Smoke Monsters

So by now you’ve heard, from any of a myriad sources: suspended sentence. Jail time but no jail time, just as long as I paid a relatively small fine ($500), and a somewhat larger bolus of assorted court costs ($1128). And I did pay, promptly if not exactly gladly. If I’d gone to jail I’d have ended up paying more than that anyway: St. Clair County charges its inmates $60/day room and board, which is about what you’d pay for a night at a Motel 6. Except you don’t get wi-fi or cable. And you can’t leave.

Apologies for any moments of incoherence in this post. I am on prescription painkillers for a dental abscess that flared up just a few days ago (and you really gotta wonder how well that would have turned out under the US penal medical system). You’ll find greater coherence over at Dave’s Place, and Madeline Ashby’s posting at Tor.com literally reduced me to tears. (But, like I said: prescription painkillers.)

It would be nice, now, to look up the trolls: Grinder and Oh Really, “Ralph Kramden”, Tonyy over at the Times-Herald site (who’s now directing his incoherent spluttering at the judge who refused to let me rot in jail); that donut-snarfing Jabba-the-Hutt of a security guard who loudly described me as “some Canadian writer who came over here and beat up one of our border guards”; Beaudry’s lackeys, confidently assuring each other at pretrial that I’d be going away for a “two-year sentence, piece of cake.” It would be nice to look them all up and wave my unincarcerated balls in their faces and say fuck you, assholes, and fuck your dream police state and your craven cowering servile masses. You didn’t get me. Not this time. I live in the land of the Free.

But I can’t. Not just because that last ironic barb is untrue (Canada treats a lot of its citizens just as shamefully as the US, and the cop mentality transcends national boundaries), but because the trolls were almost right. They came closer to being right than I would ever have expected in my most paranoid dreams.

Back before the verdict, when Doug Mullkoff was so effortlessly putting the lie to every claim of every hapless border guard, he remarked that one good thing about this case was that even if we lost there was no way I’d be doing time, not for anything so trivial as this. Doug is not a guy given to making promises; I’ve always respected his refusal to predict happy outcomes even when I thought it wouldn’t kill him to show a little more optimism. This was as close as the dude ever got to a guarantee: no way would I do jail time, no matter what.

And then that goddamned presentencing recommendation from Ken Kincaid comes down the pike. “Gainfully employed”, “well-educated”, “Cooperative and compliant during the course of the interview.” Negatives? “One prior misdemeanor … discharged … not used in scoring”.

Recommendation?

“6 months incarceration, with 60 days suspended upon payment of court assessments in full.” The maximum allowed in the sentencing grid.

Evidently it scared the shit out of Doug too, athough he didn’t show it at the time. He never saw it coming. The Prosecutor had told us to expect “very mild”. And when Doug buttonholed Kincaid out in the hall, asked him how attached he was to that recommendation, pointed out that the jurors had unanimously opined that jail shouldn’t even be on the table — my understanding is that Kincaid offered no rationale and no explanation. “I stand by my recommendation” was what he said.

I fully expected to leave that courtroom in shackles. I put my life in order, set it to autopilot. Sunday night Caitlin and I went online and read up on what my summer home would be like. One half-hour visit per week. No incoming calls. No hardcover books. No softcover books either, unless sent directly from a publisher. No more than four books allowed at a time. No gifts, no personal effects; the only thing a friend could contribute was money to an inmate account, which could be used to buy paper and pencils and prestamped envelopes. (On the matter of whether that stamp would be enough to carry a letter across an international border, the rules were silent.)  Plus I’d already spent a day there back in December: I knew a few other things that weren’t on the website. No pillows, for one thing (inmates might stuff them down the toilets to jam the plumbing). Some of the guys stuffed used books (“The Spanish Bible”; “Dealing With Addiction”; an ARC of a novel called “The Loch” from, believe it or not, Tor) under one end of the mattress to achieve a pillowesque bump in the foam.

I wasn’t exactly ready to go, but I was resigned to. And when Adair called us to the podium, I stood there with my freshly-abscessed tooth throbbing (it had just gotten bad the night before; there hadn’t been time to get it looked at), and wondered if I should take this one last opportunity to show a bit of defiance before they hauled me off, use my right to speak to show that if nothing else, they hadn’t got me to grovel yet. Doug had begged me not to, but I was still wondering. What did I have to lose?

I had people at my back. At my left were a dozen friends who had insisted on coming from as far as Toronto to stand with me. “Chris from MN” (formerly of NY) had shown up unannounced, as he had at the trial itself. The whole damn Puppy Brigade was there. Dee. Caitlin and her folks. Squeak. Dave. And the juror, Proudinjun; finally we met in the flesh.

To my right were Beaudry and Behrendt. Beaudry, as the official “victim” of this crime, had the right to make a statement, but chose not to. I’m guessing he just came by to gloat.

I kind of forgot about them all when Doug started to speak.

He laid out the groundwork, reviewed the facts, cited letters sent on my behalf: from an investment banker, from a University prof, from my brother, from the President of the Toronto Press Gallery. All attesting to my nonviolent and compassionate nature, my rationality, my need to question. He cited a letter from proudinjun, who worried about the way in which 750.81d could be used as a club against the innocent (Adair said that he’d never received a letter from a juror before).

When Doug had finished doing what he does, Adair asked me if I had anything to say. I understand that some official record somewhere reports that I stood mute; I did not. I said something like:

“Doug has advised me to keep my mouth shut, for fear that I’ll put my foot in it. But I have to opine that a jail sentence — for an offence that even the Prosecution admits amounts to not-getting-on-the-ground-fast-enough — is disproportionate at best and downright Kafkaesque at worst. That’s all I have to say.”

And then Adair began to talk. James Adair. Your Honor. Man, but you do like to build the suspense, don’t you?

He seemed to like me. Almost the first thing out of his mouth was that I was the kind of guy he’d like to sit down, have a beer with, shoot the shit. I told him I’d buy the first round. He said I was “a puzzle”. I obviously wasn’t the kind of guy he was used to seeing in front of him. He reminisced about his childhood, the girl of his dreams, his life in Michigan, cops. He talked a lot about cops: how every day they go to work not knowing if they’ll be coming back. How Nine Eleven Changed Everything. How his pappy always told him that you do what the cops say, period, no questions asked. Somewhere in there he opened up the possibility that I might disagree with that, or maybe he just repeated his earlier sentiment that it would be nice to sit down and hash this stuff out over beers. I’m not quite sure how he put it, but I do remember asking “Should I be, er, talking back?” — wondering if maybe he was trying to engage in a dialog rather than deliver a lecture.

He respectfully suggested that I not do that.

In a way, that’s a shame. Because I would have liked to have heard Adair’s take on the distinction between obeying Orders and obeying The Law. I would have asked him about those people who join the force not because they want to protect America from terrorists, but because they want an excuse to throw their weight around; surely he must know that such people exist? I would have pointed out that taxicab drivers suffer three times the homicide rate of any law enforcement category, that being a cabbie is the fifth-most-dangerous job in the US while Law Enforcement doesn’t even make the Top 10. If the risks associated with border patrol can be invoked to excuse the kind of violence I experienced, should we not extend the same immunity to cabbies?

Hey, he said he’d like to share beers and conversation with me. And I would have gladly raised these points over a pint; not to get under his skin, not even to protect my own, but just for the joy of a philosophical debate. Evidently this was not the place for that.

I don’t know how wedded Adair actually was to some of the things he said. Maybe he meant them; maybe he was playing to those two uniforms behind me. But he did it at sufficient length, and with enough of a twinkle in his eye, that I almost thought I might get away with blurting out “Dude, you’re killing me! Just make the bloody call!

And that’s when he did. I heard a collective gasp at my back then; I didn’t know whether it was a gasp of relief from my supporters, or of shock and dismay from Beaudry and Behrendt. I only know that when I finally turned around, my friends were still there.  The guards had vanished like smoke.

And suddenly, the rest of the building seemed, well, friendlier. I’d had a taste of that just before my case was called, when a mustachioed stranger in a suit and tie wished me luck. “I sat in on some of your trial,” he told me. “You want to know my opinion? It was complete bullshit. But you’ve got a good judge in there. If anyone in this building’s going to overturn that recommendation, it’s Adair.”

At the time, I didn’t dare to hope. But afterward, in the elevator going down to the clerk’s office: tough-looking bald-headed dude smiles and remarks that if this had all been a ploy to get more readers, I’d gotten at least one. “Read that story of yours, over on Clarkesworld — The Others? The Things, that was it. Great stuff, man”. He hadn’t seen the Carpenter movie. I recommended it. (And I see he’s posted to this very blog on that very subject.)

And in the Clerk’s office, paying off the Man so that I might go home, the lady taking my money shook her head: “it was looking really bad there for a while. We thought it was outrageous! I mean, people do worse stuff than that all the time and they don’t get…”

Even the Times-Herald seems to have softened its tone. Their coverage of the sentencing started right out of the gate by reporting that the Judge himself had said he’d like to have a beer with me — and maybe for the first time ever the word “assault” did not appear anywhere in the text. (We may never know whether this was due to an honest change of heart, or to the fact that Liz Shepherd had just heard her spurious and repeated use of the a-word cited next to the phrase “libel suit” during a brief and quiet hallway conversation with Dave Nickle.) This is not to say that the Times-Herald story did not contain its share of inaccuracies. It says, for example, that I “refused comment” after the proceedings. In fact, I did reply when asked for my thoughts: I said, “I’m assuming you mean for your own personal interest and edification, given how little of what I actually say ever ends up appearing in the Times-Herald.”

Still. Big improvement.

Afterwards, having adjourned to the Quay Street Brewing Company for a celebration only slightly diminished by the growing pain in my jaw, I finally started to know proudinjun as someone other than a virtual advocate and a face on the jury. (I think we’ll be staying in touch.)  Doug and I fought over who would pay for the drinks. (He won. I let him.) Proudinjun — who, by the way, has no objection to me using her real name, but who I continue to alias because there are some real assholes in that town — told me afterwards that I surround myself with wonderful people.

And I do. Anthony. Caitlin. Dave. Dee. Fred. Jane. Pat. Ray. Squeak. I love you all. And even Chris, whom I barely know: you came across state lines to show your support, man. Twice.

To all who’ve posted well-wishes and happy thoughts to the crawl: I thank you. To those who’ve asked me direct questions, or sent me private e-mails: I will answer you. But it will take a bit of time, and a lot more painkillers. Be patient. The sounds you hear are the grinding gears of a life on hold, finally booting back up.

That other, wetter sound is the great tight vacuole of pus bursting from my gums.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Tuesday April 27 2010at 07:04 pm , filed under Squidgate . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

199 Responses to “Smoke Monsters”

  1. “I backed my car into a cop car, the other day…
    Well, he just drove off somtimes life’s OK.
    I ran my mouth off a bit too much, oh, what did I say?
    Well, you just laughed it off, it was all OK.”

    The biggest lesson for me these past several months: Rorscach. Yes, take your GD pick. Moore, Watts, or whoever invented them, doesn’t matter, Life (or as RedIndianGirl put it, Fate or the Universe) just keeps tossing them my way. I won’t pretend to know what pass/fail is in every case. I do think there’s a time to call a MF a MF (and in fact did so nearly a month ago, unrelated situation, but please note he was *over* two meters tall and I am not… Not bragging, merely amazed at what I am capable of when faced with irony overload).

    So, I won’t agree about Beaudry’s appearance. At worst IMO, he had to be there. If he’d wanted to gloat, he could have taken the stand and recommended time. Instead he was calm, cool, and most importantly, professional. IMO, more mature and only a month since the last time we saw him. Make of that what you will.

  2. Well I couldn’t spare a vacation day to get to Port Huron (Aussiecon is eating my vacation days) but many of us were there in spirit.

    Glad you’re free and very glad you can now tell this story in the past tense. I will write a letter to the governor of Michigan to ask for a pardon for you, not for your sake, but to remove the stain of injustice from their legal system. Hope to see you at SFContario in November.

  3. @Chris

    Nah, Beaudry was totally there to gloat. I don’t know if you caught the smirk, but it was there for most of Adair’s little ramble. He thought Peter would go to jail just as certainly as the rest of us did, until near the end.

