Re: Ask The Mineshaft: The Dealer Next Door Edition

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If this hasn't been a problem for the past five years, I see no reason to think it's going to become a problem in the future unless something changes. I'd say you're fine.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-19-09 11:34 PM
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Living near some obvious drug dealers, I'll say this: the overwhelming incentive is to avoid police presence. If you're in the neighborhood, you very quickly get marked as "someone in the neighborhood" and treated as such, which is to say, leave that person alone.

I'm not praising this system of self-governance, but it does exist, at least in my neighborhood.

The prostitution thing, on the other hand? That's five-hundred comments coming soon.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-19-09 11:45 PM
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Save those women! Get them out of there! But don't strip them of agency!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-19-09 11:46 PM
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Which is your worst-case scenario? A) drug dealer and/or clients and/or prostitute get upset at you for something you did or did not do, and take it out on you or your apartment, or B) something Goes Wrong and you become one of the hapless passive neighbors of the apartment that is now a crime scene, and you didn't realize that you were on camera the next morning while you went out and so your face is in the background of the shot right as thousands of Action News viewers are saying "Someone should have done something." Moving avoids both outcomes, getting the cops involved stops B but might bring about A, while doing nothing could bring either about. Plus the longer the economy stinks, the more likely life around criminals is to take a turn for the worse.


Posted by: hassenfoospfeffer | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:19 AM
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which is to say, leave that person alone.

Which is to say, you get left alone, I take it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:23 AM
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This is the first time I've ever read that first ATM thread, which is interesting, until it veers from "guide for the perplexed" to "dsquared and gswift have a manliness contest". What ever happened? Did the neighbor get forced out somehow? Did perplexed become a world-champion martial artist at the cost of her violin playing? Did Michael H Schneider realize what a jackass he had been? As with any talk show worth its salt, there should be some feature of revisiting favorite Ask the Mineshaft threads of the past and revealing the fate of the questioner.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:27 AM
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5: Syntax always fixate you on, clear to we enough is it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:28 AM
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At this very moment I'm sure my neighbors are saying to each other, "that odd dude upstairs is playing music at 3 AM again, and he comes and goes at weird hours. surely he doesn't have a real job. what's the deal?"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:33 AM
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... Or, is it stupid to knowingly live directly above a probable crack dealer? ...

It is stupid everything else being equal. So the issue is whether you are being adequately compensated for the additional risk.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:35 AM
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I'm not sure what nosflow's on about or whether essear's cleared it up. I'm off to swim bed.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:35 AM
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Obviously, if I see any evidence of prostitution, I'll call the police.

I am confused by this. Why does evidence of prostitution merit immediate police involvement while crack dealing does not?


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:11 AM
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11: Because doing drugs is potentially damaging to yourself, but being a pimp is unquestionably damaging to others.

Also, while living upstairs from the neighborhood crack supplier may actually be an advantage, since even the most desperate crack addict is unlikely to burgle someplace right over their source of supply, living upstairs from a brothel can have singular disadvantages, if you're female.

(That said, I lived five floors up from a quiet respectable brothel for about five years, and not only was never harassed or bothered by any of the men who patronised it, the brothel was so quiet and so respectable that I didn't even register it was a brothel for well over two years.)


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:42 AM
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12: Where were you living at the time? I'm sort of curious what sort of environment allows for quiet respectable brothels. (I'm assuming that the quietness doesn't come from the ladies being trafficked women too intimidated to make any noise.)


Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:58 AM
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13. Depends on your definition of brothel. I knew slightly three prostitutes, not working for a pimp, who shared a flat in a delapidated but generally respectable suburb of a major English city, and apart from their job, they were exactly like any other group of flatmates.

Some friends of mine lived upstairs and found them excellent neighbours, who kept an eye on things and could be relied on to feed the cat when they were away, etc. The girls often used to drop in to blow a spliff before work.

On the other side, there was an unspoken understanding that my friends, a couple of whom were largish blokes, might intervene if anything went pear shaped downstairs. But it never did.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:17 AM
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13: In a quiet respectable suburb of Edinburgh, oddly enough... ;-)

This was in my student days - the flat I lived in was cheap and badly run down, the brothel was in the basement, with a separate entrance, and (as far as I could tell) all the women who worked there were your average Edinburgh wifie (well, a couple of them were Glaswegians) who didn't care for walking, because, as someone who had been a member of the guild of prostitutes in Edinburgh much later told me, that the rule in Edinburgh was that if you walked along London Road, down Easter Road, along Leith Links, up Leith Walk (at which point you were back to London Road), (a) you could not be arrested for "loitering" (I think that's about a six mile walk), (b) you got awesomely fit.

You'd see the women arriving in their non-work clothes more often than you'd see the men, actually: the men used to positively sneak in, whereas the women didn't seem to give a damn when they weren't in their street clothes. As it were.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:28 AM
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Re the original ATM: 1st floor guy became obsessed with getting rid of the rapist roommate, and finally convinced 2nd floor guy that the RR was never going to pay him the thousands of dollars in back rent he owed, so 2nd floor kicked the RR out and replaced him with a girl who spent an hour every morning screaming at her sister, who seemed to be staying there, whose boyfriend sold drugs and was eventually arrested (he was hiding in our basement, but when the cops broke in he ran upstairs and tried to hide in my bathroom, but the police followed him in) for stabbing a guy, and who also didn't pay him rent. I told 2nd floor guy he should quit renting to acquaintances and pick someone at random off Craig's List. He didn't take my advice, but while I now occasionally hear bellowing followed by loud thumps, it's mostly pretty quiet. !st floor guy is gone so there's no one to tell me the neighbors' awful sekrits, which I find I prefer. If the RE market ever recovers I'm going to move.


Posted by: perplexed | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:19 AM
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Dude, if you call the police on prostitution, the prostitute is going to get arrested, too.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 6:05 AM
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||

OT bleg:

Does anyone have any information on inexpensive, non-crappy travel health insurance for a week in Canada? I know for an absolute fact that my current coverage won't work abroad.

I don't anticipate a terrorist attack or invasion, so I suppose that I can accept that rider, and I really hope that there won't be any radioactive leaks.

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 6:29 AM
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I got travel insurance from Amex for $9.50/month when I was abroad. I think you have to be a cardholder, but I didn't bother to look anything up online -- just called the 800# on the back of my card and said "Do you have any kind of travel health coverage?" and they were only too happy to sell it to me.

Of course, I didn't have to USE it, so YMMV.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 6:39 AM
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Right, they have all these polls which say that most Americans are satisfied with their health insurance. I'd really like to see a poll that limited itself to people who have dealt with a major illness and asked them.

They all pretty much bar psychiatric coverage. I just want to make sure that they cover me if I break my leg or am hit by a car, and I don't want to have to pay the hospital up front.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 6:57 AM
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I've lived upstairs from some messed-up people and not-upstairs-but-close-proximity-to people who were dealing drugs. I think your possessions are mostly pretty safe, since they're both in the same building as the dealer and not incredibly obvious. If you have a car, however (and I imagine that if you're out east or in SF you probably don't) you might want to be a bit careful--folks who are messed up enough to be smoking crack regularly may also have other habits and poor impulse control and thus break into your car on a whim. (At least, that happened to me, back when I had a car.)

Purely from a practical standpoint, don't call the cops unless you really seriously feel that someone is in actual physical danger. At best, the cops will be a nuisance; at worst they'll arrest or hurt someone other than the actual dealer and maybe involve you in an unpleasant and protracted process. If you have something stolen and you call the cops, IME you probably won't get it back and you'll have a lot of nuisance work on top of the loss. (I suppose you might have to call for insurance purposes?)

There were cops for a serious domestic dispute at my old apartment; the guy went back to jail and the woman ended up really, really regretting that. It was an ugly situation and I was very glad that at the least the person who called the cops was someone involved in the situation so that--as sorry as she was about the results--at least it hadn't been an outsider taking away that choice.

I wouldn't move unless my daily interactions were really stressing me out. After a while the exciting building described above started to get to me--too much noise, too many cockroaches, too much anxiety about my car, too many bad smells--and I moved. But if it had been an awesome apartment and I'd merely known about the messed up stuff and never seen it? I'd be there yet. And I'd have a lot more folding money.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:15 AM
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Frowner sounds right; if this is something you've lived upstairs from for years without noticing, it's not a risk I'd worry about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:28 AM
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Only $9.50/month for health insurance? There's the solution to the US health insurance system- everyone should just go abroad their entire lives and it will be really cheap to get coverage.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:37 AM
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I'm sort of curious what sort of environment allows for quiet respectable brothels.

Not sure if you know this, Neil, but brothels are legal in the UK.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:40 AM
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brothels are legal in the UK.

But by law they must contain one News of the World reporter at all times.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:46 AM
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Are they? I thought prostitution was legal in the UK, but brothels were not.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:47 AM
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26: You seem to be right. Apparently streetwalking is illegal, but working as a prostitute, including in a brothel, is legal. However, pimping and/or running an agency or brothel are illegal. And the details differ in Scotland and Northern Ireland.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:55 AM
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Hassenfoospfeffer in 4 seems to be right. Add in a weighting of the probabilities and it seems clear that the best option is to do nothing. All things being equal, bad scenario A (drug dealer and/or clients and/or prostitute gets mad at you) seems unlikely if you do nothing and bad scenario B (something goes very wrong, crime scene tape, media at the door) seems very unlikely. There are a lot of drug dealers out there, and yeah, a lot of them get caught, but a lot of them quietly stay in business for a long time without a high-profile media arrest.

Of course, what do I know, and in real life all very rarely is equal. I gather that some drug dealerships are much harder on the neighbors and facilities than others; were you talking about a meth lab rather than a mere crack dealership I'd be inclined to say move out now, while if you were talking about a pot dealer I might laugh at the concern. If someone gets threatening specifically, advice about risk in general terms is inapplicable. Etc.

13-15: The UK commenters would know better than me, but isn't prostitution semi-decriminalized over there? I'm thinking of something I remember reading at this blog, although I'm not going to try to find a link to the post itself right now. If so that would make it much easier for a brothel to be quiet and respectable if that's the kind of clientèle it wanted to cultivate.

Pwned on preview, obviously. Oh well.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:58 AM
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but isn't prostitution semi-decriminalized over there?

Emphasis on the "semi-". The law remains such that they can probably arrest anyone working as a prostitute whenever they like, but usually they don't trouble women who aren't on the street. Some local authorities designate areas where prostitutes can work unmolested (by the police). This situation leads to arrangements like 14, where women work together for security, but not strictly in a brothel.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:14 AM
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The "don't call the cops about crack" people are baffling me. I mean, if the situation is "low-level" enough that you've lived with it with no problems for five years, fine; if you were fine with it then, there's no reason to move out now. But the presence of crack dealers is a bloody good reason to call the police or demand your landlord do so; there's no guarantee the presence will remain low-level and you're not talking about having a SWAT team bust a bunch of kids for smoking reefer, crackheads present an actual danger.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:46 AM
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"A meth lab rather than a mere crack dealership"?

I just read that. That is something I just read. This amuses me.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:48 AM
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I don't have any clear idea of what the probabilities are, but if it seems likely that calling the police won't result in the dealer actually going immediately to prison, then having a cranky pissed off dealer who doesn't like you immediately downstairs seems like a bigger problem than having a quiet, lowlevel dealer with nothing against you in the same location.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:50 AM
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And to spin that out a little more: if the dealing's low key enough that a neighbor could not notice for years, then it seems, in an uneducated way, that the cops would probably have a hard time coming up with evidence to support a conviction.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:51 AM
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I'm not sure I completely agree with DS, but to 20 I'd note that it's not as if anyone has to tell him that you called the cops.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:53 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:54 AM
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30 -- Yes. A real crackhouse is no joke at all. But also vanishingly unlikely to have been quiet and have avoided bothering a neighbor one floor up for five years. By far the most likely explanation is that the top floor neighbor is wrong and the downstairs neighbors, while sketchy and probably addicts, are not in fact dealing crack.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:55 AM
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34 should say "to 32...", not "to 20". Note sure what happened there.

33: well, they could potentially get a warrant, based just one the info you've provided, right? (Depending on what info you have, I guess.) And aren't the odds good that they'd find something in there? I think the amount of crack you can possess before it's presumed to be for dealing rather than personal use is fairly low.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:55 AM
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37 also seems not-unlikely.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:56 AM
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32: Who's the cranky pissed-off dealer going to retaliate against, exactly? Baseheads may be strung out, but they're not too strung to know that the sample of non-baseheads who don't want them in the neighbourhood is somewhere around 99%.

Also, following the Code of Omerta does not render the dude or his clients less likely to become a nuisance. If it stays low-level that's one thing, but if it doesn't, then the chance of getting robbed etc. really does go up.

I guess I'm advising The Asker to stay -- there's no reason this situation should run you out of a perfectly acceptable place -- but stay alert and DO call the police if you see it start to escalate.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:57 AM
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38 should say 36, not 37. What the hell?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:57 AM
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Yeah, 36 is a good point.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:59 AM
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A call to the police that turns up anything at all is likely to result in the landlord throwing him out, even if the police don't move on to prosecute or obtain a conviction.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:00 AM
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42: Landlords can be subject to forfeiture where this stuff is happening on their property, right? That seems like it give the landlord real incentive to respond.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:03 AM
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I'm with DS, in general, but I also think a lot depends on the difference between user and dealer, and I'm not convinced by the letter that the asker actually knows which one he/she is dealing with.

My experience with regular crack users is jumpy, touchy people with one sole focus to their lives: getting enough money to get their next fix. This moves very quickly to endless rounds of lying, stealing, and often prostitution. However, if you're not one of their nearest and dearest, they don't have access to your stuff, and you stay out of their way, the personal danger is pretty limited.

My experience with crack *dealers* is nil, but on the sheer level of "Don't want to be around twitchy people with bad judgment, frequent strangers in the house, and access to guns," I'd move out in a heartbeat.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:03 AM
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The description by the neighbor that the person is a crack dealer can mean many things.

1. He occassionally gets drugs and uses them with a couple of friends.

2. He regularly does drugs with friends.

3. Every day, people buy crack from him.

4. People occassionally get the hook-up from him.


I would want to be fairly certain that the situation was severe enough before I took an active role of involving the police or the landlord.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:04 AM
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darn it. pwnd by Witt.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:05 AM
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43 is agreeing with 42, no?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:05 AM
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Yes, 43 agrees with 42.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:06 AM
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before I took an active role of involving the police or the landlord

Although if he's doing things that are empirically objectionable, regardless of whether drugs are connected, you can still complain to the landlord. It's like Al Capone and tax evasion. You don't have to care why he gets evicted, if you just want him gone and he's actually guilty of whatever it is you're complaining about.

(Depends on landlord factors that may or may not be persuasive here -- the letter-writer obviously knows much better on this point.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:07 AM
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Oudemia and CA had an experience living in a neighborhood that rapidly changes from quiet and friendly to unlivable because of drug dealers. As I recall, there was a quiet period where the dealers where there, but not a problem.

But I should let Oud tell the tale.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:09 AM
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even the most desperate crack addict is unlikely to burgle someplace right over their source of supply

Actually, no.

if you were talking about a pot dealer I might laugh at the concern

And also no. Many pot dealers are shifty paranoid types with guns.

But I'd agree with Halford that there's a good chance the neighbor was wrong. If there are in fact obvious signs of dealing—lots of late-night drop-by traffic; bags, vials or such in the vicinity—call the cops anonymously on a pay phone. Crack dealers suck to live around.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:10 AM
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One last thought, further to 52: If you go this route, look up to see if there is a nuisance task force in your local police department. It may be more effective to complain to them directly rather than calling 911. But still be careful in revealing your personal information.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:14 AM
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What operas does he play late at night If he shifts from your standard canon of Italian and Mozart operas to, like, The Ring Cycle, I might call the police. Not much good can come from the mixture of Wagner and crack.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:17 AM
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Of course, if you complain, do not be surprised if they have a SWAT team violently break down the door. So, be careful if you see a bunch of people dressed in black and carrying guns.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:17 AM
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"So, be careful if you see a bunch of people dressed in black and carrying guns."

That's probably good advice across the board.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:18 AM
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53: Yes, that's a deliciously incongruous detail. If he seemed obsessed with the last scene of Dialogues of the Carmelites, I'd move.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:22 AM
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I was unaware that the Carmelites tried to take anybody out with them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:25 AM
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54
Of course, if you complain, do not be surprised if they have a SWAT team violently break down the door.

Don't be surprised if they break down your door either. I know that statistically speaking that exact scenario is even more unlikely than my happy neighborly drug dealer upthread, but still.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:27 AM
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Excellent link, Cyrus. That case is a travesty of justice.

www.theagitator.com deserves tremendous credit for highlighting those kinds of situations, as well as the puppycide that goes on.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:33 AM
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I don't know why the asker has to want to do anything about the crack, which, in itself, is not the problem the asker has. The problem is the noise. Complain about the noise and the loud angry visitors, or express concern. Unless the asker is tempted by the presence of crack in the building and it is in itself becoming the problem, it's just the noise.

If he's trying to keep things under wraps, maybe he'll be more careful about the noise and the people he deals with. He clearly isn't some shameless stoop-sitting guy with a big bag of crack and a wad of cash next to him.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:33 AM
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57: Viscerally disturbing death scene. The nuns at the center of the story, having been condemned to death by the Revolutionary Tribunal, go to the scaffold singing the Salve Regina, which Poulenc punctuates with the sound of the guillotine. The chorus is reduced by one voice with each sickening thud, right up to the end.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:35 AM
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some possible smells

Like what kind of smells? I don't have any personal experience with crack, but I was under the impression that crack smoke has a very, very slight odor that isn't unpleasant.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:36 AM
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Unless the asker is tempted by the presence of crack in the building and it is in itself becoming the problem, it's just the noise.

So totally not my experience. The crack house that used to be across the street was pretty quiet, except for the occasional customer with the loud car stereo in the middle of the night. Even the customers who broke into neighbors' cars were pretty quiet about it.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:42 AM
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The problem with the crack dealer/apartment is violence or theft. People who need a fix will steal from anyone, including the dealer's neighbor.

Criminals are stupid. They do stupid things. Very stupid things.

The danger is the crackhead or the police busting in.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:49 AM
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Re DS in 30: Maybe in Minneapolis even our crack users are passive-aggressive rather than aggro. The two I've known personally (both gone, one at least I presume is dead) weren't really any more messed up than any other kind of addict I'd run into.

It is, at least around here, very very possible to live in a neighborhood with plenty of prostitution and dealing and yet to observe very little of it. I am constantly astonished when people talk about all the problems my neighborhood has. This is a product, I think, of class stratification; the experiences of even my neighbors are largely invisible to me both because I don't know what to look for and because I have middle class social habits, thus don't know my neighbors and am probably not exactly the type of person they'd want to hang out with anyway.

It's pretty depressing, actually, to know that statistically-speaking lots of people are suffering but that you yourself can actually walk down the street where things are happening and both be protected and notice nothing.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:49 AM
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So much to respond to.

1. So much is elided by the convenience terms "crack-head" and "crack dealer". As 45 points out, we may well be talking about someone who is merely an occasional user who hooks up his friends. In fact, if there is not a constant parade of people (not all of whom would necessarily be "sketchy"-looking), then this seems the most likely explanation. The margins on dealing actual crack rocks are low enough that most people would not be able to get by on occasional, discreet sales, without some other form of income. Given what we know of the situation, my guess is that we're talking about someone who uses multiple substances, the vast majority of which consist of either weed or prescription pills. If there is crack involved, it is probably just an occasional delicacy.

2. If you do call the cops in a situation like this, what's to prevent them from knocking down your door at 3 a.m.? Remember, to your average cop, the neighbor of a crack dealer is only marginally less guilty than the dealer himself. The questioner could very easily find themselves or someone else in their building trussed up half-naked on the living room floor for 6 hours while cops screamed racist obscenities at them and trashed their apartment. This scenario happens every couple of months here in the Twin Cities. Usually, no one is shot to death.

3. If you call the landlord, it's very likely that the person in question will figure out that it's someone in the building who's hassling them. In a 6-unit building, they're not going to have to work very hard to pinpoint who to retaliate against.

4. If the only actual complaint you have is the occasional blaring opera, where do you get off ruining someone's life (someone, we might add, who may already be living a pretty degraded existence.) If, as seems likely, we're talking about a person who is heavily into pills or weed, with the odd foray into something harder, they're probably self-medicating for otherwise-untreated depression. And they may very well be medicating in exactly the right way. I know a lot of people who've gotten pretty fried by MAOIs, and a lot of people who've self-medicated with weed to a high degree of functionality for decades. Is a bust and/or eviction really going to help this person?


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:50 AM
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In such all cases, the proper course is to ask oneself: "What would Batman do?"


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:52 AM
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I would like to second or, in the internet parlance of the kids these days, "bump" 62. I'm very curious about what smell, because I read that as suggesting production of some consumable and if there's production going on downstairs then downstairs is a very different business enterprise from some guy sharing some stuff with some friends or providing occasional hookups.

The one time I was in a situation similar to that of The Querent was so bizarre as to be non-transferable. I have no useful advice except to say that if you do call the cops on them it might be wise to do so when you're going out of town for a few days. Best not to be around.

I do recall with amusement the time that Rah and I were out driving around in the country, early on in our hunt for a home to purchase. We had seen a for-sale sign on the side of a rural highway and took off down a dirt road to see the place only to wind up dead-ending in front of a tiny little mobile home all of ten or fifteen feet from end to end: white with pink stripes, curved ends, tiny wooden porch, adorably retro. No for-sale sign in front of it, though, and at a total loss for where the assumed house might be, all of a sudden we looked at one another and Rah said, "Do you smell mothballs?" We had all the windows rolled up and no active ventilation going and yet the smell had crept in and become overwhelming. I said, "Meth lab." I did an extremely nimble turn in their driveway and sprayed gravel getting back out. We laughed all the way back to town. What a stupid way to mark one's lab for anyone one might want to direct to it, y'know?

Totally off-topic, I know, but on reflection our house-hunting turned out to generate probably half of our shared incredibly creepy experiences.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:53 AM
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Overall, though, my advice on such things is always that if it hasn't really bothered you up to now, then there's just no reason to get involved in anybody else's business and even less to get the police involved in their business.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:53 AM
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68.last: The other half involved IHOP?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:58 AM
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I'd both second (third) 62, and also like to know what "evidence" your neighbor had that he was "possibly prostituting a girl for a while from the apartment"? I think some of the inconguity of the responses here comes from the fact that various of the details in the letter seem hard to sensibly square with one another.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:59 AM
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I also endorse not doing anything in the absence of anything more dastardly than what has been directly observed. A cheap apartment in a great location with a downstairs neighbor whose door only gets frantically beaten on by strangers twice a year? It could be his junkie kid brother to whom he offers help when the kid has bottomed out. It could be all kinds of things.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:03 AM
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64
Criminals are stupid. They do stupid things. Very stupid things.

