An ugly job, but it’s a living

Random Rants

Thank you, Oh Pharaoh, for the gifts you have bestowed upon us.

So, I’m car shopping for more than one vehicle.  With the kids mostly grown and driving themselves places, we no longer need the SUV that was the Princess’ Mom-Taxi.  That’s one car.

And for the same reason I need to buy another vehicle for one of the kids so he can drive himself to school and all his extracurricular stuff (plus off to college next year I hope).   That’s two cars.

While I was working I always had a city car, and so I never even owned a car until the last few years of work when I bought a pickup to take to the ranch.  But driving a F-150 everywhere around town is a pain just on parking issues alone.  I would love to have something small and fuel efficient that’s easy to park.  That’s three cars.

Even though I grew up in and around the car business, and I know the ins and outs of buying and selling cars, I still hate the process.  Mostly because I hate spending money to buy a big hunk of metal and plastic that is a liability rather than an asset.  So it brought a smile to my face when I read how poor August car sales were going.  Sucks to be a dealer or salesman, but I can get behind a buyer’s market when I am a buyer.  Especially when I am a triple buyer and only plan on selling one of the current vehicles.

Except there are some twists and turns to this that are making it a sucky process.

First, I am in the market for three cars, but two of them will be well used cars.

And a bad market for new car sales is not turning into a bad market for used car sales.  All thanks to cash-for-clunkers, or the Car Allowance Rebate System, as the government called it.

Anybody with half a brain knew that cash-for-clunkers was economic idiocy in the making. It didn’t save any jobs, cost the taxpayers billions, was so poorly designed and administered that dealers were dodging participation left and right, and now has raised the cost of used cars thanks to all the good used cars that were destroyed. From the Boston Globe Clunkers a Classic Government Folly.

According to, a website for car buyers, a three-year-old automobile today will set you back, on average, close to $20,000 — a spike of more than 10 percent since last summer. For some popular models, the increase has been much steeper. In July, a used Cadillac Escalade was going for around $35,000, or nearly 36 percent over last July’s price.

Part of the increased prices for used cars is that the economy sucks so much that people who would normally be buying a new car are now buying used cars because they are afraid they will be the next one to lose their job.

But an even bigger part of the answer is that the supply of used cars is artificially low, because your Uncle Sam decided last year to destroy hundreds of thousands of perfectly good automobiles as part of its hare-brained Car Allowance Rebate System — or, as most of us called it, Cash for Clunkers. That was the program under which the government paid consumers up to $4,500 when they traded in an old car and bought a new one with better gas mileage. The traded-in cars — which had to be in drivable condition to qualify for the rebate — were then demolished: Dealers were required to chemically wreck each car’s engine, and send the car to be crushed or shredded.

This explains why there are almost no decent late model used cars for sale by private owners, and most of what I’m finding on car lots are old lease vehicles that have been dogged to death and have outrageous prices.   I can make a hell of a deal on a new car, if I want to hose off 20% of it in depreciation the second I drive the car off the lot.

It’s time to face reality – the government we have today is comprised of people who don’t have a clue how business works.  This successful program took money from hardworking taxpayers on a budget and pissed it away so the foolish could get a new car at a discount price and government workers could get paid to process the paperwork.

I’m ready for the Great Half White Father Who Camps By The Potomac to stop helping me out so much.  I don’t think I can afford it any more.

They need to be told?

Texas lawyers are going to vote to decide if it’s wrong to have sex with a client.

The committee decided that lawyers are not immune from the effects of sexual attraction on human judgment.

“It’s pretty sordid,” Eads said. “We had a hearing. A number of women said we needed an absolute prohibition. Lawyers will say, I want to have sex with your daughter or your son. Sometimes on the eve of trial they’ll say, you owe me $10,000, but if you have sex with me I’ll reduce it to $5,000.”

Doctors and psychologists have long understood the conflict of interest in this kind of relationship, but lawyers are still working on it.

And they wonder why people hate them so.

She Lied?

So, I’ve been working my way through the Supremes’ most recent 2nd Amendment case, McDonald vs. City of Chicago, and I find Sonia Sotomayor was on the losing team.  No big thing, I think we all know she was going to be to the left, and her votes would follow.  But the interesting part is that she joined, with Ginsberg, in Breyer’s dissent.  The dissent that says, the court got Heller wrong, and now that,

“In sum, the Framers did not write the Second Amendment in order to protect a private right of armed self defense.”

Wait a second.  Is this the same Sonia Sotomayor who swore to the Senate that Heller was valid law, settled law?

I’m still working on McDonald, but it seems to be quite similar to Heller in one important respect.  It opens the door for all kinds of new cases as to what restrictions can be put on gun ownership under the 2nd Amendment.  Fat Tony really left the back door wide open in some respects when he wrote Heller.

So, does anyone believe Elena Kagan is a friend of the 2nd Amendment?

Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!


One day, while I was in the police academy, we had to attend a speech by the Comandante del Policia of Mexico City. He was in town on some official visit and part of the giant dog and pony show was his speech to the cadets. He spoke about law enforcement being an honorable form of service.

A year later he was in prison after they discovered that he was one of the biggest crooks in Mexico.

It is a recurring theme:

McALLEN, Texas — A former Mexican police commander accused of playing an active role in guiding drug shipments served as a tax collector for the Gulf cartel, a witness testified Thursday in a federal drug smuggling case.Carlos “El Puma” Landin Martinez collected pisos, or tolls, from smaller drug gangs crossing through the cartel’s turf in Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, said Daniel Zamorano Marchant, a Chilean restaurant manager who once smuggled marijuana and methamphetamine for the cartel.

Anyone wanting to run drugs or transport illegal immigrants between the Mexican cities of Diaz Ordaz, south of Sullivan City, and Rio Bravo, had to pay tolls to Landin, Zamorano said. Landin is accused of running a drug smuggling operation for the Gulf drug cartel while also working as the state police commander in Tamaulipas, Mexico.

There may be honest cops in Mexico, but I never actually met one.   The odds against an honest man making it to a position of authority in Mexican law enforcement are simply astronomical.

I want to thank my chemistry professors


My youngest son asked for help preparing for the semester final exam in chemistry. It’s an honors class, so the information is somewhat advanced, and more than a little beyond what my liberal arts education prepared me for. My week has been spent deciphering babble of this sort:

The more electronegative species gains a full negative charge while the other gains a full positive charge. The bond is purely coulombic, and as our theme of opposite charges predicts, the plus-minus is low energy and the attraction holds the two toms together.

When I first read that, my eyes crossed and I wondered why it wasn’t written in English.

I have discovered that chemists, while incredibly smart at all things chemical, are ignorant of how to explain such things to the chemically challenged. I’ve overcome the obstacles by reading two books, reading websites, and watching/listening to several informative podcasts. Not only do I actually understand this stuff, but I can teach it. After a fashion.

The boy’s textbook was simply horrible, and given the tax dollars expended it is criminal. It covers a scads of material, but it does a rotten job of explaining many concepts. This seems to be a recurring theme in academia. The oldest son is a freshman in college and he waits a week or more after a class has started to see which required books he needs to buy, because, as is the case with the high school kid, many instructors find it much more effective to teach from lectures and handout materials from other sources.

So, the textbook was little help, and I was able to counter some of its weaknesses with a copy of Chemistry for Dummies. Yeah, I know – how appropriate. But still, there were some concepts that weren’t explained very well and I was finding myself in the weeds too often. I started searching the internet and found thousands of websites, many of them for schools and colleges.

What I was looking for was something comprehensive, that didn’t assume I already knew a lot about chemistry but explained the material in depth from A to Z.

What I found were sites that were either too elementary – A, B and C were explained and it stopped there – or too complicated – X, Y and Z were detailed and it was expected that the reader knew everything that came before “X”. It was taking, on average, 8 – 10 websites and both books to understand a single concept.

I began to harbor a deep hatred for a number of college and high school chemistry instructors. At one point I realized that you didn’t need to know chemistry to blow things up, and I fantasized about being the next Unabomber. Chemistry profs and teachers across the country would run in fear at the sight of their friendly postman.

But foolish fantasies, while briefly enjoyable, were not solving my problem.

At one point I placed my hopes in the audio podcasts from some community college chemistry classes. After all, what were once known as Junior Colleges are for all the people who weren’t quite ready for real college – right?

I teach a community college and I can say unequivocally that I teach at a more basic level, even though our credits transfer to “big name” colleges and universities. I know someone that almost lost her job because students bitched and moaned that she “taught like it was Yale.” She had to dumb down and break down her courses to meet the needs of her less skilled students.

That’s a quote from Rate Your Students, a site for professors to bitch about rate the simpletons darlings that are their students. There is a debate there at the moment on the quality of community college students and professors.

