“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quote of the Week

On the role of government.

Somewhat germane to the current discussions...


My lovely wife is off with The Biscuit at a doctor's appointment.

I don't have to be to work for a few more hours, so I'm sitting here folding laundry and enjoying music.

I just looked out the window, and for a 30-second period the front yard was filled with a beautiful golden light from the sun at just the right angle through the fall trees.

Just a nice moment that I'm glad I caught.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Perception is reality

Yes, there is an unfortunate growing gulf between police and citizens in a lot of this country.

But before we point fingers, let's think how much of that lays at the foot of the citizenry.

Every time you tell your kids "If you don't eat your dinner the police will take you to jail," or point to me walking through the store and say "If you don't listen he'll come get you," you have another child growing up thinking we're the enemy and not someone there to help them.

Every time you see us walking in your store or office and point to someone saying "Take him!" or "He did it!" you reinforce the notion of "us vs. them."

Every time you're at a stoplight with a deathgrip on your steering wheel, afraid to look at the marked car next to you; or you walk down the street and pretend the cop walking the beat doesn't exist you do your own little part to widen that gulf.

We're people. We have a tough job - and sometimes it involves doing things people don't like. But we are doing it as your representatives, enforcing the laws that you as a society have asked for. Yes, there are bad apples - just as there are amongst the other parts of the world. Trust me, we like them much less than you do. But just keep in mind that the vast majority of us are simply doing our best to do what's right, even knowing the looks and comments we get.

So, instead of griping about a separate police state, how about taking a few minutes to say hi and get to know one of us? You might be surprised.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


After thirty years otherwise, our new chief has now instituted a mandatory ballistic vest policy, and discontinued the need for wearing the dress hat for everything you do.

Been some interesting changes with more to come.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

People still baffle me

I love our local community cleanup days - a chance for folks to stack unwanted trash by the curb so that it can be picked up by the County & recycled/disposed of as appropriate. Great way to do some spring/fall cleaning, and saves on multiple trips and extra fees for everyone. You can always tell which neighborhoods have it going on as the piles grow over a couple of weeks then disappear in one efficient day. And it can be interesting to see the things people throw out.

But a live hand grenade.... really folks?

Yes, I spent several hours of my daughter's birthday today dealing with this very thing. Fortunately no injuries, and more importantly it didn't interrupt any of her festivities.

For the gaming crowd

Nice article here on some deployed soldiers using role playing games to make life more fun.

Birthday Biscuit

Today my not-so-little-anymore girl turns four years old.

Our second unexpected blessing, she has grown into a wonderful young lady. Full of her own personality, brilliant, stubborn, opinionated, fun loving - hard to find words to adequately describe all the things she is even at this age.

Happy birthday princess. Daddy is proud of you!

Some things never change

Had part of my week occupied with a VIP visit to town, and our bits of support to that. As is often the case with such things we were working with Federal and military agencies during this as well.

So, a couple of us on the civilian bomb side are standing around talking with the lead Special Agent while waiting on things. We see a car pull up and two young men get out - both of whom display a certain lack of "fashion sense" shall we say. One of them has on a powder-blue shirt which not even a grandmother would give as a gift; the other apparently interpreted "business casual" as "stuff I might wear to a club with bad lighting in Tijuana." He quickly makes a comment of "Gee, I hope that's not my military EOD guys."

To which I reply "They're probably Air Force." I can't help it - there's still a bit of inter-service rivalry in me, even after all this time.

He laughs back and says "Hey, not cool - I was Air Force EOD." Which leads to a nice conversation about our backgrounds, duty stations and all the other stuff. Of course, on finding out my prior he has to retort with "Well, I knew they weren't Navy guys since their hair wasn't spiked up and they weren't wearing Oakleys in the rain."

I acknowledged his point as I looked at my own sunglasses in the mirror, and we enjoyed several moments throughout the day in similar nature... My coworkers also enjoyed it having seen a few pictures of me in the past days of such fun.

Nice to see my service still represents style and talent in the community.

Conceptual Failure

We'll start with the class reading, this article about Jack Daniel's distillery in Tennessee.