    I was too busy saying fuckfuckfuck to myself to notice what his little baby face looked like when he realized Adair was going to be, y’know, kinda sensible. Wish I did.

    @Squid

    Where else would I be?

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tim Jones. Tim Jones said: Writer Peter Watts has sobering words for us on the growing cephalopod menace: http://bit.ly/b8B6Vi – and on his trial http://bit.ly/bImO3a [...]

  5. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Dr. Watts. Had I been in your shoes, I doubt I would have the energy to revisit these events the way you have. Get some rest, take care of that damn tooth, and give your cats some chin scratches for me.

    Paul

  6. Sorry I couldn’t have been there, Dr. Watts. Hopefully one day we can still share a drink.

    Glad that you’re still with us.

  7. I’m really more delighted than I can say that this travesty of justice did not turn truly grim.

    But I’m still pissed at my country and those who !@#$% it up.

    Damnit, I wanted to say hi to you next Readercon. And now I won’t be able too. Because of a foul and authoritarian injustice. (And hell, if I were you, I wouldn’t want to set foot in this benighted country again anyway.)

    But I’m glad, really truly relieved, that at least you’re home.

    And to echo what PC said: thank you for writing all these long updates. I suspect a lot of people across this country have been worried about you, and it’s good to hear from you directly. (Besides, who else would write a post on this that would also teach me the really kick-ass word “bolus”?)

    Finally, yes, it’s too bad you didn’t have a chance to chat with the judge about your philosophical questions. Particularly the one on the distinction between obeying Orders and obeying the Law. Because we’ve forgotten that one, and it serves us all ill.

    Welcome home. Those of us still here have some !@#$%ing work to do.

  8. Maybe you should invite Mr Adair to come up to Toronto for a beer so that you can have that conversation! :)

    Congratulations on making it back home!! I’ve been holding my breath since the last few days, and Avatar blue just does not suit my complexion!!!

  9. Phew.

  10. I think the vast majority of cops do good work, protecting the rest of us from bad guys. But there are some who have violent tendencies and like to push people around. Look at the videos from the University of Maryland after the Duke game. The police arrested 30 people on made up charges. Today, they are all dropped and the police department is facing a lawsuit, FBI investigation, and several officers suspended after videos came out of them picking kids out of the crowd and kicking ass. The videos totally contradicted the “charges”. I’m glad there was video in that case, and yours. What really scares me is how often does this happen and there is no video record of what REALLY HAPPENED?

  11. Well congratulations. Had I lived a few states closer, I’d have come to see it too. Can’t afford a twenty hour car ride, right now though. I was, however, waiting here slamming F5 on any website that looked like it might cover the case.

    Really, though. I mean it when I say congratulations, it means a lot to ME for God’s sake, I can only imagine what it means to you. I hope this doesn’t come up again in the future. If it does, make it a few years from now so I can be employed and throw you more support than these worthless words.

  12. I wish I had something more constructive to say, but – fantastic. Its great to hear that you are coming home. I am glad you had a sensible judge presiding over your case. I’d hate to see it if you a judge who was looking to “make an example” of you for the rest of the world to see.

    Welcome home :)

  13. I want to say again, how glad I am that you’re okay and you’re not in jail.

    Reading all this makes me want to hug you. But we’re separated by that border thingy, and we’ll probably never meet at a con, so I will settle for reading your books.

    I’m so happy you’re free!

  14. It’s not just you on the painkillers, that article over on Tor made me a little sniffly, too. Cursed eyes. They leak.

  15. Some days, it pays to be the good guys. The news that you days will no be darkened by jail time has brightened my day to no end. Your books have made no small impact on my life, a light in the dark. Thank you, and congratulations, Dr. Watts.

  16. I am happy you didn’t have to do jail time. Sad that you had to go through this at all. I do not really know what is happening to my country. It scares me some time. Countries shouldn’t scare you. I wrote this blog about my wife being searched at an airport checkpoint. You are one of the reasons I kept my mouth shut. Even though I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs.

    http://www.csdaley.com/2010/04/government-gone-wild.html

  17. It’s awfully indicative of how far gone the legal system is when we’re all so blissful that Dr. Watts didn’t screwed harder than he has. The impact of a felony conviction is like a meteor strike on your life — the damage to one’s reputation, the inability to travel across the border, and so on and so forth.

    The only victory here is that it was only horrific, not apocalyptic.

    If there’s anything that I could impart from this, it was best summed up by Madeline Ashby:

    “…but it’s another thing to see men shuffling forward to face the court in baggy orange jumpsuits because they couldn’t make bail and no one they knew could scrape it up for them. These guys didn’t have a crowd of supporters waiting for them in the back. They didn’t have university or even high school educations. They had learning disabilities, we were told.”

    With all the public support Dr. Watts had, they -still- screwed him. Imagine what it’s like for the millions (literally) of people who don’t have his intelligence and the financial and emotional support he’s gotten. Think about that the next you watch an episode of CSI or Law & Order and root for the cops and the lawyers.

    In a country that currently imprisons a greater portion of its population than the USSR under Stalin, can we really afford to believe that incidences like this are the exception, and not the rule?

    I’ll get off my soapbox now, and say that I’m really, really, really glad that Dr. Watts didn’t need any of my advice. I’m so relieved for you, sir.

  18. I am ashamed to say that it was only on Monday night, after some reading on the new Arizona racial-profiling law that empowers local authorities with the powers of federal immigration agents (and legally binds them to exercise those powers), I got to thinking, “Hey, I wonder what’s up with that Canadian writer guy who got arrested for assaulting a border patrol agent’s fist with his face a few months ago?” I didn’t realize I would be coming in at the climax of this story, and never would have imagined that it would have developed along these lines.

    (It’s even more shameful that I really thought of your case when I started to wonder how many gringos in Arizona will be arrested on suspicion of being illegal Canadian aliens.)

    Going through your archives I saw that there is a connection between your case and a previous Arizona law. If I can, I will try to tie everything together in a future blog post -”The case of the Canadian at the border” or something like that.

    As for those border guards…what kind of tough guy maintains that he’s been beaten up by a writer, fer chrissakes?

    On behalf of myself, and other United States-ians of good will, I apologize to you for the crap you’ve been put through. I will do whatever I can to see that this shit doesn’t happen again to anyone else, though I think we all know that it will.

  19. The overwhelming relief I’m feeling over this is kind of ridiculous, though I imagine it’s nothing compared to your own. But there is nothing like a real-life narrative of violence and corruption — and a broken system lurching ever closer to the cliff’s edge — to keep one hooked. I’ve been following along, and telling everyone who’d listen, since the beginning. The whole situation is still an outrage. But at least it’s an outrage that’s behind you. Just wanted to say I wish you well.

  20. It’s good to know you are going to be sleeping in your own bed for the foreseeable future … well in a bed of your own choosing at least. ;)

    Hugs!

    Terry

  21. I’m glad things (more or less) worked out. I told my step-father about your story (I’ve mentioned you before in discussion). Being that he’s nearly-fundamentalistly religious, you’re not exactly his favorite person. But, after telling him what happened, his response was “Wow, that’s bullshit.” I can count the number of times he’s cussed in my presence with both hands.

    Myself and a few of my friends have been keeping track of your story as it developed. and I’m glad it didn’t end in tragedy. Good luck!

  22. Madeline’s piece is great, but your post has an even greater impact on me.
    Best of luck!

  23. Happy to hear about the news. After visiting the USA 9 times in my life, your story has convinced me that the trolls with the keep out signs on the parapets are right and that those of us not born there will never be welcome as visitors.

  24. Congratulations on continued freedom!

    (But, er, does this experience mean that your fiction will be getting darker? ‘cos if it does I’d like to buy a halogen optimism lamp.)

  25. I have never posted here, but I am an avid fan of your work and have been following this case closely (I direct theatre in Oregon and have gone on a few pre-rehearsal rants about your story), I have to say this is amazing news, thank goodness you are free and please please please don’t consider the USA a lost country for you to visit but a black hole that the rest of us are still trying to escape.

    …also please write more things for me to consume.

    take care!
    curtis

  26. I’m so glad to hear this outcome.

    From someone that’s largely been on the cop-side of things in his employment history, I have to say that while I do sympathize with the danger police put themselves in, you absolutely cannot deny the bullying and power-fetish that comes along with the job. This sort of action on the part of LEOs is a large part of the reason I’m currently not in that line of work. I just can’t stomach that kind of abuse of power.

    At least this particular instance came out for the best. Minus a few hundred bucks.

  27. Congratulations – very relieved to hear about the good outcome.

    (Side note: inmates have to _pay_ to be locked up in jail? How is that supposed to work?)

  28. … Reading the three accounts, I can only feel this lump in my throat.

    It remains beyond my comprehension really. This was all so wrong… I am glad it did not go as wrong as it could possibly have gone. But, these people, from guard, to prosecutor, to judge… They cannot be said to be rational. Their words, and lack of words, are so at odds with the evidence and assessments of others… with any reasonable perspective, that it defies understanding.

    I do not know what else to say, and the only thing I can think of to do right now, is to remember. And I will… and perhaps, find ways to share the remembrance and your trials.

    *shakes head* Be well, just… be well.

  29. Congratulations, Peter – delighted you made it home. You conducted yourself like a true gentleman throughout this mess, showing strength in adversity and a cool under fire I don’t think I could have managed in a million years. Whether that linked in any way to this outcome, I guess we’ll never know, but you have my fullest admiration and respect. All best wishes.

  30. Mr. Watts:

    It’s strange to think that the utterance of a single word could hold so much sway over a man’s livelihood. That the word was a question — “Why?” — says something about your personality that is, I think, quite positive. That the same word was interpreted as defiance in the face of The Law says something about the nature of authority that is, without a doubt, disturbing.

    Over the past few months, I’ve followed your story with great interest. It’s odd, but I’ve read more of your website’s NewsCrawl than any of your stories…though that will henceforth change, as I’ve gotten my hands on some of your work. If this terrible incident hadn’t occurred, I would never have heard of you. It’s sad but true, though I know I’m not the only one.

    Just know that it’s not the Incident itself that’s drawn me — and will surely draw others — to your writing. It’s the eloquent outrage, wit, and honesty with which you’ve described these unfortunate events on this site in recent months.

    In short, I hope that something good has and will come of this whole debacle. Thank you.

  31. You’ve displayed incredible guts throughout this pretty horrifying misadventure, and I’m almost unreasonably happy that it’s ended this well(ish) for you and yours. I’m so sorry for the stress and worry you’ve had to live with for the past several months, and wish you only the best from here on in. Welcome home, and take care.

  32. Congratulations Dr. Watts, the world is a little brighter today than it was yesterday.

  33. Whew. Very glad to hear that this is over and it didn’t turn out as bad as it could have been. One minor victory over the petty fascists of the world who too often are dangerously close to real power.

  34. I was so happy to see the news when it came out that you weren’t being tossed into jail. Congratulations, sir. Should we ever cross paths, the beers are on me.

  35. Excellent news!

    I look forward to reading some ancillary law-enforcement characters in your next work!

  36. I stand with the others in offering my congratulations.

    This situation was seriously fukkedup to begin with, but ultimately, it ended favorably for all ( the entire case should have been thrown out of court, but you gotta take what you can get).

    I was going to ask about your need for additional contributions to the Kibble fund, to help refill your coffers, but I have a better idea – publish State Of Grace. Or, whatever novel you have brewing. If TOR or some other publisher won’t do the deed, publish it yourself. Convert the text to PDF and (other e-reader friendly formats) and sell that fucker on rifters.com. I will not hesitate a single moment to fork over my $10-$15 if it means reading another Watts story AND helping the deserved author out of a financial jam. Just think about it.

    Finally, two questions:

    1) Will you ever be getting that beer with Judge Adair?

    2) Does the conviction itself mean that you can never, ever again enter the USA, or does the suspended sentence somehow reduce that to a period of x years? I’m a little grey on the judicial system.

    Love and rockets to you, Peter Watts.