If I didn’t instruct community college students on a more basic level than university students, my community college students would drop out at an even more alarming rate than they already do (I sometimes lose half a class over the course of a semester–this is standard in our neck of the woods). I do have some intelligent students who would do better with more focused and higher level instruction. I am grateful for them every day, and I try to push them to excel in their work–many of them have thanked me for doing that.

Unfortunately, all of the profs who are dumbing their lectures down are evidently too busy to make a podcast or a website that doesn’t suck suffer from being babble that only chemistry geeks understand.

Nearly at the point of losing all hope, I ran across some podcasts for chemistry class lectures at UC Berkley, which has a phenomenal reputation for its college of chemistry. At least four elements on the periodic table were first isolated by Berkley researchers. I downloaded a few on to a flash drive and popped it into my truck’s stereo so I could listen while I was driving. Honestly, I have to say that I had little hope, and I was sure that it would be wasted time because I believed that the material would start out over my head and get more complex. In fact, what I found was that I started to understand the material. The only thing missing was being able to see the visual aids being used in the class.

I was so close.

Then I found MIT’s Open Course Ware website.

MIT was an early adopter of providing an open university of sorts on the internet. The same lectures (as video/audio podcasts), lecture notes, test materials, and related links, as on campus students receive, are all available for a variety of courses. The only thing missing in most cases are the textbooks. You can check it out by clicking here to go to the MIT Open Course Ware site.

Ultimately I watched all of the lectures for about half of a semester of two different chemistry classes (actually, one was a engineering materials class for solid state chemistry)

Professors Sylvia Ceyer and Donald Sadoway’s lectures were phenomenal and my comprehension of chemistry skyrocketed. If you consider MIT’s reputation, the caliber of the students and instructors, and the complexity of the course, it’s amazing that I understood anything. Not that I understood everything, there was always a point at which it became very complicated and my eyes glazed over – “So, the attractive energy is simply Q1 times Q2 over 4 times Pi Epsilon zero R…” – but, up to that point I was in the groove. And besides, I didn’t really need to know how to measure the energy, I just wanted to understand the basic behavior of electron energy in chemical bonding. Unlike the 9th grade textbook, my Chemistry for Dummies book, or a dozen tutorials on different websites, at MIT I found the material I needed to know and understood it.

Youngest son has been complaining about not being able to understand his chemistry teacher. So have a number of other students, and the drop rate in the class has been pretty high. I’ve talked to the man several times and he does speak with an accent, and since English is not his first language he does occasionally use some awkward wording. It’s not that big of an impediment, but I think that when it’s coupled with some difficult material presented at a rapid pace that communication problems do account for some of the kids’ lack of understanding. Or, you could choose to believe what my son believes is the problem – “He’s not that good of a teacher, Dad. All of the kids in class agree that nobody understands half of what he is teaching.”

After my recent experience with chemistry teachers I can sympathize with the little darlings.

But when I was having difficulty translating a point, I resorted to sharing part of an MIT video with him. It was short, just a two minute segments of an hour lecture, but he got the point I was trying to make – and he had a sudden epiphany on another point I didn’t know he was having problems with.

That’s how you calculate those! I tried to get Mr. (Teacher) to explain that to me three times, he talked about it for thirty minutes in class, and I still didn’t understand it.

Junior is taking physics next semester, a subject that I enjoy and know a few things about, and I am looking forward to helping him. But if I stumble, I know where to go to fill in the blank spaces in my knowledge.

I’m Alycia and I’ll be your Emmy Award winning waitress


I‘m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that not only did Alycia Lane win an Emmy for reading the news from a teleprompter, but that she was being paid an estimated $700,000 a year to do that. Wow America, let’s try to get our priorities straight.

Anyway, Alycia may be coming soon to a Denny’s near you…

A TV station fired a local anchorwoman who has been off the air since she was charged with striking a New York City police officer, only the latest dust-up for the telegenic brunette.Alycia Lane “has been released from her contract effective immediately,” KYW-TV said in a statement Monday, the day she had been due back on air…KYW, a CBS affiliate, had Lane start a previously scheduled vacation a week early and pulled her from station promotions during her absence.

“After assessing the overall impact of a series of incidents resulting from judgments she has made, we have concluded that it would be impossible for Alycia to continue to report the news as she, herself, has become the focus of so many news stories,” station president and general manager Michael Colleran said in the statement.

See ya girlfriend…wouldn’t want to be ya!

The other thing that bothers me about this story, is that this low class broad who seems to have problems keeping her paws off other womens’ husbands, was probably fired not because she made an ass out of herself and assaulted a police officer, but because she called the female officer a “dyke”. Being a complete tool and flagrant lawbreaker is not a problem, but violating the mandates of political correctness is a felony.

Dumbass or Liar?


There is a huge zillion-page biography of Teddy Roosevelt on the night table next to my bed. It’s about the size of a Manhattan phone book, and while I love TR, this thing goes into interminable detail that can often be boring. It’s what I reach for when I’m having hard time dropping off to sleep. A few pages of a fifty page discussion about the election of 1904 and I’m off to the land of nod.

Sometimes a few pages of TR is not enough to put me out and I have to reach for stronger medicine. My current heavy-duty sleep inducing read of choice are the blogs of police executives. The writing in a Chief’s blog is about as genuine as the chasteness of a daytime hooker, and as boring as any policy memo I ever read.

The Chief of SCPD started a blog a while back and it is a guaranteed snoozer. A few minutes reading what some staff member with too much time, too little imagination and too many flips through the pages of a thesaurus has turned out would make a speeding meth freak nod off in mid-tweak.

Then I read the blog of Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom of the North Wales Police. I think the man might actually write his own entries rather than delegating it to some house cat on his staff. Some of it is actually interesting and he is not afraid of taking a stand on an issue as opposed to the usual PR drivel that is churned out in other chief blogs. But then, last night, I read his most recent entry and I was wide awake as I read what can only be described as a controversial stance that Brunstrom has taken:

I have spent much time recently trying to inject some sense into the drugs debate. My latest foray was on the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme broadcast on New Year’s Day, in which I stated that ecstasy is safer than aspirin, a comment which has attracted much attention in the media – particularly from those sections of the tabloid press which, sadly, seek simplistically to demonise drugs rather than face the facts.

Well, isn’t that interesting. Richard, old man, I have to say that I agree with your general conclusion about the collective simplemindedness of the media. However, given the general degree of harm that comes to society from illegal drugs, I’m not sure that they are too terribly far from the mark in pointing an accusing finger.

But we could argue that sort of thing all day and I suspect that neither of us would be won over by the other. And I am not going after Brunstrom for his policy choice, as much as I really take great offense at this statement:

…UK government figures from the Office of National Statistics show that between 1993 & 2006, ecstasy was ‘mentioned’ on death certificates in England and Wales 456 times (and mentioned on its own, without other drugs being present, less than half that number of times – 234) , whereas aspirin was mentioned on 504 occasions (on 285 occasions in the absence of other drugs)¹. So in the last 14 years, as a fact, aspirin has been formally associated by the government with the death of more people than has ecstasy. That’s why I said on the radio that ecstasy’s safer than aspirin.

Police agencies love to collect data and produce statistical reports. Good managers use metrics to evaluate effectiveness, but they also are smart enough to see through someone who is misusing numbers to hide the truth. Here in the former colonies we like to say that there are lies, there are damn lies, and there are statistics.

Figures lie and liars figure.

“I say, Cerberus”, you might ask me, “…are you calling Richard a lying bastard?”

What other choice is there? The only other possible explanation is that Richard Brunstrom is a complete dumbass who can’t see through the lies inherent in the bullshit figures he tossed out in his blog, and which are apparently the basis for the utter nonsense that claims Ectsasy is safer than Aspirin.

Why is it bullshit? Because he is comparing apples to oranges. He’s doing some mathematic slight of hand and expects people to fall for it. And it’s not even good magic, but more along the lines of Uncle Frank pulling a quarter out of your ear. You know, the kind of thing you stopped falling far by age ten.

The most recent figures for total Ecstasy use in the UK is from 2002 (right in the midst of the period Brunstrom uses), and indicates that about 2.2% of the population aged 16 to 59 (about 730,000) are Ecstasy users and that they are estimated to consume between 500,000 to 2 million pills each week. That’s 26 – 104 million tabs each year. So, the average is anywhere from .6 tablets to almost 3 tables each week per user. Using a total UK population of 60 million, the per capita per annum use is 1.73 tablets of ecstasy – at the most.

I’m using per capita per annum for the total population because finding extensive data on aspirin use is more difficult. And to be fair, Richard’s statistics are for the entire population.

Aspirin? Sales are pretty static over a long period of time and estimates for total annual sales in the UK range from a minimum of 300 million tablets to 780 million. The range is because the sales figures I found were for packages (or bottles) of pills and used a range of between 25 – 65 tablets per packet/bottle. It works out that the folks in the UK use from 5 to 13 tablets of aspirin per capita per annum.

