Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fallout Shelter Future 

Stendahl wrote a novel about an ambitious young man trying to figure out what career he should follow to achieve his goal of becoming hte next Napoleon. He chose the priesthood as being most suitable for his times.

This article makes me think the military will be a method to rapidly rise in rank in the next few decades.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Burglary Blogging, and Thoughts on Profiling 

What better way to break a long absence from the blog than with a whopper of a story, one which poignantly illustrates the complexity of police work, and the need for more common sense in the realm of airport security, and the fight against terror. Living in Southside Chicago, you prepare yourself for all sorts of shenanigans, yet never really expect to find yourself in the situations that grace the cover of the Maroon.
When I arrived home yesterday, I noted two individuals carrying a large duffel bag standing at the door to my apartment building, fidgeting with the door. By the time I reached the door, they had it open, so I assumed they had a key, and thought little of it. That is, until I noticed the array of electronics in the duffel bags as they two jogged up the stairs of the building.
My suspicion peaked, I entered my downstairs apartment, jettisoned briefcase on-the-fly, and took the back staircase that runs in our building to the second floor apartment, also rented by our fraternity. Much as I had expected, as I entered the kitchen, I could hear voices and the sound of moving property in the front room of the apartment. Returning to my downstairs apartment, adrenaline pumping, I told the only other person home at the time, a small Indian woman, to call the police. Clutching a broomstick in hand (yes, I considered using a fraternity paddle), I paced loudly up the backstairs again, entered the kitchen, and proceeded to make as much noise as possible. Apparently successful in that endeavor, I walked down the hallway, stick in hand, and confronted the two intruders in the living room.
Shocked, and clearly more scared than I was, they began quickly emptying the contents of the bags into the floor, and stammering off an explanation for their uninvited, ill intentioned presence in my apartment. I threw open the front door to the apartment, and conveyed my sense of urgency regarding their departure. They hastily agreed. Because of the amount of time they spent jabbering and putting things down, they also hastened themselves right into the arms of Chicago's finest, arriving faster than I would have thought possible. Many long hours later, following myriad police interviews, felony charges resulted, and Harold's fried chicken was deemed in order.
Several important lessons came to mind as I sat, waiting, in the gritty waiting room of the 29th and prairie Police station, lessons that sorely warrant repetition in a world so often as backward as our own. First, there is nothing scarier than knowing that someone is in your house, but how anyone can justify the city of Chicago's total ban on firearms is completely beyond me. Nothing multiplies the feeling of helplessness like knowing that all that stands between you and criminal is a hastily wielded dowel. I have no doubt that the result would have been the same, i.e. the expulsion and capture of the perpetrators, but it is undeniable that it would have been both quicker, and safer, for everyone involved had the sound of a round being chambered, not a broomstick cracking, alerted the intruders to my presence. The irony, of course, is that no amount of bans will ever prevent those who break the law, and break into homes, from carrying the very implements I have been denied. Frankly, it's as disgusting a backward, blame the victim policy as exists in America today.
That said, the second lesson of the day follows quickly from the first: the focus of our legal system, and certainly our penal system, has drifted far from its moorings indeed. After several hours in the waiting room, one of the officers on the desk chuckled to me "You're still here? Wanna answer the phones or something?" He proceeded to lament what so many have said before: "Sucks to be the victim huh? That's why most crime goes unreported." Indeed. I've blogged on the failures of our penal system before, but I have no doubt that my two interlocutors will be getting a first hand introduction very soon.
The third, and perhaps most important lesson, is that profiling saves lives. If you don't like it, aren't comfortable with it, I understand, but I will remind you again the next time you are the victim of a crime. As the arresting officer pointed out sometime later, the only reason they were able to catch the suspects, who had exited the building and were fleeing when they arrived, was because of the terse "two black males" description. It does not bode well that I would not have been comfortable calling the TSA in this situation. Those on the left who simultaneously wish to treat terrorism as a law enforcement tool, while also denying the very tools of law enforcement to those who prosecute the war on terror, are living in a dream. As soon as al Qaeda starts using vacationing families from Nebraska to blow up planes, I suppose it will no longer apply, but for now I believe the single biggest boost for airport security, bar none, would be to do away with the idiotic and wasteful random searches, and focus on the demographics that are known to be terrorists. Simply, and logically, put: Not all Arabs are terrorists, but all terrorists that have thus far attacked the US are Arab. And while not all blacks are criminals, by far, it was only the recognition of the simple fact that all criminals residing in my apartment were black that lead to their capture. Simple lessons, but costly to learn.

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