  37. Peter, so glad to hear you made it home, safe and sound. I was getting concerned about the length of time it took you to post, then remembered the mutant tooth gone awry. Figured that was the problem. I was very happy to spend some time with you and your phenomenal friends. You are a lucky man, Mr. Watts. It’s an honor to consider you as, officially, a friend. Take care.

  38. Glad to see you still have the wings to fly up in a big bird sky and twist tail feathers clean…see your reflection in the eyes of (sort of) innocence…and that you have NOT become part of The Machine.

  39. Ken, it has more to do with immigration law standards and less to do with how a case is handled by the local courts. I doubt if the suspension or any other specific detail of the case matters a whit, just the bright line rule of Felon/Not Felon.

  40. Wonderful news. And it’s true that this whole fiasco has won you new readers. I’ve recommended Blindsight to countless friends, and mentioning your trial to a lot of them has finally made them buy/read/enjoy it. Certainly not an ideal way to gain exposure, but at least it’s a silver lining.

    And when talking with a friend who now wants to use Blindsight in one of his Philosophy of Mind courses, he pointed out that you should have learned from your own book and treated the cops with the same frightened caution your characters want from their own interactions with “aliens.” I disagreed, saying that the point is that the cops should NOT be aliens (Kafkaesque, indeed), but still…

  41. Great news, but the mind boggles at the thought of how many people are going through exactly the same injustice and have less resources to call in.

    Also boggled at the notion of paying board in prison.

  42. Dear Sir.

    Great news, best of luck in the future!

    The US is like your tooth, though i’m afraid there isn’t a dentist in the world able to fix that rot!

    Cheers,
    Mirik

  43. Yay! Take some painkillers of us, too, buddy.

    So, in some senses, the system works? I was sure you were going up the river for a few months, and it was horrifying to think about.

  44. Congratulations — very glad to hear about the outcome.

  45. I renew my congratulations. I think the real question at this point is: will there be a ‘Beaudry’ character in State of Grace and what will the vampires do to him?

  46. Adding my voice to the chorus of people expressing relief at the verdict, as well as outrage at your having had to go through all of this.

  47. I’m glad things worked out at least this well. (It should have been better.)

    But I’m surprised that you celebrated south of the border.
    I would have been tempted to GTHO and spend my time and money up North.

  48. Er, sentence, not verdict.

  49. I don’t mean to down play the suffering and angst that all of this has caused Peter but I am somewhat pleased that the legal system appears to have worked in this case. Although the statute is seriously flawed and the border guards acted like thugs, it appears that both the jury and the judge took their responsibilities seriously. The jury’s job is to weigh the evidence provided and make a determination of whether the action of the accused was in violation of the specific statute. Although I may disagree with the statute, it does appear that failure to comply immediately to an order does constitute a violation. And a judge’s role in sentencing is to take all mitigating factors into account and pass a sentence that is appropriate.

    There has been a lot of talk about jury nullification but I think that this practice can be as dangerous as a bad law. Everyone has been saying that a jury can nullify the jury (or vote to acquit), regardless of the evidence, if they think that the law is unjust. But nobody has mentioned the flip side of this. Giving Juries this option also gives them the option to vote guilty even if the evidence does not support the verdict. I’m sure that we have all read To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Having said all of this, Peter, I am very happy to see that things have worked out such that you avoid jail time. The next time I am in hogtown I will look you up and buy you a beer and I promise not to bring this subject up at all.

  50. Well, irrespective of the jail issue, the system that we tell our young ones
    is the best in the world took a shit
    on another person. For the benefit of whom…that’s the part I don’t get.
    The US has got 5% of the world population and 25% of the inmates.
    Can you say “money-driven ruanway train”?
    Can you say Prison-Industrial complex?
    I knew that you could.

  51. thank you for linking to Madeline Ashby’s post.

  52. RE: Somebody Who Has Been There

    Thank you posting here all the times you have. Others who comment and read here appreciate your comments — like me, for example.

    I hope that maybe this whole situation will also be a wake-up call for the fannish community which I was beginning to drift away from.

    “A Niche”, the first story I read by Mr. Watts, changed my life by forcing me to look at myself and my ability to rationally consider the world differently. And “Blindsight”, as unhopeful as it was, made me more so, because I finally understood, emotionally as well intellectually, that if Rorschach could do what it did to peoples’ minds, then perhaps the horror that reality seemed to be to me at times was in fact an invention of my own biology.

  53. You deserve a couple of days to putter around in drug-induced bliss with cats sitting on your head. But next week I’m buying.

    At last some sanity has prevailed in the powers-that-be that ruled this entire fucked-up mess. I’ve always been impelled to question authority, and probably won’t stop because stories like yours make me understand why it’s absolutely necessary to resist the jackboot of fascism. I’m not sleeping, but too many people are, and that’s the whole tragedy of this entire thing.

    Glad you are home, safe and sound. See you in the ‘hood.

  54. Phew. I feel like I can breathe again. I can’t begin to imagine the relief you and yours must be experiencing.

    Larry Niven once wrote that “the product of security and freedom is a constant” (decreasing one necessitates the increase of the other). If 9-11 keeps getting used to justify the loss of freedom to tout security, then the terrorists will have won. As glad that I am that Adair was sensible and considerate in his verdict, I am still concerned that he felt the need to use that date in September to justify the actions of those guards.

    BTW, Ashby’s post made me cry as well, and I’m not on painkillers. You both rock.

  55. I’m fairly ignorant of the legal system. Now that the immediate threat has passed, is there a mechanism to get the felony conviction overturned or expunged or something?

  56. @tlc – I was wondering the same thing. There’s no reason why Peter should have this despicable conviction on his record.

    This is why I had previously asked about the beer with the judge. Adiar clearly has taken a shine to our esteemed author-buddy. Maybe that relationship might begin this process.

    Seriously, I would look into getting a drink with that guy.

    BTW, should we, as a fan base, be writing letters of thanks to the judge? Is that going too far?

  57. Hey Peter, really glad the bad craziness is over and you’re home safe. When we finally meet the beers are on me.

  58. Well, it’s not the worst bad that could have happened, but it’s a long way from a victory, alas. Congratulations on your escape, Dr. Watts, costly as it was and will be.

    @tlc: No.

    In fact, I don’t think even a Governor’s pardon will open the border back up for Peter, in the galactically remote chance he’d ever want to return. (The pardon will overturn the conviction, but not expunge it, and a conviction is all the border guards will look at).

  59. Happy to hear this outcome, given what the others could’ve been.

  60. I, too, will take it easy on the good doctor, since he’s recovering from physical ailment. I do hope he’ll be good enough (I know he will be) to let me know when he’s up for another healthy debate. Yes, I’m ready to pick apart his thesis at top (though not the part about the Puppy Brigade. Saw them, and you don’t have to *think* you’re an expert topologist to see the love flowing).

    In the meantime, let me throw another monkey in the wrench. There are a handful of people who think they know *why* I was animate about helping. They’re wrong. Close, but wrong. It’s not *why*, it’s *how*. See what I mean? It’s like even the ultimate prey, bunnies, are far more frightening than the most intelligent blampire. Sometimes simple is more powerful than complex or complicated. “Might as well face it,” Jukka, “you’re addicted to the stuff.” “There’s nothing you can do, that can’t be done.” “There’s no beginning, there’ll be no end.”

    Or, compare wolves (nearly extinct and it can’t be due to Sarah Palin alone) to coyotes (enjoying eating French poodles in Beverly Hills according to Lewis Hyde’s book). Wolves can’t evolve fast enough. Given rabbits’ speed of reproduction, we can see why they thrive too. They’re even running around downtown Minneapolis at night, in front of the Post Office, court buldings, an old dance theatre, and pretty much everywhere else. But that’s merely anecdotal.

    I don’t know if Kaitlyn reads these things, but here’s the first thing I wrote for myself after the trial (in fact, it might have been on the road on the way back to NYC). It’s brief because I feel like I’m learning to read and write all over again. In fact, the first book I completed since December was a children’s book (I’d like to say it was overrated, but it’s actually pretty darn good with a great message… I think) and Charles Stross’ Missile Gap (a shorter than typical work for him). I’m thinking she might understand it… has a fantasy spin to it.

    ————-

    PASSION AND HOPE

    No one is the embodiment of hope;
    Nobody has passion.

    No one is my hero;
    Nobody is his.

    No one is an angel;
    Nobody is a demon.

    No one is lost;
    Nobody despairs.

    (And the lines I decided to add this morning:)

    Nobody cheats death
    Because no one helped.

    —————–

    *Why* is simple once you reduce the variables (or, as Scotty put it long before The Island was written: “After all, we’re big enough to take a few insults, aren’t we?” I love the guy. I mean, what’s not to love?

    • Lenie Clarke (already broken so nothing else can break her; vengeance personified)
    • Ken Lubin (he who cannot show mercy, does. Still say he’s cooler than James Bond, but the unibrow has to go in the screenplay… See, Hollywood is all about appearances. It’s like they only look at what’s on top and don’t bother to dig deeper. Not sure why I wrote that. Swords do often have to edges, yes? ;) )
    • Vampires and zombies in space. ‘Nuff said.
    • Rescues cats
    • Is almost as paranoid as I am
    • According to Madeline Ashby, he gives the best hugs (and she may be the second scariest/wonderful person I’ve ever barely met) and knows how to repair dresses with his teeth and a safety pin
    • Has far more patience than I do (whether it’s writing a novel that takes so long you start sending him science articles as a subtle way to tell him to get writing and finish his fifth novel, or when he puts up with climate change deniers on this very site. Sometimes Saturn dreams of Mercury, sometimes the other way around)
    • Has a great nose
    • Has a rapier wit
    • Has great friends
    • Is so naive, he doesn’t yet know that fame means giving up your privacy (think about that next time we say something nasty about a famous person. I mean, Brad Pitt knows. He was the victim of a papparazzi who caught him sunbathing nude in his back yard. Did not never see the photos myself, but I heard they were *hot*.)
    • Buys the beer
    • Engaged one of the DHS folk and the prosecutor in the hallway while we were waiting for the jury to finish deliberations

    And the list goes on.

    I will also add to what Peter said about Doug. Man, oh, man, I’ve never seen an attorney fight for a client like he did in that sentencing hearing. Heck, I might now be Doug’s *number one fan.* Tempting to move to Port Huron myself, just to keep up with his career.

    Finally, Judge Adair. You have no idea what a crazy smart or lucky man he is until you see him pointing right over your head, referring to a quote by Alexander Hamilton (sort of a straight shooter for most of his career compared to his founding brothers) and attributing it to that scheister, trickster, liar extraordinaire, James Madison. Kind of makes you wonder if it was his conscious or unconscious mind doing the driving, or if there was even a difference. Well, that’s the Irish. Cagey, cagey.

  61. It’s good to know that there are sensible, smart judges in the world who are willing to look at a problem anew, rather than merely relying on paperwork prepared by a functionary. I am so very glad, Dr. Watts, that you are free to move about your country and to avoid mine. Congratulations!

  62. So glad for you, Peter ! I’ll have a beer tonight to celebrate. I don’t need a reason to drink one, but I certainly will not let that one pass.

  63. I am very happy for you, Dr. Watts. You are surrounded by amazing people.

    As a resident of Michigan, I am deeply ashamed of the border guards who did this to you. I had a run-in with them a few years back on a trip to Toronto (they though four days was excessively long to be attending “a conference”). On the plus side, it did clear up any lingering questions of the current whereabouts of the Tonton Macoute.

    Also: It’s a long shot, but ice water can sometimes help control the pain of an impacted tooth. It reduces the swelling of the infected tissue.

  64. Peter, what happened to you was a travesty from first to (almost) last. The outcome should have been a lot better, but at least you’re safe at home.

  65. What good news, Peter.

    Thanks for keeping us informed.

  66. I’m so happy to hear this news, Peter. I’m sad that I can’t expect to see you at a US-based convention anytime soon, but I hear there are Sci Fi conventions in Canada occasionally, so I hope I can make a trip one day. With all the offers of beer I expect you to be good for quite a while, but I’d love to buy you one as well.