At least three times as many aspirins are consumed in the UK as compared to Ecstasy, and the number could be as much as ten times greater again. And while I don’t put forward any statistics on how many people use aspirin over there, I will kiss your butt if it isn’t more than the 730,000 odd X takers. A lot more.

The total number of deaths in a population of 60 million is similar between the two drugs over a thirteen year period, but a lot more people take a lot more of one drug than the other. Maybe I don’t know to do European math, but over here those numbers easily add up to Ecstasy being a hell of a lot more deadlier than Aspirin.

If you go to his blog and read his post, you will notice a link at the bottom for an Excel spreadsheet on death data in the UK for the period he referenced in his statement. Interesting to note is that the annual number of Ecstasy deaths have been trending up (up at least fourfold in 13 years), while aspirin deaths have trended down (cut by more than half).

So, Chief Constable, are you a liar or just shitty at math?

Only the dead have seen the end of war

What happens when we die? Barring some scientific discovery we are all going to die. Regardless of what you believe happens after the end of your mortal life, at some point in your future you are going to stop living and leave behind those who you love – and who love you. Perhaps you believe that you and your loved ones will be reunited on the other side, or perhaps you believe that you become worm food and that’s all she wrote. Whatever the case, there will be this big “you” shaped hole left behind in your current life.

If you could speak to those left behind, and offer some words that might comfort them, what would you say?

Sullivan Ballou tried just before he lead his men into the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run for you Yankees):

July the 14th, 1861
Washington DC

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days – perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure – and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine 0 God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing – perfectly willing – to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows – when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children – is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death — and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and “the name of honor that I love more than I fear death” have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me – perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar — that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night — amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours – always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father’s love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God’s blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.


Ballou fell at Manassas, along with 23 of his men from the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry Regiment.

150 years later and our technical skills in writing have improved from quill and ink to bits, bytes and blogs. Our writing is not quite so formal, or elegant, but humanity hasn’t changed. We still fight wars, we still leave behind the people we love, and we still want to reach out and comfort them in case of our death.

January 04, 2008
Final Post

“I am leaving this message for you because it appears I must leave sooner than I intended. I would have preferred to say this in person, but since I cannot, let me say it here.”

This is an entry I would have preferred not to have published, but there are limits to what we can control in life, and apparently I have passed one of those limits…As with many bloggers, I have a disgustingly large ego, and so I just couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to have the last word if the need arose. Perhaps I take that further than most, I don’t know. I hope so. It’s frightening to think there are many people as neurotic as I am in the world. In any case, since I won’t get another chance to say what I think, I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. Such as it is.

What I don’t want this to be is a chance for me, or anyone else, to be maudlin. I’m dead. That sucks, at least for me and my family and friends. But all the tears in the world aren’t going to bring me back, so I would prefer that people remember the good things about me rather than mourning my loss…Sure, all things being equal I would have preferred to have more time, but I have no business complaining with all the good fortune I’ve enjoyed in my life. So if you’re up for that, put on a little 80s music (preferably vintage 1980-1984), grab a Coke and have a drink with me. If you have it, throw ‘Freedom Isn’t Free’ from the Team America soundtrack in; if you can’t laugh at that song, I think you need to lighten up a little. I’m dead, but if you’re reading this, you’re not, so take a moment to enjoy that happy fact.

I suppose I should speak to the circumstances of my death. It would be nice to believe that I died leading men in battle, preferably saving their lives at the cost of my own. More likely I was caught by a marksman or an IED. But if there is an afterlife, I’m telling anyone who asks that I went down surrounded by hundreds of insurgents defending a village composed solely of innocent women and children. It’ll be our little secret, ok?

If you think the U.S. ought to get out tomorrow, don’t cite my name as an example of someone’s life who was wasted by our mission in Iraq. I have my own opinions about what we should do about Iraq, but since I’m not around to expound on them I’d prefer others not try and use me as some kind of moral capital to support a position I probably didn’t support. Further, this is tough enough on my family without their having to see my picture being used in some rally or my name being cited for some political purpose. You can fight political battles without hurting my family, and I’d prefer that you did so.

On a similar note, while you’re free to think whatever you like about my life and death, if you think I wasted my life, I’ll tell you you’re wrong. We’re all going to die of something. I died doing a job I loved. When your time comes, I hope you are as fortunate as I was.

I wish I could say I’d at least started to get it right. Although, in my defense, I think I batted a solid .250 or so. Not a superstar, but at least able to play in the big leagues. I’m afraid I can’t really offer any deep secrets or wisdom. I lived my life better than some, worse than others, and I like to think that the world was a little better off for my having been here. Not very much, but then, few of us are destined to make more than a tiny dent in history’s Green Monster. I would be lying if I didn’t admit I would have liked to have done more, but it’s a bit too late for that now, eh? The bottom line, for me, is that I think I can look back at my life and at least see a few areas where I may have made a tiny difference, and massive ego aside, that’s probably not too bad.

Regardless of the merits of this war, or of any war, I think that many of us in America have forgotten that war means death and suffering in wholesale lots. A decision that for most of us in America was academic, whether or not to go to war in Iraq, had very real consequences for hundreds of thousands of people. Yet I was as guilty as anyone of minimizing those very real consequences in lieu of a cold discussion of theoretical merits of war and peace. Now I’m facing some very real consequences of that decision; who says life doesn’t have a sense of humor?

This is the hardest part. While I certainly have no desire to die, at this point I no longer have any worries. That is not true of the woman who made my life something to enjoy rather than something merely to survive. She put up with all of my faults, and they are myriad, she endured separations again and again…I cannot imagine being more fortunate in love than I have been with Amanda. Now she has to go on without me, and while a cynic might observe she’s better off, I know that this is a terrible burden I have placed on her, and I would give almost anything if she would not have to bear it. It seems that is not an option. I cannot imagine anything more painful than that, and if there is an afterlife, this is a pain I’ll bear forever.

I wasn’t the greatest husband. I could have done so much more, a realization that, as it so often does, comes too late to matter. But I cherished every day I was married to Amanda. When everything else in my life seemed dark, she was always there to light the darkness. It is difficult to imagine my life being worth living without her having been in it. I hope and pray that she goes on without me and enjoys her life as much as she deserves. I can think of no one more deserving of happiness than her

Major Andrew Olmsted was the officer in charge of the Military Transition Team assigned to the 1st Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division and was deployed to Iraq this past summer. The job was to train and prepare Iraqi Military forces to defend their nation. He was a prolific blogger, posting at his own website and as a blogger/contributor for the Rocky Mountain News.

His final post was written several months ago, finalized in July and the entrusted to a friend with instructions to post it to his blog in the event of his death.


No. 0013-08
January 04, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Jan. 3 in As Sadiyah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked their unit using small arms fire during combat operations. Both Soldiers were assigned to the Military Transition Team, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

Killed were:

Maj. Andrew J. Olmsted, 37, of Colorado Springs, Colo.

Cpt. Thomas J. Casey, 32, of Albuquerque, N.M.

How striking are the similarities between the thoughts of Majors Ballou and Olmsted, separated by a century and a half, pondering the same things. Thinking about the burdens of duty and wondering what will happen if the end comes while serving. Timeless thoughts expressed by men at war throughout time.

I don’t know what the letter writing habits of the ancient Romans were like, but I can imagine a Centurion on the eve of the Battle of Zama wishing he could send a message home. The themes would be the same. The call of service and the obligations of my duty have taken me far from you, and I fear that the next dawn will the my last. There is a conflict between my desire to hold you again and stay here and do what I have committed myself to. Service seems a burden in that light, but it is a burden that I yoked myself to freely. If I fall under its weight you must know that I fell regretting the pain that will come to you, but this is the task, the place and time that I am called and dedicated to. My love for you is too strong to be defeated by death, and if there is some way to reach back across the abyss to hold and protect you, I will find it or spend eternity trying.

In the tank

septictank.jpgOne of the good things about working for a large police department is that you can be somewhat insulated from politics. While policies and strategies that affect how you do your job are too often based on someone’s hopes for reelection, for the most part you tend not to be big enough of a player to worry about the ins and outs of local politics. Small town cops, who are likely to write the mayor’s daughter a speeding ticket, or live next door to a political player, have more to worry about.

Regardless of the size of the stage upon which you find yourself, if ambition propels you (or fate drags you) onto the stage, then you become a player, and will find yourself subject to new rules. At best, it won’t be pretty, and at worst it can be very ugly.

When I was a kid I got drafted to help one of my uncles hook his home up to the city’s sewer system. I was employed as the chief, and sole, digger of the ditch that went from the back of the house to the street. While I was slaving away with my shovel I was present when a crew came to clean out and remove the old holding tank that was part of the septic system. Being the curious sort, I took a few moments to observe as they removed the lid from the septic tank. The sight, and odor, was memorable in an unpleasant way. Some things are best left out of sight and out of mind – outside of plumbers, none of us wants to know the details of what happens after the flush handle is pressed. I guess we all want to look at that freshly washed clean porcelain and know only that the job is being accomplished and it looks good from this side of things. But, while we know there is some nastiness somewhere in the system, as long as we are not confronted with it we can ignore it.

