Michael Brown and the Interpretation of Science

recently released x-ray apparently demonstrates that the police officer who shot Brown suffered an “Orbital Blowout Fracture to Eye Socket.” Now, such expertise as I have is in the law and not medical science, but I get the feeling that this is one of the fractures tending to result when you get hit in the face.

Officer’s x-ray, purportedly.

That puts sort of an amusing spin on the previous announcement (worded of course by “lawyers for Mr. Brown’s family”1) that an autopsy of Brown showed no signs of a struggle.

That is: Brown was winning the struggle.


  1. Or something like that. In reality what are called “civil rights lawyers” who arranged to be retained by the family after the shooting, as these same did with the Trayvon Martin family. And in plain English, black lawyers who sue white defendants on behalf of black plaintiffs, which is apparently what “civil rights” now entail. 

Nazis! And Desperate Law Profs

If I were in the business of issuing awards for the most outrageously attention-seeking law review articles, this year’s first place winner would have me scouring WestLaw and Lexis for articles about Nazis.

Because that’s what the first place article is about.

Except it’s not — it’s actually an article supporting Argentina’s lawless assertion that it oughtn’t be bound by the terms of an agreement it made under New York Law.

Naturally, the article is titled: Pari Passu: The Nazi Gambit.

Because, right?

Michael Brown’s Arms and the Man Who Shot Him

The shooting of Michael Brown, the (to retread WWI debates) proximate cause of the lately occurring protests/riots in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, is now available in autopsy format.

And it seems like a good example of how additional detail might result in diminished comprehension.

I mean, like, I guess, because you really can’t tell. But according to the report I’m reading on the WSJ, there were “at least six entry wounds,” but, “there might have been seven.”

Which tells us, I suppose, that (1) science might be fallible (and imagine what it will look like once DOJ has exhumed the remains and conducted its second conditional recidivist autopsy), and (2) the police officer who shot the guy was a sufficiently qualified shot and cool head to put no fewer than six rounds into his target, which is presumably at least a third of his magazine, into his apparent target, and no more than (as far as I am aware) zero, which is zero as a percent (because you can divide, though not divide by, zero) bullets into bystanders.

Except that, as we have also learned from some of the more reluctant reporting on this matter, Mr. Brown, in addition to being an “unarmed 18-year old,” was as big as the proverbial barn. The guy was freaking gigantic. And Mr. Brown used this size, as certain surveillance imagery nicely demonstrates, to intimidate the comparatively (maybe literally — Brown is so large much larger that it’s hard to tell) tiny shopkeeper from whom he brazenly, with violence implicit and otherwise, stole a handful of cigars not more than minutes before his end.

But let it not be said that the shooting officer was responding to reports of this theft.

In fact, he apparently alerted to Mr. Brown for the sole reason that the latter was walking down the middle of the street and obstructing traffic for no reason whatsoever. Which, we are to assume, is something that any number of generally law-abiding persons might do for any number of reasons (irrespective of the fact that virtually no generally law-abiding persons do this under any circumstances).

So I guess that I’m just not sure what to take from this case except that: (1) yeah, obviously, St. Louis police should have dash-cams, even if only to provide evidence when they’re inevitably faced with bogus “civil rights” lawsuits resting on chopped up cell phone video recorded by people who hate the police, and (2) a literal giant who had demonstrated (successfully, as it happens) not more than some few minutes previously the present capacity and willingness to use force against an unarmed person (whom, incidentally, I guess, he was robbing — unfortunately it’s not clear that modern English has a word aptly describing the forcible dispossession one person’s property by another, both present), was shot six or more times by an armed person, as it happened a police officer.

There are as many things to say about this situation as there are, I suppose, “civil rights activists/lawyers” descending on Ferguson.

But one of them might be that firearms are not the only deadly weapons available. In fact, substantially all able-bodied individuals (or, as it were, their bodies) are themselves deadly weapons or may become such when complimented by minimal and minimally observable quantities of inert metal or comparable material.

And it so happens that especially large individuals require little or no aid in this capacity. It’s not controversial that a welter-weight boxer (and, surely, plenty of bantams- and fly-weights) can render a professional opponent unconscious with a single punch. Mr. Brown, by appearance of the imagery available, walked around as a heavy-weight and probably would have fought as a heavy-weight. The rabbit-punches such fighters level each other with must be seen to be believed.

And you know what? We wouldn’t want to — and, marvelously, as it turns out, don’t (!) — live in a society where a person walking around at 80, 100, 125, 150, 175, 200, or in fact even 300+ pounds, is limited to resisting with muscle and bone, feebly or otherwise, the skull-crushing blows of an enraged assailant. And I mean, this isn’t legal advice, but in most states the standard permitting the exercise of deadly force1 is the reasonable belief that one is at imminent risk of death or great bodily harm. I cannot imagine a situation in which an assault by Brown would not have given an arbitrary reasonable person cause to believe that he or she was at risk of death or great bodily harm.

Violent crime is a terror and a plague on society. Its impact on the lives of every-day Americans is incalculable. We hear (probably less than we should in some cases) about murders, but the walk-a-day violence that passes for normal in some major American cities goes virtually unnoticed in the third person. It’s not, however, unnoticed by the people who have to walk to work (or avoid doing so), in fear of the casual violence, not made explicit because there’s no reason to, of the thug on the corner, omnipresent in the alley-way, dressed and presenting as violence-expressed: the literal embodiment of the junction by which violence might enter corporeally the life of such an unlucky passerby as glances askance at the corner’s bridling occupant.