    As the way this started: “Not the best of all possible outcomes”, but absolutely “the best of what’s left”. I’m so glad you’re not going to jail.

    Best, kindest regards from a fan,
    J.R.

  67. Just wanted to drop a comment to say “congratulations” and “what a relief.” It’s a disaster that it went this far, but glad to here that it’s no worse. Best wishes to you in getting your life back together.

  68. @Peter, and his loved ones, friends & family: It is really good news that the outcome of which anyone who believed in Peter could have hoped for, under the circumstances. For those of us who agree with David, that Peter did nothing wrong to warrant what happened to him, and for him to be marred by a conviction of which he does not deserve in any way whatsoever, we can only view this outcome as the best under the circumstances but still hope that what is right will be done to change what is still so very wrong.

    @Madeline “Squeak” ~ that was beautiful, powerful and profound. Thank you very much for sharing. You are a wonderful, deep writer.

    @Michael Johnson who said: “so I can be employed and throw you more support than these worthless words.”

    No words are worthless when they are the vehicles carrying hope, concern and heartfelt human connection to another of whom you wish to express your compassion, goodness of heart and beauty of soul because you do truly care about the life and fate of another.

    Such words are priceless. Money by comparison is worthless.

    It was not until my mother was traversing the finality of her life’s end-reality that she did tell me the things and express the emotions of which I had hoped all of my life. It was not until she was at her utter, very end that she was able to do so. The profundity of exiting this life propelled that. It is better to utilize your words to do so all along the trajectory of your life’s path rather than wait to the end and try to get it out when you can with the impediments of incoherence, pain, regret, self-flaggelation, morphine-driven brain firing, family emotional turmoil, misunderstandings, strange occurences and unanswered questions.

    It is far better to live honestly and real rather than to hide behind the silence of secrets, unresolved emotions and lies. So words are indeed good as pure forms of human interconnectedness and expressions of real, meaningful communication if you utilize and wield them to do so with honesty and good intentions.

    @Chris in MN, & his post on April 28th, 2010 at 7:47 am: Great post :) But regarding the Irish… :) I identify with my Celticky ancestry…

  69. I’ve been lurking here for a while following the progress of the case, and just wanted to say congrats! (Is that an appropriate thing to wish someone who just got a commuted jail sentence? I have no idea…)

    I look forward to your stories about corrupt judicial systems of the future!

  70. its somewhat worrying when the judge present is the apparent line between jail time and freedom.

  71. @Chris in MN, glad to see that you survived your night at the reservation basically unscathed. Hope to hear from you in the future.

  72. I’m happy for you! Take care of that tooth.

  73. Fact that you had to pay even a cent after all you’ve been through proves, for the Christillionth time, that vampires are far from extinct. Still, awesome you survived the attack relatively unscathed!

  74. Somebody Who Has Been There said: “The impact of a felony conviction is like a meteor strike on your life — the damage to one’s reputation, the inability to travel across the border, and so on and so forth.”

    This is certainly true. To an extent. But it is not forever damaging nor is it truly impactful as to alter one’s life such that it cannot be lived as best as one can. People can and will besmirch us. What matters is how we alone deal with it and go forth from there. Life is ephemeral.

    What really matters in life for any human being, at the most basic, even if one is alone in this world, is that you have your life, being alive, and the content of your character, your very being upon which your reputation is cultivated. These are things that you can control.

    “What lies behind us and what lies before us are but tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Ultimately, it matters not what others think of any one of us, or what they believe. It is what you are and know, of yourself, of whom you really, truly are. None of us can control what others think, do or believe. Life is way too short and time much too precious to dally upon such things. One must simply carry on the best they can under the circumstances one finds themself in at any point in time along the journey of life.

    Life is about learning. It is about growing and evolving. It is about becoming the best human being any one of us can be in our very own world of which we are living.

    Life is indeed what you make of it. It is best to make the most of it as the best of yourself as you can, despite what may or may not happen. The thing about what may or may not happen to any one of us as we go along living is not anything you can really predict or prevent if you are truly, actually, meaningfully living. That is what life is about, in order to live, you must take chances, risks and make choices to further yourself along, and there will always be things, issues, circumstances, emotions and people who may get in your way, because that is what living amongst other humans results in.

    We enter this world alone. We exit this world alone. It is the in-between that is what we can control and pilot the best we can.

    Somebody Who Has Been There in reference to Madeline’s written thoughts, said: “With all the public support Dr. Watts had, they -still- screwed him. Imagine what it’s like for the millions (literally) of people who don’t have his intelligence and the financial and emotional support he’s gotten. Think about that the next you watch an episode of CSI or Law & Order and root for the cops and the lawyers.”

    This is a sad reality of life. Human life. From the far behind past history into the present day. This is the way of the world, oftentimes, seemingly so…

    For me, each and every human being is a unique individual worth engaging in some interaction with. Any one of us does not really know another until you do so. Certainly, you can go by what “others say” about someone, but still you really do not know for yourself until you do so yourself. Giving people chances.

    The homeless people I see each and every day along my daily comings and goings exist in a world that tends not to see them, truly, as a human being of worth, but just a static piece of flesh occupying some bus stop bench with an assortment of “material things” that look like a heap of collected garbage, rags and found objects.

    No matter what the appearance or the smell, I simply cannot ignore the existence of this human being just keeping to themself as not to draw any unwarranted attention from other humans which is most likely rife with fear, contempt, judgment, aversion and dislike directed at them. I find that it is far better to take chances on all human beings I see by being good-hearted towards them.

    To at the very least let them know that someone does indeed see them as a human being who is of worth and deserving of dignity.

    Oftentimes I find that it makes a positive impact upon another’s day, however briefly it may be. Making a positive, good or meaningful impact upon others by your very existence, being, life, work…is always worth doing just by being who you are. Life certainly is not a “dress-rehearsal” for any one of us to pretend-live in acting in order to figure out what we are supposed to be in relation of what we think others would wish, like or want. Life cannot really be lived as a facade, ghost or pretender.

    The homeless individuals I see often, I cannot ignore and simply walk by time and again as if they are indeed invisible as they most likely feel and are perceived. So I start by looking at them daily and just smiling. Once any one of them feels safe enough to even make eye contact, then hopefully they see that you are recognizing them. Next you start to say hi, goodmorning or hello. And eventually you may get a wave or some words along with the eye contact and/or smile. A few of the homeless I will go up to and ask them their name so I can now acknowledge that they have a name to go along with their isolated flesh in public spaces. Sometimes, when I can, I will give some of the homeless “Christmas or New Year’s” money.

    Life is not, and should not be, about material things, titles, money, connections or ability, but about humans caring about and helping one another, other human beings, no matter what and whom. What is right, fair, just and good should always be available and championed for anyone despite station in life, despite whom this person is at that moment. But of course life is not fair, nor is it predictable. It is the human qualities of compassion and forgiveness that can make a difference in washing away the negative, hurt, pain and badness in order to lay the foundation for a better path for any human being.

    My three nephews have so much compassion in their still growing hearts. My 11 y/o nephew, of whom I have not seen nor spoken to in over three years, because of all of the nonsense of adult human family dysfunction, has come back into my life, because of the impetus of his nana’s death. After three years of not seeing or speaking to his aunty, me, he speaks to me as if those three years were nothing more than a brief and insignificant interruption between us.

    So the telephone connection between us was filled with my astonishment at just how old soul he is. Time and again I told him it was alright if he did not want to hang out on the phone with his aunty since it was quite awhile since I last saw and spoke to him, giving him the polite excuse to be excused. But he kept saying it was fine and that he was alright just staying on the phone. With me. What a sweety.

    But what I learned from him, the more serious, quiet, introverted nephew, so like me, was that he played violin, loved Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, one of his favorite subjects was math, liked writing AND that he loved science, reading and science fiction! Well, he is not my son, but we sure have a lot in common…and that he has a connection, attachment to me and perhaps feels some kinship based on our apparent shared commonalities.

    It is my hope that succeeding generations will do better than those of us, the adults, in the here and now world, for all human beings and this increasingly fragile planet.

  75. Just a note about trolls. I never read the comments for the article in the Times Herald for the sentencing results, but my husband did. He said there was a douchebag named Tonyy on there that was slamming Judge Adair pretty voraciously. I’m familiar with him because he was pretty fond of attacking me while I was trying to set the record straight. I got home at 8:00 this morning from work, and decided I could stomach the trolls today. Lo and behold, Tonyy’s postings are no longer there. There are still responses to the postings that HAD been there, but the postings themselves are gone. Anybody have any idea why this might be?

  76. @proudinjun – it’s moderated, so his remarks got removed.

    You can test this, though – go post something really inflamatory as a comment and see how long it stays up.

  77. @proudinjun… Cos Tony y’s a coward? Just sayin’.

  78. It feels weird to breath a sigh of relief for someone I’ve never even talked to, not to mind met, but christ, it feels good to. Congrats, Peter. It’s not justice, but it’s not jail…

  79. @proudinjun:
    We can hope that his thinly veiled racism and fear-mongering finally was enough to clue some sort of moderator into what was going on on their own comment boards.

    @Peter:
    I’ve probably said it enough already, but while I wouldn’t call this justice, it’s as close as can be expected, given the circumstances. If you’re still low on the defense fund, don’t hesitate to put the call out. I can think of few better uses for my money than helping to pay legal fees and fines for people who genuinely make my life more enjoyable. Board games and new books can wait.

    @All:
    Now that this is all over and done with, can we finally get back to the penis as peacock feather discussion?

  80. So very relieved Peter. Outrageous. Hope to see you soon. It’s been too long.

  81. Hi, everyone. Thanks so much for all your support of Peter, and for your comments here and at Tor. The response has been unexpected and amazing, and I’m honestly stunned.

  82. In re Allister01′s suggestion :
    Oh, yes. A penis discussion is always refreshing.

  83. Welcome home, Peter.

  84. Allister01 said: “Now that this is all over and done with, can we finally get back to the penis as peacock feather discussion?” :)

    Oh Allister01, I do clearly remember that was amongst the most memorable “theories” you had made in response to my blathering on about the reason (Peter’s) why, ~cough~ evolutionarily speaking ~ cough~ as to why males humans got that so-called disproportionately LARGE extra appendage as being analogous to the male pea-cock and his all colorfully and showy tail feathers, as some sort of intimidation device in the “view” (or is it “sight”) (could it be that males go “tharn” like those Watership Down rabbits, sort of blinded by the bigness, the enormity of it all?) of other male humans, and I asserted that was perhaps, more female human driven for reasons so much more rightful, and delightful, than male human pea-cock-iness…

    I don’t expect that junk sociobiology piece now several leagues down thar below on this here blog will be resurrected like Jukka Sarasti with a bloodlust vampire-fest, but I will allow you to dream on with visions of human stuff floating about in the ether of possibilities and maybe us female humans can finally understand just what it is exactly with you male humans and your penises…

  85. Oh Allister01, I failed to notice that you stated “the penis as peacock FEATHER”, as in, are you saying that one singular peacock feather is equivelant to one male human penis? I don’t know, but I think it is the totality of the many spread peacock feathers and the array of “eyes” that are “see” that intimidates the other fellas and entrances the pea-hens…

  86. Hey, folks!!! I’ve had a little time to regroup and digest everything that’s transpired since I was thrown into this party by simply answering a jury summons. I’ve restrained comments I’ve wanted to make to individuals, because I didn’t want the public to view my individual views as those of “the jury”.
    So… this is all me, Proudinjun, having a few words.

    Mr. Uplinktruck, I read your blogs. Didn’t appreciate your implication that I may not have been a juror at all, that I was just a rabid blogger misrepresenting myself. I defended Peter at great personal expense. I was fed upon by trolls and supporters, such as yourself, and exercised a great amount of restraint in the process, all in the name of trying to remain as credible as I possibly could. You questioned my intelligence, my integrity, my motives. You also brought forth the many times Judge Adair said the word “assault”. Let me tell you, I was in that jury room, and I know what was on the OFFICIAL verdict form. Obstructing/Resisting. That’s it. That’s the charge that the jury foreman signed on behalf of the twelve of us. As far as not exercising my right to jury nullification, I couldn’t. It was Peter’s own words, his honesty and integrity, that convicted him. He stated he wasn’t hurt, he stated that he had time to ask questions. Every time I argued a point, I was shot down by Peter’s own words. I sat in that jury room as the lone hold out for at least an hour on the first day of deliberations, and the remainder of the day on Friday. I had my heart ripped out and stomped on before I cast that guilty vote. I knew he was guilty. I had a serious problem with the statute. People like you can armchair quarterback to your hearts content. YOU WEREN’T THERE!!! So I am offended by your nonchalant attitude that I’m an idiot, a fraud, a cog in “the machine” And your insults to my integrity.

