The new new thing.

What a whirl of news lately, at a time when I’ve been up to my neck in my own work, so I feel like a periscope. Every so often I stick my head up, look around, try to scan Twitter and then pull it back down, overwhelmed.

On the other hand, this might be the best way to absorb a breaking story. Every so often I turn on CNN, seeking news of Baltimore. The last time I did, Ben Carson (I refuse to call him Dr. when he’s not actually talking about pediatric neurosurgery) was praising some woman who smacked her son in the head. And wasn’t that story peak weirdness? I watched it the first time wondering how the hell do we even know who this woman is to this ninja-looking man? But I guess there was some direct observation of the encounter, and OK — it was his mother. And she’s chasing him, smacking his head, telling him to get his ass home, and of course the rest of America went nuts. MOTHER OF THE YEAR!

I guess there’s a time to smack your kid upside the head, but that was a very uncomfortable piece of video to watch. On the other hand, it was a great excuse to turn off CNN. It’s like they scan Twitter, no, Facebook all day and count the stupidest posts possible, then pitch their coverage directly at that demographic.

On the other hand…

I did find two interesting things in all of this.

This lengthy Q-and-A with David Simon is absolutely worth your time, as it dives deep into the dysfunction of the Baltimore police department, i.e., all urban police departments, and its relationship with the politicians and cities it’s entwined with. To wit:

It used to be said — correctly — that the patrolman on the beat on any American police force was the last perfect tyranny. Absent a herd of reliable witnesses, there were things he could do to deny you your freedom or kick your ass that were between him, you, and the street. The smartphone with its small, digital camera, is a revolution in civil liberties.

And if there’s still some residual code, if there’s still some attempt at precision in the street-level enforcement, then maybe you duck most of the outrage. Maybe you’re just cutting the procedural corners with the known players on your post – assuming you actually know the corner players, that you know your business as a street cop. But at some point, when there was no code, no precision, then they didn’t know. Why would they? In these drug-saturated neighborhoods, they weren’t policing their post anymore, they weren’t policing real estate that they were protecting from crime. They weren’t nurturing informants, or learning how to properly investigate anything. There’s a real skill set to good police work. But no, they were just dragging the sidewalks, hunting stats, and these inner-city neighborhoods — which were indeed drug-saturated because that’s the only industry left — become just hunting grounds. They weren’t protecting anything. They weren’t serving anyone. They were collecting bodies, treating corner folk and citizens alike as an Israeli patrol would treat the West Bank, or as the Afrikaners would have treated Soweto back in the day. They’re an army of occupation. And once it’s that, then everybody’s the enemy. The police aren’t looking to make friends, or informants, or learning how to write clean warrants or how to testify in court without perjuring themselves unnecessarily. There’s no incentive to get better as investigators, as cops. There’s no reason to solve crime. In the years they were behaving this way, locking up the entire world, the clearance rate for murder dove by 30 percent. The clearance rate for aggravated assault — every felony arrest rate – took a significant hit. Think about that. If crime is going down, and crime is going down, and if we have less murders than ever before and we have more homicide detectives assigned, and better evidentiary technologies to employ how is the clearance rate for homicide now 48 percent when it used to be 70 percent, or 75 percent?

I was glad to see that bit about cameras. I think there’s a PhD dissertation on the role of cheap-but-excellent cameras we all now carry in our pockets in this story, and in many stories. Anyway, a long piece but recommended.

Here was the other smart thing I read, about Periscope, just one of the amazing live-video apps that will transform stories like this and make Wolf Blitzer’s gaping fish mouth that much more stupid and irrelevant:

In photography, the golden hour is all about timing. It’s when the subjects in an image are depicted under warm, natural light. It’s when shadows are the least visible, and the details of a scene are enhanced. Likewise, there is a window when journalists can capture the richest part of a breaking news story.

On April 27th, with nightfall approaching, several journalists, armed only with their iPhones, wandered out in Baltimore. Through a sequence of expertly-documented live footage, including on-the-ground interviews, Guardian US correspondent Paul Lewis used Periscope to “observe a community making sense of the destruction and chaos” in real-time.

