qualified with 20 rounds in 15 minutes. It wasn't pretty. 10 rounds at 100 yards, and 10 rounds from 50. Even with a superb rest or a rock-solid prone, my rounds at this point weren't going too terribly closely to where I wanted them to. Sure, the Ruger M77 super lightweight contour barreled rifle topped with an older Redfield scope may not be the choice of snipers everywhere, but this one is actually capable of some pretty decent cold-barrel groups. Unfortunately, that requires a degree of slow fire that I just didn't have the luxury to enjoy today.

The targets were various tombstones of 2 to 4 inches in height. Should have been a snap. I think I missed black on 4 or 5. I've got it in the car, enshrouded in shame. I'm not sure I can bring myself to turn it in.

Oh, the shame!

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Friday, January 26, 2007

The mindset.

Some of my friends who are into being prepared are going to be critical of the couple in this story.
Briefly, a woman saved her husband's life while he was being attacked by a cougar by beating on it with a stick. Sounds like the cougar made a poor bite, and the couple exploited their luck.

Would a gun have made things easier? You bet. Probably not for the guy initially, as he was jumped by the quiet kitty, and still would have been. But yeah, it would have been nice for her to have been able to shoot it. But we live in a world that has decided to describe "armed" as "dangerous." Or worse yet, being armed is seen as tantamount with intent to do harm, these days. In many places, I'm sorry to say, the threat of a felony and spending the rest of your days away from your loved ones looms if you take the simple precaution of arming yourself with a firearm. To many of us, that's an unacceptable risk.

What about a knife? Well, again, many areas get a little skittish about big Randall sheath knives or Bowie knives. But how about a decent little lockblade? My wife always has her Gerber LST with her. I've generally got a Ken Onion Chive with me. These are itty bitty knives, and receive little or no concern to any but the most freakishly-secured location. Hell, before 9/11, you could carry 'em on airplanes with no worries. But they hold superb edges, and could, if absolutely necessary, provide a sharp point or a sharp edge to end such an attack. Think improvised claw.

If there's an ongoing threat, of course, a sharp edge may be useful in fashioning a spear. But I'm really more interested in the response to an instant threat.

In the story, the attack victim implored his wife to use the pen in his pocket on the big cat's eye as it was locked on his head. She tried, but the pen bent. Hey-- good try, though. That took guts on her part, and thinking on his. Back when I worked in a jail that disallowed weapons of ANY kind (including the knives traditionally carried as cutdown tools), I usually made a point of carrying a decent steel-barreled pen while doing time checks. Hey-- I had to have a pen to mark down times and initial anyway, yes? But that steel pen was just a little less likely to break down in the unlikely circumstance that I had to shove it hard into a critter. (I'm happy to report that I never had to use force on anyone in the jail, beyond some restraints.)

The main thing about this story, is that they had the mindset that they weren't beat. They had the attitude that all is not over, just because it looks pretty bad initially. They fought back. The wife should be proud of herself.

Now, will she learn a lesson, and prepare a little bit to respond more effectively in the next instance of danger? I hope so.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

And what IS it about the Stevens Model 56 .22 LR Rifle?!?

I continue to be amazed at how the number one single hit for referrals to my blog is for "Stevens Model 56," "M56 Stevens," and ".22 Stevens 56."
Well, look here:
You oughta see how rough the milling is on this receiver.
You oughta see how simple and crummy the trigger is.
You oughta see the rough bolt on this thing.

But then again...
Well, the sights on my specimen are just really, really nice:
Diopter rear sight.

Pinhole front sight.
Maybe this thing's older than I thought. I'm not even finding a serial number on it. All I have are the roll markings:

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Among things that DO suck:


Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale.

I had just had a Broken Halo IPA, which is pretty good. Not GREAT, mind you, but worth a sip. It probably just suffers next to Dogfish Head's 60 or 90 minute IPAs. (I can't seem to find Ruination IPA around here, which is what I was looking for.)

Then I poured a Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale.

Now, I love Belgian beers, and I love dopplebocks, and all things malty. Then, too, I enjoy IPAs, and all things hoppy. Probably the best order to drink them, if you are mixing the styles, is to have the super-bitter IPAs after the sweet malty bocks, barley wines, and the like. But I didn't do that this time.

And this "cask ale" is a crap ale. What was I thinking? Gawd. The label: "ALE AGED ON BOURBON BARREL OK AND VANILLA BEANS." Then I read the fine print: "Anhueser-Busch, Inc. St. Louis, Missouri".

It tastes... like cough syrup.

I don't think I can finish this. Who can I pawn it off to?

Shameless Exploitation.

Wanna see a picture of LawDog?

They're extremely rare, but I lured him into my house with a cup of decent tea, and swooped in with my camera while he was distracted. I don't even think he noticed, so candid was the shot:

Here he is.

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Stupid videos for the day.

