Gritting my Teeth

Thursday, September 11, 2014
You know, I love seeing older adults embrace new technology. Since I spend so much time in airports, I'll often see seniors with iPads, Kindles, or smartphones, and I think it's wonderful that they're not shaking their canes at electronics and telling them to get off their lawns.

But some of them need a lesson in public etiquette when it comes to their devices.

I have zero desire to listen to bells, whistles and tones that are associated with whatever game you're playing on your mobile device. Seriously - you're going to push someone over the edge with that shit.

Mute your devices, people. For everyone's safety.

The End of Summer (Boo) and the Winners (Yay)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Today's the day after Labor Day, which means summer is officially OVER. This saddens me, because I'm not very fond of the cold, but on the other hand, it means that it's time to announce the WINNERS of the Fourth Annual Maureen "AJ" Ramey Memorial Summer Reading Program, brought to you by Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men.

This year we read 345 books, exceeding our initial goal, and almost reaching our first stretch goal of 350. This means I will be donating $300.00 directly to the Douglas County Library, and the Incomparable Anne™ will be donating $45.00 to the Douglas County Library Association in memory of our lost, beloved Moe. 

The WINNERS of the Fourth Annual Maureen "AJ" Ramey Memorial Summer Reading Program, brought to you by Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men are:

Remus, who read The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank

and

Random Michelle, who read Speaking from Among the Bones, by Alan Bradley

Congratulations to you both! Random Michelle, I already have your e:Mail address. Remus, if you'd please send me yours using the contact details below the header, I'll get both your Amazon gift cards to you forthwith.

See you next year! 

Happy Birthday, Great Auntie Margie!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Today is my Fabulous Great Aunt Margie's birthday. She's 93 years old today, and still sharp.

This year I had the opportunity to visit with her on her special day, as we had breakfast with her this morning.*

Please join me in wishing her a very happy day. She's a wonderful person, and I love her.



*I am required to document here that the next time we're in town and have a meal with her, I will allow her to pick up the check with no argument. Although I may be allowed to get the tip. Because no one should have to pay for their own breakfast on their birthday, and that's just how we roll in this family.

Link Me Up, Scotty - Glass (mostly) Half-Full Edition

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

For those of us who tend to have strong opinions about vaccinations (the greatest medical achievement in the history of the world) and herd immunity: Herd immunity explained with zombies. There is nothing not to love in this comic.
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The 2014 Summer Youth Olympics ends tomorrow, and these world class athletes are as dedicated and disciplined as their adult counterparts.
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A retired Judge has been sentenced to 30 years in prison because he was "selling" defendants in his courtroom to for profit corporations who own and operate prisons. He took over $1M in exchange for his "tough on crime" attitude and sentencing practices. Hopefully they'll put his sorry ass in Gen Pop. It's the least he deserves.
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EM2 Bud Cloud, formally of the USS DEWEY, Pearl Harbor survivor, got to visit his shipmates on  the new USS DEWEY one last time before passing away in Hospice care two weeks later. The current crew of the Dewey treated him right, and then sent him off shipshape and Bristol fashion after his death.

I am so very proud of my brothers and sisters-in-arms for making this such an awesome event for EM2 Cloud and his family. Bravo Zulu, shippies.
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Video of the Week: Nickel Creek giving a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR's All Songs Considered. They have a new album out this year after a seven year hiatus. I'll always take more Nickel Creek. Especially when there's lots of mandolin involved.


An Imperative of Citizenship

Monday, August 25, 2014
Over the last several days, I've seen this graphic on social media:


I find the message of this graphic profoundly disturbing.

I served this country in uniform for over half my adult life. My father served in the Armed Forces and later became a Deputy Sheriff. My family has a long tradition of service, and I respect my brothers and sisters in arms for the work they do and the risks they take on our behalf.

And yet, I judge them. 

Not only do I judge them, but I judge them more stringently than I would other professionals. The fact that these men and women put themselves between us and the barbarians at the gate means they are to be held to a higher standard, not a lesser one. There is nothing less seemly than an armed servant of the people assuming the mantle of entitled authority.

It's unseemly because members of the Armed Forces or Law Enforcement serve the citizens they protect. An assumption that the simple fact of their authority should naturally mean an obligation for citizens to obey them without question - whether their directions are lawful or not - automatically makes the relationship adversarial. It mistakes fear for respect. And it eliminates the possibility that community safety can be a joint endeavor, and not an "us versus them" scenario.

Let's make no mistake here: I support my brothers and sisters in arms. I understand the stresses of their jobs, and the danger they are exposed to every day. I believe that the vast majority are ethical human beings who take their responsibility and their duty seriously, and represent their organizations in the best possible way. I believe they should be paid more, receive full benefits, and know in their hearts that they and their families will be taken care of in case they're injured or killed in the line of duty. It's the right thing to do.

What I don't believe is that they should not be held to the highest standards while performing their duties. War and policing are no joke - they require a dedication few humans possess, and leave those who serve with an understandable pride in their choice. This is the pride of professionals, not amateurs. And professionals should expect, they should demand, that members of their select group be worthy of that pride. That means when someone exhibits poor judgement or illegal behavior that results in the injury or death of the citizens they are sworn to protect, they MUST be held accountable. They must be investigated by a neutral third party, and if innocent, returned to full duty with a clean slate. If guilty they must accept the consequences, whether it's being reduced in rank, losing their job, or going to prison.

And my status as a veteran and police family member does not give me the right to judge them in this way. It certainly informs my opinion, but the right to judge comes from the simple fact that I'm a citizen of this country, living here legally. The police and the Armed Forces are accountable to me, and to all of us. They are representatives of the government, and so must operate only with the consent of the governed.

I'm a pasty white middle aged suburbanite whose worst legal infraction is speeding and failing to stop completely at stop signs. And yet I, too, am scared of the police. I'm afraid that some innocent behavior on my part will be interpreted as aggressive, and a negative result will follow. If that's how I feel I can't imagine how people of color view these authority figures.

So judging the behavior of the Armed Forces and Law Enforcement isn't just "allowed" in this country. It's an imperative of citizenship, and a safeguard against the corrupting influence of power. The only people who should be afraid of police are criminals. There's no reason why the rest of us should have to view the police as "dangerous animals," as Brother Eric explains. It's unseemly. It's unprofessional. 

I recently saw a YouTube video filmed three years ago of British Bobbies subduing a man on the street who was wielding a machete. They did so without the use of firearms, as is their process and tradition. The description of the event:
Angry man armed with machete is taken down eventually after taunting police by over 30 police officers with riot shields. According to the story he'd been CS gassed (pepper spray) and was still going strong.

Seems a little over kill to me. Then again this isn't America where they'd just open fire on him.
And we're a "civilized" country.

What a shame.

Basenji Blogging Friday - The Sun is Warm Edition

Friday, August 22, 2014
What? I'm vitamin D deficient.
I've known a lot of dogs in my life. And of all those dogs, I've never met a dog who took such pleasure in being outside in the sunshine.

Jax asks to go outside often. But 4 out of 5 times it's not because she needs to potty - unlike Boogie the Giant Schnauzer, Jax's kidneys work just fine, thank you very much, and she doesn't need to pee every couple of hours.

No, she asks to go outside because she adores laying in the sun, and rolling around on the grass, and playing with rocks. Yes, I realize that last part is odd. She's an odd dog. And since she doesn't actually chew on them, we take it as just one more idiosyncrasy of a dog who already has an abundance.

Since Jax cannot yet be trusted to be outside by herself, each of these sojourns must be accompanied by a human. In a way that's good, as it gets me away from desk periodically and out of the vortex of misery that is Visio. But left to her own devices, she'd hang out on the lawn all day long. And this is not conducive to me being able to pay the mortgage.

We'll see much she wants to hang outside once it gets colder.

Link Me Up, Scotty

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Emily Bazelon speaks about what she's learned about calling the police after passing the Bar Exam and covering the law for 20 years as a professional journalist. Hint: When it comes to incidents involving people of color, the answer is often, "Don't."
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Here's 37 pieces of advice from dying people.
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Here's an essay entitled I'm a cop. If you don't want to get hurt, don't challenge me. This piece of thuggery was written by a highly educated LAPD officer named Sunil Dutta. Dr. Dutta believes that the simple fact of his position in Law Enforcement entitles him to tell anyone, at any time, in any circumstance what they must do or be prepared to have violence visited upon them. James Joyner over at Outside the Beltway and Ken White  over at Popehat examine Dr. Dutta's arguments with predictable results.

Dr. Dutta's arguments (and the assumption that police officers can do no wrong, and even if they do, they won't be held accountable so just practice being servile for my enjoyment) make me APOPLECTIC WITH RAGE.
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This heartbreaking photo essay entitled A Mother's Journey gives those of us who have not experienced long term illness and death in a child some insight into their lives and deaths. No wonder it won a Pulitzer.
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Video of the Week: Somehow I missed the 224th Anniversary of the Coast Guard on August 4, 2014. Enjoy this tribute video to my Coast Guard shippies.