You’re A Whiny Little B*tch

Something happened the other day that perfectly illustrates what’s wrong with politics, government, and the media today. The president may or may not have said something that called into question the general favorability ratings of a few countries. Whether or not his views mirror Haiti’s TripAdvisor reviews is not my concern. What got me thinking was the sequence of events.

A group of senators had a private meeting with the president. A sitting senator left the meeting and then immediately called someone at the Washington Post and tattled that he’d heard the president say something controversial. This was done for no other reasons than to sabotage the purpose of the meeting, to personally harm the president, and to score points for your own party.

In my book this makes you a whiny little bitch. A snitch. That one annoying kid in grade school who raised their hand near the end of class and said “Mrs Smith, you forgot you were going to give us a quiz.”

This is the perfect illustration that allegiance to party and elections rule everything.  Our elected officials don’t care in the slightest bit about policy – they care about scoring points against the other party at all costs so they can raise more money and stay in office. Don’t get me wrong, this is not unique to one side of the aisle. Both parties are guilty.

What bothers me the most about all this is that the fourth estate and journalism is used to be a buffer of sorts against this. There were standards of tabloid sensationalism most true journalists wouldn’t resort to. Now the media is used daily like a weapon. Because page views and ad sales rule all, “reporters” will print anything they think will score them a few more views and a thirty second appearance on a talking head show. There must be a 1-800 number folks utilize to leak. Press 1 to leak info about the president. Press 2 to leak independent council investigations.

I don’t think it’s possible any longer for our government to implement actual thoughtful policy. How do you privately meet and discuss something when every single word uttered will show up on a CNN breaking news crawl two hours later? We’ve become a nation of political parties that are nothing more than battling social media departments, each vying for the approximately 60 seconds of attention span Americans have.

That kid that constantly reminded the teacher there was a homework assignment due? Nobody liked that kid. Now we elect them to public office.

____________________________

Charlotte: I’m going to tell mom on you.

Pete:  Try it. See what you get for Christmas. Nothing. Snitches end up in ditches. Remember that.

 

Unplugged

I’ve decided to completely unplug. To stop feeding the evil corporations and their bottom lines. To no longer be a pawn to the latest must-have advertising push. I am officially no longer carrying a cell phone. Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty we are free at last!

No? Ok, so in reality the laws of physics got me. A weight which shall not be mentioned, traveling at a velocity of v * some meters per second²… or was it divided by? At any rate, it was a large amount of force hitting the ground. My cell phone, in my back pocket, was the unlucky buffer for that force. Physics always wins. Energy has to go somewhere.

Rest in peace Samsung S6. You served well. Enjoy the eternal nap.

Cool! Mourning period over. A new phone, what should I get!?!?

Paradoxically, for a former tech guy I’m not very into “tech”. Clearly evidenced by a cell phone multi-generations behind. I didn’t think that I was that reliant upon a phone. I despise talking on the thing. I’ve purchased exactly one app in my life. I would have told you that I don’t need a phone right away.

It’s not until it’s gone that you realize just how dependent upon these things we are. It’s how I communicate with the outside world. I use it daily for work – communication, setting timers, the flashlight, looking up reference material, and the translator (why oh why didn’t I take Spanish in high school?). I didn’t realize how often I was checking the social webs. I can’t take pictures. It has my stored notes for music I’ll never download and books I’ll forget to read. It has my (free) list making app that I’ve used exactly once. It’s my alarm clock and nighttime bedside clock. Calendars, maps, contacts, the entirety of human knowledge instantly available at all times.

And now I’m without. I actually felt briefly vulnerable driving. What if something happened? What if I broke down? How would I get help? What if I went to the store and couldn’t remember if we had milk – how would I contact Mrs Troutdog? Do I buy a gallon and potentially end up wasting it? Do I skip the cow juice and risk a second trip?

* side note, we purchase milk EVERY single time we go to the store. We do not drink milk. We don’t put it in coffee. We don’t cook with it. We don’t eat cereal. It sits in fridge, quietly going bad, week in and week out. When it goes bad, we dutifully buy a new one. I don’t understand our compulsion to buy milk.

