Aug 23

The Singularity and Gettin’ Old

Captains Log. Star-date August the 23rd in the year 2015. Approximately 15,572 days since I rolled off the assembly line at the robotics factory.

It’s a weird morning, as you can no doubt tell. I have been reading a book my cuz recommended titled “The Singularity is Near”. It is a book written in 2004 about advanced technology and artificial intelligence. It’s very long and I have skimmed over some of the more redundant parts but I am a little over halfway through it. It is quite interesting and tries to encompass a good many things that I will not bore you to tears with synopsizing now. If you like technology though, you should pick up a copy.

I do want to talk about a couple of things mentioned in the book. The Turing Test, which is an ambiguous test that basically tests an AI (Artificial Intelligence) to see if it will pass as a human being. And the authors insistence that the future of human evolution will involve nanobots. Tiny robots flowing through our bodies curing us of disease and replenishing tissue which will greatly extend our lives. Like I said, interesting book. Before I move on, let me say that I think the author is dead on about the biological merging of biological man and machine. I have been saying it for a long time.

Anyway, this morning as my ten year old asked me to turn on the tv, make her some turkey bacon, and get her a glass of milk something occurred to me. I may be an advanced slave robot. You know, like buying a personal butler at Wal Mart. I told her to get off her ass and get her own milk for the record. This robot is grumpy in the mornings. If I was a robot, would I know? Not if I was sufficiently advanced and programmed to think I am human. A movie the wife and I watched recently touched on this idea. I recommend it as well. “Ex Machina” I believe was the name.

Back to my strange morning. I am now the very proud owner of a teenager. My oldest is 13 today. This makes me feel old. As many things do nowadays. I am actively fighting the inevitability that I will soon need reading glasses. A fact first brought to my attention strangely enough by technology. Boom Beach was obviously a game written by young whippersnappers with no regard for us old farts and our diminishing eyesight. I think my nanobots may be defective because of this eyesight problem and the fact that my body hurts most mornings just getting out of bed. Getting old is not for the faint of heart.

Does anyone know where the robot repair shop is?

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Aug 16


I watched “Going Clear” last night. If you have not heard of or seen it, it was a documentary on Scientology. I highly suggest it if you find the time by the way. Not a lot of surprises as most of us are fairly familiar with the general batshittiness of the religion and it’s public face, Tom “Cattiwompus” Cruise. The implications the documentary made about John Travolta being forced to stay in the religion were new to me though.

Scientologists all have to undergo intense “auditing” sessions. Like confessions in Catholicism. The Scientologists are highly encouraged to be 100% forthright in these audit sessions and the auditors take very detailed notes on everything you tell them. This information is then put in a folder in case the church ever needs the info to encourage you to stay on the right path.

People that speak ill of the church are branded “Suppresive Persons” and can be “disconnected” from the Church. Members are actively encouraged to give money to the church. They currently have approx. 50,000 members and a church net worth of about 1.5 billion dollars. This money is primarily a war chest as the church actively engages in litigation and smear campaigns against those that speak out about it. Children are indoctrinated into the church’s teachings from birth.

As I was watching the documentary, I of course could not help but see the similarities in the religion that I am most familiar with. Southern Baptist Christianity. Some of the similarities I have already pointed out. Indoctrination, giving money (titheing), shunning of non believers. Now I know I will catch a lot of flack from all you good Christian folk for saying that but it doesn’t make it any less true.

Growing up in the Deep South, being an open atheist is probably not wise. No, the current Christian church doesn’t lock up nonbelievers in a refugee camp as scientology did or beat suppressive persons as scientology did. The shunning is much more subtle (although in some cases, blacks, mixed marriages and gay folk are more overt). If you don’t believe you will be treated quite differently as an avowed atheist in Mississippi, you are quite frankly being obtuse. When Old Man Winters sees you in Waffle House and asks what church you are attending, you generally just say some local church and try change the subject. This is simply an act of “getting along”. You really don’t want to alienate Old Man Winters and definitely don’t want to have a full blown theological discussion in the Waffle House when all you really want is a cup of that delicious coffee.

