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June 7, 2011

Spectral Evidence
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 09:48 PM * 78 comments

Dozens of bodies have been found in a mass grave in Liberty County, NBC-affiliate KPRC Local 2 reported Tuesday.”

LIBERTY COUNTY — Liberty County sheriff’s deputies are on the scene of a home in Hardin where a tipster told them 25 to 30 bodies are buried.

A law enforcement source confirmed that a mass grave with ‘a lot of bodies’ was found on the property near the intersection of County Roads 2048 and 2049.

Some of them are children, according to the source.

The tipster said dozens of dismembered bodies are buried in the grave, according to Cleveland Advocate Vanesa Brashier.

The initial reports this afternoon were frightening:

Texas authorities and the FBI are investigating reports that 25 to 30 dismembered bodies may be buried in Liberty County, USA TODAY’S Kevin Johnson confirms. Authorities say some bodies may belong to children.

But, before long, Cadaver dogs find no hint of bodies in Texas home .

What was the basis of all this? A phone call from a psychic:

A tip from a supposed “psychic” that dismembered bodies were on a rural property caused law enforcement officers to descend upon a Texas farmhouse Tuesday, but they found no bodies.

Liberty County Sheriff’s Capt. Rex Evans said there was no evidence of foul play at the home.

Liberty County Judge Craig McNair told reporters at the scene about 8:15 p.m. that tips had come in Monday night and Tuesday morning from a supposed psychic of dismembered bodies on the property.

As of 9:35 pm tonight:
A law enforcement source tells USA TODAY’s Kevin Johnson that background checks of the occupants of the farmhouse in Hardin “came back clean.”
[Evans] said authorities would attempt to find the tipster and question her.
Next time, they might consider finding and questioning any so-called psychic before they start issuing search warrants.
The Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Emphasis mine.
Comments on Spectral Evidence:
#1 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2011, 10:23 PM:

Houston Chronicle: "[Liberty County Judge Craig] McNair said local prosecutors might pursue charges against the tipster if there proves no foundation for the call."

#2 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2011, 11:22 PM:

If it had been a report of drugs, there might have been shooting. Lucky they were only looking for a couple of dozen butchered corpses.

#3 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2011, 11:39 PM:

KVUE now have an 'updated' story that now doesn't mention their law-enforcement source who confirmed that a mass grave with ‘a lot of bodies’ was found. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

#4 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 12:10 AM:

It's where all the victims of satanic ritual child sacrifice are buried.

#5 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 12:10 AM:

Wooooo, I meant to add.

#6 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 12:45 AM:

Oh, goody, now a cop can claim he felt a psychic disturbance that led him to believe someone was in danger, and that's why he kicked in the door and arrested everyone in the building.

Or are we now only required to show "improbable cause"?

#7 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 02:44 AM:

This story is now on the BBC website.

It pins the claim of bodies being found to "US Media", but includes a claim from the Sheriff's Department spokesman, Rex Evans, that the reason they reacted as they did is that the caller knew about the interior of the house. They have a name and telephone number for the caller.

Of course, there's the British example of Fred and Mary West, but Fred West did have a disturbing criminal record, which is a heck of a lot more than this case seems to involve.

Looking at other recent reports of how US Law Enforcement can behave, I reckon everyone can reckon themselves very lucky. And the Sheriff's Department have somebody else they can blame.

But they still look foolish to me.

#8 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 04:37 AM:

And the householders are long-distance truckers who were out of town, somewhere between Texas and Georgia.

Maybe they were lucky.

#9 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 06:22 AM:

I caught this story on Sky news: First a Breaking News, where the anchorwoman gives a summary like Jim's first quote above, with helicoper shots of a house in the woods.

Then the funny bit, where she speaks live with a FOX news reporter, and it gradually becomes evident that the story is total nonsense. You could hear the anchorwoman thinking "Why the hell am I talking about this on air?".

#10 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 06:24 AM:

When I saw the term "spectral" I thought some sort of spectrum was involved, and that scientists had figured something out by means of it. Alas, nothing so sensible.
Scary.

