Category Archives: BODY OF EVIDENCE

THE VOICE OF TIME

I really enjoyed hearing Shackleton’s, Whitman’s, Einstein’s, and Curie’s voices.

HOW TO SURVIVE

Podcast #423: How to Survive a Grid-Down Disaster

https://art19.com/shows/e5688437-885d-4fe7-964f-d16ba7b541c5/episodes/522e16e5-6f44-47c2-8aaf-43ed1c22e79f/embed

We’ve all probably thought about it. What would we do and how would we fare after a societal collapse? My guest today has spent his career helping individuals get ready for such a situation. His name is James Rawles. He’s the owner of survivalblog.comand the author of several bestselling books on prepping, including How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It.

Today on the show, Jim and I discuss how our dependency on the power grid makes us more vulnerable to disaster than we’d like to think, and all the downstream consequences that would happen if the power grid went down for a significant amount of time, including loss of water, sewage services, and a disruption of supply chains.

We then dig into what you can do to prepare for such a situation, including securing a water supply, storing food, and the skills and mindset you need to weather a crisis. Even if you don’t think you’re interested in prepping, it’s really interesting to think through what you’d need to do to survive an apocalyptic scenario.

Show Highlights

  • The vulnerability of the US power grid, and scenarios that might cause it to go down
  • How water gets from its source to your home
  • The public health/sewage nightmare of a power grid collapse
  • The importance of knowing how to filter and purify water
  • Why grocery stores no longer have extra stocks of food
  • The problem with a hyper-optimized and hyper-efficient society
  • The “YOYO” mindset
  • Getting started if you have no plan for survival preparedness
  • Making physical room for long-term food and water storage, even in a small living space
  • Why you need to practice cooking and eating your survival foods
  • Why you need self-defense/weapons training
  • The two-key force multipliers in modern self-defense
  • Dealing with medical needs in a survival scenario
  • The value and importance of being health and in shape
  • Why you need patience in developing your survival plan

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

HONOR AND MANHOOD

Brett | July 3, 2018

Last updated: July 8, 2018

Podcast

Podcast #419: American Honor — Creating the Nation’s Ideals During the Revolution

https://art19.com/shows/e5688437-885d-4fe7-964f-d16ba7b541c5/episodes/61a04af9-9a19-4f7a-8c9c-b02cb90a2b2e/embed

What started the American Revolution? 

The typical answers are “taxation without representation” and the economic and political consequences that came with that. 

My guest today argues that while economic and political principles all played roles in the American Revolution, there’s one big thing underlying all the causes of the Revolutionary War that often gets overlooked: honor.

His name is Craig Bruce Smith, he’s a historian and the author of the new book American Honor: The Creation of the Nation’s Ideals During the Revolutionary EraToday on the show we talk about what honor looked like in America during the colonial period, how that concept changed, and how this shift precipitated the War of Independence. We then explore how personal affronts to honor experienced by several of the Founding Fathers at the hands of the British transferred into a feeling of being slighted as a people, galvanizing a collective sense of honor in the colonies and inspiring the fight for independence. We then discuss the role honor played in Benedict Arnold’s treason and how his treachery spurred colonial Americans to go on to win the war. We end our conversation discussing why the sons of the Revolutionary Era returned to a more traditional ethos of honor in the form of dueling.

This show will give you fresh insights on the founding of America.

Show Highlights

  • What was the concept of honor before the Revolutionary Era?
  • What change in that concept did we start seeing before the war?
  • Benjamin Franklin’s idea of ascending honor
  • How Washington’s concept of honor became more democratized over time
  • The relationship between honor and virtue/ethics in this time period
  • How the colonists looked to Ancient Rome as an example
  • Higher education and the founders
  • How did personal slights lead to the Revolution?
  • The birth of a collective, national honor
  • The “buy local” and “made in America” movement of the 1770s
  • Why honor doesn’t depend on victory
  • Benedict Arnold, honor, and his role in early America
  • The history of dueling in early America, and when it came to an end
  • The myths and realities of Andrew Jackson’s dueling resume

SCREW THE DAMNED CELLPHONE AND TO HELL WITH SOCIAL MEDIA

Brett | July 5, 2018

Podcast

Podcast #420: What Makes Your Phone So Addictive & How to Take Back Your Life

https://art19.com/shows/e5688437-885d-4fe7-964f-d16ba7b541c5/episodes/f82d0e7a-5917-4ac0-9fa6-c568bcb20e42/embed

If you’re like most people, you’ve got a powerful computer in your back pocket that allows you to listen to this podcast, check the score of your favorite team, and learn the population of Mickey Mantle’s hometown of Commerce, OK (answer: 2,473). Our smartphones are a blessing, but for many people they can also feel like a curse. You feel compelled to check your device all the time, leaving you feeling disengaged from life. 

What is it about modern technology that makes it feel so addictive? My guest todayexplores that topic in his book, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. His name is Adam Alter and today on the show, we discuss what makes today‘s technology more compelling than the televisions and super Nintendos of old, whether our itch to check our phones can really be classified as an addiction, what soldiers’ use of heroin during the Vietnam War can tell us about why our attachment to our phones is hard to shake, and how the reward we’re looking for on social media isn’t actually the “likes” themselves. Adam then shares what he thinks is the most effective tactic for taking back control of our tech, and how consumers may be able to influence the direction of its future. 

Show Highlights

  • Why do tech companies design their devices/apps to be addictive?
  • Why Steve Jobs never let his own kids use an iPad
  • Is it possible to truly be addicted to our tech?
  • How much time are most people really spending on their phones? (It’s an astounding number.)
  • The deleterious effects of technology on social skills
  • What makes today’s tech so different from the tech of a couple decades ago?
  • What heroine use in the Vietnam War can tell us about the effects of our environment/context on our behaviors
  • Tactics that companies use to get our attention, including hijacking our goals
  • How casinos have influenced the way tech companies design their products
  • How video game companies “on-ramp” players to get them hooked, and how other tech companies have used that template
  • The ways social media amplifies these addictive components
  • How do you get a hold of a behavior you can’t seem to shake?
  • Will recent bad press actually force companies like Facebook to make any changes?

THE (SOMEWHAT HISTORICAL) RECONSTRUCTIONS

BECAUSE A REAL DICK NEEDS PROOF

BECAUSE A REAL DICK NEEDS PROOF

(A Genteel Homage to our Chief Dick)

Our Comey said homey there’s nothing to see
We just said what you said by not listening to thee
Cause the fact of the matter is the case is still up
But we can’t tell you why, or why not to trust

That we never did do what you think that we did
Though we couldn’t have done so less heaven forbid
We did as we didn’t or didn’t to do
Whatever you think that we’re saying of you

Thus we haven’t and never would do any less
Lessen whatever you didn’t we release to the press
So say what you will but we’ll say to you all
It couldn’t have happened, not ever at all…

Unless…

It did but it didn’t when we listened to it
But cannot confirm, we submit to admit
By acquittal a little we never convict
Yet we’ve proven we’ve moven
To affirm the real trick –

I’m a Comey see homey, and truly a Dick…

STOLEN?

“Stolen,” eh?

Secret Service hunts for stolen laptop with Trump Tower floor plans

A Secret Service laptop containing sensitive information about Trump Tower, details about the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe and other national security secrets was swiped from an agent’s motorcycle in Brooklyn, police sources said Friday.

The computer was taken Thursday morning from the driveway of agent Marie Argentieri’s Bath Beach home, the sources said.

The thief drove up to Argentieri’s home around 8:40 a.m., walked right up to her Bajaj motorcycle and took the items. He was then caught on video fleeing the scene on foot, sources said.

Argentieri told investigators that the laptop held sensitive information about national security, the floor plans for Trump Tower, evacuation protocols and details about the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server.

While none of the info pertains to White House officials or foreign leaders, she said it could ultimately compromise national security. Sources told The Post that the laptop cannot be remotely erased or traced.

A black bag with the Secret Service insignia on it was also taken — along with an access keycard, several lapel pins that Secret Service agents are required to wear when protecting the president and other sensitive documents, sources said.

An agency-issued radio, used for closed-circuit communications between agents, was also among the stolen items, according to Politico.

“The U.S. Secret Service can confirm that an employee was the victim of a criminal act in which our Agency issued laptop computer was stolen,” the agency said in a statement Friday.

“Secret Service issued laptops contain multiple layers of security including full disk encryption and are not permitted to contain classified information. An investigation is ongoing and the Secret Service is withholding additional comment until the facts are gathered.”

The NYPD is assisting the agency in their investigation. It is unclear if the theft was targeted or simply a random act.

The black bag and some other items were later discovered at nearby Poly Prep HS by the head of security, Carol Bongnan, and returned to Argentieri.

But the laptop and lapel pins were still missing as of 2:30 p.m. Friday, sources said.
Sources said somebody had brought left it at the school.

Thursday’s heist is just the latest in a long line of public embarrassments for the Secret Service in recent years.

A Congressional investigation in 2015 found that it had transformed into an “agency in crisis” — entrenched in low morale, heavy boozing and dimwitted security decisions.

In Sept. 2014, President Barack Obama’s Secret Service detail allowed a security guard with a gun and three prior convictions for assault and battery into an elevator with him for a photo.

Two years after that, a pair of agents allegedly got drunk and interfered in a bomb investigation outside the building.

In 2014, a man was able to bypass Obama’s security detail and speak to him by pretending to be a congressman.

Most recently, two agents came under investigation after snapping selfies with President Trump’s 8-year-old grandson, Donald III, last weekend.

WHO’D A THUNK?

Well, I’ll be darned. Who’d a thunk it, huh?

Dungeons and Dragons, Pokémon card games and role-playing games are more than entertainment — they’re inspiration for the CIA.

David Clopper, senior collection analyst with 16 years’ experience at the CIA, also serves as a game maker for the agency. From card games to board games, Clopper creates games to train CIA staffers including intelligence agents and political analysts for real-world situations.

“Gaming is part of the human condition. Why not take advantage of that and incorporate into the way we learn?” Clopper said Sunday at a games-themed panel discussion at the South by Southwest Interactive technology festival. Clopper and other CIA officers discussed how the agency uses games to teach strategy, intelligence gathering and collaboration.

Related: SXSW coverage: Why Facebook tracks internet outages around the world

Clopper, who began making training programs based on popular tabletop games in 2008, described some of his creations for the CIA.

In “Collection,” Clopper’s first CIA game, teams of analysts work together to solve international crises against a ticking clock. His second title, “Collection Deck,” is a Pokémon-like card game in which where each card represents either an intelligence collection strategy or a hurdle like red tape or bureaucracy.

cia collection game

For instance, a player could lay out a card to collect intelligence via satellite photos, but an opponent could block them by playing a “ground station failure” card. It’s meant to mimic situations analysts might run into in their actual work.

Related: Congressman: We need a National Guard for cybersecurity

Also speaking on the panel was Volko Ruhnke, who is an intelligence educator at the CIA and a freelance game designer. Ruhnke said he is particularly interested in one type of game: a simulation tabletop game to train analysts and help with analytic tasks. It could help forecast complex situations by forcing players to handle multiple scenarios simultaneously.

Ruhnke himself created a commercial board game to simulate the Afghanistan conflict and walk players through military, political, and economic issues in the region. It gives players “a much more dynamic understanding of the issues of modern Afghanistan,” Ruhnke said, adding that a similar game could be of use internally at the CIA as well.

Old school games are the main inspiration for popular training programs — for now. But analysts expect to be using virtual reality gaming in training programs soon. Multiple branches of the military have used VR training for years, immersing service members in real life experiences through visual and audio simulations.

“The sooner we can get involved in using VR in games, the better,” Rachel Grunspan, Chief Strategy Officer at a digital innovation organization inside the CIA, said during the panel discussion.. “You want to get their heads inside the intelligence question you’re trying to answer, and VR does an amazing job doing that.”

ANIMATED MOCK-UP

TRAPPISM

 

THE TERMS OF THE ACTION

Words are the materiel of the mind and the swords of the soul.
Yet let the Wise-Man beware. Only the simple-minded fool and the utterly naive wordsmith could ever assume mere words must shape the world to high outcomes.
A good and proper word is a sharp blade in the hands of a capable and clever man, but action is the arm that wields such a weapon.

 

from Human Effort

MAN IN THE HAT

Brussels bomb suspect Mohamed Abrini to be questioned over Paris attacks

Belgian officials believe the terror cell that struck in Brussels last year also orchestrated the 2015 atrocities in France.

12:38, UK,Monday 30 January 2017

Mohamed Abrini has been handed over to France
Image Caption:Mohamed Abrini has been handed over to French authorities

A suspect in the Brussels airport attack dubbed the “man in the hat” has been handed over to France to be questioned about the Paris atrocities.

Mohamed Abrini was detained in Brussels in April last year over his suspected involvement in the 22 March attacks and the Paris killings, which the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for.

Belgium’s prosecutor’s office said in a statement: “In the framework of the investigation related to the attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, Mohamed Abrini was surrendered to the French judicial authorities for a period of one day.”

Eric Van Der Sypt, a spokesman, said the decision was based on “mutual agreements” between the two countries.

He said: “It’s not uncommon that suspects in different cases are surrendered for one day or a few days.”

Belgian investigators have said the airport and metro bombers, who killed 32 people, were part of the same Brussels-based cell that plotted the November 2015 Paris attacks. Some 130 people were killed in the Paris attacks.

CCTV footage of Brussels airport taken shortly before the March 2016 terror attack
Image Caption:CCTV footage of Brussels airport taken shortly before the March 2016 terror attack

Abrini, who was dubbed the “man in the hat” in CCTV images, fled from the airport without apparently detonating a suitcase bomb after accomplices Najim Laachraoui and Ibrahim El Bakraoui set off theirs, killing 16 people and themselves.

Sources close to the Belgian-led investigation have said the three bombers targeted passengers travelling to the United States, as well as Jewish people and perhaps Russians at the airport.

US sources said they are confident the airline check-in counters for flights to the United States, Israel and Russia were targeted.

Abrini had a record as a petty criminal who grew up in the deprived Molenbeek area of Brussels with Salah Abdeslam, the only survivor of the group that carried out the Paris attacks.

He was nicknamed “Brioche” after his days working in a bakery and is thought to have given up training as a welder at the age of 18 before he became radicalised.

The Belgian, of Moroccan origin, was seen at a petrol station north of Paris two days before the 13 November attacks with prime suspect Abdeslam, who drove one of the vehicles used in the attacks.

Belgian authorities have charged Abrini with “participation in the activities of a terrorist group and terrorist murders” following the atrocity in Paris.

Investigators said he briefly visited Syria last year and his younger brother Suleiman, 20, died there.

He came on to the radar of security services while he was allegedly part of the same cell as Abdelhamid Abaaoud, one of the organisers of the Paris attacks who opened fire on bars, restaurants and a concert hall before he died in a police shootout shortly afterwards.

YEAH, AND NOT ONLY THAT…

A friend of mine brought up some interesting and bizarre points about the Fort Lauderdale airport shooter/terrorist. I won’t reproduce his post here because it was on Facebook but these were my observations, and my reply.

 

YEAH, AND NOT ONLY THAT…

I was thinking somewhat along these same lines myself.

One thing I’ll add that really, really bothered me (and I mentioned to my wife immediately as we watched it unfold) is that neither the airport itself nor the local PDs had any evacuation plan or filtering plan once the events went down. Instead passengers were not checked and then immediately separated form the field of fire or the attack zone. Rather they (including pregnant women and little children) were simply herded into open, outdoor, unshielded “containment areas” to await clearing all known and suspected attack locales.

The perp was obviously a good shot. According to reports so far he hit many of his victims in the head.

Suppose this had been a much larger operation with other guerrillas or terrorist or mass murders in sniping positions throughout the grounds?

Herding people together (including children, women, and pregnant women) in open air, undefended and uncovered containment areas would have been an absolute recipe for unmitigated disaster.

You see how this disorganized and unplanned shit went down. Now think about how it could have easily went down.

And for God’s sake fix it…

Also, as another friend pointed out none of the SWAT, FBI tactical teams or police movements should have been filmed or allowed to be broadcast until after the event and the grounds secured and the perp(s) either dead or in custody. And the whole operation, given the uncertainty and the size of the place should have had drones being operated to locate possible suspects, to gather intel, and to film and clear areas for evacuation routes.

A lot of lessons should be and should have been learned from this (and prior attacks). But, if not for Obama’s DHS and the way he down-politicized many branches of government, a lot of this should have been pre-acted and prepared for. Red Teams should have run this scenario years and years ago.

Policies and contingency plans should have long ago been established and in place.

It’s like we have to relearn this crap every single time it occurs. And still never draw a useful lesson.

This kind of pointless, effeminate, unprepared shit endangers everyone and really, really bothers me.

I hope Trump will kill this shit before a lot more Americans die.

This whole thing stank and could have been infinitely worse.

Fort Lauderdale airport shooting captured on surveillance video

Federal investigators search for shooter’s motive

By Derek Shore – Reporter

Posted: 5:16 PM, January 08, 2017Updated: 12:59 AM, January 09, 2017

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The moment that gunman Esteban Santiago opened fire on travelers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Friday was captured by security cameras.

The video, which was shared with TMZ, shows Santiago reaching for a gun from his waistband and opening fire in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2.

Right when the shooting starts people dropped to the ground for safety.

The shooting claimed the lives of five people and injured six others.

Officials said it is still unclear why the shooter picked the Fort Lauderdale airport and what his motivation was to attack.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel appeared Sunday morning on the Local 10 News show “This Week In South Florida” to speak about the shooting.

He said Santiago told investigators that the a chip was placed in his head by an agency .

“The CIA or some agency had put a chip in his head and they were programming him and they forced him to watch a video on ISIS, and that changed and (he) said he was paid a certain amount of money by ISIS an hour or two later, so at this point we really don’t know,” Israel said.

Santiago is slated to remain at Broward County jail, where he is being held on federal charges that could carry a death sentence,  until Monday when he is expected to be transferred to a federal facility in Miami.

 

SEVEN SLEEPERS

Yedi Uyurlar Mağarası (Cave of the Seven Sleepers)

Seven early Christians were sealed into a cave where legend has it they slept unharmed for centuries.

EDIT PLACE

What started as a political protest against Roman paganism became the stuff of religious legend.

In January of 250, the Roman Emperor Decius issued an edict that everyone under his reign must perform a sacrifice dedicating themselves to the empire and to the Roman gods. Understandably, this caused an uproar among young Christian communities, who, though persecuted, had previously been free to worship. Refusal to submit came at the price of death. All the same, many Christians refused to deny their faiths.

Seven young men in Ephesus refused to make the sacrifice and hid in a cave on the outskirts of the city. Tired from fleeing, they fell asleep. The Roman sentries came upon the Seven slumbering peacefully in the cave. Rather than killing them outright, they sealed them in, perhaps in a mockery of Christians’ reverence for Jesus’ entombment. That was the last their families and friends ever heard of them.

Sometime much later, the myth continues, the farmer who owned the land thought to open the cave, perhaps to use as an animal pen. He was shocked to find seven young men inside, still asleep. When the light hit their faces, they awoke. Feeling hungry, they pooled their money and sent one of them to the village to buy food. They warned him to watch out for Romans, but, believing they had slept for a full day, they thought the coast was clear. When the young man reached the market and tried to buy bread, vendors were dismayed to see that he carried Decian coins—which were at least 150 years old by then. The bishop was called in (in the century they slept Christianity had resurfaced full force) to interview the Seven Sleepers, and they all died peacefully just a few hours after.

The cave outside Ephesus was excavated in the 1920s, revealing a number of 5th and 6th century Christian graves. An ancient Church sits atop the cave as well. Religious pilgrims still pay visits to the holy Cave of the Seven Sleepers.

The details of the myth are hotly disputed among the various cultures that tell it. Christians believe that the Seven slept for between 128 and 200 years, but the Qur’an states that they slept for around 300 years. Even the location is unclear. Though this cave in Ephesus is the most commonly visited by religious pilgrims, caves in Jordan, China, Tunisia, and Algeria lay claim to the myth of the Seven Sleepers.

Whatever the truth of story is, its lore has seeped into common culture. For example, in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, a sysover (“seven-sleeper”) is someone who sleeps long and hard. Seven Sleepers Day is June 27th, and is the German equivalent of American Groundhog Day.

YOUR PRIMAL BODY

A few weeks back I bought a book by a woman named Mikki Reilly entitled Your Primal Body.

