Category Archives: Crime

Here’s a rational thought

I don’t want to keep harping on gun control, but I had to laugh when I heard about this proposal coming from a politician, Phillip Lowe, in South Carolina. Ever since they started the Civil War, you can always count on the good folks north or the Savannah River to promote nutty political ideas.

The new supply closet?

The new supply closet?

In response to the Newtown, Connecticut shooting last week, one senator has a solution to school shootings – arm all the teachers, janitors and cafeteria workers. There seem to be two polar opposites about what to do about rampant gun violence. One side wants to eliminate (oops, I mean “restrict”) all firearms. The other side wants to just give everyone a gun. I guess the thought is that if someone came into a school and started shooting, all those kindergarten teachers and librarians would pull out their Glocks and blow him away.

I have two thoughts on that. The first is that the idea of a bunch of arming a bunch of amateurs with deadly weapons and encouraging them to use them in a building full of children, is a real scary thought. It’s not as easy as it looks on television or in a video game. Supposedly trained professionals mess it up all the time. Just last August, a handful of NYPD cops took on a bad guy and they got their man. But they also managed to wound nine innocent bystanders in the process. And these guys were supposed to know what they were doing. Imagine if they were school nurses!

The second, and equally scary thought is this; if you let and encourage guns in schools, how are you going to ensure those weapons away from the children? What happens when some junior psychopath-wannabe knows that Mrs. English Teacher keeps her gun in her desk drawer. After a playground encounter with the bully d’ jour, he decides to show his classmates how crazy he really is. Never happen? And who would have thought a 20-year-old son of a kindergarten teacher would take an AR-15, break into a school, and shoot up a class of six year-olds?  Hmmm.

Nuts and gun control

All three of “my teams” that played this weekend lost games they should have won. However, in light of Friday’s tragedy in Newtown, that shrinks to insignificance.

Before the sirens stopped wailing, gun control advocates were already hot on their keyboards. Huffington Post must have had four columns posted by mid-afternoon on Friday. You have a big problem and a big solution, but the two don’t match. Actually, I favor some stricter gun controls. It’s probably a good idea for society in general. However, I don’t believe stricter gun control will do anything to help prevent school shootings and other mass shootings. Unless you outlawed guns entirely, which is totally unfeasible, some crazy guy will be able to get his hands on a handgun, a rifle or a shotgun. Instead, we need “crazy people” control. When someone figures that out, we’ll have the answer.

The debate over gun control may be counter productive. While national attention will be focused on controlling the tools used to commit violence like this, little attention will be paid to controlling and preventing the behavior itself.  Society needs to find ways to identify and treat the kinds of people who are likely to do something like this before they break. I don’t know the answer, but I suspect just making it more difficult to obtain a gun is probably not it.

One mother, Liza Long, wrote an excellent essay on what it is like to be the mother of a mentally ill son. It’s worth reading.

‘Mad River’ is an excellent read!

If you take a look at the “Books” tab at the top of the page, it will be no secret that I’m a big fan of author John Sandford. I just finished his most recent Virgil Flowers novel, “Mad River,” and loved it.

Sandford’s books aren’t great literature; he doesn’t even try for that. He just tells a great story.

The Virgil Flowers series is one of two of Sandford’s crime novel series. His primary, and longest-running series is the “Prey” series, which he began about a hundred years ago. That series of books focuses on a Minneapolis police detective, turned assistant chief, turned state investigator, Lucas Davenport. Davenport is smart, rich, urbane and smart-assed. Several years ago, Sandford took one of his secondary characters from the Prey books, Virgil Flowers (also known by his friends and colleagues as “that f_cking Flowers”) and created a second series of crime novels. While Davenport and his crew work the Twin Cities, Flowers works crimes out in rural Minnesota.

While it is helpful to read some of the books in order, it is not necessary. While with some authors (Patricia Cornwell, for instance) there are often important plot references to previous books, that is not so with Sandford’s books. It helps to know the characters, but you can pick up any of his books and fully enjoy it without having read any others.

Sandford’s strength is in his characters. His protagonists are the kind of people you would love to go hang out with for a while. He even creates bad-guys who can generate some empathy. And since all his main characters are wise-crackers, the dialogue can be great.

