On the Lam

Once again, I was going to do a science post today. I was going to review a recent paper purporting to show that athiests and liberals are smarter than conservative religious types, and (bet you won’t see this coming) I was going to savage it as junk science. And once again, the world has thrown a monkey wrench into my plans.

Apparently I am now a fugitive.

I didn’t show up at court this morning, you see. Neither did my lawyer. I did not show up because nobody told me that there was a hearing scheduled; my lawyer is on vacation all week, so it’s pretty safe to assume that nobody told him either. No matter. Bail has been revoked. A bench warrant has been issued for my arrest. And if I try to cross the border before this bullshit is sorted out, I automatically disappear back into an orange jumpsuit.

I’m not going to do that, of course. I don’t know whether this latest screw-up results from malice or incompetence, but it’s obviously bogus and will in all likelihood get sorted out before too long.  I wouldn’t have even mentioned it, except that — just a couple of hours after the event  —  the facts have already been twisted 180°, and deformed little buds of disinformation have appeared in the blogosphere.  Peter Watts Failed To Appear.  What Is Peter Watts Trying To Prove?  Oh, and Peter Watts Was Cruel To His Mother.

Just buds so far, as I say.  The raw data’s online on the St Clair County Court Docket, and as of 1422 EST I’m aware of only one blog that’s picked up the story and run with it.  But Jesus, that blog ran fast; I’d barely heard what had happened before the post was up.  So to be on the safe side I’m going to get out in front of it here,  try and squash it before it metastasises further:

Nobody told me, people.  Nobody told my lawyer. I did not boycott the court to make any kind of point or take any kind of stand.

This is just another fuck-up.  And I am not guilty.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 5th, 2010 at 11:33 am and is filed under Squidgate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

64 Responses to “On the Lam”

  1. Hljóðlegur


    Fuuuuuuck, man.

  2. Nick Nimchuk

    Just watch your windows for the special ops extradition. I’m pretty sure you now qualify as a terrorist.

    I think I’ve said something similar in the past, but you know you’re in the big leagues when other people are more informed about your life than you are. Even if they’re wrong/misinterpreting the facts. I think the next step is false reports of your death. I’ll have to get right on that. How does “mauled by an octopus” sound?

  3. Allister01

    I heard it! Peter Watts just threatened to bomb the White House! Action must be taken!

    Seriously though, like Nick said you should just take it as a backhanded compliment. Nothing says “You’re special” like completely spurious stories of you floating around in the blogosphere.

    As for your court appearance, well, shit. Not really much you can do about it until the whole thing gets ironed out. Until then, revel in your new image as the bad boy sci-fi writer. Maybe write some sort of anarchist literature and start referring to any government employee as fascist pigs.

    Who knows? This may be that cash cow you’ve been shooting for. All you have to do is sell your soul and become a media whore.

  4. WillN

    Man, what a bummer. I think I’m going to have to watch Brazil tonight in your honor.

  5. redindiangirl

    WTF Peter, it’s like you are trapped in some kind of dystopian nightmare — WillN nailed it, you’re living in Brazil. Fascist pigs and their idiotic bureaucracy.

  6. Daniel

    Meh, it’s a bench warrant issued in a country you don’t reside in. I’m in agreement with you, let shit sort itself out.

  7. turn.self.off

    as if i had next to zero interest in visiting USA already.

    i sure hope its incompetence thats behind it, as the other option makes me worry about the internal functioning of the “leading light” of modern civilization…

  8. D

    This goes well beyond incompetence. I’m almost afear’d to ask what might be next.

  9. Renee

    I’ll bet some paper pusher didn’t have the authority to direct-dial long distance or something… And/or USPS and Canada Post lost the notification, neither one being terribly reliable. Wonder if they’ll try to keep the bail money.

  10. Hljóðlegur

    I’d blame the lawyer.

  11. Mirik

    That is incredible. The utter incompetence of the US court and all the wasted time (not just yours) dealing with such a non-incident. Guilty untill proven innocent!

    I am however slightly curious if there is even a semblance of positivity to it all in the form of more sold books? Obviously not enough to cover the costs of visiting The Land of Incompetence with lawyer plus wasted time, stress, etc. But you do get some moderate mentions here and there in blogs and press, should at least increase readership somewhat?