Between that and being so superstitious and cowardly, it's amazing any of them manage to stay on the streets long enough to become repeat offenders.

67: First, get a million dollars.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:06 AM
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OTOH, a few years ago we lived in an apartment underneath the landlord, whose junkie adult-daughter lived with her, and the daughter would bang on our door late at night once or twice a week, begging for money. She always claimed it was for something like bailing a friend out of jail (at 3:00 am?), and said she'd pay us back as soon as she could scrape together a few dollars (which of course she never did). We generally gave her some (if we had any), but it got to be highly annoying after a while. And sometimes large and somewhat scary boyfriends would bang on our door and ask for money in her stead, a few of whom became fairly troublingly aggressive when we didn't have any cash on hand. And we eventually decided it was worth moving (not entirely because of this, but it was a big part of the decision). So I'm sympathetic.

But that place wasn't below-market rent, either.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:18 AM
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73: For if they prosper, none dare call them "criminals."

Yeah, questioner, what's the pandering/prostitution evidence, anyhow? There was a young woman hanging around who was no better than she should be? Maybe there was sex-for-drugs going on, maybe there wasn't. Maybe she was just on her own spiral down and wound up living at this guy's place for a couple of months while she partied. Pretty hard to say without more info.

My grandparents lived across the street from a "health club" (i.e. a "sauna") for my entire childhood. You wouldn't have guessed there was any prostitution going on there from outward appearances. The vast majority of visible crime is perpetrated by the smallest plurality of inept criminals. 80/20 rule basically, or more like 98/2, truth be told. As in the case related above, there's usually not much to see, and even less reason to worry.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:19 AM
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Maybe there was sex-for-drugs going on, maybe there wasn't. Maybe she was just on her own spiral down and wound up living at this guy's place for a couple of months while she partied.

Maybe she was his girlfriend.


Posted by: William of Ockham | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:22 AM
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no better than she should be

I love this idiom. My mother, not otherwise obviously Victorian, will occasionally attempt to convey the same thought by referring to someone as 'fast'.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:28 AM
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My grandparents lived across the street from a "health club" (i.e. a "sauna") for my entire childhood.

And while the sneer quotes make it clear, I've never heard either health club or sauna used in this context. Massage parlor, but not health club.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:30 AM
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76: Well, yeah. I know a fellow, big herb smoker, collects weird, fucked-up bohemian friends for his main hobby, lives in a horrible apartment building in a great location, with a weird landlord who has no idea what to charge for the place. He's been known to sell the odd half-oz occasionally. He wound up dating a girl he'd had a crush on for 20 years for 6 months one time. She moved in for a couple of months and then couldn't stand it anymore (she didn't partake herself). They were an odd pairing, looks-wise, and a casual observer might have had a hard time believing they were dating, since she would have appeared to be way out of his league, until you found out what a fuck-up she is in her own right. He does not live on the first floor of his building, and does not, to my knowledge, care much for opera, otherwise I'd think this post was about him.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:31 AM
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65: I would guess that if your neighbourhood's problems in re: crack were really as bad as you're being told, you would not be able to walk down the street and not notice it. Having had the joy of living in the midst of a crack epidemic, it's really not something you can walk down the street and not notice. And not all crack addicts are violent, but the likelihood of their being violent is certainly a hell of a lot higher than, say, smack addicts.

66: Remember, to your average cop, the neighbor of a crack dealer is only marginally less guilty than the dealer himself.

Depends on where the average cop is. If it's a community where the cops are sort of at constant and general war with everybody, that's a different kettle of fish. However, that's not true everywhere or pertaining to every situation. And OTOH, having seen what crack can do to a neighbourhood, I'm pretty okay with viewing the fact of bringing it into the neighbourhood on any regular basis as almost a hostile act in and of itself. This is many times more true of a situation in which you can assume that the "average cop" will view the whole 'hood as guilty by association.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:32 AM
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78: In Pittsburgh, what would I would have thought was called a 'bath house' is now apparently called 'health club'. I'd have never heard of it except that it hit the papers when somebody died (from inhalant abuse).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:34 AM
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78: Well, not so much a "sneer" as a nudge. Wink-wink. Say no more, say no more.

All of the massage parlors in S. Minneapolis were either "health clubs" or "saunas". I don't think it was a legal requirement exactly, just the local term of art. They're pretty much gone now. Moved out to strip malls in the suburbs or anonymous warehouse loft spaces mostly.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:34 AM
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The dealer next door to my suburban home was merely annoying but we didn't see any reason to put up with the all hours customers, the needles on the sidewalk, and the trash thrown over our fence from time to time (presuming containing more of those needles, and landing in our toddler's space). Especially annoying was when I was in the yard with my son and a customer asked if her kid could play for a few minutes, apparently while she procured her fix.

We called the police when a 2:00 a.m. screaming match with his girlfriend woke us up, truthfully noted the verbal threats of violence, and mentioned that they might find salable quantities inside. the police arrived with argument still ongoing so they didn't need a warrant. He was arrested and did not return. We solved our problem and possibly his girlfriend's, and I didn't give a shit whether or not we made another one for him or his customers.

The anti-police sentiments baffle me. Police are well aware of the importance of keeping informants' names confidential (and they also accept anonymous tips if you'd prefer). Wrong door raids are an infinitessimal likelihood if you give the police the correct address.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:44 AM
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82: Where have all the "health clubs" gone,
Long time passing?
Where have all the "health clubs" gone,
Long time ago?
Where have all the "health clubs" gone,
Gone to strip malls every one,
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever, learn?


Posted by: Pete Seeger | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:45 AM
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83: Come to think of it, where's JRoth? He's got a dealer neighbor he has reasonably friendly relations with, and might have thoughts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:45 AM
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The bath house I go to was exposed about a year ago as a front for some kind of prostitution, and I think a few arrests were made. I wasn't surprised. But I still go there. Whatever goes on goes on; it doesn't affect me.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:49 AM
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I suspect 83.3 is extremely geographically dependent. Which is not in any way to dispute 83.1 and 83.2.


Posted by: witt | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:50 AM
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85: I initially thought 83 was JRoth and was surprised things went downhill so fast.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:51 AM
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86: Really? Like, you could get a salt scrub, a mud pack, or a handjob? It seems like it'd be hard to arrange -- there weren't any obvious private locations.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:53 AM
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89:

Ladies' choice.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:54 AM
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Mud seems pretty private, assuming enough of it. What happens in the mud stays in the mud.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:55 AM
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83.3 I suspect 87 has the right of it. Read Balko's archives.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:57 AM
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89: There are private rooms upstairs, and masseuses you never see because they stay up there. I'm guessing you have to know exactly what to ask for to get that. But also, they're known for being one of the places in town where even a lady can easily procure a happy ending.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:58 AM
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Another OT bleg

Does anyone know of doftware that one can use to catalogue one's paper files. I try to design my paper files so that the stuff will be easy to find, but sometimes I remember it based on a different category.

For example, Every summer the priests at church provide a recommended list of their favorite summer reading. I might file it under Book Recommendations, but I might remember that it was a [Church] list.

I'd like to find some kind of program which would let me type out all of the documents in a certain folder which I could then search so that I'd be able to find it.

Would Access work for this? It seems like it would be kind of clunky? Suggestions? What would be the type of software I'd look under. Productivity programs?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl1 | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:01 AM
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Read Balko's archives and look at his Cato Institute map of botched SWAT raids.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:01 AM
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Access would work. It wouldn't have to be clunky and could be good practice at Access. I don't know how you'd do it otherwise except in Endnote, which is obviously non-optimal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:03 AM
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Wrong door raids are an infinitessimal likelihood

Not so.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:05 AM
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Pwned while searching for the map.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:06 AM
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86: That sounds like the place in Charles Ardai/Richard Aleas' Songs of Innocence. A legit health spa where you can get a hand-job or a free hook-up with another patron if you feel like it. Like the bath houses of yore, but fancier, and the house is taking a bigger cut of the action.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:07 AM
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they're known for being one of the places in town where even a lady can easily procure a happy ending.

Certainly not a lady, AWB.

(But yeah, there was a biggish article a few months back in . . . the Voice? about happy ending massages for women.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:08 AM
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Comment 94 contains two instances of a question ending with a period, and one instance of a statement ending with a question mark. I suggest that nobody respond to it until Bostoniangirl confronts her worsening punctuation problem, which is sending her into a downward spiral.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:08 AM
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95/97: Yet again, North Dakota beckons. I hear laughter coming from my network jack. Is that Emerson? I think it is.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:09 AM
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Also, I miss the hell out of Emerson.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:11 AM
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95/97: There are several incidents I'm aware of in the Twin Cities from the last few years that did not make that list.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:11 AM
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80 gets it exactly right. And I think Minne's 60.1 is probably the right diagnosis of what's going on, even though 60.2 is wrong.

I serve on the neighborhood council meetings monthly in my gentrifying ghetto neighborhood, which was close to ground zero in the 1980s LA crack wars. Here, the crack houses move around, and have almost entirely been moved out of the neighborhood. But when one does open, it will really kill a block very quickly and intensely -- violent crime, property crime from addicts, plus the house is inevitably controlled by a gang that has a beef with some other gang. (Although, as Jesus says, noise isn't usually the biggest problem). It is a real social disaster. There is no chance that this is what's going on in the OP.

As for the cops/crackhouse issue, here, the cops generally go for neighborhood injunction/go after the landlord strategies rather than "bust down the door," combined with patrolling and street arrests. They do that because it works, and neighbors are generally very grateful to the cops and the city for getting rid of what everyone knows is a huge problem. And this is the LAPD, which doesn't exactly have a famously good reputation in minority communities.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:13 AM
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As far as block-killing goes, crack has nothing on CDOs.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:16 AM
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95 and others: the number of botched raids remains infinitssimal even if there are lots of dots on a map of the United States. I would also suspect that many of the wrong door raids are a consequence of an informant providing the wrong address, something you can avoid by not providing a wrong address.

I read Balko's blog regularly, and he makes some excellent points, but his SWAT reporting bears an unpleasant resemblance to a blog I stumbled on a few years ago which headlined and linked to every violent crime committed by a Jew in the United States. It wasn't an ironic blog; the blogger was trying to warn fellow Americans of the Jew menace. there being a few million Jews in the United States, he could find a serious crime almost every day (on slow days he would go to Eurpoe or Israel), and if he had a map, it would look something like Catos'. It didn't motivate me to avoid all contact with Jews.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:26 AM
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I'm not sure if I'm supposed to follow up. but, i am the questioner. it's very fun to hear everyone's feedback/stories. totally reassuring, actually. i enjoy it.

first of all, based on a whole lot of stereotyping and assumptions on my part based on her accent/style/manner of speaking, my upstairs neighbor who told me about all this, has a lot more experience with these matters than i do, and she seemed so sure. when she was telling me, it had the feeling of "i know a lot about this, and i want that part of my life to be over, so i might move rather than be around this."

as for smells, there's sometimes weed, but that wasn't what i was referring to -- i don't care at all if he smokes weed. but there is another smell sometimes, and i'm not sure what it is but it's not food, cigarettes, marijuana, or anything else i know about.

my upstairs neighbor was claiming that people are coming and going from there constantly, and pulling up to the place and getting into and out of cars, etc. but, like i said, my room is closer to all of it than hers, and i've never noticed much amiss. mine is not a quiet corner, though, as it's on the way to very popular late night cheesesteaks (in philly, obviously) so I hear lots of fucked up people walking down the street just looking for cheesesteaks. and, i guess one time recently, she heard a very loud and crazy fight/screaming about "wanting to have more" from the most recent young junkie (i know who she's talking about)

in any case, i think i'm just going to call the police if there's any serious noise problems (like the sketchy junkies who pound on the door) and otherwise ignore it.


Posted by: elbow | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:28 AM
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Um, do you want to me to take your email address off of your signature there, elbow?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:30 AM
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If you live near a real crackhouse, failing to involve the cops because you're afraid of a botched raid is insane. Of course, if you live near a crackhouse, the cops are likely already aware of the problem and are trying to figure out what to do about it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:30 AM
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108: I'm not at lunch and can't continue this discussion, but my original point was that things are significantly worse in some areas of the country than in others, not that no-knock raids are exactly the same level of bad in all parts of the U.S.

My most recent experience with police was a disturbing reminder of the effect of widespread literacy problems. You can be the most on-the-ball person in the world, but if the officer responding can't properly write down an address, you're in big trouble. And that doesn't include neighborhoods with lousy house markings, lack of lighting making it hard to see house numbers, poorly mapped or out-of-date info on police maps (including GPS), and plain old dyslexia.

Again, I won't be in this thread for the rest of this afternoon, so nothing personal if I don't respond to further posts.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:31 AM
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We are now Wittless.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:32 AM
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107: I don't think that comparison holds up to even a small degree of scrutiny. Is there a declared war by Jews on everyone else? There is a declared war on people who use prohibited substances by the increasingly militarized and anti-civil rights security forces in this country. No Jews in the US are being paid (as Jews) to break down doors and shoot people. But that's precisely what a police officer is: someone who is paid to shoot and kill other human beings. I've dealt with Jews on many occasions in many different circumstances and the results have usually been positive. I've never had a positive experience dealing with the police, even when I've been 100% in the right and innocent of any crime. And now that the bloodhounds have TASERs, they are frequently paid to torture people as well. I'll take my chances with the Jews and crack heads, thank you very much.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:36 AM
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I would guess that if your neighbourhood's problems in re: crack were really as bad as you're being told, you would not be able to walk down the street and not notice it. Having had the joy of living in the midst of a crack epidemic, it's really not something you can walk down the street and not notice. And not all crack addicts are violent, but the likelihood of their being violent is certainly a hell of a lot higher than, say, smack addicts.

I think this may be a "Minneapolis sure is a lot smaller and lower-density than LA, or even Chicago" issue, because I draw my statistics/crime rate/etc from various useful GIS maps put together by local researchers and I'm pretty confident that they're accurate. Plus of course I do live here, and I hear about stuff even if I don't see it, or I see the aftermath, or the news. I mean, we just don't have enough people for an LA-sized drug epidemic.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:36 AM
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You're not supposed to follow up. You're supposed to do what we tell you, and then never contact us again.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:39 AM
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I guess my point is that living near a crack house involves danger. When people are running around with guns, it is always bad, even if it is the police.

They are not perfect. They make mistakes. There is often very little accountability when they make mistakes.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:40 AM
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But that's precisely what a police officer is: someone who is paid to shoot and kill other human beings.

I try get a couple done in the first half of my shift so that I'm not trying to cram a couple of half assed shootings in at the end of the night.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:43 AM
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116: When people are running around with guns, it is always bad

Of course. I've never been afraid of being hit by a stray bullet in my neighborhood, even though it's "bad" from the perspective of a lot of middle-class white people. When I'm out in the woods, and I hear a rifle shot, I'm always worried the next round is speeding towards me faster than the report.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:45 AM
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I try get a couple done in the first half of my shift so that I'm not trying to cram a couple of half assed shootings in at the end of the night.

It's well-known that this is why property values are so low in the vicinity of donut shops.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:46 AM
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114: I don't think my burg is especially more populated -- certainly not more densely so -- than Minneapolis, but we managed a pretty good run at it. (I'm speaking in the past tense but really all that's happened is that the worst of it has died down somewhat.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:47 AM
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117: So if your pistol isn't for shooting other human beings, what's it for, scratching your ass? Hooking the next doughnut? The cops in Mpls. used to get drunk on top of the old police headquarters and try to hit the clock face on City Hall. Allegedly they aren't doing that anymore.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:47 AM
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116 is mostly correct. But its also important to understand that the cops (at least here) have learned a lot in the 20 years since the crack epidemic. (For instance, that using giant battering rams to attack people's houses causes more problems than it solves.) A relexive anti-police attitude is dangeorous, even if cops are not saints, are extremely beleagured public servants, and can be somewhat unaccountable. But I don't expect to persuade Minne on this point.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:51 AM
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117: I understand you get partial credit for woundings -- have you considered spraying crowds with gunfire? It might be more efficient than going for the targeted, artisanal shooting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:53 AM
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I'm guessing Minne hasn't paused to consider what would happen if there were crack houses, etc. and no police to call. Death squads, vigilantes, and gated-communities that exclude everybody but the rich are much more common than perfect police forces.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:57 AM
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"Artisanal shooting" is very funny.

121: You know, man, I liiked "Straight Outta Compton" too, but one might suggest that the fact that they carry a gun does not mean the cops' job description is reducible to "being paid to shoot people." Some may be more prone to pull the trigger than others, and police corruption and gangsterism is a very real problem in some places, but even then.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:58 AM
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The War on Drugs continues.

Certainly, some officers/departments have learned that heavy handed tactics are too dangerous for citizens and officers, but a lot of them do not appear to have learned that lesson.

Moreover, a number of departments relaxed their hiring standards in recent years, so the quality suffered.

Police work is difficult, dangerous work without kicking down doors.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:00 PM
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107 seems right. 95 and 97 link to lots of troubling incidents, but 100 raids on innocent suspects nationwide over the course of a decade is less than a 0.1% chance that a given raid will target the wrong person. (Probably a lot smaller than that, but it's hard to find numbers for total number of SWAT raids nationwide, and one could worry that raids on innocent suspects are underreported. 0.1% seems to err on the side of overestimating.) So "you should worry about the police knocking down your door by mistake" seems completely innumerate.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:03 PM
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124: Go to Mexico. The death squads are the police.
If the police can't be trusted to uphold the law (and they can't -- read up on Sheriff Bob Fletcher and his Metro Gang Strike Force) then they are simply vigilantes -- not popular vigilantes, but vigilantes in the pay of, and for the benefit of, the rich.
The big dividing line in society is always whether you are more secure or more afraid to see a cop car go by. If I were a slightly different person, I could probably convince myself that I felt more secure, but I'm an anarchist-communist, and hence I know which side my bread is buttered on. My friends have been shot, tortured, sexually assaulted, gay-bashed, robbed, beaten and falsely imprisoned by the police. Not just once or twice, but as part of a concerted and coordinated effort to terrorize and silence us. Is it any wonder that we're scattered, and apathetic, and given to infighting? There's cops on the street, right now, who would like nothing better than to put bullets in the brains of several people who are very close to me. That's simply not true of drug dealers.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:05 PM
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113: In the same sense that organic farmers earn their living by selling contaminated vegetables that kill people. There's a map on the internet showing a dot everywhere in the United States where someone got sick or died because of contaminated organic food. OK, resume analogy ban.

If you can't thnk of an effective use for a weapon that doesn't involve shooting . . . you are at much higher risk of getting shot then the rest of us are.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:05 PM
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yes please remove my email. thanks.


Posted by: elbow | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:07 PM
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Yeah, lets get this straight. Police aren't paid to shoot people. Soldiers are.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:08 PM
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you are at much higher risk of getting shot then the rest of us are.

Intentional or not, this kind of thought bothers me. My perception (justified or not) is that comment means "if you arent causing trouble, the police wont bother you."


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:08 PM
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I wonder if it's possible for a person to hate cops and a crack trade that fucks up one's neighborhood. Doesn't seem so yet.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:11 PM
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125: but one might suggest I like to pretend that the fact that they carry a gun does not mean the cops' job description is reducible to "being paid to shoot people."

So what's the difference between a cop and a fire fighter? Or a cop and a city inspector? Or a cop and a sewer worker? A cop is paid to carry a gun. The gun is to be used to shoot other people. The shootings are intended to be lethal. Cops are paid to kill people. Now before you start in with the nauseating "And some would call him 'pig'" argument, yes, I am very well aware that cops do not shoot people all the time, every day. But I'll wager that if you got shot by a cop, even just once, it would be small consolation to you that you beat the odds.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:12 PM
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125: I just haven't really had positive interactions with cops, and I know a disproportionately large number of reliable people who've had really, really bad experiences, several of them situations where the person involved could literally have died while in custody, after having been arrested for in one case trumped up and trans-phobic charges that fell apart later and in the other for perfectly ordinary civil disobedience during which the cop held a loaded gun to her head and threatened to shoot her. I know of and have met casually another couple of people who had really scary, could-have-killed-them experiences in police custody. One of my best friends was held at gunpoint by police during a political raid during RNC. Now, in no instance were the cops ever intending to shoot or beat to death a bunch of white middle class kids--but the one kid's head injuries were severe and could easily have been fatal; any of the gun experiences could easily have gone wrong. And the number of people I know who've been simply beaten, groped or harassed by cops? Too many to count. I know this is an old song, but it's true--in the last few years I've become physically frightened around cops because I now know so many people who've been seriously hurt. And it's pretty upsetting to realize that you'd be down a friend if some hopped up cop had hit someone just a little harder.

I know this sounds like DFH hyperbole, but it's not. This is part of the whole crime/class/invisibility thing--very few people "see" assaults on DFHs either, just because we are so strongly socialized not to notice, not to believe what we do see and then to doubt and dismiss even plausible and well-documented accounts.

Whereas the worst thing a crack addict ever did to me was break into my car. Or really, stealing my potted plants was worse because I loved those plants.

As far as "but what would we do if there were no police?" goes, a lot would depend on how we arrived at the "but there are no police" point. But I don't think that either reform or revolution is particularly well-served by defending your typical urban police squad.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:13 PM
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134: We've had a bad year for police getting show, not the other way around. As for carrying a gun, by that standard every mugging should be treated as attempted murder.

Anyway, pretty much anybody here can carry a gun. All you need is a clean record (criminal, mental health, no domestic violence).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:17 PM
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134: It's hard to tell, but do you think that police have any offsetting societal benefits, like in reducing the rate of violent crime directed at unwilling participants?I'll get cranky about police violence right along with you (here, for example, is a story to angry up the blood), but I do still assume that the existence of police reduces the chance that someone's going to beat me up to take my wallet and watch.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:17 PM
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136 s/b "We've had a bad year for police getting shot"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:20 PM
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If a policeman's job goes well, no one gets shot. Its not like being a soldier, where a high body count is a measure of success.

The police in America aren't even really like an occupying army, which is a little closer to police work. I just got done reading Joe Sacco's Palestine. An occupation is very different than ordinary living in a poor neighborhood.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:21 PM
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I feel that I must speak up as somebody who did have a positive interaction with the police. I was walking out of a mall after lunch one day, and a guy came up to me and started to punch me in the face. I was too startled to respond effectively (otherwise, of course, I would have easily taken him out with a karate kick), but a cop appeared and knocked the guy down and arrested him.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:21 PM
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I wouldnt suggest getting rid of the police.

But, I would suggest getting rid of the infallabity of the police. And, I would suggest that there are very few situations when a door needs to get kicked down or when someone needs to get tazed.

