Probable cause? We don’t need no stinkin’ probable cause

“An officer’s use of deadly force is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment if the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others. In determining whether an officer’s use of deadly force is objectively reasonable, a court must determine what was reasonable under the circumstances, considering the totality of the circumstances, including the severity of crime at issue, whether the suspect posed an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether the suspect resisted arrest or attempted to evade arrest by flight. It is unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment for police officer to seize an unarmed, nondangerous suspect by shooting him dead, or to use a choke hold to restrain an individual when he or she poses no harm. It is also unreasonable for an officer to use deadly force on a suspect walking towards the police if the suspect’s hands are at his or her sides. Although the initial use of force may be reasonable, the continued use of deadly force in attempting to arrest a suspect may become unreasonable when such force is no longer necessary. An officer must warn a suspect that he or she might shoot, if feasible under the circumstances. The officer may be criminally responsible or civilly liable if the officer uses more force than is necessary to effect the arrest.” – Michele Hughes and Eric C. Surette, American Jurisprudence, Second Edition

What’s a word that will make this interesting?

“A common criticism of legal writing is that those in the legal profession are enamored of redundancy. They cannot merely say null. They must say null and void and of no legal force or effect. Is all this needed? If something is null, isn’t it void? If it is void, can it have legal effect? The reason legal writing is so prone to word doubling (and tripling) lies in the history of our language. English has its roots in Latin and French as well as in the language of the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons. Often word pairings were used to ensure that readers would understand phrases regardless of their background or station in life. Thus, the French word peace joined with the Latin word quiet. These redundant doublings have persisted long after any need for them. Their use today is often the result of habit rather than necessity.” – Deborah E. Bouchoux, Aspen Handbook for Legal Writers (emphases in original)

Writing for the streetlamp at midnight

“When I speak at a conference, there’s generally somebody sitting in the front row who raises a hand and says, ‘I don’t need a big advance. I don’t need a publisher that’s going to send me on a national tour’—which is good because nobody is going to do that—‘but I just want to be published.’ That’s wrong. You want to be read. Writers need to understand the distinction between wanting to be published and what they really want. Publication is a means to an end. And the end is being read. If you’re looking to get credit, there are easier ways to get credit. But if you feel genuinely that you could make a promise to a reader, and that what you have to say is worth somebody you’ve never met and may have nothing in common with spending ten hours of their time on, that’s the goal.” – Jennifer Joel (interviewed by Michael Szczerban in Poets & Writers (emphases in original))

In case you’ve wondered about the context

“Okinawa was declared captured by U.S. forces. The commanding general of the Japanese defenders, Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima, committed suicide. Thus ended the 81-day campaign in which the Americans suffered their heaviest losses of the Pacific war. In securing the island considered essential for the invasion of Japan proper, 12,520 U.S. soldiers and marines were killed, and 36,631 wounded. About 110,000 Japanese were killed (90 percent of the number involved) and 7,400 were captured. Okinawan action virtually eliminated Japanese home air defenses as 7,830 planes were destroyed or lost in kamikaze attacks. Eight hundred Allied planes were downed. The U.S. Navy lost 4,907 men and 36 ships—none larger than a destroyer. About 180 Japanese vessels—including the largest battleship in the world, Yamato—were sunk. U.S. officials were alarmed by the ferocity of the Japanese on Okinawa and feared even greater resistance on the Japanese home islands. Okinawa was a key consideration, as a result, in the decision to use atomic bombs against Japan.” – Robert Goralski, “June 22, 1945,” World War II Almanac: 1931-1945

Denying reality doesn’t make it unreal

“A group of Japanese army officers attempted to seize control of the government in Tokyo. Fearing an imminent capitulation to the Allies, the officers won some support from the Imperial Guards Division and occupied part of the palace. There they searched futilely for the emperor’s surrender speech which had been recorded. General Takeshi Mori was killed when he refused to give the dissidents control of the army. The uprising was quelled, and its leader, Major Kenji Hatanaka, committed suicide.” – Robert Goralski, “April 14-15, 1945,” World War II Almanac: 1931-1945

