Posts belonging to Category Miscellaneous

No Social Compact For Mutants

On Tuesday the clerk at a convenience store in Bedford was shot and killed during a robbery.  In the linked article, there’s an interesting statement from a woman who lived nearby.

“I asked him on Friday if they would hire me,” Zuber said. “He said no because it was too dangerous.”

I wonder if he knew that this would eventually happen?

Anyhow, the other thing about this story that caught my attention was that the shooting was completely unprovoked.  They didn’t even give him a chance to comply.  The mutant thugs just shot him in the head as soon as he opened the register.  But they didn’t get away with any money because he somehow managed to close the register when he was shot.  All told, it was a senseless and needless murder and the suspects were arrested this morning and are now stewing in the Bedford jail on capital murder charges with a $1M bond on each one.

Someone on one of the local TV news shows said that he would have given them anything they wanted, and couldn’t believe that they shot him.  This brings up a phrase that drives me nuts:  “Just give them what they want.”  This is usually followed by, “Don’t be a hero.” 

The people who usually say these things think it somehow makes them morally superior.  And they usually get all bent out of shape when someone gets killed who complied with the thug’s demands.  The problem here is that thugs have no social compact, so this “deal with the devil” isn’t so much of a deal after all.  It must be understood that you can comply with every demand, give up everything you have, and still be killed.  This is why I think fighting back is a better overall policy. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that every single situation would allow it.  If you let someone get the drop on you, it’s generally too late to fight back when the gun’s against your head.  But where possible, I think society would be better off if these scumbags would end up dead most of the time.

Like in this case:

A suspect was killed during an armed robbery attempt in Balch Springs around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, police said.

Authorities said the suspect entered the store with a shotgun, the clerk fought with the suspect and the suspect was killed.

Police said they have no plans to file charges against the clerk.

Call me a bloodthirsty unrefined uncivilized Neanderthal if you like, but we need more like this and fewer like the former.

Call It In

Here’s a case that shows why it’s a good idea to go ahead and call the Fire Department even if you think you’ve put out the fire:

Glen Robinson gazed at the smoldering remains of his home near Texas Christian University, glad to be alive, but fighting guilt.

His longtime landlord, William Tooley, died early Thursday in a fire that was sparked by a burning mattress.

“I’m ashamed to talk about it,” said Robinson, fighting back tears. “It’s my mattress. I guess that’s who you would blame.”

Robinson, who lived in a garage apartment, said his cigarette ignited the mattress around 1:30 a.m. Thursday. He doused the fire and then took the mattress outside, where he propped it against an outside wall.

“Unfortunately, he didn’t realize that those mattresses can smolder for some period of time,’’ said Lt. Kent Worley, a spokesman for the Fort Worth Fire Department.  “They’re tightly packed, like a cotton bale. “

“About four hours later, it did ignite the rear portion of the house, and that portion has been gutted by the flames.”

You can’t really be sure that a fire is out until you’ve torn out all of the burned area and gotten down to a clean, unburned, surface.  But rather than trying to make that determination yourself, it’d probably be best to let the FD come out and check.  It’s better to call it in and it turn out to be a false alarm than to think you’ve put out the fire only for it to return later.

Insurance Wrangling

My neighbor across the street had his truck smashed in his driveway by a drunk driver at the end of November.  I just noticed that he got a new truck yesterday. 

The next time I see him I’m going to have to ask if he was getting jerked around by the insurance company.  It seems like a long time to have to wait to get things settled.  Although he was lucky in that the truck was still driveable (after yanking out the fender a bit and replacing the wheel, which got bent), so perhaps he was able to hold out until he got a better settlement.

Update.  Just talked to him and found that he’s had to eat all the costs, since the drunk driver didn’t have insurance.  Although he’s promised to pay, he hasn’t done so yet.  So my neighbor decided to just buy a new truck, rather than spending any more money on the old one.  Although he was driving it around, he said that the frame was bent, so it would have been very expensive to fix.

Oh, and to add insult to injury, the young drunk was arrested again just last week right in front of his house (which is at the end of our block).  This was his third arrest for DWI.

A “Fine” Time Indeed

Here is good reason to always demand a receipt whenever dealing with the city.

Police are not arresting anyone wanted on a Class C misdemeanor warrant from Arlington until they determine whether the warrants are valid.

The municipal court system was thrown into confusion early this summer after a routine audit raised questions about cash receipts.

Crystal Leonguerrero, 22, of Arlington was indicted last month on charges of stealing thousands of dollars while collecting fines for misdemeanors and traffic violations. Leonguerrero, who was a criminal justice major at the University of Texas at Arlington, is free on $15,000 bail.

Officials worry that warrants could have been issued for people who in fact have paid their fines.

So far, they don’t think (but they don’t appear to be sure) that anyone was arrested for a fine that was already paid.  But you can imagine that it would be likely, since I’m sure cops have heard the “I paid that ticket” excuse a lot.  If it was me, I’d be pretty pissed if I had paid a traffic ticket fine only to get arrested later. 

Anyhow, it definitely points out lax supervision and controls at the court offices.  One of the actions taken by the city has been to post signs reminding people to ask for a receipt.  I wonder why the system didn’t automatically print them?  It would seem like something that should be part of the system’s checks and balances to prevent anyone from getting into this exact situation (i.e. a paper backup record showing that the fine was paid and that the warrant was cleared, if one had been issued).