  12. keanani

    Allister01 astutely pointed out: “…revel in your new image as the bad boy sci-fi writer.” 🙂

    @Peter ~ Wow, what a warped wonky Twilight Zone episode your life has become.

    Obviously, the chain of informing the appropriate people as to what, when and where is missing some links. Major Domo slaps to the topside of some heads may be in order.

    The court people and lawyers are the ones, ultimately to blame, along with the lower worker bee folks who may have been tasked with informing the appropriate people. No buck passing excuses excused.

    As to spreading fire in cyberspace, I would hope that most enlightened people know not everything is exactly as it seems in the newsworthy truthiness of information being presented as “the facts”. Some news, that should otherwise be unbiased, fact based and fully informed have become akin to trashbloid attention grabbers.

    Still, not nice in causing stress to you and continuing to play mess around with Peter Watts’ reputation. (See Allister01’s comment above)

    However, it does not matter what uninformed sheeple think about you…or anybody, if judgments are quickly made on loosey goosey intel that does not take into account everything with an unbiased eye.

    Besides another’s opinion is not your reality, even if your reality at the present moment has been seriously wonkified.

    Holy cow and I’ll be a baboon’s aunt, what’s next? Cheese wiz, maybe your life is really like a Fringe episode, where there are indeed “two parallel universes”, and people are duplicates of themselves, living two lives.

    On a lighter note, I just sent a USPS Priority Flat Rate Box to BakkaPhoenix, March 4th, for you and something for Banana, but man, that Customs Form took time to fill out, and so-called gift is no longer any surprise when you gotta detail what is in the box. I wonder if it will pass through Customs, since your name is on it. Darn, I should have addressed it to “Dr. Banana Watts”.

  13. Seruko

    I should have noticed it before, but all of a sudden I am getting a spooky “The Stranger” vibe here. Remember to cry at the funeral and not shoot anybody.

  14. Ensley Guffey

    Kafka, anyone?

  15. Laur

    Bloody hell, what a way to start your weekend. We all know that our lives are determined by an unlikely succession of random events – but nevertheless, here’s hoping some of those events start going your way for a change.

  16. AM

    Nobody told K. either …

    If I were inclined to paranoia, I might be tempted to suggest that if you knew your case against someone wouldn’t hold water, intentionally not informing them about a court date would be a good way to put them back on the defensive. “OK, it looks like we’re not going to be able to prove that his pet squid strangled three agents … so let’s get the bastard on a ‘failing to appear’.”

    But O’Hanlon’s Razor says that we should never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. The smart money is on this being just an administrative cock-up. Or perhaps Canada Post forgot to deliver the summons.

  17. keanani

    Peter said: “…and (bet you won’t see this coming) I was going to savage it as junk science.”

    No, actually I could see something like that coming, for from what I have read in your writings, as well as your ongoing quest for learning and knowledge (meaning you have an open mind), you are foremost about science, rationality and truth, and not about taking sides blindly come hell or high water in the so restrictive categorical restraints of liberal/conservative and/or atheist/religious sidetaking stepwalking…

  18. Keippernicus

    Somewhere, someone is repeatedly running a peter watts voodoo doll through a pasta roller and then peeing on it.

    God damn it, and good luck my good man.

  19. Marcus

    It IS junk science! Can’t wait for that post!

  20. PixelFish

    Awwww. Fuck.

    Hope something works out soon.

  21. Val

    Oh shit…

    Malice requires work, so I’m betting on incompetence. Would a bench warrant stay on the books even if you won the case? That would change my vote in a hurry…

    Don’t forget to let us know if the funds run low…

  22. Terry

    Man, oh man… If it’ weren’t for all the bad luck you have no luck at all. Stay the course and keep cool. This shit has got to start flowing the other way sooner or later.

  23. Xian B.

    I’ve just started reading a book by Farley Mowat called “My Discovery Of America.” It was published in 1986, but it’s amazing how little things change over the years (governments and laws in particular).

    It’s about the time he tried to kick off a book tour in the USoA and was refused entry at the border by Customs & Immigration, with no reason given of course, and the shitstorm that ensued. Farley kicked ass and took names.

    If you can track it down, give it a read (it’s very short, about 125 pages). It will give you heart. Good luck, sir.

