Bond movies will be forever part of my generations collective psyche, so it is with great sadness to see that John Barry died today. Monty Norman wrote the Bond theme (and is older and still with us), but John Barry was as important in turning it into the iconic piece that it is.
The Space Shuttle's Solid Rocket Booster problem began with the faulty design of its joint and increased as both NASA and contractor management first failed to recognize it as a problem, then failed to fix it and finally treated it as an acceptable flight risk.
Morton Thiokol, Inc., the contractor, did not accept the implication of tests early in the program that the design had a serious and unanticipated flaw. NASA did not accept the judgment of its engineers that the design was unacceptable, and as the joint problems grew in number and severity NASA minimized them in management briefings and reports. Thiokol's stated position was that "the condition is not desirable but is acceptable."
Neither Thiokol nor NASA expected the rubber O-rings sealing the joints to be touched by hot gases of motor ignition, much less to be partially burned. However, as tests and then flights confirmed damage to the sealing rings, the reaction by both NASA and Thiokol was to increase the amount of damage considered "acceptable." At no time did management either recommend a redesign of the joint or call for the Shuttle's grounding until the problem was solved.
TACOMA — A $10 million settlement has been reached between King County and the family of Christopher Sean Harris, the Edmonds man who suffered a catastrophic brain injury in May 2009 when he was shoved into a wall by a sheriff's deputy.
The settlement — the largest individual award in the county's history — comes as a civil trial was under way in Tacoma on a personal-injury lawsuit filed against King County by Harris' wife, accusing Deputy Matthew Paul of acting negligently and using excessive force. Paul was scheduled to testify on Tuesday.
In May 2009, Harris was wrongly identified by a witness as a suspect in an assault outside a Belltown convenience store. The witness pointed Harris out to Paul and another deputy, who were working as King County Metro Transit officers. They yelled at Harris from across the street, but he ran, according to the Sheriff's Office. They chased him for several blocks.
As Harris slowed to a stop, Paul slammed him into the concrete wall outside the Cinerama theater.
A surveillance camera outside the theater captured footage of the incident, and Harris can be seen raising his hands before he is hit by Paul.
The video mentioned is linked below:
After the incident, Harris spent six weeks at Harborview Medical Center, where his family was encouraged to remove him from life support because doctors didn't think he'd ever come out of a coma. But he did, and was transferred to an Edmonds nursing home in June 2009. Harris and his wife later moved in with his parents in Olympia.
Sarah Harris, in a May 2010 interview with The Seattle Times, estimated her husband's medical bills — largely paid through state disability benefits — had topped $1 million one year after he was injured.
During a news conference at Osborn's Seattle office on Tuesday, Sarah Harris said the settlement won't "fix anything," but it will allow her and her husband to move out of his parents' home.
"The reason I did this was to finally take care of Sean at home and on my own," she said
Once again we have a case of a completely inappropriate force used (despite the internal investigation that basically concluded "shit happens") by Seattle area law enforcement. The "suspect" was innocent of any crime, merely unfortunate to have been misidentified by a "witness". The police officers did not adequately identify themselves (reports vary, but yelling at someone while chasing him isn't exactly "identifying".)
Seriously, the local police should get their shit together before there's an initiative to fire all the bastards and start over with a fresh batch altogether. Starting with a few layers at the top would be a nice start.
The eight jurors at the inquest into the shooting of J0hn T. Williams by Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk was asked several questions. Here are their answers:
1. On August 30, 2010, did Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk observe John T. Williams crossing the street?
YES: 8 NO: 0 UNKNOWN: 0
Yay. Full marks so far.
2. Was John T. Williams holding an open knife at the time he was first observed by Officer Birk? YES: 8 NO: 0 UNKNOWN: 0
OK, pretty unequivocal, but given some of the later answers, I'm surprised that theywere all able to come up with a firm answer.
3. Did Officer Birk get out of his patrol car to contact John T. Williams? YES: 8 NO: 0 UNKNOWN: 0
Well, duh! But well done jurors!