I got the book for only a dollar at the Dollah Tree! No, seriously, it was only a dollar. Because everything at the Dollah Tree is a dollar.

Although I have used training methods such as Fartlek and HIIT in my PT programs for some time now (these are promoted in the book) this was my first real introduction to the Paleo Diet and the so-called paleo-lifestyle.

I have been reading the book slowly, making notes in it, underlining and hi-lighting various ideas and concepts, but over the past two to three weeks I have also been applying the various principles espoused therein. The gains I have been making in my muscularity, in being pain-free in my joints, in my overall flexibility, in my energy levels, in general health, in memory, focus, and concentration, in the sheer physicality of my sex life (just ask my wife), and in weight loss have been tremendous in such a short period of time.  I feel a great deal like I am in my 30s, but constantly and consistently.

Although the book was written by a chick primarily for chicks the principles are general and easily applicable to anyone at any age. I recommend the book.

 

Also in researching the book for this post I discovered she has a youtube interview:

AMAZING…

It is amazing what the human body can do and endure when it is properly fed, rested, and watered…

 

GIVING MEN AND WOMEN “THE FINGER”

What the Length of Your Ring Finger Can Tell You About Your Masculinity

hand_header

Stop what you’re doing and look at your hands.

Is your ring finger longer than your index finger?

If so, you were likely exposed to higher levels of testosterone while you were in your mother’s womb.

Is your index finger longer than your ring finger?

Then you were exposed to lower levels of T as a fetus.

So what?

Well, while it might sound like hokey palm reading, researchers are finding that the ratio between the length of your ring and index fingers may in fact correlate to your prenatal exposure to T, and have a significant influence on your body, brain, and behavior well into adulthood.

How strong is this correlation and what exactly does it foretell? I’ve dived deep into all the available research to sort myth from fact, and present this comprehensive look at what digit ratio really means for your masculinity.

Prenatal Testosterone, Androgen Receptors, and 2D:4D Finger Ratios

2D/4D finger digit ratios diagram index finger and ring finger

Scientists have long noticed that men’s ring fingers are generally longer than their index fingers. With women, it tends to be the reverse: their index fingers are usually longer. They’ve called this difference in length between the index finger and ring finger the “2D:4D ratio.”

2D stands for “second digit” — that’s your index finger, and 4D means “fourth digit” — your ring finger. So if your index finger is 2.9 inches long and your ring finger is 3.1 inches long, you have a 2D:4D ratio of .935 (2.9/3.1 = .935). A longer ring finger compared to your index finger is considered a “low 2D:4D ratio.”

If your index finger is 3.1 inches long and your ring finger is 2.9 inches long, your 2D:4D ratio would be 1.06 (3.1/2.9 = 1.06). A longer index finger compared to your ring finger is considered a “high 2D:4D ratio.”

Digit ratios lie on a spectrum. Some men have really low digit ratios, like .83, and some folks have really high digit ratios, like 1.06.

The Connection Between 2D:4D Ratio and Prenatal Hormones

While scientists during the mid-20th century were able to statistically establish this general difference between men’s and women’s 2D:4D ratios, it wasn’t until the 1980s that researchers began speculating as to why this sex difference exists and how 2D:4D ratios may correlate with different gender traits. Dr. Glenn Wilson of King’s College was one of the first to hypothesize that 2D:4D finger ratio was determined by sex hormone exposure in the womb.

In 1998, further strides were made when psychologist John Manning of the University of Liverpool (now at Swansea University) published a paper in which he hypothesized that 2D:4D ratios are determined by prenatal exposure to testosterone. Other researchers came to similar conclusions using corollary evidence.

It wasn’t until 2011, however, that scientists were able to directly show that prenatal exposure to testosterone determines the 2D:4D ratio. While prenatal testing and studies are difficult-to-impossible to ethically conduct on human fetuses, the general difference between 2D:4D ratios in human males and females also exists between the sexes of other animals. Consequently, animal studies can provide insight into why these general differences exist.

Developmental biologists Martin Cohn and Zhengui Zheng conducted experiments on fetal mice in which they modified the amounts of testosterone they were exposed to in utero. What they discovered is that it’s not just the amount of fetal testosterone that determines digit ratio, but rather the balance between testosterone and estrogen. Mice with higher testosterone concentrations or low estrogen levels had more male-like digit ratios (low 2D:4D ratio), while mice with higher estrogen levels or low testosterone levels had higher, more feminine digit ratios (high 2D:4D ratios).

manning-2D-4D-digit-ratio-theory

Cohn and Zheng posit that what’s true for mice is true for humans as well: prenatal exposure to a mixture of testosterone and estrogen is what determines 2D:4D ratios. So the lower your 2D:4D digit ratio is, the more testosterone or less estrogen you were exposed to in the womb. The higher your 2D:4D ratio, the less testosterone or more estrogen you were exposed to as a fetus.

What Causes Differences in the Levels of Sex Hormones in the Womb?

What causes these differences in the levels of sex hormones in the womb? Scientists aren’t yet sure, though they have some hunches. Genetics certainly play a role, both of the mother and the fetus. For one thing, some research suggests that mothers with elevated testosterone levels influence the testosterone levels of their daughters (but there appears to be no such influence with maternal testosterone on boys). Some research has also found that the first-born child, whether male or female, is exposed to more estrogen prenatally, for reasons we don’t yet understand.

Environmental factors are in play as well. For example, fetal testosterone levels are elevated in both males and females if the mother smokes during pregnancy, but are lower if the mother consumes alcohol. A mother may also expose her baby to more estrogen in the womb if she herself is exposed to a high level of “xenoestrogens,” chemicals that imitate estrogens in the body, and that are found in nearly everything – from plastics and gasoline to cosmetics and shampoo.

The timing and duration of a fetus’ exposure to sex hormones matter, too. If testosterone surges a little too late or early, the result can be a male fetus that is male in both body and mind but isn’t as masculinized as he would be if the T surge had happened at the usual time.

Duration of exposure may also influence how masculine or feminine your 2D:4D ratio is and consequently, how masculine and feminine your body and mind end up. Different parts of the fetal body and brain are open to androgen sensitivity at different times during gestation. It’s possible that you had a high testosterone to estrogen exposure during the period in which penis formation occurs, but for some reason, it started to peter out when 2D:4D formation happens or when other sex parts of the body and mind are receptive to androgen. Consequently, you end up with a higher, more female-like 2D:4D ratio despite being very masculine in other areas.

What affects the timing and duration of the release of sex hormones in utero? Here again, researchers really aren’t sure.

While scientists don’t definitively know why some individuals are exposed to greater and lesser amounts of estrogen and testosterone in the womb, they do know that 2D:4D ratios are directly caused by the make-up of this hormonal mixture, and can use these ratios to explore possible correlations between prenatal sex hormone exposure and other psychological and physiological traits in individuals later on in life. Testosterone, in particular, has what scientists call an “organizational effect” on the human mind and body — exposure to it during sensitive periods in utero has permanent effects on mind, body, and behavior. Let’s take a closer look at what some of those effects might be.

Correlations Between Gender Traits and 2D:4D Ratio

Below, I highlight some of the possible correlations between your digit ratio and traits that we often define as “masculine” and “feminine.”

But first, a caveat. While researchers have found correlations between 2D:4D ratios and specific sex characteristics, they also note that these correlations are sometimes weak. What’s more, some relationships between 2D:4D ratios and sex traits that have been found in the past, haven’t been replicated in other studies.

What’s more, it can’t be emphasized enough that these are correlational studies, and as we all know, correlation does not equal causation. In many of the popular media articles I’ve read about this subject and its influence on different traits, digit ratio is often presented as deterministic. I can see lots of people reading these articles and looking at their fingers and thinking, “Well, my index finger is longer than my ring finger. I’m destined to be a girly man for the rest of my life.”

But gender isn’t as simple as that. Yes, biology plays a role and prenatal sex hormone exposure appears to have an influence on the masculinization or feminization of an individual throughout his or her life. But the biological component of gender is complex. As discussed above, it’s not just the ratio of testosterone and estrogen you were exposed to prenatally that may influence gender traits, but also the timing and duration of that exposure which plays a role too. Also, the T surge at puberty has a dramatic effect on masculinizing the body. What’s more, we can’t discount the environmental influences on gender that we all experience in our life, from our culture to our home environment to the choices we make.

So, as you look through the insights below, avoid the temptation to read too much into them. Take them as food for thought and something to consider — one tool among many in getting to know yourself better.

Note: As you read this, keep in mind that 2D:4D ratio is used as a corollary to testosterone/estrogen exposure in the womb. When you read “low 2D:4D,” think “higher testosterone/lower estrogen prenatal exposure,” and when you read “high 2D:4D,” think “lower testosterone/higher estrogen prenatal exposure.”

Aggression

Several correlational studies have found that individuals with a lower 2D:4D ratio tend to be more aggressive than people with higher 2D:4D ratios. The theory is that exposure to prenatal testosterone has organizational effects on the brain that “masculinize” it and make it more prone to aggressive behavior.

How Well Men Get Along With Women

Recent research has found that men with lower 2D:4D ratios are nicer to women than men with higher 2D:4D ratios. According to the study’s lead author, Debbie Moskowitz, “when with women, men with smaller ratios were more likely to listen attentively, smile and laugh, compromise, or compliment the other person.” Men with higher 2D:4D ratios tend to have a more difficult time getting along with women.

A follow-up study by another group of researchers found that men with lower 2D:4D ratios make greater efforts to impress women while courting them compared to men with higher 2D:4D ratios. They’re more likely to buy things like flowers and spend more on dates. What’s more, men with low 2D:4D ratios tend to spend more time and money on their appearance than men with higher 2D:4D ratios.

These findings might seem counterintuitive: wouldn’t a more masculine, “alpha” man have trouble getting along with women, and not care about things like style and romance? And wouldn’t a more feminized man find it easier to get along with women?

A man with more T, however, may be more driven to reproduce, and is thus more motivated to learn how to woo women, while men with lower T have less of this drive, and thus care less about their success with the ladies.

It’s interesting to note that researchers also found that women with higher, more feminized 2D:4D ratios were more likely to put greater effort into attracting men by staying fit, and wearing make-up and stylish clothes. Women with lower 2D:4D ratios (who tend to grow up as tomboys) don’t put in as much effort.

These correlational studies between digit ratio and mating effort may explain why men with lower 2D:4D digit ratios tend to marry younger and have more children than men with higher 2D:4D ratios — they’re more likely to do the courting necessary to find a mate.

The Type of Woman You Marry (Depending on Environment)

In one study among the semi-nomadic Himba population in Northern Namibia, researchers found that both men and women with lower, more masculine 2D:4D ratios tended to marry younger than men and women with higher, more feminized 2D:4D ratios.

The fact that Himba women with more masculine digit ratios were more likely to be married than women with more feminized digit ratios is another finding that may seem counterintuitive. You’d think the men would be more attracted to the more feminine women. The researchers suggest that men who live in harsh, resource-poor environments choose more masculine women, selecting for the traits that will aid their partnership in survival. In peaceful, resource-abundant times, men have the luxury of choosing mates who are not as hardy, but are more attractive and feminine (and often have a high 2D:4D ratio).

Fidelity

Several studies suggest that both men and women with lower 2D:4D ratios tend to be more promiscuous than men and women with higher 2D:4D ratios, suggesting prenatal exposure to testosterone can influence sexual behavior into adulthood.

Athletic Ability

Dr. Manning has published several research articles showing correlations between low 2D:4D ratio and improved athletic ability across sports. In fact, the lower the 2D:4D ratio gets, the more athletic ability tends to improve.

For example, Dr. Manning found that low 2D:4D digit ratio correlates with running speed. He actually put his reputation as the “finger scientist” on the line on the BBC, when he predicted who would win a sprinting race simply by looking at photographic copies of the competitors’ hands. He got 4 out of 6 right; the two he got wrong finished close together.

Sports that involve balls require an ability to make quick visual-spatial judgments as to where a ball is going to land; Manning has found that men with lower 2D:4D ratios perform better on tests of visual-spatial ability. He theorizes that prenatal exposure to testosterone influences the central nervous system to improve the capacity to make these visual-spatial decisions.

Manning has also found that star players in professional soccer teams in the United Kingdom typically have lower 2D:4D ratios than the teams’ reserve players.

Risk Taking

Several studies have found that a lower 2D:4D ratio is correlated with risk taking in men. For example, one study found that men with lower 2D:4D ratios were more likely to engage in “social and recreational” risks than men with higher 2D:4D ratios. Social risks are things like “speaking your mind about an unpopular issue at a social occasion” and recreational risks are things like taking part in mountain climbing or skydiving. The research found the correlation in men only. No such relationship existed in women, even those with lower 2D:4D ratios.

Another study found that men with lower 2D:4D ratios performed better in high-frequency stock trading, partly because they were more likely to take financial risks than men with higher 2D:4D ratios. I’d be curious to see a similar study on differences in financial performance between individuals with low and high 2D:4D ratios on long-term investing. I suspect that people with higher 2D:4D ratios would do better.

Smoking and Drinking

Since the 19th century, smoking has often been associated with manliness, but in onestudy, Manning found that individuals with higher, more feminized 2D:4D ratios actually smoked more than people with lower, more masculine 2D:4D ratios.

With alcohol consumption, low 2D:4D ratios correlate with higher drinking and alcohol dependence, while high 2D:4D ratios correlate with lower drinking and alcohol dependence.

Musical Ability

When studying the male members of an orchestra, Manning found that a lower 2D:4D ratio correlated with chair position; that is, the men with lower 2D:4D ratios tended to be ranked near the top in the orchestra. No such correlation between low 2D:4D ratio and musical ability existed with women. In fact, a similar study performed by another group of researchers which focused on female orchestral musicians found that female musicians with higher, more feminized 2D:4D ratios ranked higher in the orchestra.

Autism

Autism researcher Simon Baron-Cohen has called autism a manifestation of the “extreme male brain.” Males are diagnosed with autism at a much higher frequency than females, and many of the traits that individuals on the autism spectrum manifest are typical male traits, amplified. For example, individuals on the autism spectrum tend to show strengths in mathematical and spatial reasoning. They also tend to have a higher risk of language impairment and a hard time in social situations.

Manning and Baron-Cohen teamed up on a study to see if there’s a correlation between 2D:4D ratio and autism, and indeed they found one: children with autism had a lower 2D:4D ratio compared to population normative digit ratios. While the causes of autism spectrum are complex, and there’s likely no single cause, this study suggests that prenatal exposure to testosterone may play a role.

Verbal Fluency

Individuals with higher, feminized 2D:4D ratios have more verbal fluency than people with lower 2D:4D ratio.

ADHD

If you have a hard time focusing and sitting still, your exposure to prenatal sex hormones may be partly to blame. Studies have found correlations between low 2D:4D ratios and ADHD.

Risk of Depression and Anxiety

Elevated testosterone levels have been shown to blunt depression and anxiety in adult men and women. 2D:4D research suggests that prenatal testosterone exposure may organize the brain in such a way as to make an individual more or less susceptible to depression and anxiety as adults. Studies have found that men and women with higher, more feminized 2D:4D ratios have a higher risk of developing depression and anxiety compared to individuals with lower, more masculine 2D:4D ratios.

Risk for Heart Disease

As we discussed in our post about the benefits of testosterone, optimal levels of T as a grown man reduces the risk of developing heart disease. But research suggests that testosterone’s heart-protecting benefits may begin while you’re still a fetus. One study found that men with lower 2D:4D ratios have a reduced risk of developing heart disease compared to men with higher ratios.

Risk for Obesity

Elevated testosterone levels can ward off obesity as an adult, but elevated T levels in the womb may program the body to fight fat later in life as well. Research has found that men with lower 2D:4D ratios tend to be less obese than men with higher 2D:4D levels.

Masculinized or Feminized Face

Masculine faces, according to researchers, are more “robust.” The jaw is wider, the forehead is smaller and shorter, the nose is broader and thicker, eyebrows are thicker, and the eyes are closer together. Basically, your head looks like Thwomp from Super Mario. OrJocko Willink.

Feminine faces are characterized by large foreheads, long slim eyebrows, narrow cheeks, pointier jaws, and eyes that are further apart. On males, these features make them look more pixie, or Peter Pan-like.

Researchers believe that the testosterone surge which occurs at puberty is what gives men their masculine-looking faces. And it does. When boys hit puberty, their little chubby, round mugs start looking more like Thwomp. But one study suggests that prenatal testosterone exposure sets the stage for how masculine a male’s face will be at puberty. In fact, differences in how masculine a boy’s face is can be seen even before puberty, and as you might have guessed, 2D:4D ratio correlates with it.

When researchers looked at a group of boys ages 4-11 and measured their faces for masculine or feminine features, they found that boys with a more masculine, square-shaped head had a lower 2D:4D ratio, while boys with a slenderer, feminine face had a higher 2D:4D ratio.

Testosterone Levels as Adults

We’ve written extensively about the benefits of optimal testosterone levels and the lifestyle changes you can make to ensure that your levels are at their peak. But does prenatal testosterone exposure influence testosterone levels as a grown man?

Most studies have found no correlation between 2D:4D ratio and adult testosterone levels. So whether you have a masculine, low 2D:4D ratio or a more feminine, high 2D:4D ratio won’t affect the amount of circulating testosterone in your body as a grown man.

Manning conducted one study that suggests higher 2D:4D ratios may be correlated with less androgen sensitivity. According to this conclusion, if you were exposed to less prenatal testosterone as a fetus, your body simply won’t respond as much to testosterone compared to men with lower, more masculine 2D:4D ratios.

However, a follow-up study by another researcher found no such correlation.

So bottom line: if you’ve got a higher 2D:4D ratio, don’t worry about it lowering your total and free testosterone levels as a grown man.

Penis Length

A recent study out of South Korea found a correlation between 2D:4D ratio and penis length. Men with lower 2D:4D ratios tend to have longer penises when flaccid, while men with higher 2D:4D ratios have shorter penises. The researchers called for more studies on penis length and 2D:4D ratio in men from other countries.

Risk for Prostate Cancer

It may seem like most of the benefits cut the way of those with a lower 2D:4D ratio, but here’s one that goes the other way. We know that elevated testosterone levels in adult men increase the risk of prostate cancer. But research suggests that exposure to T while in the womb may also influence your chances of getting prostate cancer as an adult. A few studieshave shown that men with lower 2D:4D ratios have a higher risk of prostate cancer and other prostate diseases than men with higher 2D:4D ratios.

Sexual Orientation

One of the most common correlations the popular media likes to talk about in regards to 2D:4D ratios is the link to sexual orientation. But is there really a connection? Research shows mixed conclusions — especially with men.

Among males, some studies have found that men with higher 2D:4D ratios are more likely to identify as gay. But other studies found that homosexual men tend to have lower 2D:4D ratios than heterosexual men. Still other research found that the correlation between 2D:4D ratio and sexual orientation depends on the country a man lives in. Finally, a meta-analysisof all these different studies about sexual orientation and 2D:4D ratio found no significant correlations.

Basically, you can’t look at a man’s hands and determine if he’s gay or straight.

With women, however, several studies have found that lesbians, particularly those who identify as “butch,” have lower 2D:4D ratios than heterosexual women or more feminine lesbians.

At the end, I want to reiterate that while all this information and these hypotheses are interesting, they’re correlational and not strictly deterministic. If you have a high 2D:4D ratio, it shouldn’t be reason for insecurity. The duration of hormones you received in the womb may have made you masculine in other ways, but missed your fingers. And even if you ultimately didn’t bathe in as much T as a fetus, that doesn’t mean you can’t be manly as an adult. Masculinity, after all, comes together at the crossroads between biology and choice. Follow Pindar’s advice. Accept what nature has given you, and “become who you are.”

OPEN CARRY

I’m of two different positions on the open carry situation at the GOP convention. I’ve been on both sides of this and I’ve worked both side of this.

On the one hand this could be a superb experiment and provide some measure of proof regarding how well and how responsibly law abiding citizens conduct themselves with firearms, even in large numbers and in public venues.

Of course I’m already aware of that fact but many are not and many others would never admit it regardless of the actual facts.

On the other hand I’m not really worried about law abiding or well trained/well practiced citizens. I know actual human and criminal behavior and criminals and those who wish to do murder will not abide by the law nor care how they handle their firearms, legally obtained or not. They won’t be out to prove they are responsible,  or to practice self or societal defense, they’ll be out to do murder. Which is an entirely different objective with a wholly different set of methodologies.