They never knew

“The U.S. 4th Armored Division liberated the concentration camp outside Ohrdruf, the first of the infamous prisons reached by the Allies from the west. General Patton (who vomited on visiting the site) rounded up townspeople to witness the horrors which had been perpetrated in their immediate area. Many victims were still lying where they had been shot by the retreating Nazis. Ohrdruf’s burgomaster and his wife were among those brought to the camp by Patton. When they returned home, they hanged themselves.” – Robert Goralski, “April 4, 1945,” World War II Almanac: 1931-1945

They weren’t manned by robots

“The last surviving ship of a 21-vessel Japanese convoy was sunk off Singapore. The tanker Sarawak Maru ended up like the others, picked off one-by-one over a ten-week period as the convoy attempted to bring supplies from Japan to forces in southeast Asia. Some were sunk in daylight attacks by carrier planes and in nighttime attacks by submarines in the China seas; others were hit by mines strewn along their path in the Singapore Strait; eventually all were lost.” – Robert Goralski, “March 19, 1945,” World War II Almanac: 1931-1945

Not their war, thank you

“The first Canadian draftees to be sent abroad sailed for Europe from Halifax. Except for service in Kiska, conscripts had not been sent abroad. Of the 60,000 men in this category, many seemed intent on not going into combat areas. Prior to this first overseas departure, 7,800 had gone absent without leave and 6,300 were still absent at sailing time. As some boarded the ships, they dropped their rifles into the water from the gangplank.” – Robert Goralski, “January 3, 1945,” World War II Almanac: 1931-1945

We don’t die until we’re dead

“Getting old is the second-biggest surprise of my life, but the first, by a mile, is our unceasing need for deep attachment and intimate love. We oldies yearn daily and hourly for conversation and a renewed domesticity, for company at the movies or while visiting a museum, for someone close by in the car when coming home at night. This is why we throng Match.com and OkCupid in such numbers—but not just for this, surely. Rowing in Eden (in Emily Dickinson’s words: ‘Rowing in Eden— / Ah—the sea’) isn’t reserved for the lithe and young, the dating or the hooked-up or the just lavishly married, or even for couples in the middle-aged mixed-doubles semifinals, thank God. No personal confession or revelation impends here, but these feelings in old folks are widely treated like a raunchy secret. The invisibility factor—you’ve had your turn—is back at it again. But I believe that everyone in the world wants to be with someone else tonight, together in the dark, with the sweet warmth of a hip or a foot or a bare expanse of shoulder within reach. Those of us who have lost that, whatever our age, never lose the longing: just look at our faces. If it returns, we seize upon it avidly, stunned and altered again.” – Roger Angell, “This Old Man”

Billions and billions

“We have become tireless voyeurs of death: he is on the morning news and the evening news and on the breaking, middle-of–the-day news as well—not the celebrity death, I mean, but the everyone-else death. A roadside-accident figure, covered with a sheet. A dead family, removed from a ramshackle faraway building pocked and torn by bullets. The transportation dead. The dead in floods and hurricanes and tsunamis, in numbers called ‘tolls.’ The military dead, presented in silence on your home screen, looking youthful and well combed. The enemy war dead or rediscovered war dead, in higher figures. Appalling and dulling totals not just from this year’s war but from the ones before that, and the ones way back that some of us still around may have also attended. All the dead from wars and natural events and school shootings and street crimes and domestic crimes that each of us has once again escaped and felt terrible about and plans to go and leave wreaths or paper flowers at the site of. There’s never anything new about death, to be sure, except its improved publicity. At second hand, we have become death’s expert witnesses; we know more about death than morticians, feel as much at home with it as those poor bygone schlunks trying to survive a continent-ravaging, low-digit-century epidemic. Death sucks but, enh—click the channel.” – Roger Angell, “This Old Man”

In the shadow of the kamikaze

“A mighty typhoon about 500 miles east of the Philippines inflicted heavy losses and damage on the U.S. Third Fleet. Three destroyers capsized and 769 lives were lost. Severe damage was suffered by eight [aircraft] carriers, a light cruiser, seven destroyers, and a variety of auxiliaries. Nearly 150 planes were lost off carrier decks or damaged beyond repair. Nature thus inflicted greater losses on the U.S. Navy than they were to suffer in any single battle in the Pacific war.” – Robert Goralski, “December 17-18, 1944,” World War II Almanac: 1931-1945

Would you like another cup of tea, dear?

