Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Floyd Case: Double-Barreled Stupidity

Not exactly a case of Deja-Vu-All-Over-Again, the killing of George Floyd and the resultant riots do have a certain resemblance to the Ferguson riots of a couple years ago.  The common factor in both these cases is thundering stupidity on both sides.

In the current case, an exceedingly stupid Minneapolis cop went after an unarmed drunk, got him on the ground, and then kneeled on his neck -- while Floyd kept yelling "I can't breathe!" -- for a good eight minutes until the man finally died, while three other cops only looked on.  This is not an approved police technique, any more than the choke-hold (which has likewise killed a few obstreperous suspects).  Now what did the cop think was going to happen if he kneeled on a man's neck for nearly ten minutes?  Likewise, what did those earlier cops think would happen if they choked people's necks, with their arms or their batons?  Stupidity in action!

To be fair, if somebody he's trying to "subdue" keeps struggling and yelling for more than five minutes, the cop is going to wonder: "If you can't breathe, where are you getting the wind to struggle and yell?"  Likewise, stupidity in action.  Compounded stupidity like this does tend to have fatal results.

Now a bit of sense on either side could easily have prevented the tragedy (not to mention several others before). 

On the victim's side, if he'd just been willing to adopt a technique invented by White folks, a good half-century before, he would have simply gone limp -- kept quiet and played dead, just like the war protesters of the '60s whenever they were knocked down by cops.  Despite the obvious political hatred, it was very rare for cops to kill anti-war protesters, and it wasn't just because most of them were White.  I don't know what it is about contemporary Black culture which encourages youngsters and even grown men to fight and curse and yell at the cops, but it doesn't do them or their community any good.  If anything, this is a fine example of how Black Pride is self-destructive on a wide scale. Stupid!

On the cops' side, the simple prevention -- which could have been started decades ago -- is to get serious about using stunners.  Nowadays, these include hand-stunners (often misnamed "stun-guns") for close range, stun-batons for middle range, and Tasers for long range.  Police departments could arm their troops with two stun-batons, three or more hand-stunners, and four or more Tasers apiece -- and train them with those stunner so intensively that the reaching for a stunner, instead of a club or gun, becomes second nature/conditioned reflex/default position.  One zap from a stunner would have put Floyd out like a light, and he could have wakened -- sore but alive -- in the back of a police car.  Problem solved.  Why has no major police department done this?  Stupid!

Note that stunner-armed cops could also deal more efficiently with self-righteous rioters.  Supply the cops with armor, riot-helmets, and riot-shields, and let them go ahead and wade into the crowds zapping everyone in front of them.  Once the rioters are either asleep or fled, the cops can then cuff the prone bodies, stack them in the paddy-wagons, and cart them off to the holding cells with no loss of life and minimal property damage.

So now we come to the usual reaction to stupid crimes like this;  the usual protest marches that then turn into merry smash-and-burn riots.  At least this time there's evidence that the involved sides are beginning to wise up.

The Ferguson riots followed a regular pattern;  community leaders would organize protest marches that made their way through the streets to significant sites -- usually the local police station or city hall -- where they'd give speeches, circulate petitions, and otherwise demand the usual Redress of Grievances.  These would proceed peaceably -- until the sun went down.  Then the thugs and provocateurs would come out, smashing windows, looting and burning stores, with a nice disregard for whether those buildings were Black or White owned.  Then the police would come out, tossing around tear-gas and smoke grenades, and bopping heads with clubs. Copycat protests and riots sprang up in several cities.  This kept up for several days running, despite the indignant complaints of the protest organizers, and they accomplished nothing except a lot of property damage and arrests.

This time around, the Black organizers of the real protests have noticed the looter/provocateur presence and complained about it.  They've also noticed that a lot of the thugs, usually wearing black head-wraps like Al-Qaida Arabs, aren't Black at all.  Note  So far, the organizers have done nothing more to these interlopers than to take pictures and yell at them, which is usually enough to drive them off.  We'll have to wait and see if they proceed to other tactics. 

Likewise, the local police in the 30 or so protest-riot afflicted cities have responded with a little more sense and flexibility than in Ferguson.  During daylight and the official (and peaceful) protests, they're notable for their absence, leaving the protesters to march and wave signs and speechify in peace.  Only after the sun goes down, when the thugs start to come out, do the police show up -- usually to form a defensive perimeter around local police stations and city halls, using non-lethal weapons such as rubber bullets, tear-gas, smoke grenades, and flash-bangs. 

In the last two days, though, the thugs have taken to attacking less politically-significant and more richly lootable targets, such as banks, top-scale department stores, car dealershps, and even the CNN headquarters.  The police are kept guessing just where the thugs will strike next, smashing windows in an odd similarity to the historic Kristallnacht.  This shift in targets has led the beleaguered CNN, at least, to blame the damage on "White supremacists" -- though this is hard to reconcile with righteous Black protesters.