That expresses my feelings about politics. I know there is some really foul stuff moving through the pipes, but if I don’t have to deal with it I can ignore it. And anyone who willingly immerses themselves in the filth has to be suspect. When someone screwed up and pushed me far enough up the ladder to the place where I was actually in charge of something at SCPD, I got a sudden and unwanted look at the inside of the political septic tank. It was ugly and nasty and full of underhanded people – and I wanted nothing to do with it. I started formulating an exit strategy.

The beginning of my career at SCPD coincided with those of two other men who went on to immerse themselves in the filth. We attended the academy together and two of us were never candidates for president of the other’s fan club. We will call him Person A. The third man (Person B) and I got along alright, but his incredibly close friendship with Person A was a barrier to our friendship. For the first several years of our careers we were the three out of our class that were promoted while most of the others elected to stay at the officer rank. My motivation for promotion was because I wanted to move into investigations (detective work) and getting promoted was also the only way to get a pay raise in those days. Persons A and B made it very clear that they wanted to be “in-charge”.

My colleagues changed course in mid-stream and went to law school and politics. “A” was elected to two high profile local offices and “B” received a political appointment. Each, in his own way, made spectacular errors in judgment that eventually ended their careers. The news media made hay of their respective screwups, and the general consensus of opinion mirrored my own – “A” was an amoral and arrogant idiot who thought he could do whatever he wanted and get away with it, and “B” was woefully unsuited for the position to which he had been appointed. The first man was outed by news media investigations into his abuse of privileges and power, and when he reacted poorly they went on to beat him up in a very public way. The feeding frenzy left the water frothy with blood and he lost his bid for reelection in a political massacre. His dog might think he got screwed over, but everyone else familiar with the man knows it was a good riddance.

Mr. B’s career ended in an even more fantastic explosion of abuse. Eventually appointed to a  greater position of trust and responsibility by an equally inept politician, he was able to carry on a charade that made it appear as if everything was running well in his agency. Until the hidden flaws in the machine became apparent – and the wheels fell off and the train wreck was gory. Peoples’ lives were affected, careers ended, injustice had been done, and the resulting damage is still a huge gaping wound. The cascade of disasters made national news and the never ending story of the fallout is still frequently cited as a classic example of how not to do things. He also shuffled off the stage.

My relationship with Person C was different. In some ways we were similar, worker bees who moved up in position but stayed out of the limelight and away from politics. He was very good at what he did, although he occasionally made small errors in judgment that were noted briefly by the media. There were a few times the reporters took a small bite out of my ass as well, but not to the same extent. None of us are perfect and after reaching a certain degree of a public profile the sharks start circling when they smell the tiniest bit of blood. But we differed in that eventually he also faced the gaping maw of the political machine – and he jumped in. In his case it was more out of a desire to survive than a desire to be in charge. He correctly decided that if he did not make the move that his past loyalty to his elected official boss made him a target for the next boss who took over. It was a choice between being elected to his retired boss’s job or be shuffled to the side and out the door. It was not the choice I would have made, but I’m not him.

Mr. C soon found himself faced with some tough decisions that were just part of the job. He made choices that quickly brought him under attack. However, he was soon confronted with the volcanic eruption caused by Mr. B, and he did not perform well. In a position to, and somewhat responsible for, cleaning up much of Mr. B’s messes, he elected to try and muddle through without actually accomplishing anything. Not only did he bring a lot of discredit upon himself, but his failure to aggressively try and amelioriate what B had wrought aggravated the situation and made it endure well past the point of being tolerable.

Ultimately, in a decision that I still don’t comprehend, he brought forward allegations about something Mr. B had done that was a classic example of the horrible leader and arrogant ass that Mr. B had become. However, compared to all of the other things that B did, it was such a minuscule act that it compared to a pimple on an elephant’s behind. Mr. B found himself under indictment and removed from his position. He eventually was exonerated in a trial that was seen as a total defeat for Mr. C, but what was seen as a gratuitous kick while on the ground infuriated Mr. B.

Fast forward to today, and I am witnessing a very public attack on Mr. C that has been orchestrated by Messrs. A and B. All coincidentally taking place after Mr. B has announced that he will run for Mr. C’s position and just as the deadline for others to file for positions on the ballot closes. It involves a minor point of personal failing on the part of Mr. C that some might think reflects negatively on his suitability for office. However, it actually is more along the lines of Mr. C’s attack against B several years ago.

Politics, at its base, does not illustrate the clean water swirling on porcelain, but is all about what is inside the septic tank.

It was Mr. C’s attack on B several years ago that lead to me being shoved forward to the edge of the septic tank. I was a minor player in the scheme of things, but I was faced with the choice of doing the backstroke in a pool of feces, or backing away from the edge. As I watch three men, all covered in each others’ shit, act out an inverse morality play, I am pleased with my choice

Freedom of speech and internet publishing for da Poh-leece

Two years ago, when a police officer blogger was told by her employer to kill her blog, I furiously set about learning where my freedom of speech rights were limited by my employer’s rights to maintain discipline and effectiveness. Another blog written by a police officer has bitten the dust within the last week – although I think it was a case of self-censorship / self-preservation. His employer had read his blog, and while having minor problems with one or two posts, the blogger told me he was thinking of making the blog disappear rather than trying to fight the man.

After completing my research a couple of years ago, I published my thoughts as a service to other officers who blog. I sent a copy to the officer who recently yanked his blog in an effort to give him some background information on which to do his own research and reach a decision.

I’m going to republish that old post here:

A cop blogger, whose name and agency I will not mention here, has been forced to yank a blog because of adverse reaction at work. A letter of reprimand was placed in this blogger’s personnel file because combining work issues and personal opinions was perceived as a breach of conduct rules.

I am sure many of you are thinking, “pffft, big deal! Bloggers get dooced all of the time just because they blog.” You would get my agreement on that point because, in general, I think taking action against an employee for writing about their employment and their opinions is wrong. However, as we all know now, most people in this country are in “at will” jobs, which means they can be sacked whenever the employer decides it doesn’t like the cut of their jib.

But, government employees are different.

Not because we are a special class of people deserving of more rights than anyone else. No, it’s because our employers are special creatures. We all work for “The Government”. Congress shall make no law … 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.

As we all know, although the Amendment’s wording restricts Congress, it applies all the way down to the lowest, least consequential body of government. Congress cannot send a FBI SWAT team to my house to haul me off because they don’t like what I said about Hilary Clinton any more than the City of the ‘Burbs can kick in my door to haul me away because I wrote something derogatory about the Mayor.

“So”, you may ask, “what the hell does that have to do with government employees and Freedom of Speech?”

Damn, you are sharp. I am glad that you asked that question.

The Amendments restrict government from screwing with our rights and freedoms. If I worked at IBM and they wanted to fire me because they don’t like seeing their name mentioned on my blog, that is their privilege. The Amendments aren’t aimed at private businesses interfering with my rights, just the government.

All of this does not mean that I get to say anything I want and stand behind the First Amendment any more than any other citizen can shout “fire!” in the proverbial crowded theater. Government has to be able to protect its interests when they are valid and legitimate things that a government is supposed to concern itself with. Like public safety and national defense. Imagine how ineffectively such functions would be if employees had an unfettered freedom of speech regarding the work place.

The Supremes have been dealing with this particular aspect of Freedom of Speech since the 1960’s, and here is what it looks like today:

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees to all citizens, including governmental employees, the right to speak on matters of public interest. This right is, however, not absolute, and analysis of any particular set of facts will involve a balancing of the various issues at stake.

The Court generally upheld the application of First Amendment protections to governmental employees, establishing a balancing standard weighing the employee’s interest in commenting on matters of public concern against the employer’s interest in promoting the efficiency of the public services it renders.

In other words, if you are pissed at your supervisor because he is critical of your work, that is a private matter and not of concern to the rest of the public.

If your agency is releasing nuclear waste into the water supply, well that is a major concern to the populace as a whole.

Since the employees all work for the government, and so much of what they do involves public interests, a balancing test was developed to determine whose interests are more important, the employee or the government: How disruptive to operations was the speech, was it public or private speech, and to what degree did the speech touch on matter of public concern?

The final question to be answered is easy, was there a significant harm done to the employee and was it caused as a retribution for the exercise of freedom of speech?

So, here are the Cerberus Rules of Cop Blogging: Please bear in mind that I am completely unqualified to offer such opinions; you should check with your physician before starting this program, actual results may vary, your individual financial situation may be different, and tax, title and license fees are not included. In other words, if you get fired following my advice without doing your own research, you are clearly an idiot and deserve what you got.