It seems to me (and in this debased day, this will not be taken as granted) that people of worth — people for whom rallies might in days of reason be organized — do not by violence deprive shopkeepers of $60 worth of Swisher Sweets.

Probably not for more than 200 years (and in most cases less than that) has it been the case that someone might openly threaten violence with effective impunity. And I seriously doubt that this fact is unrelated to the fact that throughout the history of the Common Law, the commission of pretty much any violent crime (or crime that might reasonably portend violence) heralded a “short [probably a little longer, more recently] drop and a sudden stop.” Until recently, of course.

I doubt that it would be worse — morally, if there is such a thing — were one or another reign of thuggery terminated by the lethal, with respect to some culpable person, perforation of some number ~9-12mm (in the magazine anyway!) projectiles than by the disjunction of various cervical vertebrae.

A person who steals, who stares another in his face, threatens him with violence, and takes his property, ought to be killed.

This person ought to end; a mature society ought to be done with him and say so.2

And it’s not a bad thing that one such person seems to have ended because he happened to catch the attention of a police officer while walking down the middle of the street for no reason whatsoever. We might even contemplate the question whether this arbitrary disdain — the obstruction of traffic (which is to say modern lives) for no reason whatsoever — augured a character even worse than the one we see so unashamedly stealing cigars. Presumably at least these were meant for profit or consumption.

Oh, yeah, he probably attacked the cop and tried to steal his gun. (Which most people not prepared to join arbitrary “civil-rights rallies/riots” are prepared to admit is at least problematic.)

But let me be clear: I’m making the strong case here. A person who walks into your store, grabs a handful of cigars, and shoves you out of the way as he departs without paying ought to be killed.

To repeat: In an ideal society, Michael Brown would be executed.

In fact, if we are to extrapolate the kind of ideal society that might exist under conditions of ubiquitous surveillance (in which every crime occurring would immediately be identified) some Judge Dredd analogue would be motorcycle-borne toward more or less the exact location at which Brown was shot. (The ideal society, I think, accomplishes the Constitution’s goals without the need for its, or others’, prophylactics — so yeah I guess Judge Dredd is an angel in this situation.)


  1. Obviously not legal advice, but pretty much the employment of any instrument that might under some circumstances cause death, even if not presently intended to do so. 
  2. The abominable, fleshy specter of prison rape is our great shame. But it is worse that so many would make these convicts their moral agents. 

The Prosection of Gov. Perry

Is an assertion that several distinct actions, each independently legal, collectively constitute a violation of the criminal law, even though the violation alleged is contingent upon the illegality of at least one of its component acts.

#YesAllCorporations

The Court took a much-needed stand against today’s pervasive culture of anti-corporate hatred.

But this is just the first step in the civil-rights issue of our time: equal rights for corporations.

Corporations are still taxed at over 300% the average rate for “natural” persons. (39.1% combined Federal and average SALT v. 11.5% median rate for individuals.)

Corporations still cannot run for or hold elected office.

We have a long way to go. #YesAllCorporations

Feminists, Reality & [LOL]

If you’re looking for that tripartite frontier at which inanity and insanity converge, go directly to a feminist lawblog.

Feminists will tell you that gender is a “social construct,” and this is not true. But insofar as feminism is navel gazing from the navel’s perspective, the “social construct” concept can still be put to good purpose, because feminism is emphatically a social construct–

If feminist dogma were true, feminism would be superfluous.

Of course, it’s not, but don’t write “See Girl” next to “Woman” in your dictionary yet. Crossing the latter out entirely might not be a bad idea, but unless you want to risk being accused of “patriarchy,” don’t put anything in its place until the relevant authorities rule on the matter.

Enviromaths

One of the principle arguments put forth by greens against global-warming “denialists” is that they are not qualified to dispute the subject-matter specific conclusions of scientific experts.

I submit that the science underlying the global-warming discussion is easier to understand than the economics underlying the policies we are urged to adopt so as to avert the climate catastrophe. Let’s table for now the question what constitutes an expert in a field both new and impacted by vexed phenomena (e.g., hydrodynamics, turbulent flows).

The global-warming equation goes along these lines: Carbon in the atmosphere creates a greenhouse effect that traps heat. (True.) However, the amount of heat trapped through this mechanism is insufficient to cause the amount of warming predicted. (True, and scientists agree.) But, other atmospheric phenomena amplify the greenhouse effect and may create a feedback loop leading to “runaway” warming. (Is this true? It depends on what “model” you follow.

This last part of the equation, on which the soundness of global-warming predictions depends, is sometimes referred to as the “multiplier,” which is a kind of MacGuffin used to explain liberal theories instead of movie plots. Liberals believe that a different “multiplier” increases the economic activity produced by every dollar of government spending. (This latter is, or at least should be, true, because it’s why investing can be profitable.) But, it’s also always the part of the equation that’s least certain and most subject to manipulation — set the multiplier at e.g. 15 instead of 7 and quantitative easing is suddenly much more difficult to argue with.

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