Better And Better

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

Monday, April 20, 2015

This is what class looks like.

Longtime online pal Marko Kloos is so classy, he even apologizes for being a little rude when he correctly identifies a rude individual.

Winning a Hugo, up to now, has always been very valuable for a science fiction writer.

If you're like many of us, you want to find a magical story that will divert you from the drudgery of reality, without having to wade through the crap. Just give me the good stuff. So, it's incredibly alluring to see that list posted up on the wall of your local book store with the Hugo winners by year. I've been guilty of having perused the list, found a title that I haven't yet read, and pulled it off the shelf and immediately gone to the cash register. It's that simple: I didn't have to read the slush pile.

I know that I'm not the only one. As do smart people like... well, like Marko Kloos.

Marko, however, found himself in a very weird situation. He had written a very compelling page-turner, which would have found itself in the running for a Hugo anyway-- but which was pushed to the short-list by an unsavory person.

Vox Day, AKA Theodore Beale, is not a person I would invite into my home. He is racist. He is misogynistic. He was expelled from the Science Fiction Writer's Association because of his attacks on fellow writers based upon their race and gender. He is bitter. The funny thing is, the man can write. If he weren't so obnoxious, he probably would have won something by now. But there are lines which you cannot cross without having some backlash, and he crossed them. He will never win an award in science fiction.

To make up for this, Beale/Day came up with a scheme: pack the nominations. Campaign on fairness! Your favorite writers have no chance to win, through no fault of their own! Though they have wrought the best stories, their only sin is that they are white males!  The P.C.-minded establishment wants a multicultural field of nominees, at the expense of Quality! Hell, it sounds good. We all just want the best writing. Who cares what color or gender the author is? We all hate reverse discrimination, because it's just another kind of discrimination, right?

When I saw that online pal and best-selling author Larry Correia was being labeled as a racist (!) and misogynist himself, I began to think, Yeah, I can understand why you'd get ticked about these things. Larry's a good man. Larry is not a racist. He may be a conservative, but he's not a woman-hater. Larry's writings depict strong woman characters, multiple cultures in his good guys... anyway, you get the picture.  So Larry's corner started up a little group called the Sad Puppies. And frankly, I was on board.

Then Vox Day starts up the Rabid Puppies. He endorses a group of authors for Hugo nominations, and they get short-listed. Marko Kloos was one of the authors.

For a few days, it was heady times at Castle Frostbite. Think about this: You're nominated for the Hugo --one of the most well-known awards in your profession*-- and word is that you've got a very good chance of winning it. Heinlein won that award. Asimov won that award. Clark. Le Guin. Dick. Niven. Haldeman.  Gibson. Card. Those are the giants on whose shoulders you will get to stand. I'm not gonna lie: I'm giddy just knowing a guy who gets to have his name mentioned in the same lists as those people.

The same rocket ship badge that is on every paperback of Stranger In A Strange Land could be on your books.

But then comes the crashing reality, which is that people would associate your nomination with the unsavory person who put your name on a list that he advocated be nominated.

Some stains you can never wash clean of.

So Marko, faced with that situation, quit. He pulled his book Lines Of Departure out of the running.
He took his ball (which he was winning with), and went home to Castle Frostbite.

Drop the mic.

He'll write more. And we'll get to read it. But when he takes the awards, it will be on his terms, and not via some shady deal co-opted by a shady jerk.  Hey, Vox? Marko was never your kind of people.
______________________
*Though, apparently, not really as critically-judged as you might hope. "Hugo Award nominees and winners are chosen by supporting or attending members of the annual World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon..." LawDog writes on his disappointment about the process.

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Thursday, April 09, 2015

This is not who we are.

This is indefensible.


This is abhorrent.

No police officer can defend this action by Michael T. Slager, formerly of the North Charleston, S.C. Police Department. Happily, I haven't seen a single officer try to.

Go to 1:35 in the video, and watch as Slager tosses a black object down next to the body. Immediately after cuffing the dying man, he is seen jogging back to where the struggle began, and at 1:08 he picks up that object. I will bet you a month's worth of paychecks that the object is a Taser. I've seen them and handled them for years. It is a gun-shaped black item, seen when he drops it to be a figure L.

So, seconds after the shooting, Slager is tampering with the scene. Hell, that's a third degree felony here in Texas.