In one of his first Periscope feeds, Lewis speaks with a local in front of a neighborhood corner store. The shop is being looted as they talk on camera. After a minute of conversation, he is threatened by a bystander to stop recording.

“I’m gettin’ ready to beat you” is heard in the background.

Lewis’ live Periscope feed ends abruptly. For nearly five minutes, several hundred users remain active on his feed, exchanging messages and posting shell-shocked reactions about his fate.

P.S. He was OK. It’s a fascinating thing to consider. The 40th anniversary of the Detroit riots is approaching, and I’m looking through archival material. It’s truly an archeological process that makes you wonder why any of us journalists bother — all we’re making is core samples, snapshots, Vines, whatever, and nothing close to reality.

Off to bed for now. Follow those links — you’ll be glad you did.

Posted at 12:17 am in Current events |

57 responses to “The new new thing.”

  1. Jakash said on April 30, 2015 at 1:22 am

    “…it was a great excuse to turn off CNN.” Ah, CNN. I need a significant excuse to turn ON any of the cable news channels. A big, breaking story like that IS such an excuse, and I’ll watch CNN for as long as I can take it. Depending upon when I tune in, that’s usually about 10 minutes. I never need an excuse to turn it off. With rare exceptions, watching breaking news coverage seems like a huge waste of time. A photo in the paper the next day of those two cars on fire in the intersection told me as much as having them onscreen for however long it was the featured shot on TV, e.g. I didn’t see the “mother of the year” live, but I’ve seen that video in 5 different places since then, almost whether I want to, or not!

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  2. Dexter said on April 30, 2015 at 1:36 am

    My friend Barb from Montreal posted this on Facebook. I always admired and also wondered exactly made the war deserters and dodgers tick. I certainly would never have volunteered for Viet Nam duty but after considering deserting after a co:worker in the army hospital at Fort Ord deserted and flew off to Sweden, I realized quickly I had no marketable skills for Canada. I would have been a bum up there. No, I never came close to deserting at all. My co:worker had a rich father who had established that people would contact the deserter at the airport in Stockholm and get him going with a job and a fat bank account…so he took that route. Good for him. Even though I had been calling radio talk shows voicing dissent over US policy in SE Asia since I was fifteen, I also had a patriotic streak running through me, so I was a torn , confused troop, yes I was. My dad and uncles served in WWII, my great great uncle died at Chickamauga in 1863…one of the WWII uncles used to tell tales of the Battle of the Bulge as we sat wide-eyed and slack-jawed taking in every word. “Those colors don’t run” meant a lot to me as a kid. So I rolled the dice, sewed up gashes on GIs, I did whatever the doctors told me to do, for a while I was in charge of trying to get GIs off the Vietnamese heroin, which these soldiers had gotten addicted to quickly, it being 97% pure. That’s no typo either. Seven times I assisted the Dust-Off crew right beside us and jumped into the fray as a medic on rescue flights . I never knew where we were exactly but I remember one time when we landed in a place where the LZ was so narrow the helicopter rotors touched and cut bamboo leaves.
    And now, 44 years later, I finally joined VA Healthcare System and am getting a lot better care than I had been obtaining from my civilian medical plan. I was told last week I have some skin conditions that are typical of long-ago Agent Orange exposure. One thing Father Time does: he kills grudges and much hatred, generally . And I can reflect back on my views regarding Viet Nam from decades back and truthfully say , like Shawshank Red at the last parole hearing, “…frankly, Sonny,I don’t give a shit.”

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  3. Jolene said on April 30, 2015 at 6:38 am

    Good article, Dexter. Thanks for posting it. I knew lots of guys who thought about skipping to Canada, but none who actually did it.

    That interview with David Simon is, as Nancy said, very worthwhile. It’s fascinating, for a civilian, to get the inside details on how policing is done, but also very disheartening. Depressing to know what actually goes on, but also discouraging that most middle-class people don’t know that people in poor, urban neighborhoods live with these conditions. Another factor that undermines understanding of where the anger and frustration of people who live in those neighborhoods comes from.

