30 December 2006

In an eye-rolling but entirely predictable development, Reuters has run this piece in response to the execution of Saddam Hussein.

Basically, this article typifies everything I despise about the establishment media. It's a jury-rigged opinion piece masquerading as a news item, with little in the way of newsworthy fact (Death-penalty opponents oppose an execution? Seriously?) and even less of honest argument - no contrary points of view are included or even hinted at. Why, exactly, is this news? Why is it one of the top headlines at Yahoo? When conservatives bitch about "selection bias" in the media, this is the kind of thing we are talking about.

Still, I did enjoy the following quote, since it unwittingly illustrates a transnationalist mindset that never fails to inspire gut-busting laughter:

Former Belgian foreign minister Louis Michel reacted to Saddam's execution by saying "you don't fight barbarism with acts that I deem barbaric."

Ooh, sorry about that.

Ofc. Krupke at 6:29 PM
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01 December 2006

I hate traffic.

I had just come over the Milton Bridge on the interstate, en route to check an abandoned station wagon that the shift supervisor wanted me to tag for later towing, when a beige mid-model Toyota pulled in front of me. Using my finely-honed observational law enforcement skills, I noticed that it didn't have a rear license plate. I cruised behind it for a bit, waiting until we approached the exit ramp, which provided a safe spot to pull over, then popped the blue lights and gave a gentle tap of my siren for emphasis.

"This guy gets a ticket," I decided as I got out of the cruiser. It wasn't until I got up to the car that I realized "this guy" was a nervous 15-year-old girl in the uniform of St. Jude's, the tony Catholic school in Devil's Island. So much for "profiling".

I asked her for her license, registration, and proof of insurance. In the academy they taught us a standard, line-by-line verbal procedure for traffic stops. The great Marcus Laffey called this "Robocop Berlitz". You start by introducing yourself, to wit:

"Good [Time of Day], [Sir/Ma'am/Dirtbag], I am Officer Krupke of the Southern City Police Department."

I normally dispense with this, to be honest. It makes the whole thing sound too canned, which may signal to some that I'm short on experience or confidence, and can therefore be safely messed with. Plus, it seems pointless: they obviously know what I am, or they wouldn't have stopped. As for my name, it's written on my shirt for easy reference. Work with me here, people.

I don't start with the stereotypical "Do you know why I pulled you over?" bit either. I generally prefer to ask for the license and assorted goodies, and tell them afterwards what the stop was for. I find that this reduces the opportunity for people to argue over my probable cause as a way to delay or avoid showing their documents. However, if someone asks in a reasonable way, while digging for their license, I will typically tell them. Give a little, get a little.

In this case, however, I didn't have to say anything. The girl began stammering an explanation of her offense (Robocop Berlitz dictates that you ask the offending motorist if they had some special reason for whatever they did. I find that it's generally unnecessary.) Her parents had just bought the car and had the plates on order and had gotten plates earlier but they were the wrong plates and sent them back and were going to get them tomorrow and I'm just on my way to school and I live in Devil's Island and -

She handed over a recent bill of sale, with her father's name and address on it. But that was all she could furnish. She didn't have her driver's license with her, there was no registration, and she had no proof of insurance either. Her parents had gotten the insurance and there was a card and it wasn't in the car and she didn't know where it was and -

I asked her to produce a student ID and tell me her date of birth. I asked her if she had a driver's license in the state computer. Her expression and the pitch of her voice indicated that she realized this was not going well, but she complied. My hand-held computer two-way pager Cop-Berry thingy confirmed that she had a valid license issued to her, and the car was registered in DMV to her father in Devil's Island.

Back in the USS Krupke, I mulled my options. Her not having her license with her wasn't a big deal, because DMV had her on file. The lack of an insurance card was a bit more serious, but as recent as the car's registration file was, it seemed reasonable to assume it was insured, and besides, I blame the parents. But not having a license plate is not the sort of thing you can easily overlook. Anyway, knowing the Southern City Traffic Court system, if she shows up at her court date and the plates have been fixed, the ticket will be dropped. So I wrote her for that one.

I returned to the car, citation in hand, and was unsurprised to find big wet spaces under her eyes, her eye makeup flaking into them. I'm instinctively suspicious of the ones that start sobbing the minute you pull them over - someone's been practicing in the mirror. I'm more sympathetic to the ones who are able to keep it together while I'm conducting the initial investigation, but then as they sit in the car waiting for me to render my verdict, worry and doubt and stress until they finally lose it. They save their tears until it's really too late to do them any good. It is, after all, an upsetting experience - more so when you're a new driver. I handed her the ticket, explained the court procedures, and sent her on her way.

So, that was my big contribution to the public safety today: I made a little girl cry.

I fucking hate traffic.