And the cops simply won’t have enough personnel to check everyone who is packing at such an event or in town, and at the moment even they are open targets of criminals and terrorists.

Then again if the police or anyone else is attacked and armed citizens respond they could very well neutralize (or even just the threat of armed citizens could neutralize) any wanna be/would be murderer or potential mass murderer.

But, just to be honest, mass murderers and terrorists aren’t really afraid, per se, of death, they are only really afraid of being killed before they do a sufficient amount of murder to satisfy their own agenda. So that’s a kind of tricky tightrope – can you dissuade terrorists and mass murderers with the threat of failure since you can’t dissuade them properly with the threat of being killed in their attempts to do mass murder?

And on the other side of that even if citizens do kill the threat then police will find that very hard to sort out well, especially in the heat of the moment and in the chaos of the crowd. They will have to proceed cautiously enough to properly observe and understand the actual situation, should one develop, and that slowing of reaction times may put them and others in jeopardy.

Yes, this will be either a wonderful experiment regarding citizen proactivity and self-protection, or a security and policing nightmare, or, most likely and to some degree, both.

I guess I (like everyone else) will just have to  see how this all develops over time.

I wish and and hope and pray for the best.

I suspect and expect the worst…

THE NATURAL PARANOIA OF THE POLICE

THE NATURAL PARANOIA OF THE POLICE – YOU’RE NOT GETTING THE TAILLIGHT OR THE WAY THE STOP WENT DOWN

 

I don’t suspect that either “side” (of the political argument anyway) is getting the taillight or the stop. So let me explain something that probably most of you aren’t understanding then. At least not a lot of you.

Yes, it’s possible the woman made up the story of the taillight, but equally possible, if not far more so, that is simply the reason the officer gave for the stop. That, if the kid was a suspect, you give a fake reason for stopping them in order to throw the guy off his guard and not arouse suspicion.

Rarely would you stop a guy, especially if you spot that there is a woman and a kid in the car, and say to them, “Excuse me sir, but you fit the profile and so does this vehicle involved in a recently committed crime. Mind if I talk to you for a minute so we can see if you are the actual perp?”

Game is over at that point. You can likely expect trouble. I mean who the hell does that? Yes, the black humorist in me would like to see it tried sometime but not around anyone else.

And yeah, the cop lied to you in a semi-believable way or a way he can fake later, “Yeah, well, from what I saw the light wasn’t functioning.” Big deal, he’s trying to defuse or cover or prevent a far more dangerous or even potentially deadly situation. Which I’ll get to in a minute.

What I would have said and done, had I been the officer, was this,

“Excuse me, sir or madam (whoever is driving, I’d have to rewatch the video but notice he approached the boy in either case) and I don’t know if you are aware of this or not but your license tag is missing. It’s possible it either fell off or was stolen. No, don’t get out of your car. I just want to know, do you know your license tag number or can you recite it for me?”

I’ve used that ploy myself to great effect and it confuses people and distracts them. Setting their mind to a task that occupies them. But then again I’m fifty something years old and this cop was apparently a rather young guy with 3 or 4 years on the force and his partner about the same. You can’t blame a man for being inexperienced. That alone is not a crime. Though sometimes it can be a disaster.

But in either case the cop likely used the broken taillight as a ploy for the stop. Then everything else went down.

I have no problem with the stop. Or the ploy, if that’s what the cop did and I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that’s what he did. That’s not my complaint with this entire incident.

My complaint is with everything that follows.

Some of you are gonna think I’m anti-cop and some of you are gonna think I’m racist and so the hell what?

I’m not interested in either, I’m not either, and I don’t give a fuck what you think. None of that is germane. I am interested in solutions.

Let me tell you how I would have likely handled this and how most old timers would have handled this and without a shot being fired (unless the kid pulled a gun and started shooting, which you cannot control).

I would have told them both, “Your license tag is missing.” To occupy them. Then I would have filmed them all good with my body cam (an advantage of modern technology). If the guy informed me he had a gun and a permit I would have said, “Good, just wait on that please. No hurry.”

Seeing there was a kid (in case I hadn’t before) and a woman I’d have likely said, “You have a child in the car, you don’t want anything to happen to that child or to be stopped again. Do you?”

“No.”

“No, of course not. No one wants to endanger a child.”

“Do you two live together?”

Yes, or no.

“What are your addresses? Do you live nearby?” Get them without arousing suspicion and knowing they might or might not be true. But remember you still have the licenses and you still have the tags. Even if they don’t know that.

“Okay, go straight home and get this car and your child (even if it ain’t his kid you want him thinking that way about the kid) off the road. Someone else could pull you over.” (Remember you could be aware that there is a call out for the vehicle or the suspect, but they don’t necessarily know that.) “I’m gonna give you a warning ticket about the tag and if another officer pulls you over between here and home then show it to them. That will clear you, but go straight home, okay? Will you promise me that until we can recover your tag?”

Then I would have all I need for alter advantageous action and I’d send them on their way. I might even shadow them home but more than likely I’d just call it in and let everyone know what I did and for someone else to pick them up along the way or near their home(s). Once I could be sure the boy was safely separated from the child and woman then I could isolate and interrogate him and either verify or disprove he was the actual suspect.

Will they check their license tag on getting home? Maybe. If the boy does and he knows he’s a suspect then he might take off. Likely alone. Which is what you want. (Not necessarily policy wise, but practically and realistically.) If he has been properly shadowed or picked up he won’t get far and you won’t have to wait for long to pick him up at an advantage to you, and at a disadvantage to him. If he’s not the real suspect then you’ll just confuse him and the girl. No harm done. And again you can wait, observe, and possibly eliminate him as a suspect.

Either way your real effort is to get them separated. If he’s a suspect and isolated then the danger to everyone else is eliminated, if he is not a suspect then you either make up a story “It really looked like your tag was gone,” or you level with the guy. And apologize. And let him know why, “you fit a suspect description and so did your vehicle, but we’ve either been able to clear you or we caught the real suspect. I wanted you to know that because this could have gotten dangerous for you. And for us. I’m very glad it didn’t and hope this never happens again to you.” Then shake his hand.

Most of the time that satisfies most people. Even endears you to a few. Sometimes someone will file a complaint. But, and I don’t wanna sound syndical here but you know exactly what I mean, that beats the hell out of the paperwork and complaints you’ll receive for a shooting or for getting shot.

Point is, you don’t have to solve every possible criminal problem or engage every criminal suspect at first encounter unless of course you or someone else has found them in the commission of a crime. Or the suspect suddenly draws his own weapon and starts firing. Things you can’t control anyway.

Danger is not your real job as a police officer, it’s a perk (black humor again), and shooting and getting shot is not your real job as a cop, avoiding or deescalating danger and avoiding shooting and getting shot, and thereby resolving crime as peacefully as possible – that’s your real job. (Is that always possible, no, sadly, you understand real people too, but that is your aim and most of the time it can be done if you are craftier than the criminal or the public, and you should be craftier than both. Oh few people will say that out loud, because of modern political pussification, but it’s true. You want to be far smarter than either the criminals or the public to both defeat and destroy crime and to guard society, sometimes even from itself, without endangering the innocent.)

Now a lot of people will say by way of objection, “Well, our resources are already stretched too thin and we can’t afford to wait and to isolate.”

Of course you can. Don’t be absurd. Waiting and isolating is a hell of a lot cheaper and safer for everyone, including you (in the vast majority of cases) than facing lawsuits and riots and potshots at your fellow officers and mass murders attacks (I am not saying any of these things are actually justified, I am saying you likely will face them, and you know that if you are really honest with yourselves) and possibly getting civilians involved in a shooting. Shooting is the very last thing you want to do if you can possibly help it, but nowadays if an old woman with a knife is running around screaming, you just shoot her.

For God’s sake, think on that and think on how your grandfathers would have handled that.

You don’t, returning to the subject matter at hand, escalate a potentially dangerous situation around a woman and child. Even assuming you have a right to fire (and being a suspect does not make a man guilty and having a firearm – unless you are a convicted felon – is legal for everyone else or should be under our Constitution) bullets can hit bones or metal or other material and spin away and hit the woman or kid, or in a rush you can just plain miss.

And suspicion does not give you a right to fire.

And after you do fire and have severely injured a guy you immediately disarm him, clear the child and woman, and render assistance. You do not stand there with your weapon continually aimed at the guy as he bleeds out and dies.

There are lots of ways this could have been handled. Most all would have ended safely for everyone.

Now was this stop racism? Very, very unlikely that most any situation like this is racism. That’s ridiculous. It’s paranoia, is what it actually is. If it was racism or “systemic racism” then cops would be shooting sixty year old back guys and black women and little black kids, or whatever. They aren’t. They tend to shoot young black males because that is who is usually proven dangerous. After all young black males kill far more young black males than most cops ever will. (And you gotta be honest about that too.) But cops are paranoid of young black males precisely because, primarily in big city/heavily urban areas, they kill each other so often. Add that, to a cop’s already natural sense of paranoia and danger, not only abides for all, it multiplies and thrives.

And that’s fine and I get that, paranoia has on more than one occasion saved my ass. But paranoia and inexperience and the idea that you must be in a rush to resolve every dangerous or potentially dangerous situation has a bad side as well.

If you ask me, by studying this situation carefully, you can see how modern police training is going badly awry. Your training is all fucked up. Especially big city training. Well, most big city training anyway.

You gotta start being honest about that. Primarily, urban police officers, I mean.

You gotta start acting beyond your training and incorporating your own experience to your actions and reactions and listening to what your older officers and old timers do/did in tough situations, and listen to their stories.

You gotta stop being in such a rush and yeah, I know, if your superiors second guess you and think you have fucked up by letting a suspect walk (for the moment) they will give you hell and maybe even screw with your career. I know all of that shit. Your job sucks.

And yeah, I know you’re not racist, you’re paranoid. You’re stuck in a system, and an environment (just like most young decent blacks kids are) where the usual suspect and the usual perp of violent crime (and the usual victim) is a young black boy. That’s just Reality. So if you’re a cop, especially in certain areas, and you’re not paranoid, then you’re a fool.

But don’t let paranoia rule you (easier said than done, I know), don’t be in a rush, rely upon your training but don’t be hamstrung by it, add to it your experience and the experience of those around you, and remember a lot of problems, even those that seem immediately dangerous aren’t really if they are handled right. And given some time, thought, and pre-calculation.

(It sure as hell wouldn’t hurt for you to write down all of the tricks you’ve employed over time that worked out well, and all of the things you’ve done that haven’t worked and review those with yourself and your fellow officers from time to time. Screw policy when necessary, write down and think about and review what actually works. Lessons Learned. Keep your own records and notes on your own best techniques and the best techniques of those who do best.)

And remember that if you see a woman and a kid, assuming your suspect hasn’t already pulled a gun then he’s just a suspect and a lot of things can wait until the situation is to your advantage, and to the woman and kid’s advantage, not the suspect’s advantage.

And you owe people who are not criminals (especially when they are in or around potentially dangerous situations) respect even when they give you a hard time, and many will for reasons that have nothing to do with you. Most people are driven by their emotions at least some of the time. Everyone is from time to time. You know that better than most. You see it constantly.

And so for God’s sake be careful out there. I mean that in all of these potential senses, careful for yourself, careful of others, and careful for others. All are equally important but not all have to be serviced immediately and sometimes it is just plain better to wait, to observe, to qualify, and to understand before acting.

And for you civilians out there, especially you middle class blacks (and whites and others) who have lived basically sheltered lives but for whom the police may still be paranoid of you, they are paranoid by nature and as a result of the job (keeps them alive), not racist.

(At least not racist in the way you think at all. They are practical racists, if that is the real term or expresses the real idea. I know no one wants to hear that, even cops because they are not racists or bear ill-will against a race-group but they have “attached danger to the idea of young black males” primarily young black urban males because they have seen so many dangerous young black urban males. To that one group they are, rightfully or wrongly, extra-paranoid. You can call that racism if you like, I don’t, it should have its own term, and maybe I should devise one, but it’s not race-hatred, it’s an extra-heightened sense of danger and paranoia around a particular group of young black males born of experience, particularly those who live in certain areas.)

Nevertheless, and all of that being true, a police officer cannot rely upon suspicion and paranoia as a tool of interaction in working with the public. A police officer owes you respect especially if you are not engaged in crime or have no record. But cops have a heightened sense of suspicion and danger. Often to them suspect = convict or dangerous individual because they have seen it so much.

I wish there was a way I could magically wave a wand and resolve these situations for everyone involved or make everyone understand the other better.

But I can’t.

But I can say this, we can all do lot better. Cops, civilians, society, black, white, you name it. And we should all do lot better.

And criminals, for God’s sake, stop doing the shit you do.

There’s no future in it for you or anyone else. Without you being idiots and fools most of this shit would never happen. That’s the real answer to the vast majority of this mess.

Criminals, find and pursue a better way. You’re the real and by far the most prominent and dangerous problem.

Do I actually expect that? For criminals to suddenly grow a conscience and to change?

What the hell am I? Some kind of naïve modern man?

Not likely. But still, it’s what ought to be done.

 

Woman films shocking aftermath of police officer shooting her partner.

Warning: this post contains graphic footage. 

A shocking video shared live on Facebook by an African American woman whose partner was just shot four times by police has rocked the United States.

Having been pulled over for a broken tail light on Wednesday, Philandro Castile informed the police officer that he had a weapon in the car and a licence to carry before reaching for his wallet.

It was then that the officer opened fire, shooting Castile four times.

Castile’s partner, Diamond Reynolds and her four year old daughter watched on helplessly.

philandro castilePhilandro Castile in his last moments. Source: Diamond Reynolds / Youtube.

Within moments of Castile being shot, Reynolds began filming, live-streaming what was happening to Facebook, speaking to the camera and police officer intermittently.

“He let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm,” Reynolds said to the camera.

Reynold’s four year old daughter offers comfort to her mother. Post continues… 

Play Video

Diamond Reynolds films Philando Castile.

Castile can be seen slumped between the front seats, his white t-shirt soaked with blood, his breathing slowing between cries of pain.

“I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand off it,” the St. Anthony police officer can be heard saying to Reynolds.

Following the arrival of more officers, Reynolds’ confronting footage continues, with her being forced to drop to the ground at one point.

The shooting of Castile comes following the death of Alton Sterling, another African American man shot dead by police in Baton Rouge on Tuesday.

philandro castileDiamond Reynolds speaking to press following the shooting. Source: Youtube

“Please don’t tell me this, Lord. Please, Jesus, don’t tell me that he’s gone,” she said. “Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him. You shot four bullets into him, sir,” Reynolds says frantically. “He was just getting his license and registration, sir.”

Later, as Reynolds and her daughter are being loaded into a police vehicle, she again cries, “Please Jesus, no. Please no. Please no, don’t let him be gone.”

From out of shot, Reynolds daughter  can be heard saying, “it’s okay, I’m right here with you.”

Castile was pronounced dead at at Hennepin County Medical Center. He had no criminal record and was said to be well respected by co-workers and friends.

MOST WATCHED

THIS CAN BE DONE – AGAIN

READ THIS POST CAREFULLY – BECAUSE THIS CAN BE DONE, AGAIN

 

Every situation is dependent upon the circumstances encountered. That is true both of the cop, and the citizen. But read this carefully because there are actual solutions in this post to most (not all, but the vast majority) of deadly and potentially incidents between police and citizens in both directions.

And yes, I wish very much to return to these days. That was the way you actually did it. I saw countless examples of precisely this kind of police work growing up. Hell, I helped with this kind of police work and I had this kind of police work meted out to me on a couple of occasions. But I never forgot it, or what it meant, or what it actually required.

But it will take cops brave enough and self-disciplined enough to understand their true duty and function and citizens patient enough and self-disciplined enough to understand their duties and obligations to everyone else.

But this can be done. Again. These days can return. They should return.

(And truthfully, it is done already in most cases, you just don’t see that because most cases go smoothly and so are rarely mentioned and almost never displayed, and that maybe be to our real detriment, that body cams and other cams are not more often used by the media, the police, by citizens, and society to show how you do this right so people would have better examples of Right versus wrong. But my point is we could do this in most every case if more people understood, and far more importantly, practiced principles like these. But you have to have really brave, self-sacrificial cops and you have to have a self-disciplined, not self indulgent society. But this shouldn’t be just nostalgia, it should be Standard. But we all have to want that Higher Standard, and then make it so.)

(I have edited out the name and photograph and most IDing information for privacy on this blog post, but the story still retains the essence of what my friend said. This was my friend’s step father, but I knew dozens just like him. Like I said, there are solutions in this story.)

____________________________________________________

My Step-Father,  was a Police Officer, first for several years in a city environment and then 25 years a small town. He never discharged his weapon, in the line of Duty, although he did take a bullet while on the Philadelphia police force…

My Dad often was called upon to diffuse domestic disturbances and instances where veterans were having psychotic episodes. He would always leave his gun & baton in his patrol car, choosing instead to carry his 4 D-cell battery flashlight, which was less of a threat, yet an effective weapon, if needed…

He could ONLY do this, because he had complete Faith in his Lord & Savior, years of experience and advanced military & law enforcement combat training.

My Step-Father exuded love & confidence, while commanding respect. He was a rare exception… Unfortunately, most Police Officers are human to a fault and subject to the same errors, prejudices, fears and struggles as the rest of us. The BIG difference is that they have a thankless job, with many unhappy endings, in which they are often hated and forced into situations that you & I would have no answer for!

The ability of a Police Officer to uphold the authority of his position is contingent upon society’s willingness to submit to the authority of the position…

I’m sad about these situations of violence & abuse on both sides. I’m sadder that obedience to and respect for Authority is being replaced by provocation!

AS I SUSPECTED…

Yeah, I had him pegged early on as either ex-military or former SWAT. So I was right on that part too. Guy knew exactly what he was doing. The attack was too well executed and planned and staged and possibly even coordinated. His defensive positioning and site preparation must have been impressive to employ the robot with an explosive. It probably wasn’t just to kill him but to trigger potential IEDS, prepared bombs, booby traps, and excess ammo as well.  Plus until the actually got into his nest they could not have known/verified he was actually alone.
Then the robot could also do a post explosion assessment/sweep for traps and additional suspects prior to human penetration.
Yeah, that makes a lot more sense now. The robot and the explosives. Bad all the way around, but I get the logic. Especially if they had prior Intel from the negotiations or profile/personnel/background research.

We’ll have to see about any other suspects.

There is one other possibility too, which might sound crazy but I’ve seen crazier.

 

Dallas shooting kills five police officers; suspected attacker was Army veteran

 

See link for maps and videos

By Tim Madigan, William Wan and Mark Berman July 8 at 2:53 PM
Here’s what we know so far about the Dallas shooting Play Video1:57
DALLAS — Five Dallas police officers were killed and seven others wounded Thursday night when sniper fire turned a peaceful protest over recent police shootings into a scene of chaos and terror.

The gunfire was followed by a standoff that lasted for hours with a suspect who told authorities “he was upset about the recent police shootings” and “said he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers,” according to Dallas Police Chief David Brown. The gunman was killed when police detonated a bomb-equipped robot.

After the bloodshed — the deadliest single day for law enforcement officers since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks — authorities said one attacker was dead, three potential suspects were in custody and police were still investigating who may have been involved in the attack.

Dallas shooting updates
News and analysis on the deadliest day for police since 9/11.
Sign up
“We are heartbroken,” Brown said during a news conference Friday. “There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city.”

The eruption of violence at around 9 p.m. occurred during a calm protest over recent police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana, with similar demonstrations occurring in cities across the country. As a barrage of gunfire ripped through the air, demonstrators and police officers alike scrambled. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told CBS News that in addition to the police officers, two other people were wounded by gunfire, though their conditions were not immediately known.

[What we know about the attack on police in Dallas]

‘Somebody’s armed to the teeth’: Social videos show shooting in Dallas Play Video2:37
Police have not officially released the identity of the attacker who said he was upset by police shootings, but a senior U.S. law enforcement official familiar with the probe identified him as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, who is believed to be from the Dallas area. Johnson did not appear to have any ties to international terrorism, the official said.