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  4. Alan Stamm said on April 30, 2015 at 7:22 am

    I see what you did there with periscope | Periscope.


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  5. Deborah said on April 30, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Lots of great links today. I’m sitting in a Starbucks (I know, I know) in the Central West End, my old stomping grounds in St. Louis. There are so many young people around here now. Where did they come from? I’m killing time until I go to the shop of a metal fabricator. I’m hoping to see someone I know but it’s been 12 years, life moves on.

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  6. Jolene said on April 30, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Happening right now: A talk by Ta-Nehisi Coates streaming at this link.

    Just heard about this. Intro still in progress.

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  7. Sue said on April 30, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Dexter, my dad was in WWII but he was damaged for the rest of his life and we were all along for that ride. One brother joined the naval reserves during the Vietnam war (#6 in the draft lottery, dad said join the reserves or you’re going to be fodder), a younger brother joined the navy after high school. And I am very proud of all of them, of their decisions and their service. I’m just under the age to have lost direct friends in Vietnam, but my older brothers lost friends and I have contemporaries who were in SE Asia after the ‘official’ end to the war and had stories to tell (which they didn’t, you had to guess based on things like a wife who couldn’t touch her husband while he was asleep, that sort of thing).
    So in spite of my pride of them, and especially because of what happened to my dad, I stated variations of “they’re not getting my son” as my kids were growing up. So much so that my husband took my son aside when he was in high school and told him if he wanted to join the military he (dad) would deal with me, but by-gods do not walk into a recruiter’s office without dad alongside him. I found this out later, of course.
    My son didn’t join. Of course, because every once in awhile life likes to play little tricks on you, he’s dating a girl who plans to join the military after college.

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  8. Connie said on April 30, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Nancy, is that your daughter’s school that has dismissed due to bomb threat? I am thinking she goes to the other GP HS.

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    • nancy said on April 30, 2015 at 11:17 am

      Yep, that’s her school. She goes in at noon today. No one is worried. (She got to miss a calculus test this morning because of it, which caused her dad and I to give her the side-eye.)

      As to Sue’s comment, I don’t know any action-seeing veteran who encouraged their children to enlist, at least not below the family-tradition, McCain-family types. Alan’s dad (three Purple Hearts) encouraged him to play an instrument, so that if he got drafted he could join a band and not get his ass shot off, which were his exact words.

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  9. Jenine said on April 30, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    My father got promoted to officer in a battlefield commission in his first tour as a Marine in Vietnam. He went back for a second tour. Dealt with his demons as best he could and went on to teach at the Naval War College in Rhode Island in the 70s. Wanted to make Major but retired as Capt. He died from early-onset Parkinson’s from exposure to agent orange we assume.

    He told me that if I was interested in a military career he could recommend the Coast Guard as the organization that treated women the best, in his observation. Not sure if it was also a strategy to keep me out of warfare. Still sounds like good advice. He also offered to get me an interview with the CIA when I graduated from college in 1989. I shuddered and said no thank you. I am not sure what he told my brother. Neither of us entered the military.

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  10. alex said on April 30, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    A shop being looted while a reporter conducts an interview on camera sounds like something out of a Monty Python skit.

    And the Simon interview was indeed well worth the time.

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  11. Deborah said on April 30, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    My husband’s father encouraged him to enlist because he (the father) and his brother’s served in WWII. My husband wanted nothing to do with it but got drafted before the lottery. If he could have held out until the lottery he probably wouldn’t have had to go because of whatever number he got. He hated every minute he was in the army and has nothing good to say about it to this day. He still can’t get over that his dad actually wanted his own son to serve in Viet Nam.

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  12. Deborah said on April 30, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Now I’m sitting outside at my favorite restaurant in St. Louis waiting for a good friend to show up. The weather here is glorious and it’s so green. The dogwoods are in bloom, just lovely. It’s so beguiling here this time of year, makes me forget how repressive it can be in this state.

