February 27, 2012

"Bad guy should have listened a little better"

Another 911 disaster story via Balko.

Mentally ill man calls 911 yelling incoherent nonsense. Police arrive on the scene, find him in his attic room holding an axe, Tase him and shoot him, wounding him in the leg, and proceed to seal off the area for over an hour, during which time the "bad guy" bleeds to death.

Granted, a crazy guy with an ax would be pretty alarming, but it doesn't appear as if he was wielding the axe in any way that would be truly dangerous to armed police officers. The Taser should have been sufficient.

The cop involved seems unusually slow-witted and was definitely ill-trained. He was certainly incapable of dealing appropriately with a mentally ill person, and given his history it's not surprising it ended badly.

There's no reason to assume that whoever shows up to your house will be any better, even if you have a legitimate reason to make an emergency call. To be sure, 911 calls don't often result in police shooting the caller dead, but it does happen, and as this "bad guy" could tell you if he hadn't been shot to death by professional rescuers, it only takes once.

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February 22, 2012

"You did just fine and we are all thankful"

Huffington Post climate-heads stand by their man in the face of what must be some pretty severe cognitive dissonance.

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February 19, 2012



Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:55 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Jim Ruzicka

Even genuine authorities hit a wall when they try to correct errors on wikipedia:

I removed the line about there being "no evidence" and provided a full explanation in Wikipedia's behind-the-scenes editing log. Within minutes my changes were reversed. The explanation: "You must provide reliable sources for your assertions to make changes along these lines to the article."

That was curious, as I had cited the documents that proved my point, including verbatim testimony from the trial published online by the Library of Congress. I also noted one of my own peer-reviewed articles. One of the people who had assumed the role of keeper of this bit of history for Wikipedia quoted the Web site's "undue weight" policy, which states that "articles should not give minority views as much or as detailed a description as more popular views… If all historians save one say that the sky was green in 1888, our policies require that we write 'Most historians write that the sky was green, but one says the sky was blue."

I understand why, in a collectively edited project like wikipedia, you'd want to try to ensure at least some degree of neutrality (though this particular editor seems to have his own agenda for maintaining the "no evidence" line about the trial of the Haymarket "martyrs.") But this notion that popular understanding trumps expert analysis with documentary proof is truly perverse. And it explains quite eloquently, I think, how it is that wikipedia articles tend to seem quite all right on subjects you know only a little about, while full of errors when it comes to topics you know well. Of course, that should call into question the quite-all-right-ness of those in the former category. Yet that doesn't deter me, at least, from consulting wikipedia as though it were a real encyclopedia, and taking its pronouncements to heart without quite knowing why, as with folklore or tales learned at my mothers knee.

Maybe it's years of conditioning in encyclopedia use that leads to this irrational deference. In spite of myself and all indications to the contrary, I instinctively assume that the authors and editors of these articles have some authority. And many of them, I'm sure, are quite knowledgeable. But in the individual case it's just as likely to be some crank who, for his own dark reasons, is committed to preserving, say, the view that no evidence at all was presented at the six week Haymarket trial. I've read several articles like the one linked, and they all make attempting to edit wikipedia sound like an argument in a bar with a belligerent drunk guy who wants you to know that the moon landing was a hoax. And the fact that that analogy undoubtedly works both ways only makes it worse, really.

A mitigating, and paradoxical, factor in all this, though, is that this misplaced impression of authority is greatly undermined when the articles are poorly written, which is, to be frank, usually. So the well-written articles are potentially, in that sense, all the more misleading since they arouse a lower level of skepticism. I remind myself to be especially wary of these, but I always fail to take my own advice. Well-written assertions that the sky is green work on me, while poorly-written ones about the sky being blue have less staying power. I could, of course, check by looking it up in a real encyclopedia; and, of course, I almost never do. This understandable laziness gives the Haymarket guy quite bit of power, but as with the moon landing guy, it's not his fault: it's ours. For listening to him.

I have my own, perhaps rather trivial, example. In the wikipedia article on my band, the drummer has, for many years, been listed as Jim Ruzicka. Jim's actual last name is Pittman. In other words, the drummer of my band is not this guy. I believe this error first appeared on allmusic.com, and it wasn't, I don't think, a malicious attempt to googlebomb Jim so he'd be associated with a serial killer, though I suppose it could have been. Since we never listed last names on albums and there was a second engineer at one of the studios we worked at named Jim Rizucka (also not the serial killer) some allmusic.com person put two and two together, incorrectly. This conventional wisdom spread, eventually taking up residence in wikipedia, and all over the internets. Essentially, then, the established popular view with regard to the last name of Jim Pittman is that it is actually Ruzicka, while the minority view (mine, and, presumably, Jim's) is that it is Pittman. It never seemed worth trying to correct, and after reading this article I'm not sure I'd have much of a leg to stand on. It's 281 to 2, after all. The sky may be blue, but if the consensus says it's Ruzicka, it's Ruzicka.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:12 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 14, 2012

Faust und Mephisto


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February 13, 2012

Singin' it Out to the People


Playing at this thing, Wed. April 4 at the New Parish in Oakland, 579 18th St.