And about that shooting. Even before Tennessee v. Garner (1985), this wouldn't have washed with regard to the Fleeing Felon doctrine.  But even if it were legal, it isn't right. You don't kill a man whom you have identified, just because of brief struggle and he ran away.

That video is hard to watch, but I'm so glad that it was made, and released. Because it will help us seek justice. It won't be enough, but it never is, in any shooting of any human.

That's not us.

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Friday, April 03, 2015

Work Stuff.

--I got called in on my day off. A woman had been threatened by her boyfriend. I took the report. During the time that I got her statement, I learned from the victim that he had struck her in the face, breaking her nose months ago. She had hidden it from her family and friends, and stayed with him. Her late previous boyfriend had also beat her up, and been convicted of it. It may not have helped my case, but I stopped in the middle of the interview to tell her:

"I don't care what you've done in your life which makes you think that you don't deserve better-- you deserve not to be victimized. You should have the expectation not to be struck by someone who says that he cares about you. It would appear that you don't think that you're worth that, but I assure, you are worth that. Your children deserve not to grow up believing that this is normal. It's not normal, and you must rear them to not put up with it. The only way that they will take that to heart is to see you not put up with it." 
She was crying at this point. Well, it was a thought worth crying over.

--I got a warrant for a search of a house. The actor was a violent felon, who had guns and was part of a drug distribution ring. Because we didn't want anyone hurt, we used a nearby SWAT team. Yes, I could have been part of the warrant service, but I don't train on this every day, and they do. I made clear that I did NOT want a no-knock warrant. (Per my philosophy on this issue.) They knocked, announced, and then used a distraction device to the back of the house before hitting the door. They weren't home. We seized some evidence, and left a list of what we seized. Our felon absconded, with a felony warrant in his wake, which is really as good as if he had been home. Better, even: he's gone away. Let him run.

--I learned of a warrant extant for a violent man who had stopped in our town at a local convenience store. He was a former member of one outlaw biker gang, and was a prospect for another. This second OBG is a much larger one, and was one which made threats against my father and his family, back in the '70s when I was a kid. (I wasn't permitted to ride my bike on the street until I was about 11. You know how much that sucked, in a country community without sidewalks?)  I found the guy, and verified his warrant, and arrested him and found some contraband on his person when I did so. I impounded his motorcycle, which belonged to the club. One of the clubmembers was present when I went about this, and I had to address him in a sharp tone. I have been told that I have inspired the ire of the club. Oh well.

--I have been trying to make peace between two families in town for years. They have squabbled, and I have listened to both sides. Neither can see the other's point of view. I have reached out to both sides, asking for understanding. Finally, one of the sides came to us and said that they would be willing to come to our peace talks. So, my chief and I are going to moderate some kind of neighborhood arbitration. We'll see how this goes. I'll admit that while I know what I want, I'm not sure that I'm skilled at getting us there. This is new to me. But if we can pull this off, we will have stopped a feud which has plagued the lives of people in two households for more than half a decade.

--I have trained up two rookies in the past 6 months. On the last day of Field Training Officer preceptor-ship, I told both of them a variation of this short speech:
"I was part of your hiring process. I know you, warts and all. I have ridden with you by my side for weeks and weeks, often in the middle of the night. I trust you. I trust you so much, that I am willing to let you be responsible for my family's safety. You won't have me looking over your shoulder to tell you what to do, anymore. That can sometimes make it hard to do the right thing. I'm probably badly paraphrasing C.S. Lewis when I say, 'Ethics is doing the right thing when there is no one there to see you do it.'  Your integrity is the most valuable thing that you own, and it may be sold, only once, and very cheaply. Guard it with your life." 
--One of the most valuable pieces of paper hanging up in our P.D. is a Post-It note which my chief put up a couple of years ago which says: "Don't be afraid to be somebody." It is hanging on the monitor of one of my co-workers' computers. I'm thinking of matting it and framing it.

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Sunday, March 01, 2015

17th.

We woke up with terms of affection, and consumed coffee, and my wife made sourdough bread while I documented the destruction from yesterday's snowstorm.
Actually? This was taken the evening before, but nearly captures what I saw in the morning. 
On the last day of February, in North Texas, you're actually more likely to decide upon long sleeves or a windbreaker as outdoor clothing, than to reach for a lined hooded parka, as I did yesterday. The average high temperature for February 28th at our local airport is about 60 degrees, with the average low being about 39.  Weather like this is actually kind of unusual, and just adds some spice to our lives; we don't mind it much. By February's end, I've friends up north who are very tired of the snow, and friends down south who are probably kind of bored with the lack of it. 