    To all the trolls..Great big fucking raspberry to you. NaNaNaBooBoo. I don’t give a flying fucking tuna fish how you feel, much the same way you had no consideration for my feelings. Peter’s free. Period.

    To Keanani… way to have my back, girlfriend. I would love to sit down with you and a cup of Kauai coffee and talk of matters of the heart. You have enough heart and integrity to dispel all the trolls on the web. Your kindness saw me through many a dark time, and I sincerely thank you, thank you, thank you.

    To Allister 01 and the rest of you that attempted to hold the trolls at bay…You’re the bomb!!! Thanks!!!

    To Chris from MN…Loved the conversation and insight. Way to party, too. Hope you weren’t hung over too bad, cuz Mr. Proudinjun was.

    I just had to get it off my chest, folks. Thanks for letting me rant.

  87. Welcome home, Dr Watts. The results were not all pie and ice cream, but I’m very relieved that there are crucial people such as Judge Adair who can mitigate some of the fscked-up results of my country’s overly-aggressive paranoia and petty despotism; such as proudinjun, who did her duty the best she (or anyone!) could; and everyone who backed you up because they knew that this sh*t was neither right nor just.

    Take care of the teeth and say hello to the cats!

    - Chris

  88. Popping in to say i’m very glad that you don’t have to go to jail, i was kind of afraid you would.

  89. @keanani:

    My general premise was that penis size was a red queen race. The comparison to peacock feathers is because a couple of biologists had theorized that’s why male peacock feathers were so huge. At some point women began selecting for large feathers, and everything just started to explode from there. Richard Dawkins explains a Red Queen condition and how they select recursively in “The Blind Watchmaker”, and Matt Ridley wrote a book on it. Aptly titled, “The Red Queen”.

    The idea as I remember it, was that because the male could spare so much energy on producing, maintaining, and keeping himself alive with such a large tail, he had to have good survival genes. It’s similar to me running a race against someone else. Now if I beat the guy by two seconds, what is that to you? But if I beat him while blindfolded and carrying a 50 pound dumbell, that’s pretty impressive.

    In a similar fashion, you could make the argument that a large penis offers survival disadvantages. Just off the top of my head, it may increase your risk for urinary track diseases or some such (Not sure if that’s justifiable, I’m just kind of theorizing here).

    Anyways, that was the general idea I had been going with earlier. I’ll have to look back and read up on the counter arguments if we do continue it.

  90. By women in my opening paragraph, I meant peahens.

  91. Glad all of this is behind you and that the best happened instead of the worst. Hope you just kick back and get some rest for the next little while.

    I actually also would like to thank all the people you mention who made it there in person. Can’t overestimate the CHARACTER of the people who crossed the borderline to be there with you on that and many other days, and I for one can only aspire to that level of… grace?… I’m gonna go with grace – if I should ever find myself in a situation where someone close needed my support.

    I think madeleine Ashby’s post said it best. I could learn a lot from that woman… (and not just how to write).

  92. @Allister01 who said: “The comparison to peacock feathers is because a couple of biologists had theorized that’s why male peacock feathers were so huge. At some point women began selecting for large feathers, and everything just started to explode from there. ”

    That was great. You made me laugh through my tears. I know what you are saying Allister. :) And yes, I know you are referring to peahens when you said “women”…although some of us women do like to collect those big ‘ole peacock feathers… :)

    Hence my junk sociobiology musings about how perhaps Lucy and her kin did the same as what you said above. And most assuredly, things would explode from there, uh, evolutionarily speaking, of course…I would not know if anyone thinks anything else is being alluded to…at all.

  93. Allister01 then further said: “The idea as I remember it, was that because the male could spare so much energy on producing, maintaining, and keeping himself alive with such a large tail, he had to have good survival genes.”

    Ok, now my laughing is causing me tears. Now I have visions of male human appendages as wayward tails. Seriously, though, your knowledge of large things being a sorta red tail flag of some sort is quite mind stimulating and I for one would like very much further to hear, I mean see more of it.

    Hopefully it will be the catalyst for a discussion on all things big and male-worthy of female understanding and adoration…perhaps this will solve that age old riddle of the Mars-Venus entanglement.

  94. I’m glad it turned out less bad than it could have Peter, but I’m still furious that you were treated so shabbily by my country.

    I’m keeping this anger banked and fed and using it to fight the fascistic tendencies where I can. (They’re unfortunately not hard to find.)

    Hope the tooth gets better quickly.

  95. Leona said: “I think madeleine Ashby’s post said it best. I could learn a lot from that woman… (and not just how to write).” Madeline is a goddess. :)

    @Allister ~ I am thinking of teaching my nephews a little feline ditty. Of course I could google it and make sure I have the words correctly, but it is so much more fun letting it rise from the vault of long-ago hidden memory of childhood days, what we over here refer to as “hanabutta days”, and just resurrect it as remembered, because singing songs and dittys are just so much more wonderful if the lyrics are mangled and misremembered:

    “Felix the cat, the wonderful, wonderful cat, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wonder why, your heart’ll go pitter pat, watching Felix, the wonderful cat…”

    I think that just about sums it up.

  96. [...] took the opportunity to yak about how “Nine Eleven Changed Everything”) at his blog. Share and [...]

  97. FYI: I think it’s “You’ll laugh so hard/your sides will ache/your heart will go pitter-pat…”

  98. I am sooooooooooooooooooo happy that you are not in jail. Super, super, super happy….but, selfishly…..I am so sad that I will never be able to host a Peter Watts book reading at my dark bar where you could drink an amazing beer brewed by a Philadelphia-area brewer and geek out with the sci-fi loving staff.

    Again this is selfish of me, I know that. This is definitely a full glass of good news, so I raise a glass to you and your freedom sir!

  99. I just want to join all the people congratulating you for getting out of this without having to spend time in jail.

    I still think that the whole story shows us some things that are seriously screwed up in this world.

  100. Consider this a blipvert before the big canine-feline showdown. (People, I know it was rough, but the Doc is tougher than he knows.).

    Anyone figure out who the man with the cane was? The one who sat on the groom’s (or was it the bride’s) side during the hearing? And rode the elevator down with Peter and Doug? Couldn’t possibly have been the prosecutor since I was specifically told he was tall and thin. I mean, what are the odds that the nice clerk lied to me? In a town like Port Huron USA?

    @keanani: Glad to see you back. I, too, identify with my inner McCoy (yes, *those* McCoys) as well as the Dutch and Scandinavian. Now, the German… ;)

    @ProudInjun: Have sent an email to Peter to get you my email address. Thanks again for your hospitality and for doing the right thing in the face of ugliness. I actually was not hungover at all, but I didn’t have nearly as much to drink as those other gents.

  101. Everybody here seems to be happy or at least relieved. Well, I am not.

    I am fucking angry. And scared.

    I am angry that this travesty ever got as far as the court. I am angry at everyone who says “When dealing with police, or border guards, or whatever, just be subservient and you’ll be fine.” Well, I may not be angry at them, but I am certainly angry — and scared, — at the mentality displayed. Because it means law enforcement in “The Land of the Free” have been acting like thugs for so long, people have come to expect it. And when people expect such behavior, it is not going to change. There may be flare-ups of pushback such as at University of Maryland after the Duke game, and individual police thugs may get punished, but overall culture is here to stay. Which makes me start seriously reconsidering whether I should be staying. My parents brought me to US from the Soviet Union in part because of exact this kind of invincible arrogance on part of government officials. I never thought my adopted country may be turning out this way. But it is.

  102. Peter, glad to see that you skated away on the thin ice of a new day. Thank God, you did not “belong to no one;” your community really seems to have salvaged you from this situation, besides being a blessing in itself. Hope you have the freedom and the desire to come back here one day. Til then, all the best.

  103. Penis shmenis, how about my theory, which is that the human head is a peacock tail, the big brain, the smarts, all a happy side effect of sexual selection for neoteny

  104. Peter, glad you are home safe. Sorry we couldn’t have met under better circumstances. You will never know the profound weight that lifted when I heard you were not getting jail time.

    You and your lawyer are right. The law needs to be recycled and cleaned up a bit. I understand both sides of the argument and I’m pretty sure I understand the primary reason for prosecution. It doesn’t make it right and I will help to make a change if one can be made without making things even worse.

    Next time I get across the river I’ll look you up and the refreshments are on me. Please drop me an e-mail or direct me to Kibble fund contributing info.

    @proudinjun – I’ll respond to you in another forum. Peter’s blog is not the place and this is not the time. You know where to find it. It will be later today.

  105. @Peter Watts
    Great news, Mr. Watts!

    Me and 03 are very happy to know you are free!

    @PrivateIron

    Fun Fact:
    Modern Russian law enforcers aren’t that bad.
    That is, they’re pretty bad, but in a different way (merely failing to comply doesn’t get you a record, but it does allow the officer to use force “as deemed necessary”)

  106. 01

    I think you met Ilya, though I guess that doesn’t mean it is not a fun fact.

  107. @Nestor – Penis shmenis, how about my theory, which is that the human head is a peacock tail, the big brain, the smarts, all a happy side effect of sexual selection for neoteny

    Dude, that is genius. It’s where humans concentrate their gaze to read emotions, social cues. TV personalities have HUGE giant Charms Blow-Pops heads. I love this idea.

    Penis shmenis, show me your good-looking bald pate, Good grief, that’s why men go bald so soon – they’re advertizing their sexual maturity and showing off their big bulging well-formed skulls. Think about it, those shiny, shiny, round bald heads, gleeaaming in the sunlight, visible for miles. What a declaration of territory!

    The wang? I have to be near to make out that lil appendage, but I can see your head 2 miles away.

  108. @Chris in MN who said: “Glad to see you back. I, too, identify with my inner McCoy (yes, *those* McCoys) as well as the Dutch and Scandinavian. Now, the German… ”

    Not those Hatfields, eh? Irish, Dutch, Scandanavian, German…hmm, the American heinz 57 I see….

    I will tell you a secret, so don’t tell anyone else on here, and then you may understand why I seem so mixed up on here. My father’s ancestry is ~ French, Dutch, English, Scottish, Welsh, Prussian, Mohawk, Seneca, Irish, Austrian, German and Swedish; my mother’s ancestry is Hawaiian, Chinese, English, Cornish, Scottish, Irish and Welsh. And really farther back there are some Normans, Picts, Spanish, Romans and many others including some dude named Charlemagne, among others.

    So you see, I don’t really know who I am. So I will just try to be a human being.

    @IIya who said: “I am angry that this travesty ever got as far as the court.” Yes. This is what I found most upsetting.

    @Nestor who theorized: “Penis shmenis, how about my theory, which is that the human head is a peacock tail, the big brain, the smarts,…” Nestor! :) So to back up your theory, we all know that it is claimed, the largest sex organ is indeed the brain…

  109. @Hljóðlegur who excitedly said: “Penis shmenis, show me your good-looking bald pate, Good grief, that’s why men go bald so soon – they’re advertizing their sexual maturity and showing off their big bulging well-formed skulls. Think about it, those shiny, shiny, round bald heads, gleeaaming in the sunlight, visible for miles. What a declaration of territory!”

    Oh Hljóðlegur, I did not know you wrote erotica. :) Right here “those shiny, shiny, round bald heads, gleeaaming in the sunlight..” So need for the schwing…

  110. Hljóðlegur: “The wang? I have to be near to make out that lil appendage, but I can see your head 2 miles away.”

    Hmm…does this possibly blow Peter’s “proud and mighty” theory clear out of the lightless depths of the water and shed illumination on how and what female humans really see and think about one-eyed willie?