  24. Außenseiter

    They either have it in for you, or it’s just another bureaucratic fuckup.
    I mean, they have to have your email, phone, address, and so does your lawyer.

    8 1/22/2010 NOTICE SENT FOR: 3/16/2010 9:00 AM CED
    9 NOTICE SENT FOR: 3/5/2010 8:30 AM CED

    So, who is CED and how did he/she send the notice? I imagine this event is about letting you and your lawyer know, though whether they really did send something…

  25. Denni

    Oh damn!

    I hope this will be sorted out soon.

  26. ET

    So how did you find out?

  27. Peter Watts

    I got a phone cal from one of my lawyer’s associates, asking me if I knew what the hell was going on. I still don’t, largely.

    But here’s something to consider when weighing the incompetence vs. malice models. At my last appearance, my lawyer informed the court that he would not be available this whole week. I was right there when he said it. So we’re not just talking about someone forgetting to inform the Defense about a vital court appearance; we’re talking about someone scheduling said appearance during a window in which the Defense had stated he would be explicitly unavailable, and then failing to inform the Defence about it. Which, for a couple of innocent and unrelated mistakes, seems peculiarly self-reinforceing, no?

  28. Gabor Varkonyi

    Peter, I would say it’s possible that it’s malice, but the evidence at this point is still inconclusive (and probably never will be conclusive). Whether it was intentional or not, it doesn’t matter. After all, K. himself never knew, if he was a victim of malice or incompetence.

  29. 01

    Oh my…
    Mr. Watts, I sincerely wish you best of luck.

  30. Allister01

    “At my last appearance, my lawyer informed the court that he would not be available this whole week. ”

    ^There’s the problem right there. How dare you presume to tell the American court system you are unavailable. You should be asking them when -they- are available.

    It does look pretty clear cut to me though. At least if he said it in court it should be on the transcripts, which will also lead to you having a “Get out of Guantanamo” free card. Unless of course, the transcripts mysteriously go missing…

    Hrmm. The plot thickens.

  31. keanani

    Allister01: “Unless of course, the transcripts mysteriously go missing…”

    That would be too obvious, and nonetheless only pin fault on the court reporter, as it is least likely that it is the court itself at malicious fault and really whomever was supposed to “send notice” to Peter’s Attorney and Peter as “a not making sure notice was properly sent and received snafu”. So the person “CED” is the first one to ask how notice was sent and by whom.

    I do not know how Michigan Courts operate, which is supposed to be impartially, but in Hawaii this nonsense is not committed by court personel per se but by parties, their lawyers and people in league with those people if it is malicious.

    However, someone working in the court system with ties or sympathies with the plaintiff or prosecutor…if it is malice, which seems to what is being whiffed…if the court transcripts go mysteriously missing for that date when it was recorded Peter’ attorney was going to be away, then it would be patently obvious that malicious games are afoot, and hopefully, the Judge won’t tolerate such misconduct on his watch.

    Nobody is above the law, whether judge, attorney, plaintiff, defendant, court personnel, police, border guards, clerks, messengers or the prosecutors’ office. No one. Such nonesense can’t be tolerated or else U.S. Laws are rendered meaningless and a joke.

    I would not wish to be rudely awakened to the falsity of such concepts of justice, equality, fairness and impartiality of which my country states is the way it is for all, and find that it is not really the truth…

  32. Eileen

    oh my…this is so Kafkaesque…and am SO sorry for your continuing troubles. I really hope these glitches are solved soon but if all this results in your being ‘The Bad Boy of Sci Fi’ let’s just hope there’s a brand new pay-off in the near future!
    Best of luck to you and may your lawyer give them the supreme reaming of a lifetime.

  33. 01

    Peter, while it is perhaps not the best times, I can’t help but inform you about this, and hope you find it interesting:


    For those allergic to links – a microorganism that evolved in extreme conditions, isolated within a subglacial lake has been released into the ocean.
    Seems…familiar. Life imitates art? 😉

  34. Ian j.

    As I guy who’s been involved in more than a few protests and seen a lot of people arrested on bunk I’d say this is pretty much par for the course. It seems there’s a direct correlation between how far-fetched the charges are and how many times your case is mishandled. The thing I try to remember when I have friends in jail is that the justice system is not consistent enough to fail every time. Statistically, it’s possible you’ll be one of the innocent people NOT convicted of a crime you didn’t commit.

