Monday, August 23

The Dog Ate It

REAL life intrudes, a definite sign that I'm not evolving at Internet speed, [one pre-click Caution, among many: written by a memologist and Visiting Professor of Psychology at the University of Plymouth who coined the "term" teme, (for "technological meme")], or else my genes don't contain enough replicator memes, or something.

Anyway, there's an update to the story of Officer David Bisard, of late a member of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, an association now clouded by his having, a couple weeks ago, slammed into half-a-block's worth of stopped motorcyclists while on an emergency run with siren blaring, lights blazing, and a .19 Blood Alcohol Concentration *. (These facts were somewhat obscured, for a time, by the initial IMPD PR campaign blaming the dead and comatose, and the five days it took to get around mentioning the theoretical two or three beers the officer had consumed earlier.)

Oh, and it later turned out that it wasn't an emergency run at all, and even if it had been it wasn't his. Then late last week we learned that he hadn't been drinking, either. Or, at least so far as the Law is concerned. Because, y'see, once someone finally got around to requesting his blood, two hours later--state law specifies that everyone involved in an accident involving death be field-tested or given a Breathalyzer on the scene--the blood was drawn by an uncredentialed technician, which prompted Indianapolis Prosecutor Carl "Taint" Brizzi to withdraw all the charges which involve alcohol. Then, because the law under which he'd automatically surrendered his driver's license comes from a different part of the statute, he got that back.

Now, I'm a civil liberties absolutist; what happens to the law is more important that what happens to Bisard, even in such a heinous example. But I can also tell you from my daily biking encounters with the gaggle of Canadas that hangs out near the creek a couple blocks north--I yell "Government Health Care is Theft!" or "Celine Dion, motherfuckers!" at 'em if they climb onto the road--that I have at least as much sense as God gave one of them, and the whole thing stinks.

(A flock of geese is also a skein, a wedge, or a plump, in flight, none of which covers the single-file of Stupidity I find myself confronted with on a semi-regular basis. On a wholly unrelated note, tomorrow is St. Bartholomew's Day, near which a master printer threw a wayzgoose, an entertainment which celebrated, if that's the word, the return to working by candlelight. The etymology is unknown, and my discovery of the practice was independent of my search for alternative collective nouns for "goose". I'm not sure what that means, but leave us say this: anyone who believes RU RTG? represents a step up, Evolutionary or otherwise, from the days when yeoman printers and illiterate seamen spoke in a rich and nuanced tongue should have every hair ripped out of her head, before it's given back to that guy from Kajagoogoo.)

Well, lots of my fellow Naptownites agree, so much so that the city's Law Enforcement Brain Trust--minus, for the first 48 hours, Mayor Gomer hisself--have been out in front everyday trying to cool things down by repeating "Mistakes were made" over and over while they decided how long they had to throw someone under the gaggle of revving buses. (So far this includes two assistant chiefs, one commander, and the head of the investigation unit). The heat is actually so bad there was a Gomer sighting over the weekend that didn't involve creating a new Charter school.

God knows it's cold comfort seeing--one more sickening time-that people who lie for a living, and the people they lie to, are completely asea when the situation calls for even a pinch of forthrightness. My particular favorite has been Channel 8, which spent the first weekend pinning the thing on dead and mangled motorcyclists because IMPD told them to, and which now can't go two minutes without repeating We Asked The Tough Questions! Which, of course, means they dare now ask a couple obvious ones of the LE triumvirate which has been forced to face 'em. I've got a sawbuck down with my Poor Wife which says the Tough Questions graphic turns up no later than tomorrow at 5.


* I don't remember if we pointed this out before, but among the many examples of Doesn't Anybody Do More Than Mindless Parrotage? there's this: Bisard's BAC is now almost automatically reported as "twice the legal limit" or "more than twice the legal limit" when, aside from the fact that .19 is nearer to two-and-one-half times the legal limit, the blood test was done something like two hours after the accident. And while the effects of alcohol intake varies with the person, humans eliminate alcohol at a fairly predicable rate: 0.15 to 0.2 g/dl/hr. Officer Bisard was at nearly three times the legal limit when the accident occurred.