Poor Impulse Control

I took advantage of the tax-free weekend by picking up a couple pairs of pants and some shirts at Cabela’s.  They told me during checkout that they could hem the pants for me while I waited.  Usually I end up taking them to a local tailor, but that often takes a week and costs extra.  However, I didn’t want to wait around on Sunday (amidst the crowd), so I went back this afternoon to have them done.  I had about 30 minutes to kill while I was waiting, so I ended up wandering about the store.

In my wanderings I found myself at the knife counter.  I’m not usually much of a knife person, but something about this one just called my name as soon as I saw it:


It ended up jumping out of the display case and coming home with me.

I really need to work on this whole impulse control thing…

Breaking Through The (Electronic) Gatekeeper

I’ve not hidden my hatred for VRU’s (especially voice-recognition ones) and phone mazes in the past.  I will actively seek a way to break the VRU’s programming and escape to a live human even if the designers have purposely tried to prevent this.

So it was interesting to discover that there’s a small database out there of hints on ways to break out of the phone maze to get to a human.  The site is called “find-a-human”.  It doesn’t have a lot of entries yet, but it offers a way to sent your entries to the author for inclusion.  It’s also interesting to note that the database is actually hosted on Intuit’s servers.  I wonder how long it will take them to discover it and “discourage” this use…

With You Or Over You

Last night in our Citizen’s Police Academy we were visited by the department’s chaplain.  Although his primary mission is as a school resource officer at the local high school, he also works with officers in Keller and one other department as the chaplain.  In that role he is there to support the officers and their families.

But in addition to being a minister and the department chaplain he’s still a sworn officer and carries a .40cal Glock.  He tells the story of a man he arrested once who started mouthing off at the jail.  The arrestee told him that since he was the chaplain he couldn’t fight him or shoot him.  His response?  He told the guy, “I can pray for you, I can pray with you if you ask, or I can pray over you.  It’s up to you.”

I liked that response and his approach to the issue.  He says he is approached from time to time by ministers and preachers and asked how he can carry a gun and do what he does.  His response to that was that there’s nothing really that has to be reconciled there.  He also says that he tells these people to stay away from his officers, since their fear of guns could get one of his people killed by putting doubt into their minds.

Good for him.

Ultimate SUV?

Tired of pretentious snobs in Hummers and Excursions running up on your back bumper?  Want to put them back in their place?  Then perhaps this surplus Zil 135 Frog-7 short range Russian Missile launcher is right for you.  It’s powered by two massive big-block V8’s.

From the seller’s description:

She measures a whopping 10 metres long and just under 3 metres wide and weighs in at a impressive 10 tonnes. This is only achieved as the chassis is made from titanium and the all body parts are fibre-glass. So corrosion isn’t a problem and body repairs are easy.

I believe this is the biggest Petrol Twin V8 14ltr SUV you will find, and will easily make Humvee’s look like tiny dinky toys. With reduction hubs on all axles there is also incredible ground clearance. Ideal for keeping the rain off your Land Rover or Jeeps. 

Just be careful not to park it on top of any school buses or other SUVs…

Some Travel Observations

I went to Connecticut last week, flying into Harford and driving to my final destination (the other alternative was La Guardia, but I have zero desire to go into New York unless I have no other choice). 

  • My belt buckle set off the metal detector at DFW.  It usually doesn’t do this.  Makes me wonder if they’ve turned up the sensitivity.  There’s the possibility that I just got a different machine, though.  The past three flights I’ve gone through the security station near gate C10.  I usually end up at the machine on the right.  This time was the one on the left.
  • The pilots are now announcing at the beginning of the flight that people should not “congegrate” near the restrooms.
  • It took me a while to figure out that the exits on some of the roads in CT aren’t the same as the mile markers, like they are in most states.  It definitely threw off my mental calculation of how far I had left in my trip.
  • I was surprised to see that almost all ramps were circular.  You’d think that in an area with frequent snow that a straight ramp would be safer (i.e. less likely to have trouble with sliding in fresh snow).
  • I tried to finish The System Of The World on the return trip using my Tungsten T3.  Unfortunately, the batteries ran out with only a few chapters to go.  Expecting this I’d bought a paperback in the airport.  Still, I wish fuel cells or microturbines would hurry up and get here.  Batteries suck.

The Market Responds

I have noticed that many people decry the Clear Channel hegemony over DFW-area radio.  Just below the surface there seems to be a desire for the government to do something.  But the market usually responds to a monopoly, it just may not do so instantly.  Recently, I have encountered two independent (or at least non-Clear Channel) stations in the DFW area:

  • 106.7 KDL, which bills itself as the “Texas Party Station.”  It started out with mostly dance mixes (although it’s had an unfortunate trend towards rap and R&B lately).  But it’s definitely independent and has taken clear aim at Kid Craddock and KISS FM (which is a Clear Channel station).
  • 100.3 “Jack” FM, which plays a mix of 80’s and current stuff.  I’m not sure who’s behind it, but given their derisive attitude towards Clear Channel, I’m sure they’re not part of the Clear Channel empire.

There’s probably more out there, but these are just the ones I’ve found out about lately.  Those who are seeking refuge from Clear Channel now have some choices.