1. Don’t do it. Seriously, if you don’t do it you won’t get zapped. But, if you really want to cop blog, I recommend that you,

2. Never specifically identify anything or anyone at your place of work. (See: Cerberus, Some City, and Giant Red State. All figments of my imagination). How can I interfere with or harm the operations of an imaginary agency in a place that never existed?

3. If you are going to break rules # 1 and # 2, then you damn sure better be certain that what you are cop blogging about is a MATTER OF PUBLIC CONCERN.

4. Read and know your agency’s policies on employee freedom of speech, respecting other employees, insubordination, and releasing reports and confidential information. Understand what all the words mean in the context of the policy manual (usually there is a definitions section with all of the legalistic definitions for specific words like “may” and “shall”). Having memorized the policies, carefully blog by not breaking the rules. Imagine your supervisor, commander, some jerkoff in IAD, and the Chief of Police (actually his rat-faced attorney), all carefully reviewing every post you ever wrote. See them with their highlighters, the well-thumbed policy manual open and a stack of blog entries printed out? It’s late at night and cigarette smoke curls in the lamplight as a magnifying glass is used. Now, imagine them jumping up with glee and shouting “Aha! I got you now, you son of a bitch!” Finally, see them running down to HR to start the paperwork on your career change.

5. Consider carefully what you publish to be sure that is does not cause undo interference or disruption of the operations of the police department. What exactly does that mean? (Hell, I don’t know. Ask me something easy, like how many crackheads does it take to clear a city block of all aluminum cans. ) It’s probably a question of proportionality. Does the public interest outweigh whatever harm is done? If you publish pictures of the Chief stealing dope out of the back door of the evidence room, the resulting disruption caused by his firing and indictment is probably acceptable in light of the public need to have a non criminal running the agency. On the other hand, if you have video of the man picking his nose, well the resulting disruption from his public embarrassment is probably not worth whatever mild interest your publication may have found in some dark corner of the world.

6. DO IT ON YOUR OWN TIME, USING YOUR OWN FORUM AND EQUIPMENT. Don’t be a dumbass and blog from work. Don’t even read your blog from work. When IAD tells the computer evidence techs to “take a look at his machine”, your history will be found and I bet your agency has some rules about “conducting personal business while on duty”, “misappropriation of city property”, “being available to superiors, subordinates and citizens”, and “attention to duties”. (We even have one that prohibits reading any non-work related material while on duty. I’m not sure why there are always newspapers laying around in the crapper – perhaps they are for emergency backups when the TP runs out).

7. Don’t gossip or assassinate someone’s character. If you engage in personal attacks (The only reason Bob got the new car and his choice of days off is because he sucks the Sergeant’s….) you make your speech more of a personal thing rather than the protected public interest speech.

8. Decide now what you will do when they call you in. Note, that I didn’t say “if they call you in”, because you need to be prepared now. Are you willing to go to war with the brass over your blog, or do you want to follow one of Cerberus’s Addendum to Murphy’s Laws of Police Work? (Giant Bureaucracies have crappy memories. When you screw up, if you manage to keep your job, just keep your head down and within 2-5 years everyone will have forgotten about it.

What Would Elliot Think?


When I was a Sergeant in Narcotics, I was sitting in my Lieutenant’s office one day talking with him and another Sergeant. The conversation turned to the latest attempts to legalize Marijuana and we were debating if we would see it happen in our lifetimes. It turned into a discussion about what would happen if the weed were legalized.

Personally, I think of Marijuana as the Stupefying Weed – because every regular user I’ve ever come across acts as if half of their brain were turned off. I suspect it might also deserve to be called the Apathy Herb, because chronic users seem to have as much ambition as a dead goldfish. In a rough-sketch, broad-strokes, cop-on-the-street kind of way, I generally equate Marijuana with alcohol, and for that reason alone I don’t think we should legalize it.

Considering the pain and loss that Demon Rum already causes us, can you imagine what it would be like once we tossed Yerba out there? No thanks, society is already fucked up enough as it is.

Our discussion turned to the topic of cops who might choose to smoke a legal Marijuana. While SCPD had rules about what amount of pre-employment drug use was experimentation and how much too much, the Narcotics Division had more restrictive policies. When the Briar Patch is full of untold millions of dollars in dope and cash, you don’t throw Brer Rabbit in there without knowing his feelings on the subject of Briar Patches in general.

Our boss made the statement that, if he had anything to say about it, no officer who smoked legal Marijuana would ever work in Narcotics. My fellow Sergeant and I took him to task over that, and my co-worker made a great statement in support of our position:

Wait a minute. Are you saying it’s okay for a cop to go home and drink legal beer, wine or booze, but it wouldn’t be right for him to smoke legal Marijuana? That’s just crazy. Imagine how many cops go home and turn on their television while sipping a cocktail to watch The Untouchables. There they are with a nice scotch in one hand and remote in the other, watching Kevin Costner fight a war against the very substance they are holding in their hands, all while thinking “That Elliott Ness was one bad motherfucker.”

The conversation went to hell once we discovered that we were hitting a couple of his buttons pretty hard. We sank into total malarkey when we announced that we would have a huge weed smoking party on the day it was legalized, and he was invited. He kicked us out of his office.

So, everybody knows that while Marijuana is illegal in Amsterdam there is a policy of non-enforcement for users that extends to other so-called “soft drugs” like Hashish and Psyilocybin mushrooms. Amsterdam, which also has a long history of tolerance toward prostitution before the Netherlands legalized it, may be discovering that too much tolerance can lead to undesirable and unintended consequences. Decriminalization does not equal to the absence of criminal behavior. Corinne Dettmeijer-Vermeulen is the Netherlands’ National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings, she works independently and reports to the Dutch government:

“We have tried to decriminalize the prostitution sector by legalising it, by making it liable for permits and we have seen that it really doesn’t work that way. Many of these women in the legalized sector are being forced and violently treated so the Dutch government is now thinking are we on the right track?”

The city is trying to come to grips with some of the undesirable effects resulting when legalizing and tolerating go a little too far. It’s going to clean up the Red Light District and replace the famous prostitutes in the windows with upscale stores. Amsterdam’s Mayor, Job Cohen said recently,

“The romantic picture of the area is outdated if you see the abuses in the sex industry and that is why the council has to act,” he said. “We don’t want to get rid of prostitution but we do want to cut crime significantly.” While legalization was supposed to turn prostitutes into self-employed taxpayers who did not need pimps for protection, the city said the industry is still dominated by criminals attracted by the 370 euros each woman can earn a day.

He has also announced efforts to close coffee shops and so-called smart shops, which sell other “soft drugs” drugs such as magic mushrooms.

Deputy mayor Lodewijk Asscher said the city wants to restore a number of historic buildings and reverse the decline of a large central area where brothels, sex clubs and the coffee shops that sell marijuana line the city’s canals. “It will always be an exciting city with more freedom and more tolerance than elsewhere in the world,” Asscher said. “There will be other tourists and maybe more tourists but if you go here as a tourist you don’t have to feel embarrassed or ashamed about what you see.”

Among the announced reforms is a new code of conduct for police officers in Amsterdam – the same cops who have operated under a policy that fostered the situation that has now apparently gotten out of hand. Unlike every other citizen, and tourist, who can go into the local smokery and light up, they are being forbidden from smoking Marijuana in their off duty time. They are not happy with the new code that requires them to abstain when they are off duty.

It has been their duty for years to operate a policy of nonenforcement over the coffee shop culture. Now the police union will back its members in defying the cannabis ban. The union has vowed to bring a test case in court against the first officer to fall foul of the new rules, claiming that they amount to an unjustified intrusion into personal life.

People who support legalization of “minor” offenses such as Marijuana and prostitution have, at the very base of their positions, the belief that they can partake of such things and not be harmed or hurt society. The truth is that there are some percentage of the population that can do all manner of things and be responsible about it. However, society has all these other people who are not responsible and can’t handle it, and they are also the targets of even less-responsible criminals looking to take advantage. Go to Amsterdam and see the results when the irresponsible many are given privileges that only a responsible few can handle appropriately.

I am a vehement opponent of what I see as a trend in government to over protect people from themselves. The Nanny State goes too far sometimes, but there is a difference between protecting people against themselves and protecting an entire society. There are some privileges that we restrict – the right to vote, drink alcohol, sign a contract, carry a weapon, etc. – because we know that allowing everyone to do it can lead to chaos and disaster. Not that every 21 year-old is ready to handle alcohol, or every 18 year-old will vote responsibly, but we believe that most of them are capable of it. And while there are some people in society who can use what they call “soft drugs” in Amsterdam without society going into the crapper, the reality is that too many people can’t.