Johnson deployed to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army from November 2013 through July 2014 and was in the Army Reserve from 2009 until last year. Army records show that Johnson, whose home was listed as Mesquite, Tex., had served with an engineering brigade before he was sent to Afghanistan. He did not have a combat job and was listed as a carpentry and masonry specialist.

There are no immediate indications that the attack was related to terrorism, international or domestic, according to a second federal law enforcement official, who asked not to be identified discussing an ongoing probe.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said Friday that federal officials including the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were working with local law enforcement to help investigate the attack.

“This has been a week of profound grief and heartbreak and loss,” Lynch said. Noting that the attack in Dallas happened during a protest sparked by police shootings, she added: “After the events of this week, Americans across our country are feeling a sense of helplessness, uncertainty and fear … but the answer must not be violence.”

[Man falsely connected to the shooting by Dallas police is now getting ‘thousands’ of death threats]

The slain police included four Dallas police officers and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) officer. While police said they were killed by “snipers” perched atop “elevated positions” and initially said there were two snipers, it was unclear Friday how many attackers were involved.

For hours after the assault, police were locked in a standoff with Johnson after he was cornered on the second floor of a building downtown. Police exchanged gunfire with him and negotiated with him, but those discussions broke down, Brown said.

In those conversations, Brown said the suspect told police that “he was upset about Black Lives Matter” and angered by the police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota that dominated national news this week after officers in both places fatally shot black men. He also said he was not involved with any groups and acted alone, the police chief said.

Authorities currently believe that he was the lone shooter, although have not completely ruled out the involvement of others, said Philip Kingston, a Dallas City Councilman who represents the downtown district. “The shooter’s own statement apparently was that he had acted alone,” Kingston said around midday on Friday.

During the standoff, Johnson also told authorities that “the end is coming” and spoke about bombs being placed downtown, though no explosives had been found by Friday.

[Dallas police Chief David Brown lost his son, former partner and brother to violence]

Ultimately, Brown said police had no other option but to place an explosive device on their bomb robot and send it to the suspect, who was killed when the bomb detonated.

During remarks at a prayer vigil on Friday afternoon, Brown said that “this was a well-planned, well-thought-out evil tragedy by these suspects,” adding: “And we won’t rest until we bring everyone involved to justice.”

Names of the slain officers began to emerge Friday, beginning with Brent Thompson, a 43-year-old transit police officer and Patrick Zamarripa, a 32-year-old police officer who served three tours in Iraq with the U.S. military.

The Dallas transit agency identified three of its officers who were injured but are expected to survive.

“As you can imagine, our hearts are broken,” the agency said in a statement. “We are grateful to report the three other DART police officers shot during the protest are expected to recover from their injuries.”

These three officers were named as Omar Cannon, 44; Misty McBride, 32; and Jesus Retana, 39. Tela Strickland, McBride’s 14-year-old cousin, reacted with “shock” to news that her relative was shot in the stomach and shoulder.

“I am so tired of seeing shootings in the news,” she told The Post. “When you see your own family in the news, it’s heartbreaking.”

Follow
dartmedia @dartmedia
DART grieving the loss of Ofc Brent Thompson, 43, killed during Thurs protest. First DART officer killed in line of duty. Joined DART 2009.
3:00 AM – 8 Jul 2016
1,924 1,924 Retweets 1,296 1,296 likes
Even as people were still trying to hide or shelter in place after the gunfire, videos began to circulate on social media showing some of the bloodshed.

One video showed a person with an assault-style rifle shoot a police officer in the back at point-blank range. In the footage, a gunman is seen running up behind an officer moving behind a pillar and firing at his back. The officer is seen falling to the ground. It is unclear if the officer survived.

Eyewitness video: Dallas gunman shoots police officer Play Video1:47
Brown had said during one briefing that he was not sure if there were more suspects at large. On Friday, Brown said he would not go into any detail on other suspects until authorities get further into their investigation.

“We’re not expanding on who and how many,” he said. “We’re going to keep these suspects guessing.”

[Killings and racial tensions commingle with divided and divisive politics]

At one point, Brown had said he believed four suspects were “working together with rifles triangulated at elevated positions at different points in the downtown area” where the march was taking place.

“Suspects like this just have to be right once … to snipe at officers from elevated position and ambush them from secret positions,” Brown said Friday. He added that despite the danger, officers “with no chance to protect themselves … put themselves in harm’s way to make sure citizens can get to a safe place.”

Two possible suspects were seen climbing into a black Mercedes with a camouflage bag before speeding off, police said. They were apprehended in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas. A third possible suspect, a woman, was taken into custody near a garage where the attacker who exchanged gunfire with police wound up.

Brown said it was unclear if any of the suspects were somehow connected to the protest. He added that detectives were investigating that possibility.

“All I know is this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens,” he said.

[Police nationwide order officers to ride in pairs after Dallas police ambush]

On Friday, Rawlings, the mayor, said that he believed the country had to honestly confront racial discrimination.

“We will not shy away from the very real fact that we as city, as a state, as a nation are struggling with racial issues,” he said during a prayer vigil.

After the shooting in Dallas, police officers and agencies across the country offered their condolences and took steps to protect their officers.

Police chiefs in Washington, Los Angeles County, Boston, Nassau County and St. Louis also had instructed their patrol officers to pair up, as did officials in Las Vegas, where two officers were gunned down in an ambush while eating lunch in 2014, and New York, where two officers were killed in another ambush that same year.

Terry Cunningham, the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the chief of police in Wellesley, Mass., said Friday, that officers nationwide “really are going to have to have vigilance. Any traffic stop, at any time, can be deadly. I don’t know what this means. I don’t know if this means more violence perpetrated toward law enforcement as a result of this.”

Officials in Tennessee said Friday that they believed a man who opened fire on a parkway there before exchanging gunshots with police may have been prompted by concerns over encounters involving police and black Americans.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said that Lakeem Keon Scott, 37, the suspected shooter in that case, had killed one woman driving in her car, wounded two other people and shot a Bristol, Tenn., police officer in the leg before officers shot and wounded him.

“Preliminarily, the investigation reveals Scott may have targeted individuals and officers after being troubled by recent incidents involving African-Americans and law enforcement officers in other parts of the country,” the agency said in a statement. They added that there was no current safety threat to the area and that the investigation suggested that Scott had worked alone.

[Minn. governor says race played role in fatal police shooting during traffic stop]

The mass shooting in Dallas comes amid intense scrutiny of police officers and how they use deadly force, an issue that returned to prominence in the news this week after videos circulated of a fatal shooting in Baton Rouge, La., and the aftermath of another in Minnesota. On Tuesday morning, Alton Sterling was fatally shot by police in Baton Rouge; less than 48 hours later, Philando Castile was fatally shot by an officer in Minnesota.

President Obama, who after arriving in Warsaw discussed how troubling the events in Minnesota and Louisiana were, spoke about the Dallas attack and said there was “no possible justification” for the shooting in the city.

“I believe that I speak for every single American when I say that we are horrified over these events,” Obama said.

He called on Americans to “profess our profound gratitude to the men and women in blue” and to remember the victims in particular.

“Today, our focus is on the victims and their families,” Obama said. “They are heartbroken, and the entire city of Dallas is grieving. Police across America, which is a tight-knit family, feels this loss to their core.”

Officials across the country expressed their grief for those killed in Dallas.

“I mourn for the officers shot while doing their sacred duty to protect peaceful protesters, for their families [and] all who serve with them,” Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, wrote in a message on Twitter. Her likely Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump, called the shooting “a coordinated, premeditated assault on the men and women who keep us safe.”

Amidst protests, police heroics

Stories of heroism emerged along with tales of horror. Several people said officers helped save them, including one man who said an officer pushed him out of the way as shooting began. Bystanders captured footage of cops dragging fallen comrades out of the line of fire. Cameras also captured police officers choking back tears for their fallen colleagues. One officer appeared to brace himself against his SUV as grief overcame him.

“So many stories of great courage,” Brown said.

Dallas Police respond after shots were fired at a Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Dallas on Thursday, July 7, 2016. Dallas protestors rallied in the aftermath of the killing of Alton Sterling by police officers in Baton Rouge, La. and Philando Castile, who was killed by police less than 48 hours later in Minnesota. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News)
Rawlings said it was “a heartbreaking morning” and called for unity.

“We as a city, we as a country, must come together and lock arms and heal the wounds we all feel,” he said.

As in other cities across the country, protesters gathered in downtown Dallas just before 7 p.m. for a march from Belo Garden Park to the Old Red Courthouse.

For nearly two hours, hundreds of demonstrators had marched through Dallas, at one point passing near a memorial plaza marking the site of President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 assassination in the city.

[Dallas witness: ‘Everybody seemed happy. And then, all of a sudden — the shots rang out.’]

Stanley Brown, 19, was near El Centro, a community college in downtown, when the shooting began.

“You could hear the bullets whizzing by our car and hitting the buildings. A bullet missed our car by six feet,” he said. “We pulled into a garage and got out of our car, and the bullets started hitting the walls of the garage.”

Brown ran around the corner of a building to take cover, only to see a gunman running up the street.

“He was ducking and dodging, and when police approached, he ducked into El Centro,” he said.

He saw a SWAT team rush the college building, enabling five people to escape.

“An officer looked back at us and yelled that it was a terrorist attack,” he said.

Lynn Mays said he was standing on Lamar Street when the shooting began.

“All of a sudden we started hearing gunshots out of nowhere,” he told the Dallas Morning News. “At first we couldn’t identify it because we weren’t expecting it, then we started hearing more, rapid fire. One police officer who was standing there pushed me out the way because it was coming our direction…. Next thing you know we heard ‘officer down.’”

Undercover and uniformed police officers started running around the corner and “froze,” Mays said. “Police officers started shooting in one direction, and whoever was shooting started shooting back.

“And that’s where the war began.”

Wan and Berman reported from Washington. Greg Jaffe in Warsaw and Michael E. Miller, Travis M. Andrews, Adam Goldman, Katie Mettler, Ben Guarino, Mary Hui, Tom Jackman, Peter Hermann and Thomas Gibbons-Neff in Washington contributed to this report.

Dallas
Read more:

Two years after Ferguson, fatal shootings by police are up

The Post’s database of fatal police shootings

The Dallas sniper attack was the deadliest event for police since 9/11

MIGHT I MAKE A SUGGESTION?

MIGHT I MAKE A SUGGESTION?

First thing I noticed this morning upon waking… asked the wife if she understood what this meant? Not sure she did. Not sure many do. Or will. Not at first anyway.

The irony is that I’ve been following events surrounding the Dallas PD for a few weeks now including the supposed mass resignations. A couple of articles said over money, but a few hinted at other things, like failure to issue equipment because of an emphasis on community policing. (Which I’m not against, it’s just some beats are far more dangerous than others and trying to patrol all beats in the same way is ridiculous.)

Now assuming the reports I’ve read are true and some of the resignations are because of an insistence up top that all beats be equipped and patrolled as if they are all waterfront garden districts and certain equipment and tactics were discouraged, then you use a robot to explode a perp (which again I’m not against as a last ditch resort to save lives), then the precedent here could at least conceivably lead down some very dark corridors.

You discourage vest and body armor and possibly trigger mass resignations but then employ robots not to just shoot and overwhelm a suspect but to explode them?

If you can’t see the irony…

But I’d like to make a suggestion in this arena iffin I may. If you’re gonna go down this road then at least properly prepare. Develop police combat robots which can gas, stun, immobilize, track, overwhelm, immobilize, incapacitate, and apprehend suspects rather than just merely shoot and blow them up. Sure, I’m not a great fan of robots replacing people in such situations but at least be ready with real Policing Bots and not just shoot and kill bots.

Because in cases where ya got a guy dead to rights, and he’s already shooting or blowing up the joint, that’s one thing. But in cases involving other suspects who you don’t really know their real disposition just blowing em up will lead to very bad things.

Or worse lead to a third world, Robocop, mere liberal Utopian big-government, big-brother democracy of the best equipped rather than to a thriving Republic of Free Men.

Assuming we have a Republic anymore, which ain’t likely…

 

POLICE USED BOMB DISPOSAL ROBOT TO KILL A DALLAS SHOOTING SUSPECT
POTENTIALLY THE FIRST USE OF A ROBOT TO KILL IN AMERICAN POLICING

By Dave Gershgorn Posted 3 hours ago

Bomb Squad Robot Drives Up Ramp
J.p. Lawrence, via DVIDS
Bomb Squad Robot Drives Up Ramp

A bomb disposal robot drives up a ramp piloted  by New York Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Adam Russ of the New York Army National Guard's 501st Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Battalion, during training at the New York State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany New York, May 18.  New York Army National Guardsmen trained for a week alongside domestic and international EOD military and law enforcement personnel during an exercise called Raven's Challenge , May 16-20, sponsored by the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Sgt. J.p. Lawrence/Released).
A bomb disposal robot drives up a ramp piloted by New York Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Adam Russ of the New York Army National Guard’s 501st Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Battalion, during training at the New York State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany New York, May 18. New York Army National Guardsmen trained for a week alongside domestic and international EOD military and law enforcement personnel during an exercise called Raven’s Challenge , May 16-20, sponsored by the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Sgt. J.p. Lawrence/Released).

From New York National Guard: “A bomb disposal robot drives up a ramp piloted by New York Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Adam Russ of the New York Army National Guard’s 501st Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Battalion, during training at the New York State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany New York, May 18”
In the wake of post-protest shootings that left five police officers dead and seven others wounded, along with two civilians, police traded gunfire last night with a suspect inside a downtown Dallas parking garage. Eventually, law enforcement sent a “bomb robot” (most likely shorthand for a remotely controlled bomb disposal robot) armed with an explosive, to the suspect’s location, then detonated the explosive, killing the suspect.

“We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was…other options would have exposed our officers to great danger,” said Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown. “The suspect is deceased as a result of detonating the bomb.”

Repurposing a robot that was created to prevent death by explosion clearly contrasts with the way these machines are normally used. Bomb disposal robots are routinely used to minimize the potential of harm to officers and civilians when disarming or clearing potential explosives from an area. They are often equipped with their own explosive charges and other tools, not to kill, but detonate other potential bombs in the area.

Dallas police used a bomb disposal robot in another major news story last year, when the Dallas Police headquarters were attacked by a gunman who planted explosives. That assailant was shot by police, not killed by the bomb robot.

Records show that the Dallas County Sheriff Department and neighboring Duncanville Police Department each own a MARCbot, another commonly-used bomb disposal robot.

However, in previous images seen of the Dallas Police department using bomb disposal robots, they appear to actually use a Northrop Grumman Remotec Andros F6A or F6B, a standard model for police and military use. It’s highly customizable, and can look very different depending on which configuration of arm and sensors are configured. The closest known Andros resides in Comal County, Texas, 250 miles away.

The police’s use of this machine to kill raises questions about how robots will be used in the future. This may be the first example of a robot being used by American police to kill a suspect, notes University of California Davis law professor Elizabeth Joh:

Popular Science contributing editor Peter W. Singer tweets that similar tactics have been used before, although in a military situation, when a surveillance robot was used to kill an insurgent with a Claymore explosive.

It’s unclear how police controlled the robot, but wireless protocols can be easily intercepted or altered by skilled hackers. Security researcher Matt Blaze points out that the security of a machine like this becomes more important once it’s shown the capacity to be used as a weapon.

In other images found of Dallas a bomb disposal robot in action, the robot appears to be controlled wirelessly. The Andros robot can be operated wirelessly or with a wired tether, according to the Northrop Grumman website, but it’s unclear which mode Dallas Police used in this incident.
Updated: This post has been updated to reflect new information concerning the potential bomb disposal robot used.

SPOOKED

SPOOKED

If you are a young black male and you don’t understand that police are sometimes spooked by you, especially if you live in a high crime, urban area, then you aren’t thinking this out very far. Now as a black kid or man is that necessarily your fault? If you are law abiding and peaceful and doing the best you can, then no, it is not your fault. But at the moment anyway, it is the way it is. And no one can argue the way things actually are. You might not like it, and in this case you shouldn’t like it, but you can’t argue it’s not true.
If you are a police officer and you don’t understand that a lot of young black males (or others) are sometimes spooked by you, especially if you react to them with automatic suspicion or an assumption of guilt, then you aren’t thinking this out very far. Now as a cop is this your fault? If you are a good cop and doing the best you can, then no, it is not your fault. But at this moment, anyway, this is the way it is. And no one can argue the way things actually are. You might not like it, and in this case you shouldn’t like it, but you can’t argue it’s not true.
Everyone is spooked. Sometimes for entirely legitimate reasons and sometimes for assumptively dubious and entirely erroneous reasons. And when people are spooked, then rightly or wrongly, bad things tend to happen. People react instead of carefully observe, people are triggered by instinct rather than reason, people’s emotions become actively paramount rather than their common sense. The result of those habits are often very bad (certainly stupid and unnecessary), even murderous things.
But no one but criminals and terrorists and very bad men will benefit if young law abiding citizens and young men and the police are spooked of each other, and are reflexively hostile towards and automatically dubious of each other.
What’s the answer? Hell, I wish I could tell you the answer. The one that will work in every case. But no answer will work in every case. That’s just not real life. Not the way real people are. People are people. They will at times revert to their worst instincts or their most illogical and counter-productive habits. Or even to bad or incomplete or misguided training.
However I can tell you this much: When you are angry at each other, and vengeful towards each other, and automatically suspicious of each other, and spooked by each other then no real good can come of that. And no solutions either. Sometimes though, just really thinking and dwelling on the problem can give you an understanding of how to start.
However I can tell you what ought to be happening. What ought to be happening is that young black men, the law abiding and decent and good ones should be working with the police to take down criminals and thugs and terrorists in their own neighborhoods and to straighten out those neighborhoods for everyone else. (Including for the benefit and safety of their own children and women.) What ought to be happening is that cops should not to be automatically suspicious of all young black men who live in a dangerous area (and yes, they have every right to own personal firearms and maybe even more reason than most – because, well, think about it, they live in a bad or violent or high crime neighborhood) and instead the police ought to be conscripting the young, decent, good ones as allies and informants and friends to help clean up bad neighborhoods. (And good cops cannot stand beside or defend bad ones, or even wrong ones.) There should be an alliance and a true friendship and a partnership between citizen and police, but that has to run in both directions at once and respect and protection and cooperation and trust has to also run in both directions at once, and keep running in both directions at all times and as much as humanly possible.
Now I fully understand human beings and their true natures. I’m not fooled by how things will have to go or will go, or are even likely to go. And I’m not gonna try and deceive you with a bunch of feel good, talk-show, pop-psychology, fairy dust and glitterized bullshit. Mistakes will be made and will continue to be made. That’s human nature. Humans are imperfect. But no one should defend wrongdoing in either direction and over time the mistakes should become fewer and fewer, and even less and less egregious.
But this shit has got to stop people. My nation is already entirely fucked up enough as it is. Manslaughter and mass murder and unending suspicion and chaos and innocents being slaughtered and riots in cities and snipers on rooftops and kids shot dead out of suspicion is not the way. We’ve nowhere else to go from here but straight down to hell.
Being spooked all of the time will make spooks of far too many of us. Dead men in a dying land.It is a false hope to live as ghosts in a ghostland, to be half-men in a dead land, when we could be a Great Thing in a Great Land.
We should all be living and thriving and growing and developing, and at and about worthwhile, profitable enterprises.
What we’re doing right now ain’t working, and it can’t work. And, in the end, because it cannot hope to succeed, for anyone, it will have to be abandoned anyway. Or to stubborn self-ruin we go.
I hate even mentioning shit like this because I despise politics being interjected into life and death matters and matter of Right and Wrong. Right and Wrong should always stand on it’s own because, well hell, it’s fucking Right and Wrong. If you don’t get that then I can’t help you. Truth is you should never have to interject race or class or sex or any other far lesser considerations into Right and Wrong. But my wife is black, and my kids are half-black, and a lot of my good friends are black. And I grew up around cops and I’ve worked crime and tracked murders and rapists and thieves (and I know exactly how it works, I’m not in the least naïve or misguided about how criminals and terrorists are) and a lot of my good friends are cops and God-damnit it all to hell this ain’t fucking working.
I’m sitting here about to cry just thinking about all of the totally useless, murderous, violent shit I’ve seen over the years and I don’t fucking cry. And I keep thinking, Christ in Heaven, damn this mindless, habitual shit, don’t they ever, ever, ever fucking get it? How useless this shit is? How utterly unnecessary most of it is!!?
And if they don’t get it by now then what will it actually take?
Look, I’m under no illusion that most criminals are not gonna get what I’m saying. Nor are they gonna care. But by God, why can’t the rest of us? Get it?
So start now. For God’s sake. For your own sakes… Start doing things differently. Start treating each other differently. What in the fuck do any of us have to lose if we all do this differently?
Otherwise this shit is all you’re gonna have and this cycle of idiocy and death is all you’re going to have to hand down to your children and grandchildren.
You’ve already bankrupted them. Do you want to hand them down this useless shit too?
So man the fuck up already people, throw in together, and stop being so bucking spooked when you don’t need to be. And stop giving out reasons for others to be spooked by you too.
Because what we’re doing right now can’t possibly work over time.
And we’re running the hell out of it.
Pray for your nation folks. Pray for your own understanding. But just as importantly, if not more so, start doing things differently.
This shit is all on us. The solution will be on us too.
Or the doom and the fucking damnation will be.
And I for one have had a fucking nuff of the doom and the damnation.
I want to see things they way they ought to be. I want to see all men behaving as they should.
For God’s sake, for your own sakes, don’t you?

