The story--entirely fictitious, sadly--is about an archaeological dig finding a Viking ship buried in a riverbank in Memphis.
Now, the thing is, at various times Viking (or Viking-like) artifacts have been found in North America, dating to early second millennium (circa 1100) around the time that the Medieval Warm Period was at its warmest. That was when the Vikings colonized Greenland and visited the east coast of what's now the US; but other things have been found, such as a stone covered in Viking runes found in Minnesota. If the Vikings had indeed explored the interior of the continent, that would be a very important piece of historical data.
...but the story is false, and there's no such find, and it's a crying shame.
* * *
Ferguson police told to stand down, allow looters to run amok. ...because people who are crying out for racial justice and the end of racism and oppression are willing to accept some free Nike sneakers instead.
Having the police withdraw is simply an acknowledgement by the local government that they can't stop the rioting and looting, not without imposing martial law and shooting a hell of a lot of people dead.
Mike Brown was 6'5" and weighed 300 pounds. There's videotape showing him stealing cigars from a convenience store and assaulting the store owner on his way out. A short while later the police told him and his buddy to stop walking down the middle of the street and disrupting traffic...and at the end of that encounter Brown was dead.
As more information comes out, we find that Brown was hardly innocent in all this. It's not a case of him walking quietly down the sidewalk (coming home, no doubt, from choir practice *rolleyes*); he and his friend were out causing trouble. Well, big surprise: when you go out and cause trouble the police get called, and when they come to tell you to knock it the hell off you don't argue with them, because they have guns and they will shoot you if they feel threatened. (Sometimes the police will shoot you even if you are bound and prone. These cases are, so far, still the exception rather than the rule.)
No matter how much of a badass you think you are, you're not bulletproof, shithead. You can bully and assault and steal from a man who is unarmed and physically much smaller than you are, but if you do that he will call the police to report the incident (particularly if he is also reporting shoplifting) and if you try to physically intimidate a police officer he has both the training and legal authority to stop you using whatever means he deems necessary.
None of this is a secret. None of it should come as a surprise.
What inevitably ends up being the root cause of all these incidents is that the thug felt "disrespected" by the actions of the person he attacked. I don't know what the police were supposed to say: "Hey, Mr. Brown, sir, would you please consider walking on the sidewalk instead of down the middle of the street? You're inconveniencing a lot of people...." That's not how it works. When police see someone causing a disturbance they tell him to knock it off and they have the legal authority to do so; generally they will not bother arresting someone who's behaving like a dickhead but who stops acting like a dickhead when told to do so. They'll only arrest someone who's involved in obvious mayhem that breaks a law other than the ones aimed at maintaining an orderly and peaceful environment, because they end up having to do a hell of a lot of paperwork over an infraction that garners a token fine...assuming the defendant is found guilty. Otherwise, it's just an enormous waste of time.
If Mike Brown had simply gotten out of the middle of the street when told to do so, he'd be alive today. He probably would have been arrested by now (for shoplifting and assault) but he would still be breathing. I cannot feel sympathy for him when he experienced the natural and predictable consequences of his chosen course of action.
The rioting and looting? Mike Brown is hardly a unique case; the race hucksters and the media have whipped the black community into a frenzy--AGAIN--over something which happens several times a year. The difference between Mike Brown and the other cases is that the criminals who end up dead are already established as career criminals. Mike Brown simply hadn't been arrested for anything yet; as I said above if he hadn't been shot dead in an attack on a police officer shortly after committing robbery and assault, he probably would have been arrested for those crimes and would have thus begun his career as a common thug.
It'll be interesting to see what the toxicology report shows. Was he drunk? High? Something must have convinced him that he couldn't lose in an altercation with a cop. (I'd be surprised if it was mere testosterone, but not greatly.)
In any case, the general template being applied to this is the same one that's always used: Innocent Black Teen Mercilessly Gunned Down By White Cop. Well, it's horseshit; if he's so "innocent" why the hell was he acting like a thug? This guy was clearly not a choirboy, not when he's stealing cigars and shoving clerks around, and I find it hard to believe that this was the first time he'd been out causing trouble like this.
I mean, you don't go directly from being a straight-A student to stealing cigars in one weekend: "I'm tired of achievement! It's time for me to bust loose and have fun! Let's go steal some cigars and shove a clerk around before we walk down the middle of main street!" It just doesn't work that way.
