Poetry 1

We bury the dead in convenient haste,
my family.
A legacy perhaps.
We were pioneers
and those who struggle have little time for Death.
The act is stark, a black-and-white thing to do.
The Puritan knife that was our Will
carved a narrow way of life,
for all that life’s variety.
By a dying fire, good hunters, cleaning our weapons,
we turn, curious, in our hands
bits of lives that met our blade
but did not turn it:
a summer bluejay;
a favorite mare;
the odd young Englishman to cut the hay one year;
the son who drowned – was it accidental? –
big snows,
short summers
and a full table.
Death
was a held        breath.

The Funniest Expression I Heard Today

From Paul Krugman in the New York Times as he urges the Greek people to reject austerity by Euro-banksters:

“The troika clearly did a reverse Corleone — they made [Greek Prime Minister Alexis] Tsipras an offer he can’t accept, and presumably did this knowingly,” Krugman wrote.

Sounds like a high-dive maneuver in the Olympics.

Well, it is a high-dive, sort of.

Connections and connections and connections

Wise Old Indian says:
(How come we don’t have sayings of old Drunk Uncle Billy Bearpaw?)
  A man must discover who he is.
  A man must discover where he comes from.
  A man must discover why he’s here.

   I’m still working on #1, have a growing understanding of #2 and have at least discovered #3.
I’m here to learn and appreciate.

   When I was growing up in rural Colorado, I didn’t feel much connection with my contemporaries. For the most part, they prided themselves on being anti-intellectual, clung tightly to their ignorance and bullied anyone the least bit different or smaller. I was quite small for my age until my high school ‘growth spurt’ & was the teacher’s pet, so I came in for a lot of nastiness. Eventually, I learned to look out for myself, becoming a good boxer and wrestler who could think and act faster than the assholes, so they learned to leave me alone. That did not suddenly open the door to socialization and while I’m not anti-social, I decidedly failed to develop the usual social skills of teenagers. Read More

The 80,000-Volt Handcuffs That Let Cops Shock Prisoners

The quiet rise of “Stun-Cuffs” give police officers, prison guards and bailiffs an easy way to electrify people into submission.

The Atlantic, By Connor Friedersdorf, June 25

What gives an electric jolt as strong as a typical Tase but is designed for prisoners already in police custody rather than suspects not yet arrested? Wireless “Stun-Cuffs” from Myers Enterprises. “Today’s criminal is more hardened, desperate, and more dangerous than ever,” its imperfectly punctuated brochure warns. “Whether taking a prisoner for a doctor visit, transporting them for trial, interrogations or dealing with a prisoner that is under the influence. They must be controlled.”

Here’s how the devices work: A prisoner’s wrists or ankles are cuffed––and then, if the person holding the transmitter desires, he or she can send tens of thousands of volts of electricity coursing through the prisoner’s body from a distance of up to 100 yards. As the brochure puts it: “A demonstration of this in front of a prisoner and they will know if they are out of compliance the Single Cuff model will drop them.”

Dreams….?

   I used to fly hang-gliders, last time probably 20-25 years ago. There are two sorts of rising air: ridge lift in which an incoming wind hits the side of a mountain and rises. This frequently has turbulence caused by that same wind tumbling over the mountsins on the other side of the valley and usable ridge lift depends very much on wind speed. Too strong: unflyable, too weak, not enough lift. The trick is to stay aloft long enough to pick up the second type of rising air: thermals. Once located, one can get powerful lift, Problem with that is thin air and it’s damn cold.
   In a few places, a coastal cliff faces the wind and there’s nothing upwind to create turbulance. Wind speeds of 60+ are flyable and one can fly back and forth for hours. The lift from a vertical launch can be 2500-feet/minute and it’s an awesome jolt to step off a 3000-foot cliff and be 5000 up in a few seconds. Read More

Viewing Life Differently

   For reasons of no particular interest here, a perfect storm of conditions recently caused my first-ever COPD flare-up and subsequent five-day hospital stay, the only time in 77 years I’ve been in for more than same-day surgery. The process left me somewhat chastened and realizing that using good genes as an excuse to ignore my health was probably not a viable long-term option. I will therefore have to take seriously the task of regaining and preserving as much as possible of my health going forward.

   The process also left me with some memorable experiences which I will chronicle here, in case anyone’s interested.
Read More

After Freddie Gray

The Kingsley decision creates a crucial new constitutional protection against police abuse.

Slate, By Mark Joseph Stern, June 22

In April of 2010, five police officers put Michael Kingsley face down on a cement bunk in a holding cell, shocked him with a stun gun for five seconds, then left him alone, writhing in pain with his hands cuffed behind his back, for 15 minutes. Kingsley sued the officers, claiming they violated his constitutional rights by using excessive force. He lost.

On Monday, the Supreme Court gave Kingsley a second chance, ruling that the trial court gave the jury bad instructions. In a narrow sense, the decision turns on a technical question of intent. In a broader sense, though, the ruling is a blast of good news for opponents of police brutality—an emphatic declaration that the Constitution bars police from beating and abusing suspects in custody.

At the heart of Kingsley v. Hendrickson is a pretty straightforward question of intent. During the trial, the judge told the jury that Kingsley must lose unless he could prove the officers knew their actions could unduly harm Kingsley but went through with them anyway. Under that high standard, Kingsley lost. It’s incredibly difficult to prove law enforcement intentionally deprived suspects of their constitutional rights. Just ask the family of Michael Brown.

But Kingsley argued that he shouldn’t have to prove the officers were subjectively aware that their use of force was unreasonable. By forcing him to convince a jury that the officers had a malicious state of mind, Kingsley believed, the court made him clear too high a hurdle to vindicate his constitutional rights. Rather, Kingsley insisted that he should only have to prove that their use of force was objectively unreasonable to win his suit.

A bare majority of the Supreme Court agreed with Kingsley, sending the case back down to an appeals court to decide whether the error was so grave that Kingsley must be given a new trial. The dry majority opinion by Justice Stephen Breyer barely hints that the decision will have an impact beyond Kingsley’s case. But in reality, Kingsley constructs a crucial new constitutional protection against police abuse—a protection especially vital in the shadow of Freddie Gray’s shocking death.

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