Happy medium needed

In Chicago, the police are asking loyal citizens to report anyone seen using a map or binoculars, or taking photographs. Meanwhile in California, police are stopping drivers who have done nothing wrong in order to compliment their driving and give them $5 gift vouchers. Both of these seem to me to be misguided. The former is obviously nutty; do they really want the 911 dispatchers bothered by some paranoid who just saw someone take a picture of Chicago’s art deco architecture?

Transparent society update from Chicago

An amazing article from the Chicago Reader describes a recent incident in which an out-of-uniform police officer who was late arriving to work, shot an unarmed man in the head at point blank range, in full view of security cameras. The officer lied and said that at the time of the shooting he was surrounded by 4 or 5 men who had threatened his life. When police discovered that the video footage existed, the story was changed to say that the victim had raised a fist and attempted to disarm the officer, and that the cop had raised his arm and accidentally shot the victim through the head.

Life on Mars

I’ve been watching Life on Mars. The setup is: Manchester police inspector is in the middle of a very tense investigation and turbulent personal situation, when he’s hit by a car. He wakes up, apparently in the same spot, but in 1973. As far as he can tell, he’s really in the past—but from time to time, he also hears sounds that suggest that it’s all his imagination, and he’s really in a coma in a hospital bed in 2006.

“Step away from the marshmallows!”

Last year, teachers’ aide Hope Clarke went vacationing in Yellowstone National Park. While she was there camping out, she was slightly negligent—she failed to put away a sealed bag of marshmallows after sipping hot chocolate around the campfire. This is viewed as bad behavior because, as we all know from TV, food attracts bears eager to steal pick-a-nick baskets. Perhaps bears can smell marshmallows through plastic, I don’t know. Anyway, rules are rules, and for her food storage crimes Ms Clarke was handed a fine for $50.


State police have charged a 15-year-old Latrobe girl with child pornography for taking photos of herself and posting them on the Internet. […] She has been charged with sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography. —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Donuts and police

On Sunday, we walked into Dunkin’ Donuts in Harvard Square to get coffee. There were five Cambridge cops standing at the counter in front of us, in full uniform. I was really, really tempted to take a discreet photo, but I decided I didn’t fancy risking a beating. Unfortunately, Harvard insisted that the Dunkin’ Donuts in the square not have the usual big pink and orange sign, otherwise I’d have gotten a great photo of four Harleys and a squad car parked outside.

Terminological issue

According to The Independent, UK police are being told that they can’t use words like “homosexual” and “bisexual”, because those are medical terms “used to criminalize lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in the nineteenth century”. Which makes me wonder—just what the hell am I supposed to say instead of “bisexual”, in order to be politically correct? (This is a serious question.)