#11 ::: Duncan J Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 07:20 AM:

The Daily Mash, England's answer to The Onion, has this story as their headline.

Linkage Ensues

Note: Portions of that site may or may not be suitable for work, small children, prudes, and Honorable Members of Congress.

#12 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 07:29 AM:

Duncan @11:

Your link was munged beyond recall.

Please read the instructions on how to post a link in the HTML tags section just above the comment box. Follow them slavishly.

#13 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 07:37 AM:

I assume Texas has some equivalent of the English (and Scottish -- different legal system, though) criminal offense of "wasting police time"?

(Where there's obvious malicious intent involved ...)

#14 ::: Duncan J Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 08:33 AM:

Abi @ 12

I did! Honest!! I even cut-n-pasted the href format!!!

Trying again--

Linkage Ensues

#15 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 08:34 AM:

Charlie, 13: The wasted money would take it into "felony malicious mischief" territory.

#16 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 08:42 AM:

Based on my psychic powers, I'll tell you what happened:

Dad finds out that daughter's live-in boyfriend was an AWOL soldier, and calls the Army to come get him. Boyfriend learns of this, and cuts his own wrists, which puts blood on the outside of the door. (Boyfriend is now in an Army psychiatric facility.)

Daughter says, "Oh Daddy, I hate you!" and moves out.

Daughter decides to make trouble for her father and calls in a report of a mass grave, hoping that the sheriff will come and shoot daddy in the head. What she doesn't know, however, is that mom and dad have left town on a driving job, and aren't there.

Sheriff's deputy arrives to ask WTF (because you really can't ignore a tip), finds no one home, finds human blood on the outside of the building, and gets a search warrant.

The rest follows.

#17 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 09:31 AM:

"Sheriff, I tell you there is a math grave!... Count on it!"

#18 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 09:54 AM:

Did the judge who granted the search warrant know that the tip was from a tipsy table-tipping tomb-tapper?

"Media" really is the plural of "medium".

#19 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 11:05 AM:

Didn't the LAPD use to do this kind of thing all the time, getting "anonymous tips" about whoever they wanted to hold up next?

#20 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 11:27 AM:

Hey, I live in Indiana. The cops no longer even need warrant, much less a faux tip from a "psychic" to enter and search my home. They don't even need to knock. They don't even need a reason.

They can just come right on in. Cause they're cops.

I can file a complaint later, if I have some kind of problem with that.

I feel safer already.

#21 ::: IreneD ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 11:39 AM:

I don't want to deride the Liberty Country cops for investigating that "psychic tip" -- although they should definitely have waited for confirmation until making media statements. Not that I believe in any kind of spectral evidence... But I'm thinking about something I read in one of skeptical investigator Joe Nickell's books: a case where the police was tipped about some murders by a woman claiming she was psychic and had had a vision about the place where the bodies were. Turned out, the murders were real, but the psychic woman was a neighbor of the killer and she was both afraid of retaliation and reluctant to let the crime stay unpunished. (Nickell's involvement came as part of research for an article about so-called "psychic detectives". I think the book was Adventures in Paranormal Investigation.)

#22 ::: Jim Bales ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 11:57 AM:

So, if one follows PNH's top sidelight:
Top universities a "breeding ground" for Tories, warn Islamic group one lands on the UK Satire site "NewsThump"

The very next story at NewsThump is entitled:
Texas police receive tip from psychic claiming they are far too gullible

Best,
Jim Bales

#23 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 12:35 PM:

This is the same rural Texas county that was in the New York Times a few months ago when a minor was gang raped. Between that and the overly gullible cops, seems like a good place to stay away from.

#24 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 12:37 PM:

To get a search warrant, a police officer has to swear to the judge that he has probable cause.

In this case, the police officer who signed the warrant application should be kicked off the force.

#25 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 12:51 PM:

aphrael:

I don't know all the details, but in general, if the police get a remotely-plausible-sounding tip that there are a bunch of buried bodies somewhere, I do think they ought to check it out. Not with a SWAT raid, nor necessarily with anything more than sending someone out to ask some questions and maybe ask politely if he can look around, perhaps with a search warrant if that's the only way to check it out and there's a good enough reason to convince a judge to issue one. But it does seem like the kind of thing you'd like the police to check on.