If I were more motivated, I could probable figure out how to link the video screen right here.

But you'll have to just click here to see them. The first one is a video of a local morning sporting news host. I HATE sports news, but this fellow is mildly amusing to hear while driving along in the morning.

The second one ("Hunting Pants") is... well, I don't know whether to be insulted as a hunter, or to just give in and laugh. Aw, hell-- it's pretty funny, and a decent advertisement, to boot.

Click the first to watch 'em both.

Qualifications are coming soon.

I'm about to field a Ruger M-77 Mk.I .30-'06 with a super-lightweight contour barrel and a Redfield scope, with sling and buttcuff, as a patrol rifle.

Tell me I'm wrong.

Insulted.

I work hard.

I am degreed, and am working on a graduate degree at an accreditated university.

I pay my bills, take out the trash, play with my kids, and don't smack around my wife.

But I work evenings and deep nights, which means that when I have a minute to watch TV, it's either late at night, or mid-day.

Have you SEEN the crap that they broadcast during those times?

Daytime is what it's always been: Soap operas and game shows broken up by commercials for backpain clinics, lawyers who'll fight tough, and technical schools that'll certify you to fix diesel engines (with no background checks). I decided back when I was sick one time at age 8 that this crap was not for me.

Late at night, you get the same commercials, but they're tacked onto creepy shows like “Cheaters” and “Elimidate.” It’s crap. It’s insulting. Apparently, if you're watching the telly at that time (not prime time), you're of a lesser caste. You not only deserve less than the A List-- you deserve a list below Fit For Human Consumption.

No, I don’t have cable. I don’t have satellite. See, back when, people used to use something called an “aerial” to pull in signals from the sky. Crazy, huh? That’s what I do. Like Grizzly Adams, but with less buckskin.

Now, damn it, I know that there’s some decent stuff broadcast out there. And I’m not an erudite, greater-than-thou jerk who’ll try to tell you “well, I NEVER watch television.” But I’ll be damned if I’m going to waste a second on the crap available to me at this point.

I need to get a DVR.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Livin’ inna hood.


I was sitting in my POV in the driveway, just returned from work, listening to the last chapter of the audio book in my CD player in the dark. I had the ignition off, and lights out, with my foot off the brake. “VrooooooooooooOOOOoooommmm!!” A little subcompact with custom exhaust that sounded like a rice-burner cycle at perpetual high RPM pulled up to the curb at the house across the street. It idled there at the curb for a minute, with the stereo thumping. “ChickaBOOM, Chick-BOOM, BOOM, ChickaBOOM, Chick-BOOM, BOOM…” From 70 feet away, with my door and windows closed, I could feel it in my chest. The night before, I had been sitting at my kitchen table at 2:15 AM when I had heard the same exhaust and thumping pull up, to idle and thump for a few minutes, before I came out and stood in my underwear to give that same car a Darned Good Staring At, until he had squealed tires and left.

- - -
Here’s the thing-- I hate that I’m suspicious of people. I hate that I assume the worst. Hey, a person can simply drop by and visit his Friends for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, at wee hours of the morning, without necessrily being on a drug run, right? (Right?!?) Friends that... seem to entertain a lot. Friends that... seem to have a lot of short-term traffic over. Friends that refuse to make eye contact with me, even when I’m gesticulating and saying “Howdy!” while getting the mail. Maybe those folks are just loners and aren’t gregarious. (Except that... they do seem to entertain a lot of different people. For short periods of time.) I shouldn’t judge them.

Then I wonder-- am I overcompensating because of the race thing? Is this white guilt?
- - -

I continued to listen to my audio book. Five minutes later, the guy shambled out to his car, fired it up (“Ch-BOOM-Boom, Ch-BOOOM…”, “VROOoommm!”), and took off. I thought about it. Screw it. I fired up my car, backed out of the driveway while blacked out, and let him get down the block before following him. The whole time I trailed him, I kept noting the myriad of good PC opportunities that he was providing for a good stop. Speeding. Failing to signal. Rolling the stop sign. Speeding faster. That rear signal sure was blinking quickly-- was the front signal lamp blown? Yes it was. Turning across lanes. Speeding WAY too fast. Day-um, but I wished I was in my patrol car. And, um, you know-- also in my jurisdiction. Or at least in my county. I kept following, but surreptitiously. He turned off into another neighborhood, down a windy little residential street. He was still going FAST.

What was I doing? Why was I following him?

I guess I just wanted to collect some info, to pass on to my local cops. I sure didn’t want to make contact.

I came around a curve, knowing that I was going a fair amount slower than he had been going, hoping that we’d come to a straightaway soon. I passed three intersections on the curve, each with curving streets, and finally came to a straightaway. Nothing. I zipped past three other intersections. Nothing. I pulled over at a car wash parking lot, and thought about turning back to look, and decided that, nope-- it was time to take it to the house. My night’s fun was over. A cop car passed by a half block away on the major boulevard. Huh. I hadn’t even realized that I’d passed into the adjacent town. I almost flashed him with my lights, and then thought, “Why? What do you have to pass on? You don’t have an address, and you don’t even have an LP. Just a vague description, and a generic one at that.” I turned around and started back the way I’d come.