I SUSPECT SOMEONE KNEW

I SUSPECT SOMEONE KNEW

Damn… but like I said, this reminded me of the article I read about the hole in the Dallas Police and their low morale.

http://lawofficer.com/2016/05/dallas-police-officers-are-leaving-in-mass/

If it was indeed two snipers though it was not just random violence (is there ever really such a thing?) aimed at police but a well calculated and well planned operation. It could be a local gang, possibly, but I am dubious. Not many gangs or thugs are good shots, much less highly accurate sniper shots.

No, this was in the works for awhile I suspect especially given their accuracy and positioning. It was well scouted and to have escaped as they did that also makes me dubious that this is what it initially appears.

Given what is reported thus far I suspect someone like Mexican drug lords, or perhaps even terrorists. It could be a lone wolf or a pair of them but whoever did this did so in a methodical way and when everything else went down with the kid who was shot in his car they stepped in (or stepped up their already planned operation) and exploited the hole they had to have already been aware of.

Like I said anything is possible nowadays but I suspect this was something already well panned, not just a one or two day patchwork effort. It was well planned and well executed and well plotted. Someone knew exactly what to hit and when and where.

They should go where the evidence leads but I would disregard no one at this point. Including drug gangs hiring out or even terrorists.

There is one other possibility too, which might sound crazy but I’ve seen crazier.

 

 

Multiple officers killed at Dallas protest over police killings

(CNN)[Breaking news update 12:40 a.m. ET]

The man whose picture has been circulated by the Dallas Police Department has turned himself in, the department tweeted. Police initially called the man a suspect, but now refer to him as a person of interest. Another alleged suspect is in custody, the tweet said. A suspicious package was discovered near that suspect’s location. The package is being secured by a bomb squad, the tweet said.
[Breaking news update 12:19 a.m. ET]
A fourth officer has died following a protest in Dallas over shootings by police of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, Dallas police tweeted.
[Breaking news update 12:13 a.m. ET]
The Dallas Police Department tweeted an image of a man they said was one of the suspects and asked the public for help in finding him. The photo is of an African-American man wearing a camouflage T-shirt and carrying what appears to be a rifle. Texas is an open carry state, which means it is legal for those with permits to openly carry weapons.
[Breaking news update 12:08 a.m. ET]
Eleven police officers have been shot in Dallas, according to city police Chief David Brown. Three officers have died: one DART officer and two Dallas police officers, Brown said.
[Breaking news update 12:05 a.m. ET]
Police have cornered a suspect in a commercial garage after the shootings of 11 police officers near the end of a protest in Dallas over shootings by police of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, police Chief David Brown told reporters. The chief said at least two snipers in elevated positions fired “ambush style” on the officers. “Some (were) shot in the back.” There also is a search for a possible bomb in the area, Brown said. “This is a very emotional time for our department and the law enforcement community across the country,” Brown said. Officials asked the public’s help in identifying suspects.
[Previous story posted at 11:58 p.m. ET]
Multiple police officers have been killed during a protest in Dallas over shootings by police of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
Three Dallas police officers were killed and eight others were wounded, Dallas Police Chief David Brown and the City of Dallas said in separate statements.
One Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer was fatally shot, the agency tweeted.
It’s not clear if Brown included the DART officers in his tally.
Brown said two snipers shot the 10 from elevated positions during a protest. Two officers are in surgery and three are in critical condition. No suspects were in custody.
Three other DART officers were also shot. Their injuries are not considered life-threatening, DART said.

‘Everyone was screaming’

The shooting happened as protests were underway about two blocks from Dealey Plaza. Video showed the crowd suddenly sprinting away.
CNN affiliate KTVT reported that two Dallas officers were shot. CNN could not immediately confirm that information and it’s not clear if they were referring to the DART officers.
Witness Clarissa Myles said she was eating at McDonalds when the chaos began.
“Everyone was screaming, people were running,” she said. “I saw at least probably 30 shots go off.”
“I was walking next to the officer who was helping with the protest, all of a sudden I saw six to eight shots,” one witness told the station. “It looked like two officers went down.”
Another witness who was at the protest told the station he heard multiple gunshots.
“Whoever was shooting had an assault rifle — and I know guns. The shots were in rapid succession,” the witness said.
Video showed numerous police officers crouching behind vehicles. Others approached a location holding protective shields.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dallas law enforcement community and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) officers killed and injured this evening,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement following the shooting. “In times like this we must remember — and emphasize — the importance of uniting as Americans.”

WHAT I DON’T GET ABOUT US ANYMORE…

WHAT I DON’T GET ABOUT US ANYMORE…

 

My opinion on this, and it has been my opinion for a long time, is that this is bad police training. That, especially in big city police forces, officers are being trained as if for war, instead of policing. You cannot train a police force as if they are soldiers or to see every young guy or black guy as a lethal threat. Or every move they make as a lethal threat.

Young men, young black men (anyone really), have a right to just be Citizens. They have a right to carry guns. And although I have always told my children and wife (and I practice this principle myself), make no sudden move around police, this does not mean police have the legal right to pull a gun and shoot you simply because you do something they do not immediately understand. Police are trained to react properly, the citizen is not the party who has been professionally trained.  Proper training and superior (not inferior) reactions are the responsibilities of being trained as a police officer. It is what should be expected. the standard, the norm.

Also after shooting the guy the officer did not render assistance, he did not clear the car, he did not secure the child, he just stood there yelling orders at the woman. No cop I grew up with or around as a kid would have acted in that way. This is the stance and behavior of a solider in a war zone, not a police officer. No old timer would have behaved in this way.

If you are going to train for war then you will kill innocent and helpless citizens. Or just as bad leave them to die after you have over-reacted.

This is war training, and you are not at war. And this will continue more or less routinely, at least in heavily urban areas (you rarely see this in rural areas and I hope it stays that way) until the training shifts back to police work.

Nevertheless I have come to understand that this is like so much else that is fucked up about my nation. Authority and law supersedes what is right and wrong, training supersedes common sense, reactions supersede thought and observation, the system overrules and tyrannizes the individual, the individual is terrified and will not Revolt against it all, and no one is concerned at all with fixing the actual problems. Be they police over-reactions or unchecked ghetto criminal activity and gang murders or corrupt governments or bad laws or lack of self-discipline, or whatever the case may be. And the actual problems would be so easy to fix if modern men just had the balls to be honest, and to act.

But my nation is determined to tear itself apart, to Balkanize itself, and to avoid problem solving. The pussy in us is deep, and we are all equally guilty.

And if we don’t get our shit straightened out and start being honest and show more courage then we will all burn together.

Not because we have to, but because we’re too big a set of pussies to do otherwise.

And that is what bothers me most of all. Not that we are condemned to rip each other apart and follow our own worst instincts, but that we are so fucking satisfied to do so.

Philando Castile Shooting in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, Sparks Protests

 

by PHIL HELSEL, SHAMAR WALTERS and ALASTAIR JAMIESON
SHARE

PlayMinneapolis shooting: Philando Castile’s death sparks outrage Facebook Twitter Google Plus Embed
Minneapolis shooting: Philando Castile’s death sparks outrage 2:57
Protests erupted in Minnesota overnight after a man was fatally shot by police during a traffic stop in front of his girlfriend and a child.

The aftermath of Philando Castile’s shooting in Falcon Heights was apparently captured in graphic detail on Facebook video.

Angry crowds gathered outside the governor’s mansion as news spread about the death. Castile, 32, was a kitchen supervisor for the St. Paul school district.

His was the second officer-involved shooting of a black man to spark protests in just two days, following the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

http://www.nbcnews.com/widget/video-embed/720192067746
The St. Anthony Police Department confirmed a man was fatally shot during a traffic stop Wednesday night, saying that a handgun was recovered from the scene and that the officer involved has been placed on paid administrative leave.

The department added that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will lead an investigation.

Congresswoman Betty McCollum, whose district covers Falcon Heights, also called for a federal investigation into the shooting to “provide all Minnesotans with a clear understanding of the facts surrounding this incident and ensure accountability appropriate to those facts.”

The Justice Department said Thursday that it was aware of the incident and was “assessing the situation.”

A woman and her young child were in the car at the time but were unharmed, the department told NBC affiliate KARE11. Police did not identify the victim but his family named him as Philando Castile.

http://www.nbcnews.com/widget/video-embed/720148035605
In a Facebook video that appears to show the aftermath of the shooting, a man is seen in a blood-soaked white T-shirt slumped in the driver’s seat of a car. The form of what appears to be an officer is at the window, pointing a gun inside.

“Oh my god, please don’t tell me that he’s gone. Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him,” the panicked woman, who identified herself as Castile’s girlfriend, can be heard saying.

“He’s licensed to carry. He was trying to get out his ID and his wallet out of his pocket and he let the officer know that he was — he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet,” the woman tells the camera.

Related: ‘Full of Joy’: Family Mourns Alton Sterling

Speaking to the bleeding man, the woman says: “Stay with me! We got pulled over for a busted tail-light in the back, and the police just … he’s covered. They killed my boyfriend.”

The officer is heard saying “I told him not to reach for it!” to which the woman replies: “You told him to get his ID, sir, his driver’s license.”

“Oh my God, please don’t tell me he’s dead,” the woman says as the wounded man slumps motionless in the seat.

“My daughter just witnessed this,” the woman says.

The child is later seen in the video and tries to comfort her crying mother.

http://www.nbcnews.com/widget/video-embed/720101955657
“It’s OK, mommy,” the girl says. ” It’s OK. I’m right here with you.”

The contents of the video have not been independently confirmed by NBC News.

Interim St. Anthony police chief Sgt. Jon Mangseth said he did not have details on what prompted the traffic stop, telling a press conference that he was aware of the livestream but hadn’t seen the video. The officer involved has been with the police department for around five years, he added.

His police department serves Falcon Heights. a city of around 5,300 people between Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Castile had a concealed weapons permit to carry a firearm, his uncle Clarence Castile told NBC News.

“My nephew, he wasn’t trying to pull a weapon on those police,” Clarence Castile said. “He was reaching for ID.”

He said his nephew was one more victim in a string of “young black men being murdered” by police.

PlayVideo of Police Shooting Death of Alton Sterling Stirs Outrage Facebook Twitter Google Plus Embed
Video of Police Shooting Death of Alton Sterling Stirs Outrage 2:52
“My nephew was executed,” Clarence Castile said. “They are going to try and make my nephew out to be a bad guy and get away with murdering another young black man.”

“My nephew was nowhere near being a bum, he was a good young man,” he added. “He was a good kid who loved life.”

Castile’s mother, Valerie, told CNN that he died before she could reach the hospital where he was taken. “They didn’t let me see my son’s body at all,” she said early Thursday. “I have not identified my son’s body because they didn’t let me.”

She added that she had previously spoken to her son about what to do in situations where he’s confronted by police — and it was always to comply.

“‘Whatever they ask you to do, do it. Don’t say nothing,'” she advised him, adding, “So what’s the difference in complying and you get killed anyway?”

PlayPhilando Castile Shooting Sparks Angry Protests Facebook Twitter Google Plus Embed
Philando Castile Shooting Sparks Angry Protests 0:28
Protesters gathered overnight near the scene of the shooting chanting “No Justice, No Peace” and “Prosecute the Police.”

A noisy crowd also formed outside the governor’s mansion in St. Paul, where police confirmed to KARE11 that Gov. Mark Dayton was in residence. Car horns honked constantly and protesters covered the railings in police tape.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter
Follow
Tony Webster @webster
The rain is not keeping people away. Minnesota Governor’s mansion at 4:30am. #FalconHeightsShooting
5:56 AM – 7 Jul 2016 · St Paul, MN, United States
111 111 Retweets 92 92 likes
Among the crowd was Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima Levy-Pounds, who called on Gov. Dayton to “wake up and make a statement” about the shooting. “This is completely unacceptable,” she told the crowd. “Enough is enough!”

She earlier told reporters that Castile was “an upstanding citizen according to all the reports we’ve heard,” adding: “We just have a number of questions about how something like this could happen once again.”

http://www.nbcnews.com/widget/video-embed/720192067746

Castile’s shooting also sparked a massive outcry on social media, with many expressing dismay that two such incidents could happen in such a short time.

STILL TO COME

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward. For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.  And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

 For in hope were we saved: but hope that is seen is not hope: for who hopeth for that which he seeth?

But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

THE LAW IS HOLY AND GOOD

Therefore, what are we to say? That the Torah is sinful? Heaven forbid! Rather, the function of the Torah was that without it, I would not have known what sin is. For example, I would not have become conscious of what greed is if the Torah had not said, “Thou shalt not covet.”
 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, worked in me all kinds of evil desires — for apart from Torah, sin is dead.  I was once alive outside the framework of Torah. But when the commandment really encountered me, sin sprang to life,  and I died. The commandment that was intended to bring me life was found to be bringing me death!  For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me; and through the commandment, sin killed me.
 So the Torah is holy; that is, the Commandment and the Law is holy, just and good.

THE COPY AND THE READING

 Then Y’hoshua built an altar to Adonai, the God of Isra’el, on Mount ‘Eival,  as Moshe the servant of Adonai had ordered the people of Isra’el to do (this is written in the book of the Torah of Moshe), an altar of uncut stones that no one had touched with an iron tool. On it they offered burnt offerings to Adonai and sacrificed peace offerings.  He wrote there on the stones a copy of the Torah of Moshe, inscribing it in the presence of the people of Isra’el. Then all Isra’el, including their leaders, officials and judges, stood on either side of the ark in front of the cohanim, who were L’vi’im and who carried the ark for the covenant of Adonai. The foreigners were there along with the citizens. Half of the people were in front of Mount G’rizim and half of them in front of Mount ‘Eival, as Moshe the servant of Adonai had ordered them earlier in connection with blessing the people of Isra’el.  After this, he read all the words of the Torah, the blessing and the curse, according to everything written in the book of the Torah.  There was not a word of everything Moshe had ordered that Y’hoshua did not read before all Isra’el assembled, including the women, the little ones and the foreigners living with them.

THE CITIES OF REFUGE

Then the Lord said to Joshua:  “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood.  When they flee to one of these cities, they are to stand in the entrance of the city gate and state their case before the elders of that city. Then the elders are to admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them.  If the avenger of blood comes in pursuit, the elders must not surrender the fugitive, because the fugitive killed their neighbor unintentionally and without malice aforethought.  They are to stay in that city until they have stood trial before the assembly and until the death of the high priest who is serving at that time. Then they may go back to their own home in the town from which they fled.”

 So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah.  East of the Jordan (on the other side from Jericho) they designated Bezer in the wilderness on the plateau in the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead in the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan in the tribe of Manasseh.  Any of the Israelites or any foreigner residing among them who killed someone accidentally could flee to these designated cities and not be killed by the avenger of blood prior to standing trial before the assembly.

THE ALPHA MALE – MAN AND WOLF

As I have always have told my wife, I stand alone when needed, in the front when necessary, and in the background when I’m superfluous.

I’m fine and happy with whatever is required, and however it shakes out… there’s only one thing I can’t stand to be – a sheep and a herd animal.


How to REALLY Be Alpha Like the Wolf

 alpha

Scroll through some young guy’s Tumblr or Instagram feed and you’re bound to find a picture of a menacing-looking wolf with blood around its chops or a lone wolf howling at the moon. Superimposed on this image is invariably a quote in big bold lettering — some kind of edgy, muscular platitude about ignoring your haters, striking out on your own, and dominating everyone in sight.

You know, being a straight up alpha wolf.

howl

The idea of there being alpha (and beta) wolves originated from Rudolph Schenkel of the University of Basel in Switzerland, who studied a pack of wolves living at a zoo in the 1940s. Schenkel observed that the wolves competed for status within their own sex, and that from these rivalries emerged a kind of “alpha pair” — a “lead wolf” that was the top male dog, and a “bitch” that was the top female dog.

Then in 1970, American scientist L. David Mech wrote a book called The Wolf, which expanded on Schenkel’s research and popularized the idea of alpha and beta wolves and the leader/subordinate social dynamic of wolf packs.

Both researchers described this dynamic as a competition for rank, with alphas being those who were domineering, aggressive, and violent, and used these qualities to fight off rivals to become the supreme leader of the pack.

Popular culture soon took this conception of the alpha wolf, along with the whole alpha vs beta distinction, and applied it to humans — especially men. Hence, the idea that to be an alpha male, you’ve got to take no prisoners, f*** s*** up each and every day, take what’s yours, and never say sorry.

There’s just one problem with this idea.

The research it’s based on turned out to be hugely flawed.

Below, we’ll explore the myth and reality of the alpha wolf. As we’ll see, looking to wolves for inspiration for human conduct can actually be useful and inspiring, but only if you’ve got a correct conception for what that behavior consists of. Here’s what it really means to be alpha like the wolf.

The Myth and Reality of the Alpha Wolf

For most of the 20th century, researchers believed that gray wolf packs formed each winter among independent and unrelated wolves that lived near each other. They had reached this conclusion from observing groups of wolves that had been taken from various zoos and thrown together in captivity.

Under these circumstances, researchers observed that wolves would organize the pack hierarchy based on physical aggression and dominance. The alpha male wolf, indeed, was the wolf that kicked ass and took names.

But then some researchers decided they should actually try to observe how pack formation happens in the wild.

Based on their studies on confined wolves, they thought they were going to see this:

wolf1

But were instead surprised to see this:

fam

Instead of forming packs of unrelated individuals, in which alphas compete to rise to the top, researchers discovered that wild wolf packs actually consist of little nuclear wolf families. Wolves are in fact a generally monogamous species, in which males and females pair off and mate for life. Together they form a pack that typically consists of 5-11 members — the mate pair plus their children, who stay with the pack until they’re about a year old, and then go off to secure their own mates and form their own packs.

The mate pair shares in the responsibility of leading their family and tending to their pups. In 21st century human terminology, they “co-parent.” And by virtue of being parents, and leading their “subordinate” children, the mates represent a pair of “alphas.” The alpha male, or papa wolf, sits at the top of the male hierarchy in the family and the alpha female, or mamma wolf, sits atop the female hierarchy in the family.

In other words, male alpha wolves don’t gain their status through aggression and the dominance of other males, but because the other wolves in the pack are his mate and kiddos. He’s the pack patriarch. The Pater Familias. Dear Old Dad.

And like any good family man, a male alpha wolf protects his family and treats them with kindness, generosity, and love.

After observing gray wolves in Yellowstone for more than twenty years, wolf researcher Richard McIntyre has rarely seen an alpha male wolf act aggressively towards his own pack. Instead, an alpha dad sticks around until his pups are fully matured. He hunts alone or with his mate and children to provide food for the family (and sometimes waits for them to get their fill before he digs in himself), roughhouses with his pups (and gets a kick out of letting them win), and even goes out of his way to tend to the runts of his pack.

This isn’t to say male alpha wolves are all cuddles and kisses. They’re of course fierce predators, and can take down large prey like moose and bison. And when his family is threatened by outside enemies and competitors, the alpha male will fiercely defend it — sometimes sacrificing his own life to save his mate and pups.

This also isn’t to say male wolves don’t sometimes engage in displays of social dominance. Mature male wolves do have dominance encounters with other male wolves – fathers will stand up to a stranger alpha, or sometimes show their own kids who’s boss, and an older wolf brother will demonstrate his superiority to his little wolf bro.

