Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Perhaps I Haven't Made Myself Clear.

In comments, someone said, regarding my post about Glenn Beck:

"You note that the nation is great today.

You are either not who I thought or quite blind to where we are. I am sorry for either. I would prefer that you learn a bit more(yes, ignoring his religious points before making a blanket judgment.

After all, he is the only one tracking the very dirty laundry in the White House."

I would submit that, if you haven't figured out that I love this nation, then you haven't been paying attention.

And if you think that Glenn Beck is the only watchdog on the White House, then you might consider broadening your view.

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Mid-morning walk.

I awoke to find my house empty. I was a bit ashamed that I hadn't helped take the girls to school, but my sleep schedule is difficult to regulate, sometimes.

I answered a message left by my boss, who needed something at work. I started the coffee, got dressed, and walked to work.

On the way in, I noticed that last week's break from the summer heat was over; when it's 88 degrees and 70% humidity at 10:15 AM, it's going to get hot, before the day is over. Still, a 10 m.p.h. breeze from the south made the walk pleasant. I arrived and tended to some business at work, discussed time off for a possible hunt this October, and walked back home.

Approaching a distant neighbor's dog, I could hear him barking furiously at me from a long ways off. How dare I intrude within the scope of his master's realm?!? He has some pit in him, and some other breed that I can't identify. I walked up and petted him through the fence, and he wagged his tail. It's all a big game.

Getting home, I wistfully looked at my next door neighbor's majestic pecan trees, and then gazed derisively at my own trash trees.

There's a reason that I'm planting pecan trees of two varieties about my yard, along with fruit trees and even an almond tree. I will soon cut down some hackberry trees in my yard, despite the dense shade that one of them provides.

I stepped inside my house, frustrated that a short walk could bring sweat to my oversized brow, shaded or not. I was greeted by the cool quiet air conditioning of a distinctively empty house, and the smell of fresh coffee.

There are things to do before autumn comes.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm paying for this, WHY, exactly?

Cell phones are not a "human right;" they are a convenience. For that matter, a telephone is a convenience. You might need one to work (in which case, it's tax-deductible), but you don't need one to live.

That's why I'm wondering why, in the name of a Vulcan deity conning a tugboat, my tax dollars are subsidizing cell phones for the poor.

Anyone have an explanation or elucidation, on this net-widening of necessities for the masses.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

That's good snark, right there.

It's no secret that Ambulance Driver and I both have criticisms with with the way helicopters are being used for patient transport. But AD now suggests a fine structure for chopper adverts.

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So what's the message?

Glenn Beck puts together a supposedly bipartisan rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, 47 years after MLK gave his remarkable "I Have A Dream" speech.

Beck says that he wants us to "Restore traditional American values."

Which traditional American values are those? Me, I like my apple pie made with Granny Smith apples and a woven top crust, sometimes served with a little bit of cheddar cheese melted on it. But others may not, so I'm not even so sure what's a TAV.

I always get nervous when people talk about restoring traditional American values. Is that pre-Brown v. Board Of Education American values? Pre Dred Scott American values? Pre- Emancipation Proclamation American values? Pre-19th Amendment American values? Pre-14th Amendment American values? Pre-Keller American values?

We sometimes forget how great this nation is, today.

Maybe Mr. Beck (some guy I never had heard of before this month) is doing a great thing. But his message is ambiguous, and I have to agree with Roberta X's assessment, right now: "It isn't that I really dislike him, I just think the man's got a lot more Huey Long -- or P.T. Barnum -- to him than he has Ayn Rand."

H/T to Tam.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Isn't it always a pleasure...

...when you found out that your new friend is not just a pretty face?

Jennifer puts an entire industry in its place with a few choice words.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why we do it.

I had to stand as bailiff, the other day.

The officer who regularly handles our municipal court bailiff duties wasn't available, so I got called in to handle it.

Usually, the bailiff in our little municipal court kind of acts as a gofer for the judge and the court clerk, and stands around making things look official. I don't much care for it, but it's part of the job, and it's a job that needs doing. Every so often, court rooms can get a little tense, and ultimately, the bailiff's job is security for the court.