Anyway, I lost track of my point. I’m a little frightened at how dependent we are on these ridiculously expensive devices and how it happened in such a short period of time. It’s only been around about ten years in its modern form. Suddenly we’re all chained to a life long service contract.

Meanwhile I’ll be in a dark hole for two more days. Out of contact. Unable to summon help. Unable to snap that picture of bigfoot or a UFO. A barren, lonely existence, indeed.

* Google Pixel 2 XL is the replacement for those interested.

The Lost Year

“Know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change, but pretty soon…everything’s different.” – Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes

This was an odd year. Not bad, just… odd. On paper there’s plenty of memorable moments that I’m very grateful for – completing my mid-life crisis career change, a big anniversary, a bucket list trip, travel to some new cities, rekindling my love of nachos  and questionable relationship with golf.

Looking back however, there were so many things that I didn’t do. I didn’t ride my bike. Or motorcycle. There was very little skiing or rafting. I didn’t take any pictures. I didn’t write much. Didn’t connect a whole lot with friends and family. Ignored the yard work. Ignored the gym. No real hiking. And worst of all, the grill saw virtually no barbeque this year.

When I look at those two paragraphs, I’m embarrassed. It’s a cliché, but what horrible first-world problems. It’s easy to forget how fortunate I am to have such trivial regrets. There is a large portion of the US, let alone the rest of the world, that can’t imagine having the year I had. Yet it’s easy to take for granted what we have and to let time slip by.

Looking ahead it feels like it’s time to reconnect. To realize that I’m way past the halfway mark of my trips around the sun. Nobody knows how many more you get, but it sure seems pretty stupid to waste them. It’s time to add some clarity to the filters that we apply to our day-to-day lives.

It’s time to say no to things that don’t add value to your life… Virtually everything on broadcast TV. Politics. Movie remakes and sequels. Being outraged at everything. Worrying what people think. Being afraid to try new things. To being lazy. It’s time to say no to pumpkin spice. And yams. Yeah, I said it. F**k yams. You can try to disguise them with marshmallows, but they’re still just nasty, mushy yams.

It’s time to say yes to travel and exploring. To being outside and skiing and rafting and fishing. To being back on two wheels and exploring trails. To being creative. To learning something new. To reaching out and maintaining connections to friends and family. To cooking and grilling. To more nachos. To exercising enough that I can eat nachos. To laughing.

Due to my job, I’ve spent a lot of time this year with people who are on their final trip around the sun. I can say with certainty that none of them wished they’d worked more, or spent more time watching TV. I suspect most of them wished they’d taken more risks. Experienced more things. Said yes more often. Engaged more with the people and world around them.

I was wrong about the year being lost. While at the time it didn’t seem like much was changing, at the end it’s given me a much healthier view of what’s important. I’m really looking forward to the new year. My single goal for this year – to minimize the number of days that seem wasted. To more often than not, go to bed and feel satisfied that I had a pretty good day. Seems simple. Harder in practice. Worth the effort.

On Compassion

I received a little recognition the other day at work for being “compassionate and caring”. This was funny to me since that’s certainly not how I see myself, and probably not how others see me. I like guns, teasing fish with badly tied flies, the Darwin awards, and generally have limited tolerance for people who repeatedly make poor life choices. How could I poscallbellsibly be considered compassionate?

Being an RN has lead me down an interesting road of self discovery. I find that I’m becoming increasingly more caring towards people in need, and simultaneously far less tolerant of general asshatery and poor decision making. On my floor we see some pretty terrible things. Horrible car accidents resulting in brain injuries that aren’t recoverable, strokes, spinal injuries, brain tumors with poor outcomes, generally some of the worst days of peoples lives.

When dealing with these patients, you’re reminded of how lucky we are – and how fleeting our time here is. You never know what’s around the corner. I’ve been extremely fortunate and can’t imagine what it’s like to be in their shoes. If I can do something to make the brief time I’m with them better, I do it. It’s a side of me that I didn’t realize was there. It makes me feel good and hopefully eases their burden a tiny bit.