Also, while we are on it, record interrogations and make sure all police cars have video cameras on the front.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:21 PM
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|| Henry Louis Gates tells off the Man ||>


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:23 PM
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Actually, the link in 142 is rather relevant to the law enforcement conversation, so I shouldn't have bracketed it off.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:24 PM
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A cop is paid to carry a gun. The gun is to be used to shoot other people.

No, the gun is to be used to threaten other people.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:25 PM
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God, this thread is annoying. On the one hand, there's the perfectly sensible question of what the cops will do if called and whether the outcome of that, in this instance, will be a net good or bad thing. And it's reasonable that people can disagree about that. But all these horror stories of rare incidents or of police brutality toward protestors and the like (while they are terrible things, and point toward systemic problems with the way the police function in the US) have very little relevance to elbow's question. (Yes, I know threads here drift, but there seem to be a lot of implications that these things should affect whether elbow calls the police. But they shouldn't, unless you can make the case that the systemic problems with policing are going to lead to a worse outcome in this particular case.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:25 PM
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I think the standard line on tazers is that they were supposed to be a less lethal alternative to shooting someone, instead they've become a more lethal alternative to tackling someone.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:25 PM
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Could the cops in Mpls be worse than average?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:26 PM
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I was walking out of a mall after lunch one day, and a guy came up to me and started to punch me in the face.

Um, why?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:26 PM
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124 gets there, but one only needs to go to just-about-anywhere-in-the-world-where-there-is-no-effective-police-presence to appreciate their positive influence, on net (situations of extreme police corruption, as mentioned in 128, being the closest thing to an exception, and even those cases, while disturbingly and unacceptably common, aren't in my mind clearly worse than situations without police presence; they're just no better than--the police are just one well-armed and well-organized gang of thugs among many.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:26 PM
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"of police brutality toward protestors"

Speaking of, I'm all curious as to how the Pittsburgh G-20 will go down. My guess is less damage/few arrests than the Super Bowl win.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:28 PM
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instead they've become a more lethal alternative to tackling talking to someone.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:28 PM
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Could the cops in Mpls be worse than average?

In my experience the majority of people on the internet who really, really hate cops live in Minneapolis, so this may be true.

Not only people at Unfogged, either!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:28 PM
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149: Yes, I have a very Hobbseian view of human nature.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:29 PM
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148: I don't know. I didn't know him, he didn't say anything, and I never had a chance to ask.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:30 PM
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So what's the difference between a cop and a fire fighter?

Those dudes just sit around together and work out all day, which is totally gay.

"Artisanal shooting" is cracking me up.

Around here, the approach is akin to Halford's descriptions. Street arrests along with working with landlords and various zoning/code enforcement agencies gets more done than just kicking every door in sight.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:30 PM
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132: The point was actually, "If you don't understand how to act when someone points a gun at you, whether it is justified or not, and whether it is a policeman or not, you are more likely to get shot."

131, 139.1: Please tell me you're joking.

Personally, I have had more positive than negative encounters with the police (although I was once charged with a crime I didn't commit), and more negative than positive with drug dealers. Perhaps I'm an outlier.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:31 PM
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148: Have you met peep?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:31 PM
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157: Have you?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:32 PM
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151: "Don't talk to me bro!"


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:32 PM
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152: That would be weird if true. I have always had the impression that local police personalities differ a great deal -- my parents used to praise the NYPD in the late 60s riots, claiming that in a situation where Chicago or LA cops would reliably make matters worse by wading into a crowd and clubbing people, the NYPD was much more likely to remain calm and not make matters worse.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:33 PM
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134, 135: I essentially (roughly) tend to view the police as a more-formalized and publicly-legitimized version of a gang. Most gangs start out as a means of community protection and keeping the peace, and deteriorate into criminality and authoritarian brutality. Cops Stateside in particular seem to have become Pinkertons to an alarmingly frequent degree, but they're not alone. Going to a march anywhere means facing ranks of armed dudes who in some cases are looking for excuses and jumped up on briefings about how the Raging Grannies are a probable terrorist group.

I have as much cause as either of you, and frankly probably more (not to play the race card or anything, but I guess I kind of am), to be aware of this. Having said that, I decline to be told that I should prefer gangbangers by default because the cops are often assholes, and frankly when someone tells me that by comparison with the cops all their experiences with gangbangers have been sweetness and light, what I have to conclude is that they haven't had much experience with the latter.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:34 PM
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Those dudes just sit around together and work out all day, which is totally gay.

And spend an inordinate amount of time grocery shopping.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:36 PM
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They just got a local firefighter for calling in false alarms and then robbing the fire station. To buy heroin. I'm going to remember to stop smoking in bed.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:38 PM
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No, DS, you're supposed to prefer gangbangers because you're black. There's no Canadian exemption, AFAIK.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:39 PM
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156: No, I'm not joking, although my tone may be a bit more glib than it should be. An army does not get deployed without a very large number of people dying. Police are deployed simply to preserve a basic level of order, and if that order prevails, there is little killing. Police are necessary to the functioning of any large scale society that we've seen so far. Armies, on the other hand, exist only to serve large empires.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:40 PM
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(And further to 161: regardless of your personal experiences with cops, you should still be able to think of one or two things besides shooting people that cops are paid to do. Also, the gang analogy probably gives the impression that I'm following minne in painting the cops as glorified death squads; I'm not, and I don't see gangbangers as undifferentiated "bad guys" either. I'm just saying there's more similarity between their cultures than either is eager to admit... and I have no qualms using the uniformed gang and its squad cars when threatened by criminal activity or by members of the other kind of gang. Why should I? They're the ones I'm paying.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:42 PM
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Is "gangbangers" still used to signify gang members? I thought the porn industry had won custody of that term.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:42 PM
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165: "An army does not get deployed without a very large number of people dying."

Informal armed forces have been much more dangerous than armies in recent years.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:42 PM
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144
No, the gun is to be used to threaten other people.

Once in a while they'll have to actually do it. If they don't, it's not a credible threat.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:43 PM
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Armies, on the other hand, exist only to serve large empires.

I'm sure that would come as quite a surprise to (say) the Bundeswehr.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:44 PM
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Once in a while they'll have to actually do it. If they don't, it's not a credible threat.

Once in a while *someone* has to actually do it. I'm pretty sure that if someone I knew had never fired a gun in his life pointed one at me, I'd consider it a credible threat.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:46 PM
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A cop is paid to carry a gun. The gun is to be used to shoot other people. The shootings are intended to be lethal. Cops are paid to kill people. … I am very well aware that cops do not shoot people all the time, every day.

Shouldn't those cops be fired, then, since they aren't doing their job?

Part of a cop's equipment is something which is designed to kill people. That does not mean that the cop is paid to kill people.

The exact same argument form would have you concluding that cops are paid to handcuff people—and yet handcuffing and shooting with a gun are different things!

Cops are also supposed to wear shoes, I understand; maybe they're paid to walk around.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:47 PM
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It's also not even true that "a cop is paid to carry a gun". If a cop were accused of not doing his job, "but I was carrying a gun!" wouldn't carry the day.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:47 PM
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Having said that, I decline to be told that I should prefer gangbangers by default because the cops are often assholes, and frankly when someone tells me that by comparison with the cops all their experiences with gangbangers have been sweetness and light, what I have to conclude is that they haven't had much experience with the latter.

That's true. I think my experience with messed-up people hasn't been as messed-up as it could be, pretty much because I'm middle class and white and spend a lot of time in my house being alone and nerdy, so not only is there a disincentive to bother me when I'm visible but there's much less time when I'm around to bother.

This is definitely one of those situations where some really frank and probably off-the-record roundtables with the radical anti-police-brutality activists and the neighborhood organization "better-policing-for-all" types might be productive. I think we all spend a lot of time recapitulating our experience (I know I do--this thread is making me think about how stuck I get on "these things have happened to my friends! Really!", mostly because I end up saying those things and not having them believed and because it's pretty upsetting to have your friends brutalized) rather than getting anywhere with even informal projects.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:48 PM
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165: Actually most of the rationalities that could be applied to police also apply to state and armies. It can be a bit of a slippery slope that way, which is where the anarchists are coming from. If I could think of a way in which large-scale societies could be made to work without either, I'd be all over it.

167: I think they've got joint custody. The porn industry gets weekend visits.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:50 PM
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160 -- Wandering into crowds and clubbing people was more of a Chicago thing. Our LA cops drove their cars up to random people and started clubbing them. Later, they used battering rams and truly insane SWAT units (the SWAT TV show was largely pushed by the LAPD), until finally getting more sane in the 1990s and 2000s.

I actually have fantasies about writing a popular book on the history of the LAPD. It's a really fascinating story and one that hasn't been told that well. LA was one of the first urban areas that combined lots of crime and decentralized urban geography, so it was forced to become one of the first cities to abandon the old street-corner, "beat" cop model, and learn how to deal with crime in a huge geographic area powered by the automobile, by sending cops to respond to incidents in patrol cars. Basically, the strategy from the 1950s-1992 was to zone off "bad" (i.e., black and Mexican) neighborhoods, staff the department at relatively low levels, and then basically to not enforce the law in areas that were perceived as high crime while brutally respond to incidents where there was a breach of order in one of the "protected" neighborhoods of the city. That kept folks in the wealthier areas feeling mostly safe and the department's budget relatively low. But it had the consequence of allowing a really pernicious gang culture to develop in the black and Mexican parts of LA, which eventually overwhelmed the city as a whole, not to mention engendering a siege mentality/brutality culture in the department. Eventually, all of this started to unravel after the 1992 riots, but the story of the LAPD's misdeeds is in many ways as much a story of trying to under-police on the cheap as it is of excessive policing.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:52 PM
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I actually have fantasies about writing a popular book on the history of the LAPD.

Do it, Halford!


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:54 PM
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By my observation, firefighters also spend a lot of time waving at small children, giving them plastic red hats and letting them sit in the front seat.

The porn meaning of gangbangers is the one I think of first.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:54 PM
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The porn meaning is older, isn't it? I never heard 'gangbanger' meaning criminal before a decade or so ago.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:56 PM
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176: You can visit our DFH bookstore and do a reading! That should make your fame secure and untold benefits and wealth will swiftly follow.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:56 PM
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178: Yes, we just got one of those hats the other weekend. They let the little on try on the real helmet, which must weight six pounds.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 12:56 PM
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179: It was current usage for "gang member" when I was in high school in L.A. 20 years ago.

(Fuck.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:00 PM
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179: Yes, and I think this is an east coast thing. NYC didn't have gangs in the same way that LA or Chicago did, at any rate, and the terms of art never quite made it over here in the same way. My first post-college job was at a publishing house in Chicago and it caused me much bafflement to hear a co-worker refer to her neighbor's son as a gangbanger. Huh? Really? How do you know?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:00 PM
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181: A bit over ten years ago there was a move in MD to change the firefighter's helmets to a better design which gave more protection and less obstructed view, as well as being less likely to snag (something along the lines of the shiny helmets French firefighters use). There was an roar of outrage from firefighters - even the suggestion to move to a lighter composite helmet of the same design was rejected. Gotta have the stylin' helmet, even at the cost of increased injuries.

My ex was a volunteer firefighter for a while, and the central theme running through most of her stories about it was that a significant majority of male firefighters are in it to play Manly Man of Action, Laydeez. Effective firefighting is distinctly second place.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:06 PM
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I also think Halford should do it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:10 PM
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NYC didn't have gangs in the same way that LA or Chicago did, at any rate,

True. On some level, I hear 'gang' and I think Jets and Sharks -- guys with DA hairstyles, switchblades, and zip guns. When I was growing up there was certainly crime, but not really 'gang violence' that I was aware of.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:12 PM
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185: I concur.


Posted by: OPINIONATED NIKE AD | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:13 PM
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a significant majority of male firefighters are in it to play Manly Man of Action, Laydeez. Effective firefighting is distinctly second place.

This is certainly true of all the male firefighters I've personally known. (Which is, come to think of it, all the firefighters I've personally known.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:15 PM
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(in case no one else spotted it, emerson-as-ever-was just posted on the farewell hilzoy thread at crooked timber)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:15 PM
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165: Police are deployed simply to preserve a basic level of order

Remember that your order is someone else's oppression.

And no, DS and essear, we're not talking about "isolated incidents". Every major protest since Seattle has been met with a militarized police presence. Every single one has seen illegitimate mass arrests, police infiltration of above-ground, non-violent activist groups. The majority of them seem to have had significant action by police agents provacateurs (short of another Media, PA expropriation of course, it's difficult to say for sure).
Meanwhile, in every major city in the US, police idly stand by while poor people are systematically denied access to housing, health care, decent work and healthy food. Call me crazy, but the crimes the police actively accept as "common sense" dwarf in their harmfulness the kinds of crimes we're talking about here.
Gangbangers? I've met them. I've lived next door to them. Gone to school with them. Rode the bus with them. They may be fucked up, but the tiny little criminality they partake of is nothing compared to what the police are paid to do every single day.
The rich are rich and the poor are poor because the police are there to keep order.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:17 PM
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178, 179: The porn meaning of fireman is the first one I think of.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:17 PM
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Is nosflow asking me out?

Hmmm, maybe I will. I have some time and need a project.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:17 PM
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192: That's much more ambitious that my projects, which usually involve keeping one part or another of the house from falling apart.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:19 PM
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Not very effectively, apparently.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:20 PM
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Well, actually, my house right now is testing out the "broken window" theory. I.e., my bathroom window is broken.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:21 PM
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"The rich are rich and the poor are poor because the police are there to keep order."

I'd say it is much more the case that the middle class isn't poor because the police are there to keep order. All around the world, police or not, the rich have done pretty well at keeping safe and at gaining advantage from disorder.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:21 PM
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The porn meaning of fireman is the first one I think of.

Me too. (safe for work!)


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:25 PM
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Say, speaking of police, can anyone recommend a good history of policing in general? I've read bits and pieces about the origins of organized police forces in Europe but would welcome something more wide-ranging. (By "good" I'm afraid I do mean one written from at least a centrist/critical perspective.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:27 PM
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Relevant to the discussion of police being gang-ish.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:31 PM
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police idly stand by while poor people are systematically denied access to housing, health care, decent work and healthy food.

Word. From here on out, every rack of Twinkies in sight gets the baton.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:33 PM
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And no, DS and essear, we're not talking about "isolated incidents". Every major protest since Seattle has been met with a militarized police presence. Every single one has seen illegitimate mass arrests, police infiltration of above-ground, non-violent activist groups. The majority of them seem to have had significant action by police agents provacateurs (short of another Media, PA expropriation of course, it's difficult to say for sure).

Please read what I actually wrote. Police response to protests is a bad thing and a sign of systemic problems in policing. But it isn't directly relevant to what will happen if elbow calls the police about her neighbor.

The things that are "rare incidents" -- and I said rare, not isolated -- are cases where someone like elbow calls the police about her neighbor and gets her own door busted down in response. Raids where innocent people get their doors busted down are widespread, and again, a sign of systemic problems. But they are extremely rare as a fraction of all SWAT raids. (The sheer number of SWAT raids is, in itself, a concern; but at least if the Cato Institute map is catching a good fraction of the botched raids, they don't happen often.)

I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with your broader points; I'm just saying that, for the question of whether elbow calling the police about her neighbor will lead to a net better outcome, they don't seem to be relevant. (Or at least, if they are relevant, there are a lot of missing pieces to the argument.) Certainly the "if the police raid your neighbor, they could break into your apartment!!!1!!!" claims are pointless fear-mongering.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:34 PM
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The Albuquerque police are notoriously violent and oppressive. When I was growing up there were so many incidents of deadly shootings by police under dubious circumstances that "suicide by cop" became something of a local joke in how common it was as an excuse when the cops shot somebody. I've had several encounters with the APD, none of them extremely outrageous but none of them very pleasant either. As a result, I grew up with a pretty strong anti-police attitude, which has since moderated a bit (especially since I've worked for the Park Service and gotten to know some of the law enforcement rangers).

One of the main reasons the APD is the way it is is surely the major role that gangs have long played in Albuquerque, which has a bit of a reputation as a "tough" city in some circles. Certainly when I was growing up gang violence was a frequent occurrence, and there were plenty of gangs at my high school (each claimed a different hall as its territory). These were a mix of the local (mostly) Hispanic neighborhood gangs that had been around for decades with branches of the big LA-based gangs. The term "gangbanger" was used pretty frequently in its gang-related meaning.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:34 PM
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200: Strike a blow for anarchism! Also, if you see any bloated plutocrats not providing health care to the poor? Taser.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:36 PM
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speaking of police, can anyone recommend a good history of policing in general?

This is something I've been meaning to do more reading on. Peter Moskos (sociologist who was a Baltimore cop) has a reading list on his personal site.

http://petermoskos.com/readings/policebooks.html


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:37 PM
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200: I think I read a story today about cops knocking over a Dunkin' Donuts.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:39 PM
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200: That was my first thought, too. Perhaps you should also hand out organic produce and do some preventive medicine. Random prostate exams should endear you to the citizens, I think.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:40 PM
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200: Or you could always try to explain the difference between writing the laws and enforcing them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:41 PM
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200/205: Aha. Here. Not quite knocking over, though.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:41 PM
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From 199: "The incident provides a vivid example of how the countless video recordings generated today by security cameras and cell phones are affecting police work."

I'm not sure that what was affected was really "police work".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:42 PM
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"The District Attorney's Office reviewed the case and declined to prosecute Officer Lopez in December. Eight days later, he was reissued his weapon and returned to full duty."

Good to see the DA's protecting people.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:44 PM
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from the reading list @ 204:
The Death and Life of Great American Cities: "Maybe the best book of all time"

best in this narrow area or actually BEST EVAH? (it is pretty well known so i assume is really good)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:45 PM
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The Death and Life of Great American Cities isn't actually in that narrow area, though it is in a related but broader area, so I'm going with "BEST EVAH".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:46 PM
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hurrah!


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:47 PM
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every rack of Twinkies in sight gets the baton.

Please get somebody to film this if you do.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:50 PM
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214: What with convenience store security needs, I'm guessing the majority of twinkies live out their shelf life on camera anyway.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:52 PM
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To be fair, if your name is "Lawless" you're practically begging to be brutalized by the police.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:54 PM
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216: I think not.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:56 PM
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Sadly Snopes guts the Twinkies Shelf Life joke I was going to make.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:56 PM
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190: When did I say anything about "isolated incidents"?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 1:58 PM
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So now here's a thought: what can one do if there's a bad neighborhood situation without calling the cops? Other than pretend nothing is going on?

Among the anarchists, informal dispute resolution in the shape of getting one's larger and more menacing friends to help sort things out is sometimes effective, although because we're all basically DFHs this is neither quite as menacing nor as subject to misuse as it might be. That is, you might get a group of people together to help a friend get his/her stuff from an abusive partner and make it clear that further abuse is not advisable. On a less alarming level, I've been asked to intervene in a stern-talking-to-from-Frowner way in a couple of disputes over rent.

But this raises some obvious questions about what you do when the people involved aren't known to you.

I tend to figure that most neighborhood problems would respond to more availability of social services better than to stepped up policing in the long term--everybody is food- and housing-secure and doesn't have untreated depression and PTSD so there's less incentive for crime, etc. And most of the unpleasant neighborhood situations I've been in personally have been such that there really wasn't a good immediate resolution. Calling the cops would be something to do, but not necessarily very useful.

I pause to remark (since all threads become food threads)e that there are very fancy, labor-intensive vegan recipes designed to replicate hostess cupcakes and twinkies. I was astonished, since I'd always assumed that twinkies were nearly devoid of actual dairy products anyway.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:00 PM
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Gangbangers? ... the tiny little criminality they partake of

Nice, benign gangbangers. I'll tell the guy in my neighborhood whose son was killed by one last December; I'm sure he'll find that comforting.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:02 PM
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what can one do if there's a bad neighborhood situation without calling the cops?

Back in the old ATM thread about the rapist downstairs, dsquared suggested paying local thugs to beat offenders up. This seems like a problematic solution in many ways (starting with moral, and going on to the details of interacting with, and actually locating, the local thugs), but I offer it for what it's worth.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:04 PM
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Moskos' blog is great, and so is that list. I think I've mentioned it here before. This book is pretty interesting on what policing looked like before the 20th century "scientific" policing boom.

This article by Moskos himself, is a great window into how modern policing actually works, and he starts off by quoting "911 is a Joke," which might be critical enough for Frowner's tastes, although Moskos himself is an ex-cop.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:05 PM
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190: Call me crazy, but the crimes the police actively accept as "common sense" dwarf in their harmfulness the kinds of crimes we're talking about here.

You've switched targets rather abruptly. So now if I'm having a problem with a crack dealer in my building, I shouldn't call the cops because they're implicated in the structure of capitalist society? Am I just supposed to pretend my problem doesn't exist, then? Deal with it vigilante-style? Form a gang of my own? What if I don't want to do either of the latter two? Maybe I could have some pamphlets made up for them when they arrive about how that they should save the no-knock raids for the white-collar criminals?

I'm being sort of snarky-joking, here, but I'm also kind of serious. When the question of what to do about actual, concrete problems of crime in your neighbourhood, it really really hurts the anarchist position to have nothing to offer beyond "the cops are glorified death squads and tools of the capitalist elite, don't bother me with your minor 'problems.'"


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:08 PM
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221: A lot of the people I know are talking about restorative justice-type approaches.

On a lesser level, I've been part of a restorative justice process with someone in my collective around some violence stuff and I did feel like there's some fairly complex stuff being written on the topic.

I find that's the horrible thing--that the criminal is also a person. There are two people in equation and it's very very difficult to be fair to both. It's very difficult to talk to someone who has done something you abhor in a way that doesn't let them off the hook while also trying to make some kind of emotional connection with them.

The goal in activist communities is to make people accountable for what they've done (people do steal from each other, sexually assault other activists, do fucked up stuff while on drugs, &c, just like in the rest of the population) while also both offering a way back into the community and keeping the person visible--not just encouraging them to take off for another city to do the same stuff over again. It's not as ineffective a process as it might seem.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:11 PM
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"It's not as ineffective a process as it might seem."

That's good. Because the process makes me think of Monty Python.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:13 PM
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(I also note that rhetorics collide--the faux-folksy activist rhetoric that I use to get over ("stuff", "folks") spills into everything I write now, with terrible results.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:14 PM
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From the second link in 223:

The advent of patrol cars, telephones, two-way radios, "scientific" police management, social migration, and social-science theories on the "causes" of crime converged in the late 1950s. Before then, police had generally followed a "watchman" approach: each patrol officer was given the responsibility to police a geographic area (Wilson, 1968). In the decades after WWII, motorized car patrol replaced foot patrol as the standard method of urban policing. Improved technology allowed citizens to call police and have their complaints dispatched to police through twoway
radios in squad cars. Car patrol was promoted over foot patrol as a cost-saving move justified by increased "efficiency" (Wilson & McLaren, 1972).

