Coach Brian J. and the Rising Death Toll

Since my wife and I support our children’s school’s sports teams, we got a purple polo shirt this year, much like the coaches wear. I thought I’d snag it, but I wore it once, and it reminded me too much about when I was actually a coach, and all the people who died.

Brian J., you’re such a reserved fellow. How did you become a little league coach? Well, friends, when my oldest son was in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, someone in his class’s parent fielded a t-ball team. But when he went into first grade, the parents involved stopped, so I stepped up so that both of my children could play on t-ball and baseball teams. Well, I shuffled reluctantly up. By the time I’d decided to do it, it was too late to sign up teams for the city parks’ league, so I got started with the YMCA league. I told the parents in both classes to sign up for coach Noggle’s teams, and I registered for a 4-year-old team and a 6-year-old team.

But the YMCA lumped them altogether and, since we didn’t have a full team, glomped the SLS pre-K and 1st Grade team together with some six-year-olds from a local elementary school. The team had four coaches total: Coach F, Mrs. F, a realtor who looks like Dennis Quaid, and me.

Me, I was thrilled to have both of my children on the same team since it halved my number of practices and games to coach. Dennis Quaid didn’t, though, as he wanted his six-year-old to play on a competitive team, so he withdrew. Which left Coach F and me, since Mrs. F handled some administrative work, and Coach F and me ran practices and whatnot.

So I ran practices and encouraged the kids even though I generally don’t like kids (my kids generally excepted). Hard as it may be to believe, I was the loud coach, the one yelling encouragement in practices and in games, shouting “You got it!” whenever a ball was hit toward a peewee infielder or “Run, run, run! You got it!” whenever one made contact while batting (many of the yuts would hit the ball and watch it, so Coach Noggle tried to help them along).

At any rate, our blended team did their best, mostly, and it was an interesting experience. I got on well with Coach F, since he was a friendly fellow with an excellent sense of humor, which means he laughed politely at my jokes.

Then, after the season, Coach F shot Mrs. F and turned the gun on himself, leaving their newly seven-year-old reluctant baseballer to find their bodies and call 911 before school.

I didn’t bring this up with my children, and they’ve only occasionally wondered why they didn’t play baseball the next year. They weren’t really that into it, so it was only an infrequent question as the seasons passed.

Strangely, though, this is not the first time someone on a team I coached was gunned down.

Back in my college days, I was a mascot/unofficial coach for a women’s recreational team in a Milwaukee parks league. I helped out with the practices and attended all the games, providing encouragement less loud than I would 20 years later. I nicknamed one of the women “Thunderball” because she was a power hitter and because she once put another woman in the hospital with an errant throw. Thunderball lived with her husband and kids in a rough area of the city, and one afternoon as she came out of a McDonalds with her kids, a man with a gun robbed her and told her to get on her knees. I don’t know if it was moving into sexual assault or not, but she said, “Not in front of my kids.” So the bad man shot her. I don’t think they ever caught him.

I remember I wanted to write a poem about it at the time, murder on the periphery. If a tragedy or crime like that strikes close, you deal with the direct emotional impact of it. But when it’s only someone you kinda know, you think about it and get bothered by the injustice of it at a rational level but indirectly emotional, too. More outrage than direct grief. Also, the murder becomes an outsized portion of that person to you; instead of having a wealth of experiences with them to remember, you have a bit a couple things and The Murder.

But I think too much about things.

So after I wore the polo shirt from my kids’ school, I washed it and put it into my wife’s drawer. It’s a bright purple shirt, but it brings a dark cloud to me.

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They Never Have This Problem With Scott Foresman Text Books

iPads worth $70,000 stolen from Chicago school:

Around 140 iPads worth more than $70,000 have been stolen from an elementary school on Chicago’s West Side.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that burglary happened around 1 a.m. Monday at Charles Hughes Elementary School in the North Lawndale neighborhood.

My school never had this problem with the two Apple IIs that it wheeled from classroom to classroom on carts. Or the thick, scarred hardback textbooks.

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They Laugh At Me For Having A Halberd In My Truck

But sometimes a wandering monster appears on your way to work:

The last thing the woman from Northeast Portland probably expected when she got up Tuesday morning was that she would be attacked by a sword-wielding elf.

But that’s what happened around 7 a.m. as she drove her red BMW by the intersection of Southeast 7th and Morrison.