The other side of the coin has hardened me. The repeat drunks detoxing, chronic users sneaking drugs into their room and injecting into their IV lines, pemtdewople who are convinced they’ve checked into the Fairmont hotel and expect to be waited upon, and the 400 pound patient on oxygen who’s eating a bag of Doritos and is pissed at me because I won’t help her waddle to the patio to smoke or give another dose of morphine.

For these people I’m rapidly losing my ability to feel sympathy. Life is short and you have a choice as to how you want to live it. Being a jerk is a choice. Treating others like crap is a choice. Making poor lifestyle choices… and then continuing to make them is a conscious decision. (Yes, I understand addiction and mental illness and its impact but a very large percentage of these folks are just generally not nice people) Knowing that the hospital and taxpayers will be dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars and days/weeks/months of care on someone who is going to check back in for the exact same thing before too long is hard to process sometimes. My compassion meter runs a little low some days.

I think that the reason I received that little nod at work is not because I’m Mr. Compassion, crying and empathizing with every patient who spilled their pumpkin spice latte, but because I treat everyone exactly the same. From the drug user to the VIP, I give the same care. As a patient, you’ll never know what my inside voice is saying. I think the trick to longevity in this job is finding an outlet so that inside voice stays inside.

As the old saying goes, don’t be a jerk to the person fixing your food, cleaning your hotel room, or caring for you at the hospital. You never know when their inside voice might become their outside voice.


“Well the jerk store called, they’re running outta you!” – George Costanza

 

The Problem With Protests

Quick – what is the NFL-anthem-kneeling debacle about? What do they want?  I’d be willing to bet that most folks only have a vague sense that it’s about some sort of injustice, maybe the first amendment, or because Trump said something.

Colin Kaepernick, who liked to take the field wearing pigs as cops socks, said this: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people kaepernickand people of color. … There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder”. If you’ve been supportive of Kaepernick and the kneeling movement, is this really what you feel? If you do, great. More power to you, stand up for your convictions. Otherwise, are you supporting something only because it’s popular? Don’t want to be the only one who didn’t hit the “Like” button?

You have every right to hate your country and what it stands for. I’d personally suggest you move to whatever country is the utopia you feel the U.S. should be, but whatever floats your boat. You don’t have to like this country. You don’t have to salute the flag. You don’t have to show respect. Playing the national anthem before events is nothing more than a tradition, not a requirement.

Protest all you want. You have that right. Just realize that if you choose to do it on your employers time… there may be repercussions. I know that my employer won’t be thrilled if I choose to march around and protest the plight of the endangered snowy plover while at work. Just ask Mr. Kaepernick. He may feel some satisfaction in seeing his actions briefly becoming a bit of a movement, but he’s still sitting home in his pajamas on Sunday without a paycheck.

How many people are praising the protest because they agree that cops are pigs and this country is a bastion of oppression, or are they joining the bandwagon because it’s popular on the Facebook? I think there’s a special irony in folks who are in the top 1% of wage earners, protesting the evils of virtually the only country on this planet where you can earn wheelbarrows full of cash to run around and catch a ball. They have every right to do so. And the free market has every right to react. The current 2017 Chicago murder count is 539. Primarily gang/drug related and black on black crime. Yo, oppressed NFL players – where’s the protest and call for action on that?

Symbolic protests have their place. They have the ability to spark a movement that can achieve change. That can be a good thing. But to be effective they have to have a clearly identifiable injustice and an outcome that everyone understands. To me, the kneeling thing has neither. Therefore it’s stupid, pointless, and will only hurt the NFL brand. Ultimately the players are doing more harm to themselves over something that will be completely forgotten several years from now.

My poorly thought out point is that as you’re doing a cut-n-paste of some clever meme to your Facebook page, do you really understand and support the protest du jour, or are you simply being a herd animal? I’d suggest you be a little bit of a skeptic before you hit that Like button. As the saying goes, reserve your f**ks for things worth giving a f**k about.

Lemmings_off_cliff_2* No, lemmings don’t really march off cliffs.