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  13. Scout said on April 30, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    The Simon interview was excellent, so many moments of clarity. Like so much of what is uncomfortably wrong with the whole police situation finally made sense.

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  14. Dexter said on April 30, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    As the important end-of-war anniversary date of (30APR75) to 2015 draws to a close, I just heard my daughter’s step-son is working his Congresspeople hard about getting a service academy appointment. He lives in Rossford, Ohio. That’s what he wants, so I hope he gets it.

    My MRI was easy since I requested an open MRI instead of the coffin lid closed tubes. I had it done at MD Imaging on the Lutheran Hospital campus in Fort Wayne.
    I had a big window to look outside at a flowering tree; I could see the clouds moving in the sky. That was important as I am claustrophobic. I suspect clastros like me change with time…I mean it was the first long ago MRI that set me off, freaking out in mountain freeway tunnels and even elevators. Lately, as the VA sends me around to all these places for tests, I have ridden many elevators and I don’t even get the slightest twinge of panic-claustrophobia like I did the past twenty years. I guess time heals more than I ever imagined.
    I don’t even harbor bad feelings about old mutinous “friends” or my long-ago wife who was a real prize-winner, let me tell yas….
    The Bal’murr mother is getting as much attention as Sweet Brown (the fire victim who went and got herself a cold pop and thought somebody was barbequein’ and “SWEET JEEZUSS IT’S a FIRE !”) If you listen, Sweet Brown and Basher Mom sound remarkably alike. I don’t have a strong opinion on The Kid Basher but I love Sweet Brown.

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  15. Wim said on April 30, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    Deborah, thanks for that jolt of nostalgia.

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  16. Jolene said on April 30, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Deborah, I just heard that the Obama presidential library will be built in Chicago rather than NY or Hawaii. I know you were hoping that would be the case. Seems right to me, and could be a real asset to the city.

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  17. Sue said on April 30, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    What, not Kenya?
    Good for the south side. I’m happy for them.

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  18. Jolene said on April 30, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    I hear the building will be oriented toward Mecca, Sue, with those footbaths Muslims use before prayer on every floor.

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  19. MichaelG said on April 30, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    And complimentary prayer rugs.

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  20. Deborah said on May 1, 2015 at 12:56 am

    I just got back to Chicago and in the cab from the airport I heard the rumor that the Obama library will be here. Woohoo!! I hope that’s true. I heard that the University of Chicago will be the site, which is great because it’s on the south side which can use the promo. Fingers continue to be crossed.

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  21. Dexter said on May 1, 2015 at 1:02 am

    Oh, you jest, while Randy Linn rots in prison for burning the Islamic Center of Toledo.

    One story read that Linn drank 45 beers of liquid courage variety before he loaded up the incendiaries. Linn hails from St. Joe, Indiana, just off my go-to-work beaten path I traversed for many years.
    Well, I am glad Obama can joke about all the Muslim comments made about him.

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  22. Dexter said on May 1, 2015 at 1:09 am

    I salute Google on today’s Doodle…do not forget why May Day is also International Working Man’s Holiday.
    When I was a kid the schools said it was “Law Day”. No, schools…it’s MAY DAY !

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  23. Jerry said on May 1, 2015 at 2:38 am

    In 1937 my father decided to join the Territorial Army. His argument was that he thought war was inevitable and this way he could choose which branch he ended up in and hence avoid the infantry. He ended up as a Sergeant-Major in the Royal Army Service Corps – basically logistics. He served in North Africa and was invalided back to Blighty with complications from heat stroke.

    I never knew him but apparently he never got over having been a Sergeant-Major!

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  24. brian stouder said on May 1, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Speaking of May Day, Pam found this link – which promptly got us laughing.

    It pretty consistently thinks I look like I’m about 73, and it generally places her somewhere in her 60’s…so either it’s about two decades off, or we’re both fairly careworn people…!

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  25. Deborah said on May 1, 2015 at 9:17 am

    How old says I’m 47. Since I’m 64 I feel pretty good about that.