On this occasion, part of my job was helping out with a jury trial. We don't have a lot of municipal jury trials. Starting about 45 minutes before court was to begin, good citizens began filing in with their jury trial notification forms. I helped out the court clerk by taking their filled-out forms, assigning them a jury badge, and providing them with paperwork from the judge informing them of their expected duties and behavior. I was impressed by the huge turn-out. We got about an 85% response rate, with several of those who hadn't shown having already contacted the court clerk with legitimate reasons for not responding.

None of the jury candidates was particularly irritated about this disruption in their lives. They simply came to do what they were called to do. I made it a point to thank each one directly for attending.

The voir dire was longer than I would have thought, with both the prosecutor and defendant's counsel doing their best to weed out potential problems, and both making a sincere effort to get the remaining candidates to keep an open mind to their own side.

The trial was a simple traffic court. The charge was the most common: speeding. The defense raised some great points, and the prosecutor courteously treated those points as genuine threats to the State's case. Direct examination, redirect, closing statements-- all were delivered with the solemnity of a murder trial. The trial took two hours before the jurors adjourned to their room, deliberated, and came back with a verdict.

In Texas, Speeding carries a minimum fine of $1, and a maximum fine of $200. Given the cost of paying the judge, the court clerk, the prosecutor, the bailiff, and paying for the building overhead, the city wasn't going to profit a dime from this, no matter what the outcome.

The jury decided that the defendant was guilty, and the judge thanked them, discharged them, and set the fine. The prosecutor and the defense attorney both shook hands and left.

The court clerk remarked to the judge that it hardly seemed worth all that trouble, what with bothering all the jurors to come in, then going through the selection, then taking so long for the trial, for such a small fine. The judge immediately said, "No, this is the most important thing that we do here. If we didn't treat each and every case with this kind of respect, your job would be a lot harder, and the city would be a joke."

I have to say that I agree. Every ticket that I write, I need to be prepared to defend to the court why I have compelled a person to address the issue at hand. If I am not prepared to endure that scrutiny, than my badge, uniform, and office mean nothing. Considering that failure to respond to a citation in Texas means that a warrant will be issued by the court, that piddlin' little ticket actually is pretty important. And occasionally writing tickets to enforce the rules of the road is part of what makes it generally a safe proposition to drive through our little town.

I live here, too.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Can't eat just one...

Once I get started watching those little National Geographic shorts, my next hour is wrecked.

For example, just TRY not to watch this video of an Andean species of bird that vibrates its feathers at 1500 hertz, playing a note like a violin.

Or this, the barrel eye fish, which has a see-through head, like a cockpit canopy.

Or this jaguar catching a young crocodile.

I could watch this stuff all night. . . .

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Blogorado II

Dad and I rolled up on Thursday evening, and joined the Farm Fam for a very pleasant round table discussion. I was suffering heavily from sleep deprivation and a bad (BAD) bout of hay fever, and fell asleep on the couch during discussions; I'm afraid I didn't contribute much.

Friday evening, however, the Roundtable Discussions On The Lawn were epic. Get a group of story-tellers together, lubricate with easy-drinking, hard-kicking Nerd Beer, and stand back!

Old NFO would have a great tale for us, and Ambulance Driver would try to top it. And Peter would give his take on a topic. The Atomic Nerds would speak up. LawDog and Phlegmmy and Gay Cynic and AE Pilot would all throw out great accounts, and all the while Oleg Volk was circling, circling, his lens lingering on one person and then another. FarmDad always had a good one to toss in, in that easy-going way that may be country, but sure ain't slow-witted.

Later came Sal and TD and the lovely Vine, and new friend Joe, all of whom fit in splendidly to the Round Table chats. We tended to group around the beer, and the discussions would sometimes form into breakout groups, with members moving easily back and forth as it pleased them, eating good food, drinking good drink, and enjoying each others' company. I know-- we all showed up to talk about guns and shoot them, and such. And we did. We shot at targets near and far, and sometimes even shot far targets with guns associated with nearer targets.

Here's JPG, for example, popping 3 gallon water jugs at ranges of 100 to 175 yards, with a 4" Colt Trooper:

(Click to embiggen. Target is the white dot at the left of the screen.)

And I rambled about some miles open country, plinking with Joe and Ambulance Driver, with the sun setting behind the only promontory for dozens of miles:
(Click to embiggen this picture, which by the way I took with my frickin' camera phone.)