    Or phrased less cynically, I’m sure it’ll all work itself out. It usually does.

  35. anony mouse

    I think that you are all looking at this from the wrong angle. My theory is that this is all a conspiracy by Dog the Bounty Hunter in an attempt to take his show international.

  36. DP

    I know the junk science study you are talking about. It was inspirational. It inspired me to seek my 15 minutes of fame by proving french fries are good for you. Of course, somewhere I’ll have to re-define french fries as blueberries, but at least CNN will have its headline and web hits are all that matters.

    I think somewhere behind the study is a libertarian who just wanted to see the left-right paradigm give itself a seizure. I barely had to skim the article to see where it was junk, but it was fun (in a having already accepted our society is doomed sort of way) to watch the commenters get way too worked up about it.

    Something like your court non-appearance happened to me. It involved the courthouse being closed and my appearance re-scheduled without me being able to figure out when. I’d seen a lady in that court in shackles because she’d not had her car officially inspected after receiving a “warning” about a broken taillight, then her next traffic stop brought up a warrant. That her taillight was repaired didn’t matter. Scary. The judge canceled the $500 bond (I still don’t know what that is) when I showed up to court, but, clearly, that wasn’t a town to mess around in.

    I was ultimately exonerated of the bogus speeding ticket when the police officer was in training on my court date. I know the court had it together enough to know he’d be in training that day because they tried to get me to sign a form that referenced laws by their code # without defining them. I wrote down the code #’s to look them up later and figured out they were trying to get me to waive my right to a speedy trial so they could schedule around the cop’s training. They could’ve told me right when I refused to sign the form that I didn’t have to show up at all, but, considering how the judge responded to the shackled lady’s complaint that she’d lost her job over the arrest, I don’t think the unnecessary inconvenience of me missing a day of work mattered to them.

  37. DP

    @AM – Unless mail is sent “return receipt requested”, post mark dates only help if they show a date past the court date. Stuff from the court I mentioned in my previous post consistently came a month after its postmark. Not the court’s fault and didn’t affect any outcomes (I used the phone), but it was weird since the court was only 20 minutes from my home.

  38. Chris Gerrib

    If it weren’t for bad luck, you’d have no luck at all…

    (Apologies to Hee Haw)

  39. stupido

    I dunno, religious people being more stupid on average than non religious people sounds very plausible to me.

  40. Michael

    stupido: yes. Nevertheless, the fact that a study has the outcome you think is plausible or you want does NOT make it a good study with good science.

    Good sciences make a study good science.

    And, since I guess we’re talking about the paper by a certain Richard Lynn .. well let’s just say the guy is not universally seen as doing good science (by his peers, that is).

  41. Branko Collin

    According to the dockets, notice to appear on the 5th (for a miscellanous (!) hearing, whatever that may be) was sent the same day as your notice to appear on the 16th (the jury trial). The court schedule for last week is no longer available, it seems.

  42. Mike Tevee

    You shoulda never entered “The Land of the Free.”
    You done took a wrong turn, boy.

  43. SM

    Okay, how is it that everyone in the world EXCEPT you and your lawyer knew about the March 5th court date. I even knew about it two months ago based on this article:


    I don’t buy it that you claim the courts dropped the ball on this.

  44. DB

    So far your Internet reputation looks decent, but garbled. I searched for:

    “”peter watts” fails to appear border”

    And got this:


    Two bright points for you – funny friends and you live in Canada. I am afraid, though, that once we Americans get the borders tightened down sufficiently, we’ll then start chewing on each other like inbred hamsters in an overcrowded cage.

  45. Brian Prince

    Gah! Sorry to hear about the continued legal grief.

    At any rate, thanks for the email. Also, saw this today and thought of you:


  46. EdS

    So I guess if your kind of like “wanted” in the States there might be some kind of a reward for turning you in. Not that I’d taser, ty-rap, and trunk you across the border or anything like that…… No……. No….. Probably not…… But just for the sake of argument how much do you imagine such a reward might be? Ball park figure is fine.

  47. Allister01

    Heh. That’s pretty awesome Brian Prince.