And now, I get to rant at Mr. Rogers, whose understanding of our system and the way reality works is apparently lacking. Which I also find surprising given the general attitude of self-reliance and freedom typical of that region...

Mr. Rogers sir, you are entitled to exactly two things from the local distillery: Jack Shit. They are not socially obligated to put more money into supporting the community just because the fact that your town's name is on the label anymore than a movie studio is obligated to support Los Angeles because Hollywood is tied to film making.

This whole "entitlement" thing is part of why we have so many gorram issues these days in the first place - and it crosses all the boundaries. I'm "entitled" to money, support, treatment, or whatever else because I'm this ethnicity, or belief, or my ancestors were insulted, or I served in the military or I was a civilian or I want an education or whateverfreakingelse.

And, call it what you will, "entitled" translates to one thing these days - I want you to pay for my desires. Label it what you want, say you're balancing out a fair share, say it's owed to you - it still means you want someone else to pay for your things.

I checked. You're entitled to two things on this planet by your respective creator: being born and dying. Everything else is a bonus.

By our Constitution you're entitled to three: Life (the Government's not supposed to just up & kill you), Liberty (they let you do what you want within reason), and the famed Pursuit of Happiness (you have the opportunity to better yourself through your own efforts - not through someone giving it to you). Again, anything after that is on you, your family or your respective chosen communities.

Now, given what agreements and directions have been made through the state & local legislatures, the Jack Daniel's Distillery certainly has obligations under taxes, local fees etc. - which as the article says already are over half the price of the product. Think about that - 60% of what the consumer is paying (and the company is paying out first) goes to taxes on this product. That's the same as saying every bit of work you do from January until the end of July you don't get paid for, instead it's going to the various governments and you'll get your first actual "paycheck" come August every year. And somehow increasing this number is right?

Mr. Rogers, I strongly suggest given your free time in retirement, and your desire to help your community, that you wander on down to your local library (Lynchburg has one, I've driven by it TYVM) and read a few books on economics, supply and demand and all those other things. You might try Mr. Smith's "The Wealth of Nations" as a start...

If, after all this, you still think that increasing the funds payed into the public treasury is the way to go, then by all means pursue the legislative means to do so. The beauty of our system is that the means are there.

But also don't be surprised when the company up & moves. And for reference on the whole "they'll never leave this town" thing, ask your neighbors in Pennsylvania how the steel industry is doing these days...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy 236th

On this date the Continental Congress authorized the formation of a Navy for these United States. Since then we have led the way in war and peace around the world. Happy birthday shipmates!

Just one moment from this week...

Was on my way home from a long day - ready to spend time with the family and give my poor wife some help and all that... when a call comes out for a group of juveniles setting off explosives as they walk down the street on the other side of the county...

So, off I go to help deal with things. On the way I hear the first of the patrol units mark on scene in the area. Then, the idiot involved says on the air "Well, I don't see anything right now. I talked to this one group of kids but they said they didn't see anything either so I let them go."

In between the sounds of me beating my head against the steering wheel I very unsubtly tell him to go find and stop those kids again, and I'll be there shortly - and that he shouldn't do anything else until some adult supervision shows up.

A short time later I pull up with one of the fire marshals and we start looking around. Sure enough I have multiple scenes with minor property damage, along with three different groups of witnesses who are more than willing to give me good statements and descriptions. At the same time my idiot-of-the-shift lets us know he's found the kids a couple of blocks away. I tell him to start getting information while we coordinate our evidence collection & I'd be there shortly. You know - all the stuff basic police work is supposed to teach you.

After all the initial stuff is sorted out I head over to deal with my this point pects, where I get my next moment of annoyance. Apparently our idea of "detain and get information" involves letting the kids wander around playing basketball, going in and out of the house, and having a half-assed collection of names and "maybe" addresses for everyone. I've now reached my saturation point and not-so-subtly let the Sergeant know that this officer needs to be off my scene before I lose it.