We set up targets of opportunity:

And we shot at a half-sized silhouette steel target that Old NFO turned into an Easter-egg hunt, out against a rolling hillside with scattered brush.

But it was the exchange that I enjoyed the most. This is why our breakfasts always convened at 8:00AM and didn't break up until 11:00AM, and why the evening chats always went into the wee hours of the morning.

What a pleasant group of people to exchange ideas with. We missed some of you who didn't come, and invoked your names fondly and often.

I cannot express enough my appreciation for the generosity of time and resources that the Farm Family presented all of us.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Have we forgotten?

New friend Jennifer riffs on the controversy of the new mosque being built "at Ground Zero."

Hey, I'm offended by the concept that the new mosque might be considered a "victory mosque," too.

But I'm more offended at the concept of forbidding its erection.

The protection that this country has afforded to religion through the First Amendment has been pretty strong. And with good reason. It was literally the VERY FIRST right guaranteed in the Bill Of Rights:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Let's not forget those rights of freedom of speech and of peaceable assembly, either.

Folks are critical of Obama for saying that they have the right to put up a mosque there (2.5 blocks away from the site of the former World Trade Center towers.). While it pains me to defend our current President, I have to admit that he's right.

If you're one of those people saying "They shouldn't be allowed to put a mosque there! That's hallowed ground!", then I wonder: just how far out should this Zone Of Sacredness extend? 5 blocks? 10 blocks? All of the island of Manhattan? How about we just ban them from New York City?

And even if you back it down to "well, I just don't want it within sight of the building*" consider that you're still putting restrictions on an entire religion's right to assemble where they want. What about when your religion isn't the flavor of the month? Do you really want the government telling you that your money isn't green enough to purchase a plat of land, and erect a building to code, and peaceably do with it as you please?

I know some Muslims. None of them was happy on 9/11/01. None of them had a damned thing to do with anyone who had a damned thing to do with the attacks on our nation. I'm trying to figure out how telling them that they can't build their place of worship where they want is going to be patriotic.

If you're going to try to claim that "They hate us for our freedoms," then you best extend those freedoms, whether you like it or not.

While flawed, this republic is still great. It's strong enough to withstand the act of upholding the freedoms that it guarantees.
*The new tower, formerly called the "Freedom Tower," is to be 1,776 feet tall, which is well over a quarter mile high.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sharp As A Marble

I seem to have neglected to have linked to Robb Allen's blog, Sharp As A Marble.

That little oversight has now been corrected, as you will see to your right.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

What we get paid the big bucks for.

An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer named David Bisard killed Eric Wells on August 6th, and critically wounded two others, when he drove his police car into the motorcycles that they were riding. Bisard was running lights and siren to a call for service. (To serve a felony warrant? Strange.)

Bisard's blood alcohol level was later found to be 0.19%.

The chief is making lots of appropriate noises. The Mayor is, too, with a possible rush to judgement about Bisard's co-workers, saying that "Someone knew of the human weakness that was present and failed to act or to inform others." Probably. But not necessarily.

The IMPD says that they just drew Bisard's blood as a normal procedure, and didn't get the criminal investigation on Bisard started until after they got his BAC results back on August 10th, because they saw no evidence of his being intoxicated. If that's the case, then Bisard really is a long-time drunk. At that level of intoxication (more than double the legal limit), I would be doing well to simply stand up and walk. Everyone within 50 feet of me would know that something was seriously wrong with me, were I at that level of intoxication.

But I've missed the occasional drunk before. Masking agents, showers, distractions, inability to smell, and presupposition of innocence have all caused me to believe that a person was sober when later evidence indicated that the person was not. (In at least one case, the evidence was the statement by the drunk.)

Good on the IMPD for proceeding with a criminal case against their officer. Want to see the seven charges they put together against their own officer? See them here. In that PDF is also the Probable Cause Affidavit at the end. I note that the affiant is Sgt. Douglas Heustis of the IMPD. They're throwing the book at their own.