Those who viewed police as provocative and hostile to the public applauded reduced police presence and discretion. Controlled by the central dispatch, police could respond to the desires of the community rather than enforce their own arbitrary concepts of "acceptable" behavior. Police officers, for their part, enjoyed the comforts of the automobile and the prestige associated with new technology. Citizens, rather than being encouraged to maintain community standards, were urged to stay behind locked doors and call 911.

Car patrol eliminated the neighborhood police officer. Police were pulled off neighborhood beats to fill cars. Levels of motorized patrol--the cornerstone of urban policing--have no effect on crime rates, victimization, or public satisfaction. Lawrence Sherman (1983) was an early critic of telephone dispatch and motorized patrol: "The rise of telephone dispatch transformed both the method and purpose of patrol. Instead of watching to prevent crime, motorized police patrol became a process of merely waiting to respond to crime" (p. 149). A quick response time became an end in itself rather than a means to crime prevention.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:14 PM
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226: I'm not really sure how to respond to that. There's a question that's perfectly genuine--when people do terrible stuff and we don't want to call the police, what do we do? I actually have a little bit of experience with this and I give an answer.

I assume that what you're implying is that of course all that DFH stuff much be a bunch of nonsense because DFHs say it and everyone knows that we're all a bunch of idiots and/or college students.

So as an anarchist I can't stop you calling the cops on people. Go ahead. Knock yourself out, so to speak.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:17 PM
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229: Let's just say I'm less than happy that some random collective is taking it upon itself to decide when, for example, a rapist should be allowed to wander free.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:21 PM
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What nosflow quoted in 210 is what frightens/angers/worries/whatever me. It's not that I don't know that abuse and mistakes with serious consequences are rare; the problem is that I don't see any reason why they aren't far more common. It would greatly improve my opinion of stuff in general if anyone can provide an example of a police officer getting the book thrown at them for something like what we're talking about here. As far as I can tell, though, cops are above the law.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:23 PM
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230: Because I know two people who have committed sexual assault I have different feelings about this than you may. In one case, one went through the whole restorative process and it was okay; in another, the courts made things a lot a lot worse. In the first instance, the survivor was the one who set the terms--that the person could not be at events or houses where she was, among other things. The survivor did not herself want the police to be called, partly for personal and partly for political reasons.

As I'm sure you know, most rape isn't a-stranger-jumps-out-and-attacks-you. The person I know well who committed sexual assault--I've talked with him about it a lot and honestly it was very very difficult. I wanted not to talk to him because I was disgusted and appalled. As far as I can tell from behavior and conversation, he has attempted to be accountable and change himself. Sure, he could be lying to me and still be a perp at heart, but I'm not sure how this would be changed if he'd either gone to trial and been acquitted--probably still believing that he was entitled to do what he did--or gone to jail for a short sentence.

Honestly, there's an inconsistency in my thinking on this--I have never told a rape survivor that she shouldn't call the cops if that's what she truly wants to do, and I don't think I would ever say that.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:33 PM
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230: I'd be upset with a collective who was pressuring a victim who wanted to go to the police not to -- short of that, though, it's the victim's choice whether law enforcement gets involved, regardless of alternative means of community-based norm-enforcement. Given that, I can't see what Frowner's talking about as harmful.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:33 PM
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dsquared suggested paying local thugs to beat offenders up

This is a good idea. To make it easy to figure out who the appropriate local thugs are, we should make them all wear the same kind of clothes, and maybe give them some kind of a... I dunno what the word is... identifying insignia. And it'd probably be easier for everyone if we didn't have to hunt them up on an ad-hoc basis, so we could put them on retainer, and maybe give them a storefront to operate out of...


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:37 PM
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232: I add that what made me decide to continue to talk to the guy was my recollection of GK Chesterton's Father Brown story "The Chief Mourner of Marne". where Father Brown talks (in a mostly rather bombastic paragraph)about the duty of the priest to "to console those who really need consolation; who do things really indefensible, things that neither the world nor they themselves can defend".


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:39 PM
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I find that's the horrible thing--that the criminal is also a person. There are two people in equation and it's very very difficult to be fair to both

Maybe not. If you hurt my eye or my tooth or something, I'm pretty sure I could figure out a way to even things out without getting the whole justice system involved.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:42 PM
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235: What I get stuck on is the difficulty of impersonality? objectivity? How do you forgive someone for something that didn't injure you, personally?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:44 PM
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This discussion is related to the one about the educated mom knowing better than to leave her kids at the mall.

One would think that a cop who assaults a civilian who get more punishment, not less, but cops rarely get in much trouble for such actions. They are held to a much lessor standard, not a higher standard. They are supposed to be trained to act under stressful situations with firearms, yet they are held to a lessor standard than the individual citizen woken up in the middle of the night.

The citizen who wakes up when his door gets kicked down surely should have known it was the police. The officer who shoots the citizen? Eh, "mistakes happen...these are VERY difficult situations."

Cops should be held to a higher standard. I havent seen any evidence of accountability and lots of evidence of them getting protected, whether it is when they drive drunk or assault someone on duty or off.

Ive represented many of them and Ive got many friends who are cops. It is a tough, difficult job. But, they get away with crap that they shouldnt.

That doesnt mean that they are all bad or that anything like a majority are bad. Just that the pendulum needs to swing back to more accountability.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:46 PM
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Seems like you could only forgive the transgressor for the breach that did injure you. Figure out the duty and breach (to the community at large, perhaps, or expectations of decency), and you can forgive your share of that.

(I've been reading a whole lot on forgiveness recently, so if this turned into a conversation about forgiveness, I'd jump in with too much to say.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:47 PM
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232, 233: There is certainly nothing anybody else can do about that type of situation, as they don't know if it. But "community-based norm-enforcement" (the concept, obviously named using very different terms) strikes me as something you are much more likely to see in street gangs, cults and similar situations than among DFHs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:49 PM
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I forgive you, Megan.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:50 PM
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Amish Grace is a great book about forgiveness.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:50 PM
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238: Yes. Cops are supposed to be well trained to handle stressful, violent situations. Cops who fuck up in those situations should be held to at least the same standard as civilians, and there should be a whole lot of firing for non-criminal fuckups: not because an error makes you a bad person, but because if you're the sort of person who makes important mistakes in violent situations, you're probably not well suited to policing.

Also, on a lighter note, more cops on bikes in urban areas. Mostly because it just seems more humane and pleasant for the cops -- who wants to be cooped up in a car all day?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:51 PM
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One week in and you're already a bike evangelist.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:53 PM
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I guess I would try to separate forgiveness from "letting somebody wander unwatched". This would be a much easier stance to maintain if prison conditions were better.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:53 PM
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I heard that LB went gearless and brakeless over the weekend, and now looks with disgust at people riding bikes with gears and breaks.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:54 PM
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||

This seems like as good a thread as any to mention that Blume totally failed to back out at the last minute.

Carry on!

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:54 PM
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244: I really am delighted with the commute so far. I haven't dealt with any weather yet, and it's midsummer so I can get home in the light -- I'll probably be much less enthusiastic in October.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:55 PM
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She'll probably be at Critical Mass next Friday.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:55 PM
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247:

Have the pictures been examined to make sure her fingers were not crossed?

congrats!!


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:55 PM
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247: Is this for that 'withdrawl' thread again?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:56 PM
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Also, on a lighter note, more cops on bikes in urban areas. Mostly because it just seems more humane and pleasant for the cops -- who wants to be cooped up in a car all day?

The cops want to be cooped up in cars all day! That's the whole basis of modern urban policing! I am shocked and horrified that you didn't read the boring, multi-paragraph-in-italic excerpt I posted in 228.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:56 PM
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i>Also, on a lighter note, more cops on bikes in urban areas. Mostly because it just seems more humane and pleasant for the cops -- who wants to be cooped up in a car all day?

I've noticed that bike cops get significantly less respect than those in cars, on motorcycles, and, I'm betting, horses. I'd think this would not be something that most enjoy, and, in my experiences with them, it appears to make them even more likely to compensate by being overly strict and rude.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:56 PM
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247: Yay wiggles! The two of you looked charming. (Well, she looked beautiful. You, on the other hand -- are you sure you were really entitled to wear white?)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:57 PM
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Grr, html failure.

Congrats, Blume and Sifu.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:57 PM
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more cops on bikes in urban areas.

I just wish the ones around here weren't really bad cyclists.

Really, your just going to ride on the sidewalk and cross against that light?


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:57 PM
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254: well, I am a novelist.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:58 PM
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252: I totally read it. But for the individual cops, car v. bike seems like a choice between bored and fidgety and pleasantly engaged with the community.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 2:59 PM
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237: I don't know. I didn't think of my piece as being about forgiveness; I thought of it as responsibility, one I did not particularly want. I tried to think about what kind of community I wanted to live in (With accountability! Without police!) and how to talk to someone in a way that would forward this. I also thought about the times I've done things I've considered pretty seriously wrong and how strong my desire to be in good standing with people had been.

Of course, I can't "forgive" someone for sexually assaulting someone else. Off the top of my head, I think that things like sexual assault do injure, to a lesser extent, the people you are in community with.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:00 PM
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so if this turned into a conversation about forgiveness, I'd jump in with too much to say

That would be a fun conversation to read. Forgiveness is really hard.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:00 PM
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We just had this bike event in our neighborhood yesterday, and the cops who maintained the closing-off of streets were mostly on motorcycles. I didn't see any bike cops; it seemed like a missed PR opportunity.

Congrats to the happy couple.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:01 PM
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249 to 247


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:02 PM
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I've known people who got picked-up for public urination by bike cops. The alley after the bars close isn't a safe toilet because you can't hear the bike police until it is too late to run.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:03 PM
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Oh, and congratulations to the two upholders of ancient patriarchal oppression.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:03 PM
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LB is BikeSnobNYC!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:03 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:03 PM
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Also, congratulations Sifu and good luck Bloom! (Miss Manners says that one congratulates the groom and wishes good luck to the bride.) Although you're nothing more to me than pixels on a screen, you're pixels I like.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:04 PM
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Yes, congratulations to the happy couple and the ancient patriarchy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:04 PM
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Congrats, Sifu! You too, Blume!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:05 PM
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LB is everywhere:

http://drunkcyclist.com/


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:06 PM
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||

I was messing with an electrical outlet in my apartment yesterday, and accidently grabbed two live metal parts, one with my right hand and one with my left, at the same time. I felt a strong jolt going all the way up one arm, across my chest and down the other arm.

Everything I've found (in two minutes on google) suggests that if I'm not dead (which I believe I'm not), I'm perfectly fine--that if my heart didn't stop, there's not really much in the way of collateral damage that would have occurred. Is that right? Or is there any reason I should like, see a doctor? I've sort of felt like shit ever since, but that could be due to other factors.

|>


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:08 PM
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I've noticed that bike cops get significantly less respect than those in cars, on motorcycles, and, I'm betting, horses.

I got pulled over by a bike cop once. It was his first day! The merciless mocking I endure to this day from those who were passengers in my car at that time would seem to confirm that yes, bike cops get significantly less respect.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:08 PM
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Well, I'd rather be on a bike, but you know how those cops like their plush seats and donuts. What we really need are cop cars that can turn into giant flying robots.

Oh, and restorative justice approaches are fine as an adjunct to/as a coordinated part of the criminal system, particularly for small property crimes or minor crimes committed within identified communities, like schools. Many criminal courts are trying to use restorative justice approaches where they can, in part because it saves money.

But restorative justice isn't remotely feasible as a replacement for police or prisons or the criminal justice system. Nor is it really workable as an alternative for punishing more serious crimes. The sexual assault example Frowner gives is definitely not scalable, to say the least.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:09 PM
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271: I think your options are either a) drop by a clinic and see if you've been seriously damaged, or b) wait to see if you develop superpowers. I think we all know the right answer there.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:10 PM
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271: I'd see a doctor if I felt bad after a shock that went through the torso. Or at least call one.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:12 PM
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The other main possible damage from electric shock would be burns, I imagine: which you would notice at the points where the current went in and came out. (IANAD.)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:13 PM
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And, congrats to the new couple. Maybe Superbrock can use his new powers, put on a cape, and do a fly-by over the ceremony.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:13 PM
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In Joanna Russ's fine novel The Female Man, she says that if you just let the electricity flow through you then you will see wonders:

"take in your bare right hand one naked, severed end of a high-tension wire. Take the other in your left hand. Stand in a puddle.... When She [God] roars down in high voltage and high amperage both, She is after your marrow-bones; you are making yourself a conduit for holy terror and the ecstasy of Hell."

So I'm sure it was an interesting experience. None the less, I personally would stop by the doctor's office.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:14 PM
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271: That'd be my impression as well, but not so much with the being a doctor, so I wouldn't rely on my advice.

And dude, what's with the deathwish? You're a lawyer -- you can throw away spoiled food and hire electricians.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:14 PM
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wait to see if you develop superpowers

It always bothered me that Electro and Magneto had nonoverlapping powers.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:15 PM
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271: Also, please tell me that this was a regular outlet, not a high voltage one for a range or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:15 PM
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I do need to educate myself about basic maintenance. I realized that I have no idea what I'd do if I got a flat. What do people do -- carry around a spare tube? Or put a patch on on the spot? I suppose I'd need a patch kit, and some idea of how the wheels come off.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:19 PM
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279: hiring an electrician might have been a bit much, but cutting off the breaker would definitely have been a smart idea.

Is anyone suggesting stopping by a clinic for any sort of concrete reason, or just out of a vague sense of precaution? Because it would be, like, a real pain, and 271 (and also 276, yes, although I don't have any burns) seems to be right, as best I (non-doctor) can tell (in 2 minutes on google). But if there's some potential risk of my heart stopping tomorrow (or anything similar), or if I'll now need to be extra careful about walking in wool socks on carpet for the rest of my life, that's the sort of thing I would like to know.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:20 PM
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281: I'm guessing that if it were 220V or 240V Brock wouldn't be here to tell us the story.

And yo, Brock, people invented circuit breakers for a reason. Turn that shit off before you go fucking with it again. (Better yet, don't go fucking with it again. If you don't have the sense to turn off the breaker first, you're automatically disqualified from doing any electrical work.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:20 PM
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271: 120 AC can (and does) kill, but typically you either die immediately, suffer a horrible injury that leaves no doubt about the need for medical attention, or suffer no lasting consequences. The bad thing is that the current path is across your chest, which means possible stress to the heart. I'd counsel watching and observing with an eye out for anything that looks like it might be heart related, in which case get to a doctor.

My background on this subject is safety training related to high voltage systems, but most of that is regular electrician's safety training with an addendum that HV will kill you more readily and at a greater distance.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:20 PM
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281: regular.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:21 PM
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282: You should be able to get a kit that contains both a patch kit and a spare tube and will be about the size of a point-and-shoot camera. Easiest thing to do is just replace the tube, for which you'll need tire irons.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:23 PM
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284: I normally would have cut the breaker, but I hadn't really set out intending to start fucking with the outlet. It just sort of happened, while I was doing something else.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:23 PM
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283: This seems like a good candidate for a phone call to the doctor -- leave a message with the text of 271 in it, and being detailed about the level of malaise you feel (which doesn't sound like it's all that bad), and they'll tell you to come in or not.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:24 PM
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I'd counsel watching and observing with an eye out for anything that looks like it might be heart related, in which case get to a doctor.

Yeah, this is the sort of thing that's troubling, although my very strong suspicion is that a Dr. would just say the exact same thing, charge me a fee and then send me on my way.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:24 PM
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What do people do -- carry around a spare tube?

I usually carry a couple spare tubes, a mini pump, and a quik stik


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:24 PM
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"It just sort of happened, while I was doing something else."

That sounds like what the guy says in those stories where somebody gets their penis caught in the vacuum.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:25 PM
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LB, I have every faith that you can learn to change a flat with an hour's initial effort. But in case you like a belt and suspenders approach, A Better World has bike roadside assistance.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:25 PM
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I hadn't really set out intending to start fucking with the outlet. It just sort of happened, while I was doing something else.

It's OK, you can admit that you were attracted to the outlet. We won't judge you here.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:25 PM
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It just sort of happened, while I was doing something else.

We've heard that before.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:26 PM
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Anyway, I would at least call, especially if I had a regular doctor.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:26 PM
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Look on the bright side, Brock. Maybe the current killed that tapeworm that's been bothering you!

Also, 288 reads like that Savage Love column where the guy is "100% not gay" but gets blowjobs from his male masseuse. "How did that happen?"


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:26 PM
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Moby pwned us both. But I had the link!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:27 PM
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This is not the first time I have been amazed that Brock is apparently a healthy, blasé adult. "I just stuck my finger in a light socket, should I go to the doctor?" "Isn't it weird that all of our parents sent old dogs off to farms in the country?" "Should I throw away a loaf of bread if it's green and furry?"

Also, congratulations Sifu and Blume! I just went to a wedding on Saturday of a couple that met online; all of you Internet people are getting married, it seems.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:27 PM
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295: I was just looking for that very link.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:27 PM
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298: If you think I'm googling 'penis vacuum cleaner' at work just to find a link....


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:28 PM
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Also, 297 reads like 296.

Dammit.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:28 PM
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Also I now very much like going to YouTube for tutorials on everything. I haven't looked up "change a bike flat", but no doubt they're out there. I like being able to play them as often as I need.

(Hiving a swarm, roofing, shingling)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:28 PM
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And 302 pwnd by 298.

Double dammit!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:29 PM
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But 304 is all yours, M/tch, all yours.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:30 PM
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Brock, no offense, but I don't think you should ever try to hive a swarm, no matter how many youtube videos you watch.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:30 PM
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233

... short of that, though, it's the victim's choice whether law enforcement gets involved, ...

Anyone aware of a crime can choose to get law enforcement involved.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:31 PM
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299.1: Don't forget, "You mean they don't have parachutes on commercial airliners?!" Thanks for brightening my day, Brock. Really.

And congrats to Sifume! And hooray for LB's happy bike commute! And Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:31 PM
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Not that you were necessarily planning to or anything, I just didn't want Megan to give you any pernicious ideas.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:31 PM
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(With accountability! Without police!)

I wouldn't mind being beaten up by the cops half as much as being lectured by a bunch of hippies about Why Bringing Peanut Butter Cookies to the Potluck Supper Is Wrong Because Zarah Ukraine's Parents Are Trying Very Hard to Maintain a Peanut-Free Environment.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:32 PM
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I'm actually thinking that Brock should develop a policy of posting a comment before he does anything at all, just to check whether it's a good idea.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:32 PM
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Don't let them oppress you, Brock!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:32 PM
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Thanks for brightening my day, Brock. Really.

Not to mention the "my stall's empty!" victory gestures.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:32 PM
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303: That reminds me. I have to tell a neighbor that he has a hornet's nest in his tree. Which probably means I'll have to get rid of the nest as he's well past 70 and has issues with breathing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:33 PM
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YouTube will show you how!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:34 PM
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307: Not with any particular effectiveness if the victim doesn't cooperate. We've been through this before: legally, the police don't need the victim's consent to prosecute, but practically, they are very likely to need the victim's evidence and assistance.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:34 PM
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Megan, there no point in not-killing hornets is there?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:34 PM
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has issues with breathing

Anaphylaxis will do that to you.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:35 PM
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"Hiving a swarm" apparently means somehow grabbing a queen bee by the abdomen and then letting a shitload of bees fly all around your arm, body, and face for a while. NO THANKS!

"Grabbing the queen bee requires a bit of practice. Start out by practicing on worker bees or drones."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:37 PM
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318: Standard smoked-for-50-years issues with breathing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:37 PM
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I wouldn't mind being beaten up by the cops half as much as being lectured by a bunch of hippies about Why Bringing Peanut Butter Cookies to the Potluck Supper Is Wrong Because Zarah Ukraine's Parents Are Trying Very Hard to Maintain a Peanut-Free Environment.

I think you may be overestimating the level of organization present at the potlucks in my neck of the woods. "Oh wow! You baked cookies! I thought you were just bringing chips!" is the customary response to...well....cookies. Sometimes followed up with "And they don't even taste vegan!"

Although there must be some element of truth in your description because Zarah Ukraine sounds like a lovely name to me.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:38 PM
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258

... pleasantly engaged with the community.

When the community contains minneapolitans pleasant engagement can be problematic.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:39 PM
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When the community contains minneapolitans pleasant engagement can be problematic.

But a minne-Shearer face-off would be pretty dramatic, you've got to admit.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:41 PM
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Teach yourself a beard of bees


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:41 PM
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With your luck, Brock, I'd suggest consulting a priest.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:42 PM
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The only reasons I wouldn't kill hornets are denial and procrastination. (And because I believe you re-live every death you cause in purgatory before you are released to the bardo. But that is idiosyncratic.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:44 PM
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I had totally forgotten the "you mean they don't have parachutes on airplanes?" bit came from Brock. That was awesome.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:45 PM
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I stuck my finger in a live light socket when I was 12 or 13 and, while I acquired no superpowers, I am in good health.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:46 PM
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"(And because I believe you re-live every death you cause in purgatory before you are released to the bardo. But that is idiosyncratic.)"

Then I'll use a quick poison instead of my 'cheap plan' (waiting until they are asleep and putting a plastic bag around the hive).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:47 PM
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The only reasons I wouldn't kill hornets are denial and procrastination lack of sport and the failure of the territorial governor to offer a suitable bounty.

Fixed.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:52 PM
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Depending on the tires and your hands, you might be able to change them with no tools at all. Or you can get one of the patch kits.

I'm not sure how things are in NYC, but out here I'd suspect that if you were standing by the side of the road with a flat tire and a patch kit, at least 10% of the bicyclists going by would be willing and able to use it to fix your flat.

Also, city cops on dirtbikes are seriously unfair. But clearly a good idea.

And people who say "oh, you don't need to call the cops on your neighborhood drug dealer because they'll leave you alone because they don't want to cause trouble" should at least acknowledge that the reason drug dealers leave locals alone is precisely because the police exist and are able to cause the dealers trouble.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:53 PM
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323: I'm sure Shearer and I could find several mutual interests to geek out about if we ever happened to meet face-to-face. Do you read a lot of SM Stirling, James?