I know, you purists are saying the halberd is not the right weapon for in-vehicle defense, but it’s a carbine halberd.

(Link via VodkaPundit, who did not add his customary, “You know you’re not supposed to do that, right?” Mainly because whether to attack commuters with bladed weapons is a case-by-case basis.)

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Topical Music

First, the song “Fistfight in the Waffle House”:

Now, the story: Waffle House Armed Robber Gets the Surprise of a Lifetime When Customer Decides to Fight Back With a Gun:

An Atlanta crook picked the wrong Waffle House to target early Monday morning. That’s because when the bandana and hoodie-wearing bandit walked into the restaurant and pointed a gun at patrons, one of them reached for his gun and fired back.

Brothers and sisters, that is D.U.M. dumb. It’s a scientific fact that there are more guns in your Georgia Waffle House at any time of day or night than at your local Friends of the NRA meeting.

(Links via Ms. K. and Doug G..)

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Then, They Came For The Chainsaws

Aw, c’mon, I thought this was a free country. You mean this is against the law?

Lincoln County deputies arrested Herzog on Sunday. Authorities say she yelled at children using coarse language, videotaped and photographed them and walked toward them with a chainsaw to frighten them.

I would have expected someone with coarse language to use a power sander myself, but I used to dabble in fiction, so I contrive things.

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But If They’d Suffered From Allergies, They Would Have Been Thwarted

Springfield is debating whether to make pseudoephedrine-containing drugs prescription only, and its police chief says the mere proposal is making the streets safer.


Federal agents say they have busted a local drug conspiracy throughout Christian, Greene and Webster counties that has distributed Mexican meth.

Somehow, this will be grounds for more laws. Maybe we need to prevent citizens from driving to Mexico.

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Lawbreakers Stop Breaking Law Because New Law Is Proposed

Truly, this is a display of some yoga-stretched flexible logic:

Pseudoephedrine could soon be available by prescription-only in Ozark and Springfield. It is an effort to make the key ingredient for methamphetamine harder to access. City leaders in both towns planned to take up the issue in meetings on Monday night.

. . . .

So far this year, there have been 24 meth lab busts all across the city, but there was only one bust in May, near a house in the 2000 block of North National Avenue. Williams believes the change is thanks to increased education surrounding the proposed ordinance.

That is, those who would break the law and who cannot stop breaking the law due to their meth addiction have stopped breaking the law because a new law has been proposed.

Actually, the logic is pretty consistent. More laws, less crime. Always. And if there are more lawbreakers, somehow, with more laws, we need more laws and attendant inconvenience to the law abiding.

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An Electric Six Fan Steps Forward

The Other McCain has the story of a guy who tried to get naked pictures of women on the Internet.

McCain quotes another blog:

[A] recently-unsealed complaint in the Eastern District of Michigan . . . alleges, essentially, that a New York man — Adam Paul Savader — used a variety of Google Voice numbers to text women under the monicker “John Smith.” ”Smith” told the women that he had nude photos of them (or, in one victim’s case, her mother) and that he would post more online if they did not send more nude photos. [Emphasis Added]

Where have I heard that before? (Warning: clip includes F-word, so don’t play it at work if you work in a library.)

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Why Does His Gender Matter?

Note the description of the man who robbed the bank:

Police say a man wearing a bandana and dirty white gloves robbed a bank in south St. Louis County this afternoon.

Why, oh why, in the 21st century are we remarking upon the gender of this alleged assailant? Just because males make up the vast majority of bank robbers in this country, why should gender be mentioned in the description other than to perpetuate the stereotype that only men rob banks?

(Satire aside, FBI statistics from 2010 show that blacks and whites commit very similar numbers of bank crimes. But what would a descriptor like race do in aiding the police in looking for a bank robber?).

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Deer Thugz and Disharmony

I moved from the city to a small town to get away from just this sort of violence:

Authorities say the woman was standing in a service station parking lot in Ellisville when two deer ran through the lot. One of them ran into the woman, knocking her to the ground.

This was just part of the deer and his gang of malcreants’ crime spree, which also includes an apparent B-and-E.

(Jeez, I make light of his, but I hope the vic gets well and the perp makes a tasty sausage.)

(Also note that we’ll see a wave of crime and insurrection not seen in this country in 200 years if the deer align themselves with the emus.)