#26 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 12:55 PM:

And we point and laugh at other countries for arresting witches and taxing psychics. Sigh.

I swear I thought I was living in the 21st century. Turns out it's still the 17th (18th maybe, on our good days).

#27 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 01:03 PM:

I know if you call 911 by accident, they send someone out to check -just in case it's not an accident.

In the best case, this comes into "Just in case their psychic power is a good telescope" territory and the reporters were hideously sloppy. [Not at all the same thing, but lots of reporters said lots of things on the morning of 9/11.]

Worst case, of course, someone in Texas law enforcement thinks Charmed is a documentary.

#28 ::: CCClaudia ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 01:37 PM:

I don't blame the police for checking it out. (I think the media report was irresponsible, but that's different.) A tip that comes down to "I think there are a lot of dead bodies buried under the house at this address, and I'm not going to tell you how I know," can be REALLY important. Especially when significant amounts of blood have been spilled on the porch at the address in question.

#29 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 02:03 PM:

I agree with albatross and CCClaudia: the police had to check it out. The problem is that it appears to be impossible to do this quietly. The issue here it seems to me is not the investigation, but the completely unreliable reporting of a horror that turned out to be non-existent, based on nothing.

I wonder: if the householders had been home, would a search have been done?

#30 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 02:58 PM:

I agree that the cops had to check it out, but that they should have first found out who was on the other end of the phone line when the tip came in.

#31 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 02:58 PM:

Checking it out: sure. Drive by, ask around politely, see what the situation is. The police knocked on my door once at 3 AM doing just this, having been given our address in some connection to a missing person (they didn't explain). Since it was 3 AM it must have been a situation worth checking out. But they asked a few questions, I'm sure did a visual check through the open door, saw we'd never heard of the person, and moved on. Perfectly reasonable police work.

Search warrant: not based on anonymous psychic tip. IANAL but I'm pretty sure you need more probable cause than that. Or should, anyway. The police didn't bust into my house at 3 AM accusing us of kidnapping, just on the strength of getting our address in a tip from someone.

If no one was at the residence, I doubt anyone could have consented to the search, so they must have had a warrant. Also, I believe search warrants are public records, so the media may have picked up the story there. (I may be wrong; corrections welcomed.)

#32 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 03:30 PM:

If no one was at the residence, I doubt anyone could have consented to the search, so they must have had a warrant.

You think so? The logic escapes me. You're assuming that the police would behave according to law when a huge bust is at stake.

I see no reason to assume this, and plenty of reason not to.

#33 ::: Tim Bray ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 04:12 PM:

That's the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution, right? What does that have to do with Texas?

#34 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 05:13 PM:

At least one of the accounts linked to says a Deputy went to have a look, saw the blood, and so called in to get a warrant.

You can make a lot of mess with a nosebleed, but a tip-off, blood, and absent occupiers: you want the copes to ignore that?

#35 ::: Walter Hawn ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 07:10 PM:

Just to recap the sequence of events:

1. Cops get phone tip
2. One cop car is dispatched
3. Blood is found on a back door
4. Warrant issued based on blood, NOT on tip
5. Lotsa cops show up
6. CNN posts 'bodies found' story
7. Cops say, no, not either
8. Everybody is embarrassed.

Upshot -- unless cops told CNN that bodies were found, I can't see they did *anything* wrong. And, I'll bet it was a stringer, using an 'informed source' (e.g., another stringer, not 'law enforcement'), who sent CNN the 'confirmed' story.
Lesson: Don't rely on stringers, without independent confirmation. Whatcha do, is take the stringer's story, and also call the source. If the source can't be found, the story is in no way confirmed. CNN forgot that part, I think.

#36 ::: Matthew Ernest ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 08:41 PM:

"You're assuming that the police would behave according to law when a huge bust is at stake.

I see no reason to assume this, and plenty of reason not to."

At the very least, the police are motivated to follow the law because the DA will rake them over the coals if they mess up the chance for a conviction.