I was on call this weekend, and I've got: 1. The oldest car in our fleet, and: 2. The only four-wheel-drive vehicle in our patrol car fleet. I wasn't going to be leaving town, nor imbibing any adult beverages.

My younger daughter made cocoa, as she's been doing lately. She's got a good hand at it.

My elder daughter invented a reason to go to her best friend's house (to work on a video for a Spanish project), and then happily trudged over in the snow with her rubber boots on (with lace-trimmed cable knit leg warmers visible over the tops of the boots, in the style that has lately emerged here).

My wife and I cleaned some, and discussed how to redo the kitchen. Mostly I said "do whatever you want."

My chickens got extra feed. They were happy, as we had shrouded their coop with a tarp and run a shop light inside it. Marko says that he doesn't get heat to his birds, but his coop is doubtless more airtight than mine. I poured boiling water over their water tray so that they would stay hydrated.

We consumed a black forest cheesecake that my wife made from scratch, and I felt light-headed at all the sugar in my bloodstream.When you're on a near-no-carb diet, you can swoon a bit on your cheat day. For us, that's Saturday.

We went to a fire fighter dinner, and had good barbecue.

We got home, and watched some shows on Netflix.

And I looked up, and it was midnight. My 17th wedding anniversary was over. I had spent the whole day with my wife. We didn't get each other anything, but we were happy with that.

It was a good day, this year, and that. 






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Thursday, February 19, 2015

This is not who we are.

There is a story on National Public Radio about how the Governor of Alabama is apologizing for a recent incident in which a Madison officer body slammed a non-English-speaking Indian man for not complying with his verbal directions.


I made the mistake of reading the comments.


NEVER read the comments.


Many of the comments refer to how police will do such things. Many of them refer to how that's what happens in the Deep South.


I thought that liberals were supposed to be more understanding, and inclusive, and not given toward making sweeping generalizations about people?


The police chief apologized. The department fired the officer, Eric Parker, who performed the leg-sweep and put 57 year-old Mr. Patel down. Mr. Parker has been charged with a crime.


How many ways can we say this? We don't put up with that. That's not who we are.


Please quit tarring us all with that same brush.



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Finding Peace.

I am an atheist. I don't say that much, because of the negative reactions and connotations that seem to come from saying it.  This may be the first time that I've said it public. I think that it is. It's something that I've recently come to grips with.


I don't draw my peace from a higher power. For me, it has to come from within.


You may have noticed that the URL for this blog is MayPeaceBeWithYou [dot] BlogSpot [dot] com.


I composed that address one night after a decent beer or two, when I tried to decide what this web log, or 'blog, was to be about. I thought about writing about my experiences as a peace officer, but realized that most people don't tune into police stories for the "Peace" part of the officer's trade. They want to hear about the drama that accompanies discord.  I knew that I was mostly going to let people down if I promised them such things. If I had a counter on the number of times that I've drawn my gun with real concern that I was going to fire it, it would be in the double digits, and not really threatening the century mark.


When I suit up every day for work, I try to remember what my job is. I am employed to keep the peace.  The best way to do that is to show respect to the people that I come in contact with. And to be honest, I fail, occasionally. That respect thing works in a lot of other areas of life, too, for finding peace. Be it your neighbor, your wife, your daughter, your son, your work partner, your political adversary, or the saber-rattling nation a half-world away-- showing respect is a decent way to keep the peace.


That's hard to do, when we're irritated with someone. But if your goal, (having been established after contemplation in quiet times) is peace, then it is probably when we're irritated with someone that we most owe it to ourselves to display constant respect.



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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

When It's Time To Gracefully Withdraw From Driving

Maryville P.D. had to clean up an ugly situation, caused by an elderly person who momentarily got confused, and struck 9 cars. Somehow, no one was hurt. The video's pretty impressive. 