 

 

On Maturity

Watching the violent snowflake outrage in Berkley over thoughts that don’t match their group-think, I was reminded of a recent conversation Mrs. Troutdog and I had about maturity. We were talking about kids being able to safely walk/ride their bikes to school and she said “…but he’s only in middle school”.

I’m not a parent, which of course makes me perfectly qualified to pass judgement on parenting styles. I’m also not the most adventurous person in the world and tend to be pretty cautious most of the time. But this one time way back in the stone age I was twelve, about to turn thirteen. I wrote a letter (gasp, no email?) and applied to a summer camp I found in the back of Sunset magazine. I got the job, got on a Greyhound bus in Northern California and traveled down to San Diego alone. Spent the entire summer as a camp counselor and lifeguard.

Now this was not particularly extreme and I’m sure many of you who grew up in the mid-west were probably even more independent. I think most of today’s younger generation parents would be horrified at the idea of putting a twelve year old on a bus to travel 800 miles away, alone. Practically grounds for a child abuse lawsuit. (9 year old on the subway ) A year later at thirteen, a friend and I loaded up backpacks and rode our bikes 30+ miles to a lake and camped for three days. No cell phones, no way for our parents to know if we were alive or had been snatched by an evil clown. Today, a child of thirteen walking (or Uber) to the store to pick up a gallon of milk will be required to check in by phone three times and the parents will be monitoring their real-time progress via an app.

Ignoring “extreme” travel, how many parents today would be comfortable with their twelve year old riding their bike around at 4am every day delivering newspapers in the dark?  (what’s a newspaper?) How else was I supposed to afford baseball cards and movies? Today’s kids get allowance for backbreaking chores like “keeping their room clean” or “taking out the trash”.

We’re raising a generation that isn’t particularly rugged and is frightened of everything. Is it any surprise that people in the U.S. are outraged at everything today? Give your kids the chance to be more self-reliant and independent – they’ll thank you for it in the long run.

What I’ve Learned

In my short career as a nurse, I’ve learned a couple of things. Mostly that it’s frightening how much I don’t know. It’s a very interesting thing to throw yourself into something that has such a steep learning curve, but with serious real-world consequences… I’m not sure yet if 12 straight hours being scared to death you’re going to accidently harm someone is good for the blood pressure. Anyway, I have managed to learn me a few things I thought I’d share. For context I work on a neuro-spine floor. Spinal surgery, brain surgery, traumas, strokes, seizures, dementia, Alzheimer’s.

  • Your mom was right – wear a helmet. ALWAYS. I’ve been guilty of this. It takes surprisingly little force to cause a life altering injury. Just wear the damn helmet.
  • It is possible to only pee once in 14 hours. Not recommended, but achievable with practice.
  • Drugs in large continuous quantities tend to be bad for you. Forget Mrs. Reagan’s failed campaign, every junior high class should be forced to take a field trip to my floor to see the actual impact of drug use. Whod’a thunk taking too much meth could cause a stroke? The official term for the resulting brain impact is ‘summer squash’.
  • My patient load is 5. That means I get to devote a massive 12 minutes per hour ensuring you’re still breathing or not otherwise declining in a way that would look bad on my record. Let’s just say that the numbers don’t add up, even on the most routine shifts. Somehow it all works.
  • People are dumb, frightening animals. I’d estimate that only about a third of the population are what you’d consider normal functioning humans who can cope with daily life. It’s very scary how many people are out walking amongst us who really don’t have any grasp on basic life skills.
  • As a society we take too many pain pills. Everyone seems to think there’s a magic pill that will take away all pain… and I’m selfishly choosing not to give it to you. Sorry, but a subdural hematoma and multiple skull fractures is going to hurt. A lot. Yes I could give you more opioids, but I’m pretty sure continuing to breathe is important. I think I read that somewhere in anatomy and physiology.
  • Speaking of pills, people have the most bizarre rituals for swallowing ’em. You’ll happily swallow a massive chunk of steak the size of campfire marshmallow, yet swallowing a tiny little pill is like coordinating a moon shot. Water must be the exact right temperature, you must pre-moisten your mouth with exactly three sips, the pill must be carefully placed in the exact right position on the tongue, and you must swallow slowly while staring at the ceiling followed by half a glass of water to wash it down. Could you imagine eating an entire meal the same way you took pills? Dinner would take six hours and you’d drink 2 gallons of water. Considering each patient takes about a dozen pills… you can start to see why the allotted 12 minutes per patient doesn’t add up.
  • The various forms of Alzheimer’s are truly one of the most horrible diseases out there and it gets very little attention. The thought of it scares me.
  • If you tell me your pain is 10 out of 10 while talking on your cell phone and eating pudding… it’s not. Hitting you in the head with a sledgehammer is a 10.
  • No, I’m not going to stop treating the guy in the next room who’s blood pressure just tanked and is getting close to enjoying 300 joules to the chest, so I can get you a warm blanket. You’ll survive.
  •  Medical power of attorney. Yes, have one people unless you want to trust aunt Sally to make your medical decisions for you.
  • As you get older, think carefully about your code status (do not resuscitate, etc..). It’s not like the movies. The brain doesn’t survive very long without oxygen. There’s a bunch of vital gunk in the brain (I read that somewhere) that controls some important stuff. Even if we get the ticker running again, the outcome isn’t always desirable.