I checked my rear view, and noted that the cop had come back, too. He was creeping around the corner. I made the next corner slowly, and noted that he’d increased his following distance, though I was rolling along pretty slowly. “Matt, old boy, you’re about to get pulled over,” I thought. Might as well save him the trouble. I stopped at the next intersection, set the parking brake, and hopped out. And waited. Where was he? Was that a shadow sliding around the curve? Yes it was. Heh. He was doing pretty good at stalking me. I pulled my Stinger off my duty belt (I was still in uniform from work), and illuminated myself. His headlights came on, and he rolled up alongside me. His window came down, and I counted 5, 6, wow! 7 hash marks on his sleeve.

We chatted, and exchanged cards. I figured that he’d find my little foray odd, but he got it immediately. “I put in 8 years as a designated investigator of child abuse and sex crimes,” he said. “I finally asked just to go back out on the street. This is what I do.” When he couldn’t find his cigarettes, I gave him the pack that I had with me. (I don’t smoke, but don’t ask.) I finally allowed that I had better run back home, and he said that he was going to go set up on the house of a certain heroin addict he knew.

Good cop.

Wish he worked my neighborhood.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Can I have a do-over?



Okay, so #5 of my meme thing below wasn’t much of an odd or strange fact, I know. (Except for the fact that, for 2 years, I had no car, and went to school and work by bike. Hard to do in Texas.)

So how about this? In some strange, weird way, I like some of the paperwork part of my job.

I like to put together superb reports that are guaranteed to usher some criminals to jail, and from there on to prison.

It’s a silly thing, but I’m proud of my reports, and I’m highly proud of my supplements. My supplements are (I like to think) informative, pertinent, and even a little bit entertaining. A good report narrative is simply a good story. If you give the punch line too early, then your reader has nothing to look forward to, and loses interest. So, while I could unload the best part of the story in the first paragraph of my 3 page supplement, I hold off until the last few paragraphs.

Such is the manner of writing that keeps intake prosecutors interested, and makes cases actually progress to the next level, instead of getting reduced or dropped before they can even be considered. “File better cases,” one might say. Well, I’ve seen some mighty good ones get dropped for no better reason than that the prosecutor really didn’t ever read the case all the way through. So my goal now is not only to file good solid cases, but to make ‘em entertaining, as well.

The demonstrated ability to put together a good narrative --complete with headings, titles, subheadings, and pictures-- is a mighty sharp double-edged sword, though. On the one hand it makes you look pretty damned good and increases your perceived worth with other officers. On the other, it makes you look like a guy who really needs to carry all the paperwork, all the time. This especially of note when dealing with other agencies.

This failure to fear paperwork may be one of the reasons that I don’t much mind DWI arrests, which most cops dread. They’re insanely paperwork-intensive compared with the typical level of the charge. While it’s been said that the average DWI arrest takes up about four hours of an officer's time, I’ve found that they typically take a full day, when you add in the extras, like transcribing tapes, appearing in administrative hearings for license suspension, etc. Court (which is more common with DWI) takes even more time.

The other day, I helped out a local agency with an arrest of some guys driving a stolen vehicle. I found myself doing some interviews, and some follow up. The highlight of my evening was when I finally tracked down the name of the guy that they got the car from, and when I figured out that one of the guys wasn’t who he claimed to be (earning him a new charge before he could bond out.). Then I sat down and wrote a nice supplement on it. My buddies found it odd that I enjoyed it as much as I did. But when I faxed that supplement over, I felt a sense of accomplishment that was strangely similar to the sense of satisfaction that I get when I finally snap that cuffs on a guy whom I've been looking for.

Different strokes, I guess, eh?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tagged Twice!


My friends LawDog and Xavier have both tapped me out to continue a senseless bit of self-promotion that is nothing less than an itty bitty Meme.

The game is to "disclose five little-known facts about yourself, then tag five more bloggers to keep the chain going."

"Chain." Ugh. I dislike chains. I dislike chain letters, chain emails, and forwarded forwarded >Fwd>fwd>FWD>Fwd emails. Argh. >Argh. >>Argh, even.

But vanity is all. If TWO of my online (and meatspace) buddies have tapped me out, then so be it. :)

I note that most folks in this line of self revealing documentation are telling their good points. I would like to break that cycle, but my most interesting bad points are really just too bad to share, and I'm not going to do it. So, while you marvel at these items that follow, please understand that you're really getting the B list. Yikes.