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:56 PM
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332: And thus a great romance was born.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:58 PM
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I'm struggling to find a way to put this that won't offend Brock, but the thing I love about these stories and anecdotes that he tells is that they are much like the best part of being around children - those completely unexpected and hilarious moments where they bust out with something that no adult would ever say, think, or do. Except Brock does.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 3:59 PM
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331: "My local drug dealer leaves me alone" sounds a bit like the stories about what a charmer Machine Gun Kelly was, except when he had a machine gun. I like The Wire as much as the next frightened Caucasian, but pharmaceutical entrepreneurship and philanthropy generally go together only in the first, handing-out-turkeys-at-Thanksgiving third of the movie.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:01 PM
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334: Brock is 10 years old, Parenthetical. I thought you knew.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:01 PM
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I'm not sure how things are in NYC, but out here I'd suspect that if you were standing by the side of the road with a flat tire and a patch kit, at least 10% of the bicyclists going by would be willing and able to use it to fix your flat.

Oh, I'd count on it -- NY's generally great that way. (I don't know NY bike culture specifically, but in every other context I've needed help in, people are very willing to be remarkably helpful.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:03 PM
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all of you Internet people are getting married, it seems.

Meanwhile, some of us Internet people are still available. Act now, laydeez.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:05 PM
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332: Come to think of it, Shearer, if you haven't read Stirling, there's a good chance you'd like him -- we seem to enjoy a fair amount of the same light reading. If you missed the recent discussion, search the archives for a full explication of what's disturbing and unpleasant about his politics, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:06 PM
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331: the reason drug dealers leave locals alone is precisely because the police exist and are able to cause the dealers trouble

Yeah, 'cause, you know, otherwise, if there were no police, the drug dealers would be practicing cannibalism and stealing communion wafers and other horrible things like that.

Just what is it that you people think a drug dealer does for chrissakes? They sell drugs to people. That's their business. If someone interferes with their business, especially in the context of a militaristic authoritarian state that locks people up for 20 years for slinging nickel bags, then yes, violence may occur. But seriously, how many drug deals go down in this country every day? A million? Three million? It's a lot, regardless of the exact number. How many of those deals, absent police-inflicted violence, have any violence associated with them? .1%? At the absolute most? Even at the height of the crack epidemic, people were not getting gunned down every time someone went to buy a rock.

This just underscores the poverty of our political discourse. "Crackhead" just like "terrorist" or "Muslim" is a catchall term for people we want to otherize and justify mistreating. I'll say this again, because apparently some people are having trouble reading all the way through the comments: I have seen many aspects of the trade in illicit drugs. I live in a neighborhood where those drugs are regularly sold and consumed. (As, no doubt, do you, but it's slightly less discreet around me.) And I am far, far more afraid of the police rolling up on me or my friends for no reason and fucking with us than I am about the infinitesimal possibility that some drug dealer is going to gun me down with an Uzi, or whatever it is you think will happen to me.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:08 PM
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I'm not sure how things are in NYC, but I suspect that if you were standing by the side of the road with a flat tire and a patch kit, at least 10% of the drug dealers going by would be willing and able to use it to fix your flat.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:11 PM
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Shortly after I moved out here, and before I learned to carry repair supplies when out for a ride, my tube sprung a leak at night up in Sausalito. A group of three cyclists saw me struggling, stopped, and when they realized they forgot their patch kit, lent me their hand pump (so that I might periodically reinflate it on my way home) without taking even my contact info. I of course got one guy's number and dropped off the pump a couple days later. I was certainly impressed by their casual trust and helpfulness.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:12 PM
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If someone interferes with their business, especially in the context of a militaristic authoritarian state that locks people up for 20 years for slinging nickel bags, then yes, violence may occur.

Is there a Community Drug-Dealing Board to which one may report incidents of local dealers' creative and/or self-serving interpretation of the concept of "interfere[nce] with their business"?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:13 PM
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Right, so now I'm caught upon the thread again.

Re: restorative justice, etc., the thing that frustrates me no end is that there are so many good models for programs that can be scaled up (RJ is a mixed bag on this one) and aren't. Will mentioned drug courts way upthread. I have gotten less and less patient with lawmakers who claim to be tough on crime but seem to be more interesting in building prisons and creating prison-guard jobs than in actually reducing crime.

We just had ANOTHER homeless person with mental illness killed by police a few weeks ago, apparently because he callled 911 repeatedly for no reason and had a utility knife. He was in a public place on a quiet weekend afternoon; not a lot of people around to be inconvenienced if they cordoned off the area for a nice two-hour negotiating session. Who in heaven's name is better served by having police react with guns?

It's true that we need to have ways to enforce social sanctions, and in a geographically huge, populous society we aren't all going to live/stay in the same place long enough to develop the community relationships that allow us to solve these problems at the interpersonal level all the time. Plus, there's really good reason we moved away from vigilantism in this country.

And I actually like police; I like living in a place with them and I have had some extremely positive experiences with them. (I've also witnessed firsthand plenty of careless intimidation, bullying, ignoring and belittling of witnesses and victims, and dealt with the aftermath of much, much worse.) I just wish we as a society were better about paying for and staffing the services that the police shouldn't (under common understandings of their mission) be attempting to provide.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:14 PM
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335: After Prohibition ended, how many US liquor store and bar owners used bombs and machine guns to kill their business competitors?


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:15 PM
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Whoops, "caught up on," although "caught upon" is sort of a funny mental image. Like getting tangled in embroidery floss or something.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:15 PM
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I was certainly impressed by their casual trust and helpfulness.

If they were biking in Sausalito, chances are they could afford the $20 to replace the hand pump.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:16 PM
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345: I suggest you consider Mexico a constructive example for this.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:18 PM
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347: But to continue, how nice! It's always lovely when people go out of their way to help someone out.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:18 PM
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347: Hey now, there is the forgotten fraction of Sausalito residents who can only afford one yacht.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:26 PM
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345: 5? 6? Is this a trick question?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:27 PM
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Otto was biking in Sausalito.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:30 PM
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Nosflow was recapitulating the content of recent comments.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:32 PM
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332 339

I have read a few of Stirling's books, most memorably "The Stone Dogs" which was impressively creepy.

I haven't liked them well enough to find and read everything he has written. In part because the time travel scenarios don't appeal to me.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:33 PM
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Witt's 344 is right on. So many of the problems of the cops/criminal justice system come from asking it to do too much with resources that are too limited, and a model that's too militaristic. So much of what a cop actually does is to act like a social worker, but a lot of their training is modeled on the army. But a lot of cops/LE professionals do really get this.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:33 PM
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Wait, so Otto is single and rich?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:33 PM
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I wanted to be a cop who walks around neighborhoods for a while, before discovering that there aren't any cops who walk around neighborhoods. n=1!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:35 PM
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352: Point, but I did say "good chance" not 100% chance.

In unrelated news, I'm disappointed that Julia Child does not inform me on the best technique to halve a duck.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:35 PM
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I remember visiting Sausalito as a kid and asking my parents if we could move there. In college I would know someone who lived there; her dad produced Star Wars.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:35 PM
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In unrelated news, I'm disappointed that Julia Child does not inform me on the best technique to halve a duck.

Use shears.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:36 PM
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Yes, my graduate stipend is in the low seven figures. Because my thesis is going to be that groundbreaking. The market is always right, people.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:36 PM
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360: Got that part. But is it better to start with the back? The front? I'm going to lose a finger.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:36 PM
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In unrelated news, I'm disappointed that Julia Child does not inform me on the best technique to halve a duck.

Not surprising. It's wabbit season.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:39 PM
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Start at the side with the larger cavity, with the back (as opposed to the side with the breasts, not as opposed to the front). You will probably, at that point, be able to flatten the whole thing out somewhat, which will make doing the breast half easier.

But really, what are you worried about? Just wing it. You can't fuck this up too badly. Just give me the duck next time. I will always accept a duck.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:39 PM
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But really, what are you worried about? Just wing it. You can't fuck this up too badly.

But Brock probably shouldn't try it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:41 PM
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Do those seven figures include the decimal point, Otto?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:41 PM
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Thanks to 358, I know understand the point of 352, and thus retract 353. Though I will note that my possession of a hand pump of my very own (which was obtained by the exchange of money for goods) suggests that I too was able to afford a hand pump.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:42 PM
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366: I didn't say that all seven figures were significant.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:43 PM
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Fuck. know s/b now. That's what I get for trying to comment while I carry out groundbreaking scientific research.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:44 PM
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But really, what are you worried about? Just wing it. You can't fuck this up too badly.

I should have waited just a moment longer and I would have read the advice, but you're right, that was absurdly easy. I did go with the unconventional choice of the boning knife when I examined my shears and found them lacking sharpness.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:47 PM
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Yeah, 'cause, you know, otherwise, if there were no police, the drug dealers would be practicing cannibalism and stealing communion wafers and other horrible things like that.

No. When police exist, if you complain to Bob the Crack Dealer about his customers stealing your car stereo or turning tricks on your front porch or passing out in your doorway, he says "I'll get right on that" so that you don't call the cops. If you can't call the cops, he'll say "not my problem" or "fuck you."

After Prohibition ended, how many US liquor store and bar owners used bombs and machine guns to kill their business competitors?

The police were still enforcing laws against using bombs and machine guns, just not against selling alcohol. Today, drug dealers are at high risk of violent crime because a) they have lots of cash on hand, b) they have drugs on hand, and c) they are not able to request assistance from the police if they get robbed. Legalizing drugs would remove factor c), but if you get rid of the police as well you're right back where you started.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:50 PM
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In her previous bad neighborhood (where I was shot with a bottle rocket while out on a walk), my sister shamed the drug dealers across the street by standing in her doorway holding the baby after being awoken. She's so beautiful and I guess the Madonna image triggered their Catholic guilt.

She discouraged the junkies from using her front yard by hooking the sprinklers up to a motion detector.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:54 PM
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She discouraged the junkies from using her front yard by hooking the sprinklers up to a motion detector.

Genius low-tech solution.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:55 PM
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Sounds like a lower-tech version of this.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 4:58 PM
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Fuck. know s/b now. That's what I get for trying to comment while I carry out groundbreaking scientific research.

Well, I hope you've learned your lesson, Otto. To wit: groundbreaking scientific research can wait.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:01 PM
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371: When police exist, if you complain to Bob the Crack Dealer about his customers stealing your car stereo or turning tricks on your front porch or passing out in your doorway, he says "I'll get right on that" so that you don't call the cops. If you can't call the cops, he'll say "not my problem" or "fuck you."

I disagree. There are rules of proper behavior within the drug-dealing and drug-using crowd, and dealers often know perfectly well that their customers may cross the line. I've seen dealers cut certain customers off for not keeping their issues to themselves -- for, say, breaking into the upstairs neighbor's apartment, or stealing from the shop down the street -- and it has little or nothing to do with the threat of police intervention.

Drug-dealing and -using people are not defined solely by their drug involvements, and it's short-sighted to think so. While the crack epidemics of a while back were a world gone crazy, most people don't want to see to see their neighborhoods go to hell, and don't really want the nice lady upstairs to have her life upended by jackass customer X or stupid-ass customer Y.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:07 PM
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Here's a nice cop story about the Cambridge police arresting Henry Louis Gates, Jr. for "disturbing the peace" after a white neighbor lady called them in because she saw Gates using his shoulder to open his front door. No, really!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:19 PM
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377: Also at Crooked Timber and EotAW.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:29 PM
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377: One of my friends has a front door that you virtually have to throw yourself at to get open - want to bet no one is every going to call the cops on me, a white female, opening that door with a shoulder shove and a kick?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:37 PM
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377-378: also at comment 142 of this very thread!


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:37 PM
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380: See what you get for using the pause/play symbols?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:39 PM
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A fitting punishment for my meekness in introducing the topic.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:40 PM
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While my sympathies lie with Gates, it is annoying that he used the "do you know who you're dealing with?" tactic.

(Though, on the other hand, the cop really would have been better off if he had known who he was dealing with).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:43 PM
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Note that the Gates quotation comes from the police report: query whether the actual words might have been something more like, "Look, I'm not a burglar, I'm a professor at Harvard, and I live here."


Posted by: alkali | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:49 PM
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Gates said that because he was high on meth. Meth-heads always have delusions of grandeur.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:49 PM
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I'm a little surprised that in a case like this Harvard wouldn't lean on the police and have them issuing a public apology almost immediately.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:49 PM
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the cop really would have been better off if he had known who he was dealing with

Yeah, the cops should be forced to memorize the appearances of prominent african-americans to avoid such things happening in the future.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:55 PM
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384: Good point.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:55 PM
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"Do you know who you are dealing with?" is appropriate whenever the answer is "I'm the homeowner of this door I'm trying to break".


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:56 PM
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389: Hey, that's not what I meant!


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:56 PM
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Note that the Gates quotation comes from the police report: query whether the actual words might have been something more like, "Look, I'm not a burglar, I'm a professor at Harvard, and I live here.

From what I know and have encountered of Gates, I would be more surprised if he could get through any conversation without reminding people of exactly who he is.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 5:57 PM
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"Do you know who you are dealing with?" is appropriate whenever the answer is "I'm the homeowner of this door I'm trying to break".

No, it isn't.

In those cases what is appropriate is "I'm the homeowner of this door I'm trying to break". "Do you know who you're dealing with" is appropriate whenever the speaker is trying to be an asshole.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 6:00 PM
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Comments at the Boston Globe are awful.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 6:00 PM
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Check the alt text, essear.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 6:03 PM
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344
He was in a public place on a quiet weekend afternoon; not a lot of people around to be inconvenienced if they cordoned off the area for a nice two-hour negotiating session. Who in heaven's name is better served by having police react with guns?

Well, I assume the paperwork a police officer has to take care of after shooting a bum takes longer than two hours. However, it's just one officer doing that, not as many officers as it takes to cordon off an area. So maybe the officers were better served or maybe not, I don't know.

Untrolling, 355 is right.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 6:14 PM
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There's now an update at the link I gave above with his lawyer's (Charles Ogletree) statement on the incident. No "don't you know who I am" there.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 6:23 PM
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Further to 376, it puzzles me when I hear drug dealers talk about bags and vials; doesn't everyone keep their crack in little hand-crafted bowls?


Posted by: elemund | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 6:31 PM
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397: The usefulness of ramekins for crack storage is much undervalued.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 6:40 PM
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397: Those aren't stackable. Otherwise, I'd have to ask you to expand before I understood what you meant.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 6:42 PM
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...doesn't everyone keep their crack in little hand-crafted bowls?

Martha Stewart gilds halved walnut shells for just such a purpose.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 6:47 PM
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You people are insane. You can't store a crack, because it can't be separated from the material in which it inheres. All you can do is store the cracked object, and sometimes even that isn't possible (e.g. faultlines).


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 6:50 PM
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331 etc. Until about two years ago I had dealers about a hundred feet down the street from me. They never bothered me, after a few sales attempts in the first few weeks. Now that they're gone I feel less safe late at night. However, that has everything to do with the existence of drug prohibition and cops. They're making money of drugs, not muggings. Cops coming in mean an interruption of business, so it's in their interest to not have people mugged right next to them, let alone by them. A business that requires a readiness to inflict serious violence on folks for not paying debts is not one one that's going to attract a particularly altruistic crowd.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 6:57 PM
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There's now an update at the link I gave above with his lawyer's (Charles Ogletree) statement on the incident. No "don't you know who I am" there.

IMO Ogletree's statement reeks of bullshit, particularly this.

Professor Gates then asked the police officer if he would give him his name and his badge number. He made this request several times. The officer did not produce any identification nor did he respond to Professor Gates's request for this information. After an additional request by Professor Gates for the officer's name and badge number, the officer then turned and left the kitchen of Professor Gates's home without ever acknowledging who he was or if there were charges against Professor Gates. As Professor Gates followed the officer to his own front door, he was astonished to see several police officers gathered on his front porch. Professor Gates asked the officer's colleagues for his name and badge number. As Professor Gates stepped onto his front porch, the officer who had been inside and who had examined his identification, said to him, "Thank you for accommodating my earlier request," and then placed Professor Gates under arrest. He was handcuffed on his own front porch.

Really? Not one word until "Thank you..." and then placed directly in cuffs? This sounds a tad understated.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:23 PM
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I assume that eco-friendly dealers offer customers who bring their own bags 5¢ donations to charities such as the Violent Crackheads' Center for Restorative Justice and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:25 PM
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376: I've seen dealers cut certain customers off for not keeping their issues to themselves -- for, say, breaking into the upstairs neighbor's apartment, or stealing from the shop down the street -- and it has little or nothing to do with the threat of police intervention.

A crapshoot. I've seen dealers do absolutely nothing about such spinoff crimes. A friend of mine had her apartment broken into and half of her clothes stolen in just such circumstances, in the neighbourhood of a crack den that was prostituting women (or more accurately, girls) from its garage. (The OP was pretty resonant for me, though that situation sounds much more ambiguous than this one was.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:27 PM
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403: Does it matter? You get called for a burglary, and find out the 'burglar' is a man in his sixties with a limp acting like he owns the place, does it make sense for the cop to do anything other than apologetically straighten out what's going on? Even if Gates was bellowing "Get the hell out of my house you racist fuck", and the cop hadn't done anything wrong other than respond to a call, the cop didn't have any excuse for treating Gates as anything other than an understandably irate citizen.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:28 PM
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|| So, if anyone is bored, thoughts on how exactly to respond to this are hereby solicited. I am... at a loss.|>


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:30 PM
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You have a blog? I had no idea.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:35 PM
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407: Is this the boss that has outbursts? If so, it's probably just a reference to that, no?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:35 PM
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I'd send back this one. It doesn't directly reply to the first, but it is really funny. http://xkcd.com/561/


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:35 PM
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406: That was what I found most disturbing about all the comment threads, including the one at Coates' blog—each had commenters who thought it was perfectly okay for the cops to arrest someone who yelled at them, even if that someone was a physically non-threatening person who was yelling at them in his own house.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:36 PM
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403: But I suppose the police report sounds perfectly legitimate to you, because you have no trouble imagine Gates saying "I'll meet your mama outside"?

The man had just gotten in from a flight to China; I think he can be forgiven if his lawyer's recounting of his recounting of what happened doesn't contain the policeman's precise words.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:37 PM
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409: No, it's the one who has periodically provoked me to outbursts. Though I've been doing a very impressive job of completely ignoring him lately.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:40 PM
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413: Oh. Huh.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:41 PM
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405: A crapshoot.

True. It depends, obviously, on the dealer and the level of his/her involvement with the community. Also presumably even more to do with the dealer's level of dealing. I was chiefly, in 376, speaking of lower-level dealing, the type in which the dealer would never "inflict serious violence on folks for not paying debts" (per 402), in part because the dealer doesn't take credit in the first place.

But yes, the OP was somewhat resonant for me as well, as there were some crackheads in the neighborhood of the bookshop a while back, one of whom decided to try stealing books; and another of these people (tangentially known to me) broke into an apartment upstairs from his friend a few blocks from the shop. Eh, yes, they do this. At the time, we all talked to one another, the miscreants were identified and told to cut it the fuck out.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:42 PM
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340: "Crackhead" just like "terrorist" or "Muslim" is a catchall term for people we want to otherize and justify mistreating.

No, "crackhead" is a term for addicts to crack cocaine, also known as "base."

And with all due respect to your ironclad street cred, I too live in a neighbourhood where drugs are openly sold and consumed -- in fact a block away from the single most infamous such market in the downtown core of my city. Nor am I the least bit unaware, on either a personal or a theoretical level, with the dangers cops can represent. Yet I still find comments like "police are paid to shoot people" ridiculous and overwrought.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:43 PM
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Reading the most recent 5 XKCD's, I see that he's discovered the TV Tropes site. Poor bastard.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:45 PM
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I didn't appreciate the need for cops until I learned about Di's tendency to outbursts.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:49 PM
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Heh. This">http://xkcd.com/565/">This one might work.

Which amuses me even more in light of 418. mwahahahahah


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:52 PM
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Well that didn't go very well.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:53 PM
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Don't try to hypertext while angry.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:54 PM
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This thread echoes Jane Jacobs' Systems of Survival more than Death and Life of.... SoS is allabout what police and soldiers and gangs have in common, that they don't share with, e.g., merchants. (So there should be something interesting in there about the possible transition of drug gangs from one state to the other. I think there is. I also faintly remember that she describes all of the systems as having violent, greedy underpinnings as well as vital purpose in society.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:54 PM
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This one looks like a timely warning for Blume.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 7:56 PM
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That was what I found most disturbing about all the comment threads, including the one at Coates' blog--each had commenters who thought it was perfectly okay for the cops to arrest someone who yelled at them, even if that someone was a physically non-threatening person who was yelling at them in his own house.

Agreed.

Around here, a number of officers will arrest people for obstruction of justice on almost any basis. A police officer does not get to order people around just because they are an officer. That isnt how it works.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:00 PM
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A police officer does not get to order people around just because they are an officer. That isnt how it is supposed to works.

Kind of frustrating how "supposed to" and "does" fail to match up sometimes.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:14 PM
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425:

agreed.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:16 PM
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OT: Wow. The Wanted is really, really bad.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:18 PM
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416: But police are paid to shoot people. Whether or not you personally feel it is ridiculous doesn't change the facts of the situation.

"Crackhead" is not simply a term for someone who happens to use freebase cocaine. Yes, that is the literal meaning, but the connotation is that it refers to someone who is outside of "normal" society, and deserves few, if any, protections -- in terms of their health, safety and civil rights.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:36 PM
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In progress burg is a pretty tense call. Typically several of the closest cars swarm an in progress burg because it's not uncommon that they turn into foot chases or something more violent.

First guy on scene gets to try and make sense of the call from scratch, and do it in a hurry. Are you going to call in guys for containment? Is someone still inside? Is the resident inside along with the suspects? How many? Maybe armed?

So yeah, you see the guy in the house, and damn straight you're going to try and ID him, and not let him out of your sight. Dude's 58, not 90. Even according to Gate's attorney's account a uniformed officer tells Gates right off that he's there because someone called the cops saying there was an in progress burglary. The cop doesn't know who the hell lives there and what they look like. What the cop knows is that he's on a burg call and that there's a guy on his department missing teeth from literally being shot in the face by a burg suspect. Of course you ask the guy to step outside and ID himself.

Sure, you can play "my home is my castle" and tell the cop to piss off, but all that's going to get you is a quick lesson that you are not in charge. If you're the damn homeowner just give some ID so the cop can get on his radio and tell the other units to stop rushing over and that the scene is safe.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:41 PM
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403: The cop ascertained that Gates was legally in the right. He had broken no laws whatsoever. The second Gates showed him the ID, the cop's response should have been "I'm sorry to bother you Prof. Gates, we have to check out every call we receive. I can see that you're upset, may I suggest that you take a moment to compose yourself and then speak to your attorney about this matter. Again, I'm sorry for the intrusiong, good afternoon."

