Sunday, October 18, 2020

Choot 'em in da Leg!

Yes, I believe we need to have some sort of police reform in this country. But someone please tell Joe Biden, "shooting 'em in the leg" should not be any part of that reform.

I've heard Biden say it at each of his two town halls, as a means of "de-escalating" a situation.

First, how on Earth is shooting someone in the leg a de-escalation tactic? That's doesn't even remotely make sense.

De-escalation can be described as a series of tactics to calm a person or a situation down. It's "Verbal Judo," persuading an angry person to do something they may not want to do at first.

Anyone who's been shot in the leg is unlikely to be calm, and if they happen to have a gun too, you can bet they will be returning fire.

By the time the weapon comes out, it's too late for de-escalation. Drawing a weapon is the last resort and the very act itself is among the highest levels of force.

Where the reform needs to come, in part, is giving police more options before drawing the weapon, and training to better recognize situations where a weapon might not be required.

We've done some of that with Tasers and pepper spray and other non-lethal means of subduing a suspect. But we need to do more.

The idea of bringing psychologists and social workers in to help in some situations has merit. We can't expect police officers to continue to take on those roles in society.

We could also take a look at what mental health support we provide to people in need. There are a lot of those types of options that we can expand upon, but shooting them in the leg is not one.

This ain't the movies. Once the weapon comes out and the first trigger pull happens, every round is going center mass and it's not stopping until the target it neutralized.

People often criticize police when they shoot someone 15 times, even in justified shootings. Why can't they just shoot once? In the leg?

Well for one, he's going to keep getting shot until he drops and is no longer a threat. And second, in the heat of the moment, when it's shoot or be shot, and tunnel vision is kicking in, and the cortisol is flowing, and your ears stop working, the only thing you can see is center mass.

I've been through a lot of firearms training, shoot/don't shoot stuff, live-fire shoot houses, high-stress role play scenarios, firearms scenario simulators. I've even experience the real deal a few times, once responding to an armed robbery in progress, and a couple of times on the bad end of ambushes in the sandbox.

It ain't pretty. Training helps. But no amount of training and experience would make shooting someone in the leg a good option once the weapon comes out.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Party of Freedom? Less Government? A businessman?

Muh Freedoms! I had an exchange on Twitter with a Trumper who claimed he was a proud gun owner who believes in less government and more freedom with a businessman as president. This was in response to my comment that he had been duped by conservative propaganda and I think his response proved my point.

Conservative propaganda wants you to believe that today's Republican Party is for smaller government and individual freedom.

Every president in the modern era has increased government spending over the last, regardless of party, with Trump increasing spending to $8 trillion and the deficit to $28 trillion. How is that smaller government?

Republicans are also actively trying to take away numerous freedoms in the name of freedom. Women's rights, LGBTQ rights, voting rights... just a few of the freedoms targeted by the Republic party.

So what about this businessman? Trump is not a successful businessman. He is a reality TV star, a B-list celebrity, who has failed more often than not in his business ventures. Anyone who claims to support Trump because of his business acumen clearly has a superficial understanding of his background.

So to people who claim the Republican party stands for freedom and small government I say you have been duped by Republican propaganda.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Is Breonna Taylor a BLM issue?

George Floyd. Elijah McClain. Philando Castile. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Freddie Gray. Breonna Taylor?

First, let me say, I support the BLM movement, 100 percent. Without a doubt, black people, primarily males, are killed by police because they are black.

I'm not saying that any cop goes into a situation intent on killing a black man, but that their implicit biases, inadequate training, and systemic racism contribute to proportionally more unarmed black males being killed by police.

But that's not what happened with Taylor. She was accidentally killed by police returning fire after her boyfriend started shooting at them. It wasn't because she was black.

Sadly, this happens way more often than it should, people accidentally shot by police, and it highlights a huge problem with police today.

To some people's surprise, the cops who killed Taylor have not been charged in her death and only one of those involved was recently convicted of an unrelated charge. This also isn't unusual.

There's a great article by the AP that highlights the problem here. It details several cases of accidental shootings by police, due mostly to poor training.

What stands out is that in almost every case, the officer is never charged and ends up returning to work. How is that even possible?

I understand that police work is not easy, in fact, I spent the first part of my work life in law enforcement. So I get it. I understand the pressure in life or death situations and the grave consequences of drawing your weapon.

It takes a lot of training, continued training that most cops do not get, to do the job right.

In Taylor's case, officers made a chain of mistakes in the investigation and subsequent raid that led to Taylor's accidental shooting.