We can probably leave the ousting of the looter/provocateur thugs to the Black organizers themselves, who are not at all happy with "outsiders" damaging the reputation of their legitimate protests, but the questions remain;  just who are these thugs, where do they come from, and just who is organizing them?  Who seriously wants to damage the US's reputation and economy?  There are plenty of suspects: agents of China, Russia, Iran, and even the Democratic National Committee -- who have shown willingness to do almost anything to Get Trump.  At the moment it's the latter who look the most likely, given that a lot of the thugs have proved to be members of Antifa and BLM.  If so, then when the Black organizers expose the tactic, it will backfire royally in the DNC's face.  This may well add to the growth of the Blexit movement, as better-educated Black Americans decide to stop being automatic supporters of the Democrats. 

All that the police need do to bring this about is to institute a nationwide program of using stunners as their main weapons.  Let's see how many of them have the sense to do it.

--Leslie <;)))><   



Monday, May 18, 2020

Encounter With a "Demon"

I've told this story before, but I think it bears repeating.

When I was about 13 I had an encounter with a psychic being that wasn't benign and wasn't entirely human.  At the time, I called it The Driver.  Yes, it really did try to set up permanent residence in my mind, and I had to go to some effort to get rid of it.  I suppose it fits some of the definitions of a "demon", though I'd like to know what religion would own up to it.

It was on a school night, and I was up in my bedroom, plodding through my homework and avoiding my parents who were fighting again downstairs.  It was late, I'd zipped through the English assignment and was dreading the Math portion, when I heard another voice in my head.  At first it was just a buzzing presence that sounded and felt like nothing I'd ever encountered, but after awhile it began coming up with coherent concepts if not words -- and what it wanted was a task.  Apparently it had been attracted by the sound of my mind grinding through the homework;  what it wanted was data to process, and I'd just been absorbing a lot of that.  It nagged in a near-mechanical voice, and it would not shut up. 

As it kept yattering I got a clearer impression of its mind, and what I saw was incomplete, nearly mechanical, lacking a good 90% of the "feel" of other people or animals.  It wanted to attach to another mind so as to get data to process, and it didn't seem to care about anything -- anything -- else.  If a computer could have awareness, it would feel like this. 

I cautiously asked it what kind of data it wanted, and it replied "no preference" -- as if it were hungry for data and didn't care what it ate.  I could also feel that when it came to processing the data, The Driver would do a very competent job.

"Oh, cool," I decided.  "Then do my Math homework."  And I opened my Math workbook and turned to the first page. 

With a buzz of satisfaction, The Driver absorbed the figures through my eyes and began churning out solutions, which I then wrote down.  I soon saw that none of the figures -- or the process of adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing them -- went through my own mind.  I wasn't practicing the Math;  I was only observing somebody else do it.  I wasn't really learning anything.  The homework got done in record time, and when I checked a few of the exercises I found that they were all correct.  I hated Math, so that was fine with me.

The Driver, however, wasn't satisfied.  The moment the last exercise was finished, it started nagging for more work.  Well, all right;  I still had the History homework to read, so I opened my textbook and started reading the assigned chapter.  The Driver eagerly absorbed the words through my eyes, but it didn't seem to know what to do with them except to store them away in its memory -- a memory, I saw, that was enormous -- but wasn't going to be shared.  This annoyed me, because I liked History and had wanted to store that information in my own memory, thank you, and do some thinking about it myself.  I deliberately slowed my reading down so that I could see and memorize the concepts in the sentences, but this annoyed The Driver, which just wanted more and more words as fast as it could get them.  In effect, I had to read everything twice -- once, quickly, for The Driver, and a second time, slower, for me.  By the time I finished the chapter I was growing annoyed with my uninvited psychic guest.  I was also tired and wanted to get to sleep.

But now another annoyance appeared;  The Driver simply would not shut up.  It kept nattering, nagging, wanting more data, more data.  I knew I couldn't sleep with that noise going on, That meant that I had to somehow get rid of my unwelcome guest.  But how?  Ignoring it didn't work, and trying to flood it out with my own thoughts didn't work either.  In fact, The Driver didn't even seem to notice that I was trying to throw it out;  it just kept demanding a mental task to perform.  It was only a fragment of a personality, not a whole mind.   

At that point I realized that The Driver had no natural instincts: not even a sense of self-preservation.

So I asked it flat out: "How do I get rid of you?"

The Driver treated that like any other intellectual problem, and gave me an answer: "Overload."

That was all I needed.  "Okay," I said, "I have a task for you.  Determine the nature and purpose of the entire universe.  Correlate all data, starting now."

I could hear/feel the "working" hum of The Driver starting its task, and as I felt it processing all its data, I heard the tone of the hum rising steadily.  Guessing that I'd better be thoroughly out of the way when that humming reached its climax, I got into my pajamas and then into bed, pulled up the blankets and blanked my mind, and did my best to go to sleep.  The last thing I remembered before sleep closed in was the rising hum of The Driver processing all that data.  I was thoroughly asleep before my unwelcome visitor overloaded itself and tore loose.

I woke up late the next morning and had to scramble to get dressed in time for the schoolbus, but I remembered all that had happened the night before -- and I readily saw that The Driver was gone.  My mind was entirely my own again.  Nobody was talking there but me.

And the thing never came back.   