Every year or two, I end up bringing a confused old man or woman into a meeting with his or her family, and we have a conversation about the eventual necessities of maturation. I have a talk that I've created, in which I reference how, when I was 11, I had to come to grips with the fact that I had to wear glasses. At  35, I realized that I couldn't run like I could when I was 25. As I advance into my 40s, I'm realizing that I'm soon going to need reading glasses.  Many people need canes as they get older, because falling could cause them to break a hip, or worse.  This is about accepting stages in life. Usually they will have similar experiences, and I encourage them to tell me about them.

My interactive talk is usually planned at 10 minutes, but tends to run more like an hour. Often there are tears from those involved. (Not from me. Not while in uniform.)

I get the elderly driver to turn over his or her keys, and promise not to drive again, unless cleared by a doctor.

I then inform the Texas Department of Public Safety Driver Improvement and Compliance Bureau that we need a Medical Advisory Board for this person, and I detail and include copies of call sheets for the calls for service which brought me to this conclusion. I have found elderly people lost and unable to find their way home in a town which they grew up in. I have found people with their foot on the accelerator as they chugged their car forward into another car, unable to figure out why their brake wasn't working. I have found people that had no idea that they were driving on a flat tire, having hit a bridge abutment and sideswiped another car. There is a point where a confused driver looks a LOT like an impaired driver. They can be very dangerous. And I have to be the instrument of the state which starts the process of taking this driver out from behind the wheel.

But here's the thing-- ANYONE can request this.
Just as anyone can call in a reckless driver, anyone can request that a person with medical impairment or simple old age be examined. Texans can fill out and mail in this form. If you have an elderly driver that you're worried about, here's further information from Texas Department Of Transportation.

Other states will have similar provisions, if you look.
Sometimes it takes a family member or loved one to put it all together. If Great Aunt Myrtle has had fender benders and senior moments in Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook, the local constabulary probably won't have clued to it. But you know it.

Time to utilize one of the most powerful tools that a citizen has in managing the government: the Open Records Request. Get copies of the incident reports and/or crash reports involving Aunt Myrtle, and compile them into a time line, which you send to the licensing bureau, pleading for them to gently relieve Aunt Myrtle of her license. If they're like me, they won't tell her who sent them. Let the government folk be the heavies. Oftentimes, seniors won't listen to family begging them to stop driving, but they will abide by the licensing authorities's decision.

Remember, you're not taking away their driving-- you're helping to save them, and other people, from a dangerous situation. 



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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Another dog call.

I responded to two reports of a large pit bull acting aggressively. I arrived, and couldn't find it. I was informed that it had run off toward the highway. As I walked around the area, he showed up, and attacked the wheels of the complainant's Jeep. Literally, he bit the tires, snarling. He wheeled and ran at me, barking, ears down.


I drew my duty weapon, and had a few ounces of pressure on the Glock 31's trigger before he finally checked up about 4 feet from me, barking. He wheeled around, and I transitioned to Taser. I really didn't want to shoot the dog.


Taser still in hand, I phoned the animal control officer, and told him that I really needed a response. He was half an hour out. I set to calming the dog down.


My chief and I tossed him sticks, and talked nice to him, and generally wanted him to know that we thought he was great. He wouldn't kennel up in the back of my car, and periodically would get very aggressive again. My chief took my Taser, I kept my ASP out.


We called out the owner. She arrived right after Animal Control showed up. We asked for the dog's shots and registration, something that the owner had been warned about the last time that the dog was found running loose. She informed us that she HAD gotten he dog vaccinated, but that I just wouldn't believe her because it was a pit bull. It's funny-- I have long known that one of my tender spots is to be accused of being a racist. Here, I felt that same anger rise up. I swallowed it. Huh. Apparently my irritation at being called a racist translates into irritation at being called a "breedist." Or something. Good to know.


We got the dog put up. The owner got a ticket. She insisted that the dog was NOT aggressive. I pointed out that it had been to us, and that it had tried very hard to kill a cat in my presence (damn near managed it, too). "That's what dogs do," she said. "They get out, they kill cats, they kill chickens... big deal!" I pointed out that it was a big deal to the owners of the cats and chickens, and to the parents of the children in the area.


The dog had gotten out because she had it tied up in the back yard without a dog house this morning when she went to work, and he slipped his collar.  It was 30 degrees with a 25 mph wind outside this morning. I warned her of the Health And Safety Code: Unlawful Restraint Of Dog.


She shook her head ruefully and told the animal control officer that I just had it in for her and her poor dog.


I have very little enamel left on my teeth.

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