  111. That’s really awesome, Peter! It’s nice to see some reason in all this mess after all.

    Though…The American system gives me a shitton of grief every time it begrudgingly grants me a tourist Visa just because of my professional background, so I don’t even want to begin to speculate how mean their immigration authorities are to people with a “record”.

    Anyways, get well and enjoy the freedom.

  112. @keanani – Hmm…does this possibly blow Peter’s “proud and mighty” theory clear out of the lightless depths of the water and shed illumination on how and what female humans really see and think about one-eyed willie?

    Oops! Me and my big mouth again. The boys are gonna be so disappointed when they find out we look at their heads first.

    “Yes, yes, yes, that’s very nice, but can you do calculus with it?”

  113. @Hljóðlegur who said: “Oops! Me and my big mouth again. The boys are gonna be so disappointed when they find out we look at their heads first.” Uh-oh…but, hey, are not “the boys” also a reference to those twins, you know, something about family jewels or somesuch…

    and ~ “‘Yes, yes, yes, that’s very nice, but can you do calculus with it?’”
    Well, bless my bifurcated bivalve! Is that not an excellent question to ask? Enquiring minds want to know.

  114. Peter,

    I am deeply relieved for you. Having had (small) border issues resulting from my greenpeace days and a certain nuclear capable US warship in Toronto harbour, I only enter that place rarely and with reluctance.

    I may not be an elected judge, but I am elected, so perhaps I can stand in for Judge Adair at a watering hole of your choice. The first round is on me. Will work with Mr. Nickle to facilitate.

    Gord

  115. Today, I heard a cat crying. About 6 months old, I think. Tired, dirty, hungry. The feral cats in the area chased it away from the dry food that the tourists leave out. I took it home, unpacked my groceries. He watched me, totally ignoring the chicken but crying again when he saw a tin can.

    I found him some food and he ate and then drank and then fell asleep in my lap. I think I have a cat.

    I set him up with a comfortable area and phoned the vet for an appointment tomorrow to check for a chip. And then I sat down with a glass of wine in front of the computer and found out about your suspended sentence.

    It made me smile, because it is good news and it made me laugh, because of the cat.

  116. Alas, humans being social, not territorial animals, need to intimidate rivals up close, weakening the effectiveness of the intercontinental ballistic bald pate.

  117. Regarding what Flanders said ~Some female humans have IBBP’s, so that sorta messes up the whole gender thingy…

    @Sylvia who said: “Today, I heard a cat crying…I found him some food and he ate and then drank and then fell asleep in my lap. I think I have a cat.” :) Felix would love you for this.

  118. @Flanders – given the blazing glory of the shiny bald head far away, up close it’s blinding, better than a pair of antlers. Glare at 20 paces!

  119. @Nestor:

    Yah, that came up in the Red Queen book I mentioned earlier. Turns out you can map a whole lot of things to Red Queen conditions.

    For the brain, it was mentioned that it’s in the woman’s interest to be hard to seduce. That way she’s able to be more distinguishing and pick out the guy that is actually a better choice genetically. In the same vein, it’s in the male’s interest to be good at concealing how he isn’t -quite- as good of a catch as he may be letting on. Once good old evolution gets a hold of it, away we go with another arm race.

    You want a really cool one, try searching for the experiments they did on fruit fly semen (pretty sure it was fruit flies). Male fruit flies have a chemical that calms down a female and makes her more relaxed so she won’t continue to copulate with other males. They isolated one group of females and kept giving them the same set of semen that was frozen on ice, and kept another group breeding openly with random males. When they took males from the free-range group and allowed them to copulate with the females in the stagnant group, their semen put the females into a coma.

    Now I may be mashing some of the details, but essentially what they found was happening was the females in the free range were selecting for the ability to fight the males’ chemical doom. In the same way, males were selecting for stronger doom. The females in the stagnant group however, were not getting better.

    Theory: If I went back in time, I could totally woo the shit out of some cavewomen.

  120. Alright Hljóðlegur, time to fess up, Picard is hotter than Kirk. Picard! He’s all to be or not to be Shakespeary too. Although I think Spock is the hottest with that logical brain and those pointy ears and all. What about Klingon General Chang (Christopher Plummer in The Undiscovered Country)? He was all bald and Shakespeare quoting…man almighty, those Romulans must be something exciting too, huh, with those bald pates and fierce face tattoos. :)

  121. Allister01 said: “When they took males from the free-range group and allowed them to copulate with the females in the stagnant group, their semen put the females into a coma.”

    Hmm, male humans go into a coma-like sleep after copulation when they lose their semen…hmmm.

  122. @Allister01

    Have fun. Pack soap.

  123. Flanders said to Allister01: “Pack soap.” He probably needs some tools and weapons too, cause I am not sure if his flinting, chipping & knapping skills will be up to par, you know, making arrow-points out of rocks, Clovis-point perhaps, hmm, although he could cheat and bring slingshots and kitchen utensils…oh, where’s H.G. Wells when ya need him.

  124. @keanani: “…including some dude named Charlemagne, among others.”

    His Viking son-in-law taught the Sicilian cosa nostra everything they know, I read someplace. Of course, last time I told that story, one of the guys listening mentioned Good Fellas (forget with whom I first saw that in the theatres) and left. Was it something I said?

    Anyway, Charle saw two problems: overly ambitious and murderous son-in-law and a tumultuous, untamable island, so he put one in charge of the other to keep both busy. Smart guy.

  125. @keanani–Naw, that stuff will work itself out as Allister01 kills everyone around him with the (relatively) advanced futuristic superbugs he’s got crawling all over him.

    Ahhh, blessed silence.

  126. @Flanders who said: “as Allister01 kills everyone around him with the (relatively) advanced futuristic superbugs he’s got crawling all over him.” Ah, yes. What a doofus am I. But of course. No need for human-made weapons when a human being can essentially be a biological weapon in and of him or her self.

  127. @Allister01~ Allister, Allister, where for art thou Allister? Are you over there back in time? Tell you cave woman we said “Hi”! (or perhaps it would be more like vocalizations reminiscent of today’s non-human primates.)

  128. Good to hear everything went well. You wouldn’t imagine how hard it is to try and find out what was going on there from a crackberry in a no cell phone construction site.
    I look forward to trying to buy you a beer at Polaris, maybe we can talk about Skynet again or something.

  129. Congratulations… but I bet six months in an american prison would have squeezed a good book out of you. :)

  130. I’m glad you’re home, Peter!

    I’m a little less ashamed of my country now. I’m particularly happy that the judge turned out to be a rational person.

  131. Well, i heard over at rpg.net (and would you believe we get trolls over there about this?, anyway) I’m relieved that the sentence was suspended and you get to go home. I’m pissed that this means you’re confined to conventions outside the US, but I wanted to travel more anyway.

    Its not the ideal outcome, but its one I’ll take. Now, we just need a sousveillance set up on the cops.

  132. I’m not 100% sure because I’m no lawyer, but I think you’re still welcome in the US. According to Section 212 of the INA (Available at http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/ineligibilities/ineligibilities_1364.html ), since Dr. Watts was not sentenced to more than 6 months, he’s still admissible. On top of that, I have my doubts as to whether or not your conviction reflects “moral turpritude” if escaping from prison does not..

    In any case, I’m thrilled that you didn’t go to prison!

  133. I was watching the latest episode of David Simon’s most recent work of genius ‘Treme’ and a particular scene reminded me of you (no prizes for guessing which one, Treme fans) and so I check the blog and find this good news!

    Congratulations, Peter!

    Also, waitaminit, the county charges INMATES for each day they’re incarcerated??? How does THAT work??

  134. @Abhimanyu “Also, waitaminit, the county charges INMATES for each day they’re incarcerated??? How does THAT work??”

    There’s a former judge in PA facing (or perhaps already got) prison time for incarcerating innocent juveniles in order to get favors from the private contractors who run the prisons (anyone sensing a pattern here? Check out who’s next paying for near future trips to the Moon. There went the Lunar Embassy’s claims. “Get offa mah land, US Coal! This is my crater!” At least NASA is doing the logistics). Apparently, they get paid per prisoner and per day. Anyway, perhaps this is a way of not having to rely on corporate America, ’cause we all know it’s *only* the government who wastes money. Or a way of saving the taxpayers if it is privately run.

    I’m guessing you pay your way via making license plates and the rest after you get out.

    So much more to tell about impressions from last week. Imagine that poor Peter Watts in that other Universe who got time because he didn’t have ProudInjun on the jury, or he got this guy:

    http://warwick-law.com

    instead of Doug.

    My impression of the orange suits: out of the 16 or so I saw marched in, only about three were “scary”… One assumes those three were not going across the street (saw the jail, looks like an office building). The rest were between 18 and 32, and mostly looked like pot possession types.

    Yes, that Peter Watts in that other Universe is currently locked up with a bunch of the most docile people imaginable and probably distributing cigarettes (via whoever the hell would be crazy enough to visit him), Funyons and legal advice (’cause we all know biologist PhD’s think they’re experts at *everything*, much like many of the MDs I’ve known ;) ).

    Hello, Kitty. How’s that tooth? (Lost one last year. Wasn’t fun).

  135. This is how you pay for your stay in wonderful St. Clair County, Michigan. We got Peter out in the nick of time.
    http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20100429/NEWS01/4290304/Tree-falls-kills-inmate

  136. Dear Dr. Watts,

    My family has been a fan of yours for many years – we recently saw you at a reading at Ad Astra in Toronto. By coincidence, I’m also in Caitlin’s writing workshop at U of T.

    I just wanted to say that we were so relieved by the results of your trial. We were definitely rooting for you and passing along whatever support we could! I can only imagine what this has put you and your family though.

    It’s incredible how people can care so much about someone they don’t really know personally. I think that both your work and Caitlin’s work has touched so many of us so deeply that it’s important to us to show you how much it really means.

    Best wishes for the future and for your family!

    Sincerely,
    Steph

    Best wishes for the (much brighter!) future and

  137. @Chris in MN “’cause we all know biologist PhD’s think they’re experts at *everything*”. The kitty asked me how I knew he wasn’t going to jail. I told we always knew. Then I asked him how it felt to be wrong for once in his life. His response was a bear hug. You know what? Madeline was right. He does give the best hugs!

  138. http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20100429/NEWS01/4290304/Tree-falls-kills-inmate

    You know, if the comments are any guide, the readers of the Port Huron Herald are a bloodthirsty bunch. Some local, probably driving drunk, gets a 90 day stint in the local jail, and when he dies horribly, people are crowing? Wow. Where’d that come from I wonder.

  139. That’s the mentality of the people I’ve been dealing with since Peter’s story broke. And, by the way, sorry about the rant. Hopefully you can understand it from the mentality of some of my neighbors. Sometimes a girl has got to vent!!

  140. If you think that one is bad, check out this one from my fine home town. Check the comments, their still pissed about Peter.http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20100430/NEWS01/4300306/Trash+truck+hits+work+vehicle

  141. Why am I nuts?!?

  142. Genius is frequently misunderstood, PI. Best revenge, do what I suggested… Start thinking about running for office. :)

  143. In the meantime, YouTube search “Supertramp The Logical Song” to watch their take on it.
    ——//——
    “I got a feelin it don’t come cheap
    I got a feelin oh and then it got to me
    It took its time a-working into my soul
    I got to believe it come from rock and roll
    Believe it come from rock and roll”

  144. @Chris in MN, “Start thinking about running for office.” Can’t get elected. I’m not inclined to shoot every Canadian that comes over the border. Seems that in the state of recent affairs, that’s a prerequisite. Besides, I can be a little scary.

  145. @Chris in MN, Thanks for the suggestion. Jamming now.

  146. @Chris in MN ~ “Supertramp The Logical Song” , ha, that is one of my favorite songs :)

  147. @proudinjun who asked: “Why am I nuts?!?” Why are you asking this? Is it some dodobuns on that oh-so fair and balanced times herald online webnews?

    Quite frankly, I would much rather stand up for what is right and give life to it by facing the bully mentality, and be wonked with the “you’re a nut” lashings than remain a silent, apathetic, cowardly zombie in order to protect myself from being a target.