This shouldn't come as unexpected news to your professional teleprompter reader; the initial verdict in the Klaus and Sunny "von Bülow" Trial of the Century of the Week was overturned in no small part because the ME had discounted Mrs. "von Bülow"'s low blood alcohol level without extrapolating to what it was when she'd stopped drinking. Not much of a surprise, really, since the Press discounts all such manias after they've finished the rake, and there wasn't nearly so much interest in the retrial as there was in the original. In fact, "von Bülow" is routinely treated as a murderer sprung by Alan Dershowitz, rather than as a paragon of American wealth and Society, the Job Creators, who couldn't possibly have attempted to murder his wife in the way the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations claimed.


bjkeefe said...

I have to say, I went back and forth about recommending that gene/meme/teme article when I read it this morning. I finally decided not to because her supposed main point -- Replicator (Level? Circle of?) III -- seemed not at all well-thought-out. I thought she did a nice job summarizing the case for memes (Rep2s), though.

Also, I like these concepts of memes and temes. Even if they're completely made up, an abstract concept, an artificial structure, whatever, I still like that some people are trying to impose some sort of systematic thinking on some heretofore fuzzy or even non-existent concepts. This is how most sciences get started -- people make a whole lot of observations, increasingly more carefully, then they look for ways to classify their observations, then they try to come up with hypotheses about why this, This! must be The One True Way Of Thinking About These Things. It's okay with me that the Latest Big Idea is almost certainly going to be replaced, and fairly soon. In a new field, we (individuals, cultures, or the entire species) pretty much only make progress by thrashing around.

Sorry to have posted such a long comment about your opening sentence. Are you dreading the ultimate length of this comment if I continue at this scaling factor?

Not to worry. Coupla quick points.

First, thanks for the new2me (← yeah, that one was just to piss you off) collective terms. I love those things -- exultation of larks, murder of crows, that great scene in one of the T. McGee books where "scramble of scrumptious" was declared the winning term for a group of young women in bikinis playing Frisbee on the beach, and so forth.

Second, I am going to go a little pretend-young-person on you and disagree with another of your minor asides: I say that after my own initial moments of grumpiness, I now think there is a lot to be said for formulations such as RU RTG? Here's why.

(a) Lewis Thomas observed, tellingly, to me at least, that what makes languages grow and get richer over the spans of decades and centuries is the steady infusion of new creoles developed by each generation's youngest users of the existing language(s).

(b) Whether or not there is anything of lasting worth to txt msging xcuts (like 98% of everything the kids come up with, they'll abandon it as so-completely-not-cool once they hear the grups using it), they nonetheless delight me solely for the cleverness aspect. On a related note, I have done a 180 on the whole Twitter thing -- I now find much to admire, or at least to laugh at (with), in the ways people will find to game systems with arbitrary constraints. (I tried to compare being funny via Twitter with being forced to write sonnets instead of free verse in a poetry class, but then Sarah the Refudiator Palin came along and stabbed that one in the heart, also too.) Anyway, this is not at all to say that RU RTG? should be the only way (young) people communicate. It is, however, to say that having an additional way to communicate is eventually a net benefit.

(c) I refer you to xkcd #771. Probably should have done that first.

Was there anything else? No, I don't think so. Except: great rant concerning your main point. Someday there will finally be enough people reading you, and then we'll finally be able to hold some asses accountable.

R. Porrofatto said...

She calls her new memes temes" Maybe we should just call them academes and be fucking* done with it.

And I second the last sentiment of Brendan's excellent comment.

*an adjectival memetic formulation of my Brooklyn yewt what doesn't need no fucking replication

Kathy said...

I was wondering if the Twitter constraints could be compared to Haiku?

And, could Sara P. write Haiku?