So an alpha wolf can indeed be violent and assertive when the situation calls for it. Yet for the most part, he leads not with noisy brashness and teeth-bared aggression, but steady strength, mettle, and heart; as McIntyre told another wolf researcher:

“The main characteristic of an alpha male wolf is a quiet confidence, quiet self-assurance. You know what you need to do; you know what’s best for your pack. You lead by example. You’re very comfortable with that. You have a calming effect.”

After learning how wolves actually form packs, researchers like L. David Mech retracted their original theory of alpha wolves and now eschew terms like “alpha male” or “alpha female” altogether when describing wolf hierarchy, instead preferring to classify the leader wolves as “breeding males” and “breeding females.”

Unfortunately, the old conception has stuck around, and many men today have a mistaken notion of what it means to harness your inner alpha wolf. The reality of being an alpha is truly much more multi-faceted, and even more inspiring.

Making the Wolf Your Totem Animal of Manhood

wolf

I love the idea of animal totems, or at least finding inspiration from animals on how a man should live his life. Animals can serve as powerful symbols to us humans. The symbols become all the more powerful and meaningful when we have a correct understanding of how the animal actually behaves.

The gray wolf’s proclivity to roam and its prowess as a predator has for thousands of years made it a powerful symbol of the warrior, and of the freedom, wildness, and ferocity of masculinity. But that’s just one side of the wolf, and one side of what it means to be a man.

Yes, alpha male wolves are wild, aggressive, and savage. But they’re also protective, nurturing, and tender.

So if you want to truly become alpha like a wolf, you’ll need to do more than become a beast in the gym, and strive to overcome your competitors. You’ll also need to become a committed and dedicated family man — a loving and protective father.

While I’ve always loved wolves and their wildness, after learning more about the nuances of their social dynamics, I’ve fallen in love with them even more. The wolf is a nearly perfect symbol of the ideal of masculinity that I’m trying to get across here at Art of Manliness. Like alpha wolves, I want to see men who tackle life’s adventure with their mates by their side, and lead their families with heart and strength. I want to see men who have the ability to marshal the hard tactical virtues of masculinity when needed against external threats, but temper that ferocity with softer virtues like compassion and gentleness, particularly towards those they love.

In short, the male alpha wolf is the totem animal of the Gentleman Barbarian.

So by all means, continue sharing your savage wolf memes on Instagram and Tumblr. Wolves are awesome. But know that gray wolves howl to assemble their mate and pups before and after a hunt, to warn them of danger, and to locate each other during a storm, when traversing unfamiliar territory, or when separated over a great distance. It’s the call not of the angry, antisocial lone wolf, but of a father who’s leading, guiding, and lovingly gathering his pack.

FAR MORE IMPORTANT from HUMAN EFFORT

It is far more important to be interested in the state of another man’s soul than in his societal station. And it is far, far more important for a man to be interested in his own True Nature than in his political one.

AND THERE YA GO…

I’ve been saying the same thing practically my whole life.

THE CODE WITHIN – BODY OF EVDIENCE

I’ve long suspected something like this… and I don’t see at all how it could be a surprise, after all it is readily available raw material, just not always actualized or properly arranged material.

It is a lot easier than seeking out and incorporating alien or foreign genetic material.

 

A Surprise Source of Life’s Code

Emerging data suggests the seemingly impossible — that mysterious new genes arise from “junk” DNA.

[No Caption]

Genes, like people, have families — lineages that stretch back through time, all the way to a founding member. That ancestor multiplied and spread, morphing a bit with each new iteration.

For most of the last 40 years, scientists thought that this was the primary way new genes were born — they simply arose from copies of existing genes. The old version went on doing its job, and the new copy became free to evolve novel functions.

Certain genes, however, seem to defy that origin story. They have no known relatives, and they bear no resemblance to any other gene. They’re the molecular equivalent of a mysterious beast discovered in the depths of a remote rainforest, a biological enigma seemingly unrelated to anything else on earth.

The mystery of where these orphan genes came from has puzzled scientists for decades. But in the past few years, a once-heretical explanation has quickly gained momentum — that many of these orphans arose out of so-called junk DNA, or non-coding DNA, the mysterious stretches of DNA between genes. “Genetic function somehow springs into existence,” said David Begun, a biologist at the University of California, Davis.

New genes appear to burst into existence at various points along the evolutionary history of the mouse lineage (red line). The surge around 800 million years ago corresponds to the time when earth emerged from its “snowball” phase, when the planet was almost completely frozen. The very recent peak represents newly born genes, many of which will subsequently be lost. If all genes arose via duplication, they all would have been generated soon after the origins of life, roughly 3.8 billion years ago (green line).

This metamorphosis was once considered to be impossible, but a growing number of examples in organisms ranging from yeast and flies to mice and humans has convinced most of the field that these de novo genes exist. Some scientists say they may even be common. Just last month, research presented at the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution in Vienna identified 600 potentially new human genes. “The existence of de novo genes was supposed to be a rare thing,” said Mar Albà, an evolutionary biologist at the Hospital del Mar Research Institute in Barcelona, who presented the research. “But people have started seeing it more and more.”

Researchers are beginning to understand that de novo genes seem to make up a significant part of the genome, yet scientists have little idea of how many there are or what they do. What’s more, mutations in these genes can trigger catastrophic failures. “It seems like these novel genes are often the most important ones,” said Erich Bornberg-Bauer, a bioinformatician at the University of Münster in Germany.

The Orphan Chase

The standard gene duplication model explains many of the thousands of known gene families, but it has limitations. It implies that most gene innovation would have occurred very early in life’s history. According to this model, the earliest biological molecules 3.5 billion years ago would have created a set of genetic building blocks. Each new iteration of life would then be limited to tweaking those building blocks.

Yet if life’s toolkit is so limited, how could evolution generate the vast menagerie we see on Earth today? “If new parts only come from old parts, we would not be able to explain fundamental changes in development,” Bornberg-Bauer said.

The first evidence that a strict duplication model might not suffice came in the 1990s, when DNA sequencing technologies took hold. Researchers analyzing the yeast genome found that a third of the organism’s genes had no similarity to known genes in other organisms. At the time, many scientists assumed that these orphans belonged to families that just hadn’t been discovered yet. But that assumption hasn’t proven true. Over the last decade, scientists sequenced DNA from thousands of diverse organisms, yet many orphan genes still defy classification. Their origins remain a mystery.

In 2006, Begun found some of the first evidence that genes could indeed pop into existence from noncoding DNA. He compared gene sequences from the standard laboratory fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, with other closely related fruit fly species. The different flies share the vast majority of their genomes. But Begun and collaborators found several genes that were present in only one or two species and not others, suggesting that these genes weren’t the progeny of existing ancestors. Begun proposed instead that random sequences of junk DNA in the fruit fly genome could mutate into functioning genes.

Diethard Tautz, a biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, once doubted whether de novo genes could exist. He now thinks they may actually be quite common.

Yet creating a gene from a random DNA sequence appears as likely as dumping a jar of Scrabble tiles onto the floor and expecting the letters to spell out a coherent sentence. The junk DNA must accumulate mutations that allow it to be read by the cell or converted into RNA, as well as regulatory components that signify when and where the gene should be active. And like a sentence, the gene must have a beginning and an end — short codes that signal its start and end.

In addition, the RNA or protein produced by the gene must be useful. Newly born genes could prove toxic, producing harmful proteins like those that clump together in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. “Proteins have a strong tendency to misfold and cause havoc,” said Joanna Masel, a biologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “It’s hard to see how to get a new protein out of random sequence when you expect random sequences to cause so much trouble.” Masel is studying ways that evolution might work around this problem.

Another challenge for Begun’s hypothesis was that it’s very difficult to distinguish a true de novo gene from one that has changed drastically from its ancestors. (The difficulty of identifying true de novo genes remains a source of contention in the field.)

Ten years ago, Diethard Tautz, a biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, was one of many researchers who were skeptical of Begun’s idea. Tautz had found alternative explanations for orphan genes. Some mystery genes had evolved very quickly, rendering their ancestry unrecognizable. Other genes were created by reshuffling fragments of existing genes.

Then his team came across the Pldi gene, which they named after the German soccer player Lukas Podolski. The sequence is present in mice, rats and humans. In the latter two species, it remains silent, which means it’s not converted into RNA or protein. The DNA is active or transcribed into RNA only in mice, where it appears to be important — mice without it have slower sperm and smaller testicles.

The researchers were able to trace the series of mutations that converted the silent piece of noncoding DNA into an active gene. That work showed that the new gene is truly de novo and ruled out the alternative — that it belonged to an existing gene family and simply evolved beyond recognition. “That’s when I thought, OK, it must be possible,” Tautz said.

A Wave of New Genes

Scientists have now catalogued a number of clear examples of de novo genes: A gene in yeast that determines whether it will reproduce sexually or asexually, a gene in flies and other two-winged insects that became essential for flight, and some genes found only in humans whose function remains tantalizingly unclear.

The Odds of Becoming a Gene

Scientists are testing computational approaches to determine how often random DNA sequences can be mutated into functional genes. Victor Luria, a researcher at Harvard, created a model using common estimates of the rates of mutation, recombination (another way of mixing up DNA) and natural selection. After subjecting a stretch of DNA as long as the human genome to mutation and recombination for 100 million generations, some random stretches of DNA evolved into active genes. If he were to add in natural selection, a genome of that size could generate hundreds or even thousands of new genes.

At the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution conference last month, Albà and collaborators identified hundreds of putative de novo genes in humans and chimps — ten-fold more than previous studies — using powerful new techniques for analyzing RNA. Of the 600 human-specific genes that Albà’s team found, 80 percent are entirely new, having never been identified before.

Unfortunately, deciphering the function of de novo genes is far more difficult than identifying them. But at least some of them aren’t doing the genetic equivalent of twiddling their thumbs. Evidence suggests that a portion of de novo genes quickly become essential. About 20 percent of new genes in fruit flies appear to be required for survival. And many others show signs of natural selection, evidence that they are doing something useful for the organism.

In humans, at least one de novo gene is active in the brain, leading some scientists to speculate such genes may have helped drive the brain’s evolution. Others are linked to cancer when mutated, suggesting they have an important function in the cell. “The fact that being misregulated can have such devastating consequences implies that the normal function is important or powerful,” said Aoife McLysaght, a geneticist at Trinity College in Dublin who identified the first human de novo genes.

Promiscuous Proteins

De novo genes are also part of a larger shift, a change in our conception of what proteins look like and how they work. De novo genes are often short, and they produce small proteins. Rather than folding into a precise structure — the conventional notion of how a protein behaves — de novo proteins have a more disordered architecture. That makes them a bit floppy, allowing the protein to bind to a broader array of molecules. In biochemistry parlance, these young proteins are promiscuous.

Scientists don’t yet know a lot about how these shorter proteins behave, largely because standard screening technologies tend to ignore them. Most methods for detecting genes and their corresponding proteins pick out long sequences with some similarity to existing genes. “It’s easy to miss these,” Begun said.

That’s starting to change. As scientists recognize the importance of shorter proteins, they are implementing new gene discovery technologies. As a result, the number of de novo genes might explode. “We don’t know what things shorter genes do,” Masel said. “We have a lot to learn about their role in biology.”

Scientists also want to understand how de novo genes get incorporated into the complex network of reactions that drive the cell, a particularly puzzling problem. It’s as if a bicycle spontaneously grew a new part and rapidly incorporated it into its machinery, even though the bike was working fine without it. “The question is fascinating but completely unknown,” Begun said. 

A human-specific gene called ESRG illustrates this mystery particularly well. Some of the sequence is found in monkeys and other primates. But it is only active in humans, where it is essential for maintaining the earliest embryonic stem cells. And yet monkeys and chimps are perfectly good at making embryonic stem cells without it. “It’s a human-specific gene performing a function that must predate the gene, because other organisms have these stem cells as well,” McLysaght said.

“How does novel gene become functional? How does it get incorporated into actual cellular processes?” McLysaght said. “To me, that’s the most important question at the moment.”

THE ASH-FIRE from POLITICAL CAUSE

The Hammer of Truth has always been a far harder and far hotter forge-tool than the soft language of lies. But it is the soft language of lies that is the cold black ash-fire which so thoroughly melts and molds the timid hearts of modern men.

 

THE LOST MAN – BODY OF EVIDENCE

Extremely intriguing case… I wouldn’t have minded working this myself.

 

The Lost Man

In 1948, a man was found on a beach in South Australia. The mysterious circumstances of his death have captivated generations of true-crime fanatics. Today, one amateur sleuth has come close to solving the case — and upended his life in the process.

By Graeme Wood

By the time anyone noticed that he hadn’t moved in at least five hours, the man on Somerton Beach must have started giving off fumes. It was about 6:30 a.m. on December 1, 1948, at the beginning of the Australian summer, and he did not look like the kind of man to sleep in the sand.

He was in his mid-40s. He wore a nice suit, with a necktie whose stripes slanted down from right to left. The labels had been removed from his clothing. His leather shoes were molded to his irregular feet, which one man who saw the body called “wedge-shaped.”

<p>Somerton Beach around 6:30 a.m., the time at which the man&rsquo;s body was found</p>
Somerton Beach around 6:30 a.m., the time at which the man’s body was found

No one who came to the morgue to view the dead man could identify him. In his pockets, the coroner found a packet of cigarettes (Kensitas brand, though the packet that contained them was Army Club), two combs, and public-transport­ation receipts indicating that he had come by bus from Adelaide’s railway station the day before he was found.

The man had unusually developed calf muscles, with a pronounced bulge near the knee. The coroner said these were characteristic of a dancer or someone who wears high heels. His teeth were odd: His sharp canines had grown in right next to his front teeth; his lateral incisors were missing. The medical report noted that his liver was full of blood and his spleen enlarged, but his official cause of death remained undetermined. The pathologist wrote “probably caused by poison” on the initial report, and a local expert suggested two readily available and undetectable poisons that could have killed him. The death was investigated as a possible murder.

<p>Tucked in one of the man&rsquo;s pockets was a piece of paper printed with the words <em>Tam&aacute;m Shud</em>, which mean <em>The End</em>.</p>
Tucked in one of the man’s pockets was a piece of paper printed with the words Tamám Shud, which mean The End.

Only weeks later did the coroner’s office search the man’s clothes more thoroughly and find, in a small inner pocket of his waistband — some characterized it as a secret pocket — a tightly rolled piece of paper printed with the words Tamám Shud. Within a few days, the police figured out that these words appear untranslated at the end of the Edward FitzGerald translation of the Rubáiyát, by the 11th-century Persian poet Omar Khayyám. In the poem’s original Persian, they mean It’s Finished, or The End.

In July, a local businessman told the cops that around the time of the man’s death, he found a copy of the Rubáiyát in the back seat of his car. Someone had tossed it through an open window — and, yes, the last two words had been raggedly excised. More intriguing, though, were the scribblings on the book’s back cover —

wrgoababd

mliaoi

wtbimpanetp

mliaboaiaqc

ittmtsamstgab

— and, with them, a phone number.

The letters resisted decoding, but the phone number led the police to the doorstep of a young nurse-in-training named Jo. They asked whether she knew a missing man, and when she said no, they asked if she had given away a Rubáiyát recently. She had, but the recipient turned out to be alive and well. They prevailed upon her to visit the morgue anyway. When she saw a plaster cast of the man’s body, which had by that point been buried, she nearly fainted. She maintained that she didn’t know him, and she refused to speak of the incident again.

<p>A message ripped out of a book by an 11th-century Persian poet was found in a hidden pocket.</p>
A message ripped out of a book by an 11th-century Persian poet was found in a hidden pocket.

Another line of evidence stemmed from a suitcase left at the luggage counter of the train station on the day of the dead man’s canceled bus ticket and never collected. Inside were neatly folded clothes, a stencil kit, and thread that matched a small repair on the man’s suit. The suitcase contained a few days’ worth of clothes — again with the labels ripped off — but no socks.

Someone looked at the stitching and determined that the machine used was not yet available in Australia: The man had probably traveled to America or at least owned clothing from someone who had. Speculation ensued. Not far away was the Woomera Range, a secret missile-testing site. The dead man could have been Soviet or American — but probably not Australian, because the case had quickly gone national, and someone would have seen his picture and recognized him. Soon he was widely suspected of being a spy.

Nearly 70 years after the body of the “Somerton Man” was interred at West Terrace Cemetery, the case has become part of the Australian national mythos. It is still a mystery, like the identity of Jack the Ripper in England or the fate of Jimmy Hoffa in the U.S. Tabloids in Australia take note whenever some amateur sleuth comes up with a new theory, no matter how crazy, and would-be detectives around the world take turns trying to solve the case. One by one, they examine the clues and, like Arthur with the sword in the stone, jiggle the puzzle’s hilt. Most give up and assume it will be stuck forever.

<p>Adelaide&rsquo;s railway station, where the Somerton Man&rsquo;s suitcase was found</p>
Adelaide’s railway station, where the Somerton Man’s suitcase was found

“BY NOW THEY might know me,” Derek Abbott said, glancing around the Somerton cemetery for the groundskeepers. On December 1, 2014, 66 years to the day after the Somerton Man’s demise, Abbott, a physicist and engineer at the University of Adelaide, was taking me to his grave. For years, someone had placed flowers on it; some said it was the nurse. The original letters on the gravestone had become loose, and a few had fallen on the ground. We picked through the pebbles in the blazing sun, finding chunks of alphabet that we plugged back into the small headstone until it read: here lies the unknown man who was found at somerton beach 1st dec. 1948.

Of all the amateur detectives who have dedicated themselves to the mystery — including a postman in New South Wales who has claimed the Somerton Man was a Russian spy, another man who thinks he is the American big-band leader Glenn Miller, and a number of internet oddballs who specialize in magnifying the letters of the code and seeing micro-writing that isn’t really there — Abbott is the most devoted. He has become a celebrity among followers of the case — his Reddit “Ask Me Anything” last year yielded nearly 500 questions and answers — and sees his role partly as keeping wilder speculation in check. “As a scientist, you’re taught to be dispassionate,” he told me. “You’re not supposed to get crazy when your pet theory turns out to be unlikely.”

But some of Abbott’s fellow investigators think his obsessions and celebrity have led him astray and turned him into a Pied Piper of true-crime nerds. “Abbott is like a dog with a bone,” says Gerry Feltus, a retired Adelaide homicide detective who is his main rival. “If he weren’t such an educated man, he’d make an excellent busker.”

<p>Derek Abbott at the Somerton Man&rsquo;s grave</p>
Derek Abbott at the Somerton Man’s grave

Abbott, 55 years old and with thinning dark hair, is gainfully employed, although over several days in Adelaide, his free time to discuss this case appeared almost limitless. He drove me around in hissuv, which had multiple child car seats fastened in the back for his three young children. (He also has two grown daughters and a son from a prior marriage.) Obsessions tend to find Abbott. He has, by his own account, been happily consumed by them since he was a child in London. Many were scientific: At the age of 10, he says, he requested a copy of theBritish Pharmacopoeia, a technical manual of pharmacology. At 15, he began traveling all over London and researching the history of old lampposts and letter boxes. His demeanor is distinctly professorial, though not in an absent-minded way. He talks slowly, with an engineer’s precision, and favors nice suits over tattered tweed, even in the Australian summer heat.

“It’s a bit like Phoenix,” Abbott said, a little apologetically, as we drove through his city. When the beach isn’t in sight, the comparison feels about right: Adelaide and its environs are mostly flat and arid, with the suburbs giving way to desert. Even its urban grid recalls the American Sun Belt, with orderly streets characteristic of a place whose city fathers left nothing to chance. Unlike other areas of Australia, Adelaide was settled exclusively by free British colonists, not by convicts. When planning the city in 1837, its founders didn’t bother to set aside space or resources for a jail, reasoning that it wouldn’t be necessary for a population of honorable women and men.

But to understand the So­­merton Man case, Abbott told me, “you do have to know that Adelaide has a reputation for these things.” Ruth Balint, an Australian cultural historian, put it more bluntly: “It’s a city of churches and of weird, sick murders.” When Salman Rushdie visited Adelaide in 1984, he called it “the ideal setting for a Stephen King novel, or horror film.”

<p>The man carried an Army Club cigarette pack, but the brand inside was Kensitas.</p>
The man carried an Army Club cigarette pack, but the brand inside was Kensitas.