1. I have size 18 feet. They've been that big since I was 14 or 15. I thus have never in my adult life had a pair of cowboy boots (due to the expense of having them made custom), though I am a fiercely proud Texan.

2. When I was 5, I touched off the bottle rocket that burned down about 40 acres of pasture land behind our house. The entire town came. We hadn't lived there a year.

3. Although I completely respect and believe the science behind the BS in Criminal Justice that I hold, when it tells me that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent to crime overall, and that the resources spent on it would be better focused elsewhere... I still support the death penalty. Some folks just clearly need killin'.

4. Until recently, I could lie face-down on my chest and curl my heels back over my butt until they touched the floor next to my elbows on either side. When I was a little kid, I was awaken by a frantic baby sitter who saw me taking naptime in that configuration.

5. I'm 35 years old, and I've lived in 8 discrete locations in my life, including college and the time I stayed with my dad in town because I didn't have a car. (...and attended police academy, a full load of university, and three part time jobs by bicycle!)

My five to be tapped out are:

Tamara (That makes two. Do your duty, girl.),
Ambulance Driver ("...nobody knows who you arrrrrrre.")
Steve Jones
John Shirley (Can you see this, John?)
Mad Ogre (Can you hear me, George?)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Lapses in the sense of personal responsibility: Water



By now we've all heard about the silly Jennifer Strange water intoxication fatality, resulting from a radio show contest.

Okay, stupid contest. And while she signed a release, it's certainly no real surprise that the decedent's family is suing the radio station. And no one's really surprised that the radio station fired all the folks involved in the gag. Ten of them, apparently. While I personally think that the lawsuit should be found for the defendants (who did have her sign a release, and didn't tie her down), I don't think that firing the employees that created such bad press for your radio station is a bad idea. Though, of course, I suppose that there are inevitably going to be some wrongful termination suits. Why not? It's California. That's what they do.

Comes now the Sacramento County S.O., who is performing a criminal investigation.

And now we're into CrazyLand.

Look, I know that the sheriff is elected, and that there are Outraged Citizens (read: voters) who demand an investigation. This is sheer political grandstanding. But the easiest way to handle this is to turn it over to the DA to refer to a grand jury to no-bill this whole incident and all involved. The woman was offered a dadgummed video game for drinking bottles of fricking drinking water! Had the water been tainted, or not what they had initially claimed, then I might see a case. Had she been forced and coerced against her will to drink it, I would see a case. But they repeatedly offered her a chance to quit (In fact, that was what the whole premise of the stupid contest was-- you could quit whenever you want, but then you wouldn't get the free prize.), and even offered her a consolation prize to make her quit. So convincing were they, that they actually got her to quit early! She won the consolation prize by quitting, which simply proves that they weren't holding some kind of power over her will.

I have no doubt that the criminal investigation will either be dropped as unfounded, or referred to the DA who will drop it, or referred to the grand jury, who will drop it. If by some bizarre set of strange circumstances, charges were filed and it went to trial, I'm quite sure that the case would be dismissed. Or failing that, found Not Guilty.

Tell me that my certainty is not unfounded. Please Gawd just tell me that....

Take it a step further...

Type in the text that you want to be vocalized, choose the voice you want to use, and have this little toy call your buddy. Oh, worried about the caller ID blowing the prank? Well hey! It can fix that little detail.

Fill in the fields, and voila! You're sending the message of your choice, in the voice of your choice, to the phone number of your choice, apparently from the person and number of your choosing.

You must use this power only for good. Promise me.

(Extra points for recognizing my sample phone numbers, and JPG's guesses don't count.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

So, have fun with this.

In my travels across the web, I have found many strange and wonderful things...

Some are major accomplishments that allow me to do my banking in my underwear. (Well, from home, anyway. I don't know how casual y'all get in your branch offices.)

Then, there are the ones that just put a little beauty in the world.

Then, too, there's this third category that I'll be telling you about from time to time, which includes sites like this one, which lets us make her say what we want her to say.

Of course, my daughters and I were very mature in exploring this little web-based program that made an animated woman speak words/phrases/sentences that we typed out for her:


(Click to enlarge.)

Multiculturalism.

My friend John Shirley told me that he had sent me a little package. I found it in the mailbox this weekend, just before we got our winter blast.

As I got into my POV to drive home on Sunday night after a hard shift of working major accidents and slipping and falling on the ice, I realized that my car was not just cold, it was frickin' frigid. I put on the genuine, fresh-from-Kabul headwrap to cover my ears, and then plopped on my brand-new, just-arrived-from Afghanistan brown wool hat, to keep my head warm. It was pretty damned comfy, so I left it on the whole trip home. I grinned at the odd looks folks gave me as I passed them on the highway.

When I got home, I had to take a quick picture. So here you go.

Worth Drinking:

Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale.