I think the number one thing I’ve learned so far is how fleeting our time here is. Every day I walk the floor surrounded by people who thought they were going to have a regular, boring day until they got thumped by the cement truck they didn’t see coming. You can’t avoid all the cement trucks… but you can do everything possible to enjoy today.

The Business Of Science

A question for you: What is the global warming   climate changeextreme climate” debate about? If you answered something along the lines of proving or disproving that warming is real, you’d be wrong. That is a talking point intended to prop up a strawman argument that has nothing to do with the actual debate.

All reputable “scientists” believe that the earth has warmed in the last century. There’s a little bit of quibbling around the margins of error regarding the degree of warming, but there is no doubt that there is warming. The actual debate is if that warming is entirely human caused (anthropogenic global warming or AGW), a product of natural cycles, or a mixture of the two. That’s it. There is no other debate. Anything else you hear is horribly ill-informed or intentional spin by folks with an agenda. The derisive label of “climate change denier” is a fabrication that has nothing to do with what the actual science is about.

The problem so many people have with the AGW hypothesis is that it’s (originally) based on a series of computer models that haven’t just been wroclimateng, they’ve been spectacularly wrong. For example, did you know that until 2016 we most likely had a pause in warming that lasted 18 years (yes, really).This seemingly contradicts the idea that exponential growth in CO2 emissions is the direct (and only) cause of warming. This alone should cause people to question the original idea. There are hundreds of other peer reviewed studies and papers postulating other potential reasons for warming. Shouldn’t the idea that there’s only one possible cause of warming be examined further?

The foundation of science is that you come up with a hypothesis, do a bunch of experiments to try and prove your idea, then open it up to others to try and disprove it. Consensus has no part in the scientific discussion. We have been unable to prove the idea that CO2 emissions are the sole cause of changes in our global climate. It’s still just an interesting idea so far.

Understanding climate is hard. Every year there are new discoveries about ocean currents, the ocean as a CO2 sink, and solar cycles, heat reservoirs, etc… Look at your local weather forecast (yes, I understand that weather is not climate). Arguably the bulk of our research dollars today goes into accurate weather forecasting – after all it can have real impact on peoples lives. With all the technology we currently have, the best we can do with a weather forecast is have a general idea a week out and a pretty good idea 48 hours out. Truly accurate forecasts of wind speeds, directions, rainfall amounts, etc… are still only in the 4-6 hour out range. This stuff is difficult. There are thousands of factors that can impact a storm as it travels towards you. Why would something as complex as figuring out global climate (measured in decades or centuries) be any easier or certain?

The entire purpose of science is to question. Unfortunately, the discussion has become religion for people, throwing around terms like “denier”. Let’s be clear – there is NO 97% of all scientists agree. As soon as you start hearing consensus in science you should be worried. There is no consensus – there’s facts. You can either prove it and have it stand up to peer review or you can’t. Until then, it’s just an idea. When Bill Nye “the science guy” and Al Gore resort to faking a science experiment to prove their point, you should question the motives.