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  26. Julie Robinson said on May 1, 2015 at 9:33 am

    39! It’s about two decades off but in my favor. Don’t think it could see my wrinkles.

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  27. Dorothy said on May 1, 2015 at 10:06 am

    I got 42 on the first picture I tried, and then got 74 on another. YIKES! I’m guessing the accuracy rate on that gizmo is a little off. I never mind telling what my age is – I’m on the cusp of 58.

    We’re set to have a glorious weekend here in Western Ohio. It’s commencement weekend and I’m avoiding this place like the plague once I get off work this afternoon. Kenyon campus was bad enough during commencement, and this place has four times as many students.

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  28. brian stouder said on May 1, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Last evening, Grant (our 19 year old), Shelby (our 16 year old), Chloe (our 10 year old) and I (MicroSoft says I look like a 73 years old!) saddled up and went to WallyMart to get a bag of crap (weed and feed) for the lawn; plus Grant wanted something from the automotive section, and Shelby needed some charcoal for a water filtration project at school. Usually, when the kids and I run a mission like this, we also stop at the gas station and fuel up, and get a treat. (Circle K has crushed ice at their soda machine, which is really good; plus their drinks are 79 cents!)

    Grant, who is physically imposing (tall and strong-looking) peeled off and headed for the back, while the girls and I headed for lawn-and-garden….and then it happened.

    A fairly presentable woman approached the girls and I, and blurted a small tale about how she needed a ride to Broadway and missed the bus and was new to the area but that she has a job and ‘I can pay you’(!) as she flashed a $10 bill. The girls and I stopped, and – I said something like ‘we can give you a ride, and you can keep your money’ – and then I instantly regretted having said that. (Fast-forward on this story: it all ended well) I was thinking ‘Pam is gonna kill me…if this person doesn’t’…and ‘why didn’t I walk away from her?’ and ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’.

    The girls were commendably silent and watchful, as the woman asked me what church I go to (‘none’ was the answer. I suppose if I had a church, a whole new series of questions and requests would have followed)

    The woman went on her way and the girls and I got our stuff and headed for the self-check line, and Grant re-joined us, and the woman, who had disappeared, re-appeared and we all went out and piled into the minivan, and headed for Broadway downtown – maybe an 8 or 10 minute ride. The whole way, the woman (in the front passenger seat) remarked about Florida and her ex-husband (not a good man) and her daughters (who no longer like her, and she can’t blame them) and so on and so forth.

    All the while, I was feeling less and less well about the whole thing, and kept my responses to her short and polite; the young folks said exactly nothing at all!

    We got to Broadway and Taylor, and she agreed with my question “this is where you needed to be?” – and we dropped her off at the market there.

    I was quite relieved to be done with that, and felt less and less well about that initial (impulsive?) response of mine to her, agreeing to give her a lift.

    The first thing said, after her departure from the vehicle, was when Chloe said something like “DAD! – haven’t you heard of ‘stranger danger’?” Shelby and Grant both added their disapproval, and of course they were right.

    It was a stupid, impulsive reaction on my part, to give that person a lift; and indeed, upon reflection I believe I’d have said ‘No’ if I hadn’t had Grant with me; or if our plan wasn’t simply to drive around anyway….but still.

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  29. Sue said on May 1, 2015 at 10:47 am

    Jerry, I can’t tell, is being a sergeant-major a good thing or a bad thing?

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  30. Sue said on May 1, 2015 at 10:50 am

    You know the phrase ‘the camera loves her’? If I loaded up a photo of myself to that site it would come back as 150.

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  31. Connie said on May 1, 2015 at 11:17 am

    6 Baltimore cops charged with murder.

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  32. Deborah said on May 1, 2015 at 11:22 am

    Yeah Brian, probably not the smartest thing you ever did. Good for your youngest being savvy about strangers. Glad it turned out ok.