Is it traditional? Nope. It's probably something that could be designed and marketed "only in the colonies," as Tamara's critic Anonymous would say. (Hey, I know it's a pain to go to the trouble of creating a logon persona when you don't actually maintain a blog yourself, but why not sign off with your first name in your missive? There's lots of these "anoymous" guys around.) But look-- if we only went with tradition, there would be about 2 types of beer in the world. Fusion is a good thing.

To quote the label: "A clean, well-hopped brown ale with aromatic barley, caramelized brown sugar and whole-leaf Liberty & Goldings hops."

Fit to drink. Really.

That is all.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Chalkdust and blood


I'm starting my newest semester as a graduate student in Criminal Justice. Ho-hum.

But tonight's class was an interesting elective: Bloodstain Pattern Analysis. From the syllabus:
"This course explores the methods used in the analysis of bloodstain patterns produced in violent crimes and the use of the results obtained to develop a likely responsible dynamics. Basic blood chemistry and the physics associated with blood drops in flight will be presented in order to allow a better understanding of how bloodstain patterns result from various typs of events at crime scenes." (Hueske, Edward E, 2007)

17 week, 3 hours a week. Includes labs and practical excercises involving mock crime scenes. (The textbook set a personal record for me: it costs $130. [For that price, I think I should expect a personal assistant to turn the pages for me, complete with a Happy Ending.])

If nothing else, I should be more informed as I rant at the TV screen, along with LawDog, about the outrageous leaps that the folks on C.S.I. take when reading the evidence of a crime scene. Just what my wife always wanted: more fodder to feed my outrage at cop shows. Heh.

Tomorrow's class is probably much more applicable to my career: "Legal Issues In Criminal Justice." It will be tough, and will likely take up much time. It will be extremely helpful, no matter what direction my job takes me.

But who cares about that-- I get to play with blood, and tell you how fast it hit and from what height and direction! Who's the coolest now? :)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Word to be banned.

Mug (v.)

As in, "Oh, he was just mugged."

Mugging (n.)

As in, "We haven't had a mugging in months."


It sounds so fuzzy, so friendly. Kind of adventurous. Allegedly, citizens of some major urban areas don't consider themselves to be fully christened as truly metropolitan until they've "been mugged for the first time."

Bollocks.

The term, friends, is "Robbery," and it comes in two flavors: "StrongArm Robbery" and "Aggravated Robbery." In both instances, force is either used or threatened, to illegally deprive a person of their property. In the latter, the use or threat of the use of deadly force is employed. In Aggravated Robbery, the victim faces the threat of death or serious bodily injury. Robbery. Not "mugging." Rob. Ber. Ry.

How cute!

Sure, the term is misused. It's common for a person to come home, find their house has been broken into and their stuff has been taken, with the burglars long gone, and to exclaim, "I've been robbed!" Incorrect. You've been burgled. And while having your residence invaded in your absence by a stranger feels incredibly invasive, it ain't nothin' like having that stranger walk up to you, point a weapon in your face, and make clear that he is going to kill your mother's child if you don't provide them with whatever valuables you happen to have around you. Typically, your life just got threatend for less than $100.

I cannot make clear how furious this makes me. Someone is willing to threaten life and limb over... a few bucks.

So let's have no more of this familiarity with a term that reduces the impact of this crime of violence. ("But no one was hurt. It must have been very exciting.") There is no excuse for threatening a person over possessions. There is surely no excuse for harming a person over possessions.

And if the victim is killed while the robber is doing his filthy deed, let that victim's death be lamented with just as much disgust and anger and outcry as a person killed in a "hate crime." Because in either case, someone made a decision that another person's life just wasn't that important. Either motive is equally despicable.

But robbery is more common, so we have to familiarize it.

Please. Don't fall for this. Banish the verb "mug" from your vocabulary, with the exception of tea recepticles and posing for pictures.

And if you find yourself a victim to a robbery, by all means please try to get the business over with, without bloodshed. But don't be afraid-- be FURIOUS.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Say that again?

Browsing through LawDog's referral links, I found THIS.

For just a second, there, I thought that I or my friend up the road had gone mad.

Then I realized that there are those who will impose the siliest aspects of pop culture onto anything. :rolleyes:

Taking nursery rhymes, and making them for "adults..."

...only to realize that you're more immature than ever.

Yes, I've heard most of 'em, and they still crack me up.

Eg:


SIMPLE SIMON met a Pie man going to the fair.
Said Simple Simon to the Pie man,
"What have you got there?"
Said the Pie man unto Simon,
"Pies, you dumbass!"


An oldie, but a goodie.
(Hat tip to Guy K.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

"Nigger Lover."



(This is going to go a little long, and I apologize for that, but I have to get this off my chest.)