I have made this point many times in the past and I guess I will continue to make it for the foreseeable future. Be careful Christian friends when calling others batshit crazy. Like Muslims or Westboro Baptist or Scientologists etc. Really, the only thing you have on your side is pure numbers and the overwhelming peer support that accompanies those numbers based on your geographical location.

Go watch Going Clear. No matter your thoughts on the subject, it is a very interesting documentary and study on human nature.

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Jul 31

Planned Parenthood…*ducking*

I don’t discuss abortion often. I know that it is just one of those things people are not going to change their minds about. Ever. But I would like to make a few points about the Planned Parenthood hub bub.

As everyone knows, some video footage has emerged showing a high up Planned Parenthood (PP) exec discussing selling aborted baby fetus parts for money. First thing. Do some research and stop knee jerking because the media has yanked your chain. Here are a few pertinent facts that I strongly suggest you verify for yourself.

1. Abortions account for approximately 3% of what Planned Parenthood provides. Educate yourself on what the other 97% consists of.
2. By already established law, no federal tax money can be used by PP to fund the abortions portion of what they do. YOUR TAX MONEY IS NOT FUNDING ABORTIONS.
3. The video you are seeing was edited for impact value. To make it seem worse than what it is.

Again, I highly suggest you do your own research on the videos. But the lady plainly states in the cut portion of the tape that the $50-$100 charge is simply to cover PP’s cost. Not because they are trying to make a profit. PP is a non profit organization.

Now I know there are a ton of ambiguous land mines in the topic of abortion. You can be totally against it. I actually understand where you are coming from. I truly do. But this firestorm is not supposed to be about Pro-life vs Pro-choice. That is what it is but it’s not being spun that way by your friendly media.

Fox right republicans want you to believe that when a 16 year old pregnant girl walks into a PP clinic, PP employees immediately tell her to get an abortion so they can sell baby parts for profit. THIS NEVER EVER HAPPENS. I am upset about the sheer number of you that believe this. Do I think the lady was a little nonchalant about discussing selling dead baby parts? Yes. But I know there is more to it than just one person.

Now, should any money at all be made on aborted fetuses? Again, up for debate. My take is that they were just going to be thrown in the dumpster so what is the harm in labs buying them for scientific study? I get it if you don’t agree. I can’t say that enough.

I think it only fair that I lay out my crazy views on abortion. I wish that all babies would be brought to term. Give them up for adoption if you don’t want them. But I also know there are extenuated circumstances that come into play. Rape, incest and a woman’s right to choose among them. Once a baby can survive outside of the mothers womb (whatever that ever moving line is), I am against abortion. But I am not for taking away a woman’s right to choose before that point. If the baby can not survive without the mother, I think of it as a part of her. I won’t support making it illegal for her to abort it prior to viability anymore than I would make it illegal for all you fellas to spill your seed straight into the toilet.

The point of this whole writing is just please do your research. This is not a black and white issue. Argue your points (I think everyone has some valid ones). But just don’t be some sheep that jumps everytime someone in the media tells you to get in the air. You are better than that. Please be better than that.

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Jul 30

TBT from 2011

As a kid I used to gaze up at the clouds and wonder what life would be like on the other side of them.  Fancily, I daydreamed of lying atop them, cuddled up in their airy embrace.  Above the clouds, I believed, the sun was always shining, the sky truer of a blue and sweet melodic angel whispers where abound.  On top of the clouds, life was free.  On top of the clouds, there were no worries.  On top of the clouds, my thoughts were meant to roam.

I don’t travel much, in fact I’ve traveled all of 3 times in my adult life.  Recently, during a return flight home, I found myself above the clouds.  I smiled dreamily at them, remembering my craving for such an occasion as a child.  Quickly I envisioned myself plopped upon one.  Just as instantly as I found myself on top of the cloud, I felt myself burn through it.  Misted haze screamed past my body as I quickly plummeted to the earth below.

Hating that image, I immediately turned my sights to the role in life I was currently playing a part in, above the clouds.  I had been sitting next to a woman, of whom I learned not her name, but that she was the mother of a daughter attending the University of Oregon.  She was also, a very proud owner of an Apple iPad.  She went about her apps showing me all of the delightful things that it was capable of doing.  Disinterested as I was, I feigned enthusiasm, joyously announcing “Oh my, would you look at that.”

