Book-Review

Book Review: Crossing the Blue Line by William Mark

Crossing the Blue Line should be on your “beach read” list.

“All hell broke loose the last time we sat on a deck like this drinking beer, contemplating doing something stupid for the right reason….” – William Mark

Crossing the Blue Line by William Mark (image courtesy Southern Yellow Pine Publishing)

William Mark’s Crossing the Blue Line is the sort of book that some magazines would put into their lists of “great beach reads.” It’s a fast paced, high energy narrative about crooked cops – on both sides of what is known in police jargon as “the blue line.” What sets Mark’s book apart from most such novels is that he gives us crooked cops who take the law into their own hands for the right as well as for the wrong reasons.

Dylan Akers and Beau Rivers, the heroes of Mark’s previous work in this emerging series, are both on thin ice with their superiors at the Tallahassee PD when the novel opens. Both have been demoted and moved to backwater assignments (Akers, a top homicide detective, has been made head of a dead end division of the department; Rivers, the epitome of the “loose cannon” type, has been given an even more dead end assignment) as punishment for having committed a crime that can’t (seemingly) be proven against them: the execution of two criminals who raped and murdered Dylan’s young daughter. Continue reading

Translating Ryan Lochte’s bullshit into English

Fake apology. Fauxpology. Unpology. Non-apology apology. It’s all bullshit and you’re an idiot if you play along.

I’ve spent decades in the corporate world, and way too much of that time has been dedicated to crafting artful PR bullshit. I’m not proud of the fact, but truth is I’m good at it. And when making the language behave unnaturally is your stock in trade, you get really, really good at spotting it when other people start force-feeding perfectly honest words into the sausage grinder.

Which brings us to the much-discussed Ryan Lochte “apology.” Which, by the way, was written for him by some weasel in his agent’s office. Said weasel understands the basics, but sadly has all the grace and nuance of a hyena on a Cialis bender.

Didn’t work, though. See the fat, middle-aged guy with an open sore on his mouth loitering by the edge of the dance floor? That’s Lochte. See all the sorority girls easing away from him? Those are his former sponsors.

Anyhow, here’s Lochte’s fauxpology. Continue reading

Woman-Power

Patriarchy in the news, 8/21/16

Woman-Power

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but there is so much out there.

First up, trending on Twitter is #thingsfeministmenhavesaidtome. There are surprises, but the golden oldies are well represented, such as these:

“You’re just assuming all guys are like that, which is pretty sexist.”
“Aren’t you generalizing men if you discuss patriarchy? Don’t alienate allies now.”
“I consider myself more of a humanist.”
“Just because women think something is sexist doesn’t mean it automatically is, you know.”
“I support feminism, but I think women need to lighten up.”
I guess a hashtag things”feminist”menhavesaidtome might not work as well.

Continue reading

Ryan Lochte for president

I’m not disappointed in Ryan Lochte.

Liar Liar 2, starring Ryan Lochte - coming soon to a theater near you.

Liar Liar 2, starring Ryan Lochte – coming soon to a theater near you.

That would be like getting disappointed at the sun for rising in the east. At squirrels for hoarding nuts. At Arsenal for finishing fourth. No, I’m not disappointed in Ryan Lochte. I’m disappointed in myself.

When I saw the headline – Ryan Lochte and three others robbed at gunpoint in Rio – my first thought was something like “damn, that’s awful.” But it should have been “wait – what’s the operative word in that sentence?” The answer, of course, is “Lochte,” and if I were even a little alert I’d have known, without question, that a raging, sideways douche-bro shitrain was a’fixin’ to blow up.

I should have known. You should have known. We all should have known, and the fact that we didn’t, that’s on us.

And it just keeps getting worse. First he made up the robbery story. Then we get video proving he lied and we learned that it all went down because he and some douche-bro teammates were trashing a store in the middle of the night. Then he lies some more. Continue reading

Politics: Democrats vs Republicans

Congressional honor? A breeder of hope? Hold not your breath …

As honor dwindles, so does hope.

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 10.02.11 AMIs hope a descendant of honor?

If if is, perhaps a little hope can be derived from recent statements of members of Congress in response to the lunacy of the GOP candidate for president. Donald “I am your voice” Trump has rashly criticized two Americans who lost their son to combat in a foreign land. Trump did this, apparently, because Khizr and Ghazala Khan are Muslim Americans from Pakistan.

Some Republican members of Congress have repudiated Trump’s remarks.

From Sen. John McCain of Arizona: “While our party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.”

From Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who is seeking re-election: “I am appalled that Donald Trump would disparage [the Khans] and that he had the gall to compare his own sacrifices to those of a Gold Star family.”

Continue reading

cm_logo_image-e1427478632990

An American president under age 35? Oh, my …

Captain Morgan’s real campaign premise here is just to increase its share of the rum market.