When I was a kid in elementary school in north Texas in the mid-to-late 1970's, a pretty good insult to hurl at the kids on the school yard was to call another kid (in my little village we were all white) a "Nigger Lover." My parents were educated. Both had degrees. Dad was a an investigator and Mom was a writer for a big paper. Neither had been infected with racism. Thus, my parents' child, I was not reared a racist. I don’t believe that I've ever used the insult. But I’ll admit that I didn't want to be called the name. Names hurt, no matter what they are. No matter how old you get to be.

Back then, when I said something that one of the more bigoted of my redneck peers would infer as being sympathetic to (i.e.: not condemning of) black folk, the immediate challenge would be issued: “You some kind of nigger lover?!?” Now, I went to daycare in “town” during the summer break with some black kids, and counted one or two of them among my friends. I knew the truth: race does not make a person better or worse than another. But still, you can mark me for a coward. Being a kid faced with what felt like an immediate challenge to my integrity and worth, I immediately denied it ("it" being that I did not routinely condemn black folk simply for their status of being black). I’m not much of a Bible scholar, but that story about Peter denying Jesus has a certain ring of truth in it for me; the first thing I did, when confronted with the demand of whether I was a "nigger lover" was to align myself with the crowd, snort and say, “No!” Not one of those. No, sir.

Now I’ve got a daughter of that same age. She goes to school with every race under the sun, and gets along famously with kids based on their personalities rather than their race or ethnicity. I don’t know that she even gets such challenges in the school yard by the thought-bullies. She probably does, but I don’t know what they consist of.

But I’m still subject to the same kind of challenge, and I still find myself denying what may well be a stance that is actually pretty close to my nature, because the identity holds a dirty word. I cringe from the word, just like a lot of y'all cringed at the title of this blog (sorry!). I avoid being labeled with it at almost any cost. The dirty word is “LIBERAL."



Well at least I’m a “Conservative.”

-I’m a fierce supportor of the Second Amendment.

-I’m for the use of the death penalty.

-I believe that we should support our industries to the extent that we MUST maintain a healthy free market.

-I believe in peace through superior firepower, and believe that we must maintain a powerful military.

-I am against affirmative action.

-I believe that we should have mandatory sterilization imposed upon any woman who gives birth to a baby while on abused drugs.

-I believe that we should strengthen our borders, and cannot comprehend how such a policy could be seen as racist or xenophobic.

-I believe that we need to reduce the benefits given out by the Nanny Government.

-I believe that we should establish the national language as English (the language that all of our nation’s most significant documents are written in), and cannot see how this would infringe upon any person’s rights.

-I hunt, and fight for hunters’ rights.

-I think that, if you feel like you’re in a marginalized segment of society, the last thing that you should be doing is to create bigger barriers to insulate yourself from our society. Try to assimilate just a tad, okay?

-I believe that, while it’s possible to rear children without the use of corporal punishment, parents should have the right to spank (or pinch) their children. I find that it is extremely effective, direct, and morally acceptable.

-I don’t have any problem with the use of genetically modified crops, and find it insane that U.S.-supplied relief food supplies containing GM crops are being discarded as unacceptable to give to starving peoples.

-I believe that we need to do something about the spiraling costs of healthcare.

-I believe that when you put a person in prison for “Life,” we should MEAN it.



But then again…
-I believe in equal rights for everybody. Women. Minorities. Gay folk. Everybody. Give ‘em all the same rights that I start off with as a straight white guy, if they’re not committing crimes and are paying their own way. Marry how and who you want. I don’t give a flip.

-I believe strongly in the First Amendment. That’s possibly the biggest one. Free Speech. Freedom of religion. Freedom of the press. The right of peaceable assembly. The right to petition for redress of grievances against the government. These are huge rights. I find that many who are against “liberals” are often so based on these very issues. Yeah, those crazy radicals, reinventing the system with their bizarre new ideas.

-I believe that we ought to play by the rules. The Constitution guarantees us rights to counsel and a speedy trial and to freedom from cruel or unusual punishment, and I believe that we ought to follow through on that guarantee. We have Equal Protection and Due Process promised in that document, too. Them’s the rules. So let’s follow them.

-I believe that our current national, state, and local drug policies are completely out of touch with reality. Over half of our prison population (the largest ever) is incarcerated for drug offenses. We are not by any stretch of the imagination winning the “War On Drugs.” We are making mere possession of any usable amount of many drugs a felony, and are putting away people who are addicts without even treating their problem. This is costing you and me a pretty penny, and just guarantees that the guy incarcerated is going to have new problems upon exiting the system. (He’s 70% of the time going to return to that same system within 3 years.) Enforce strong laws about making drugs available to children. Enforce the extant laws regarding public intoxication, DWI, burglary, etc. Let the druggies have their drugs.

-At least decriminalize pot. I’ve never used the stuff (seriously! Not even once!), but I just don’t see that it’s a major problem. Lord knows the potheads fight a lot less than the drunks.

-I think that it’s okay to criticize our government—even in wartime.

-I think that we should not have a draft—if we can’t drum up enough support for a war, perhaps we shouldn’t have the war in the first place.