From the incomplete investigation on Taylor's apartment to the no-knock warrant that became a knock warrant, that was likely executed as a "lightly knocking" warrant. A chain of mistakes due likely to poor training and overzealous policing.

That's not even touching on our country's gun problem that led Taylor's boyfriend to be legally carrying a gun in the first place (and where are the conservatives defending them in this case?).

I think it's important to recognize this larger systemic problem. It's not just about people targeted by police because of their race, but the bigger problem with police training, mindsets, and function.

I'll post more on those problems later, like the militarization of police, symbology, etc.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

In Defense of Civility

If Donald Trump is evil incarnate, are his supporters evil as well? I've seen that question asked, and answered affirmatively, several times across social media lately. While I lean more toward Trump being a clinical psychopath, I don't think all of his supporters should be put in the same basket.

I have several good friends who are Trump supporters. These are decent, smart people, and they support Trump. I'm sure there are Trump supporters who are genuine assholes and who support him because he is an asshole too, but clearly not all of them fit that description.

Republican Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia was on TV this morning talking about Trump followers, explaining that they have been "misinformed and scared" by Trump. Trump has not told them the truth, Manchin said.

So there is a group of people who have been duped by Trump. He has convinced them that he is right and "the left" is some evil singular entity out to ruin the country. Manchin implored his fellow Republican Senators to help educate their constituents to Trump's lies.

Manchin even admitted that he could tell West Virginians that more coal jobs have been lost under Trump than any other president, but they might not believe him, even though he has the numbers to support his claim. Trump's grip is that firm.

Smart people see through those lies though, right? How can they still support him? Perhaps they are part of another group who supports Trump, but only grudgingly. He might have seemed like the best choice in 2016, the anti-politician coming to drain the swamp, but he didn't live up to his billing. They see through the lies.

But he's still a "Republican" (and I put that in quotes because I don't think he is). If you embrace conservative social and economic ideas, then Trump is your only option, especially if the Senate swings the other way.

You could make the argument that despite his failure as a leader, he is getting the job done for those conservatives. There are more Republican-appointed justices on the Supreme Court, judges in the federal courts, less regulation on business, etc.

Those are all political issues, with many angles, that have nothing to do with Trump as a person, or his incompetent leadership, or his botched COVID response. Political issues are why we vote and making these decisions at the ballot box is the cornerstone of democracy.

What we can't do though, is put everyone into one of two baskets, the left or the right, because we're more than that. By many accounts we are living in one of the most politically divided times in our nation's history, division that was created by putting people into those two baskets and spreading fear and hate of the other side.

If voting to decide the issues is the cornerstone of democracy, the walls are civility and compromise. How can we remain civil and work together for a better country if it's always us versus them, one or the other?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Name Is Official and Not Enough Water

Boat name is on and it doesn't look half bad!  It was pretty easy to install.  I bought it, like my last boat name, from BoatUS.  They have good prices and a good product.

I spent quite a while measuring and checking and double checking and getting my wife's input to make sure the name was perfectly straight.  On my last boat, I put the name on while it was in the water and I was in a kayak.  That made things difficult and my wife swears it was slightly crooked (even though all my measurements said it was not).

With the name on the boat I was ready to put it in the water and scheduled the launch for last week.  I received a phone call on the day of the scheduled launch and learned that the boat could not be launched because there was not enough water at the marina.

It turns out that several days of strong northwest winds earlier in the week had pushed all of the water out of the creek and it was too shallow to launch.

I ended up going the marina the following day anyway to load some things on the boat and run the power for the new chart plotter.  The water level in the creek was indeed quite low, with a few boats tied to docks near the marina leaning their sides.  We will try again this week.

I also happened to get a picture of another boat name, below, that is very crooked, far more so than my last boat.  It is so crooked, that they had to cut the top part of the starboard side off to get it to fit on the transom.  I will use this boat forever after as my "could be worse" boat name.  (You can also see the low water level in the creek as it looks like "Jackie" is sitting on the bottom.)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

What's In a Name?

With the purchase of the new boat came the discussion about what to name her.  The old name was "Pursuit," which I was OK with but the other half of the purchase thought the name too intense and serious, not to mention how much she enjoys playing with the boat lettering tool on the BoatUS Boat Graphics site.

Picking a boat name is tough.  Let's go back to my last boat to see how that name came about.  My daughter is ever the reluctant boater.  For a teenage girl, spending the night on a small boat in tight quarters with her parents is akin to cruel and unusual punishment.

