Big city news

When the Detroit Police Chief says he would try to avoid using gas stations inside City limits after 2:00 in the morning, things are bad.

(It's not some TV show thing. It's where opportunity meets criminal motive and violent methods.)

This is not news, in the sense that Chief Craig is not saying anything that is a surprise to locals. It's been true for some time.

However, the Chief is willing to be quoted on this in the local newspaper. Which is news, after a fashion.

This reminds me: whenever I notice Chief Craig in the news, I notice that he is trying to encourage people to trust him, and trust the Police.

When there are protests in town, he talks about letting people protest, but coming down hard on anyone using protests as an opportunity to commit crime.

When discussing crime, he wants citizens to know that he approves of law-abiding people carrying guns for personal protection.

And now, he admits that he shares fears that many local residents have. With a subtext of <i>I'm on your side, but I can't work miracles</i>.

I don't know anything about the day-to-day life of the Police Department. Or whether Craig can do much to change the crime in the City.

He's working with a force that has shrunken over time, suffers constant threat of funding problems, and deals with a wide variety of tasks. Detroit has an active Downtown region, sprawling neighborhoods that range from near-wasteland to mostly-inhabited, a busy border-crossing, a State University, a handful of casinos, and many other challenges.

It's a hard job, but Craig appears to be doing his best. And I, a resident of the suburbs, like that.


Breaking the Law

For more than 9 years now, I've held a Concealed Pistol License. Most of those years, I've carried a pistol anywhere I legally could.

Once in that time span, I applied for a renewal of the License. At that time, the renewal was easy. The new license arrived before the old one expired.

This spring, I went to apply for another renewal. The line seemed longer than last time...but it's been nearly 5 years since I last stood in that office.

After I filled out the form, posed for a photo, and paid the bill, I was told that the License might not be issued within three months. However, if the application was not rejected within three months, the application itself would be valid as a temporary License after the three months expired.

The Sheriff's Deputy who pointed this out to me stamped the form with a date. He pointed out that the date of validity of the temporary License would happen about 10 days after my birthday. But the License would expire on my birthday.

Thus, the behavior which had been my daily habit for most of the last decade would be illegal. For a week and a half.

And then become legal again, after that 10-day period.

Those 10 days felt strange. Monday after my birthday, I walked out the door with a gun in its usual place. Once I arrived at the office (and placed the gun in its locked box inside the car), I remembered that my License was no longer valid. Thus, I'd broken the law by carrying the pistol concealed. But my behavior was no different than the previous week, when it had been legal.

Happily for me, the Police did not swoop in and write me a ticket for unlicensed concealed-carry of a firearm. (I think first offense is a misdemeanor, and later offenses rise to felonious status...)

Since that time, I've been edgy. Until today, when the temporary License becomes valid.

I couldn't carry legally. But I could still carry with a high probability of not being detected, either by Police or by other citizens. It was still possible that an incredibly-unlikely event could happen. I might be put into a situation in which I'd need to defend myself with lethal force; or might be questioned by Police investigating a crime.

The time of edginess is over...Until the temporary License expires. There is high probability I will receive the renewed License before that happens, but it is still possible.

This experience causes me to ask: is a License-to-carry a necessity?

It has a few perks.

  1. Any Policeman who learns that I have a CPL knows I've taken a class, spent some time on the range, and been fingerprinted.
  2. The Policeman also knows that I've passed a background check by the County Licensing Board
  3. The Policeman knows that I hadn't (at that time) been adjudicated mentally unfit.
    Nor had I been convicted, or scheduled to go to trial for, any crimes on a long list of serious felonies.  
  4. The Policeman knows I likely haven't committed a crime which would cause revocation of the License. 
  5. The License is also a shortcut past the License-to-Purchase-a-Pistol process that is in place in Michigan. 
Admittedly, statements 3 and 4 are true for something like 90% of the State population. However, less than 10% of those have a State-endorsed License to prove it.


Astronomy Pictures

One fun event that happened over last weekend was a camping-and-fishing trip.

The trip was far enough away from the Metro Area to allow for some good stargazing. I was also aware that Saturday evening, I would be able to see the Moon close to a pair of planets during twilight.


Memorial Day, repeats

It seems every Memorial Day, a few people post repeats of old posts.

For some reason, this seems more fitting than to try to bring up something new.

I'm sure I've seen this story before, but the courage and steadfastness of two Marines is a stark reminder of the kind of man who is honored on Memorial Day.

This photo is a stark reminder of Memorial to dead soldiers, in their simplest form.

Another photo of the commemoration of Memorial Day at Arlington Cemetery gives a sense of the number of men who have died in warfare, and of the faithfulness of the Army in decorating every grave in that cemetery for Memorial Day.


Memorial Day

While looking online for items related to Decoration Day, now known as Memorial Day, I found this.

The picture below, found there, is a good reminder of what Decoration Day was about.


Could have predicted this

Clayton Cramer notices this news item, and writes a headline.

Approximately, "Usual losers from riots are the law-abiding poor/minority in the neighborhood that suffered the riots."

As I noted there, this was seen in Detroit in '67. Among other places...


Birthday Break

For my birthday, I took a break from blogging. And on the day after, I took another break from blogging.

In the meantime, I found some fun stuff.

