One Thing They Could Do, Right Now. . .

. . . while they’re working on the complete replacement/restructuring of the entire US police system:

They could get rid of all the SWAT teams and other similar units out there.  Because the kind of incident that really requires a massively armed police response is fairly rare (to the point of being, most of the time, nonexistent) – but if you’ve got a dedicated unit meant for just that purpose, they’re not going to want to sit around waiting for that maybe one day out of a year when they might be needed.  And heaven forbid a so-called elite unit should go back to directing traffic and pulling cats out of trees instead of doing macho stuff with body armor and heavy weaponry.

So instead, they end up getting called out for all sorts of things, and make things worse as often as or oftener than they make things better.

One of the good things about life up here in far northern New Hampshire is that if we want a SWAT team, we have to send down to Concord for one, and it takes them three hours to get here.  So mostly we don’t bother, and it works just fine.  We’ve had a couple of so-called “armed standoffs” over the years – there was the guy who was supposed to come in for a court date, for example, and instead decided to exercise his right to keep and bear arms in the woods beyond his house; what happened was that the local ambulance squad staged down the road a bit, just in case, and a Fish and Game officer sat in a lawn chair just outside the woods with his radio and said words to the effect of, “Don’t worry.  It’s going to start raining in about three hours, and he’ll come in.”  Which it did, and he did.

SWAT would have probably gone into the woods in force, and ended up killing the guy in question, plus a couple of stray hikers and maybe a bear and a raccoon or two, not to mention shredding all the trees and bushes for a mile or so around. 

It Really Shouldn’t Be Necessary to Say This.

In a just and perfect world, it shouldn’t be necessary to point out that purposefully kneeling on someone’s neck until they’re dead is a bad thing, and that the person doing it is most emphatically not one of the world’s good people.

But this isn’t a just and perfect world, however much we would like it to be. So: Purposefully kneeling on someone’s neck until they’re dead is a bad thing, and the person doing it is not one of the world’s good people.

I don’t know if we’ll ever make this into a just and perfect world — but surely, if we try, we can make it at least a bit more just and a little closer to perfection.

(I swear, it’s like housekeeping. Some days you manage to accomplish a massive feat of organization and improvement, and on other days it takes all the work you’ve got in you just to keep the whole place from backsliding again into chaos.)

Sigh.

I wake up and scan CNN for the morning news and find this:

“The “OK” hand gesture is now a hate symbol, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League.”

I really really hate it when something long-time innocuous or even positive gets co-opted by the alt-right extremist nutjobs, so that it’s no longer available for use by normal people. Because while I may think that the proper response to such highway robbery — and it is robbery; they are taking something from us without our consent — is not passive acquiescence but active pushback, that is not how it works in today’s world.

(I mean, you can’t even fly the goddamned flag any more without people thinking that you are, at best, a MAGA-hat-wearing right-winger.)

And the most annoying thing about the OK-sign story? The part where it all started as a hoax on 4chan. I mean, I said to someone a while back that I could probably pick something — anything at all — and start a rumor that it was linked to something else despicable, but I hadn’t realized that someone had actually done it.

Civic Duty, Accomplished

Jim Macdonald and my brother and I went out at 9:30 this morning and voted. (Pencil and paper ballots, marked in curtained booths and stuffed into a big wooden box. We’re a small, small town.) The folks at the polling place said there had been a high turnout so far.

The only hard decision on the ballot was for our district’s state senator. The incumbent, a Democrat, has been accused of domestic violence; the challenger, a Republican, is . . . well, is a Republican; and not voting at all might as well be voting for the Republican. So no matter which way a non-Republican of conscience votes, at least one set of personal principles is going to get outraged.

This is why secret ballots are a good thing.

Dammit, We Thought of It First

President Trump, in his infinite fatuity, has decided to call for a United States Space Force.

This peeves me no end. We came up with the idea of a Space Force years ago, in our novel The Price of the Stars, and now people reading our books are going to think we’re echoing That Man in the White House.

Of course, the difference between our Space Force and Trump’s is that ours is science fiction — if not outright fantasy — and Trump wants his to become fact. Or, at least purports to want it to become fact. But I could be wrong. Maybe he just wants a Hugo award.

(Good luck with that. Science fiction fans have already demonstrated that they have more sense than to buy that sort of nonsense.)