4. Did Officer Birk gesture to John T. Williams to come back to Officer Birk's location? YES: 7 NO: 0 UNKNOWN: 1
Interesting. Gesture? Birk approached Williams from behind, with his gun drawn. So gesture? Maybe. Meaningful? Not at all.
5. Did John T. Williams have a knife in his hand when Officer Birk contacted him? YES: 8 NO: 0 UNKNOWN: 0
Again, given the uncertainty later it is surprising that they all say yes, despite the fact that Williams had walked around the corner by the time Birk shouted at him.
6. Did Officer Birk order John T. Williams to put the knife down? YES: 8 NO: 0 UNKNOWN: 0 If your answer to question 6 was yes, please answer the following 4 questions:
OK, yes he did. What the question omits id the fact that Williams was deaf and was shouted at from behind.
6a: Did Officer Birk order John T. Williams to put the knife down more than once? YES: 8 NO: 0 UNKNOWN: 0.
6b: Did John T. Williams have sufficient time to put the knife down after Officer Birk's order? YES: 1 NO: 4 UNKNOWN: 3
4 seconds? Please - I'm guessing the scenario was not re-enacted in the courtroom. The one yes vote is the first sign of spinelessness on the part of the jurors.
6c: Did John T. Williams try to put the knife down after Officer Birk's order? YES: 0 NO: 0 UNKNOWN: 8
OK, absolutely correct. No way of knowing.
6d: Did John T. Williams put the knife down before Officer Birk began to fire his weapon? YES: 0 NO: 8 UNKNOWN: 0
7. Was the front of John T. Williams' upper body partially turned towards Officer Birk when Officer Birk began to fire his weapon? YES: 2 NO: 5 UNKNOWN: 1
Wuh? How the hell can they know? The only evidence that could indicate this is the entry points of the bullet wounds. But based on anything else, this would have to be "unknown".
7a: If no, was John T. Williams turning towards Officer Birk when Officer Birk fired his weapon? YES: 5 NO: 0 UNKNOWN: 0
Again, what? And we now have three abstentions?
8. Did Officer Birk fire his weapon at John T. Williams on August 30, 2010? YES: 8 NO: 0 UNKNOWN: 0
No shit, Sherlock. Five time, of which only four hit him.
9. When Officer Birk fired his weapon, did John T. Williams have a knife in his hand? YES: 8 NO: 0 UNKNOWN: 0
Actually, speculation. Again, given the uncertainty in other answers, surprising.
9a: If yes, was John T. Williams' knife blade open when Officer Birk fired his weapon? YES: 0 NO: 4 UNKNOWN: 4
Surprising that this isn't 8 unknowns.
10. Did Officer Birk believe that John T. Williams posed an imminent threat of serious physical harm to Officer Birk at the time Officer Birk fired his weapon? YES: 4 NO: 0 UNKNOWN: 4
They can believe that Birk believed it, but Birk's attitude up to 3 secodns before opening fire wa sthat of predator.
11. Based on the information available at the time Officer Birk fired his weapon, did John T. Williams then pose an imminent threat of serious physical harm to Officer Birk? YES: 1 NO: 4 UNKNOWN: 3
Drunk, deaf old man. Again, I would love to have seen this re-enacted in the courtroom real time for that one YES juror.
12. Did John T. Williams die in King County, Washington on August 30, 2010? YES: 8 NO: 0 UNKNOWN: 0
Easy A on this one.
13. Did John T. Williams die from the gunshot wounds caused by Officer Birk? YES: 8 NO: 0 UNKNOWN: 0
Again, easy A.
It appears that four jurors were capable of seeing the evidence and accurately determining what happened, with one being unashamedly rah-rah-go-team-kill-all-the-old-street-inebriates-you-want, while three appeared to be reluctant to go against the police party line, but had to concede on a few points.
The questions were awful. They avoided anything really controversial, like "Was it reasonable for Officer Birk to approach a deaf, inebriated old man from behind, shout at him to drop his legal whittling knife and then shoot him to death in four seconds?"
Dan Satterberg - please have the balls to see that Birk stands trial for manslaughter.