Trigger warnings, from someone who has experienced trauma and knows exactly what triggers the panic.

This day in history...exactly one day after I was born, the biggest volcanic eruption of the past century happened.

A novel in progress.

A humorous look at another important day in history. From the same source, an update to the Muses spoken of by the ancient Greeks.


Local News

Sometimes, the regional news brings along really odd stories.

Like this one.

As Clayton Cramer says, the sub-head ought to be "Don't be Stupid."


Vehicle oddity

I've spent a year and a half driving a manual transmission as my daily drive.

The different behavior of a manual-transmission car became a deeply-ingrained habit in my mind. When I took a corporate test-vehicle home over the weekend, I was a little surprised when the automatic-transmission vehicle started moving the moment I let off the brakes.

I also noticed how the fuel economy gauge on the dashboard behaved. A very shallow up-slope (I think less than 1% grade, but over two miles) caused the fuel economy to drop noticeably. I could have maintained high economy, but only by coasting and losing lots of speed. Steady speed on a similar down-slope, or a flat section of roads, showed the maximum possible reading for fuel economy.


Computer fun

Another item from the weekend:

I did two things on my computers. One of which was much easier than I'd anticipated, the other of which was trickier.

The GNU/Linux distribution that I'm using is called Gentoo. I had decided to add a feature to the old machine in my basement that mostly holds backup files and a print-server.

The new feature is a Media Server.

After a little tweaking and searching, I ended up at this web site. I spent a little time pulling in upgrades to the core Gentoo system, then I ran the installer for plex-media-server.

A few minutes later, Plex was installed and I was importing MP3 files. I could see the server from any computer on the in-house network, and could also see the new Plex server from my Roku media center.

The harder task was changing the Login Manager on that same Gentoo system, while enabling the screensaver software to let another user log in.

The software that handler user login is separate from the software that handles the screensaver, and is also separate from the Window Manager that handles most user interaction. Further, some Login Managers depend heavily on libraries from the related Window Manager, while others don't.

(Technically, this is also true in Windows and Mac. However, Microsoft/Apple don't make it easy for the user to replace one of these tools.)

Thus, I had to find and parse directions for switching from SLiM Login Manager to LightDM. And then find the command offered by LightDM to plug into the newLogin option offered by the XScreenSaver toolkit. The answer wasn't easy to find in the Gentoo online documentation, but I eventually found something in the documentation of the Arch Linux distribution.

Then I had to test. However, it didn't work...I'd forgotten that I needed to shut down and re-spawn the XScreenSaver process to use the new setting. After that, I realized that I also needed to log out of the active session, restart the Login Manager, and then log in again.

Eventually I figured it out.

One of the hassles of not using a fully-integrated desktop environment (like GNOME) is that I occasionally run into poorly-documented interactions between components.


Mother's Day

Wish I had much to say about celebrating Mother's Day yesterday.

It's hard to top what was said by one sibling, to Mom.

"I'm happy you decided to become a mother."

The job of a mother contains many chores, tasks, and deeds that aren't often seen. It's a hard task. Yet without someone willing to take that task up, none of us would be here.


Life and Death

I attended a funeral this week.

The day was rainy. The deceased man was Jewish. He was not exactly young, but seemed too young to die of a brain tumor.

The service itself was a mix of comforting and haunting.

The Jewish-ness of the service was interesting. The rabbi quoted from the Tanakh many times. He spoke of the promises offered by God, and ended by speaking of a fervent hope for the future.

At the end, the rabbi spoke of the hope in a future coming of the Messiah.

I realized that Christians find hope in the same thing; the main difference is over whether the future coming is the first or second appearance of the Messiah.

After the service, the family and friends met, talked, and remembered the life and death of this man.


Police departments and statistics

I noticed, over the weekend, that Jim Miller found and posted an interesting article about deaths caused by Police Officers in the United States.

The data in that article indicate that homicide-by-Officer has declined in the United States over the last three decades. (This decline is seen in most other statistics about crime in the United States.)

Is the current rage about such events the result of expecting improvement (fewer suspects dying while interacting with Police) to turn into perfection (no deaths at the hands of Police)?


Police Departments, Culture, and Behavior

While perusing FaceBook last week, I found a comment from a former Police Officer.

This man was trying to describe the difference between the Department that he knew (in Atlanta) and the evidence about the Police Department in Baltimore, as described by David Simon.


Weekend thoughts

This is not a continuation of my exploration of Christian Scripture, but a compilation of thoughts.

Over the weekend, I spent a lot of time playing music, and talking with, other Christians. Part of the time was spent preparing for a night of intercession and worship next week.

In the communing, in practicing music, and in worshiping together, I was reminded of why I remain a part of the local Church.


Local News

On the heels of a death-in-Police-custody and rioting in the city of Baltimore, there was news of another death-of-suspect-being-apprehended.

In Detroit.

Local to me, even if the trouble (and potential unrest) is still likely to be miles from my home.

As Aaron (at the Shekel) noted, this situation could have turned very bad indeed. But it appears that the Detroit Police were willing to leave the protesters alone, while promising a hard crack-down on crime at the protest site.

Most of the credit should be given to Police Chief Craig.

There are many others involved (including citizen groups and former-oversight-boards), but the leadership of Chief Craig appears to have been very good here.