What would have been wrong with that? No muss, no fuss, no paperwork other than the bare minimum for responding to a call. If police officers are, in fact, anything other than highly-paid muscle for the rich, then they should be expected to act courteously and professionally wherever possible. Every bad thing that happened here is a direct result of the cop's continuing to antagonize Gates after the ID was provided.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:42 PM
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The OP sort of resonated with me, too, because JUST THIS MORNING, as I was sitting on my front stoop drinking some coffee and reading a book, I noticed that the livery cab dude parked by the fire hydrant on the sidewalk was getting a blowjob from some poor hooker. They noticed me---and went back to it! for like five minutes! The guy didn't get off, and I don't think the woman got paid. She left the car looking pretty angry and shaking her head. The cab guy drove off fairly quickly thereafter.

Now, I thought about calling the cops, thought about maybe making a 311 call (NYC general complaint and info line), thought about maybe getting the guy's license plate number and complaining to his company, but didn't do anything. "Well, maybe if it becomes a pattern...." I thought. I told my neighbor about it, and since he's retired and often hanging around, maybe he would be better at walking up to someone like that and telling them to knock it off.

Ten o'clock in the fucking morning!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:44 PM
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429: all that's going to get you is a quick lesson that you are not in charge

Precisely. The slavecatchers are in charge and they'll never let you forget it, as long as you live.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:44 PM
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A police officer does not get to order people around just because they are an officer. That isnt how it works.

Sure. But the flip side of that is the person who thinks that because you're in their house they don't have to do anything they are told. All too common with the male half of domestic violence calls.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:45 PM
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O.K. You've convinced me that Minneapolis is a violent urban dystopia where the police prey on the citizens, the citizens cheerfully do drugs, and anarchy will reign supreme once August hits and it get warm enough for people to open their front doors.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:45 PM
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403: Granted that a defense attorney, especially one who knows the entire case is a war for public opinion, is going to have a view of the facts that most favors his client, what on earth do you find unbelievable about this? The statement doesn't claim the officer didn't say anything; it says he didn't respond to Dr. Gates's request.

Taking it out of the realm of this particular incident, pretend the person being arrested is me. I'm in my own home, and a police officer has followed me inside and demanded to see ID, which I have provided. I'm sleep-deprived, humiliated, scared, and angry. I'm so upset that I'm already sure I'm going to file a complaint against this officer, so I look at his chest but I can't see a badge number or nameplate.

"What's your badge number?"

(officer ignores me)

"What's your name? This is ridiculous. Does your lieutenant know you're wasting time on crap like this?"

(officer is looking around my kitchen)

"WHAT'S YOUR BADGE NUMBER? You can't just go around anonymously! That's wrong!"

Officer: "Calm down. You want to get arrested?"

"NO I DON'T WANT TO GET ARRESTED IN MY OWN GODDAMN HOUSE! I WANT TO KNOW WHY ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH A POLICE OFFICER IS ALLOWED TO BARGE INTO MY HOME AND DEMAND TO SEE ID! I WANT YOUR BADGE NUMBER SO I CAN GIVE IT TO INTERNAL AFFAIRS! IT'S ILLEGAL NOT TO GIVE IT TO ME!"

(officer continues to ignore me, moves toward front door)

"GIVE ME YOUR NAME, YOU COWARD! What, are you afraid this will look bad in the newspaper? You get your kicks from just invading strange women's homes, is that it? I bet your lieutenant *doesn't* know you're here. Or maybe he looks the other way, huh?"

(officer has reached the front door and I come storming out on to the porch after him, still yelling and adrenalized and shaking)

(officer turns to me, says sarcastically, "Thank you for complying with my earlier request," and handcuffs me)

******
Now, I'm a wiry white woman with relatively limited ability to cause physical harm to anybody. And I have pretty high standards for how I think I should behave towards other human beings, such that I've never come close to yelling such insults and abuse at a stranger in my entire 30-something years on the planet.

But it doesn't take that much of a leap of imagination to think about how scared and furious I would be in such a situation, and it also doesn't take too much to imagine that if I'd had 60+ years of witnessing similar scenarios and worse, I might yell stupid, obscene, and insulting things to the officer. Which might cause me to be accused of being "loud and tumultuous," or however the police report termed it.

I'm no stranger to carefully written incident reports. Heaven knows I've written my share. But there's nothing in the excerpt of Ogletree's statement that sets of my baloney detector. (I haven't read the whole statement because I can't find it.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:46 PM
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434 to 428.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:47 PM
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434: Where are you from that people morosely do drugs, a Darren Aronofsky picture?


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:49 PM
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437: Pittsburgh. Did Aronofsky direct Striking Distance (the only Bruce Willis movie set in Pittsburgh)?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:52 PM
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429: What the cop knows is that he's on a burg call and that there's a guy on his department missing teeth from literally being shot in the face by a burg suspect.

What the professor knows is that he lives in a country where black men are routinely harassed, beaten, arrested, and even murdered by police officers solely because of their race.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:54 PM
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428.2: I dunno about the Twin Cities, but around here "crackhead" is mostly used to refer to the people who commit small-scale crimes against property, like breaking spark plugs off motorcycles so they can use them to smash car windows and steal stuff. Yeah, sure, I have some measure of sympathy for the problems that lead to them feeling like they need to do that, but it also sucks to have youir bike or car trashed, even if you *are* a capitalist oppressor.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:54 PM
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440: I wasn't aware that finding something to smash car windows required much effort. Maybe you should put a sign on the bike "No Spark Plugs". Or get a better muffler.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:58 PM
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429: all that's going to get you is a quick lesson that you are not in charge

What?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 8:59 PM
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but all that's going to get you is a quick lesson that you are not in charge

My problem with the police in a nutshell.

You work for us. We dont work for you.

Many people have died for our freedoms. The police do not just get to order people around.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:00 PM
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435: I wish I'd had the gumption to react like that the last time I was rousted by The Man.*

* For flying a kite in Central Park. Thug life!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:03 PM
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Granted that a defense attorney, especially one who knows the entire case is a war for public opinion, is going to have a view of the facts that most favors his client, what on earth do you find unbelievable about this? The statement doesn't claim the officer didn't say anything; it says he didn't respond to Dr. Gates's request.

Yeah, it could have gone down the way you describe. I'd sure like to hear the radio traffic from that call. People don't often think about the fact that it's all recorded and that they can be heard in the background yelling like a nutjob. Or, maybe it really did go down like Gates says.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:05 PM
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Also, I love how a police officer doesnt have to give a statement immediately after they have shot someone, but an individual citizen does.

The officer gets to get all of the facts, and to calm down before he has to give a version of what happened.

Yet, an individual is involved in a shooting? Get his statement now and call any corrections lies.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:05 PM
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Many people have died for our freedoms. The police do not just get to order people around.

No, but gswift's point is valid -- when the cop is responding to a report of a burglary in progress, s/he does kind of get to order people around until s/he's satisfied that it was a false alarm and everything is cool.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:06 PM
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In progress burg is a pretty tense call. Typically several of the closest cars swarm an in progress burg because it's not uncommon that they turn into foot chases or something more violent.

G, Gates is a sixtyish man who walks with a cane. If the policeman was tense because he was literally afraid that Gates would hurt him, the policeman needs to find a less frightening profession. If he wasn't afraid that Gates was going to hurt him, he had no excuse for behaving badly.

In the absence of a literally frightening situation for the police officer, which I don't believe this was, the police officer's job is to calm the situation the fuck down. He's used to burglary calls -- that's his job, and he doesn't get to behave badly because he's freaked out about it. Gates is not used to having police think he's a burglar, and is perfectly reasonable to be freaked out.

Given that the cops were called in by the nitwitted neighbor, it's reasonable that they had to establish that Gates was a resident in the house rather than an intruder. But do you, as someone now working as a police officer, really think it couldn't have been done politely, and without needing to punish Gates for being upset by the interaction?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:06 PM
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What difference does it make if Gates is yelling like a nutjob?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:07 PM
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yelling like a nutjob

Not, in fact, a crime, or a particularly surprising way to behave in an upsetting situation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:08 PM
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445:

Likewise, officers seem to hate it when people video tape their encounters with people. Why? Why do they confiscate video? Why do they object to it? Why do they tell people it is illegal?


I am sorry for getting riled up. I know a LOT of excellent officers. I really do. But, I also have seen a lot of officers lie and exagerate because they feel that the ends justify the means.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:09 PM
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"that they had to establish that Gates was a resident in the house rather than an intruder"

On a related note, I locked myself out of the house the other day. I called a locksmith as all of the people with extra keys were 1.5 hours away. I was alarmed that the locksmith didn't ask for any ID or anything.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:09 PM
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In a fight, I could totally take Gates.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:11 PM
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when the cop is responding to a report of a burglary in progress, s/he does kind of get to order people around until s/he's satisfied that it was a false alarm and everything is cool.

Not for an anonymous phone call.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:11 PM
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454: Wasn't anonymous -- it was a neighbor who was right there. What on earth her damage was, God knows.

So I'll accept that the cop wasn't doing anything wrong asking for Gates' ID. But arresting him for being upset about being asked for ID in his own home is way, way out of line.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:14 PM
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What exactly did the neighbor say?

Dispatch should be getting the facts, not her conclusions.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:15 PM
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454: It's not probable cause, no. But it fits into the "community caretaking" function. The cop responding to dispatch isn't independently evaluating the adequacy of the tip -- just responding to "report of burglary in progress."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:15 PM
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Gates is a sixtyish man who walks with a cane.

LB, I agree in general with your points, but if I were a police officer that would not be a defining consideration for me. Skinny old people can be armed. Small, helpless-looking people can be wired on drugs or adrenaline and have crazy amounts of temporary strength.

You're dealing with an unpredictable situation. Police always want to err on the side of control (which is why it's so easy to cross the line into bullying and intimidation), and civilians always want to think it is perfectly obvious that they were harmless, and not One of Those Bad People. But -- and here I'm speaking as someone who has worked a long time in public libraries and dealt with a fair number of members of the public who were distressed and unpredictable -- it is dumb, dumb, dumb as the authority figure in that situation to just make a snap judgment based merely on physical size, gender, age or ethnicity. Of course you're making a lot of snap judgments anyway, and you're relying on heuristics, but if you've worked with the public for any amount of time, those heuristics may very well NOT be "He's old and skinny and has a limp -- he's harmless."


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:17 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:18 PM
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You work for us. We dont work for you. Many people have died for our freedoms. The police do not just get to order people around.

In certain situations, we do get to order people around, and it has to be that way. I don't have a magic crystal ball when I go to calls.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:18 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:19 PM
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460: Look at the police report. Gates identified himself, showed ID, and got arrested for yelling at the cop. Even if it went down exactly as the cop described it Gates should not have been arrested.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:19 PM
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Small, helpless-looking people can be wired on drugs or adrenaline and have crazy amounts of temporary strength.

We had a guy opened up to the tune of over 100 stitches by a one legged guy in a wheelchair. Crazy dude launched himself out of the chair and headbutted the cop. Fell on top of him when they both went to the ground and slashed him with a piece of glass.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:23 PM
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I don't know, now I'm having second thoughts. Apparently, to register his displeasure, Gates is now increasing the size of the military by 22,000. Maybe they should have kept him in jail longer to cool off.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:25 PM
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458: The thing is, though, nothing in the story makes sense as the cop acting to forestall violence from Gates. Gates was (taking the police report at face value) shouting. If the cop had the sense God gave a goose, he should have been able to look at and listen to Gates and figure out that it was at least a live possibility that Gates lived there, and manage to apologetically get across that, under the circumstances of the call from the neighbor, he needed Gates to establish his identity.

The point of saying that Gates is a sixtyish guy with a limp is that he wasn't, in fact, attacking the cop, and arresting him doesn't seem to have been any kind of attempt by the police to defend themselves from possible violence from him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:25 PM
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But do you, as someone now working as a police officer, really think it couldn't have been done politely, and without needing to punish Gates for being upset by the interaction?

I wouldn't have arrested him. People being jerks is part of the job.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:26 PM
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464: Congrats, minne, I didn't think this thread was going to make me chuckle.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:28 PM
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466: Well, right. The police power to arrest is for the purpose of arresting people who there's reason to think have committed crimes or are currently dangerous -- people being jerks is something the police have to deal with just like everyone else on the planet.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:29 PM
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people being jerks is something the police have to deal with just like everyone else on the planet.

Hopefully without being even bigger jerks. Even more so than everyone else on the planet. Which doesn't seem to be the case here.

I see what gswift is saying, obviously sometimes cops do have to take control of a situation. But if you do, you don't get to be an asshole about it. And if it turns out to have been a mistake, you apologize profusely and honestly.

In my experience, the militarization of police in this country has given a lot of them a piss poor attitude, which is at the root of a lot of this. A police officer just doing their job will sometimes have to be forceful, but will never do so without real cause, and never beyond what is necessary. In the absence of a threat they will show deference, give the benefit of the doubt, ask permission. They will never, ever escalate a situation without need.

If some cocky asshat waltzed into my house and started telling me what to do, I'd be pretty pissed off too. And it's all too plausible that this is what, in fact happened.

We can't know what happened, but it doesn't really matter that much. The officer did not handle the situation competently, or we would not be hearing about it.


Posted by: delurk | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 9:49 PM
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If some cocky asshat waltzed into my house and started telling me what to do

From the lawyers statement it sounds like the cop followed Gates inside when he went to get his id. Probably ticked Gates off. Understandable, but despite everyone thinking they radiate goodness, keep those hands where I can see them.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:04 PM
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470: The id is always very deep inside and very easy to tick-off.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:19 PM
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Understandable, but despite everyone thinking they radiate goodness, keep those hands where I can see them.

I understand that. Really I do. But you can calm a situation by doubling up on the "sirs" and "I apologize, but" and explaining what has to happen, or you can escalate it.

Ask to come inside with him. Apologize for the intrusion. Wipe your boots carefully and say please. And when it turns out you did, in fact, roust this guy in his own house because of someone else's mistake (honest or otherwise), have no pride. Grovel if needed to keep things calm. It's part of the job, or you're screwing it up.

Being safe is part of the job. Having an attitude isn't. Playing an attitude up is incompetent, pure and simple.


Posted by: delurk | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:31 PM
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The cop was able to establish without too much difficulty that Gates was a resident. So basically Gates was arrested for being rude in his own house.

It's true that Gates may have been brandishing a weapon, or he may have been a drug dealer, or he may have been a burglar, or he may have been plotting to assassinate someone, or he may have had some dead bodies in his freezer. Since the officer's own report makes it clear that none of these possibilities motivated his arrest, I'm confused about why they're relevant.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:35 PM
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465

... he should have been able to look at and listen to Gates and figure out that it was at least a live possibility that Gates lived there, ...

The cop also has to consider the possibly that this is a domestic situation in which Gates does not have a legal right to be in his own house and that is why he had to break in and why he is angry.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:36 PM
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428.1: No, repeating the statement doesn't make it less stupid, sorry.

Same for 428.2. I don't recall anyone claiming crackheads shouldn't have legal protection, but addicts to crack cocaine do on balance exhibit behaviours less common to other types of addicts. Saying so is not "connoting" that they're subhuman and deserving of evil repression. Calling the cops is not saying that they deserve to get shot.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:42 PM
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gswift, from anecdotes you've shared with us, you seem to be "one of the good ones" who is more into keeping the peace than exercising authority for your own sake, which I greatly appreciate, so please don't take the following questions as an attack, but do you find the claim that the officer refused to give his badge number on request credible? Do you think that's acceptable behavior for police in the US?


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 10:44 PM
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AFAIKT gswift's argument is that sure, acting rude and obnoxious to a cop isn't a crime, but let's get real here and admit it's really dumb and likely to get you arrested. But the flip side to that argument is how fucking stupid a cop do you need to be to do this to a person you know is a Harvard prof. This arrest is almost certainly going to be the subject of a departmental investigation. The cop's actions are going to be parsed with a fine tooth comb. At a minimum he's just given himself a major professional headache, and could well have hurt his career, just out of annoyance.

When I was a student a friend and I were stopped by cops late one night on suspicion of looking for drugs. We weren't, one of the cops was being very annoying. My friend starting getting really obnoxious back. (getting patted down, comments 'ooh yeah, is that what you're into officer, that turn you on...' etc.) The cop looked like he was about to punch him, till his partner asked are you guys [ivy school] students. We said yes, he told his partner, leave them alone, you don't need the grief. Class privilege in action, but sensible behaviour by the cop's partner. Here we're talking about a prof, not just a student.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:10 PM
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I don't see gswift making the argument paraphrased in first sentence of 477 at all.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:14 PM
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want to bet no one is every going to call the cops on me, a white female, opening that door with a shoulder shove and a kick?

What if you're trying to force a door to a residence where no white females live?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:19 PM
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The cop also has to consider the possibly that this is a domestic situation in which Gates does not have a legal right to be in his own house and that is why he had to break in and why he is angry.

WTF? I've seen statements like this on some of the other comment threads I was skimming earlier. Given that the call was not about a domestic dispute, and there is no mention in any report of Gates's wife being around, why do people keep bringing up the possibility of a domestic dispute as a way of justifying the cop's actions?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:21 PM
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gswift in 429 Sure, you can play "my home is my castle" and tell the cop to piss off, but all that's going to get you is a quick lesson that you are not in charge.

and in 445 Yeah, it could have gone down the way you describe. I'd sure like to hear the radio traffic from that call. People don't often think about the fact that it's all recorded and that they can be heard in the background yelling like a nutjob. Or, maybe it really did go down like Gates says.

That's how I interpreted these combined with the later comment that no he wouldn't have arrested him himself since dealing with jerks is part of the job.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:23 PM
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Anyway, I used to go up to my sister's old house to feed the cats when she was away and it had the worst front door lock I've ever had to deal with. Sometimes I got in without too much trouble, but when it took five minutes of me struggling to turn the key and shaking the door, I always thought: "This has got to look suspicious."


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:24 PM
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482: Yes, when I feed a friend's cat, I always have the same issue - there are multiple locks on the door, you have to turn the key one way and the handle the other, it takes me 3 minutes, and I'm completely aware that I'm standing in the middle of a bad neighborhood in front of a very nice house and looking suspicious.

What if you're trying to force a door to a residence where no white females live?

I'm still guessing no one calls the cops.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:40 PM
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I find as long as I yell "Where the white women at!" no one calls the cops. It's like the "Olly olly oxen free" of breaking and entering.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:47 PM
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In 8th grade, on Halloween, I was with some friends in front of a friend's house and we were spraying silly string (or some equivalent) at each other. One of the guys was quite short, but the same age as all of us. The cops showed up because a neighbor across the street called them and reported that some big kids were bullying a little kid. We patiently explained that we were all friends more or less the same age (I was actually the youngest of the group) and that there was no little kid and no bullying and they went away. We had the impression that Albany (not NY) cops didn't have much to do.

The funny thing is that it was completely obvious who made the call. You could see them at the window watching us the whole time. I hope they were disappointed by the entertainment.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-20-09 11:52 PM
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480

WTF? I've seen statements like this on some of the other comment threads I was skimming earlier. Given that the call was not about a domestic dispute, and there is no mention in any report of Gates's wife being around, why do people keep bringing up the possibility of a domestic dispute as a way of justifying the cop's actions?

Because domestic disputes are a common reason for irate guys breaking into their own houses.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:04 AM
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but do you find the claim that the officer refused to give his badge number on request credible? Do you think that's acceptable behavior for police in the US?

No, it's not acceptable to refuse that information. And there's really no point in refusing it. You've been dispatched to that call, it's a matter of public record.

From reading the report, I think what happened is that the officer was trying to update the situation on the radio and because that took priority it was taken as a refusal. Gates was probably angry and demanding the officer's information. The officer wrote that Gates was shouting and that he went out on the porch in order to be able to get on the radio. Like I mentioned above, burg in progress gets a hot response, and if it's a false alarm you try and get that info out right away. I think the the officer probably walked away trying to get on the radio, Gates took it as a refusal and followed him repeating the demand, and they end up pissing each other off.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:08 AM
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AFAIKT gswift's argument is that sure, acting rude and obnoxious to a cop isn't a crime, but let's get real here and admit it's really dumb and likely to get you arrested.

I don't know about "likely to get you arrested". I think it's more of a situation where you can "talk your way into a ticket". The pendulum takes a swing away from "verbal warning" and heads towards "write a cite".

But the flip side to that argument is how fucking stupid a cop do you need to be to do this to a person you know is a Harvard prof.

Actually, the arrest doesn't sound illegal. Things like disturbing the peace are typically worded pretty vaguely.

Human nature being what it is, sometimes you can totally see the thought developing. "Fuck this guy, he's going to file a complaint anyways".


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:27 AM
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I'd say it's even odds that within two years Minneapolitan gets mugged and does a David Horowitz style turn from left-insane to right-insane on police issues. Look for "Left to Criminals: The Inside Story of the Liberal Plot to Protect Cop-Killers and Hurt America's Law Enforcement Heroes," coming from Regnery in 2015.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:44 AM
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489: I was once mugged at knife-point. Within 24 hours I had the thought "now no one can ever use that 'a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged' line on me ever again".


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:49 AM
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Yeah, me too -- I've been mugged three times (never by a crack addict, I think) and maintained the liberalism intact, although my desire to live in a anarchist utopia maintained by drug dealers is pretty small.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:57 AM
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On the Gates issue, as someone who grew up a Lakers fan in the 80s, one of my most strongly held beliefs is that Boston is basically a city of racist white guys.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:06 AM
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Racist white guys who'll bore you with long rants about the awesomeness of Bill Russell.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:09 AM
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Note that I didn't say this was a justified belief, just a strongly held one. Although, there was definitely something racial in the air about the 1980s Celtics/Lakers rivalries.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:17 AM
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494: I had a similar conversation recently with someone I met who was rooting for the Lakers at a sports bar. We weren't in Los Angeles, and I asked him if he was an Angeleno. He said no, but that as a Muslim and a person of color growing up in the 80s, he developed an allegiance to the Lakers, who had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic, in contrast to the Celtics, who had Larry Bird and a bunch of asshole Boston fans.

This was perhaps the only explanation a non-Angeleno could give for liking the despicable Lakers that would ever make sense to me.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:25 AM
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Late to the party, but congratulations to Blume and Sifu.

Also, on a lighter note, more cops on bikes in urban areas.

In Lisbon, the cops in the pedestrianised areas ride Segways, which is awesome.

The cop who arrested Gates was certainly wrong, but Gates' behaviour was so stupid he almost deserved it. When dealing with the police in a situation that hasn't yet become confrontational, you do what it takes to prevent that happening. I'm surprised he hadn't learned that in high school.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 3:14 AM
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From reading the report, I think what happened is that the officer was trying to update the situation on the radio and because that took priority it was taken as a refusal. Gates was probably angry and demanding the officer's information. The officer wrote that Gates was shouting and that he went out on the porch in order to be able to get on the radio. Like I mentioned above, burg in progress gets a hot response, and if it's a false alarm you try and get that info out right away.