Part of the territory of being a police officer is that sometimes you have to enforce laws that you may think are silly or wrong. I’ve always believed that the Constitution provides an individual right to keep and bear arms, and that adults who aren’t criminals, drunks or crazy people should be allowed to carry firearms provided they act responsibly. However, when I started my law enforcement career it was illegal in Texas for an ordinary citizen to carry a firearm just because he thought he had a Constitutional right to do so. It was a stupid law, and one that I personally thought offended the Constitution. However, it was the law and all the court cases challenging it had upheld the Constitutionality of the law. I lost count of how many people I arrested for the offense of Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon, but I bet you could fill a nice sized banquet hall if you got them all together in one place.

The police don’t get to usurp the power of the people as expressed in laws that society’s legislatures and courts decides are just and proper – our job is to enforce them. Enforce them in a reasonable and responsible manner, but we don’t get to unilaterally declare a law null and void because we don’t like it.

If Amsterdam’s government was telling its cops – “We’re enforcing this law now and it applies to you as well” – I would believe any cop caught smoking dope should be fired and prosecuted. But that’s not what Mayor Cohen is proposing.

The Dutch have put themselves, and their cops, in a tricky situation. Police agencies have to prioritize the use of their resources because there are always too many laws and lawbreakers, and not enough time, money or people to enforce them all. But in Amsterdam they made a decision to ignore the law as a matter of policy, not prioritization, and that is a moral failure. Either something is against the law, and that law is enforced as best as demand requires and resources allow, or the law is wrong and should be rescinded. And making a political decision to not enforce the law in the case of ordinary citizens while enforcing it for police officers is too stupid to describe.

There is no sense in telling police officers that a law applies to everyone, but forbid them from enforcing it, only to tell them they have to obey that same law.

Mommy, why did Santa bring you coal?

HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — An apparent ongoing dispute between three parents erupted into a physical fight at an elementary school’s Christmas program Tuesday night.

In the account, Roberts writes that chairs were thrown, obscenities were yelled and three mothers physically punched each other while two other mothers attempted to break up the fight.

Read the story here

See video here .

My hope is that the kids look at the trashy behavior of their parents and silently vow, “I’ll never be like my Mom”.

I’m afraid the truth is that we shall never run out of trashy people who provide us with entertainment of this nature.

Six centuries from now, after we have mastered space travel, some advanced race will make first contact with humans in a distant galaxy. As they get a tour of the human spacecraft they will be astounded to see two women fighting in the cafeteria over line breaking.

Some improvement over the primitive 21st century humans will be evident: They will use telekinetic energy to throw chairs at each other.

Santa’s Back and He’s Pissed

According to the calendar it is damn near Christmas and I think now is a good time for me to slow the pace of the writing typing and spend some time with the kids and the Blond Woman who birthed them. Be peaceful, and kind to others, and if you have some good cheer to spare – spread it around. This is the one time of the year in which you can show genuine affection for your fellow man and woman without them questioning your sanity.

Merry Christmas to everyone and I hope that the new year brings you good health and plenty of memorable moments of happiness.

Speaking of sanity – or the lack of it – how do you know when the criminals run your country?

When there are vast regions of the second biggest city in the nation are places no-go zones for cops unless they go in like the freaking army.

Most of Rio De Janeiro’s 700-plus slums are controlled by drug traffickers and are not regularly patrolled by police, who instead go into the slums in military-style raids, often using helicopters and armored vehicles.

One night I was working in New York with an NYPD detective looking at some locations when he started pointing out the various characters in the street drug trade. At one point he did some curious maneuver to go around the block that involved us going far out of the way. When I asked why we did that, he said “We don’t go down that block without two or three units if we can help it.” Apparently there were some place in New York where you only go in force.

Policing in Some City is different in a number of aspects from what it is in New York. We don’t have the density of population that they have, nor do we have compact neighborhoods with thousands of hiding places and escape routes for bad guys. Still, we have experienced neighborhoods here that occasionally become the home for concentrations of criminals, gangs and all sorts of ne’er do wells. Such things have a way of snowballing and getting out of control and that’s when we go in an do something about it. As a former boss used to say, “every now and then the patients have to be reminded that they don’t run the damn asylum.”

Back to Rio. Last Sunday a helicopter and pilot were hired to take an actor, dressed as Santa Claus, to the Nova Mare slum where he would pass out toys to children. As it flew toward Nova Mare, it passed over the neighboring “shantytown” of Vila Joao. The bad guys of Vila Joao heard the helo and thought they were being raided by the police. They opened fire on Santa and his flying machine.

“They thought it was a police operation and started shooting. Luckily, nobody was hurt,” a police official said. The helicopter had to return to its base after the attack. Two bullet holes were found in its fuselage.Santa later returned to Nova Mare by car to distribute Christmas presents.

700 slums, the police can’t go in except in force, and the bad guys shoot at helicopters? The Rio Police need to wave a white flag and call it a day because I don’t think they have what it takes to fix something that is so far out of control. The military might, but the cops don’t.

Anyway, too many years of thinking about how to fix problems like this, coupled with my offbeat sense of humor, gave me an idea how I would handle it:

Hello Boys! I’m baaaaccckk!

Santa’s New Sleigh

American Idol – Pole Dancer Edition

Girlfriend needs some training. Lesson Number One: Maintain Your Hold on the Pole – Or, the drag coefficient of blue jeans is terrible, but skin sticks.

I’m not sure I understand this…

Larry Bourbonnais, the guy who was extensively quoted in the Jeanne Assam story, is no longer allowed to come to services at the church where the shooting happened. When he showed up at the Church this last Sunday, the officers of the Colorado Springs Police and the El Paso County Sheriff were waiting on him. Bourbonnais has been extensively interviewed, and I guess he has been telling the same story – in which two other armed church member/volunteer security guards did not fire their weapons at the shooter.

The church has been quiet about why they didn’t want Larry coming to worship, except to mention his statements to the media and say they made church officials feel “uncomfortable” or something along those lines.

A more recent story released today mentioned that the officials claim Bourbonnais mentioned something about packing heat when he came back. Given his other, earlier statements, I guess that Larry said he didn’t feel to safe with the quality of the church’s security (except for Jeanne Assam of course), and he didn’t want to find himself in the same boat he was in weekend before last.

You would think adults involved in this sort of disagreement could have worked things out in private and not in the media. But these huge churches with thousands of members have never made sense to me. They just feel like a corporation rather than a group of people who want to study religion together. But then I am a simple sort when it comes to religion. All the churches I attended over the years were small and simple. Most had one minister whose wife was the music director (which meant she played the piano or organ and the rest of us sang). They knew everybody and everyone in the congregation knew each other. And amazingly enough, there was no coffee/snack shop or bowling alley.

I’m stating to feel like an anachronism.

Do they have trailer parks in Philly?


A talking head from Philadelphia got busted in New York early yesterday morning for assaulting a plainclothes NYPD officer. The Emmy awarding winning (they give Emmys for reading the news from a teleprompter??) talking head creature, Alycia Lane, was involved in an incident that started with a dispute between a companion and some plainclothes NYPD officers. According to the Philadelphia Daily News:

She was nabbed at 2:04 a.m. at 17th Street and 9th Avenue in lower Manhattan, said New York City police spokesman Sgt. Carlos Nieves. Lane, 35, her current honey, Q102 morning host Chris Booker, and another couple were in a cab behind a slow-moving unmarked cop car, the New York Post reported. One of the males jumped out and headed to the police vehicle, screaming, “I don’t care if you’re a cop, drive faster!” the newspaper said.

We just love it when people say shit like that.

The reaction was about what you might expect. The cops probably exchanged looks of incredulity, briefly wondered if they were on some sort of hidden camera show, and then in unison exclaimed, “Oh, reeeaalllly?” All followed quickly by hurried un-assing of their mobile policing platform, showing of badges, assertion of a command presence and a rapid investigation to determine the specific nature of this person who was vigorously attempting to endear himself to them. Idiot, drunk, arrogant ass, or some combination of the three?

What could a group of plainclothes NYPD cops working in lower Manhattan driving slowly down the street be doing? Gawking at the big buildings? Looking for an all night Chinese take out place? Or, is it possible, they might have been doing their job? I’m betting the latter is the case and Mr. “Drive Faster” diverted them from whatever police task they were engaged in and made himself the focus of their attention. He could have elected to stay in the taxicab fuming at the cops, or he could have patiently waited and engaged in pleasant conversation with his companions. Or, he could jump out of the taxi and act like a fool.

He chose…poorly.

At some point Alycia became involved and started taking photographs of the goings-on.

It is a little disconcerting trying to do one’s job while someone is photographing or taping you. Aside from being concerned if they are getting me from my good side, wondering if the lighting is right for my skin tone and fretting about my hair, what I really am concerned about is their interference. Because they never just stand there quietly and take their pictures – they have to be vocal about it.