-I believe that we should make greater efforts to protect our environment.

-I believe that we should make public transportation more useful and accessible.

-I believe that all roads should be built with a bicycle/walking lane, both to encourage alternative forms of transportation and to get them out of the way of vehicles.

-I believe that we need to disallow the standardized use of antibiotics and/or hormones in the feed of market animals, except on an individual basis when they are found to be sick. I strongly believe that our children or their children are going to have to pay for this activity.

-I believe that we’re making too many things felonies. Claire Wolfe and I are of a mind on this issue.

-I think that pretending that young teens aren’t going to have sex is pretty foolish. If we want to address social problems resulting from this behavior (teen pregnancy, STDs), we’re going to have to admit that it occurs, and act accordingly.

-I believe that the most important way that we can improve our nation’s future is to --across the board-- DOUBLE the salaries of teachers. Make teaching a profession worth striving for. (In my area, that would get starting elementary school teachers up to about $70k/year.) Then, raise the bar for standards. If the teachers can’t make the grade, fire their happy butts, or make ‘em “teachers’ aides.” Let’s see the best and brightest in our society start to teach. In the long run, I believe that we’ll realize significant savings from the increased productivity of our nation.

-I think we worry too much about how other people deal with sex. If they’re not hurting anyone, leave ‘em alone and tend to your own knittin’. If they’re making fools of themselves publicly, it’s best to ignore them, as you would a mentally disabled person raising a minor fuss in a public place.

-I believe that we should teach science in schools—not some pseudo science that is simpatico with somebody’s religion.

-I believe that we need to do something about the spiraling costs of healthcare.

-I don’t think that we should dump our citizens’ rights, just because of this “War On Terrorism.”

-I don’t think that “Nuke ‘em ‘til they glow” is a very effective international policy.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

So what the heck? Am I a Liberal? Am I a Conservative?

Why do I have to be polarized? What’s with the label?

As a cop and a pro-gun person, I find myself with the Conservative crowd a lot. I identify with them on so many issues. But as a grad student and a person who thinks that recycling the same thoughts is pointless, I listen to the words of self-described Liberals a fair amount. Here in N. Texas, I find that the Liberals fall primarily into two categories—quiet liberals who recognize that they are pretty much in Enemy Territory, or Flaming Liberals. Everybody hates the flaming liberals.

And here in Conservative Land, all liberals are judged on the basis of the Flaming Liberals. But then, in the liberal-friendly areas, all Conservatives are judged on the popularly-perceived personas surrounding Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, and what is perceived to be George W. Bush. People do like to cubbyhole.

Frankly, I reject both extremes. They both sicken me, to some degree. I’m not a peg—please don’t try to drive me into the strangely shaped hole of your choosing.

So it’s beginning to dawn on me: why am I afraid to be called a “Liberal?” Is it because I, like others, am associating that term with the idiots like Diane Feinstein, George Schumer, Ted Kennedy, Sarah Brady, and Cindy Sheehan? Probably so, just as many Liberals tar all “Conservatives” with the brush of David Duke, Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Strom Thurmond, etc. I’m afraid of being called “liberal” for some of the same immature reasons that I denied being a “nigger lover” as a kid.

-First, it’s technically inaccurate.

-Second, I don’t want to have to explain myself, and have people judge me on the spot.

-Third, I’m a little bit less than courageous. I want my conservative friends. I don’t want them to dismiss me.


And I wonder: how many of you will now dismiss me, because I’m saying this?

Regardless of what radical liberals like Patrick Henry, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, George Washington, Robert Yates, and John Hancock may have been, modern-day strict Constitutionalists seem to have found another amendment to the Bill of Rights: "The right to cast stones at anything and anyone construed to have any liberal tendencies shall not be infringed."

"Nigger Lover? Yeah. Fine. Whatever.

But please, toss in "Redneck Liberal" while you're at it, and I'll feel a bit better.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

It's Who You Know: On Being Popular On The Web



Okay, we expect the hit count to drop on Dec. 25; that's when folks are getting together and smiling at, scowling at, wincing at, leering at (especially in W. Virginia), or ignoring their relatives, while wading through piles of wrapping paper to get another glass of nog.


And that spike on January 4th? That was my friend Preacherman telling on my exploits to the other Staff at The High Road. He also referenced a tale of his own at the time.

But what of that most significant spike on December 12th? What the heck was going on there?!? What major force of nature (or the Internet) could have moved my pageviews to such heights??
Well, that would be Tamara.

Yup, it's Adorable Little Rodents on the TLB Ecosystem like Tamara that really bring us Insignificant Microbes into Multicellular MicroOrganism status.

Gawd knows it's not Memphis Steve who, prolific blogger and poster to my comments though he may be, still refuses to blogroll me. Bastich. :) Dadgum, even my new friend the Ambulance Driver linked me almost immediately...