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  33. alex said on May 1, 2015 at 11:36 am

    Brian, I had a similar experience the other day but had the good sense to say no. A woman approached me on the street asking to use my cell phone. I might have considered it if she were standing next to an overheated car or had been in obvious need of help, but I thought it was just odd. What would stop her from running away with my phone if that were her intention? Or using it to make a threatening call untraceable to her?

    Your passenger sounds like she could have been my schizophrenic high school classmate who blew into town a couple of years ago; whether she’s still around I have no idea because I had to cut off all contact with her. She was divorced, estranged from her family and had been living in Florida.

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  34. Dorothy said on May 1, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    I’ve had people try to panhandle us in lots of parking lots over the last few months. The Lowes store in our community was one place, we had several approach us in Virginia Beach over Easter weekend, and once in awhile in the Meijer parking lot someone walks up. I am stone-faced and always say no. Mike’s aunt one time allowed two women to GET INTO HER CAR in the grocery store parking lot in Pittsburgh about 5 years ago (it’s three years since she fell at her condo and was on the floor for four days until they broke the door down). She is so lucky they didn’t hit her over the head and take the car and/or murder her. They were likely just thieves and somehow she didn’t hand over any money to them. Mike chastised her repeatedly and she blithely acted like HE was the crazy one for criticizing her.

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  35. brian stouder said on May 1, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    The whole thing leaves me feeling almost ashamed of how stupidly I dealt with it.

    I can rationalize and say I don’t very often go our of my way to help a stranger, and ideally one should, etc etc –

    but really, all the “what if” questions quickly overwhelm that.

    After it was over, and we were home and telling Pam (who facebooked it!), Shelby matter-of-factly observed that she was most concerned when the woman was reaching in her purse to take out a piece of jewelry she had just gotten (purchased, hopefully!) from the store.

    I remembered that moment; I was driving and she was going on about Florida (etc) and had gotten her bag out and I was kicking myself for getting into this situation to begin with…… and meanwhile Shelby was watching her handle her bag, and actively preparing for what she would do, if the woman pulled out a weapon……

    which had never even occurred to me, until that moment.

    Ay yi yi

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  36. Connie said on May 1, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    In other news: word from our neighborhood bar is that it would cost them $3500 to get the Mayweather Pacquiao fight. It would take a $50 cover for that little place to come up with that.

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  37. Deborah said on May 1, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    I once read that you probably shouldn’t give panhandlers any money unless you’re prepared to give them no less than $20 and that you should touch them (like put your hand on their arm or shoulder) when you give them the cash. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that than you shouldn’t give them anything at all. I usually shake my head and say “sorry”. It happens every single day in Chicago, multiple times a day.

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  38. Sue said on May 1, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    I was amazed a few years ago while visiting Chicago at the number of people along Michigan Avenue panhandling. The only person I gave money to was a guy with a dog. I sat down next to him and had a nice chat. But really, it was because he had a dog. He probably does very well.
    I’ve given to people in Milwaukee who stand at intersections and on-ramps, but only if the weather’s bad. I figure if someone’s willing to stand out in the rain or subzero weather, they are working. I always wish them well. But then, I’m not in Milwaukee every day, that could be a budget-buster.

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  39. Judybusy said on May 1, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    I have a comment about touching the homeless person, fresh out of a morning workshop on trauma-informed social work practice. I don’t have time to pull stats right now, but it is highly likely that the person has a mental illness AND has experrienced trauma (i.e., physical or sexual abuse, neglect, etc.) Touching this person may be threatening to them and you sure would want to ask permission first. Eye contact is good, having a brief conversation better. These folks sometimes need to be heard, just listened to without advice. That being said, I never give to panhandlers because the incidence of chemical dependency is also high and I won’t enable that behavior. It’s why I devote so much energy and money to a particular non-profit, because they have a real impact on homelessness. Like getting people housed with services.

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  40. brian stouder said on May 1, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Judybusy – sincerely – you have my undying respect.