A confrontation is necessary because it is street theater after all. Besides, without someone screaming it at me, I would never realize the importance of the powerful people whose behavior I was investigating.

I’m getting this all on camera. Do you know who I am? You are going to be so screwed when this comes out. I’ll have your badge for this! ‘Rodney King! Rodney King!’

and so on ad nauseaum. It’s damned difficult to handle one disruptive person without another standing next to you, poking their camera in your face, and publicly indicting you as Adolf Eichmann reborn. Or, God forbid, questioning your sexual orientation.

The female cop asked her to step back and that’s when Lane lost it, according to the Post. According to the police complaint, the Emmy-winning anchor yelled at the female police officer, “I don’t give a f— who you are, I’m a f—ing TV reporter, you f—ing dyke.”

Acting foolishly or being rude is not necessarily a crime. It depends on the exact nature of one’s foolishness or rudeness. I’ve had plenty of people scream and shout at me and we’ve managed to work it out without anybody going to jail. But there are lines that really shouldn’t be crossed if someone doesn’t want to turn a confrontation into a legal problem. Hitting me in the face is more than sufficiently across my personal standards of acceptable behavior, not to mention the legal standards for assault, that it will win you a trip to jail each and every time.

Alycia, speaking through her mouthpiece attorney, denies everything. And while the charges have yet to be proven, you can understand her concern about her reputation. Being low class and getting arrested for early morning buffoonery is the in thing for the famous and wannabe famous, but denigrating a Lesbian American is an unforgivable crime in our politically correct society. If she really said the things that were attributed to her, she could find herself employed as an Emmy-winning hostess at Denny’s.

Ms. Lane has not previously appeared on my radar screen, so I went Googling in search of more information about our Emmy-winning arrestee. From a New York Post article earlier this year (and found numerous other places on the internet) comes this little tidbit:

FOXY Philadelphia TV reporter Alycia Lane is in hot water after a series of private e-mails and saucy snapshots she sent to handsome NFL Network anchorman Rich Eisen were intercepted by his wife [Suzy Shuster]. A seething Shuster wrote [in a return email to Lane]: “Boy, do you look amazing in a bikini . . . congrats! Whatever you’re doing, (Pilates? yoga?) keep doing it – it’s working for you. Anyway, sorry but those seven e-mails you sent to my husband, Rich, well, oops, they came to the e-mail address we both use from time to time, but no worries, I’ll forward the beach shots as well as the ones of you dancing with your friends on to his main address. Do you have it?”

She then provides her hubby’s private e-mail, “since you surely are trying so hard to get his attention. I mean, what better way to get a guy’s attention than with skin! Best – Suzy Shuster Eisen”

Now Suzy sounds like she has some class, not to mention a sharp wit and a sense of humor. It’s obvious that she didn’t think much of Alycia and didn’t consider the blatant husband-trawling as a credible threat. That makes me wonder how well Alycia pulls off the bikini look if Suzy forwarded them on to her hubby.

Alycia denied any bad intentions were present in what she emailed and claimed that her relationship with Suzy’s husband was strictly platonic. That happens to me all the time. Damn near every day one of my platonic women friends send me some bikini shots just because we’re such good pals.

Hey Cerb, I’m sending these to you because I value your friendly platonic advice. Do you think my boobs are too big? By the way, I’m going to be in town next week, how about we get together for a cozy platonic cocktail in the lounge at my hotel?

Every day this kind of shit happens to me.

The only thing missing from this story is the mention of a trailer park. You would think that certainly all of this class would have had to have rolled into a trailer park at some point.

For those of you in our viewing audience playing the home version of our game, How Not To Get Busted, remember this simple rule: When you’re unhappy about some police action (or lack thereof), a dumb thing to do is to run up to the officer and start screaming commands and obscenities. Even the nicest and most patient officer you’ve ever met will eventually tire of the situation and start thinking of the elements of laws and ordinances that you might be violating. And there are thousands of them – that although seldom used are still quite effective. The only time I ever arrested anyone for “Driving onto block where fire apparatus being used” was to a guy who just couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let him drive through all of firetrucks and firefighters to get to Wendy’s before they closed. At the third “Fuck you, you can’t stop me from driving down a public street!” I remembered that offense and used it to settle the argument.

If your frustration gets out of control and you decide to hit an officer – you’ve made the decision and also eliminated the need to ponder lesser-known laws.

The sound move is to file a complaint with the police agency. While that option may not salve your righteous anger or fuel one’s over-inflated sense of self-importance, it will generally keep you from being topic of coffee break conversations: You wouldn’t believe this idiot I arrested.

On contempt for authority – Or, how much is a “thousand billion”?


When I was a field training officer I found that some probationary officers had a hard time understanding when and how to properly assert their authority. Most of them were young kids whose only experience with power and authority had been on the receiving end. They didn’t really understand the responsibilities that came with the job, and the authority that came with those responsibilities. Some cops never figure out the differences between having power, exercising authority, or the responsibilities of office. You read about them in the papers when they get fired or indicted.

On the other side of the coin are citizens who find it difficult to be subject to authority. Some of them are just sociopaths and that’s why cops have handcuffs, batons, tasers, OC spray and guns.

But not everyone unprepared to recognize the legitimacy of authority suffers from an antisocial personality disorder. There are socially privileged people who just don’t think that all of the rules of society apply to them. Fully prepared to enjoy the benefits from living in a society with order, they want to trash the rest of the social contract when it comes to rules they don’t like, or find inconvenient to abide by. Authority is okay as long as it is applied to other people, but if they get caught they throw a fit and blame everyone but themselves.

In the Federal courts for the Norfolk Division of the Eastern District of Virginia there was a recent interesting case that illustrates what happens to people who fail to understand the legitimacy of a magistrate’s authority. Case number 2:2007cv00565 was styled, In Re: Prospective Juror, Dr. Margaret I. McIntyre, titled as “Other Statutory Actions.” According to the Hampton Roads Pilot, Dr. McIntyre had been called as a prospective juror in federal court – something she did not want to do. She had attempted to be excused from serving jury duty, but her request was denied.

No mention is made of Dr. McIntyre’s reasoning for her request to be excused, but most people claim work obligations. Most courts will excuse people who have served on a jury within the preceding two years, are over the age of 70, live a considerable distance from the courthouse, or are volunteer firefighters or members of a volunteer ambulance crews. Other than that there are no excuses, just temporary deferrals to serve at a later date. Juror duty is indeed a duty and obligation and all qualified citizens are subject to serve.

From work or my own summons to juror duty, I’ve listened to thousands of people try to get excused from service. Most of them are variations of, “I have too many work responsibilities to take time off for this.” But some are downright entertaining, “My wife and I are trying to have a baby, and when her temperature indicates she is ovulating I need to be home.”

Whatever excuse Dr. McIntyre offered was not accepted. She was displeased and apparently became abusive toward the jury clerks. The clerks informed the magistrate that after her excuse was denied that she became disruptive. Magistrate F. Bradford Stillman ordered McIntyre to appear before him on November 14th. to explain herself. She appeared and made something of a spectacle of herself.

McIntyre proceeded on a tirade for nearly 15 minutes, at one point demanding to be put in jail.“I just can’t believe I have to come down here for jury duty and be treated like this,” she said. “This is incredible. This is like a nightmare out of an American sitcom. You have nothing better to do than to harass an American citizen who’s done nothing.”

Stillman tried to get her to leave and come back with a lawyer to face a contempt charge.

“Oh, great. So I have to spend a thousand billion dollars now again on lawyers for something that I didn’t even want to do to start with,” she continued.

A “thousand billion dollars”? Man, they have some expensive attorneys in Virginia.

But she wasn’t done and continued to argue with the judge.

“Ma’am, I don’t think that we can accomplish anything more today,” Stillman said. “I’m trying to be as fair to you as I can.”“Well, you’re not talking to me like a person,” she said. “I’m not in preschool, you know. I’m not a kindergartner. I don’t need to be sat down and told to sit like a dog.”

When she wanted to debate the meaning of “contemptuous” the judge decided he had enough and ordered the marshals to remove her from the court.

“He’s not the president. He’s a judge,” McIntyre yelled before U.S. District Court Magistrate F. Bradford Stillman on Nov. 14, as U.S. Marshals moved toward her. “He’s a federal employee that ought to be doing something important other than treating me like this.” “Don’t touch me,” McIntyre said to the marshals before storming out of the building.

Sounds like a tempter tantrum to me. And that is how we get to case number 2:2007cv00565 – “Other Statutory Actions” apparently was a hearing regarding Dr. McIntyre being in contempt of court.

Margaret must have gone and found herself one of those “thousand-billionaire” attorneys who promptly set the doctor down and explained to her the many ways in which she had screwed up, how federal sentencing works, and how long an incarceration her childish behavior could cost her. It must have worked.