The police response, though--
What can you say? What do you expect the police to do when confronted with a riot, but put on riot gear? I'm not comfortable with the easy acceptance that our society has for the militarization of the police, though.
There's a lot of bad action from the police in Ferguson, in all this, too. I mean, threatening reporters with arrest? Sweeping crowds with machine guns? (Denniger on how this stuff ought to be reported.) The simple fact is that too often the police are given a pass on things which would get a civilian many, many years in prison.
Denninger points out that all felonies should be prosecuted without regard for who committed them, and I agree with that. Police should not be exempt from obeying the law; in fact they should be held to a higher standard because as enforcers of the law they are in a position to know it better than the average person. Even in a riot, the police should not be aiming guns at people unless they are under attack. Certainly they should not be arresting reporters who are not violating any laws but merely reporting a story.
(Some people talk about priests having a "direct line" to God, and so are able to get out of sins easier than laymen. But priests are, in fact, expected to do better than the average person, to be better at not sinning, because they're expected to know better.)
The worst thing about all this is that the people who are most injured by this--the business owners of Ferguson--are entirely innocent. They did not lynch Brown, they did not select the cop for duty, they did not break the law; yet the rioters and the looters are taking out their anger on them.
Ultimately, though, the death of a black man ends up being an excuse for people to act like savages. That's all it is; most of the looters are people who don't give a rat's ass one way or another and who are just seizing an opportunity to get some free stuff.
* * *
"Learn to speak goddamned English." Gene Simmons (The TONGUE from KISS for those of you who weren't of age in the 1970s) says that's the best thing anyone can do who wants to live and work in the US.
...I get so very, very tired of the mexicans who come in and have to have their kids translate for them. English ought to be the official language of the United States and immigrants ought to be required to speak it before they are allowed to naturalize.
Look: my mother's paternal grandparents spoke German in the home...until the day her father started attending school, at which point they spoke only English. They knew English, but habitually spoke their native language until they realized that their son would benefit from living in an English-speaking home. My grandfather was fluent in German but English was his primary language.
It's not politically correct, but too bad.
* * *
Yesterday I ran some errands on the bike, for the first time since--
Shit, when the hell did I last do anything on the motorcycle?
...but I needed some things, and used the bike to go get them, and everything was fine. The chain doesn't make any unusual noises any more, which makes me pretty happy.
I had a gander at the bike after getting home, and thought about the remaining things I still want to tackle. I want to replace the wheel bearings, and the front brake pads. I still need to figure out where the hell the oil is leaking from so I can replace those gaskets, and I'm starting to debate the wisdom of perhaps rebuilding the clutch.
Someday, when I am a rich man (ha) I want to take the bike to a mechanic and tell him, "Tune up! And adjust everything. Lubricate what needs lubricating. When I get it back, I want everything to work correctly." $5 says it would cost me as much as I've paid for the bike so far (purchase and parts, I mean) but once that was done I could ride the thing secure in the knowledge that it's 100% correct...and I bet it would be very nice.
In the meantime I'm going to have to do all that myself, which means figuring out how to lubricate the clutch cable, and do all the myriad of other things that the manual says to do but doesn't explain how to do them. (Like the chain adjustment, for example.)
My first stop was Advance Auto; I bought oil and fuel system cleaner for the bike, and a bottle of Slime and plug patch refills for the tractor. My next stop was a gas station, where I dumped some cleaner into the tank and topped 'er off. Then the grocery store for baker's chocolate and butter; with the addition of a bag of peanut butter chips that was $15 right there.
Butter is $3 a pound on sale, but there's no inflation!
I'm starting to worry about how much torque one puts on the axle nut. Overtightening that would damage the wheel bearings, but I was at a loss to determine how I could use a torque wrench to get it right. Then it hit me: if I were to get a crowfoot wrench of the right size (24 mm) I could use it on a torque wrench, and the measurement of torque would only be off by a little bit...and I could probably calculate about how far off it would be.
I'm going to replace the rear wheel bearings, and I don't want to screw them up. But if I had the axle nut too tight it would affect how easily the rear wheel turns, and it turns fine, so if I do have it too tight it is not egregiously so. (But I'm still going to get a 24mm crowfoot....)
* * *
It's the middle of August but yesterday felt like a warm October day. It was weather much more typical of mid-to-late September than August; it used to be that August was a hot month but the last several have not featured many days at or above ninety degrees. Most of the hottest days, over the past few years, have been confined to July.
I don't know about this whole "global warming" thing.