So why would so many reputable scientists (or the UN) push an unproven idea… even cultivating a distracting narrative about the issue when that’s not the real discussion? As Rod Tidwell said in Jerry Maguire – it’s all about the Quan baby. Follow the money. You can’t risk having the research dollars dry up. I have no problem with continuing the research. I encourage it. What I disagree with is turning a scientific discussion into a religion that demonizes and characterizes people as non-believers and heretics, while in pursuit of money. Even scarier is crafting political policies that can have real economic impact based on an completely unproven idea.

If you believe that rising CO2 levels are the sole cause of the earths global temperature changes – prove it beyond a doubt and disprove the other ideas (i.e. science). Do that and I’ll be AGW’s biggest cheerleader. Until then keep it as what it is… an interesting scientific discussion that warrants further research. Nothing more, nothing less.


 

There are three misconceptions in particular that bedevil our thinking. The first: isn’t there a disagreement among scientists as to whether the problem is real or not? Actually… not really.

I believe this is a moral issue. It is your time to seize this issue. It is our time to rise again, to secure our future

– Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth

Dr. Peter Venkman: [to librarian Alice] Are you currently menstruating?
Library Administrator: What has that got to do with anything?
Dr. Peter Venkman: Back off man, I’m a scientist.

Nobody Is On The Fence

Watching the chattering heads last night providing their “in depth analysis” of the RNC convention prompted a few thoughts. First, I’d like to gouge my eyeballs out with a spoon. Second, this notion that people are “on the fence” about a candidate is idiotic drivel and any pundit who says it should be banished to covering local school board meetings. Let me be clear – PEOPLE DON’T SWITCH PARTIES from election to election. Period. Full stop. End of discussion. People vote party line. Always have, always will. Sorry, but nobody is watching a speech and thinking “boy, my family has voted for the same party for four generations… but wow this guy from the other party is moving me to tears with his speech and he wears a really nice tie I think I’ll vote for him.” If such a shallow person actually exists they’re out playing Pokémon Go and won’t bother voting anyway.

There is only one valid discussion in a political campaign… voter turnout. All the verbal diarrhea spouted by both parties is not there to “welcome others into oublenderr tent” or to “broaden the base”. It’s to whip your followers into a frenzy so they’ll postpone stopping at the Fancy Freeze on the way home and vote instead. A politician has to convince his/her party that the other candidate grinds up small puppies and endangered koala bears in a blender and drinks them for morning smoothies and if you don’t vote, they’re coming for your little fluffy next.

The best gage of the probable outcome of this election isn’t polls or TV pundit lectures. It’s the MPM® factor. What is MPM? It’s the number of memes per minute created on social mememedia. Each speech, every rally, the daily news cycle spin, seems to produce a varying number of frantic meme and Facebook posting all showing some variation of the other candidate as a lying, evil, Chihuahua-smoothie drinking, troll. The ebb and flow of this is probably the most accurate measure of how motivated each parties faithful are. If the rabid followers of your particular meat puppet aren’t frantically creating clever posts showing that the other meat puppet did indeed fail to yield at a crosswalk in June of 1983, then they’re probably not going to turn out on election day.

I should write that app. Create and post the real-time meme posting trends. I could become the next Nate Silver. I could monetize it and make millions. But that would take motivation. And I’m a busy guy with actual real world adult stuff to do. I’ve got Pokémon to catch.

 

 

The Monkey’s Paw

“Be careful of what you wish for, you might just get it” — W.W. Jacobs & Snoop Dog

The Monkey’s Paw was probably the first “horror” story I ever read. I still remember pawwaking up from a nightmare thinking I heard knocking at the door. I think about this fable when I watch what’s happening with media and the public’s changing relationship with the police. Our world is changing. We’re under a 24×7 media and information barrage – all competing for ratings so they can scoop up the coin. Every single citizen has a camera with them at all times, each eager to capture something dramatic so they can live stream it to Facebook and get their 60 second interview with one of the evening TV chattering heads.