I thought about that all the rest of the day, wondering about the nature of The Driver.  It was a totally psychic being, and not much of one: just a fragment of a mind that had somehow torn loose from its original personality, taking that mind's psychic ability with it, that had gone searching for another mind to attach itself to and ever-more data to feed on.. I wondered how many minds, before me, the thing had traveled through -- how much data it had gathered from them, and how those other people had gotten rid of the thing.  I never came up with any answers, but the incident gave me a whole new perspective on the old story of The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

All I got out of that incident was some understanding of just what a "demon" is, and how to get rid of them without benefit of clergy.  Of course I have no proof for any of this, since the entire incident played out inside my own skull, but the ideas are intriguing.  Anybody who wants to is free to take and run with them.   

--Leslie <;)))><  )O(



Friday, May 8, 2020

An Occasionally Psychic Childhood

...Or, Now for Something Completely Different

My first psychic experience that I can remember happened when I was six, and my family was still living in an apartment in East Orange, New Jersey.  The building was laid out in a U-shape, with the open end facing the street and a parking-lot in the back.  Our apartment was on the first floor, which was slightly raised above ground level, with a short stairway leading down to the main door. 

The only garbage service we had came around to the cans in the parking lot, and we had one enameled steel garbage can under the kitchen sink.  When we wanted to dump the garbage, we had to carry the can -- and the three waste-baskets, one tan, one pink, one white -- out our front door, down the steps, out the main door, down the short building steps, along the sidewalk to the passage through the bottom of the U, then around to the parking-lot in the back, and up to the full-sized garbage-cans.  This was something of a chore, and I certainly didn't enjoy doing it, even once a week, when Mom would help.  She'd usually carry the heavy enamel can and one of the waste-baskets, and leave me to haul the other two.  The baskets were comparatively light, but hauling them all the way around to the parking-lot was heavy work for a little kid. 

We also had a second-hand washing machine in the basement, which had a lot of scrapes in the enamel, where rust was beginning to show up.  Pop kept promising that he'd give that washer a coat of enamel paint to stop the rust from spreading, and one lazy Saturday he set out to do just that.  With the help of a neighbor he wrestled the washer out of the basement and into the parking-lot.  The neighbor took off, Dad brought the paint and brush and paint-tray around to the parking-lot and began painting over the scrapes.  I toddled after him and watched, having nothing else to do, while he made an artistic job of it. 

He paused for a moment to evaluate his work, then told me: "Sweetling, go get the white wastebasket and bring it here."

What he said was "white wastebasket", but I got a distinct impression -- a vision -- of the white enameled garbage-pail from under the kitchen sink.  Somehow I knew that that was what he really meant. 

So I toddled off, across the parking-lot, through the passageway, up the sidewalk, up the building-stairs, through the main door, up the front steps, into the apartment, into the kitchen and under the sink.  Fortunately the can was empty, otherwise I'd never have been able to drag it out.  The thing was nearly as tall and heavy as I was.  Still, I wrestled it across the kitchen, down the hallway, out the apartment door and then -- sitting down and pushing it with my feet -- down the front steps, through the building front door (which wasn't easy, the door being heavy and liable to swing shut), and then down the building stairs -- likewise sitting down and pushing with my feet.  Once down on the sidewalk I paused for breath and asked myself why I was going to all this effort;  after all, what Pop had said was "white wastebasket".  Nonetheless, I knew that what he'd really meant was "white enameled garbage-can from under the kitchen sink".  So, as soon as I'd gotten my breath back, I persevered: down the sidewalk, through the passageway...

And as I came thumping around the corner into the parking-lot I heard Pop call: "Oh, Sweetling, I made a mistake.  I meant the enameled white garbage-can from under the kitchen sink."


Yes, I brought him the can.  No, I didn't keep quiet about my vision.  I crowed about it until Pop wearily told me to shut up already and let him paint.  I don't  remember how Pop got the washing-machine back into the basement, or the enameled can back under the sink.  Given how long it would have taken for the paint to dry, he would have done it after I'd gone to bed, or maybe even the next day. 

I don't remember any specific incidents after that -- just that I got along well with animals, and could always tell what they were thinking or feeling -- until I was around eleven.

It was a school day and I was in  gym class, standing in line with a bunch of other girls, waiting for my turn to throw a basketball at the basket, and bored out of my skull.  I didn't like any of the team sports taught in school;  I liked the "weird" sports -- horseback-riding, canoeing, archery -- stuff usually done by myself.  I'd also begun taking an interest in Rock music, at least what got onto our household radio.  So, while I stood in line, bored out of my skull, I heard a popular soft-rock song playing through my head, complete with words.  It somewhat surprised me, because it wasn't a song I particularly liked or would normally remember (and to this day I can't remember the title). 

Then, a moment later, the girl right in front of me began humming the exact same tune.

This time I had better sense than to mention the peculiar coincidence.  What I noticed this time was that these incidents happened when I was in a particular mood: awake but not concentrating on anything, sort-of daydreaming.  After that I also began taking an interest in what I'd learned to call "psychic phenomena". 

And after that it got complicated.

--Leslie <;)))><