Adelaide’s homicide rate isn’t abnormally high, but what it lacks in volume it more than compensates for in creepiness. The city has become known as Australia’s “murder capital,” the site of a string of gruesome serial killings and mysterious disappearances. In 1966, three young siblings disappeared and were presumed kidnapped after a trip to Glenelg Beach, near Somerton; they were never found. In the 1970s and 1980s, a shadowy group of upstanding, professional citizens of Adelaide, known as the Family, drugged, sexually abused, and murdered young men; those crimes were never fully solved either. Last year, police in South Australiaannounced $13 million in reward money for information about the murders or disappearances of 18 children between 1966 and 2000.

In 2003, during the investigation of another grisly set of killings known as the Snowtown or “bodies-in-­barrels” murders, local detectives approached Abbott and asked him to examine the unusual characteristics of one of the 12 victims’ hair. The detectives had found tiny ­bubble-shaped articulations at the tips, and they wanted an electrical engineer to determine whether the deceased had been electrocuted. “I tried electrocuting samples of my own hair,” Abbott said, “and I found that the only thing that would do that is heat.” The body had been cooked, not electrocuted.

 Thrilled by his small contribution to the prosecution’s case, Abbott remembered an article he’d read about the Somerton mystery in 1995, in a magazine he picked up at a laundromat. “There’s something in this that stuck in my mind — something haunting,” he said. He was, in part, troubled by the inconsistencies and contradictions. “There were so many loose ends. And there was something sad about it — something desolate about a man dying alone,” without anyone to mourn him or even to confirm that he ever lived.

<p>Abbott&rsquo;s desk, with documents related to the case</p>
Abbott’s desk, with documents related to the case

In 2007, Abbott began investigating the case. He eventually turned to Facebook and like-minded obsessives around the world to track down facts that in previous eras might have taken Holmesian knowledge or resourcefulness. Take the necktie. The direction of the stripes turns out to be significant because Commonwealth tie makers and American tie makers slanted their stripes in different directions: The Somerton Man wore an American tie, a rarity in Australia at the time. Other clues have led Abbott to look up, say, the record-keeping habits of laundry services in mid-size Australian cities in 1948 or the price of various tobacco brands. Sometimes this information yields faint clues to the Somerton Man’s story. Most often it reveals how far from the truth Abbott remains and produces only more questions. Someone suggested that the Rubáiyátwas a book cipher — a spy codebook — setting in motion an eerily difficult quest to find an identical copy and test it against the code. (The cops threw away the original at some point during the 1950s.) No identical copy could be found. It appeared that the Somerton Man’sRubáiyát was unique and published by a company in the habit of issuing, for obscure reasons, one Rubáiyát at a time.

<p>The labels of the man&rsquo;s clothing were torn out.</p>
The labels of the man’s clothing were torn out.

On the hunch that the Rubáiyát was being used as a book cipher, Facebook group members combed Australian newspapers for stories about other men who died unnaturally, accompanied by a Rubáiyát. Incredibly, they found one, an immigrant named George Marshall who poisoned himself with barbiturates and died with a Rubáiyát next to him in Sydney. It was not the same edition as the Somerton version. Instead, it was identified as a seventh edition published by Methuen, a London-based press. The interest would have ended there if Abbott hadn’t tried to find a Methuen seventh edition of the Rubáiyát and discovered that the company never published any edition beyond the fifth.

Abbott’s code-breaking efforts, for which he initially held high hopes, stagnated. He tried to solve the code by treating it as a substitution cipher, in which every letter stands for another. He has tested that theory with computational models and conclusively ruled it out. He tried to determine if the letters were random, and even at one point had his students drink beer and write down random letters in progressive stages of inebriation to see if the letters resembled the patterns of those in the code. They did not.

So far, he has excluded, with mathematical certainty, a whole range of standard code types — 40 types of known cipher. Recently he’s been testing another theory, first put forward by Navy cryptographers in 1949. The frequency of occurrence of letters on the Rubáiyát’s back cover fits unusually well the frequency of occurrence of the initial letters of English words. Abbott now thinks that the code is not a code at all, but a series of letters someone — perhaps the Somerton Man — wrote in order to commit something to memory. The first five letters — wrgoa — could, on this hypothesis, have just been a reminder to buy watermelon, rice, grapes, oats, and artichokes. Abbott tested the initial-letter hypothesis against samples of text from more than 30 languages, and English repeatedly surfaced as the best statistical fit. But of course, to know what the letters stood for, we’d have to ask their author.

<p>Abbott in his office at the University of Adelaide</p>
Abbott in his office at the University of Adelaide

FOR YEARS, the person roundly suspected of knowing more than she let on was Jo, the nurse. But she said nothing. The news stories around the time of her questioning did not name her, declining to sully the reputation of a respectable young woman by associating her with the corpse of a drifter. But the story of her swooning has interested everyone who has looked into the Somerton Man mystery. Gerry Feltus, the retired cop who wrote a book about the case, interviewed Jo before she died in 2007 and is sure she knew something. He says she was “evasive” under questioning and went to great efforts to avoid attention. “Every time this case had a big blast of publicity, she either disappeared on holiday or changed addresses,” Feltus says.

In 2009, Abbott began hunting down Jo’s acquaintances and surviving family members — at first just to find out whether she confessed anything, but later to see whether they could offer any clues at all. In time, he was able to construct a year-by-year — and sometimes month-by-month — chronology of her life: where she lived, whom she knew, what she talked about, and what she avoided.

<p>Jo Thomson with her son, Robin, circa 1948</p>
Jo Thomson with her son, Robin, circa 1948

Jo was born Jessica Harkness in 1921, outside Sydney. About her childhood little is known: She cut off ties with her parents and rarely spoke of them. She took up with a car salesman, Prosper Thomson, and had a child, Robin Thomson, in 1947. She and Prosper hadn’t yet married — he had recently divorced his previous wife, and Australian law didn’t permit remarriage until a cooling-off period had passed — but they wed in 1948. She raised their two children through the 1950s, then began work as a nurse.

Her association with the Somerton Man has led some to speculate that she was a Communist spymaster posing as a housewife. One friend claimed she spoke Russian. Abbott dismisses these allegations. She was “a free spirit,” he said, “a slightly airheaded, arty type.” She and her husband seemed mismatched in some ways, with Prosper obsessed with cars and his wife interested in art, and some people I spoke with, including Abbott, suspected that they were not physically intimate, though they remained married until Prosper’s death in 1995.

Abbott didn’t focus on the Jo angle until after both she and her son, Robin, had died. But he hunted Robin’s story down with almost as much fervor as Jo’s — even though Robin was only a year old when the Somerton Man died — and learned that Robin had likely lived his whole life unaware of his mother’s role in the mystery.

Abbott fixated on one detail of Robin’s life: When he was a small boy, his mother signed him up for dance lessons. Robin took to dancing naturally and flourished — first as an amateur and ultimately as a member of the Australian Ballet. Abbott reminded me: “The Somerton Man had those oddly shaped calf muscles — so bulbous and defined that the coroner marveled at them.” Abbott stressed their dancer-like definition. One effort to identify the man even focused on looking for missing Australian dancers.

<p>The man&rsquo;s tie was striped in a direction uncommon in Australia at the time.</p>
The man’s tie was striped in a direction uncommon in Australia at the time.

Was Jo pushing her son into the Somerton Man’s line of work? To Abbott, this coincidence was irresistibly suggestive, and he now believes a theory that might propel the Somerton mystery into the realm of solvability: that the man was Jo’s secret lover, and Robin Thomson their son. Another fact that Abbott cites as support for this idea is that Robin had a rare anatomical abnormality: He never grew lateral incisors, so his canine teeth, like the Somerton Man’s, abutted his front teeth.

Abbott cautiously tested this theory by writing a letter to Roma Egan, a dancer in the Australian Ballet who was married to Robin Thomson from 1968 to 1974. Abbott enclosed a picture of the Somerton Man and asked if she knew any dancers who looked like him. Roma wrote back saying that the corpse resembled her ex-husband. She also told Abbott, darkly, that her ex-mother-in-law had been a woman with secrets, and that Jo — like the young Abbott — had an obsession with pharmacology.

Abbott convinced Roma of his theory and enlisted her support in a legal crusade for permission to dig up the Somerton Man’s body and test his dna. By adding the dna to a few databases, they might even be able to find a distant relative and, working backward, identify the Somerton Man. (Robin Thomson had one younger sister, Kate, who opposes Abbott’s exhumation campaign. She declined to be interviewed for this story.)

Abbott has twice petitioned the government of South Australia to discuss exhuming the Somerton Man and twice been denied, on the grounds that obsessive curiosity does not justify disturbing human remains. He plans to resubmit his request.

ABBOTT WARNED ME not to tell Feltus, the ex–homicide detective, that I had been meeting with him. “He hates my guts,” Abbott said, accurately. They both spend vast amounts of time tracking the same clues, collecting the same Rubáiyáts, and scrutinizing the same grainy photos. But the two do not speak. Feltus regards Abbott as a grade-A pest and a bane of serious investigators. “If this were a different era, I could see him in a chuck wagon going through Indian territory, selling moonshine, and being left alone because he’d look half-crazy,” he told me.

Feltus, who’s 72, grew up in the countryside outside Adelaide. Before retiring in 2004, he was one of the city’s top murder investigators. He has an easy, earthy Australian vibe, more open and informal than Abbott, and the mottled complexion of someone who has spent a lot of time outdoors. He had heard of the Somerton case as a young boy, and after years on the force he investigated it as a hobby, despite warnings from colleagues that it would lead only to madness.

<p>  	Gerry Feltus, a retired homicide detective in Adelaide</p>
Gerry Feltus, a retired homicide detective in Adelaide

Part of what irks Feltus about Abbott is his amateurism. Feltus spent 40 years hunting murderers and solved dozens of cases, whereas Abbott, he says, “came in in a blaze of glory, saying he was going to crack the code, solve a murder, and identify an unknown man.” One gets the sense, talking with Feltus, that acquaintance with death has made him reluctant to treat the dead as intellectual puzzles.

Consider the flowers left on the Somerton Man’s grave. Abbott had implied to me that they might have been Jo’s doing or that of some other mysterious figure who knew secrets. When I raised this theory with Feltus, he sighed. “If you spend much time in cemeteries, you get to know the graves around the graves of your loved ones, and you do your part to keep them respected,” he says. His own daughter died of an illness in her 30s, he told me. Her grave is near that of Megumi Suzuki, a Japanese exchange student who died in Adelaide. In 2001, Feltus found Suzuki’s body hydraulically compressed into a bale of trash, and he sent her murderer away for a life sentence. “If I’m going to the cemetery, I’ll sometimes place a flower on her grave, too,” he told me.

The gap between the two men’s approaches comes down to a difference in worldview. After decades of bearing witness to the evil that men do, Feltus seems to have accepted the investigative consequences of the Second Law of Thermodynamics — that the universe tends, over time, toward disorder. He knows that some cases cannot be solved. In his book about the Somerton Man, Feltus meticulously logs every interview, every piece of evidence gathered from police records and contemporary accounts. But he reaches no conclusion. Taken as a whole, the book is a striking documentation of one man’s bafflement.

<p>Stitching on the man&rsquo;s suit was performed by a machine not yet available in Australia.</p>
Stitching on the man’s suit was performed by a machine not yet available in Australia.

To Abbott, the idea that the answer might be lost is unacceptable, and Feltus’s comfort with uncertainty unnerves him. “Every time we met, one of his favorite jokes was to say, ‘It would be a real shame if the Somerton Man is identified because it would spoil a great mystery,’” Abbott told me. “He’s more wedded to the mystery than to the solution, and I’m the other way around.”

Feltus’s perspective is aided by age. As someone who was alive during the Somerton Man’s last years and remembers the upheaval of postwar Australia, he does not see the Somerton Man’s anonymity as unusual or mysterious. “There were lots of displaced people around,” Feltus says. “People were jumping ship, changing their names, becoming a whole new person.” Wartime rationing was still going on, and black marketeers had good reason to sneak around without identification.

Balint, the cultural historian, concurs. “[The Somerton Man] cuts a lonely figure, and people want to rescue him,” she says. “But we had lots of people like him: returned soldiers with shell shock, people who came back and were strangers to their own families. Some of them would just get up, disappear, and go on walkabouts.” Feltus’s hunch is that the Somerton Man was not a spy, but one of the thousands of socially isolated immigrants who drifted like tumbleweeds around Australia during those years.

That, he says, is where the trail must end. He has known victims’ families and has an aversion to disturbing the dead — either physically, by exhuming their remains, or spiritually, by speculating about the dramas that consumed their living days.

<p>Jo Thomson&rsquo;s former house in Adelaide</p>
Jo Thomson’s former house in Adelaide

ABBOTT SPOKE GARRULOUSLY about his investigation. But he was also guarded. I came to wonder how his obsession with the Somerton case affected his work at the university or, for that matter, his home life. The child seats sat empty in the back of his suv as he drove me from site to site, yet he never mentioned his kids or their mother, nor how they felt about his all-consuming project.

Only after I’d left Adelaide did another question present itself: If he succeeded in extracting the Somerton Man’s dna, what would he compare it to? The whole point was to prove that the man was Robin Thomson’s father, but Robin is dead. Did he have living descendants?

Robin did, it turns out, have one daughter, with Roma Egan. Rachel Rebecca Egan had appeared with Abbott on television in 2013, endorsing the exhumation effort, but he had never mentioned her to me. I looked her up.

Rachel was born in 1967 in New Zealand and put up for adoption by her parents, who were touring with the Royal New Zealand Ballet. She reconnected with them as a young woman, eventually settling in Brisbane with Roma. On Facebook, her likes included various ballet-related pages, the work of a Brisbane painter, and a store for baby clothes. There were also some photos, which have since been removed, including a series of Rachel, with the same round, blond-ringed face as her mother, holding a baby. Standing next to her in one of the photos was a bemused-looking man wearing a proud paternal expression: Derek Abbott.

I blinked. Abbott had been generous with his time and, it seemed, information. But this detail — his having possibly tangled his own dnawith the Somerton Man’s — was a noteworthy omission. I reran all our conversations in my head, preparing to press him if he tried to evade the topic.

But when I called Abbott, he immediately and sheepishly confessed. In June 2010, he said, he’d mailed Roma, then living in Brisbane, his letter asking about dancers she might have known who resembled the Somerton Man. When he went to interview her, he met Rachel, who was living with Roma and working as a schoolteacher. Rachel was completely unaware of her father’s Somerton connection, Abbott said, and was at first skeptical of Abbott’s theory. To Abbott himself, however, she was immediately attracted. “We just hit it off, I guess, and it all happened from there,” he said. They married about four months later and, in the four and a half years since, have had three children. Rachel and Roma moved to Adelaide, and now Abbott’s crusade to dig up Rachel’s presumed grandfather has become a family affair.

<p>  	Rachel Egan (<em>left</em>) and her mother, Roma, at home with Rachel&rsquo;s son, George</p>
Rachel Egan (left) and her mother, Roma, at home with Rachel’s son, George

Rachel, 47, says she still finds all this “surreal” and is not sure how an idea she first wrote off as one of her mother’s conspiracy theories has led, in less than five years, to her being a married mother of three — with the Somerton Man “playing cupid from beyond the grave.”

Abbott also seems flummoxed by the development, his normally analytical mind stuck in neutral when pressed to explain. “It was a whirlwind marriage, and we’re still trying to process all this and figure out the consequences,” he told me. “I haven’t psychoanalyzed myself.” When I asked why he hadn’t told me about his personal connection to the case, he said that he and Rachel both worried about the Australian tabloids fixating on their young family.

<p>A bus ticket suggested he&rsquo;d recently arrived at Adelaide&rsquo;s train station.</p>
A bus ticket suggested he’d recently arrived at Adelaide’s train station.

As he spoke, uncomfortable as the investigated rather than the investigator, questions clamored in my mind. Did he marry the woman or the mystery? Was there not at least a touch of the uncanny — a secret love in Adelaide, six and a half decades after the Somerton Man’s own possible covert romance, with the woman Abbott believed to be the Somerton Man’s granddaughter? Had his obsession burrowed so deeply into his brain that he had subconsciously written himself into the mystery?

But Abbott was uncharacteristically blank, for once unwilling to speculate. “I didn’t want it to look like I married some chick just so I could exhume a body,” he said. “I really do love her.”

Feltus, of course, delights in this. “Abbott is a strange bird, with a sick sense of humor,” he told me. “He would think that would be a great joke, wouldn’t he?”

This case’s final irony is not lost on either Abbott or Feltus. We may never know what happened to the Somerton Man, not because witnesses have died and evidence has disintegrated, but because knowing would require an understanding of his inner life, something that cannot be deduced.

“When I look at the case,” Abbott told me, “I think, ‘If only [Jo] behaved normally and told the police everything, we wouldn’t have this mystery.’ But then I wouldn’t be married. Maybe that’s just the way it’s all meant to happen.”

Abbott still wants to dig up the Somerton Man’s body, extract his dna, and prove his theory once and for all. “But in a sense it doesn’t matter,” he admitted. “The Somerton Man has given birth to three children for me, and he will always be their great-grandfather in some way. That, I suppose, gives a sense of closure.”

THE LITTLE DEATH OF THE VIKING CAT AND HOW I CAME TO BETTER UNDERSTAND MAGIC AND MIRACLE

THE LITTLE DEATH OF THE VIKING CAT AND HOW I CAME TO BETTER UNDERSTAND MAGIC AND MIRACLE

The Following is an essay I wrote a few weeks back but never had the chance to post for various reasons.  I plan to rework it and include it (or at least the ideas expressed on Theurgy and Thaumaturgy) as part of my new book The Christian Wizard.

____________________________________

We had a rough day today. In one sense at least. Pretty astounding day in others. As it also led me to understand some things I’ve been struggling with for months now.

It began in this fashion. The girls took Alex in to the vet to get neutered and discovered he had both cat leukemia and cat AIDS. Didn’t even know there was a cat AIDS. So we had to put him down.

 I know he’s only a cat, but I have over time grown quite attached to him. Matter of fact I love him. Vets said he must have been in tremendous pain and should have been tired all of the time, but he wasn’t. Like me he seems to have had an incredible tolerance for pain. As far as energy, the cat was a dynamo.

I detest death however. Especially death of the young. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame Death, who I consider to be an Old Friend, and quite kind. It’s the being separated from those you love, even if it’s just a pet that I detest. That part of death. What I call the little death. The loss of the companionship in this world.

On the other hand he (Alex) lived exactly as he wished. The vet said that given the progression of the AIDS it looked like he had sex with a lot of female cats, and he fought and got tore up a lot too. He lived completely free and as he wished. 3 years of wildcatting. He truly was a Viking cat.

Also he was an extremely intelligent and affectionate cat (though I did have to nearly shoot him once to get him straightened out – after that though he was a doll), he just also happened to be huge, adventurous, and reckless as hell. And absolutely fearless.

So although I am sad, my whole family is sad, I am not grieving at all. We had a big celebratory dinner for him tonight and a drinking salute. He’s also going straight into my children’s book The Viking Cats. Actually he was already there, but now I know the heroic death he will have.

Strangely enough his death gave me great reason for optimism and led me to finally and fully grasp an idea of Wizardry, Magic, and God I have been struggling to fully formulate but now I can. At least for the most part.

As some of you know I’ve been studying Advanced Wizardry by ben Abechai. And the Original New Testament, and making my own line by line and word by word translations of both the Old and New Testaments. And so now I’m going to say something that might seem strange, but I’m becoming more and more convinced of it, from both the Old and New Testaments. Reincarnation is real.

Oh, I don’t at all draw the same conclusions as the Indians do, nor do I think it operates in the Hinduistic, and certainly not the Buddhist sense. And it seems extremely rare, I can only find about four instances of it ever being directly and openly mentioned in the Bible, though there are other allusions, but it is there. And it does not seem to work as a universal constant nor does there seem to be anything like a “karmic” inclination to the process. And I’m not sure how it works. It’s too vaguely described. In Hinduism it is thought the soul reincarnates, in Buddhism merely the “impression” or personality (Buddha was both an atheist and a non-spiritualist). In the Bible I don’t see that, but rather what the Hebrews might call the “spirit.” In that very limited sense I think Alex may very well return to us.