On the other side of her, was a businessman.  I reached out to him and dragged him into our conversation.  He, as it turns out, is accustomed to flying.  In fact, that very week he had to travel to 5 different cities.  “You know, it was my goal to travel less this year,” he tells us.  “Well, you clearly suck at that,” I respond.  Instantly regretting having said the word “suck” to a total stranger.  I hurriedly followed up with, “you can go ahead and save that for your next new years resolution” in hopes of making the imagery more wholesome and to the point.  We both laughed, mine (perhaps) a little more nervous than his.  The lady between us went to reading on her iPad.  Feeling it would be rude to try and carry on a conversation with the businessman, I gave in and picked up my book as well.

Glancing out the window, I found myself looking through the clouds.  Envisioning the faces of my family, their warm embraces and sloppy kisses.  How we would cuddle beneath a blanket of stars and dream openly on the trampoline.  I chuckled at the thought of “the sky is always bluer on the other side.”  Intriguing the woman next to me, “Is that a good book?”  She asked.  Smiling, I handed it to her, “it’s fantastic!”  Suddenly aware that my life above the clouds, for that night at least, was meant to be spent in vague reality; up here, with my co-passengers, I only partially exist.

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Jul 17

Bama Fans

I was asked recently why I have so much disdain for Alabama fans so I thought I would explain it here. My friend specifically asked what qualifications are required for a person to like a certain school. Did you have to graduate? Just go there and drop out? Did you live in the town as an infant?

Well, as much as I think everyone on the planet should just listen to me all the time and make me Supreme Overlord, I can’t say that I know what the specific requirements are. There are none as far as I can see. This is a semi-free police state, I mean country, and you are free to like whomever you damn well please. But on the other side of that coin, I am also free to point out that you never went there and have zero affiliation with the university. Flip the coin over again and you are free as a bald headed eagle to get supremely butthurt over me pointing this out.

Here’s the deal folks. I live in Mississippi. Because my wife won’t move but that’s another story for another time. I live in “By God proud to be from” Mississippi. A state, that by any other measure, is vehemently proud of it’s independence. Even when this pride spits in the face of common sense. But that’s another story for another time. I generally think that to be a “superfan”, you should have SOME kind of tie to the university. Superfans are the folks with big letters on their cars and half their wardrobe consists of team apparel.

But what do I see when I drive around this state of MS? Big stupid “A’s” everywhere. This great Magnolia state is chock full of Alabama fans. Why is this? When you cross the state line into Alabama, everyone is either an Alabama fan or Auburn fan. You don’t see everyone running around with a big ole Rebel (I’m sorry Ole Miss fans, a black bear) or Bulldog on their back window.

There are a couple of reasons for the infestation of Bammer’s in Mississippi. #1 is they are winners historically. As much as I hate to admit that. People like pulling for a winner. The second reason is tied to the first. Mississippi is a dirt poor state as a whole. Lots and lots of poverty here. With poverty comes sub par education. Dummy’s aren’t normally known for making good decisions. :-)

Disclaimer: Every Bammer is not necessarily a bandwagoner or a mentally deficient chimpanzee. I know that your third cousin on your wife’s brother’s side knew a guy that lived in Tuscaloosa for a week once. We’re good bro. I love y’all.


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Jul 03

My Political Evolution

Most of my friends are Republican. We were born and raised in Mississippi for crying out loud.

As much as I hate to admit it, I was what I would call now a hard right neocon republican for most of my life. I bought in to what the Republican Party was selling for a long, long time. Hell, I had a “Work Harder, Millions of People on Welfare Depend On You” bumper sticker. I was all in.

Then, at some point probably around my 30’s, I realized “Hey, these motherfuckers are lying to me.” So I latched onto my core values. Liberty and anti big government. Things the Republicans said they liked but not so secretly loathed. This led me to the Libertarian Party. Folks that actually walked the walk. For better or worse, libertarians stand by their values more consistently than either democrats or republicans do. They like fiscal restraint and social liberalism. A mantra that I still like very much.

There are extremes to libertarianism just like with any other group. For libertarians it is what is called anarchist libertarians. They believe that ANY government is bad. Like literally any idea government comes up with is shit. The United States should be ran under a total anarchist system. I have many problems with this. The first being that I think government is the second primal human need. For the record, the first is religion. You drop 20 people off on a desert island and I assure you within the first hour, someone will be in charge. People crave leadership. They crave structure. Nothing will ever change this.