Assuming Gates was just mad and not psychotic, this sounds like nonsense to me. It takes literally five seconds to say "I'm sorry sir, it looks like this is all a mistake; my name's officer Krupke and my badge number is 1234567. Could you please hold on for a moment -- I need to call in so we don't have ten more cars showing up." Refusing to acknowledge Gates before calling in isn't making calling in a priority, it's being an asshole and inflaming the situation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 5:07 AM
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my desire to live in a anarchist utopia maintained by drug dealers is pretty small.

A minarchist utopia maintained by drug dealers, on the other hand, is 19th century Hong Kong, which wasn't a bad place to live at all, although the nightlife wasn't up to much.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 5:26 AM
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Further to 497: Sorry, g, that sounded wrong. What you said isn't nonsense as an explanation of why the cop refused to answer Gates' questions -- it actually sounds perfectly plausible as what the cop was thinking. What I meant is that it's nonsense as an excuse for the cop's behavior, if you see what I mean.

This sort of thing makes me annoyed, and I'm snapping at you as the 'spokesman for the police generally' on the thread, which is unfair.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 5:39 AM
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458: Gates is a sixtyish man who walks with a cane.

Hell, that would have gotten him shot in L.A. even if he were green skinned with yellow polka dots, and the shooting would be declared "within policy".

How this stuff gets handled seems to be a matter of the local police culture and PDs modeled after (supposed) military units put control and force protection up front.

IMO, Gates was an ass and the cop should have walked away once he'd seen the ID.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 5:55 AM
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Hopefully without being even bigger jerks. Even more so than everyone else on the planet. Which doesn't seem to be the case here.

I see what gswift is saying, obviously sometimes cops do have to take control of a situation. But if you do, you don't get to be an asshole about it. And if it turns out to have been a mistake, you apologize profusely and honestly.

In my experience, the militarization of police in this country has given a lot of them a piss poor attitude, which is at the root of a lot of this. A police officer just doing their job will sometimes have to be forceful, but will never do so without real cause, and never beyond what is necessary. In the absence of a threat they will show deference, give the benefit of the doubt, ask permission. They will never, ever escalate a situation without need.

If some cocky asshat waltzed into my house and started telling me what to do, I'd be pretty pissed off too. And it's all too plausible that this is what, in fact happened.

We can't know what happened, but it doesn't really matter that much. The officer did not handle the situation competently, or we would not be hearing about it.

I agree with delurker.

gswift appears to have a fairly good attitude. My irritation is not with him, but with the officers who make a bad situation worse. I am certain that gswift has seen the difference bt two different kinds of officers. There are the kind who make situations better and diffuse it and those who make every situation into one of physical confrontation.

People in these situations are angry, drunk, mentally off, and uncertain of what is happening.

I expect the police officers to handle the situation professionally and do everything possible to diffuse it. I am sure that most do. But, those who cannot shouldnt stay officers.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 6:39 AM
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of the local police culture and PDs modeled after (supposed) military units put control and force protection up front. are a hopelessly broken idea.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 7:08 AM
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452
On a related note, I locked myself out of the house the other day. I called a locksmith as all of the people with extra keys were 1.5 hours away. I was alarmed that the locksmith didn't ask for any ID or anything.

If it's good enough for Abraham Van Helsing, it's good enough for us.

480
Given that the call was not about a domestic dispute, and there is no mention in any report of Gates's wife being around, why do people keep bringing up the possibility of a domestic dispute as a way of justifying the cop's actions?

An "innocent until proven guilty" mentality and/or strong deference to authority seems like the most likely explanation, all things being equal.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 7:27 AM
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Nice story:

http://www.talkleft.com/story/2009/7/21/3242/65516


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 7:30 AM
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480: I think the point is that it shouldn't be police procedure to do the following:
receive a report that someone is breaking into a house;
turn up;
find the suspect;
be told "it's OK, I live here, look, I can prove it, here's my ID";
go away immediately without asking any further questions -

because some of those cases might not be people who have forgotten their keys, but people who are trying to break in in order to beat up their wives or husbands or children.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 7:35 AM
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504 meet 199. This is my pwnage dance. Lalalalalala!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 7:35 AM
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146: tazers [...] were supposed to be a less lethal alternative to shooting someone flamethrowers.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 7:52 AM
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Yeah, the cop should have handled the situation better, no question. It sounds like Gates could have handled it better, too. Of course, only one of these two is actually being paid to handle such situations.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 7:55 AM
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The cop also has to consider the possibly that this is a domestic situation in which Gates does not have a legal right to be in his own house and that is why he had to break in and why he is angry.

Sometimes I wonder what it must be like to live in the head of James B. Shearer. It must be a very strange place.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 8:07 AM
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505: But that doesn't make any sense -- there's no indication of any dispute going on. If someone had locked a family member out for self-protection, and the police were actually there, wouldn't you expect the frightened person to be visibly appealing for help?

Really, this discussion circles back to the initial conversation about whether calling the police is a good idea when you realize that your neighbors are carrying on criminal activity. People saying that Gates was out of line and should have expected to be treated the way he was seem to me to be saying that in any interaction with the police, you have to assume that they will be hostile and uncivil, and that if they perceive your behavior as insufficiently respectful in any way, they'll fuck you over as hard as they can. And if that's your baseline expectation for dealing with the police (which I really don't think it should be), going to great lengths to avoid looking to them for help seems reasonable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 8:08 AM
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anarchy will reign supreme once August hits and it get warm enough for people to open their front doors

Hooray! I'll tell the collective right away, Moby!

because some of those cases might not be people who have forgotten their keys, but people who are trying to break in in order to beat up their wives or husbands or children.

So how exactly can one prove that one is in one's own home legitimately? Especially if one is alone there? If the cops won't take my word and my ID--even if they have to run the damn thing to find out if I have some kind of restraining order on me--how can I show that I am not in fact burgling my own home or planning to lurk around and assault my partner? Maybe we should preemptively arrest all black men who have trouble with their own doors just on the basis that they're probably going to be up to something shady at some point or other.

I must say, it's a lesson to me that even if you're an establishment guy like Gates lots and lots of people will believe that it's okay to arrest you for yelling at a police officer in your own home. I've always subscribed to sort of the most DFH ideas about racism available (only $14.95/month!) but this certainly gives those ideas more force. Dude, his neighbors didn't recognize him? How do you live next door to a really famous guy in a posh town and not recognize him?


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 8:14 AM
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Excellent loop back, LB.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 8:15 AM
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To be fair, Frowner, that may not be racism as much as it is a desire to live in an authoritarian police state.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 8:41 AM
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510.1: Maybe he's already killed them.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 8:58 AM
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511.1: If the collective decides to do the G-20 thing, please screw-up downtown Pittsburgh and not Oakland. Downtown is where the lawyers and bankers are. Oakland is full of modest data analysts who patronize independent coffee houses and generously support mass transit for other people.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:02 AM
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And eaten the bodies.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:02 AM
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514 and 516 made me laugh.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:05 AM
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517: Perv.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:08 AM
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511: "Neighbor" apparently isn't the right word. The next door building is an office, and the woman who called the cops worked in that office.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:15 AM
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Police always want to err on the side of control (which is why it's so easy to cross the line into bullying and intimidation),

Exactly. In the U.S. we train cops to be militaristic bullies who prioritize their own authority over minimizing harm to the public from a situation. A small potential threat to a cop's safety, or even ego, takes priority over serious harm to a potentially innocent suspect (or in this case a pretty obviously innocent one). Really, objectively a lot of police job responsibilities are closest to those of a social worker, and perhaps their training should reflect that. But you know, this is the USA, we can't have any pussies around here.

People saying that Gates was out of line and should have expected to be treated the way he was seem to me to be saying that in any interaction with the police, you have to assume that they will be hostile and uncivil, and that if they perceive your behavior as insufficiently respectful in any way, they'll fuck you over as hard as they can. And if that's your baseline expectation for dealing with the police (which I really don't think it should be), going to great lengths to avoid looking to them for help seems reasonable.

right, exactly. A sensible person avoids the police wherever reasonably possible. My mom works in the criminal justice system and told me in my early teens that I should regard the police as some of the most dangerous people around. (I remember her saying: "think of police officers like wild animals, don't ever provoke them". Good advice). She also commented that one of the major differences between ghettoes and good neighborhoods is that people in ghettoes call the cops for all kinds of crazy random stuff that they would never get called for in middle class neighborhoods.

On the other hand, crack addicts are worse.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:31 AM
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my 18-year-old brother was recently held at gunpoint by the police on the floor of my parents' house because the batshit crazy neighbor called the cops reporting a burglary in process.

Batshit crazy neighbor used to call the cops when I was 11 and we were playing tag in the back yard, as well as for every other time there were any people and/or sound at our house. I really don't understand how his phone call was considered credible, but it has been pretty awful for my poor brother.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:35 AM
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519: ah, that makes a lot more sense.

In the U.S. we train cops to be militaristic bullies who prioritize their own authority over minimizing harm to the public from a situation. A small potential threat to a cop's safety, or even ego, takes priority over serious harm to a potentially innocent suspect

[citation needed]


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:39 AM
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If the collective decides to do the G-20 thing

Well, my collective is a group of about fifteen who run a small left bookstore in Minneapolis, so our ability to fuck shit up on the east coast is limited. But I'll spread the word around at the next all-anarchist meeting.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:45 AM
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511

So how exactly can one prove that one is in one's own home legitimately? ...

Yelling like a nutjob is not helpful.

Anyway I am not saying this is justification for an arrest, just that it was his own house did not automatically mean that nothing was amiss.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:47 AM
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523: Thanks. Also, I find it refreshing to see Pittsburgh referred to as the 'east coast'. That's what I always thought before I lived here (being definately midwestern by birth and upbringing), but nobody here sees it that way.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:48 AM
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525: I think if you can drive to Ohio in a half hour you are not on the east coast.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:51 AM
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527

Maybe we should refer to Pittsburgh as "the fourth coast".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:51 AM
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528

"Definitely".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:51 AM
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529

526: Definitely. But from a midwestern perspective, Pittsburgh is in PA and PA is on the east coast.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:55 AM
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530

Everything is foreshortened and runs together on the horizon line, from a midwestern perspective.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:57 AM
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531

If Pittsburgh is on the east coast then Spokane, Washington is on the west coast.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:58 AM
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532

I tend to think of "the east coast" as "a big giant region east of Ohio to which I have never been. As I understand it, the part of the US in which I live is known as "flyover country" out there.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:00 AM
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533

532: ironically known as "flyover country."


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:01 AM
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534

531: I tend to think of WA as a coastal state, honestly. Partly because the people I know tend to talk about "going out to the West Coast" to mean, say, going out to California.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:02 AM
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535

532: That's pretty much what I used to think. Now I figure that the east coast starts somewhere between Breezewood and Philly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:03 AM
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536

533: Neither DFHs nor Midwesterners do irony. We are a valuable source of earnestness for the nation, although we do tend to drive out all of those, like Moby Hick, who seem to go in for wordplay.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:04 AM
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537

533: I left because I met a girl from the east coast. I was otherwise happy making puns that annoyed everyone around me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:07 AM
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538

The logical way to think of this, as with so many other things, is in terms of hydrology.

Mississippi River watershed - contains Pittsburgh. Flows into Gulf of Mexico.

Chesapeake Bay watershed - does not contain Pittsburgh. Likely considered "east coast" as it flows into Atlantic Ocean.

Delaware River watershed - east coast.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:09 AM
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539

comment 86 at CT makes the interesting suggestion that gates -- taking gswift@488.last and raising him one, game-wise, as it were -- realised who could make significant and valuable public-social theatre about this whole incident, and pushed things enough that he got himself arrested, rather than ramping then down when he could

(calming things down is part of a tacher's job also, sometimes)

(adding, if skip g did this, go skip g!)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:10 AM
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540

who = he


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:10 AM
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541

Likely


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:12 AM
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542

I wonder: in Cambridge, would "Mr. Bartley's named a burger after me!" convey one's importance more succinctly than "Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research"?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:15 AM
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543

...I assume it's okay to make an unrelated comment about food: So I had some lightly fried potatoes which got cross-contaminated with five-spice powder. And you know what? They're really good! I wish they were just a little more five-spicey, in fact.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:16 AM
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544

I mean, it's practically right around the corner from the guy's house. Maybe that's the way to defuse the situation. "Do you know who I am? Let me buy you a burger and show you who I am!"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:17 AM
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545

542, 544: I knew a guy we called 'Big Mac'. The burger connection never helped him with the cops.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:19 AM
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546

538: Somewhere on Interstate 80 in the middle of PA there is a sign that says, "Leaving the Chesapeake Bay Watershed." It always surprises me.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:19 AM
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547

Pittsburgh is definitely not East Coast. Heck, there are parts of New York State that aren't really East Coast. Buffalo, anyone?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:21 AM
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548

I discovered just how weird some people's ideas about geography are when I was living in upstate New York and would talk to midwestern/southern relatives. "It must be hectic up there in New York, right?" "Well, I live in upstate New York, five or six hours away from New York City..." "But it's all pretty much one big sprawling city up there on the East Coast, isn't it?" "Um. Not exactly."


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:23 AM
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549

548: Conversely, when I lived in Chicago, my urban east coast relatives would talk to me about how "it must be a different pace of life out there." Yeah, tilling the back 40 takes time here on Clark St.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:26 AM
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550

Well, distance is distance. Once I get outside the New England/MidAtlantic area, I'm not clear on differences between different parts of other states either (like that whole big inland part of California that's not really related to either San Francisco or LA? I've heard of it, but it confuses me.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:26 AM
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551

550: I think that's the part of California where lettuce and the like come from.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:31 AM
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552

Moby Hick, you are in Oakland? And we don't hang out? But we have so much to talk about! Just yesterday I was wondering if it was time to start a hypertrophic regime and if so, did I need to ramp up my eating.

LB, I would also be happy to decribe lots of the places in California to you.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:36 AM
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553

They're mostly made up of mudslides, forest fires, and mountain-lion attacks, right?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:37 AM
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554

552: I am in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, which may not be what you were thinking of.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:39 AM
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555

That is not what I was thinking of. Two places named Oakland! Who could imagine such a thing.

Yeah mostly, LB. On the other hand, there's not much Lyme Disease out here.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:43 AM
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556

552: "hypertrophic regime"? What's that?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:47 AM
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557

Charges against Gates dropped.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:47 AM
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558

552: I'm curious also. Generally, I associate 'hypertrophic' with disease.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:50 AM
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559

I assume it has something to do with inducing hypertrophy of muscle tissue. I'm not sure how that would differ from weightlifting generally, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:51 AM
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560

Hypertrophy is the big bulging muscles like body building. It is what I would do if I wanted to gain muscle mass. (Heavy weights, high reps.) Normally I just want to get stronger, which is even heavier weights, low reps. Sometimes you alternate, so you first build up muscle mass, then make the new mass stronger.

I'm sorry, y'all. We can take this to a different forum if you want.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:53 AM
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561

Because we like to keep these comment threads strictly on topic.

No, seriously, this is Unfogged. Asian spicing on fried potatoes is on topic, as is weight lifting and police misconduct.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:57 AM
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562

(Even heavier weights, low reps doesn't tend to put on new muscle. You gain strength, but not mass. I've only put on three pounds of muscle since I started two years ago, and one of those comes and goes with swimming season. Must be in the shoulders and back. And obliques.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:57 AM
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563

If we're shifting to fitness, I just started the 100 push-ups thing yesterday. I must be a bit out of shape as I had trouble reaching the top of my head this morning.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:00 AM
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564

Huh. I thought the strength/mass relationship was pretty close -- that getting stronger meant putting on mass. No?

And does carrying a ~25 bike a couple of blocks count as a weightlifting routine?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:00 AM
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565

And does carrying a ~25 bike a couple of blocks count as a weightlifting routine?

Why don't you just wheel it? It has wheels, I assume?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:02 AM
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566

(Since the thread's apparently already off the rails:) Why do you want to increase your mass, Megan?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:02 AM
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567

If Megan gets too massive, I'm calling the cops.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:03 AM
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568

I thought the strength/mass relationship was pretty close -- that getting stronger meant putting on mass.

GENERAL RELATIVITY FAIL


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:06 AM
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569

565: It seems silly to fold it to take it into the gym locker room, unfold it to wheel it the two blocks to my office, and then refold it to bring it into my building.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:07 AM
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570

I want to get arms like I had when the boy was too little to walk far and too big to hang in the baby pouch.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:07 AM
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571

I don't this minute. I was just saying lifting terms to tease Moby Hick. If I were going for a new lifting goal, I might want to put on some additional muscle and then strengthen it. (Mind you, I lost 25 pounds of fat the first year I lifted, so overall, my mass is smaller.)

getting stronger meant putting on mass. No?

I'm told not. I'm told there is a lot of "teaching your muscles to fire" and "learning to generate speed". I guess you can do better with existing muscle for at least the first couple years.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:08 AM
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568: So you're saying it's all about the curvature of space around Megan's muscles?

Actually, now I'm speculating that this: "Sometimes you alternate, so you first build up muscle mass, then make the new mass stronger." is the explanation -- that there's only so strong you can get at a given mass, so if you want to get stronger yet, you need more mass to get stronger with.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:08 AM
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573

does carrying a ~25 bike a couple of blocks count

If you feel fatigue at the end of the blocks it counts.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:09 AM
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574

Hah. 572 pwned by 571.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:10 AM
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575

That watershed rule is good. I was trying to come up with a rule involving mountains between you and the ocean, but Coast Range fucks it up.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:10 AM
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576

I knew somebody from New York City who thought that Connecticut was between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:12 AM
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577

571, 572: A fair bit of strength (as measured by how much crap you can lift how many times) depends on brain/nerve/small muscle changes that can sometimes occur without any changes you can see in the flesh or on a scale.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:13 AM
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578

Nothing comes between me and my new jersey.


Posted by: OPINIONATED PA | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:14 AM
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579

I knew somebody from New York City who thought that Connecticut was between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

So Grand Central Terminal exists just to look pretty?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:15 AM
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580

578: OH YEAH?


Posted by: OPINIONATED DELAWARE RIVER | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:15 AM
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581

On the Gates issue, as someone who grew up a Lakers fan in the 80s, one of my most strongly held beliefs is that Boston is basically a city of racist white guys.

Ever visited western Massachusetts? College towns aside, I could tell some stories.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:16 AM
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582

My trainer keeps telling me that and I always assume that she is making excuses so I don't get down on myself if I miss my goals. Then she says mumbo-jumbo about the nervous system and neurotransmitters which I don't try to understand either. All I want to think about is my triceps in sleeveless shirts.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:16 AM
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583

Or maybe they just imagined Westchester County stretching out in all non-NJ directions.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:16 AM
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584

If you feel fatigue at the end of the blocks it counts.

Wow! Just getting out of bed in the morning counts then! Awesome!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:18 AM
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585

I assume that she knew about Grand Central, but she must has just thought the trains went south. Or maybe she thought that Pennsylvania and New Jersey were in New England.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:19 AM
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586

I remember being confused as a kid by the fact that trains that went to NYC were "eastbound" and trains that went to my neck of NJ were "westbound." We live on the ocean! How can we be "westbound"!? In my head it was an entirely north/south thing, which in reality it isn't at all.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:22 AM
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587

I had lived in DC for a year before I learned that Philadelphia is west of it, not northeast. All these big cities are so confusing!


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:24 AM
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588

like that whole big inland part of California that's not really related to either San Francisco or LA? I've heard of it, but it confuses me

What's confusing. Big, beautiful (in its own way) valley that feeds a lot of people besides Californians. And Sacramento.

[I just spent two days in Modesto and I am feeling the love for my Central Valley homeland.]


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:25 AM
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589

In my head it was an entirely north/south thing, which in reality it isn't at all.

Or rather, isn't entirely a north/south thing. We're a little south and a little west of the southern tip of Manhattan, but the train to get there goes way up north to Newark, etc., before cutting east into the city.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:25 AM
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590

I mean, the other way.

I guess I didn't learn it very well.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:26 AM
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590: Probably distracted by drug dealers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:29 AM
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592

The 101 (which connects San Diego and Olympia, Washington) takes an east-west jog near my childhood home in the San Fernando Valley. I will always think of the 101 as an east-west freeway.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:30 AM
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593

Or maybe she thought that Pennsylvania and New Jersey were in New England.

My former next-door neighbor once asked me where I lived before I moved here; I said, Vermont, and then, when he expression indicated that he had no idea where that was, added, you know, in New England. The next day he asked, so, J, what made you decide to move to the United States?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:33 AM
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594

at an out-of-state summer camp in high school, someone asked me if Montana was a city in Canada.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:35 AM
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595

I've always thought of I-80 as a North-South freeway. Turns out somebody had given me a very bad map and I was extremely disappointed when it turned out that Boston wasn't any warmer than Iowa in December.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:35 AM
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596
Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:38 AM
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597

The 101 (which connects San Diego and Olympia, Washington) takes an east-west jog near my childhood home in the San Fernando Valley. I will always think of the 101 as an east-west freeway.

Surprisingly many people in the Santa Barbara area refer to Goleta as being north of SB when it's quite obviously west. At least you did the sensible thing of thinking of the highway as east-west instead of reorienting your local geography to match the highway's label.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:42 AM
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598

I'm not sure that's true. We were on the far west end of the Valley, so all our trips and everything interesting started with an eastward drive. That somehow got to be the Up direction. To this day, when I draw city-scale maps, I put east on top. My front door now faces east so the trend has continued. In my defense, I do always put a compass map on my drawings so you can tell east is up. For maps larger than city-scale, I re-orient to north.

Also, I love the Central and San Joaquin Valleys deeply, but acknowledge that it takes some local knowledge to be interesting.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:48 AM
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599

599: Wait, the ToS just apologized for double-posting? There's some basic conceptual error there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:48 AM
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600

I guess I didn't learn it very well.

Phew! You had me reeling in confusion and self-doubt there for a moment.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:50 AM
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601

600: Kobe loves the fact that given the westward jog of the California coastline (and inland border), Reno is fiurther west than Los Angeles.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:50 AM
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602

602: There's some basic conceptual error there.

Yes, I vote not to delete (just this time!) so they remain as a tribute to that.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:52 AM
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603

602: Maybe because it was a triple?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:53 AM
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604

Do you know 8 to be the ToS? I wondered at that, but thought 8 was more lucid and possibly someone new. I wouldn't have answered the ToS.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:54 AM
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604: I think it was -- he uses numbers as pseuds fairly often, and the style seemed right. But I don't have any non-public reason to think so.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:56 AM
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606

it takes some local knowledge to be interesting.

Fair enough. Or at least one would have to drive on something other than I-5 or I-80.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:03 PM
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607

602: Not only that, but he's kind of right, even if I do like the Central Valley. (Megan's right that it takes knowledge to appreciate).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:04 PM
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Surprisingly many people in the Santa Barbara area refer to Goleta as being north of SB when it's quite obviously west.