You might have noticed that this thread is link-rich. As Tamara mentions, "'all is vanity.'" Turns out that the Google algorithm gives more credence to pages with more links to it, and more links away from it. So it's interesting to see which threads float to the top of a Google search. But you know which single blog post of mine gets the most hits from Google searches? Strangely, it's a post I made about a Stevens model 56 .22 rifle. Seriously. I get referrals to that post all the time. You never know.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

"Thank you for your service, sir."


Why is every former Marine that I'm running into either Force Recon (0321) or a Scout Sniper (8541)?

Why are half the Navy guys that I'm stopping telling me that they're slated for BUDS training?

Friends, if you served, I thank you for your service. If you're serving, I thank you for your service. If you signed up right after September 11, 2001, like my good friend John Shirley did at the age of 29, and had to put your life on hold to serve our nation when we needed you, I especially thank you for your service. From the bottom of my heart: thank you.

You HAVE my thanks. Why try to make yourself out to be more than you are? That Sniper-- that Reconnaisance Man-- that SEAL-- that Green Beret-- they all need cooks (92G), or clerks (0151), or whatever. Just as I am minding the store at home on the civil side, you guys are supporting the guys doing the shooting. There's no shame in that.

You don't NEED a sexy MOS to "Be All That You Can Be." Trust me.

That is all.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Kharma.




Going in to work, today, I was on a major interstate that was backed up a tad. Some people were frustrated at the on-ramp-- they had to yield to me. I stopped and let in the first car.

I got to work a little early. I helped fix up another guy's report to go to the D.A.'s office. I then fixed some call sheet errors that made the authors (other officers) look kind of dumb. They were simple errors-- anyone could have made them (including me). But they hadn't been caught for over a month, and were soon going to be. I fixed them.

On patrol, I pulled over a guy for an equipment violation on his trailer. It was clearly his fault-- he hadn't put on safety chains. But I don't usually write for just the one. I told him that I'd issue him a warning. I ran his license and found out that he's a registered sex offender. I still issued him a warning.

I pulled over a car for an equipment violation. The driver turned out to be the driver and unindicted accomplice on a violent burglary from last month. Though he had been present at the crime, I didn't quite have enough evidence to charge him, and didn't. But shame on him! His driver license was being held in lieu of payment at a gas station, and his insurance was not issued to him. He did receive citations.

I helped a buddy with a felony DWI report off the clock after work tonight. We straightened out some grammatical and punctuation errors and made it flow better.

I got home, and found that my wife had made a wonderful Middle Eastern dish called "Upside Down," involving spiced rice, cauliflower fried in olive oil, mushrooms, and chunks of beef, baked in an olive oil-drenched bowl, so that the rice forms a crust called a "tadeek." It's marvelous, and made the whole house smell of that pungent 7-spice powder. Most tasty with a nice cold lager next to it. Tonight's choice was Shiner Bock.

It all comes back to you. :)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Remember what you were reading, 25 years ago?



I do, almost to the minute.

A quarter of a century ago, I was 10 years old, and was eagerly returning to my 4th grade classroom from Christmas break. I say “eagerly,” because, prior to leaving school for Christmas break, I had been reading about Tom, Becky Thatcher, Huck, and Injun Joe, and the rest. My fourth grade teacher had a shelf of books at the back of the room, and if you finished your work in class, you could select one and read it at your desk. As the books belonged to the teacher, we weren't allowed to take them home (probably a good policy). So, sitting in my desk cubby, with a torn piece of lined paper used as a bookmark, was a much-thumbed, years-old paperback copy of The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer. I couldn't wait to get back.

For some reason, many people these days think that 10 years of age is a bit young for a book that was originally published as a serial piece in a periodical, for family reading. At the time, it was highly popular. I think that this comes from the ongoing dispute over its [nominal] sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, with the furor over the use of the "N word," and the supposed questions of slavery. I have to admit that I don't understand this thinking. After reading Twain's treatment of life in Tom Sawyer, any 10 year old that understood what he was reading and sought to then read Huck Finn would get the not-so-subtle irony that Twain presented in the latter.

Tom Sawyer was one of those genius pieces that is either a juvenile written for the appreciation of adults, or an adult piece that juveniles could get. What 10 year-old wouldn't appreciate the concept of bargaining with another school student who wants to see your sore thumb? What adult who remembers childhood wouldn't smile at the memory?

My 8 year-old daughter has finished with the last Rowling book, and I'm heavy in discussion with my wife about allowing her to pick up the better classics. My wife thinks that we should have my daughter wait a tad longer before starting the classics, so that she can really appreciate them. My daughter's now halfway through a Roald Dahl book that she got for Christmas (thanks, Holly!), and if you don't classify his stuff as classic, you just haven't been paying attention. I'm getting ready to cut her loose and let her read what she wants-- appreciation of the classics be damned.

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