The anarchists turned me away from libertarianism a little bit. If you hold a gun to my head and make me choose a national party, I still have WAY more in common with them than any other major political party. As I age though, I become more liberal by the day. Most of my friends already think I am an Obama flag waving hippie anyway.

I look at it more as I am pragmatic. I look at individual issues and figure out where I land on them. Health care is a good example. I know (like everybody else) that our current system is totally jacked. It’s too expensive. We can argue upon our party lines all day about why that is but I like to focus more on solutions. I have dissected it three ways to Thursday and I firmly believe that single payer is the best viable answer. I am not looking to argue with you as to why I believe this is so. Most industrialized nations in the world use it but I will let you google it to your hearts content. My point is much larger with this post.

My point of this writing is that I have changed. You can change. If you are totally closed minded to solutions and walk your party line 100% of the time, I quite frankly feel that you are a fool. Is government needlessly entangled in red tape? Absolutely. Do they have the best answers to some problems? Yes. This is the grey world we live in folks. Ambiguous. One of my favorite words ever. Susceptible to multiple interpretation.

I want to leave you with a couple of questions. It is intended primarily for my Fox News friends. If you are dropped off on a deserted island with 9 other people, how do you think that would play out? Be honest. Would you stand by your every man for himself mantra and end up killing everyone else except for one female you need for breeding? Or would you work with the other 9 people to survive as a whole?

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Jun 25

A Radical’s Solution to the Flag Flap: Compromise

Quote of the Day:

I have heard something said about allegiance to the South. I know no South, no North, no East, no West, to which I owe any allegiance.”     –Henry Clay

TB sees where those against Confederate symbolism on Mississippi’s state flag (and other states) are coming from. It’s obvious really. The Civil War was fought by poor whites so rich whites could keep their slaves. Anyone with enslaved ancestors could never embrace such a flag as a symbol for their homeland and they must never feel truly a valued citizen of such a place. The South lost the war, in part, because of constant problems with desertion in the ranks by soldiers who knew their cause was not only lost, but was also complete bullshit. So I also see where a lot of folks like me with white ancestors who fought in the Civil War would just as soon see the relics left to museums and dime store novels.

On the other hand, I once looked at the flag like a lot of current non-racist Confederate flag supporting people. That is, I revered selectively edited Southern history and mythology, and most of all, I loved the tradition aspect–the show of defiance against an ever-expanding federal government and corporate economic stranglehold over lands once settled by rugged individualists beholden to no one. I also get that white southerners feel unfairly labeled as racist for having absolutely natural feelings of kinship to their ancestors.

Personally, I’ve evolved on the subject over the years. My position now is that a flag should be a source of pride to all who live under it–black, white, and even the surely mystified Asian, Latino and Yankee populations in the South. I also don’t want to be aligned with the Dylan Roofs of the world nor the unbelievably hateful white supremacists filling up the comment section of every news piece on the subject. My preference would be that everyone would come around to my way of thinking and we’d do away with Confederat-y flags and everything else relating to the Old South.

Sadly, and in spite of the modern political system’s insistence upon it, the idea that one point of view must prevail and the other must be ground into dust is both ignorant an impractical.

So what are we left with?


But how to reconcile such diametrically opposed positions? I cleared my mind and thought about this and nothing but this for quite awhile yesterday.

After about ten seconds I had my EUREKA! moment.

The answer is in plain sight to anyone with HBO.

You see I just finished binging all five seasons of Game of Thrones.

Stop right there. I know you are hoping I’m going to suggest beheadings, fiery sacrifices, sodomy and dragons. No, I’m not going there at all.

It’s a line that appears in most every episode that is inspiring me to propose this compromise. A line that in many ways makes no sense, much like the flag debate. It’s a line that assumes we the viewers know much more about the history of Westoros than we do. Much. Like. The. Flag Debate.

Here it is: “the old gods and the new.”