In Mad River, Flowers is standing on a street corner drinking beer with a friend when he gets a call from Davenport to work a multiple murder in a small down several hours drive away. When Flowers tells Davenport he won’t be in any shape to drive for a few hours, Davenport agrees and tells Flowers to be careful with the alcohol and driving.

“It would be best if you were gunned down in the line of duty and not killed in a drunk-driving accident.”

Mad River focuses on a trio of teenagers who start a minor killing spree across the Minnesota countryside – a kind of Bonnie and Clyde with a sidekick. The main plot isn’t a mystery, since there is never any question about who did the deed. It’s Flowers’ job to catch the kids before they kill two many more people, and hopefully before the local sheriff’s department takes things into their own hands and kills the kids first. There is also a sub-plot about what prompted the trio to start their crime spree to begin with.

As always, Mad River is a well written and compelling crime novel. Grab it for your own enjoyment or buy it as a Christmas present for a good friend or family member. They will thank you for it.

A ho?

I was cruising one of our local television station’s Web sites the other day I ran across this somewhat bizarre story. A reporter was on the street interviewing a police officers about the incidence of HIV among the local “ladies of the evening,” when a woman claiming to be one such “lady” came up and interrupted the interview.

The first thing that struck me was the woman herself. Let’s just say she doesn’t have a face for seduction.

I was reminded of an early Saturday Night Live skit with Eddie Murphy playing the role of Velvet Jones – the founder of the Velvet Jones School of Technology and the author of the “how-to” book, “I Wanna Be A Ho.” The skit was a take-off of the show “People’s Court.” A “wannabe ho” was suing Velvet Jones because she had bought his book, but her career as a “ho” was still a failure.

Murphy defended himself with one of the great one-liners. “My honah, my honah..I can clear this up in just three words, ‘The bitch ugly!’”

If the subject matter doesn’t offend you, take a look. It’s hysterical.

 

 

 

Morons, rednecks and dental hygienists

Several things caught my attention over the weekend.

Apparently people with green lasers are causing havoc with Coast Guard rescue helicopters in Myrtle Beach, S.C. They shine the lasers at the helicopters and mess with the pilots’ vision while they are flying at night. Probably a funny practical joke to the person with the laser. I would imagine it would be less so to the pilot.

Although the article doesn’t state it, I would strongly suspect the culprits of this kind of moronic amusement are probably also to young to vote. Don’t they have anything better to do? And, as always, where are the parents? Idiots!

And a special nod to some of the folks in Jackson, Mississippi, for reminding us once again why most of the rest of the country things you are a bunch of yahoos. After scheduling a wedding for a black couple at the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, the church changed its mind and forced them to schedule the wedding at another church. Why? Because some of the church members didn’t want a black couple to get married in their church.

This is so wrong on so many levels, it is just amazing. Seriously, what do you really think God would think of how you treated two of his children? You’re a church! You’re supposed to know better. The pastor said he moved the ceremony to accommodate the haters because he didn’t want any controversy in his congregation.  So how’s that working out for you Rev? Your flock is in USA Today looking like a bunch of redneck Klansmen. 

And finally, I learned something I didn’t know over the weekend. Some dental hygienists are paid all or partially on commission. How I got to be this old without knowing that, I don’t know. But then again, I don’t hang out with a lot of dentists either.

I know when I go to buy a car, the salesman is going to try to upsell me the extended warranty, the undercoating and anything else he or she can tag on. Forewarned is forearmed.  But if I go to my doctor and she tells me I need some kind of treatment, I take it that she is giving me her best medical advice. I thought dental offices were the same. Guess not. I think back on a fairly expensive plaque treatment I had last winter. That was recommended by the hygienist. In retrospect, I wonder if it was really needed, or did “the baby need new shoes?” It shines an entirely new light on dental services.  Hmmm.

Grandmother of the year!

This doesn’t require any editorial comment.

PALMETTO, Ga. (AP) — Police in Palmetto are looking for a grandmother and her boyfriend after her 13-month-old grandson ingested cocaine.

Authorities told WSB-TV on Monday that the baby was brought to Piedmont Newnan Hospital, then to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. Doctors reported that the child tested positive for cocaine. The boy is expected to survive.