    It takes courage, integrity, a conscience, reason, rationality, fairness, humility, respect, compassion, empathy and goodness of heart, to do what is right, to stand up for it, even in the face of fear and angry bullying, and if that makes one a nut in the view of some others, well, so what.

    I am nut. Macadamia, Coco, Pea…I don’t care. It’s nuts not liking being a nut.

  148. Well, you know, sometimes you feel like a nut, but sometimes you don’t.

    I have come to the conclusion that the population who comments on newspaper website forums consists solely of stupid, evil, or stupid-and-evil people. When the occasional non-stupid, non-evil person does pop up, she is either ignored or trolled off the forum, thus restoring the stupid/evil/stupid-and-evil hegemony.

  149. @proudinjun – Ever read Peter’s short story “Fractals,” about in-group/out-group dynamics?

    I dont’ know if I agree with some of the thinking, but it’s a disturbing, subtle, thought-provoking little piece, and I was reminded of it with all the bloodlust in the Herald. Filthy Canuck bastards, et cetera, et cetera…

    http://www.rifters.com/real/shorts/PeterWatts_Fractals.pdf

  150. @Flanders who said: “Well, you know, sometimes you feel like a nut, but sometimes you don’t.”
    Yes. This is true. I do however embrace my inner nut without shame. Sometimes you do have to be koo koo for cocoa puffs in order to cope with the humans amongst us.

    ~and said: “I have come to the conclusion that the population who comments on newspaper website forums consists solely of stupid, evil, or stupid-and-evil people.”

    I believe that beyond the stupid and evil human conditions, lies a bunch of human beings who are not happy with themselves, their lives and their place in this world, so they misdirect their inner turmoil at anyone outside of themself in order to make their own life seem better.

    It is oftentimes fueled by fear, ignorance, narrow-mindedness and a seemingly lack of basic human niceties of compassion, humility, generousity and caring for others without thinking of yourself.

    p.s. Hmm, I am starting to think Allister has gone on his time-travel trip. He was so bursting at the seems to get the Peacock Theory ball rolling again…did it matter what kind of soap he brought with him?

  151. Well, there *was* that near-extinction event about a million years ago…

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=early-human-population-size-genetic-diversity

    Which can only mean that we are all descended from Allister’s giant, time-traveling, disease-carrying, bald-pated unit. Greeeeat.

    I’m off to bathe in lye. Maybe that will clean off the shame.

    @keani: Stupid-and-evil people can be in existential pain, too. Does not make me want to hang around on the internet with them.

  152. Edit:

    Allister would have only had to go back 70k:

    http://zeitlerweb.com/about-2/human-near-extinction/

  153. @Flanders who said: “Which can only mean that we are all descended from Allister’s giant, time-traveling, disease-carrying, bald-pated unit. Greeeeat.” Oh my, I am laughing too hard. Sorry Allister. You must come back and let us know what happened. Also, none of us knows for sure that Allister is, as we say over here, “bolo-head”.

    ~and said: “Stupid-and-evil people can be in existential pain, too. Does not make me want to hang around on the internet with them.”

    Agreed. Sometimes it is quite a waste of time and energy trying to reason with them in the hopes that they will see the light, and realize wrongness of their ways. But alas, such is not to be oftentimes.

  154. @keanani: “Also, none of us knows for sure that Allister is, as we say over here, “bolo-head.”

    Right, right. I thought that was Allister, but it was Hljóðlegur (whose handle I had to copy-and-paste because, seriously, who has the time?) who had the paen to the intercontinental ballistic bald pate, and is therefore to be assumed to be a cueball until proven otherwise.

  155. @Flanders ~ re: IBBP’s and gender on here. I hope I am not mistaking that. :)

    Otherwise some good news, depending on one’s views:

    Historic Civil-Unions Bill in Hawaii
    http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/frontpage

    “State House lawmakers yesterday approved a bill that would give same-sex and heterosexual couples the ability to enter into civil unions and enjoy the same rights as married couples under state law.”

    “Debi Hartmann, who led Mormon opposition to same-sex marriage in the 1990s
    but has since become a Democratic activist in favor of civil unions, was in tears.”

    “‘This is civil rights. We’re all equal,” she said. “What people believe in, in this country, we have a responsibility to support. The right to love and be happy is everyone’s right.’”

    Even bald pated superbug-carrying bioweapon units and ancient furry cavewomen have the right to love and living happily ever after. Evolution and many thousands of years be damned for getting in the way.

    So Allister, dude you rock, cueball cute or not. Spread those Peacock Feathers!

  156. @keanani who said: “It’s nuts not liking being a nut.”

    I don’t disagree whatsoever. Nobody’s bulldogging me. I know that sometimes I’m just not right. Better to know it and have a little sense of humor about it than take myself entirely too seriously. Getting my 3 year old granddaughter today for the weekend. Gotta get into that “silly” mode. Otherwise it would be a BORING weekend.

    What’s up with the entire peacock feather-penis thing anyway? It’s one of those situations where you feel like you walked into a room in mid conversation. Just kind of came out of left field, no pun intended…

  157. @keanani–first off, female baldness, while sometimes genetic, is usually facilitated by at least Bronze-age technology. I don’t know what the caveman baldness rate was, but it was probably much greater than the cavewoman baldness rate.

    Anyway, yay Hawai’i! And while I will defend to the death Alister and his prehistoric paramour’s right to love, live happily, and be the-ahem-staff of Abraham which sires us all, something tells me the hundreds of thousands he killed with his futurebugs (that chicken pox is nasty, I tell you) might disagree.

    Still, best not to speak ill of one’s ancestors.

  158. @proudinjun ~ Hi! :) who asked: “What’s up with the entire peacock feather-penis thing anyway? It’s one of those situations where you feel like you walked into a room in mid conversation. Just kind of came out of left field, no pun intended…”

    Our dear Allister01, who went to bat over there in the darkside realm of the times herald commentary, was proposing his theory about Peacock Feathers in response to the Junk Sociobiology Review and Ananlysis by Peter here:

    ““… And an Almost Fanatical Devotion to the Pope”: or, Truthiness Goes Technical” ~ This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Saturday March 13 2010at 07:03 pm , filed under ass-hamsters, evolution, scilitics .
    http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=1163#comments

    ~and Allister brought it up in this thread in order to continue where he (well, I was discussing it too) last left off.

  159. “Debi Hartmann, who led Mormon opposition to same-sex marriage in the 1990s
    but has since become a Democratic activist in favor of civil unions, was in tears.”

    Well, that’s Hope if I ever saw it. Pope’s gone hunting naughty priests (maybe; public
    must not turn their backs) and now an Anita Bryant type flips? The times, they are a-strangin’.

  160. @keanani – it was Hljóðlegur (whose handle I had to copy-and-paste because, seriously, who has the time?) who had the paen to the intercontinental ballistic bald pate, and is therefore to be assumed to be a cueball until proven otherwise

    Hey, I’m right here, so I can hear when you say that stuff?

    I am a proud practitioner of junk sociobiology, myself. At some point, I plan to write a sophisticated treatise full of $20 words and Dawkins quotes in which I prove that mankind is both doomed to violence AND fully volitional on every axis, all from first principles and a little creative sociobio. It’ll be the kind of thing that’ll make a Jesuit’s head implode.

  161. @Hljóðlegur ~ Yes, I know you are here, and I agreed with your baldy-dude assessment :) Also, I always make time to copy & paste handles because it is important for me to get who said what straight and follow the lines of thought and communication.

    It was Flanders who made this statement:
    “Right, right. I thought that was Allister, but it was Hljóðlegur (whose handle I had to copy-and-paste because, seriously, who has the time?) who had the paen to the intercontinental ballistic bald pate, and is therefore to be assumed to be a cueball until proven otherwise.”

    ~in response to my question as to whether our Allister was a shiny bald headed dude, therefore much in tune with your wonderful theory about the IBBP attractiveness. :)

    Hljóðlegur: “I am a proud practitioner of junk sociobiology, myself. At some point, I plan to write a sophisticated treatise full of $20 words and Dawkins quotes in which I prove that mankind is both doomed to violence AND fully volitional on every axis, all from first principles and a little creative sociobio. It’ll be the kind of thing that’ll make a Jesuit’s head implode.”

    Dawkins eh? :) You are the kind of human being I wish I met years ago. What much more fun and intellectually stimulating my life would have had up to this point. What are some of the possible $20 words of which you speak?

    Hmm, and I so feel a bit shameful at discussing Allister’s whereabouts and experiences when he has not checked back in with us as to what is happening in his quest to search for female caveperson love and reproduction.

  162. @Hljóðlegur – what would be the point of talking about you where you couldn’t hear it? That’s just the kind of fuzzy thinking one can expect from a bald dude.

  163. Sorry it took me so long to respond. I work night shifts and I don’t really have internet access at the place I’m at. As for the previous speculation that I’m a bald headed man, I have a very full head of hair. My head is enormous sure, but I prefer to think I have an ancestor who tended to headbutt small animals into submission.

    @keanani

    No I haven’t managed to perfect my cavewoman wooing yet. For some reason they keep looking meaningfully out at fields of very large predators and making bludgeoning motions. Being the pudgy video game nerd I am, I highly doubt I could manage to keep them happy. Ah well.

    @proudinjun

    I’ve just never been able to let a good penis discussion go, and besides, what better way is there to celebrate our good doctor going free than by crowing about the virtues and hallowed history of our gigantic male members?

  164. @proudinjun who said: “Gotta get into that “silly” mode.” Most definitely. If there is one thing that adult humans seem to let go of, it is that childlike sense of wonder and unashamed spirit of fun that we have oh so briefly, as children, (if we are indeed lucky to have a childhood as such), that is liberating and unleashes the happiness, joy, laughter and beauty that is pure and genuine.

  165. Chris in MN said: “Well, that’s Hope if I ever saw it. Pope’s gone hunting naughty priests (maybe; public
    must not turn their backs) and now an Anita Bryant type flips? The times, they are a-strangin’.”

    If only that State with the Terminator for Governor, who wants so very much for the U.S. Constitution to be changed so that he can run for the President of the United States of America, would rethink their stance against “Civil-Unions or Marriage” for other adult human beings other than a Man & Woman…then that would be quite the quake of earth that shakes the land…

    Hunting for naughty priests, only after decades of abuse against children, well, is it any wonder people are leaving any particular religion when their is such utter hypocrisy? I do allow for any human being to have their right to their “religion, beliefs, spirituality”, but I do sometimes believe that the world would be so much better if religion were no longer a part of human life, at least not so predominant as it is.

    I can only hope that most human beings strive to go forward and not backwards to the darker ages of reversion into irrationalism and fear.

  166. @keanani – Allister is in all of us now.

  167. …or always has been in all of us. Keeping tenses straight when writing about time traveling lotharios is so tiresome.

  168. Just drove 30 miles to the sound of a 3 year old singing “Chicken Fry”. Life don’t get no better than that!!! And, by the way, she, too, has a full head of hair, not that it’s relevant. Just more silliness.

  169. @Flanders who said: “@keanani – Allister is in all of us now.” Yes…and above us as well. Look! Up there above! He is there and everywhere. Within and without, seemingly all about.

    @Allister ~ Oh Allister! I was so worried. I thought that we had indeed lost you out there in the far ago past.

    ~who said: “As for the previous speculation that I’m a bald headed man, I have a very full head of hair. My head is enormous sure, but I prefer to think I have an ancestor who tended to headbutt small animals into submission.”
    Well, I was not one of whom speculated as to the hairiness of you brain holder, I was just unsure when momentarily blindsided with Flanders’ discussion of IBBPs, but indeed, hair or not, you certainly have a way and method of wooing…as for headbutt (now that is quite an interesting word) (but, we will not divert ourselves from this meaningful discussion and head down another path of inquiry).

    ~who said: “…looking meaningfully out at fields of very large predators and making bludgeoning motions.” Allister! Could they be? Were they…Jukka type life forms?

    and then said: “I’ve just never been able to let a good penis discussion go, and besides, what better way is there to celebrate our good doctor going free than by crowing about the virtues and hallowed history of our gigantic male members?”