(Other things I have become convinced of in my studies are these:  Heaven is at least as big as the physical universe itself, and probably much larger, though concepts like time and space as we know them are utterly meaningless there. That Heaven is filled with Beings and creatures we can’t even imagine or yet begin to imagine, and that nothing ever really dies. Spirits and souls cannot be fully destroyed – though they can be amplified or corrupted and diminished – anymore than matter or energy can be created or destroyed. There is a conservation principle of spiritual and psychological existence similar to, or far more stable than, the conservation principles in our universe of matter and energy. If nothing else everything is retained within the intelligence and memory of God – though neither term is really accurate because the intelligence and memory of God goes well beyond anything we can conceive of with such terminology, and therefor it is simply not possible to erase any viable living, biological, spiritual, or psychological pattern of existence once it is established. And such patterns may lie buried in the “Mind of God” as nothing more than mere potential for what would seem to us an eternity – if it is even possible for the mind of God to be mere potential – I doubt it – but it is never actually erased or destroyed. In other words God never forgets. So nothing ever really dies, it simply changes form in regards to our universe and the kinetic pattern prevalent at the moment it physically exists. So Alex is no more “dead” than I am, though his body has suffered the little death – in relation to me and this world at least. In reality he is no more dead than I am and never will be and as far as I know he may one day be alive again in relation to this world and to me. Though wherever Alex is, and whatever world he inhabits, he lives.)  

But now on to what Alex’s death made me realize about Magic. Now when modern people say magic their mind instantly springs to Harry Potter and making things happen by some unknown agency or invisible force (I think the invisible force part is partially accurate) but that is not how the Magi would have viewed magic at all (they wouldn’t have viewed what they did as magic in our sense, period) but rather Magic, or Magiaesm (the etymology of the real word) involved simply understanding the way the forces of existence actually operate, how, and for what reasons. (And optimally knowing why, though that’s as far beyond Real Magic as it is beyond Real Science, because ultimately, only God actually knows the why). The Magi of course would have called this Magic (though they used a different term), but it wouldn’t have meant some unknown agency. They knew very well the Agency. Just as I do. But because the word Magic now has thousands of years of misapplication and skewed definitions attached to it I’ll use the Greek word I prefer: Theurgy.

Theurgy simply means “a working of God,” or before Judeo/Christian influence upon the Hellenes, “a working of the gods.” But Theurgy really flowered among the early Christians and later the Neo-Platonists and meant a “Working of God.” And although they could be amazing, they were essentially a “little working of God.”

The Greeks had a much, much larger word for what we would call a Miracle, and they would have called a “Wonder-Work of God,” namely, the word Thaumaturgy.  These were huge works of God. Now I had already come to this conclusion and used these definitions on my own. But Alex’s death, along with these studies, has helped me make the final step to what all of this really means. Let me illustrate. Theurgy is a small or little work of God. What do I mean by little work of God? I mean a work of God that is small in scale, not small in meaning, purpose, or targeted effect.

For instance if Jesus healed a blind man that would be Theurgical, and many at that time would consider it “magical.” Look at all of Jesus’ healing miracles and you will see a technique, even if it is only a declarative stamen “Go your way, your daughter is healed.” Here is another prime example. To pay a tax Jesus tells someone to go catch a fish and they will find a coin in its mouth. Even many people today would call that bordering more on magic than miracle. It’s Theurgical. It’s a small work of seeming unknown agency. Of course we know the actual agency but it seems magical. It seems like it shouldn’t be there and that the coin was “conjured” from nothing. Nothing could be less true, but that’s how it looks. Now to anyone witnessing these things, they are “magical” and they are also small in nature. They are not Earth shattering, they are amazing, but not wholly miraculous. As in utterly Miraculous. It’s Theurgy. A Work of God but on a small scale. It’s not  a small scale to the man being cured of blindness, to him it is miraculous and earth-shattering, but to those who are not blind it is astounding and amazing but not “Earth-Shattering.” Another thing about Theurgy is that it is replicable. It can be done over and over again and not just by Jesus, but in some cases the Prophets, like Elijah, or the Magi, can do it. Or even pagan Egyptian priests. Jesus could heal, and cast out demons, and do things of that nature over and over and over again, within reason – he also had to rest. Then again so could many of the the Prophets. Impressive Works of God, true, but relatively small scale and of a subjective and personal nature. I term Works like this Theurgy, or Magiaesm. If you think on a scale then they are smaller Works of God, at the very genesis (excuse the pun) of the Works Scale. They are the province not only of Prophets and of Jesus but also of Magi and Wizards. And much of their power, faculties, and force lies in understanding the way God has set up things to Work and how existence actually operates. In some ways they are proto-science, in some ways science, in some ways psychological, and in some ways metaphysical. They are small Magic, they are Wizardry.

What about things like feeding 5000 with very little food and still having leftovers. Things like that lie right on the line between Theurgy and Thaumaturgy. So now I guess I should better define Thaumaturgy.

Thaumaturgy is a Great Work of God in the sense that it involves a large number of people, is seemingly impossible (nevertheless it happens) and is totally unique and not replicable. This is real Thaumaturgy – Moses parts the Red Sea (it’s only happened once and has never been replicated), Jesus walks on water, Christ is resurrected (not a general resurrection, which will also be a single once ever event, but he is resurrected as a single individual foreshadowing the general resurrection), and so forth and so on.   If a Work of God is large scale, has a profound effect upon a large number of people or witnesses, is seemingly impossible, is not replicable, and is a totally unique event, then it is True Thaumaturgy. A Wonder Working. A one of a kind, non-replicable event. Unique in world history. Thaumaturgy is also always absolutely intentional. What we in English would call a Miracle, capital M. Thaumaturgy is a large-scale Work of God that only agents like Christ, the Prophets, the Apostles, and The Saints are able to trigger.  

(I know that in English, being a very spiritually impoverished language, we call all unusual works of God Miracles, but Resurrection, that is a True Miracle, is a non-replicable Wonder, whereas predicting that a fish will have a coin in its mouth, although amazing to a degree, that is Theurgy, or what our ancestors would have called Magic, or Magiaesm. Even a stage magician would do it if properly prepared.)

Theurgy on the other hand is a smaller scale Work of God that is replicable, is subjective, targeted to a rather small or tactical problem or issue, has a profound effect upon individual recipients but merely fascinates most witnesses, seems amazing but not impossible, and can be astounding, but is not unique. Theurgy can be worked by many agents of God, intentionally or unintentionally, such as by Wizards and Wise Men and Women of all kinds, Magi, Scientists, or sometimes simply by what we might call Experts or really experienced men, or even by nearly anyone given the proper set of conditions or circumstances or the necessary emergency or contingency.

(Sorcery on the other hand is not a Work of God at all, but is a cheap imitation of either Theurgy or Thaumaturgy designed to harm or to do evil. It is the very opposite of Theurgy and Thaumaturgy and is evil’s attempt at imitating a Work of God, for purely selfish and self-aggrandizing motives, be that work small scale or large scale. The ultimate end of sorcery is not to understand, nor to assist, nor to do good, but to control, to tyrannize, and to harm.)

Well, I could go on for a very long time in this vein but I’m sure by now you more than get the point. Anyway, today Alex’s little death, my recent studies, and all of the things surrounding these events have led me to fully understand these things. And now I can fully define the differences and similarities between Theurgy and Thaumaturgy and now I am that much closer to understanding Magic. By that I mean Real Magic (which is just  a short hand Oriental way of saying both Theurgy and Thaumaturgy, or what we in English would altogether call Miracles, though that’s not really an accurate term). 

Or perhaps I would do better to say, “Wonder-Working.” Or unusual and wondrous Works of God that man directly participates in. Well, I should go to bed now. I tire and I am written out. But I go to bed convinced that I shall again see Alex, and perhaps soon, either in this world or in Heaven or in some other world. And not just him but everyone I have ever buried and wish to see again, person or animal. But in any case I intend to pray that Alex is returned to us, reincarnated if you will, though I think that probably a very primitive and inaccurate term for what I actually mean and how it actually works, which I make no claims to explaining. Because I no more know the real mechanism(s) than I know the mechanism(s) by which God transforms inanimate matter to animate matter.  But he’s done it and obviously knows his stuff. Somethings it is okay just to know that it does Work, you don’t have to know how it actually Works. And something’s no man will ever know how it truly Works.

However I will not pray or request of God that any person ever be returned to me, as in returned to me in this world, even if such a thing were possible. That would just not be Wise. People are free to make their own decisions about what world God allows them to inhabit (unless they have chosen hell, and I am firmly convinced some do and that God lets them) and I have neither the right nor the power to even request they give up whatever world they are enjoying merely to be in my company again. Besides I don’t think it works like that with people anymore than it works like that for angels, and besides there will be plenty of time for me to enjoy their company in a better world. I have no right to attempt to bind people to me in this world or in any other merely for my own benefit.

But maybe that would work for animals. Maybe that is how God made animals. Or at least some animals. As companions for people and the world they inhabit is really unimportant. I truly don’t know. But I’m gonna make the attempt (if it’s impossible it won’t happen anyway, will it?), pray that if it is possible, and if Alex so desires (for all I know God gives them a choice as well) and so chooses he will “reincarnate” (whatever that really means and however it really works) and return to us.

Still adventurous and affectionate and intelligent and exploratory in nature, just not nearly so reckless. And I’ll whack his balls off pretty quick too, if he does return. For his own good and to preserve him from disease and early death. I hate that, but if he is to long survive this world it may be necessary.  

Anyway I go to bed very happy, still sad we parted in this way, but happy, and with what I suspect is a much better understanding of my old friend Death, and I suspect even with a better understanding of God and how the universe actually works. So see ya and hope all goes well for you.

And may Wonders abound around you.

No matter what world you inhabit.

YES!

Yes I would do this…

SUCCESS!

Superb! And incredible!

 

VIDEO: SUCCESSFUL TEST FOR SPACEX CREW CAPSULE EMERGENCY ABORT

THE PERFECT ESCAPE FROM AN IMPERFECT LAUNCH

This morning, SpaceX did a test run of its Crew Dragon capsule’s abort system. It’s a significant protocol the company would use if the module were ever in trouble on the launch pad.

In 2017, the Crew Dragon will be tasked with ferrying NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station, and it’s important these men and women are as safe as possible during their missions. That means SpaceX and NASA will need to be prepared for all sorts of catastrophes that could befall the crew, even if these events are incredibly rare.

One such event could include a botched launch, in which the area around the launch pad becomes dangerous during liftoff (perhaps due to an unintended explosion or errant rocket booster). In this scenario, the Dragon and its astronauts will need to get out of there. Fast. So SpaceX has embedded the walls of its crew module with eight SuperDraco engines, which can rapidly carry the vehicle up and away from the launch pad to safety.

According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who conducted a media teleconference after the test, the capsule went from 0 to 100 miles per hour in 1.2 seconds, reaching a top speed of 345 mph. He noted that if any astronauts had been on board, they would have fared just fine. Now, the next few tests for the Crew Dragon include an in-flight abort test and an unmanned launch to the ISS, with the module ready for its intended astronaut riders in two years.

Check out the company’s first critical test of this exit strategy below, with a dummy astronaut along for the ride.

GHOST DOLLS – BODY OF EVIDENCE

Photo

A government laboratory found a way to listen to recordings on fragile wax cylinders inside dolls made by Thomas Edison in 1890. CreditCollection of Robin and Joan Rolfs

Though Robin and Joan Rolfs owned two rare talking dolls manufactured by Thomas Edison’s phonograph company in 1890, they did not dare play the wax cylinder records tucked inside each one.

The Rolfses, longtime collectors of Edison phonographs, knew that if they turned the cranks on the dolls’ backs, the steel phonograph needle might damage or destroy the grooves of the hollow, ring-shaped cylinder. And so for years, the dolls sat side by side inside a display cabinet, bearers of a message from the dawn of sound recording that nobody could hear.

In 1890, Edison’s dolls were a flop; production lasted only six weeks. Children found them difficult to operate and more scary than cuddly. The recordings inside, which featured snippets of nursery rhymes, wore out quickly.

Yet sound historians say the cylinders were the first entertainment records ever made, and the young girls hired to recite the rhymes were the world’s first recording artists.

Year after year, the Rolfses asked experts if there might be a safe way to play the recordings. Then a government laboratory developed a method to play fragile records without touching them.

Audio

A recording heard from Edison’s Talking Doll. (Audio quality is low.)

The technique relies on a microscope to create images of the grooves in exquisite detail. A computer approximates — with great accuracy — the sounds that would have been created by a needle moving through those grooves.

In 2014, the technology was made available for the first time outside the laboratory.

“The fear all along is that we don’t want to damage these records. We don’t want to put a stylus on them,” said Jerry Fabris, the curator of the Thomas Edison Historical Park in West Orange, N.J. “Now we have the technology to play them safely.”

Last month, the Historical Park posted online three never-before-heard Edison doll recordings, including the two from the Rolfses’ collection. “There are probably more out there, and we’re hoping people will now get them digitized,” Mr. Fabris said.

The technology, which is known as Irene (Image, Reconstruct, Erase Noise, Etc.), was developed by the particle physicist Carl Haber and the engineer Earl Cornell at Lawrence Berkeley. Irene extracts sound from cylinder and disk records. It can also reconstruct audio from recordings so badly damaged they were deemed unplayable.

“We are now hearing sounds from history that I did not expect to hear in my lifetime,” Mr. Fabris said.

The Rolfses said they were not sure what to expect in August when they carefully packed their two Edison doll cylinders, still attached to their motors, and drove from their home in Hortonville, Wis., to the Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, Mass. The center had recently acquired Irene technology.

Audio

A recording from Edison’s Talking Doll. (Audio quality is low.)

Cylinders carry sound in a spiral groove cut by a phonograph recording needle that vibrates up and down, creating a surface made of tiny hills and valleys. In the Irene set-up, a microscope perched above the shaft takes thousands of high-resolution images of small sections of the grooves.

Stitched together, the images provide a topographic map of the cylinder’s surface, charting changes in depth as small as one five-hundredth the thickness of a human hair. Pitch, volume and timbre are all encoded in the hills and valleys and the speed at which the record is played.

At the conservation center, the preservation specialist Mason Vander Lugt attached one of the cylinders to the end of a rotating shaft. Huddled around a computer screen, the Rolfses first saw the wiggly waveform generated by Irene. Then came the digital audio. The words were at first indistinct, but as Mr. Lugt filtered out more of the noise, the rhyme became clearer.

“That was the Eureka moment,” Mr. Rolfs said.

In 1890, a girl in Edison’s laboratory had recited:

There was a little girl,

And she had a little curl

Audio

The first recording heard from Edison’s Talking Doll. (Audio quality is low.)

Right in the middle of her forehead.

When she was good,

She was very, very good.

But when she was bad, she was horrid.

Recently, the conservation center turned up another surprise.

In 2010, the Woody Guthrie Foundation received 18 oversize phonograph disks from an anonymous donor. No one knew if any of the dirt-stained recordings featured Guthrie, but Tiffany Colannino, then the foundation’s archivist, had stored them unplayed until she heard about Irene.

Last fall, the center extracted audio from one of the records, labeled “Jam Session 9” and emailed the digital file to Ms. Colannino.

“I was just sitting in my dining room, and the next thing I know, I’m hearing Woody,” she said. In between solo performances of “Ladies Auxiliary,” “Jesus Christ,” and “Dead or Alive,” Guthrie tells jokes, offers some back story, and makes the audience laugh. “It is quintessential Guthrie,” Ms. Colannino said.

The Rolfses’ dolls are back in the display cabinet in Wisconsin. But with audio stored on several computers, they now have a permanent voice.

Correction: May 5, 2015
An earlier version of this article misstated part of the name of a center in Andover, Mass. that recently acquired the Irene technology. It is the Northeast Document Conservation Center (not National center).

WITHOUT GOD from DIVINE SOPHIA

Without God man is a complete cipher, endless in his ambitions, but with only one aim –

himself.

INDEPENDENCE

There is something somewhat ironic about this (how good a shape the carrier still appears to remain in despite repeated attempts to utterly destroy it), but if you ask me, not very…

Our ancestors built extremely well and with great purpose.

We could still learn much from them.

(For slideshow and video see original article link in title.)

Aircraft carrier that survived atomic blasts lies at bottom of Pacific

By Brad Lendon, CNN

Updated 2:15 PM ET, Fri April 17, 2015
Story highlights

USS Independence was sunk in 1951 after weapons tests
Carrier was close-in guinea pig to two atomic bomb tests
Agency: Ship looks remarkably intact 2,600 feet below surface of the Pacific Ocean

(CNN)A former U.S. Navy aircraft carrier that survived a Japanese torpedo strike and was a massive guinea pig for two atomic bomb blasts looks remarkably intact at the bottom of the Pacific, according to federal researchers who surveyed the wreck last month with an underwater drone.

The USS Independence was scuttled in January 1951 during weapons testing near California’s Farallon Islands. Although its location was confirmed by a survey in 2009, researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration went looking for it again in March as part of a project to map about 300 wrecks that lie in and around the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

“After 64 years on the seafloor, Independence sits on the bottom as if ready to launch its planes,” mission leader James Delgado, the maritime heritage director for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, said in a statement.

Indeed, sonar images show what looks to be an airplane on one of the elevators that took planes from the Independence’s hangar deck to its flight deck. The ship sits upright with a slight list to starboard, according to NOAA.

NOAA’s survey of the 623-foot-long, 11,000-ton carrier was conducted by the Echo Ranger, an 18.5-foot-long autonomous underwater vehicle provided by the Boeing Co. The Echo Ranger traveled 30 miles from its base in Half Moon Bay, California, and hovered 150 above the carrier, which lies 2,600 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. The drone used a three-dimensional sonar system provided by Coda Octopus to get images that showed how well the warship has weathered 64 years in the deep.

“This ship fought a long, hard war in the Pacific and after the war was subjected to two atomic blasts that ripped through the ship. It is a reminder of the industrial might and skill of the ‘greatest generation’ that sent not only this ship, but their loved ones to war,” Delgado said in the statement.

In its 20 years in the Navy, the ship played a role in some of the most important events of World War II, earning eight battle stars in the process, and the dawn of the nuclear age.

Independence was seriously damaged by Japanese torpedo planes during the Battle of Tarawa in late 1943. The ship returned to California for repairs and made it back across the Pacific by July 1944 to participate in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea and the sinking of one of the Japanese Imperial Navy’s biggest warships, the battleship Musashi. Later, in the Battle of Cape Engano, planes from the Independence were involved in the sinking of four Japanese aircraft carriers.

After the war, Independence became part of a fleet used to measure the effects of atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific on July 1, 1946. It sat just 560 yards from ground zero in the first test, a 23-kiloton air blast of a fission bomb similar to the one used over Nagasaki, Japan, a year earlier, according to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization. Twenty-four days later, Independence was 1,390 yards from the center of a second atomic blast — also a 23-kiloton device but an underwater detonation.

The ship was later brought back to California for nuclear decontamination before being sunk during the weapons training in 1951.

NOAA said no signs of radioactive contamination were noted during the survey of the sunken carrier last month.

The agency has no plans for further missions to the ship, according to the NOAA statement.

There is but one way to advise – by example.

Homeschool on the Farm

Growing cotton, corn, and character

Duplicate My Success

How to Start a Blog From Scratch and Scale it to a Profitable Full-time Income on a Limited Budget

The Aramaic New Testament

Galilean Aramaic in the Context of Early Christianity

biblonia

Ancient and medieval book worlds. The galaxy before Gutenberg. A bit of scholarship, a bit of humour. By Dr Cristian Ispir. Don't forget to subscribe

Submit your story logline and showcase it on this network. Or, submit to get your story made into a Video Pitch

Submit your logline pitch and we'll make sure it gets seen be 1000s. Over 1 million plus combined twitter and facebook followers

Jarrad Saul

Travel, Lifestyle and Occasionally Waffle

Mephit James Blog

From one GM to another.

Kristen Twardowski

A Writer's Workshop

The Public Domain Review

There is but one way to advise – by example.

Fantastic Maps

Fantasy maps and mapmaking tutorials by Jonathan Roberts

Matthew Zapruder

There is but one way to advise – by example.

Susie Day | children's books

books for kids about families, friendship, feelings and funny stuff

The Millions

There is but one way to advise – by example.

The Public Medievalist

The Middle Ages in the Modern World

There is but one way to advise – by example.

Chuck Wendig: Terribleminds

Hey Did You Know I Write Books

%d bloggers like this: