Wednesday, November 26, 2014
There are some aspects of the Michael Brown shooting that trouble me. As a former deputy sheriff, FBI Agent and FBI firearms instructor, I would not have reacted as Ferguson Police Officer, Darren Wilson, did; and I’ll tell you why.
This is not a criticism of Officer Wilson. He probably reacted appropriately and in accord with his training.
When I was in law enforcement, the weapon of the day (really not that long ago) was a .357 magnum revolver. It held six rounds. By training and experience, a deputy or an Agent knew exactly how many rounds / bullets had been fired, and how many live rounds remained available - at all times. Now, I’d be willing to wager, cops involved in shootings generally have no idea. If someone, after the shooting of Michael Brown, had asked Wilson how many shots he’d fired from his semi-automatic’s large capacity clip, he would have probably shrugged his shoulders.
With the large capacity clips, I can say with certainty, law enforcement training has been downgraded (in my opinion) to maximize firepower over marksmanship and related tactics.
Would I have killed Michael Brown under the same circumstances? I don’t know. What I do know is that I probably would not have started firing at the distances reported, and probably fired no more than twice before making a split second evaluation of the effect. First, Wilson knew, or apparently knew, that Brown did not have a weapon. Secondly, a properly placed bullet will stop someone at very close range, if you’re confident in hitting what you are shooting at. However, I would not have let Brown engage me in some sort of wrestling match for the possession of my firearm. As I’ve said before, many cops are killed with their own gun.
The other troubling aspect is Wilson’s approach to Brown. Reportedly, Wilson knew that Brown was a suspect in a ‘strong-arm’ robbery. Wilson should never have allowed the suspect to get so close to him when he (Wilson) was still seated in his vehicle. And, apparently, Wilson attempted to talk to Brown through the rolled-down window of his patrol car. That was his first mistake. I guess that Wilson’s explanation was that when he attempted to get out of his vehicle, Brown pushed the door closed, and then began to assault Wilson through the open window. Regardless, Wilson was too close to Brown while still in his vehicle.
This is a tragedy for everyone concerned. Wilson was recently asked if he would have done anything differently. He responded that he would not have. My thought is of course he would have. His career and personal life are in tatters, and he narrowly escaped prosecution.
It is reported that Michael Brown had marijuana in his system. To my knowledge, MJ does not cause the type of behavior he exhibited on that fateful day. Brown, from all indications, was an angry, possibly mentally impaired, individual looking for trouble. It cost him his life. Yes, he was just eighteen; and that is sad. But, he was dangerous nonetheless. If he had reached Wilson, he could have potentially killed a police officer who was only trying to do his job.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
The Letter / Short Story by True Nelson / #4 in the series
Said story and previous stories can be found at the following. They are probably best read in the indicated order:
For more information about my blog, Online True Stories, visit Introduction.
Comments always welcome. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org/.
Monday, November 17, 2014
I don’t know if you noticed – or much less care – but Canada just enacted a new law outlining the illegalities associated with prostitution. The dubious premise of this law is that it is not illegal to prostitute oneself; but it is illegal to offer to purchase the product. Now, if you are trying to make sense of this law, good luck with that.
“The law legalizes the sale of sex. However, interactions and communications between prostitutes, johns and pimps, remains illegal. And so is the purchase of sex.”
Now let me get this straight. Here is a woman who makes her living selling sex, but she is the ‘victim.’ The ‘john,’ on the other hand, who makes his living as a bank-teller or auto mechanic and who accepts an offer from a ‘woman who makes her living selling sex’; well, he goes to jail. OK. I’ve got it. I guess.
How this new law squares with the commonly accepted legal provisions of ‘entrapment,’ I have no idea.
So, how might this work? Perhaps, you are a tourist walking down the street in Vancouver, BC doing a little shopping or planning to stop off somewhere for a spot of tea and a crumpet. Mind you, I didn’t say strumpet, I said crumpet – which is entirely innocent and can be quite tasty.
As you stroll along, a young, attractive woman approaches you and says she is selling sex for money – or she might even be holding a sign that says she is selling sex for money. Now, up until that point, a roll in the hay was not something you had considered (not sure if they have hay in Vancouver, but you get the idea). However, you, in a joking sort of way, not meaning to be rude, respond with, “How much will it cost me?” Mistake! Coincidentally, a shopkeeper overhears the conversation and summons the police. Very shortly, you find yourself at the local jail. Whereupon, with typical Canadian civility, before locking you in a cell, the jail staff allows you to call your wife who is taking a nap at the local Sheraton. She, the wife, is not happy about your confused and feeble explanation.
This got me thinking about other laws that the Canadian authorities should consider enacting. How about these:
- It’s not against the law to sell illegal drugs; but it is against the law to purchase them. Justification: Many ‘dealers’ come from broken homes, hardscrabble lives, and might (in some cases) be minorities – therefore victims in their own right.
- It’s not against the law to sell stolen property, but it is against the law to buy it.
I can think of other possible scenarios, but I will leave it at that. I just wanted to say to the Canadian legislators who enacted this prostitution law: ‘Thanks for giving me a good laugh.’
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Too bad this study didn’t come out before Oregon legalized recreational marijuana. But, anyone who has spent time with a chronic marijuana user already knew this – that chronic use of marijuana shrinks your brain and lowers your IQ. Maybe that recent study would have affected the vote in Oregon. Ah, no, I don’t think so.
According to researchers at the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas – Dallas:
“Compared with a person who never smoked marijuana, someone who uses marijuana regularly has, on average, less gray matter in his orbital frontal cortex, a region that is a key node in the brain's reward, motivation, decision-making and addictive behaviors network.” (Findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.)
What the researchers were unable to determine is whether or not the marijuana users’ brains were abnormal and IQs lower before they started using marijuana; which, of course, could have been the case.
However, it has actually been known for a long time that chronic use of marijuana has a detrimental effect on a brain, particularly in younger people. But, not to worry MJ users – a loss of 8 to 10 points in your IQ is a small price to pay.
I guess what really interested me, in Oregon’s recent election, was the large turnout by young voters reportedly motivated by their opportunity to vote for legalized ‘pot.’
Also, counter to what one might suppose, demographic studies seem to have also indicated that most young voters voted for ‘package labeling regarding GMOs,’ genetically modified food products. This measure, in spite of the youth vote, failed. Nonetheless, young people are apparently concerned about what they put in their bodies – with the possible exception of marijuana – which they have determined is basically a harmless, fun thing.
Well, youngsters, you should know, according to the Mayo Clinic, that:
- There are approximately 480 chemical components in marijuana – approximately 60 known to only exist in marijuana; and that most of those particular chemicals and their effect on the human body is, as yet, unknown.
- THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is, of course, the main component and primarily responsible for the mind altering effect. At least that is what scientists believe.
- And last, but not least, marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco. Furthermore, the manner in which marijuana is used – one inhales and holds the smoke for a period of time to maximize the effect – increases carcinogenic exposure and possible cell damage.
So, Bill Clinton was right. Go ahead and use the marijuana, but just don’t inhale.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Did you ever wonder where the colors ‘blue’ for Democratic states and ‘red’ for Republican states came from? I did. The colors seem counter-intuitive, don’t they? Lincoln was a Republican and the Union Army wore blue. Political leftists, socialist, anarchists, and dare I say communists, have, over the years, been referred to as ‘Reds.’ The 1981 motion picture ‘Reds’ staring Warren Beatty was about a leftist activist and socialist writer. Democrats are now described as on the ‘left;’ and Republicans on the ‘right.’
So I wondered if modern day journalists, or even politicians, sat down together and decided that calling the Democratic states 'red states' cut a little too close to the bone; and was, perhaps, inappropriate. But, why are there Blue and Red states anyway? Why not green and yellow, or some other combination?
Well, it appears that the color coding of states during elections was mostly due to color television. During the 1976 Presidential Election, NBC constructed a large illuminated US map. If Jimmy Carter (the Democrat) won a state, it lighted-up red. If Gerald Ford (the Republican) won a state it lighted up blue. This manner of reporting the states’ election results subsequently became very popular and ubiquitous. But, as you might have noted, the colors, at the time, were the opposite of what they are now.
In the 1984 Presidential election, CBS used the opposite color scheme; red for Republican and blue for Democrat. However, various networks and news sources used either.
During the 2000 Presidential election, most news sources had decided on red for Republican and blue for Democrat. When a Time Magazine representative was asked why that was. He remarked that ‘red’ starts with an R and so does Republican. Yes, well, OK, I guess that makes sense.
So there you have it. Believe it or not.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
I wasn’t going to comment on this situation. It is so intensely personal for her and her family. I know most of you have already read much about this. I’m referring to Brittany Maynard, the young woman, who on Saturday took her own life under Oregon’s Death with Dignity statute. A recent resident of Portland, she and her husband had moved here from California so that she could have some control over her remaining days. She had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and had only weeks to live.
Brittany, 29 years-old at the time of her medically supervised self-inflicted death, must have been an extremely brave and pragmatic person. Some call it suicide. Some call it a merciful end. It appears that Brittany made her decision to relieve her own suffering, as well as the suffering of her immediate family.
That said, I’m writing because the ‘God’ issue has come up.
As reported in the news media: “A senior Vatican official has condemned as wicked the assisted suicide of Brittany Maynard, an American woman suffering from terminal brain cancer.” And per the official: “… to commit suicide is not a good thing, it is a wicked thing because it is saying no both to one's own life and to everything which signifies respect for our mission in this world and towards those closest to us.”
In view of circumstances, this statement by the Vatican was, to me, offensive. I’m not a Catholic. I should acknowledge that fact. I can best describe myself as an Agnostic. And, I am not qualified to discuss religious doctrine. However, it appears that God is the issue and the fanciful dictates of those who presumably are in the know. Am I right? And, is not the Vatican attempting to speak on behalf of God?
I know these two facts. No one, including the Pope, knows if there is a God. On the other hand, no one including our most learned scientists know that there is not a God. No one. Absolutely no one. And, as a result, no one knows what constitutes sin in the eyes of a possible God or an improbable God – depending upon your perspective.
Mr. Senior Vatican Official, I wish you would have kept your comments to yourself. Let this young woman rest in peace. And, if you have some spare time on your hands, how about pontificating on ISIS? Talk about wicked.