Guilty! I think of it as north, because, you know, it's next on the string of towns leading your way up the coast. Ignore such things as actual cardinal direction.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:06 PM
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609

Oh wow. Lub/os Mo/tl has a blog post about Gates comparing the Harvard African Studies Department to Nazis. What a nut.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:08 PM
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610

I will always and forever have an inverted compass regarding Hyde Park: I think of one as going west to get there from Midway, and of Burton-Judson as north of the Reynolds Club, etc. I can't help it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:09 PM
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611

You think of Lake Michigan as to the west? That's... impressive, neb.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:12 PM
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612

601: And since it doesn't seem that heebie is of a mind to ever post my lame-o geographic puzzlers idea, I'll add one of my all-time favorite "no effing way!" items: Queens extends further west than The Bronx (and not due to any tricky little islands). A related item is the George Washington Bridge being firther east than the Brooklyn Bridge.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:12 PM
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610: Is it because the large body of water across which one cannot see is on the wrong side for you? That was the good thing about Chicago for me, that I could operate with my very early imprinted water=east sense of direction.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:13 PM
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614

609 reads badly. Lub/os is the one making the Nazi comparison, clearly.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:16 PM
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615

This is only true of Hyde Park, and I think it's because I lived in Burton-Judson and was therefore oriented towards it all the time; I probably turned maps upside-down and whatnot. Perhaps also the increasing street numbers (because one is on the south side…) had something to do with it: north is more, right?

Outside of Hyde Park, but inside of Chicago, I can function with the directions just fine, and indeed exploit 613's water = east perfectly well. It's arational at this point.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:17 PM
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616

Windsor is south of Detroit.


Posted by: timmo | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:17 PM
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617

612: Right -- I have a terrible time remembering that the Manhattan street grid isn't really square to the compass. Street-north is almost all the way to northeast, isn't it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:18 PM
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618

On the other hand, there's not much Lyme Disease out here.

True! And do you know why? Because one of the major food sources for the tick that carries the spirochaete is the western fence lizard, whose blood contains a protein that kills the spirochaete. So an infected tick gets a tasty blood-meal from a lizard and then hey, un-infected tick! Neat!


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:18 PM
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619

618: Really? That's excellent. Now I want that protein genetically engineered into the whitetail population.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:19 PM
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620

The fact that you read Lub/os is much more disturbing than anything Lub/os could possibly say.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:19 PM
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621

"Spirochaete", Gabardine?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:20 PM
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622

612 just blew my mind.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:20 PM
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623

Yeah, the things in 612 sound surprising but after a little thought aren't at all. Places oriented along diagonals are confusing. For some reason in my local coordinate system I imagine that Route 1 in NJ runs east-west, even though it's labeled north-south and runs approximately northeast-southwest.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:22 PM
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624

Whoa! I didn't know that about fence lizards. Now I like them even better.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:22 PM
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625

623: Yes, the axis of Manhattan serves as a much more functional localized North-South axis than the real North-South.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:24 PM
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The fact that you read Lub/os is much more disturbing than anything Lub/os could possibly say.

I don't read him often, but every so often I find one of his physics posts entertaining, so I glance at the titles in his RSS feed on occasion. He's just such a weird case of being brilliant in some ways and utterly moronic and contemptible in others. I only met him briefly once or twice while he was at Harvard, but everyone who knew him seems to say he was a perfectly nice guy in person, just a little nutty. On the net, though, he's a racist sexist climate-science-denying troglodyte. Bizarre.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:27 PM
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623: Places oriented along diagonals are confusing.

A lotof this in the Appalachians. State College is hopeless, and you get the same "whoa!" items around places like the Shenendoah Valley.

Another one - Santiago, Chile is almost due south of what American metropolis?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:29 PM
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628

Yes, 'spirochaete', nosflow. Slightly less common than 'spirochete', but hardly fringe. Anyway, I like it.


Posted by: Gaebaerdine Baethyscaephe | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:30 PM
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629

619: Surely the simpler solution is just to introduce the western fence lizard to your neck of the woods. What could possibly go wrong?


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:31 PM
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623: Rte. 1 is weird. I think of it as north/south mostly because I've driven on the north/south bits more often than the east/west bits. I think 1 is the old Post Road (isn't Broadway technically 1?), so it makes sense that after it passes NYC that its next goal is to make for Philadelphia.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:32 PM
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631

I generally have a very good sense of direction, but it's highly grid-dependent. I still get all kinds of messed up by the grid changes in Brooklyn as you go north from my neighborhood to Williamsburg, or in the West Village.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:33 PM
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632

630: The whole slant of the east coast in general creates those contecptual anomalies. Such as Jacksonville being pretty musch due south of Cleveland.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:35 PM
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633

Yes, 'spirochaete', nosflow.

Haven't you misspelt 'spirochæte'?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:38 PM
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634

631: Mine's landmark-dependent. When I get out of the subway, the world is spinning until I see something I recognize and can orient on. Luckily, Manhattan's small enough that there aren't a lot of places where I can't see anything I recognize.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:40 PM
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635

I get very confused by grids, which I realize is ridiculous. In Chicago I got lost all the time; in Cambridge, almost never. This despite living in Cambridge for years before realizing quite how diagonal, or how bendy, Mass. Ave. was. I wouldn't go so far as to say I knew where I was going in Cambridge, but I always found it, usually with a pleasant feeling of serendipity. (And if you get really lost, well, it's Boston; you can hardly be blamed.) Whereas getting lost in a gridded city... man, that is a fine way to make yourself feel like an utter fool.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:44 PM
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630: I've only driven on Rt 1 in the Trenton / New Brunswick corridor, where it's pretty much exactly northeast, I think. Is the east/west stretch up around Newark?

My confusion is rooted in Nassau St in Princeton running more or less east/west (it's a little diagonal, but more ENE/WSW than NE/SW), which is the basis for a local grid where I think of Alexander Rd/Washington Rd/Harrison St as north/south, and then of Rt 1 as east/west and parallel to Nassau St. A glance at a map reveals that this is ridiculous, but it's the way I think of things.

On the other hand, I think of New Brunswick as to the north, so there's some kind of serious local/global mismatch in my sense of direction.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:54 PM
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633: I'm torn. On the one hand, yes, obviously, and how could I have let the opportunity to use 'æ' pass me by?; on the other, when I see these bugs discussed in the literature, they're spirochetes or spirochaetes but almost never spirochætes. I suppose I should be the change I want to see. Spirochætes spirochætes spirochætes!


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 12:55 PM
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The 101 (which connects San Diego and Olympia, Washington) loses the definite article at the Oregon line

Also, Olympia isn't the north end in any meaningful way.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:01 PM
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635: I think it helps that the Cambridge/Boston area is pretty compact, geographically speaking, so it's easy to hold in your head at once. Chicago has a nice simple grid but the city sprawls all over the place and there are enough major diagonal streets to confuse things. If I haven't been there in a while I have to struggle to remember that, say, Lincoln and Clybourn don't actually run north/south but on a diagonal.

On the other hand, the green line in Boston confuses the hell out of me. Or maybe I should say the green lines do.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:04 PM
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635
Whereas getting lost in a gridded city... man, that is a fine way to make yourself feel like an utter fool.

Maybe, maybe not. Check out this recent post at Yglesias' blog. Even better, look at the street in question on Google Maps. Within seven blocks or so, I St. NW is interrupted three times.

Knowing where you are is not at all the same as knowing how to get to where you want to go.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:04 PM
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And while I don't remember it being a major problem when I lived there, it seems like every time I've visited Chicago in the last few years there has been some sort of major CTA slowdown/construction/rerouting to further make things difficult. Planning a new route on the fly in a part of the city where you don't know the bus lines intimately is a pain. (Somewhat less so now due to the wonders of modern cell phones....)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:15 PM
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639: I did prefer the geographic scale of Boston to that of Chicago, but I don't think that explains my ability to navigate in the former. (Possibly if you stuck me in an fMRI tube and asked me to perform navigate-through-Cambridge tasks you would find that I was holding a largely correct city map in my head at once, but I would be quite surprised. And because it's an fMRI I daresay I still wouldn't believe you...) My general approach in Cambridge, which can't have been that unusual, was to strike off in the right direction as the crow flies, keep walking that way until the street bent (~two blocks), use landmarks to decide whether and how to correct my trajectory, and repeat. As I say, the experience was often one of pleasant surprise. Oh look, this connects up like that! These things that are miles apart in my mental map are right next door to each other! Huh! Maybe it's that Cambridge invites you to reassess so often, keeping you from ever getting too far off course? Or that even if you do go for a bit of a mistaken wander the scale of the city constrains the walk to a still-pleasant length?

I loved the diagonal streets in Chicago; when I hit Lincoln I actually knew where I was and where to go, because the intersections were distinctive. Otherwise I had a heck of a time finding good landmarks. Oh look, tall building, square intersection. Must be, er, somewhere downtown.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:29 PM
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In Pittsburgh, the whole trick is to keep track of the river (and stream) valleys (and the connecting tunnels and bridges). They wiggle of course, but you just act as if they are straight for the most part. Downtown has two grids that meet at Liberty St. at ~30 degrees following the Mon and the Allegheny respectively. Ignore the Turnpike as it is fucking useless for anything but the most unlikely local trip.

In short, you are lost.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:36 PM
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I found that Isengard looking thing in the middle of downtown very helpful driving around Pittsburgh.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:38 PM
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643: Or do what I do and never leave the East End. Except for the odd trip to Target or to visit people, I'm never more than 4 blocks from either Forbes or Shady.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:40 PM
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Visiting my grandparents outside of Chicago, I somehow got it into my head that the nearest corner was to the north -- since I oriented myself towards both the corner and, more generally, to the north, it made sense, and its contradictions were unimportant until I learned how to drive.

My mother has taken over her parents' home, and now, when I return to Chicago, I must effortfully forget my native mis-orientation lest I begin a journey with the intention of heading into the city and wind up in Skokie.

And Lincoln doesn't help.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:41 PM
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San Francisco's grid makes things pretty simple, at the cost of some goddamn steep hills. Crossing Market St. is a bit of a crapshoot, best to just get across somehow and then replan your route. And stay the hell away from the part of town where the NW/SE grid of SOMA switches to the N/S grid of the Mission.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:41 PM
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644: You mean the thing with all the glass?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:41 PM
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No, a big Gothic tower. The Cathedral of Learning, maybe? Something generically pretentious sounding.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:48 PM
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649: Ah, The Height of Ignorance, on Pitt's campus, which is in Oakland, not Downtown. But close.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:50 PM
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A recommendation for those whose navigational skills and experience are less than Natty Bumppo-esque.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:50 PM
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651: Man, that sounds fun.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:57 PM
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650: I can't believe I've never heard that expression before.

Anyway, LB, the Cathedral is on Forbes and was a huge help for me when I first got here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:57 PM
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653.1: I heard it from an uncle who went to Penn State in the ealry '50s, not sure it is otherwise in the current venacular.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 1:59 PM
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Answer to 627.last: (not that anyone cares)

Santiago, Chile is almost due south of Boston.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:00 PM
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Oh boy, are we talking about geography?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:03 PM
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651, 652: That's a wonderful area.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:06 PM
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656: Yes, we usually manage to suppress it until late at night.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:08 PM
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656: I think so.

Your trip to Houston (with a short sojourn in Austin), we've got it on our calendar. We'll be in Massachusetts at a wedding the previous weekend but return on the 10th. Do we have your e-mail?

Mine is m/tchm/lls at hotmail, replacing each "/" with an "i".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:08 PM
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Keep me in the Austin meet-up loop, even though we'll be travelling till the 12th.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:10 PM
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And speaking further of geography, has anyone read Europe Between the Oceans: 9000 BC - AD 1000 by Barry Cunliffe?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:10 PM
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Mine is m/tchm/lls at hotmail, replacing each "/" with an "i".

HOLY SHIT. I may have just figured out M/tch's real name.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:12 PM
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652, 657: "Fun" is not exactly the word, but it is beautiful.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:12 PM
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651: Looks like fun, but I don't know how well wilderness navigation skill helps finding your way around urban environments. Finding water is less important than finding a bus stop with service more than twice a day. Knowing which way to your destination is a lot less important than knowing which streets between here and there are one-way.

I like to think that I could take care of myself very well in a temperate wilderness environment just thanks to having spent a lot of time in the woods growing up. Realistically, I've never been hunting so that puts me at a disadvantage from a lot of my peers, but I know how to find north and I know about a few edible plants you can't find in a supermarket, stuff like that. Those wouldn't help me much in a city though.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:12 PM
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I haven't bought my ticket yet (I'm waiting to hear back from my mom about some stuff), but it'll probably be the 13th or so. Which would put me in Austin around the 12th.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:16 PM
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662: It's not what you're probably thinking.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:16 PM
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I know about a few edible plants you can't find in a supermarket, stuff like that. Those wouldn't help me much in a city though.

Just follow the cops around and scavenge their kills.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:16 PM
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Knowing which way to your destination is a lot less important than knowing which streets between here and there are one-way.

The last quarter/half mile of my bike commute is killing me on this front. Once I'm off the bike trail, I'm in the financial district which is a wilderness of construction and one-way streets. I think I've got a route down now, but it wasn't easy getting there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:17 PM
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667: Mmm, tasty human flesh.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:24 PM
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I suspect the Aquarius Plateau is a particularly unhelpful place to learn urban navigation skills.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:25 PM
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Forget the comments linked in 666; the underlying post rocks.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:26 PM
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Shorter 671: Titties! Hooray!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:28 PM
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667: Just follow the cops Henry Louis Gates around and scavenge their his kills.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:29 PM
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Knowing which way to your destination is a lot less important than knowing which streets between here and there are one-way where your prey tends to hide.

Fixed.

Seriously, the lessons learned are probably not applicable on a one-to-one basis to a daily commute, and perhaps even less so in the age of GPS and Google Maps, but the more daylight between oneself and the panic that rises when things don't look familiar, the better.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:29 PM
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674: Also relevant to where the other thread has gotten to (failed state skills).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:31 PM
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673: Geez, JP. Why don't you just accuse him of having a bone through his nose? I think I scarcely need to actually follow through and call you "racist".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:31 PM
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672: Comity!


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:31 PM
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675: Douglas Adams had the right idea.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:36 PM
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678: Die young, before things go completely to shit?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:39 PM
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The bike cops in the suburbs are much fitter than the ones in cars. None of them have bellies. They're all pretty handsome, so I sort of respect them more.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:44 PM
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680: Facist.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:47 PM
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Also relevant to some of the preceding discussion. Personally I find the elevation more impressive than the latitude.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:48 PM
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680: I've told this story here before I think, but I watched a bike cop in my (hilly) neighborhood go from stereotypical mean-looking redfaced fat cop laboring up hills, to attractively svelte smiling friendly cop biking about with effortless aplomb over the course of a year or so a while back. I never see bike cops in my neighborhood anymore, though -- they seem to have been discontinued.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:49 PM
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682.2 to 672.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:51 PM
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676: We'd be the savages doing the eating, he'd just do the killing as befits his position as an elite member of the patriarchy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 2:59 PM
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I have this mental picture that I comment on almost every thread, but whenever someone links to a thread that I remember, it turns out that I didn't comment. Y'all are much luckier than I thought.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 3:05 PM
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We're, like, the hyenas and cops are the noble lions.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 3:06 PM
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Hyenas who are kind of hurt that someone's latest post on her own blog isn't an ATM.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 3:08 PM
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Like she can avoid advice by not asking for it here. The Mineshaft sees all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 3:10 PM
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She can see who really loves her by who clicks on the link in her name.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 3:14 PM
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I missed the batsignal at 85, although obviously the OP was clear enough. I didn't comment because I don't have much to say. My take is, "Don't sweat it," but crack + prostitutes is more serious than what I've dealt with, so I don't feel strongly about that position. OTOH, apartment buildings are supposed to be anonymous, so it seems to me that, as long as gun battles seem unlikely, it's all a pretty minor deal.

I haven't read any of the thread, so caveat lector.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 3:18 PM
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You didn't read the thread, except for the one comment that mentioned your name? Narcissist.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 3:20 PM
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I've got many of you labeled on my statcounter page, but not all.

Did y'all want to weigh in on my pressing vacation dilemmas?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 3:22 PM
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689: Oh yeah, comments work over there now.

693: Probably too much like like throwing raw crackheads to hyenas, but more interesting than anything else that's going on around here at the moment.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 3:29 PM
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My sister says lions steal hyenas' kills way more often than hyenas steal lions'. Her source on that is an expert in cheetahs, though, so she probably just made it up.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 3:31 PM
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Cheetahs never prosper.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 3:32 PM
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Unless they change their lion ways.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 3:34 PM
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692: As soon as I saw the post, I thought, "Aha." I mean, not to be immodest, but I do think of myself as Unfogged's go-to commenter for drug dealing neighbors. But no one asked my opinion in the first 60 comments, so I moved on. Then I came back and searched, and discovered I'd left too soon.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 3:43 PM
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I clicked through to Megan's site, but I don't have much to offer on the dilemmas.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 3:44 PM
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699: No strong feelings about fish?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 3:47 PM
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695: Lions are bigger and meaner than hyenas, so not too surprising things tend to favor the lions. I bet that the lions who do get chased off by hyenas are not attached to prides, which would let the hyenas gang up on them.

Incidentally, of all the predators to avoid being killed by, hyenas should be at the top of the list. Most predators kill you before they eat you. Hyenas just get you to the point where you can't escape before chowing down. I suppose that should be "terrestrial predators." Lots of swimmy things just start chomping at you. PBUH.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 4:05 PM
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700: Not particularly, no.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 4:10 PM
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What about eels?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 4:11 PM
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Is that another vote against having a vacation fling with swimmy things, togolosh?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 4:12 PM
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Surely 'aglow' is winning this thing by a landslide.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 4:18 PM
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You underestimate my prudishness on others' behalf. That, and my enthusiasm for marine wildlife.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 4:23 PM
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And now the rain's stopped, and I will bike home.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 4:33 PM
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707: Being very careful to take account of the fact that "Manhattan North" is actually ~29° NNE. Otherwise you're liable to get like totally lost.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 4:53 PM
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704: Stick to primates. Trust me.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 5:00 PM
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ARE YOU *SURE* IT'S IN?


Posted by: OPINIONATED RHINO | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 5:03 PM
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708: Declination for Manhattan has probably changed a bit since that essay was composed.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 5:20 PM
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711: Not too much, as it was written in 2005 (about 8 minutes of arc difference, currently 13°6'). Plus he calculated it from true north.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 5:31 PM
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"What is the exact deviation of the city's avenues from true north? This seems like the sort of information that every New Yorker should know, similar to the "twenty blocks to the mile" rule."

More things in heaven and earth.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 5:36 PM
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Did Michael H Schneider realize what a jackass he had been?

No, some of us are uneducable. But feel free to try.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 7:09 PM
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But feel free to try.

Okay: You were a real jackass in that thread. Realize.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 8:48 PM
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I bow to your superior wisdom, and the clarity of your explanation. I have seen the truth that was previously hidden. Thank you.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 9:22 PM
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According to a reader of RBC, the officer's report contains, essentially, an implicit admission that he (the officer) is a colossal asshole who was abusing his authority.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 2:03 PM
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I kind of wanted to talk about this the other day but the story was still in process--a friend of mine was doing court reporting on this case where a black MPLS woman was lured/ordered out of the house where she was (where there had apparently been some kind of altercation). She says that the cops followed her and raped her in an alley. She was just convicted of lying about police behavior in a trial with an almost all white jury where one of the jurors went to sleep. It's an insane story, and one of the cops is a rookie and one an old hand with a real reputation. I'm going to cut and paste something from a story my friend wrote here, although the final version is still being tweaked a bit:

[the woman]"She sought aftercare at nearby North Memorial Medical Center, which, along with HCMC and Regions hospitals, is known for colluding with police against the will of patients. Despite begging a nurse not to call the cops, the nurse did anyway. Plainclothes officers entered Williams' hospital room; not knowing they were officers, and still traumatized in the hours immediately after the assault, Williams then made the statements for which she was later charged with "false reporting." The nurse, meanwhile, was recorded talking to police officers in the hospital about how to prevent a potential civil suit against the cops, and pressured Williams to speak to the unidentified officers.

Williams' clothes were locked in an evidence room; some of the evidence was later unsealed for use by the defense, but some was missing. Two nearly identical sanitary pads were later analyzed by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension; how two ended up as evidence is a mystery, since only one was originally collected. The BCA claimed to identify sperm cells on one of the pads that ruled out Gillies and Barnes as perpetrators via DNA evidence. But another lab's investigator found no sperm cells and testified that there is good reason to believe the pad was not actually the one worn by Williams at the time of the rape."

At the trial, things were pretty bizarre:"Before the hearing Tuesday, Gillies, MPD spokesman Jesse Garcia, and other city officials verbally sparred with community members - who outnumbered them greatly - in the courtroom. The surreal scene started when Star Tribune reporter Rochelle Olson asked community activist Al Flowers if he "took a shower this morning." (Flowers, who is running for mayor, claimed he was targeted because of his politics to have a condemnation order posted on his house due to an alleged lack of water. A city inspector posted the notice last Thursday shortly after Flowers finished showering; Flowers then took video evidence of the water running inside.) The ensuing scene resulted in a Hennepin County Sheriff's Deputy calling for backup, and other deputies admonishing the entire gallery to be quiet."

Now, the cops allege that there's a GPS system that shows their car couldn't have been in the area; the woman's lawyers say that those systems are easy to tamper with and in fact often are. This is what the woman's lawyers had to say, which freaks me the hell out: "Testimony during the trial showed how the device can be tampered with. A squad driver pushing the "ARRIVE" button on the dash, indicating he has arrived at the location to which he was dispatched, can stop the recording of GPS data until the car moves 100 feet or more. At that point, an officer could disable the transmitter by blocking the antenna or disconnecting a wire. The officer can then drive wherever he wants without being recorded by the GPS; after driving back to within 100 feet of the original point, he can reconnect the wire, and no record will have been made of his movements."

Fundamentally, I am suspicious of the cops because I have trouble believing that a black woman in this town is going to go and falsely accuse two cops of rape, knowing that the trial will be hideous and that she may be targeted later.

The folks I know who were at the trial have all been just heartbroken over it all week.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:31 PM
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Meanwhile, it has emerged that 25% of the stop-and-search reports written by cops during a big demo in the UK were illegible. (That was out of 8,000 tickets.) Can haz illiterate cops? thnx.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:14 AM
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719. Isn't this deliberate? It's similar to demo cops taking their numbers off. An illegible scrawl can say whatever you want it to say the next day.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:31 AM
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