Tcm_logo_image-e1427478632990rump (age 70) vs. Clinton (age 68)? This is the best choice the vaunted two-party system can provide for Americans?

If they’d like better, they ought to begin drinking rum. Especially Captain Morgan, a brand owned by Diageo, which bills itself as “the world’s leading premium drinks business.”

Captain Morgan will campaign for a constitutional change — allowing American residents under 35 years old to serve as president.  A petition is already parked at the White House, hopeful of attracting at least 100,000 signees.

According to AdAge, “The effort will get significant paid support, including a print ad running in Tuesday’s New York Times.” Continue reading

What’s a little martial law between friends?

Wait, isn’t that what they’re asking for?

Cleveland Police Calling for Open Carry Ban at RNC After Baton Rouge Shootings

This just gets touchier and more complex as the hours roll by. I feel like I’m watching a tennis match. I’m seriously gonna get a crick in my neck at this rate.

Martial law, simplified: when the government suspends ordinary law for the sake of keeping things orderly and peaceful during the kinds of extreme circumstances the government claims warrant their entirely reasonable reaction.

Look out. We’re gonna get martial law! Continue reading

Donald Trump

New Yorker starts analysis of Trump with, “honestly…”

What have we learned about that?

Well, actually, the headline is just a hair away from that, “Being honest about Trump.” I think it qualifies, though. So would WSJ in this piece, I think.

For all of my complaints about Glopnik’s article, I love his description of the center:

“While the habits of hatred get the better of the right, the habits of self-approval through the fiction of being above it all contaminate the center.”

One has to love this much naive honesty. The problem with their fiction is that they’ve believed their own PR just a bit too much. Continue reading

Korn-Ferry_Hay-Group

When is sharing a password a federal crime? And when isn’t it?

By Carole McNall

Korn-Ferry_Hay-Group.jpgI glanced at the sexy headline: Sharing your Netflix password is now a federal crime, court rules.

Intrigued, I read the story. Then I read the court case, United States v. Nosal.

I discovered, within a page and a half, that the headline writer had created his or her own legal precedent. The blunt statement that made a sexy headline was far less nuanced and far more definitive than the actual decision.

The story I read was bylined, which I always take to mean a reporter actually does something to gather the information. But for many reporters, “gathering information” for this story seemed to mean finding it on another website and doing a little rewrite.

So let me offer some context for evaluating the sexy headline.

Who was sharing passwords and why? The password sharing happened when David Nosal and two others decided to leave the executive search firm Korn/Ferry. Before they left, they began downloading information from Korn/Ferry’s confidential database of search candidates. Even after their access to the system was revoked, they continued downloading, using the freely given password of someone still working at Korn/Ferry.

The firm emphasized the confidentiality of the database through messages ranging from a required agreement for all new employees to a pop-up message every time someone did a custom search.

Eventually, Korn/Ferry discovered the access and criminal charges were filed. This month’s decision was the second appeal of Nosal’s conviction on those charges to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

OK, there’s the federal crime. But what law did they violate? Continue reading

BLM

#WhichCorpsesMatter

That’s what I want to know

Here’s my big reason to care about the #BlackLivesMatter versus #AllLivesMatter jousting match. I’m not the sentimental sort. I don’t have a deeply personal interest in the deeply personal pain countless families are feeling, whether by race, or by innocence of victim, or even the families of the police. If I spent time on those feelings, it would just be sadness. My sadness and $5 will get you a cup of fancy coffee somewhere. My reason is abstract, because any particular dead person is a particular case of a general phenomenon, and might not adhere to any particular script very well.

I’m even cynical enough to consider the striking possibility that both sides are “wrong” depending on how one defines the sides and defines what they mean by wrong. Continue reading

Cui bono: how did Berrien County, Michigan hit the headlines?

Horse race reportage, part umpteen. Special Edition: Not Election Coverage

I first spotted this tragic news at BBC, when there wasn’t yet anything world newsworthy about it, even from their own coverage perspective. One might notice the author was in such a rush to post they didn’t even bother to finish writing it first. The telltale error of haste that reveals the race to the bottom should embarrass an author not yet qualified to have their own byline.

Rule 1 of race to the bottom reporting: Be sure to include factoids that do not advance the non-story even a little, and don’t bother to edit it when done. Continue reading

#blacklivesmatter versus #alllivesmatter

White man ISO white people to explain something to me

I have yet to take a strong stand on this whole #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter and #enoughwiththehashtagsmatter issue, and I’m fairly certain it’s a privilege thing that I, as a cisgendered white hetero man in farm country, have this luxury. I can’t help that. Continue reading

CATEGORY: UnitedStates

Another Fourth, another episode of blissful national blindness

No red, white, and blue adorn my flagpole. No patriotic bunting arches over my front door. No fireworks await their flaming demise. I no longer enjoy the nation’s formal parting from Great Britain (which was on July 2, anyway).