  48. NelC

    Re: Branko’s comment, if I was inclined to be charitable, I might guess that the date of the 5th was proposed, Peter’s lawyer demurred, saying he was unavailable, then the date of the 16th was made, and somehow the first date wasn’t properly flushed from the system. But I have to fill in some big blanks to make it work.

  49. Peter Watts

    Michael said:

    And, since I guess we’re talking about the paper by a certain Richard Lynn ..

    Lynn? I was talking about a paper by Kanazawa. What’s this Lynn piece?

    And our old friend SM raised his cognitively-challenged head again to say:

    Okay, how is it that everyone in the world EXCEPT you and your lawyer knew about the March 5th court date. I even knew about it two months ago based on this article:


    And having followed that link, SM, I can only marvel at your inferential skills, since that date isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Q&Q story. Perhaps you’re refering to “…back to the U.S. to face charges sometime in March”?

    That would be the trial. Which is also in March.

    I don’t buy it that you claim the courts dropped the ball on this.

    I don’t think that sentence says what you think it says. Or if it does, you seem pretty hot to challenge a claim that you don’t even believe I made in the first place.

    Thanks for playing, though. It’s been a while since significant numbers of true half-wits, fucktards, or illiterates have dropped by. How gracious of the universe to provide a taste of all three in a single package.

  50. Branko Collin

    NelC, the court’s website seems to suggest two different kind of meetings were planned for the respective dates. Unfortunately the docket system seems to spit out something that is even more gibberisher than the regular legal mumbo jumbo so I cannot tell for sure.

  51. keanani

    anony mouse pointed out a great possibility: “My theory is that this is all a conspiracy by Dog the Bounty Hunter in an attempt to take his show international.” 🙂

    I don’t know, Dog already went international with his misfit trip and jail stay in Mexico, besides he now makes Hawaii his home and I don’t think he wants to go after Canadians…wouldn’t want to make one of our cash crop tourism bases all salty at us, you know, the Canadians who come to Hawaii on vacation…

  52. Mike Tevee

    Look at the bright side, the more the prosecution realizes it has a crap case,
    or the more transparent you make their crap become case in a public blog,
    the greater the motivation to trip you up on some half-ass
    technicality like a failure to appear in a court date for which you were never officially or properly notified.

  53. keanani

    Peter stated on March 9th, 2010: “It’s been a while since significant numbers of true half-wits, fucktards, or illiterates have dropped by. How gracious of the universe to provide a taste of all three in a single package.”

    Coupled with my being on moderation, yet again, while many others are not, I take this to mean as applying to me, as well. Words have meaning. Words have impact. Such a nebulous flinging at others without any real connection can be applied to anyone who puts it together in context.

    I wish you well in your upcoming case and on your continuing writing endeavors. I take my leave. You won’t be bothered by this “halfwit, fucktard illiterate” again.

  54. Peter Watts

    No! You are not on moderation! Nor are you a fucktard! Those terms were explicitly aimed at SM, who has proved his qualifications time and again on this blog.

    Come back!

  55. Gabor Varkonyi

    “Such a nebulous flinging at others without any real connection can be applied to anyone”

    Yes it can, but obviously it was meant at SM, to whom Peter was explicitly referring.

  56. MissC

    Shee-yit, but – this is the norm in legal cases, he who controls the info controls the case, I’ve seen this in a friend’s (quite big deal style thing) court case against a former business partner – meetings etc set up by the other side and my mate + legal team not informed, and then later the court are told about the no-show, like it was a sign of “bad faith” and contempt for the angles in the story…

    It’s not a new thing, and as you doubtless already know, the law isn’t about justice in an objective sense, but who tells the most winning story.

    I don’t know if I can add hyperlinks to a reply so the one on my name thingy above is for a link to a post on Seth Godin’s blog, about how any case is about the story, not the truth. You’ve probably encountered this idea already plenty, but I’d be a lousy commenter to not throw in the most useful thoughts I have in my depleted brainz on this topic… 😉

    And should reason and common feckin’ sense fail to prevail with the US “Justice” system (entirely plausible) – just tell them you were too busy doing your normal routine of human sacrifices to bother with their so-called country’s illegal tax-dodging stolen-from-the-British/genocided-from-the-natives insurgent rebel show trial!

    Should go down well…

    Good luck! 😉

  57. Allister01

    “Coupled with my being on moderation, yet again, while many others are not, I take this to mean as applying to me, as well.”