Investigators said warrants have been issued for the child’s 34-year-old grandmother, Ebony Daniel, and her 22-year-old boyfriend, Charlie Martin. Daniel and Martin have not been arrested.

And this is a good idea?

Sometimes I have to wonder what some people are thinking, or if they are even thinking at all.  One esteemed member of the Georgia General Assembly thinks the answer to combating crime on college campuses is to arm the students.

This is not a new idea, but it doesn’t get any better with age.

That is a wonderful recipe for safety.  (For my friend, Ned, who has difficulty discerning whether I am being serious or sarcastic — I am being sarcastic here.)

1.) Take a group of immature (18-23 years old), young adults and provide them access to guns.

2.) Do so without providing any training.

3.) Tell them you are doing so in order for them to be able to use the guns to protect themselves and their fellow students.

4.) Insert them into a situation involving close living quarters (college residence halls, fraternities, etc.) and frequent opportunities to consume large amounts of alcohol. (College students? Seriously?)

That sounds like a really good plan. (More sarcasm, Ned.)

I have heard people comment that the shootings at Virginia Tech would not have happened if the student body had been armed. Actually, I wonder how many other innocent students and faculty would have been shot by the untrained and unskilled would-be vigilantes who have watched too many shoot-em-up movies and played the same genre of video games. Scarey.

Keep the shootings to the DVDs and the video games. It will keep the body count down.

Like PSU needs more bad news!

I’m the only one in our family of five siblings without strong ties to Penn State. Three of my four sibs and one brother-in-law are alums and, pretty much bleed blue and white. They have all been shocked and devastated by the events in State College this week.

The students there aren’t helping the university’s image. This video caught my eye because I spent 27 years in the TV news business. Stories of accidents with live microwave news vans are legendary. They usually involve raising the antenna mast into an uninsulated power line. (My last company had an intensive training and certification program to try to avert just that kind of very dangerous accident.)  There are the occasional cases of older vans without a cut-off safety switch where the driver drove off with the mast up and ran under a tree branch or overpass. That is never a good thing.  I don’t think I was ever seriously concerned about one of our vans being “flipped” on a college campus.

That’s pretty ugly.

John Sandford’s latest a winner of a summer read

John Sandford is one of my favorite authors. He has several series of cop/crime fiction going and they are all great.

I just finished the latest in his “Prey” series – Buried Prey. It’s slightly different than many of his previous novels, but very good. It is an excellent summer read.

The main character in the “Prey” series is Lucas Davenport. When the series started, nearly 20 years ago, Lucas was a homicide detective in the Minneapolis Police Department. Lucas is smart, urbane, quick-witted and rich. (Not a bad combination. I want to be Lucas when I grow up.) He got all the tough cases. At the present point in the series, Lucas is the head of the Minnesota “Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.” And again, he gets all the tough cases.

In Buried Prey, building excavators unearth the bodies of two young girls, dead for a quarter century. It is a kidnap-murder case that Lucas worked as a young cop. Much of the book is a flash-back, as Lucas recalls the details of the summer the girls disappeared. Lucas is besieged by guilt over the case. The police were quick to close the case and pinned the murders on a homeless man who was killed by the police during his arrest. Lucas knows deep in his heart that the homeless man was innocent, but being a young cop, he went along with his bosses and “caved in.”

Sandford brings out some of Lucas’s personality characteristics that remain hidden in most of his books, including self-doubt, a sense of guilt, and a near-pathological drive for revenge.

As with nearly all of Sandford’s books, Buried Prey gets a thumbs-up. Very good!

This is rich!

I ran across this little news tidbit earlier today. It seems a state prisoner in Virginia has filed a lawsuit to force the state to pay for a sex change operation. This comes after he/she tried to perform the surgery him/herself with a pair of scissors.

I guess he/she must be motivated. According to the article…

“By 17, she was robbing banks with the hopes of getting enough money to have a sex change operation. By 18, she was in prison, sentenced to more than 70 years for robbery, drugs, weapons and other charges.”

Seems to me that if he/she had gone out and gotten a job rather than robbing banks and getting thrown into prison, he/she could have paid for the operation him/herself.

Bad choices. Too bad.