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All Those Things I Meant To Say

I haven't been blogging very much in the past few months. Nothing's wrong; my relative silence has been for all the right reasons — I've acquired a girlfriend and we've been consuming each others' free time, plus a little more.

Here's a quick rundown of a few things I wanted to say, even though this is no longer timely.

Back in April, a private citizen ticketed a cop for parking illegally. He won his case and the officer was fined $35. I was shocked to read this:

Judge Terry Hannon, however, said he didn't think Officer Chadd Stensgaard did anything wrong by using the no-parking zone on March 6. But Hannon said he had no choice to find him guilty because of the wording of the law.

So the judge doesn't think it was wrong to break the law. I guess he agreed with the defense's argument:

Myers said Stensgaard needed his car to be close in case he had to respond to an emergency call or someone tried to steal one of the rifles inside or kick in its lights.

I see. It looks like we should elucidate the principles guiding this argument. Would the judge be so lenient if it were an on-call surgeon parking illegally? What if it was just someone with a sprained ankle who doesn't want to walk from a legal parking spot? What if it were the mayor or a congressman? If we think the law is bad, we should move quickly to fix the law. I, and all citizens, need to be able to know in advance what circumstances make it acceptable to ignore the ordinary rules.

Naturally, the job of the police is to enforce the law … without breaking it. It is not acceptable for them to ignore the law because it doesn't contain a loophole they wish it did. I couldn't get away with that. Neither should they.

I have a couple other examples of police misconduct. In Florida, an officer was fired after trying to shake down a coffee shop for free stuff, both on and off duty:

Garvin is accused of saying, "If something happens, either we can respond really fast or we could respond really slow. I've been coming here for years and I've been getting whatever I want. I'm the difference between you getting a two-minute response time, if you needed a little help, or a 15 minutes response time."

Taking for granted that the accusation is true, this disgrace of an officer has been serving for 15 years. I cringe at the thought of what other evil he has done. There's no way extortion for free coffee is the only thing he's done wrong.

In Tennessee, a man was illegally arrested after refusing to delete pictures he took of an officer during a traffic stop. Some followup posts go into additional detail. I find this argument completely convincing:

If Officer McCloud honestly thought, due to legal ignorance or heat-of-the-moment misjudgment or what have you, that the photo was either contraband (i.e., illegal in itself) or evidence of a crime, then deleting it would constitute destruction of evidence. And if the photo was neither contraband nor evidence, then by definition, the police obviously had no right to seize it or otherwise make any demands about it. So, no matter how you frame the issue, McCloud can't win.

In counterintuitive health news, a research review has shown that breast self-exams are a bad idea. The researchers don't state it so bluntly, but I was gratified that they came close: "a rational choice would be not to do regular breast self-examination" and "We don't want to recommend against it but there's no evidence to recommend for it".

I'm still waiting patiently for politicians to admit mandating corn ethanol for gasoline was a bad idea. But that's politics, not science, so I'm not holding my breath.

Oh yeah, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac got nationalized. Of course I think this is terrible, that there is no such thing as "too big to fail", and that these institutions should have been allowed to fail.

If I had time for blogging, I'd say more about that. But I don't. :(

Tiny Island