I’m a pragmatic guy. I don’t proclaim this to be good or bad. It just is what it is. It’s the current evolution of our society. What I am sure of is that the vast majority of folks haven’t grasped what the long term impact to policing in this country will be. Policing is, at it’s very nature, an unpleasant task. It means profiling people and behaviors (GASP… did he say profiling?!?!) to try and prevent folks who aren’t rule followers from continuing to break the rules. And, human nature being what it is, folks who break the rules have a tendency to not go willingly when informed their next destination isn’t a luxurious spa.

Let me ask you an honest question. Could you subdue someone of equal size and weight who fought you with everything they had? Could you do it without hurting them or yourself? I know I couldn’t. Now, how about if they were bigger than you, or high on something, or mentally unstable, or had a hidden gun or knife? This is what we pay our police to do every day. The difference today is, with the advent of cameras everywhere, we get to see how it happens. And it’s not pretty. It never has been.

We live in a TV and movie fantasy world where the good guy never gets hurt and disables the bad guy with a secret Mr. Spock hold or fancy kung-fu moves. Even better they shoot the gun out of the bad guy’s hand or simply wounds them in the leg. Or, they manage to talk them out of their evil plans and convince them to go back to school and become a community organizer. Yes, people really do think this is how the world works and they’re shocked when confronted with reality. The media capitalizes on this shock and pre-judges events in an effort to create the ratings feeding frenzy.

And the sad reality is that police will stop doing what they do. If you had cameras on you from the second you stepped out of your car, how careful would you be? If you knew that every movement, every word you said, the very inflection of your voice was going to be analyzed by the media, by lawyers, and by the public, would that make you pause before doing anything? If you knew that your own command staff, media, and elected officials would throw you under the bus at the first hint of political unpopularity, would you take a chance at getting involved in something?

The answer, for those of you wrapped in your safe middle class neighborhoods, is that policing as we know it has already stopped. If you live in the inner city or more impoverished areas of this country, it’s about to get worse. Do you really think the police are going to be proactive about crime? Do you honestly think an officer is going to get out of their car unless they absolutely have to? There is zero incentive and massive personal risk with every citizen encounter. Folks are marching for “change”. I suspect they may not like the trickle down consequences of that change. The Ferguson effect is very real.

Who knows, maybe it will eventually be for the better? Maybe “pretty please” and “sir, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble would you kindly turn yourself in when you have a moment” will be a more effective approach. Perhaps peace, love, granola, and a Coke ® while teaching the world to sing will be ticket that enables us to all just get along. The pessimistic side of me says that we’re not as evolved as a species as we’d like to think. Yes we have opposable thumbs and whatnot, but I don’t think the societal fabric has to tear that far before we revert back to wanting to feel safe and protected. You know, that whole sheep, wolf, and sheepdog thing.

At the end of the day what’s important is that it all makes for fantastic TV. It’s riveting to watch the talking heads lecture us and moderate panels of folks shouting at each other. stunI’m inspired when I go to bed at night that I’ll wake up and be a better person. And hopefully the politicians will get their act together and fund a massive moon-launch effort to invent the Star Trek stun beam. Until then, I’m going to go find a gang-banger and give him a hug. Who knows, that might just be the spark that enables him to reflect on the path his life has taken and to change for the better.


“1 – 2 – Freddy’s coming for you, 3 – 4 – Better lock your door, 5 – 6 – Grab your crucifix, 7 – 8 – Better stay up late, 9 – 10 – Never sleep again…”
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Tommy Doyle: [screaming hysterically] It’s the boogeyman! The boogeyman’s outside!Laurie: Oh Tommy, stop it! You’re scaring Lindsey. There’s nobody out there, now if you don’t stop this I’m going to have to turn the TV off and send you to bed.
Tommy Doyle: Nobody believes me!
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Laurie: Tommy unlock the door! Come here, now you listen to me. I want you to go down the stairs, and out the front door. I want you to go down the street to the Mackenzie’s house. I want you to tell them to call the police and tell them to send them over here. Now do you understand me? Go do as I say!
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Jack Torrance: Heeere’s Johnny!