#37 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 09:32 PM:

At the very least, the police are motivated to follow the law because the DA will rake them over the coals if they mess up the chance for a conviction.

I agree, for values of "mess up the chance for a conviction" that include failing to cover up, intimidate witnesses, arrest people for filming their illegal behavior, etc.

#38 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 10:40 PM:

It does not surprise me that when I learn more about it, this story turns out to be Press Gets It Wrong Again, not Cops Mess Up.

#39 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 01:19 AM:

Yes, because we found out about it so quickly. If it had been a massive police fuckup it would have been several weeks before we found out.

#40 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 02:58 AM:

Xopher: At the very least, the police are motivated to follow the law because the DA will rake them over the coals if they mess up the chance for a conviction.

I agree, for values of "mess up the chance for a conviction" that include failing to cover up, intimidate witnesses, arrest people for filming their illegal behavior, etc.

I know of a particularly vile case where the DA went to court several times before winning a conviction. There were complaints made at the time that this was persecution of an innocent victim. Unfortunately it wasn't that simple: I know because I knew one of the investigating officers. The suspect thoroughly documented doing the crime to several different victims, but a damn rookie officer involved with the case managed to screw up in such a way that the predator's documentation was inadmissible in court. None of your assertions apply: it would have been a lot easier on the DA if they could have used any of those methods to put that animal away...

And no, I am not going to go into the details. That sick bastard's crimes and unique methods of pulling them off do not need any public airing so some other sick bastard can try to improve on the technique. Nor am I going to give any gender clues. I actually give the cops and the DA in the case a gold star: from what I know if I'd had access to that beast they would have been in a hospital for a long, long time.

#41 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 03:52 AM:

I'm pretty sure I know what happened - extrapolating some here due to reality alterations but my theory goes something like this:

There was a report of a mass grave that was confirmed. I let anger get the better of me and used my time machine go back in time and kill the serial killer that has been killing these kids over the last twenty years (approximately).
I can guess all this because I have a dead guy, well-tanned, in my time machine at the moment wearing a nearly pristine condition Nirvana first tour t-shirt and a cowboy hat.
The Chewing tobacco stains under his fingernails comes from Stoker's chewing tobacco, makes me think Texas.
He's not George Bush, so I'm guessing unidentified serial killer.

Of course all this is guess work, I don't remember meaning the time cascade has already hit this area and started affecting reality.

Probably also in Texas as I understand the reports were first confirmed and then denied.

That would be explainable by Thomkorl's theory of the maintenance of Reality (and before anyone comes with 'but that's just a theory!', trust me, it's not - Thomkorl's theory is the best possible explanation we have for observable phenomena involved in time travel and paradoxicality)

So what is going on is the time cascade is hitting here and texas. Probably this has been going on for a while. I remember sleeping a full 8 hours last night but I have a hell of a headache, I've probably been back and forth killing this guy for at least a day, and then not having a reason to kill so not killing him, and then having a reason and killing him.

I hate time travel.

Anyway Thomkorl's theory means that the major phenomena related to the temporal paradox will be cleaned up first, with other paradoxes cleaned later in cascades (as soon as something happens to break the loop)

That's why the report switches between confirmed and denied, probably it will take weeks for the report to have never happened at all.

And of course this thread will keep existing, with only slight changes to the original post, being quite removed from the two main geographical locations of the paradox - the ranch in Texas, and my basement.

If this thread is still remaining in a month. We have a problem, a long running paradox like that can start to threaten wider swathes of existence.

I am going to have to ask one of you to find me, and kill me. I would do it myself, but already being in a paradox that would probably just revert to me alive, going and killing the serial killer and so forth. Then there would be two paradoxes on top of each other, and reality would unravel even quicker. The trick is that if you come from far enough away - I suppose somewhere in New England would be good, or anywhere in Asia - then it would take a long time for the reality cascade to clean up your actions and reasons for coming to kill me. Given that a large paradox was averted it is likely that I would still be dead and you would still have killed me, although the reasons for it would have disappeared.