Get it? On Game of Thrones, everyone is always praying to the “old gods and the new”, whoever the hell they may be. It’s like the 7 Kingdoms’ way of letting bygones be bygones. You worship the meaningless symbol you want and I’ll pay homage to the vitally important invisible family of nutcase immortals that I want.

What I gotta draw you a picture?

TWO Flags. The old one and a new one. You fly whichever one makes you happy at your home, business, or in the glass above the bed of your F-150. Two flags in front of the Capitol–it’ll look nice and symmetrical. Two flags in courthouses where witnesses will be required to give an oath to tell the truth before the “Old Flag and the New.” Two flags on police cars–imagine the economic benefits to the local decal industry? Two flags at the high school football game, coming down Main Street at the Christmas Parade, waving in front of the Ten Commandments at your local car wash.

And the best thing of all? Mississippi would be FIRST in something for once. Imagine the possibilities! Other states and nations would be tripping all over themselves to follow our lead because if there is one thing the modern world has taught us it’s that MORE is BETTER.

You think I’m kidding about all this?

Well, I thought it was a funny idea when it first came to me, but the more I think it over….I’m damn serious about it and I hope you’ll consider the merits of my little proposal. Even if you don’t have HBO.



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Jun 23

A Piece of Cloth

Let’s play a fun game everyone. What is the first physical object you can think of when I say “white supremacy”? I bet most of you thought of the confederate battle flag. If not, I imagine it would be in your top three.

Flag apologists will accuse you of not knowing your history. These folks seem to have a firm grasp of how the flag was used in the American Civil War. Circa 1861-1865. The flag was used by a few battle regiments in Virginia. Perhaps that is true. It makes me ask though, if the flag was so insignificant, why are you getting your panties in such a wad to keep it?

When you google American civil war images, you will see a few different flags in the photos but the one displayed most prominently as representing the South side is the confederate battle flag. It is THE flag that is tied with the southern cause in that war. “Heritage not hate” is what they are fond of saying. What heritage are you so fervent about respecting? The one that thought it was okey dokey to own other human beings? The same states that were ferociously fighting 100 YEARS after the civil war to keep whites and coloreds separated?

I grew up in Mississippi. Southern pride is a living breathing thing. I can’t explain it to you if you were born outside of the deep south. People here take great pride in being from the south. Even when faced with widespread poverty, subpar education, and sky high teen pregnancy rates. God and Grits Y’all!

Another question. Answer it honestly. When you see a pick up truck with a huge rebel flag on it’s back window (strangely enough it is just the battle flag and not the flag of Mississippi), what do you assume about the owner of said vehicle? I will tell you what most people think. Poor, redneck, and probably openly racist. Before I start getting hate mail, I KNOW that having a flag doesn’t necessarily mean you are a raging racist. This is just calling a duck a duck that is, on average, a duck. I don’t see very many nice cars riding around with battle flags. Just 4 decades of observation. I have Facebook with lots of friends (believe it or not). The postings have already started with pro flag memes and the pretty dancing around the real subject of racism. On this subject, white friends-please stop posting the black folks making conservative or anti black sentiments. You aren’t fooling anyone. If I made a list of most likely friends to feel this way, they would be clicking them off almost in order daily on my facebook feed. Let’s be honest, in this age of full voluntary disclosure, you know who these people are.

Sometimes folks, it’s just time to let go. The flag has been hijacked by white supremacists and is a living symbol of the Old South. An Old South you should not be proud of or hold up to the rest of the world.

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Jun 20

Fathers Day

Like many of you, Fathers Day is a bittersweet day for me. I lost my dad when he was 54 years old. Do you know how ridiculously young that is? Insane. He was pretty run down with diabetes and something went down with his heart. I am still somewhat unclear about exactly what happened because our local hospital system sucks donkey cock and I never got a full picture of what exactly happened. His dad died at 52. Dad kicked it at 54. 56 is going to be a tumultuous year for me.

He was a good father. Worked multiple jobs to provide for us and was always there for me. My big regret to this day is him not being here for me to talk to. Jesus, the conversations we could have currently. He wasn’t a perfect man. None of us are. He had a definite weak spot for women and gambling. But he was wise and never, to my knowledge, steered me in the wrong direction. He was my best friend, even though I was a pretty good asshole for the last few years of his life. We never had any huge chasms in our relationship. I was lucky. So lucky.