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Wherein My Life Mirrors Victor Davis Hanson’s, Sadly

This morning, as I awaited the HVAC guy to come for the annual check-up, someone knocked on my door. It was a young guy in a black sleeveless shirt. I opened the door, and he asked me if I had any scrap metal. I set my face grimly. I did not, and I did not know of anyone who did.

I set my face grimly, because I’m pretty sure the guy was a Debbie Burglar. You know, the kind who knocks on your door, and if you don’t answer, he comes in anyway.

I read this Victor Davis Hanson piece today, and it includes:

Earlier another youth drove in without seeing me mowing the lawn. I ran up; startled he stammered, “Hey, mister, I’m only looking for scrap metal to buy.” (What is it with the national epidemic with good wire or scrap metal?)

I’ll pass on his shoulder to finger sleeve tattoos, the ink drops under the eyes, the shaved head, wife-beater T-shirt, the inked-in but impressive religious icon tattooed on the neck, and the whole nine yards. As I wrote earlier, I immediately noticed brand new hot-water tanks, still in their labeled cardboard containers, in the bed of his truck. They seemed very “metal” to me, but not very “scrap.” Words were exchanged and he backed out.

At least the guy who came to my house had the decency to drive a 20-year-old Ford. But still.

As we work from home, we’re here most of the time. But, damn, I hate having moved away from the city and feeling only as safe as I felt there, where we fell prey to a Debbie Burglar (probably) in our first house and answered the door on others a couple other times.

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Bring the Kids!

Man, Woman Charged After Allegedly Leaving Child, 3, At Burglary Scene:

Two people face charges after they allegedly brought a 3-year-old with them as they committed a burglary, and then left the child at the scene.

If they’d have left the child at home alone and it was found, they would have faced far more acrimony than if they’d been merely caught at burglary. So it’s a rational choice, sort of.

Making the kid carry a bag of silverware that anchored the kid in place, though, that sort of defeated the purpose.

(Link seen on Hell in a Handbasket.)

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Automobile Use Is Corruption

That’s what the prosecutors indicate here:

Police in Coatesville say they stopped a white SUV being driven by a young girl on Sunday afternoon. Authorities say 30-year-old Lakisha Hogue was in the passenger seat when they stopped the vehicle. According to police documents, Hogue was laughing and said she was teaching the girl to drive.

Hogue is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of a minor and other charges.

Meanwhile, they’ve charged the child for driving without a license, endangering the welfare of the child (itself), and other charges.

Seriously, can’t the prosecutors limit themselves to just one crime for one actus reus anymore?

Rhetorical question. Of course they cannot.

Meanwhile, keep this in mind that when you’re teaching your children to drive, you’re violating all these laws unless there’s a written exception for children with learner’s permits in the actual statutes. Which, of course, there’s not.

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Mens Rea and Actus Reus Both Optional Now

The first part of this story is disturbing enough:

Mike Herchenbach was sure he would get a fine. He’d pay a couple hundred dollars, like his roommates, and go on with his life, even though he wasn’t at the party that got out of hand at his rental house. After all, his name was on the lease.

But what he didn’t expect, and hardly believed, was what Lancaster County Court Judge Gale Pokorny had in mind as his punishment for maintaining a disorderly house last Oct. 2.

Herchenbach remembered his attorney from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln reaching for a work-release form, which would get him out of jail so he could work while serving his sentence.

He didn’t need it. It’s only a weekend, he remembered saying.

But Pokorny didn’t say three days in jail. He said 30.

Thirty days in jail for a disorderly house. That’s an interesting application of a law to make an example out of someone for having a wild party.

However, more frightening is the judge’s reasoning for the stiff punishment:

In a 2½ page sentencing order, Pokorny went through, reason by reason, “why courts need to take a harder look at this type of case and Mr. Herchenbach.”

“Reason #1. People can die at these parties,” he wrote.

There you go. Herchenbach didn’t mean to kill the victim (that is, he lacks mens rea, the guilty mind or intent to kill), and, come to think of it, no one actually died (no actus reus, guilty act or actual freaking crime).

It used to be that laws and the courts required both intent and action to convict; with the advent of strict liability laws, you didn’t even have to intend to break the law to actually go to the slam. Now, thanks to Judge Pokorny, you don’t even have to break the law to be punished for it.

No, sir; simply because crimes or tragedies can occur, you can be held accountable. Sleep tight, citizen.

(Link submitted to Outside the Beltway Traffic Jam.)

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