On Tuesday, her attitude had changed. As her attorney begged the judge for mercy, McIntyre sat bawling.“I’m very sorry,” she told Stillman.

She could have received up to 30 days in jail and a $2,000 fine for the criminal contempt of court charge.

“The court can find no excuse for your behavior,” the judge concluded.

She was convicted of contempt and only had to pay a fine of $250. Everybody, well almost everybody is contrite when they are in fear of punishment. I wonder if she really matured a little that day, or if it was just a show to keep out of jail.

But if she can take away one small victory from the public spanking she received – she got out of jury duty.

Failed at everything but massacre

Nineteen-year-old murders eight at Omaha mall.

He said he was going out in style and would be famous. High school dropout, recent arrests, lost his girlfriend and the last straw was when he got fired……from McDonald’s. Some would weigh up those facts (C’mon, got fired from being the fry-bitch at Mickey D’s!) and label him a loser. He only became a true loser when he gave up.

Better people than he have suffered worse and came back to hit the ball out of the park – but this little waste-of-genetic-material decided to cash in the few chips he had left and leave the casino. And he became the tragedy that fell upon eight families as they learn of mothers, father, wives, husbands, sons and daughters murdered in a violent spree.




He went from loser to ghoul – an irrational bastard imp of evil set loose upon the innocent – as the pale coward hid behind a gun and opened the doors of hell for the families.


What causes this kind of evil to walk the earth? Satan? Chance? Or has the deathbringer lived in the breasts of man since the first sunrise?

Upon the wings of the fallen dream
I hear the sound of a bleeding mind
Bringer of death
Bringer of death

Wikipedia has an article that lists massacres throughout history. Listed chronologically and broken down into all the handy little categories you would ever need: State-sponsored genocides, Pogroms and religious massacres, Politically motivated non-governmental massacres, Labor conflicts, Criminal and non-political massacres, and the list goes on. Oceans of blood spilled throughout the centuries. Famous events interspersed with people and places I’ve never heard of. A handful of people in one case followed by thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions in others.

The roll of killers and the dead are the people of the planet. No country seems to be exempt. All races and religions listed among the death bringers and the slain. The weapons are swords, spears, gun, bombs, starvation, disease, poison, slavery, and some or all of those in myriad combinations.


What a strange animal is man. Capable of intense love, incredible creativity and ingenuity – coupled with the capacity to murder his brothers and sisters by the railroad-car-full.


And the reasons we do it are endless: War, religion, territory, food, sex, money, fear, anger, skin-color, ignorance, blood lust, curiosity and even……fame.

Oh, George… not the livestock.

Somebody should have given the same advice to Bryan James Hathaway of Superior, Wisconsin. Bryan has had a few run ins with the law, and he has been accused more than once of doing things to animals.

Weird, sick, perverted things.

Scary Bryan

Back in 2003, Bryan got locked up for pointing a rifle at some teenagers. He was himself a teenager at the time, a fact that may have accounted for a sentence of probation.

But ole Bry baby couldn’t stay out of trouble.

In 2004, Daniel Paden, Cruelty Caseworker for PETA’s Domestic Animal and Wildlife Rescue & Information Department, wrote a letter to the District Attorney in Douglas County, Wisconsin regarding Bryan’s upcoming court appearance for another charge. Bryan was accused of shooting a horse – Bambrick by name – under unusual circumstances. As Paden explained to the D.A.

Hathaway faces felony charges stemming from his alleged December 6 fatal shooting of an elderly horse in Parkland. According to news sources, the accused told authorities that he shot the animal following the animal’s defensive response to his apparent attempt to rape her. [emphasis added]

Another source said that Bambrick wasn’t a her, he was a gelding. Poor Bambrick – first they castrated him, and then weird Bryan showed up and buggered him before shooting him. Bryan got 18 months in the Wisconsin penitentiary for screwing up his probation with the rape and murder of Bambrick.

You will be as shocked as I was, to learn that Bryan, now out of prison, is yet again in trouble with the law.

According to the criminal complaint filed in Douglas County Circuit Court, Superior Police Officer Adam Poskozim and two Department of Corrections agents met with [Bryan]Hathaway at his transitional housing residence in Superior Oct. 11.

The Superior man’s clothes were covered with blood and what appeared to be deer hair and Hathaway originally told officers he had helped his father clean a deer.

Later, he admitted to having sex with the dead deer near Murphy Oil refinery. Hathaway said he was aroused by the sight of the deer in the ditch. He admitted moving its carcass into the woods, where the assault occurred.

Oh, Bryan…not the livestock…again.

Bryan is clearly a disturbed man. Given his past, and current behavior, I think that Bryan could be working his way up to eventually do something weird, sick and violent…to a human being. I speak not from my meager experience, I have arrested only two animal rapers in my career, but I base my opinion on what the pshrinks say.

When asked how many serial killers had a history of abusing animals, FBI supervisory special agent Alan Brantley, a psychologist who was formerly on staff at a maximum security prison, said, “The real question is, ‘How many do not?’” Experts agree that it is the severity of the behavior, not the species of the victim, that matters.

Bryan is a scary fucker all right.

But his potential danger is a creation of his cravings, or his warped mind, or the little voices that tell him what to do. The guy whose actions I don’t understand is Frederick Anderson – Bryan’s public defender. Quoting Billy Crystal, Wisconsin case law and various dictionaries, Anderson has made a motion before the court in the case of Wisconsin v. Hathaway.

Anderson doesn’t deny that Scary Bryan did the nasty with Bambi in the woods, just that that there was no law against what happened.  Simply said, Anderson claims that Hathaway has not broken the law against having sex with animals, because the dead deer was was no longer an animal. It was just a deer carcass.

The deerly departed, if you will.

At death, an animal ceases to be an animal. As Billy Crystal noted in The Princess Bride, “There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.”

Frederick – for this you went to law school?

Behold the Ugly American

Angelina Jolie, she of the poofy lips, self-abuse and mutilation, and a very close relationship with her own brother, has taken America to task several times for what she sees as a less than stellar image among the masses of poor unfortunates who weren’t born American.

“Our priorities are quite strange,” she said referring to the money Washington spends on war and not “dealing with situations that could end up in conflict if left unassisted, and then cost more.”

“We’re missing a lot of opportunities (to do) a lot of good that America used to do and has a history of doing … You have to start to notice that there’s something wrong with that,” she added.

How wise this young woman is to perceive the ugliness that is us. And how kind of her to take a few minutes away from her busy schedule of single handedly saving the world to point it out to the rest of us with dim wits and shallow intelligence.

But wait.

It appears that Angelina is rampaging through India with her own private army of security guards.

US star Angelina Jolie has been left stranded at an Islamic school in Mumbai where she was shooting a movie, when angry parents accused her bodyguards of shoving their children around.

“Some of the students were pushed around when they were leaving school by the bodyguards,” said Mohammed Yousuf, general secretary of the Parent-Teachers Association, whose two children study at the school.

“Jolie’s bodyguards had no decency and they pushed some of the women around,” added parent Sarwar Siddique, who had come to collect his two children.

Another unidentified man told private NDTV network that one of Jolie’s bodyguards called a man in the crowd outside the school a “bloody Indian” and made a gesture miming the slitting of a throat.

Oh, dear. This must be some misunderstanding. Certainly such an enlightened person as Angelina Jolie would be sure to consider the feelings of foreign people.

But no, it is just another in a string of incidents in which Jolie has moved through Mumbai like the Wermacht went through France.

Her bodyguards have choked out a reporter who dared to take a photograph of the Brangelina family group, punched another who tried to ask for an interview, her entourage sideswiped a motorcyclist as they tried to outrun the paparazzi, and of course there was the airborne invasion trip to Jodhpur

Violating Indian flight rules, the Brangelina Brigade landed a helicopter on top of a hotel in Jodhpur without seeking clearance. Followed by an invasion of the city’s shopping district with a 21 member entourage as Brad and Angelina bought emeralds and rubies.

From reading Jolie’s biography it is unclear if she ever managed to graduate from Beverly Hills High School. She may not have made it to the advanced English Literature class in which they read A Tale of Two Cities. That’s a pity, because she might have noticed some similarities between the Marquis St. Evrémonde and herself.

Excuse me, I said, "no lettuce"

When Burger King came up with that weird ad campaign, the one where this scary bastard showed up in odd situations, I knew that somebody at BK’s HQ was high as a kite.

It may turn out that I was more right than wrong. The morons working at a Burger King in New Mexico seemed to have so much excess dope that they were having a little fun with it. Or they had smoked so much yerba that their few remaining brain cells had packed it in and died off.


What kind of stupid, Soldier? Aaaarrrmmy Stupid, Sir!

Dear Senator Kerry,

Hug my root.


Cerberus – former Corporal of Marines

*Before you write, I also spotted all of the non-Army personnel in the video. Even though it’s innacurate in that sense, I posted it because it makes a good point.