    Certainly! Indeed! I will offer you my profound thanks for breathing life into this most exciting, stimulating and enormously engaging discussion of which we all had not quite had the pleasure of participating in. For those of us humans who either possess “gigantic male members”, figuratively or literally, biologically genderwise, or our gender hardwires us to think they are cool and quite the cat’s (I was gonna use another word equivalent to cat, kitty and feline, but I don’t want to get all x-rated on here) meow, thank you Allister for telling it like it is without shame, embarrassment or getting all prudey). :)

  170. @keanani: “Imagine dere’s no Heffen! Got dat, girlie mens?!? Do you?!? Arghhhh!!!” *machine gun fire*

    Found it at last: AussieCon, September 5th is when the Hugo winners will be announced:

    http://www.aussiecon4.org.au/index.php?page=66

    No shrimp on the barbie for Dr. Katz. And no burritos for the Hugo judges either.

    @PI: This one?

    And a little bit of chicken fried
    A cold beer on a Friday night
    A pair of jeans that fit just right
    And the radio up

    3 years old and drinking beer already? :)

  171. @Chris in MN… That’s the one. Don’t know where she got it, but she got it. Ought to fit right in with Grandpa.

  172. Chris in MN said, in an Austrian accented American-speaking-English, with some emphasis drawn from that hasta la vista baby I’ll be back movie: “Imagine dere’s no Heffen! Got dat, girlie mens?!? Do you?!? Arghhhh!!!” *machine gun fire*”

    Ah, you fellas just gotta embrace your feminine side straight up, no teasers or chasers, without disintegrating into a macho imbroglio of impossibilites, cause life is oh so much more lovey dovey when there is bromance in the air…

    Speaking of beer, and related mind-altering imbibing, and those Irish, I quite liked drinking room temperature Guinness in Irish Pubs…hmm, not being much of a drinker and not having been educted in such things as alcoholic drinkery, I also had the misfortune, and much to the amusement of my Irish pals over ther in Ireland when I was there, to drink Jameson straight up swiftly and glass after glass cause hey, where the heck is the water, and I was thirsty, but they did not stop me until it was too late…

    I did try kava in Fijian drinking ceremonies, and you do sound pretty silly trying to speak with a numb tongue. But beer is supposed to be good for you hair.

  173. For what it is worth, y’all hit slashdot:
    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/05/01/0220246/Writer-Peter-Watts-Sentenced-No-Jail-Time

  174. Oh well, at least now you dont have to deal with those retarded rednecks anymore.

    It seems every day that goes by jacks up my hate of the usa. If someone can be charged for assulting an officers fist with his face theres no hope for that cespool.

  175. Beer *on* hair (with some sort of oil), right? Not sure if drinking it helps. In any case, your aim is still keen. :)

  176. Slashdotted, FWIW.

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/05/01/0220246/Writer-Peter-Watts-Sentenced-No-Jail-Time

  177. @Chris in MN ~ Beer used as a hair rinse is supposed to make it all shiney, and brewery smelling. :) I suppose I would need two cans cause my hair is below my waist. If I add some lemony juice then that would perhaps heighten the blondification of the dead keratin sprouting from my noggin.

  178. Glad that you are back home safe Peter. Make sure you give yourself some recovery time.

    I’m sure your cats are relieved that they won’t have to find new staff.

    .

  179. Peter, I am relieved that you only got screwed over for $2000 and a GTFO of the US for the rest of your life and that you didn’t have to spend 6 months in jail in addition to that. Take care of yourself and your friends, man. They’re good people and that says a lot about you as well.

    I think I’m probably never going to see the US again either, to be honest. I’ve kind of had it with draconian border regulations for one lifetime.

  180. I’m starting to think someone does “not fear the underdog”.

    Not too “swift”. LOL.

  181. I wish I had commented before to offer support for this horrid ordeal you had to endure, but for what it’s worth I’m glad for you it’s finally concluded for you with the consequences being not too severe. At least America can sleep better at night knowing their border guards were on the ball with banishing a sci-fi author from their country. God (TM) forbid they let an opinionated, thought-provoking writer wreak havoc in their promised land.

    At the risk of sounding too cheezy, they should add a couple lines to their national anthem…

    “Bow down before the one you serve, you’re going to get what you deserve.”

    Hope your tooth gets better. Take care.

  182. I came into this at the end, but I wish to express both my happiness that you were not incarcerated, as well as my apologies on behalf of my entire country for the way you were treated.

    That said, I also wish to urge caution, things haven’t gone well for people who embarrass the US publicly like you did.

    On the plus side, you can use your experiences to write a fictional story about a country that went from a mostly open democratic republic to a paranoid totalitarian dictatorship… well, I guess that wouldn’t be fiction, heh. :)

  183. Theo said: “I think I’m probably never going to see the US again either, to be honest.”

    You can come to Hawai’i! We are part of the U.S., but in many ways not like the U.S….if you were here today, you would be having fun with flowers!

    Happy Lei Day!
    http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20100501/LIFE/5010301/In+full+flower

    @Chris in MN ~ I think I would like to read this book:
    http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20100501/LIFE07/5010332/Wouk+writes+about+life++God

  184. @keanani, Wonder if that was inspiration for “Repeating the Past.”

    Further proof of canine superiority, the Green Pug!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKoLBSK8SSE

  185. @Chris in MN who pondered: “Wonder if that was inspiration for ‘Repeating the Past.’”
    Only Peter knows…

    “Canine Superiority”? Are you a puppy-dog person then?

    I am currently reading this book~ “Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe” by Robert Lanza & Bob Berman:
    http://skymanbob.com/2009/07/biocentrism/

    ~and this book, with one of the coolest cover images I have ever seen:
    http://www.creativephotoshopthebook.com/

    Something I would have done to my own face if I knew how :)

  186. So glad it is all over. Hope to see you somewhere in the world soon.

  187. [...] – But at least Peter Watts has avoided any jail time; [...]

  188. @keanani: ““Canine Superiority”? Are you a puppy-dog person then?

    Something along those lines. Some days you eat the bear, etc. some days pondering is for poi. ;)

    I thought this was a sabre-tooth tiger’s blog but he must be stalking something.

  189. @Chris in MN: :) Hmm, dogs and poi, do you know of that musical group “Poi Dog Pondering”?

    Speaking of poi, that Hawaiian staple, I eat that stuff squeezed straight out from the very expensive bag. Goes great with all sorts of raw seafood. Like fish, octopus and squid.

    Speaking of dogs & poi, sometimes when someone asks me what I am, and I am not feeling like a human being, I will say “poi dog”. That’s just another Hawai’i local cultural way of saying “mixed” or “human mutt”. I don’t need no stinkin’ pedigree.

  190. Yes, was thinking of the band when I wrote that actually.

    A fin quote I ran across while doing some story research this morning:

    “Everywhere I go I find that a poet has been there before me.” —Sigmund “The Sea Monster” Freud

  191. @Chris in MN: Freud eh?

    That reminds me of this~

    “At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.” Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher~

    but thence also it was he who said:

    “Love is a serious mental disease.”

    Hmmm, alright then. I also like this quote~

    “People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.”

    and this one too~

    “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”

    I am usually inclined not having anything to say. Perhaps I am foolishly wise.

  192. Sadly Peter, I expect this is the best possible outcome based on how the US has become so Xenophobic. I am glad you are back here, safe in Canada. :)

    My friends, here is a full cut and paste of a comment I wrote on 08/08/08 at GlobeandMail.com to the Kapica’s Cyberia Blog called “The terrors of travelling with data.” My comments do seem more timely now than they did 2 years ago…

    “Daryl Rybotycki from Calgary, Canada writes: Frankly, I have no need to travel to the US now.

    Watching the policy changes I face as a Canadian in the US, I have had less and less desire to go south of the border as well. Currently I have no plans to go to or even fly over US soil to other destinations until things get much better down there!

    As Canadians, our privileges of favored trading partner and ally have been increasingly restricted. Before, it was quick, easy and painless to travel to the US for a day of fun as a tourist. Now, we need Passports and are subject to increasingly tougher search and seizure tactics where everyday household items are taken without recourse, or apparent remorse.

    Years ago (aka before 911) you only had to worry about entering the US with fruit or maybe Cuban Cigars for personal use if you drove or flew there for a trip. Now sadly, your USB memory stick worn around your neck, or on your key chain is a possible terrorist threat. As well these common electrical laptops, music players, recorded CDs, digital cell phones, blackberries, digital cameras and camcorders, etc. are also possible terrorist items of interest to Border Agents as you cross the border. Who would have imagined that consumer electronic and computer stores that sell electronic tools and toys are selling terrorist items?!?

    Just when did we change from being friends on American soil to becoming the enemy? Will we get to the point when the US border effectively closes to all tourist traffic? Will they talk of building a wall to keep us out like they have with Mexico?

    I mean, who knows; maybe even commenting negative about this policy here on this public web site will put us all on some sort of US black list… Does that last sentence make you shudder or laugh, and why?

    My final question is: will a possible change of political parties in the White House bring a reversal of these increasingly draconian policies or will things get worse until the US is no longer our friend and ally?”

    Originally posted at: http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080807.WBcyberia20080807154115/WBStory/WBcyberia/

  193. Word count two above: 42!

  194. Peter!

    For some reason I have the childish desire to utter profanities:-
    “THANK FUCKING HELL FOR THAT!!”
    OK. That’s better! It is a shame that you’re not allowed to visit family in US, but the lack of jail time at least means that your family have the possibility of visiting for long than half-hour at a time.
    The inability to use the US as a stopover point when flying to other countries is an inconvenience, but not insurmountable I guess. I wonder what chaos would ensue if the UK prevented the US from using our country as their 600-mile-long aircraft carrier parked just off Europe…

    All the Best, Peter!
    Mark.

  195. @Chris in MN ~“Her desperate cries bastard of lies will come back to haunt you…” ~eh?
    What are you listening to Chris? Besides “Who died and made you God” ~ :)

    I had watched “Contact” (Jodie Foster~1997) the other day, and that song “Spirit in the Sky” was featured, among others, and then this morning on a classic rock station that same song was played. I am reminded that one of the reasons for “Aqualung” (Jethro Tull) was in response to such a song:

    “In an era when pseudo-Christian spirituality was a de rigueur, if cheap, musical commodity (from the overblown operatics of Jesus Christ Superstar to one-hit pop wonders such as “Spirit in the Sky” and “Put Your Hand in the Hand”), Anderson and company openly challenged the value of organized religion with a thematic album savvy enough to layer its thought-provoking lyrics between heavy strata of FM-friendly guitar bedrock.” ~Jerry McCulley, Amazon.con Review

    Are you indirectly alluding to an influence or inspiration for your writing?

  196. “What are you listening to Chris?”

    Well, there’s the CD that CBG found (one assumes… they couldn’t have left it there by accident, right?) in my rental car at the Canadian border while I was in the little room for 20-25 minutes a few days before the trial. Was entirely Spoon (around 30 songs worth) with one exception (see link).

    Nothing that a T-Spoon (of sugar?) can’t fix, eh? Funny thing, that song was a favorite of the same friend who bought me a DVD one Christmas that meant a lot to him.

    Either way, *feels* like Fate, doesn’t it? And that’s hard to beat with a stick of any kind (night, broom, cinnamon or walking).

    Part of the conversation:

    “You’re meeting who in Michigan again?”

    “A couple of writers.”

    “Oh, I thought you said, ‘two riders’.”

  197. Photographer in LA charged with felony vandalism for photographing two graffiti artists at work:

    http://coilhouse.net/2010/05/the-jonas-lara-legal-defense-fund/

  198. Juries are important so citizens can stop the state from unjustly
    imprisoning people. See the Fully Informed Jurors’ Association.
    http://fija.org/. If you’re on a jury this offers a way to avoid
    doing something you’d later want to apologize for.

  199. Perhaps this has been hashed out past the 1/3 mark in the thread, but I would regard this overall experience as a loss, given Peter’s felony conviction, although of course it must be a huge relief to have it all over with.