Luckily there is no capital punishment here so you will probably end up in Prison for no more than 20 years, and depending on how the cascade affects your mental processes maybe in a nice asylum.

It's a steep price to pay for sure, but we are talking about saving most of reality as we now know it. But hopefully it won't be necessary - just if this thread remains up for a month.

Finally, if you are familiar with Thomkorl's theory you will know that you will have to go through my records to deduce my current whereabouts, I can't give you geographical location as that increases the chances of a tight coupling between the geographical location of the server where this thread is hosted and the coming cascades - already coupled with texas location, and then I add my location? This thread would get deleted for sure in the next cascade!

Sorry if this post was not the best written, I had to write fast in order to get it out before the next cascade. No time to edit.


#42 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 04:29 AM:

Bryan @41, are fezzes still cool?

#43 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 04:49 AM:

yes - depending on if the all-important akbar and jeff quotient is present.

#44 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 05:26 AM:

oh wait, I get it now. It's a Dr. Who joke, how droll. Never heard one of those before, people find out you have a time machine and they don't immediately start in with Dr. Who jokes do they.

Let me tell you about Dr. Who.

I hate Dr. Who, that's what.

I don't have a big extra dimensional whatsit that I stole, I have an old porcelain bathtub with an external fusion engine that I built by myself. But do I get any respect because I built it myself, no everyone is all Tardis this and Tardis that. I'm sorry my time machine is cramped and uncomfortable, maybe if I was a rich brat that liked to daytrip around creation instead of a working man trying to get important things done I would fix that - or more likely I would steal it from a frigging museum!!! and be all la-de-da I'm the Doctor aren't I wonderful.


Screw the Tardis and screw the Doctor. He represents hipsterism at its worse. He didn't build his time machine himself, he drives it like a drunken chimp that can't remember the way to the banana plantation, and he isn't even human but doesn't he just love to pass for one, or make passes at some, and then oh does he or doesn't he have interspecies sex with his companions. Well he does, the old pervert.

#45 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 05:31 AM:

sorry - hipsterism at its worst!

#46 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 05:33 AM:

well actually, supposedly I built it myself. At least that's what I said when I delivered it to me some years ago from some years in the future so I really don't have much of a reason to doubt my own word on that.

#47 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 05:34 AM:

Bryan @41

If I understand my Thomkorl, one "out" is if the temporal adjuster has an additional reason to commit the murder.

As you imply, the internet permits an interesting combination of detachment and engagement, one that doesn't hook into the universe's proximity-based correction mechanisms*. So perhaps you can give some anonymous, geo-independent reasons why a person might want to do you in.

So tell me. What are your views on the serial comma?

(Oh, hang on, I see you've just provided a reason in comment 44.)

-----
* Interesting sidenote: in a few months, the Chronological Adjustment Corps will has identified a pattern of MMORPG players murdering each other in meatspace as a way of escaping Thomkorl (or, more properly, Thomkorl-Selessan) entanglement. It will then investigate the matter, deduce the existence of a retroactive takeover of the CAC itself, and progressively eliminate the majority of such incidents.

#48 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 05:46 AM:

Well Abi, as I noted earlier I am sort of stressed here so sorry if my grammatical behaviors have got you angered up. I do think your pedantry in the manner is bordering on rudeness given that I forgave your whole blunder regarding the correct definition of a Dominie:

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007127.html#108310

I forgive, but I NEVER FORGET!!!!

#49 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 05:51 AM:

or is that you are another one of those "oh the Dr. is just sooo charming and has saved reality like a scrumptillion times".

Well excuse me for not following the crowd but his chin just juts too far out - makes me want to give him a good punching.

#50 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 05:55 AM:

him and his fancy-schmancy Tardis. I got a bathtub with a dead texan in it.

Life just ain't fair.

#51 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 06:04 AM:

Do I detect just a hint of sour grapes?

#52 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 06:04 AM:

The only problem with the cops was the quality of the original tip. If the information comes from a Ouija Board (TM), then they ought to get the caller's name and address.

They ought to get the caller's name and address anyway.