    The world needs more folks like you (and Jeff), who get in there and do genuine good for people in need, as opposed to thoughtless people (like me) looking for a bag of crap for their lawn, and blundering into who-knows-what

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  41. Judybusy said on May 1, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Brian, the impulse to do good is a wonderful thing. To do good wisely is even better. I am just glad you and the kiddos weren’t harmed. You just learned an imortant lesson, that’s all. No need to beat yourself up any more than necessary.

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  42. brian stouder said on May 1, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    The “anymore than necessary” part made me laugh out loud.

    I guess, in hind-sight – it was a valuable lesson for the young folks, especially given that Shelby is about to go off to Guatemala

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  43. Jerry said on May 1, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Sue at 29. In this usage acting like a Sergeant-Major suggests he was over-bearing and rather dictatorial. Everything to be done his way.

    I fear I would have been a sad disappointment to him as a teenager and suffered considerably! According to his stepson my father became pleasanter as his stepson got into his thirties.

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  44. brian stouder said on May 1, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    I suppose the US equivalent might be “Drill Sergeant”, eh?

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  45. Deborah said on May 1, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Thanks for the tip about touching. I’m not sure where I read that, it was something I always thought was more of a way for the person giving to be more thoughtful about it rather than just an automatic dropping change in a cup without even looking the asker in the eye. In Chicago there are regulars that hang out at the same corner most days. When I walked to work and back everyday I got to know them. One guy used to tell me every morning that he liked my hair. Last week I was walking towards the loop area, I was on Michigan Ave and there he was in the same spot. I hadn’t seen him in over two years since I’ve been retired and he told me again that he liked my hair. I have no idea if he remembered me or he just says that to all the old ladies.

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  46. adrianne said on May 1, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Generally avoid panhandlers in NYC, but once in a while, I will give a buck or two to someone, usually who’s just sitting or standing on the sidewalk with a plea. The folks I can’t abide are the ones who hustle in the subway. You’ve got a captive audience who can’t turn away or avoid you. That bothers me.

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  47. David C. said on May 1, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    How long until she turns up on Fox news or on a Judge Judy-ish reality show.

    Teana Walsh, an assistant Wayne County prosecutor posted this on her Facebook page after watching images of protesters and rioters in Baltimore following the homicide of Freddie Gray:

    “So I am watching the news in Baltimore and see large swarms of people throwing bricks, etc at police who are fleeing from their assaults … 15 in the hospital already. Solution. Simple. Shoot em. Period. End of discussion. I don’t care what causes the protestors to turn violent…what the “they did it because” reason is…no way is this acceptable. Flipping disgusting.”

    She has resigned.

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  48. LAMary said on May 1, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Off topic: A friend has organized a fund raiser for Nepal with proceeds going to an organization that has been doing search and rescue in Nepal for 25 years. It’s SARDOGS. They train search and rescue dogs, and they are now working in the Ghorka region of Nepal. The website is
    My friend is doing an event here in LA on Wednesday and I realize it’s impractical for this group to attend (but let me know if you actually want to. I’ll give you the address) but if you are considering making a donation to help the people of Nepal, this is a reputable organization doing good work.

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  49. brian stouder said on May 1, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    David C, the one thing I’ll say in public, if someone wants to say something bone-headed about the Baltimore riots, is to ask: What did Freddy Gray do?

    What did the man do, that drew police to him?

    The fellow really and truly did nothing – broke no law – and the police brutally killed him.

    what the “they did it because” reason is…no way is this acceptable. Flipping disgusting.” – indeed.

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  50. Dave said on May 1, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    Brian, about six years ago, I was at the Walmart at the corner of Dupont and Lima Road. A gentleman approached me and asked him if there was any way I could take him to the Meijer store on down Lima Road and drop him off there, because that’s how far the city bus came out. He was an older fellow and, like you, I didn’t feel very good about it, but he climbed into the minivan we had then and away we went. He told me he had been at Walmart to apply for a job and when he learned that I worked for the railroad, I discovered that I knew his nephew who was then working there (nephew didn’t stay long).