The LA Times has a fascinating story on two men who helped thwart assassinations. The more recent one is a bit of a stretch - certainly helped save Gabrielle Giffords life, but not as directly involved in tackling the would-be assassin.
Outside the San Francisco hotel, a woman named Sara Jane Moore was standing next to Sipple. She raised a .38-caliber pistol and aimed it at the president. She evidently got off one shot at Ford, and missed, before Sipple, a former Marine, grabbed her arm and took her down.
The news coverage that ensued changed Sipple’s life, not for the better, and ultimately had a hand in making Americans confront their stereotypes about being "gay."
Sipple was known to San Francisco’s gay community, where he had taken part in some events, but he was not "out" to his family or to the larger world. News reports, including some in this paper, discussed his sexuality -- perhaps disclosed, some speculated, with a nudge from gay activist and future San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk (who would himself be assassinated in 1978).
The magnitude and depth of this recession has made one thing clear — business as usual can no longer be the norm.
Our state faces a budget shortfall of historic proportions.
Often when financial crises hit, the magnitude of the crisis is well, magnified greatly by the rhetoric. Governments tend not to pay much attention when everything is going along just fine, spending every dime they can get like a drunken sailor on shore leave (all political parties - they just like to spend it on different stuff - remember how much the deficit went down under George W. Bush? - Ha!)
The following is a chart of the Washington state biennial budget for the last ten years and the upcoming projections:
The little blue line at the top right is the original budget proposed by the governor before we discovered that well, not that much money would be coming in. The crisis budget is still $2B more than the 2007-2009 biennium and only $2B less than the current biennium (or about 3%). So, as usual, the roughly $5B shortfall is only a reduction from the $3B increase that was planned.
Now, it's true that state budgets ought to be somewhat proportional to inflation and population growth. In the last 12 years, the state budget has outpaced inflation and population by 10%. The truth is there has always been enough money to do what the government needs to do, it's just that the government's appetite for new programs is pretty much insatiable. And once started they can't be stopped, because of the "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" quid pro quo that is the nature of political horsetrading. Keep going and pretty soon you end up with taxation and government control like, say, France or England.
So really, the state budget "crisis" is nothing more than the government growth bubble bursting. Welcome to the real world, albeit a couple of years too late.
My previous post is here. As the Times article notes, it will be unlikely the inquest recommends prosecution for murder, but for sure Birk should never wear a uniform again.
To recap events:
At 0:52 John Williams appears on camera, ambling across the corsswalk, preoccupied with whatever he's goit in his hands (whittling wood, we presume).
At 0:59 he exits from view on the right of the screen.
At 1:04 Officer Birk appeared in view on the left of the car, having exited his vehicle to follow Williams. He walks, purposefully. He appears to have his gun drawn.
At 1:07 he starts shouting, "Hey, hey, hey, put the knife down, put the knife down, put the knife down."
At 1:09 he exits the camera view to the right, still with the cop strut going on, following determinedly, in no apparent danger.
At 1:14 he fires five shots in rapid succession.
So in five seconds, either John Williams transformed into Sasquatch or some other terror and menaced Birk, or the more likely explanation, Birk is a trigger-happy rogue cop who shot to death a harmless, almost deaf man with only a verbal warning shouted from behind. The story has it that Williams was hit ijn the side. Given the timing, it would seem perfectly logical to assume that he heard something and turned to see what the noise was about, which Birk took to be an act of menace. It's a pathetic excuse, but it's the thread by which Birk's case hangs.
At the very, very least, Birk showed appalling judgment, such that he has no business being in a police force of any kind. Sadly, the Seattle Police have a shoddy record of policing their own ranks, choosing instead to abide by the old boy's club rules. We'll see if this egregious example of the abuse of power begins to turn the tide.
God knows what the blonde woman who was walking right towards the scene as it happend thought of it all. She certainly didn't seem to see anything untoward until she jumped whent he shots were fired.
I spent a little time ovber the holidays sorting through the thousands of photos from the wedding to pare it down to the "best of" for my mother. Of that, here are a few distilled from that. Here's the bride's journey from the Inn at Woburn to the Sculpture Gallery.