2f45d-free_wallpaper_patriotic_eagle_american_flag_background-1-1024x768I suppose, at one time, July Fourth carried great meaning to all Americans. After all, because of the acts of the Continental Congress and subsequent versions of it, I can (and do) criticize my government without fear or favor. I can own a weapon. My home and person cannot be searched or seized without cause. I am not obligated to incriminate myself. I can practice the religion of my choice — or decide not to — without government coercion. I can peaceably assemble with others to protest almost any damn thing I want to. I can vote to select who will govern me. And Congress cannot prevent me from owning a press in which I tell others what I see and what I know and what I feel.

I love my country because of the ideals inherent in the Constitution and especially in the Bill of Rights.

But lately, I have come to dislike this overwrought holiday. Continue reading

Can we just repeal the Fourth Amendment?

We’re not really using it anyway

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

DUI checkpoints. Stop and frisk. Racial profiling. Total Information Awareness. CIA. NSA. AT&T. Surveillance state. Cheek swabs. No-knock warrants. Civil forfeiture. More civil forfeiture. Border searches, subpoenas instead of warrants, metadata, facial recognition, medical records. Expanded background checks. Continue reading

CATEGORY: Guns

To reduce gun violence, make gun owners and sellers liable for violence committed with their guns

GunShowLet me start this post with an admission. If I had the power, I’d happily ban assault weapons completely. I’d also round up the majority of assault-style weapons presently in circulation and destroy them, along with any magazine larger than about five rounds (if you need more than that for hunting, you’re doing it wrong). I think they’re disgusting and useful for only one thing – killing other human beings – and that every argument in favor of owning assault-style weapons (they’re safer, they’re lighter, and they’re great for varmint hunting are a few of the ones I’ve seen offered since Orlando) is bullshit. The fact that AR-15 style weapons were renamed “modern sport rifles” specifically to circumvent the original assault weapon ban tells me that even the gun makers know that they’re selling assault weapons, not hunting rifles. I’ll probably vote to support a ban in the future, and this is one of the many issues on which I grade candidates when I vote. I suspect that many folks reading this are probably very happy that I don’t have this power.

However, I recognize that a ban may not be politically feasible at this time, and even a ban won’t fix everything. Gun crimes, even mass shootings, would still occur- the murderers would simply buy their weapons from the black market or steal them. But there is something that would help reduce the number of deaths due to guns overall, not just gun crimes. Suicides, accidental discharges, and crimes all would be reduced by what I’m about to propose:

Make gun sellers and owners criminally liable for gun crimes committed using their weapons. Continue reading

Moment of #Mansplanation

Actually…

I just had a chance to read this op/ed from last year’s NYT: What makes a woman? The subject is still timely, especially thanks to hijinks like those coming out of North Carolina’s statehouse. And I’ve riffed on it before, if with more vitriol. I was a meaner person back then. Now I can just rest on the laurels of my cis-gendered white male privilege, look at this modern debate and all those hoity-toity post-modern nonsensilists and be snide. It’s an important debate, exactly because it’s in the courts and involves human safety, but dammit people, bring your A-game.  Continue reading

Book-Review

Book Review: A Rising Tide of People Swept Away by Scott Archer Jones

How will we respond to the children? – Scott Archer Jones

A Rising Tide of People Swept Away (image courtesy Smashwords)

We live in a world of diversity, of change, of uncertainty. The new novel by Scott Archer Jones, A Rising Tide of People Swept Away, explores what Dr. Johnson might call the “interstitial vacuities.” A small boy from a troubled family, a family part Hispanic, part Anglo, becomes the “adopted” child of a group of troubled people in the Albuquerque Bosque area. The story of how he is saved while they are lost is the focus of A Rising Tide of People Swept Away.

I think this is a significant book for a couple of reasons. First, it is a novel that addresses what is happening to too many in our country: people who are pawns in the machinations of government working in concert with wealthy forces interested in increasing their wealth do their best to fight back against adds that are so stacked against them they are doomed from the start. Second, and this is the real story and power of Jones’s novel, this is a story of how human love and kindness persist in the face of the forces mentioned in the first reason. Continue reading

Columbine: 17 years ago today

Columbine

Columbine

April 20, 1999. I remember exactly where I was, exactly what I was doing. My co-worker at US West, Joe Lopez, turned to me and said “hey Sammy, there’s been a shooting at a school down in Littleton.”

“Find out everything you can,” I said. I’ll go tell Marti. Marti was Marti Smith, our VP, and thus began some of the hardest days those of us in Colorado have ever had to confront.

It was also the moment when I realized that North Carolina, the state I grew up in, was no longer home.

This piece – “Columbine and the Power of Symbols” – chronicles my reaction to the events of 4/20/99 as well as the days that followed, as we all tried to make sense of utter senselessness. It’s still one of the three or four best things I have ever written. And it’s still so very hard to read, even after all these years.