Then it's off to jail for prints & photos & charges with my lucky contestants who are identified as the main players (I'd love to charge everyone, but it doesn't work that way...) - and being juveniles we add several more steps to the processing and paperwork fun. We hit our next roadblock when we find out that we can't get a hold of a guardian or family member for one of the kids. Intake won't take them in (bombs aren't "violent enough" in their book), child protective services won't take him since he's got felony charges, and I can't just drop him by the side of the road. I'm playing phone tag with different services, I've got road officers chasing down possible family, and I'm hungry, tired and pretty much fed up by this point. We finally find his guardian and explain the situation and that they need to get down here for the kid; leaving me to wrap up another two hours of paperwork and packaging before I can head home at last.

Just an example of my week...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Peace Officer's Guide to Civic Dissent

- or -

"How to act like a gorram grown up while holding your demonstration"

references: Jesus, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ghandi, and others

This post had been percolating for a few days, and following a talk with the wife this morning felt like writing it now. Having watched some of the news from the latest group of "We're against everything" in New York I figured I would share my thoughts. Yes, I know my normal reading demographic isn't in this group, but maybe it will somehow reach them through the magic of Google...

So - in no particular order:

- Yes, you absolutely have a right to protest - hell, I encourage it. Many grand things have been accomplished due to public demonstration from the early days of this country. However, please remember that your right to protest does not give you the right to infringe upon others. If you remember that then you've solved 90% of your issues.

- The officers on scene are doing their job, it's nothing personal. They may agree with your position, oppose it, or simply not care. But they have a job to do, rules to work within, and a desire to go home at the end of their shift. Additionally, please remember that these jobs and rules are dictated by the community and taxpayers as a whole - the police are keeping the peace as the society requests.

- Localities will generally be very willing to let you know what rules you are expected to follow in terms of roadways, sidewalks, public access areas etc. - you may be asked to get a parade permit in order to hold a street march, or be allowed to be in some areas with no paperwork or planning required. But respecting these boundaries will limit the need for anything else.

- Private property is just that - private, with their own rules. Some businesses don't care if you protest, some may want you gone. Some places may let you camp on their property, or use it for stands etc. - others want nothing to do with you. Either way it's THEIR property. Should you be asked to leave and refuse you are then subject to arrest for trespass and possible other offenses. If this happens it has NOTHING to do with the police stifling your freedom of speech - they are enforcing existing laws which have to do with where you are and what you are doing, and nothing at all to do with what you are saying.

- As a second note from the above - the First Amendment says the GOVERNMENT can't restrict your speech within normal boundaries - it has no influence on private groups or companies. That means TV, print, online or whatever resource has zero obligation to spread your message or publish your manifesto or otherwise cater to you.

- In the vast majority of situations police are not going to just start arresting people, using OC spray, TASERs or any other force, or otherwise start stepping up their response without warning. Departments are very aware of their legal responsibilities and obligations, and will make clear what will happen and what the consequences are. Should this occur - heed the warnings. If you stick around past that point don't be surprised.

- You may have decided that "passive resistance" is appropriate for your cause - that being arrested and charged is part of the whole plan. If this is the plan you might consider letting the officers know such - that you are not planning to physically resist or be violent, but that you will have to be arrested as opposed to ceasing whichever act. I won't promise you won't still be subject to some force, but this may well minimize the concerns and risk for all involved.

- Officers aren't using force in general because they think you are a bad person. They're faced with a large crowd, a potential for violence, and a need to do things as safely as possible for everyone involved. If you've chosen to put yourself in that position then you must accept those consequences. Whining about it afterwards doesn't do anything but make your cause look immature.

- One of the biggest things you can do is keep the asshats out of your event. Come out, hold your demonstration and all that. But when the element shows up that wants to destroy buildings and vehicles, hurt people and generally riot through the streets all it does is bring the whole image down for you. While you may not always be able to control the participants, making the beasts know they aren't welcome in your action will go a long way towards credibility with the public.

- For heaven's sake, pick up after yourself. Again - leaving a site trashed after your event doesn't make the public opinion think highly of you.

I'm sure my readers, law enforcement and others, can add plenty more. We need adult discourse in this country, but let's do it as actual adults.