#53 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 06:09 AM:

I've travelled here from the year 1975* to say: I for one cannot wait to see the headline Serial Comma Killer

*ObXkcd

#54 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 06:13 AM:

"Do I detect just a hint of sour grapes?"

I don't remember commenting that the Tardis was not a fine piece of equipment just because I don't happen to possess it, in fact I remarked that my own equipment (much as I love it and am proud that I will presumably build it one day with my own two hands) is in no way comparable.

#55 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 08:08 AM:

Bryan, Fezzes are cool, but they're also a symbol of European efforts to secularize Islamic society in North Africa, so they're also in a state of being not-cool. It's a quantum superimposition of being cool and not-cool which can only be resolved by a sufficient observation. Unfortunately, you have, because of the uncertainty principle, to make the correct observation.

Putting my data into my slide-rule, and going all timey-wimey and spacey-wacey, I compute that it is likely that if you had only bothered to wear your fez, the body in the bathtub would have been an unresolvable quantum event.

Too late now... May I suggest concentrated sulfuric acid. You should get away with it if there are no gallstones.

#56 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 08:17 AM:

bryan:

Come now, you're taking this too personally. Which means you're showing that you haven't really internalized your Selessan.

Remember, I can't eliminate you, considering the degree to which we've interacted. We're entangled, particularly since I'm a mod here and have access to too damn much information on you from the back end.

What I was trying to do was to provoke someone else into loathing you enough to make the attempt. Given this community, I judged that any support for either view of the serial comma would be sufficient. Also given this community, your comments about the Doctor have probably sufficed as well.

Now all that I would like to know is, does your time machine morph into a person, and if so, is it a beautiful woman? Because, given what you've described, it sounds more like it'll be a wee ill-mannered bloke in a flat cap.

#57 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 08:37 AM:

"Now all that I would like to know is, does your time machine morph into a person, and if so, is it a beautiful woman? Because, given what you've described, it sounds more like it'll be a wee ill-mannered bloke in a flat cap."

My proclivities are my own business!

#58 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 10:37 AM:

Abi @ 56... I'm a mod here and have access to too damn much information on you from the back end

I'd...
("Serge, don't even think of making a joke about that last part.")
Drat.

#59 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 12:08 PM:

Serge @58:

Thus do you prove yourself two different flavors of wise guy in a single comment.

I am impressed.

#60 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 12:52 PM:

Abi @ 59... I read that and find myself hearing Curly Howard trying to sound like Gandalf.

#61 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 03:52 PM:

Serge @ 60:

Go on, stick your finger in the Balrog's eye.

#62 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 04:06 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 61... In the Mines of Moe-ria?

#63 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 05:14 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 61, Serge @ 62: Are you gonna sympathize your watches?

#64 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 10:36 PM:

This reminds me - anyone know when Jasper Fforde's "One of Our Thursdays Is Missing" will be out in paperback?

#65 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 11:43 PM:

You shall not pass, you knucklehead! Rrrowf! . . . Fly, you imbeciles!

#66 ::: Gaie ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2011, 06:49 AM:

De-lurking: Can I just say, as a longtime lurker, I love you guys? Just reading the comments makes me feel as though I'm getting more intelligent by sheer osmosis. (Although since I'm nowhere near as knowledgeable or politically savvy as most of you, sadly, that's probably an illusion). Plus you make me laugh a lot. So, you know, thanks.
Re-lurking.

#67 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2011, 09:43 AM:

I'm now hoping for this headline: Serial Comma Killer from Parallel Timestream does Hard Time

I expect the sentence to be multiple consecutive life in prison.

#68 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2011, 09:45 AM:

Hi Gaie! If it helps, I've been posting here for quite a while now...and sometimes I still feel like the un-savvy shy kid. If the conversation ever turns to what you're passionate about, I hope you'll feel comfortable re-delurking.

#69 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2011, 10:03 AM:

Gaie... What TexAnne said.

#70 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2011, 02:39 PM:

Gaie:

What TexAnne said, with a little extra: most of my life I've tried to find people who were smarter and/or better-educated than me to hang around with. It's been both a humbling experience and a great way to learn more. Making Light definitely qualifies for the category of Places with Many People Smarter Than Me.