“One of saddest lessons in history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken.” – Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World: Science As A Candle In The Dark

How tall towers can be brought down

“Bending and buckling (deformation) of steel beams and columns occurs when the steel temperature exceeds approximately 538 degrees C (1000 degrees F). At elevated temperatures, steel exhibits a progressive loss of strength. When there is a greater fire exposure, the load required to cause deformation is reduced. Deformation is not the result of melting. A deformed element is not one that has melted during the fire, and therefore the occurrence of such deformation does not indicate that the material was heated above its melting temperature.” – Technical Committee on Fire Investigations, Sec. 6.2.9.1, NFPA 921 Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations (2011 Edition)

Each of which is worth a thousand words on the open market

“The greatest writers—Homer, Dante, Shakespeare—are effective largely because they deal in particulars and report the details that matter. Their words call up pictures.” – William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White, The Elements of Style

It’s not just who you know, it’s also when and where you know them

U.S.S. PT-109, commanded by Lieutenant John F. Kennedy, was sunk after it was rammed by a Japanese destroyer in Blackett Strait in the Solomons. Eleven of the 13 crewmen survived and a week later were returned to their base and Rendova after harrowing and heroic efforts to elude the Japanese. (The official report on PT-109‘s loss was cowritten by the flotilla’s intelligence officer, Lieutenant (j.g.) Byron R. White, a 1962 appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court by President John F. Kennedy.) – Robert Goralski, “August 2, 1943,” World War II Almanac: 1931-1945

DE-678

“The American destroyer escort Harmon was launched. It was the first U.S. Navy ship ever named for a black, Leonard Roy Harmon, a mess attendant killed while saving a shipmate’s life during the fight for Guadalcanal. He received the Navy Cross posthumously. The ship was christened by his mother.” – Robert Goralski, “July 25, 1943,” World War II Almanac: 1931-1945

Breathe deep and clear your mind

“Expectation bias is a well-established phenomenon that occurs in scientific analysis when investigator(s) reach a premature conclusion without having examined or considered all of the relevant data. Instead of collecting and examining all of the data in a logical and unbiased manner to reach a scientifically reliable conclusion, the investigator(s) uses the premature determination to dictate investigative processes, analyses, and, ultimately, conclusions, in a way that is not scientifically valid. The introduction of expectation bias into the investigation results in the use of only that data that supports this previously formed conclusion and often results in the misinterpretation and/or the discarding of data that does not support the original opinion. Investigators are strongly cautioned to avoid expectation bias.” – Technical Committee on Fire Investigations, Sec. 4.3.8, NFPA 921 Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations (2011 Edition)

Wrangling unicorns

“Any hypothesis that is incapable of being tested is an invalid hypothesis. A hypothesis developed based on the absence of data is an example of a hypothesis that is incapable of being tested. The inability to refute a hypothesis does not mean that the hypothesis is true.” – Technical Committee on Fire Investigations, Sec. 4.3.6.1, NFPA 921 Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations (2011 Edition)

Pin a tail on that donkey

“As some historians have contended, [British Prime Minister] Chamberlain in the end saw himself as a practical businessman willing to deal with the world as it was, engage in hardheaded negotiation with others, and strike a mutually beneficial bargain on the assumption that all parties would honor their parts of the deal. Like the vast majority of his countrymen, he had vivid and terrible memories of the [First] World War and felt revulsion at the thought of a new generation dying on the killing fields of Western Europe. In both instances, he was a liberal—a man of humane sentiments and reasoned intellect. The Realpolitik he tried to practice was itself largely a creation of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment in reaction to previous catastrophic wars of religion; it thought of states and their leaders as rational actors seeking to maximize advantage but pursuing limited aims. Chamberlain expressed the most important weakness of his superficially tough-minded realism when he declared his determination to deal with the grievances of adversaries through the application of ‘our common sense, our common humanity” in seeking the solution to outstanding problems. Realpolitik in the age of Hitler and Stalin required an understanding of the darker angels of human nature. Businessman in background, Unitarian in religious training, liberal politician in vocation, Chamberlain had scant conception of the phenomenon of evil.” – Alonzo L. Hamby, For the Survival of Democracy