Now for the sweet part of the bittersweet. I think I am a pretty good dad. I am too quick to anger and enjoy my libations more than some would consider appropriate. But I am home every night with my family. Like, I have no “hobbies”. I don’t harbor any sort of resentment that I am missing out on anything. This is precisely where I want to be. I do my best to steer my girls in the right direction. I believe that is all we really have in life. Passing on good things to our kids. Who will, in turn, pass them on to their kids. It’s really the only legacy most of us have. I take great pride in knowing my dad would be proud of me. The job I am doing. I hope that my girls will feel the same after I am gone.

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Jun 11

Black vs White Cops. Let’s Get Serious.

Ok. The cop/black thing is completely out of control. Is it a serious issue? Sure. Has it been completely and utterly blown out of proportion by both sides? Absolutely.

Are there bad cops? No doubt about it mate. People are shitheels as a rule. To think that only the pristine, godliest among us would take up the enforcement mantle is just stupid. There are definitely power hungry, short man syndrome, didn’t amount to shit after high school jackasses wearing badges. There are also a lot of good people doing the best they can when facing the shit side of society that you like to pretend doesn’t exist.

Are all black people criminals? If that sentence didn’t make you blow liquid out your nose, you either weren’t drinking at the moment or have a very serious problem that you need to address. Of course they aren’t. Yes they make up a majority of our prison population. They also get unfairly sentenced for asinine drug laws. White man has pot…community service. Black man has pot…HOLY SHIT MARY CALL THE COPS WE’RE LOCKING THIS SUMBITCH UP FOR 20 YEARS. You do not want to argue me on this, I promise you. I will beat you to sleep with statistics. I don’t want to open the barrel of systemic racism so I will just leave it at that. It’s not the point of this lecture.

The national conversation on these issues has devolved into two distinct sides. You either support cops or you hate cops. It is so ignorant, it literally makes me want to scream. (I am screaming right now for you “literal” definition soldiers)

We have totally lost site of the idea of looking at situations on a case by case basis. Or, God forbid, actually looking at a situation based on the available facts. Everyone backs into their respective camps no matter what the facts of the case say. I have said for awhile that black America made a huge mistake planting their flag on the Fergusen case. I have read all of the evidence presented to the Grand Jury and to pick that particular case to make your stand was a mistake folks. I would have shot that dude. 10 times. There are plenty of more ambiguous cases. Be more selective. When you pick a bullshit case like Fergusen, it weakens ALL YOUR FUTURE ARGUMENTS. It’s important.

Let’s move onto McKinney. The flavor of the day. There seems to be two main points of contention. When the officer pulled his gun (which when taken frame by frame as in a popular conservative meme), he seems to have done an excellent job of assessing the situation and handling it correctly. And then you have the jackleg officer assaulting a teenage girl in a bikini on the ground. If you take up for what that second officer did, you are the problem. Seriously. Did she have a shiv hidden in her hoo-ha? I can’t believe they are protecting this guy.

Oh, what’s that? They aren’t? The officer was fired, condemned by his police Chief and publicly apologized for his actions? Well Holy Shit. I guess the continuing non stop crap parade on Facebook doesn’t know exactly what it’s marching for.

My point in all this folks is choose your battles wisely. Don’t take up for shitty cops or obvious hoodlums. We have moved so far away from reasonable debate on this issue, I am afraid there is no turning back.

I know what you are saying. Mac, you are so wise. What is the answer?

In short, I think police body cameras on every officer clear up a bunch of the problems. I know if I was a cop, I would demand one. No one wants to be watched all day at work. We all fuck off. But the nature of the job almost demands it.

I support our men in blue as a general rule. Someone has to keep the peace. Bottom line. But video weeds out the bad eggs. Is there a “thin blue line” that protects it’s own? No doubt about it. And it’s hard to argue the folks that say “If most of the police force are good people, why aren’t the bad ones getting turned in?”
But the officer that shot Water Scott just got indicted for murder. Would that have happened without the video evidence? Not in 1000 years. He would have walked all day. That is part of the problem. Hell, it’s the majority of the problem.

Video solves a couple of things. First off, you have evidence when something goes bad. Secondly, and much more importantly, people act better when they are being videotaped.

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