Advance tickets here.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 10:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Who are the Milk Police?

The FDA's milk crackdown proceeds apace.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:50 PM | TrackBack


A beetle may or may not be inferior to a man — the matter awaits demonstration; but if he were inferior by ten thousand fathoms, the fact remains that there is probably a beetle view of things of which a man is entirely ignorant. If he wishes to conceive that point of view, he will scarcely reach it by persistently reveling in the fact that he is not a beetle.
G. K. Chesterton, A Defence of Humility
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February 10, 2012

Heavy Meta

I think this is the first time this has been done to anything I've ever done:


The song is here, though I guess you have to buy it to hear "Ayn," and maybe I will.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:22 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

February 09, 2012

"How any of these people can even look in the mirror, behold the oozing, limitless intellectual dishonesty, and not want to smash what they see is truly mystifying to me…"

Glenn Greenwald let's 'em have it, 'em being "progressives" who embrace Bush-Cheney policies (and worse) now that a Democratic executive espouses them.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:46 PM | TrackBack

Driving While Diabetic

All the officers in this video, including the one who kicked the man in diabetic shock in the face six times while yelling "stop resisting motherfucker" are still on the streets looking for more people to beat up:

ADDED: Digby posts links to several other cases of police-on-diabetic violence, including this classic "don't call 911" scenario:

Lassi's roommate found the man on the floor of his apartment having a seizure and foaming at the mouth, according to the statement filed with the court. The roommate called 911 for help, and police officers from the Brookfield and LaGrange Park police departments arrived to help with the situation.

As police officers were helping the paramedics move Lassi to an ambulance, Lassi -- still in the midst of the seizure and described as "unresponsive" -- involuntarily smacked one of the officers with his arm.

"Reacting to Mr. Lassi’s involuntary movement, one or more of the [officers] pushed Mr. Lassi to the ground, forcibly restraining him there," the complaint states. "[LaGrange Park Officer Darren] Pedota then withdrew his Taser, an electroshock weapon that uses electrical current to disrupt a person’s control over his muscles, and electrocuted Mr. Lassi eleven times.

The post doesn't say so, but it is extremely likely that the officer who Tased this guy eleven times while "helping" paramedics move him to the ambulance in the midst of a seizure is still on the job. In other words, if you dial 911 in the Chicago suburbs, this is the guy who might show up.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:36 PM | TrackBack

February 08, 2012

Bias Intimidation

I was surprised by how much of what I thought I knew about this case turned out to be incorrect.

Not commenting one way or the other on the merits of this prosecution, but I am struck by how the same people seeking to punish this guy for "bias intimidation" for the tweets that arguably led to a suicide are also instrumental in the administration of an institutional system that just as zealously seeks to impose de facto sentences of punitive rape on the people in their charge.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:04 PM | TrackBack

February 04, 2012


Kol Egil's son said, "Let me get at Kolskegg," and turning to Kolskegg he said, "This I have often said, that we two would be just about an even match in fight."

"That we can soon prove," says Kolskegg.

Kol thrust at him with his spear; Kolskegg had just slain a man and had his hands full, and so he could not throw his shield before the blow, and the thrust came upon his thigh, on the outside of the limb and went through it.

Kolskegg turned sharp round, and strode towards him, and smote him with his short sword on the thigh, and cut off his leg, and said, "Did it touch thee or not?"

"Now," says Kol, "I pay for being bare of my shield."

So he stood a while on his other leg and looked at the stump.

"Thou needest not to look at it," said Kolskegg; "'tis even as thou seest, the leg is off."

-- Njal's Saga, "The Slaying of Hjort and Fourteen Men"

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February 03, 2012

Hello, I'm a Jukebox

Here. This song was written by Tom T. Hall, I believe.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:57 PM | TrackBack

'These are almost certainly the very volumes consulted by Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard during the now famous "Babalon Working."'

If you have an extra $20,000 lying around, Weiser will sell you the wax-dribbled set of the Equinox once owned by Jack Parsons. (Scroll down to 40917.)

UPDATE: and.... SOLD!

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:49 PM | TrackBack