    It’s cool keanani, I’m on moderation too. Personally, I think Peter is just scared that the level of awesome we bring to the table would lead to a hostile takeover of his site. In that regard you can’t really blame him, and it’s certainly not a reason to deprive us of your delightful commenting.

    To prove my devotion to your return, I submit a forbidden cutesy fucking icon 🙂 Return to us!

  58. Peter Watts

    I actually do not know what’s going on with this whole Moderation thing. I have a small list of IDs held for moderation — maybe a half-dozen, tops, consisting entirely of repeat-offenders in the dickwad category (and even those are not banned outright, only held for moderation). The thing is, neither alistair01 nor Gabor nor keanini are on it. The closest I can figure is that there’s something in your header strings that happens to overlap, Venn-diagram-like, with the flagged strings on moderation watch; but it hasn’t been a high priority for me these days because, well, I’ve had other priorities. And I always approve your comments anyway, so no biggie. Anyway, don’t any of you guys take it personally; the exclusion’s a glitch, nothing more.

    As for keanani, we’ve been talking backstage. Everything’s cool.

  59. Allister01

    “Anyway, don’t any of you guys take it personally; the exclusion’s a glitch, nothing more.”

    If the choice came down for me not being on moderation, or another book coming out even a day ahead of schedule, it would be a pretty quick pick to go for the latter. So in all honesty, I’m not really that offended.

    I’m actually fairly surprised at the level of open discourse you have on your blog. I know from trolling GRRM’s on a fairly frequent basis that his is locked up tighter than… well… some sort of analogy that isn’t dirty.

  60. James G.

    Best of luck, Dr. Watts. Keep your chin up, sir.

  61. Michael

    Lynn? I was talking about a paper by Kanazawa. What’s this Lynn piece?

    I was talking about the paper at doi:10.1016/j.intell.2008.03.004
    Lynn is the guy who keeps publishing paper after paper about
    males being more intelligent than females
    white people being more intelligent than all others
    and so forth .. so when he wrote that “Evidence is reviewed pointing to a negative relationship between intelligence and religious belief in the United States and Europe”. … weeell .. even though one might think a loud “hell yeah” when reading it, the mere fact of what other stuff he keeps publishing should give one pause. My wife (who is actually in the field) tells me that the stuff is methologically .. questionable.

  62. CJames

    It’s probably incompetence. The same thing happened to me once. I’d had two charges pressed against me, which originally had two separate court dates. My lawyer had them combined into one court date, but apparently the other court date was never removed from the docket. I was subsequently arrested in my own home. They even made me go back to court again. I had to show up with my own paperwork, no lawyer, to tell them what happened. Never got the bail money back. Never will.

    If you cross the border, make sure you have some paperwork ON HAND proving you don’t need to be arrested. Bureaucracies have a way of not keeping track of these kinds of things, especially once the government decides you’re scum.

  63. Terry

    maybe they just don’t like genre writers..

    I’m sure others are aware of this but I only came across it tonight

    There has, inevitably, been a small amount of speculation around the blogosphere about my travel problems. On the one hand there are the people preaching doom and gloom about how the Evil TSA are Out To Get Us All. On the other there are people muttering darkly that I must have done something Very Bad. We do love our dramas. The reality is much less interesting and also far more complicated. I’m not sure that I understand it myself. But now that I’ve had a chance to decompress I’m going to try to explain what the problem is …


  64. Oren Beck

    I was almost nailed by a traffic warrant 2 years ago under the same type of situation as yours RE: not having received a court date notice. The court notification was never seen by me. I found out about it when paying for the second ticket i received the same day for the same expired plate sticker. The ticket was of the “we will set a date and notify you” sort. The first ticket was a “show compliance and we nonsuit it” variety. Subject to a few bucks court cost of course.the whammy came up as I handed the court clerk $15 or so for court costs. I was confronted by a state trooper holding a faxed bench warrant for my arrest on “Failure to Appear” charges. The max fine for expired tags was under $50 to my recall. The warrant was potentially several hundred dollars bond! I managed to somehow qualify for a partial signature bond and later merely mailed a check+proof of compliance. But I had been placed in direct danger of a felony arrest/conviction by a clerk’s mail mistake..