#71 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2011, 02:51 PM:

"I know other people are smarter than me,
But I have this phil-o-so-phy:
So what! *giggle*"

Being the smartest person in the room is BORING. That's why I'm here too.

#72 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2011, 09:52 PM:

The psychic news story is scary because I have friends for whom a casual door-to-door idiot could cause them this kind of trouble I'm not going into detail but a health-related hemorrhage (recovered from!) makes the carpet look like someone was murdered there. and the amount of junk/books stacked all around makes it impossible to clean the carpets.

and they live in a college town, where the police are sort of bored over the summer...


#73 ::: Nicole Fitzhugh ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2011, 05:27 PM:

NPR's On The Media had a segment devoted to this story that aired today, 6/12.

#74 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2011, 02:52 AM:

by the way I would like to point out that I am not familiar with any time machine that morphs into a person( of the beautiful woman variety), what I am familiar with is time machines that have their personalities placed into the bodies of beautiful women.

#75 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2011, 09:28 PM:

)#40( Bruce E. Durocher II

In re your "plucky DA"

Then you get DAs like the one who, after the courts rather plainly told the state's prosecution apparatus that the day-care providers they had convicted years before were convicted on the basis of "testimony" that had been made up out of whole cloth by extremely young children after "suggestions" by "certified psychologists"

The prosecutors then turned around and did everything they could to keep these people in jail, and even vowed that they would bring them to trial again.

No, there is *not* a whole lot of trust in the "justice system" in this country, when you have all too many cops who flat out refuse to do their jobs properly (if they try at all), prosecutors who don't care if the right party goes to jail as long as they get a conviction, prisons and detention facilities that are established solely to turn a profit and judges who get payoffs from those same for-profit prisons to put people into those facilities.

#76 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2011, 10:01 PM:

Craig R.: In re your "plucky DA"

I never said he was a "plucky DA." In point of fact, he is sort of a horse's ass. Please don't attach him to me in an attempt to score conversational points.

No, there is *not* a whole lot of trust in the "justice system" in this country, when you have all too many cops who flat out refuse to do their jobs properly (if they try at all), prosecutors who don't care if the right party goes to jail as long as they get a conviction, prisons and detention facilities that are established solely to turn a profit and judges who get payoffs from those same for-profit prisons to put people into those facilities.

You are lecturing the son of a defense attorney--if you think that leads to a lot of faith in the "justice system" then I suspect you haven't met many offspring of defense attorneys. I know of all the items you have listed, and could probably set them to music. My objection to Xopher's statement was the implication that coverups, intimidation of witnesses, and harassing those who attempt to hold the police to account is default police behavior, by implication in all locals. My objection to your statement is that you seem to think I fell off the turnip truck yesterday and am not aware of the many flaws in the system. I'd go into more detail but from the tone of your post I suspect you've got some strong filters in place that would lead to anything I wrote doing the visual equivalent of passing in one ear and out the other, so I'll just skip it.

#77 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2011, 11:14 AM:

My objection to Xopher's statement was the implication that coverups, intimidation of witnesses, and harassing those who attempt to hold the police to account is default police behavior, by implication in all locals.

I believe that it's the default behavior in some locales, that it's common in most locales, and that it's not completely unheard of in any locale.

I also believe that it's a mistake to assume that small towns and rural jurisdictions are immune from this sort of thing, or even that it's dramatically less common in them, though large police departments have more nooks and corners for corruption to grow in.

I would love to be proven wrong, or even successfully argued out of these beliefs. I don't think our legal system can reasonably be called a justice system, since justice is not even its primary goal.

#78 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2011, 11:27 PM:

Xopher: I believe that it's the default behavior in some locales, that it's common in most locales, and that it's not completely unheard of in any locale.

I'd agree on the first, am not sold on the second, and agree whole-heartedly with the third--based on the Amnesty International reports, there is no way in this universe I want to catch the attention of the Tokyo police if I'm not Japanese. Because what I read sounds as if those boyos think the '68 Chicago cops just weren't trying if you've got Korean ancestry, or are from outside the country...

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