But I'm irritated by the Fraternal Order of Police President Bill Owensby's comments. See, back in April, Bisard got in a shootout with a bank robber, and won the fight. Bisard was commended for the good shoot, and received a medal. But here's what Owensby claims that
"The officer's a victim in this to some extent and it's, there's just no, there's nothing good that you can say about this. The whole thing is just a tragedy."
[Emphasis mine.]
He says,
"Not only is he faced with having to have taken a human life, but he heard the bullets whizzing by his head at the same time," Owensby said. He said, "If all this pans out to be true, I don't know if that played a role in this. I don't know how it couldn't have."
Now, to give the F.O.P. their due, they are distancing from Bisard, saying that the accident is inexcusable (after having just made an excuse), and only ask for a DNA test of the blood to show that it came from Bisard.

But friends, that's what we get paid the big bucks for. If we can't handle a shootout with the bad guys, in which we come out of it uninjured but for the weight of the medal on our chest, then we shouldn't get into this profession. When you win a fight, you should not dwell on being the star of your own victimology movie. Move on, bolstered by the knowledge that when the balloon goes up, you can do what needs doing. (Unless you're drunk. Then go do nothing, beyond learning how to deal with life unaided by ethanol.)

Let's have no more talk about David Bisard being a "victim." He killed one, injured two, and endangered countless others. He could have pulled his car over at any time and stopped. He's not the victim. He's a criminal. May his trial be just, and productive.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Not to categorize or anything,

but if this girl couldn't detect the odor of vinegar and water from this d-bag just from the way he wore his hat, it's unlikely that this incident will drive her away.

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Saturday, August 07, 2010

A strange phenomenon

Look, I understand about depression. I go there, sometimes. I've been there for longer periods than I'd care to admit. Sometimes it's a state of humanity.

What I don't fully understand is cutting.

I run across cutters a fair bit in my job. I don't want to categorize or anything (middleclasswhitekids), but I do see some consistencies.

Cutters usually don't go very deep. Most break the skin to bleed, but don't really do any nerve and/or ligament damage. Often it's not even triple-thickness cuts. I've seen quite a few where there was a long series of parallel cuts down the arm or leg, which cuts barely bled. Occasionally you'll see deeper, but usually not.

Question: Does this really count as harming yourself? As a desire to do further, more significant harm to yourself?*

People give themselves homemade tats, and most people don't blink an eye. I know of a frat that engages in branding, and people don't much notice. Piercings, gaugings, sub-dermal inserts-- all of these are a form of self-mutilation. But say that a person is a cutter, and people freak, and sometimes even declare that the person is an active danger to himself, who must be taken into immediate medical and psychiatric care, whether or not the patient wants it.

As a libertarian, I say, let 'em go, unless someone else's life is threatened.

As a cop, I have a duty to protect them, if they're an active danger, even if only to themselves. So I try to evaluate if this person seems to be such a danger. Unfortunately, my evaluation is only given a grain of salt, so I have to call in the Ambulance Drivers, who sometimes take a different vies of things than I do.

There are more sanitary ways of self-destruction, people.

*2nd half of the question was edited later after original post.

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Greatness in headlines:

Discovery News reports that Radioactive Boars are on the rise in Europe.

As Tam said of her local face-eating monkey situation: "the moment for which I have prepared all my adult life is finally here."

Which gun for RADIOACTIVE Russian boars?

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Sunday, August 01, 2010

Not a fan.

I'm going to do a little hatin', here.

Look, I'm not against sports. I'm not against American football.

I'm just not a fan. Oh, the athleticism can be fun to watch, especially when you know the players. But I don't get the obsession.

I understand the ritualistic warfare aspect of it. I understand that something has to be popular, and if it's not feetball, it's soccer, or baseball, or basketball or... whatever.

But I resent that my mandatorily-contributed school tax dollars, which make up the larger portion of my property taxes, go toward this over-wrought spectacle. I resent that my daughters will benefit, from what I can see, not one whit from this spectacle.

I resent that the same school district that refuses to hold any kind of educational camps or tutoring over the summer has a football spectacle in the first week of frickin' August, when it's 93 degrees at 11PM, according to the sign at the friendly small town bank. Said football spectacle is complete with over-loud P.A., over-bright stadium lights, and rambunctious teens drinking in the parking lot while their more-rambunctious parents cheer themselves hoarse over the exploits of Little Johnny, sweating on the pitch in full pads.

My best friend Scott and some others insist that this is a money-maker for the school, and that my daughters' education will benefit. Bollocks. Show me the figures. I ain't buying it until I see them, broken down.

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