    I, too, was nervous, I didn’t know this fellow from Adam and thought about what I would do if he pulled out a gun but he sincerely wanted a ride. I let him off at the Burger King by the Meijer store and then he asked if I had a couple of bucks to spare. I told him I really didn’t, which was true, I only had a debit card on me that day and, to be honest, I thought the ride that took me out of my way was sufficient.

    We were approached by a woman in a parking lot in Nashville, when our son lived there, for gas money. She told us a surely false story about how they were traveling from Eastern Kentucky to Eastern Tennessee and had run out of money. I wanted to question why they were traveling by way of Nashville but I gave her $5 because she looked like she might really be up on hard times.

    OTOH, my same son left Nashville one day without his wallet and didn’t realize it until he stopped somewhere in Kentucky at a gas station. He had no money, no credit card, nothing, and he was low on gas. A kind woman bought him a tank of gas, refused to give him a address or phone number, and told him to “Pay it forward”, someday, when he come across someone in need. Indeed, I hope that he does, if he hasn’t already.

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  51. Sue said on May 1, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    I would not be at all surprised if an enterprising attorney used a defense of one of those cops charged with murder, centering on ‘culture’. The officer can’t be guilty – he is a product of his culture and environment: living every day in a violent atmosphere, among people who celebrate violence against those without power; no authority figures willing to provide moral guidance or moral examples; an atmosphere where even the clothes he wears signal to those around him that he is someone to be feared and avoided.
    In other words, a thug, who can’t help being a thug because it’s all he’s known and all he’s surrounded by.
    A combination of those excusing the worst of the protest behavior with those excusing the worst of the police behavior. Could be highly effective.

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  52. Dexter said on May 2, 2015 at 4:07 am

    I used to pick up hitchhikers when I was driving solo, just for a bit of conversation. 45 years ago I picked up two beautiful French women on California Highway 1, that most beautiful highway that I drove quite a bit during my year there. They needed about a 20 mile ride to some B&B and I dropped them off. I also recall picking up a teen girl who was hitching a ride to her grandma’s house. Grannie lived five miles from Highway 1 so I just took the kid to the house. I was in Monterey but I made many drives to San Francisco and I’d always pick up dudes and chicks with backpacks moving up and down that Coast Highway. I was fearless in that regard. I also did not give rides to anyone who creeped me out and I guess my instincts were OK. The next year I was back in Indiana and was driving to St. Louis to raise hell with my pal Bill from army days. I was getting tired and I saw a man hitching from the on-ramp to the freeway. I needed some talk to keep me awake so I backed up the ramp and gave him a lift. Now that maneuver freaked him out but he was needing a ride so he got in.
    The only time I felt I really made a mistake picking up a rider was the high school girl hitcher who got in my car and was really tripping on acid. I thought where are her friends? Who trips alone and goes hitching rides? I instantly knew this ride was over…it lasted about 200 yards and I let her out. I learned a lesson that day and I never picked up a female hitchhiker again. Another time I could have been arrested I suppose was when I gave a young man a ride of about eight miles. I had a sixer of beer on the seat and he said “you don’t mind if I have a beer now do ya?” He was already guzzling it. I do believe that stopped my giving anybody a ride. That was about 1984 I believe. Never again…just too chancy.

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  53. Basset said on May 2, 2015 at 6:32 am

    Off topic but I thought it was interesting – guidance for fiction writers who include guns in their stories:

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  54. Wim said on May 2, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Cool link, Basset. I think his gripe is really with film writers, not so much fiction writers as a whole. Most of the things he cites as wrong come out of TV shows and movies. The one that really annoys me is the automatic clicking on empty.

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  55. Sue said on May 2, 2015 at 8:27 am

    “Dropped guns do not discharge”
    I thought they did. I thought that was a pretty standard ‘dumb person does dumb thing and someone gets hurt’ news story.

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  56. Snarkworth said on May 2, 2015 at 9:17 am

    Interesting link, Basset. It confirms my wisdom in not using firearms in my (as yet unpublished) mystery novel. Well, actually, a rifle is fired, but it’s off-stage, and at a military funeral.

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