In order to get her to join us with as little guff as possible we made an agreement to play the Pokemon card game on the boat with her.  After playing the game and learning about various "water-type" Pokemon with cute names, my wife thought it would be fun to name the boat after a water-type Pokemon, and thus Poliwhirl was born.

With the new boat, I did not want to go down the Pokemon route and decided instead to scroll through the countless boat name suggestions on the Internet.  After looking at few thousand names, I started leaning toward boat names that were related to music, the occupation of both my wife and I (education), or ancient Indonesian gods and goddesses.

The short list I started creating ended up like this:

Hall Pass
Job Site
Maybe Later
Sun Dog
Summer School
School Skipper
School's Out
Ramble On
Rain Song
Black Dog

After much deliberation, we settled on the name "Ramble On," one of my all-time favorite Led Zeppelin songs that I thought fit a boat very well with its notion of travel and adventure.

So there you have it, Ramble On was born.  Alas, as these things go, Ramble On is not a truly unique name.  In fact, soon after deciding on the name, I found a boat of the exact model as ours with the same name, also in the Chesapeake Bay.  I was somewhat dejected by the discovery but ultimately I really like the name, the song, and the band, enough that I'm not going to pick another name.

After picking the name and while peeling the old name off our boat, I saw another boat (pictured above) with the name "The Dave" and a picture of a dog.  This was truly one of the coolest boat names and picture combinations I've seen in a while.  I almost considered copying the idea and using my dog, Rutus as the inspiration.  But the graphic was already ordered and as my daughter said, Rutus, a pug, would make for an ugly picture on the transom.

Pictures of the new boat with lettering attached will be forthcoming.  I plan to go down to the boat again in February to put the lettering on before she is launched.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Boat Update 1/22

Pearson 28-2
I visited the boat yesterday to take care of some things.  In the last post I included a list of things that I needed to do.  Here are the results.

  • I didn't make much headway on mounting the plotter.  As you can see from the picture to the left, there are not many options for mounting it near the wheel.  It pretty much has to go on the rail in front of the wheel.  I have been looking into mounting options for rails and have come up with one option I think might work.  It's a mount from RAM Mounts that has a rail-mount adapter.  I just have to figure out what to do with the power cable from there.  I also looked for places to mount the transducer for the sonar.  The best place would be in front of the keel.  I found a compartment there where you can get access to the knot meter and the through-hull transducer that is mounted for the depth gauge, but I doubt I could put my sonar transducer there because I want to do the "in-hull" mount.  That would mean the transducer would need to sit directly on the hull.  The compartment I found looked to be part of the liner and not the hull.  More work to do on this I guess.
  • Replaced the rubber foot on the swim ladder.  In fact, I replaced both since I had a pack of four anyway and it looked better with both matching.
  • I didn't touch the keel bolts.  I will wait until later.
  • All spaces I could think of were measured, including the galley sink for the cutting board that I plan on making.
  • There were two types of lights on the boat.  The first was a large, round, older-looking fixture that I think I want to replace.  I found some similar-looking LED fixtures in the West Marine catalog that I think will work.  The other lights were small 12v fixtures that looked newer and looked like flood light bulbs.  I think I also found an LED version of these at West Marine but I'll have to do more research.
    The 12v flood light.
  • I did not bring the stove cutting board home.  It actually looked really good so I left it.  After thinking about it for a while, it looked like it had been sanded and refinished.  There were very few knife marks and the few that were there were covered by finish.  The finish actually looked like polyurethane.  I don't think that's a good finish for a functioning cutting board.  I may bring the board back next time and sand all that off and refinish with mineral oil.
  • The pin rail idea will not work.  The shrouds do not run fore and aft, but abeam, which means I wouldn't be able to fit a rail in there anyway.  So scratch that idea.
  • I inventoried all of the stuff on the boat.  The previous owner took good care of it so it had a lot of good stuff in good shape, including belts, impellers, lubricants and tools.
While I was there I also checked the battery fluid levels and found one battery low.  I refilled both batteries and checked the voltage.  The voltage was low, 12.25v, but that could be because of the low water level and because it's only been getting a light charge from a single solar panel.  I'll check the voltage again on the next trip to see if there is any change.

I also scraped off the name and hailing port in preparation for the new name and hailing port.  I plan on going down again in February to do that and get it ready to be launched.  I have to check with the marina about the launch procedure.  Regarding the name, I think I'll put a post up later about the new name, the my old boat's name, and boat names in general.

I'd like to have the boat launched the first week of March and then I could spend the weekend moving it up to my marina further north.  I'm getting anxious for that time to come.  In the meantime I'll resort to blog updates to satisfy my thirst for the sea.  Until next time...