Detox. Recharge.

I have spent the better part of a week lying back and letting the stress hormones leach slowly out of my system. I have been taking my friends off hold one by one, and avoiding deadlines, and growing plump.  I’ve been looking at the sky, and marvelling that I’ll be able to look at it again tomorrow, and the next day.  I can look at a tree now, without thinking That could be the last tree I see until autumn.

I can start taking things for granted again.

Tomorrow my life reboots: the early morning runs, the deliverables, the contract negotiations, the routines and the writing. At long fucking last, I get back to the writing.

Squidgate isn’t completely over yet. I still have bills to pay, logistics to arrange, a DNA sample to get across the border. But tomorrow, all that shit will be just one irritating splinter in my life; the days of it consuming my life are over.

And now, as I prepare to put it all to bed, a few moments stick with me (in no particular order):

  • Four border guards testifying one after the other that we’d been stopped for a “random search” because the car wore “out-of-state license plates”; Doug studiously ignoring my whispered suggestion that he ask each of them if they knew what the word “random” even meant.
  • Doug remarking, in slightly awestruck tones, that I was the first person he’d ever heard use the word “shit” on the stand.
  • A teleconference between my lawyer and a member of The Jury Project, in which they worried at length about how to take the hit our case would inevitably suffer when the Prosecutor referred to me as Dr. Watts. It took a few moments for me to realize something they assumed went without saying: US juries don’t trust the highly-educated, and are more likely to convict someone already guilty of holding an advanced degree.
  • Judge Adair, musing aloud on the definition of justice; concluding, with refreshing bluntness, that “Justice is what I say it is”, his eyes fixed on some party behind me. I like to think he was looking at those two people in uniform; I like to think he was talking about a presentencing report whose contents were at complete odds with its conclusions. But I’ll never know.
  • The sheer delight in learning from the local citizenry that Officer Beaudry has the unpopular habit of patrolling his local street, knocking on neighbor’s doors, and demanding that they roll up their garden hoses or mow their lawns. Not much of a surprise, but it still forced a smile past the toothache.
  • Ken “Never Say Die” Kincaid, still trying to slip “Assault Officer – Habitual Offender” onto the post-trial paperwork, even though his own presentencing report had admitted the charge was groundless. I don’t really blame the dude; I suspect the only way he can be right about anything is to make as many contradictory statements as possible in a short period of time, counting on random chance to ensure that at least one of them happens to be true. Call it the herring-egg r-selector strategy of Michigan justice.

Over the past five months I’ve spent over sixty thousand dollars of other people’s money to defend against a law which is, to all intents and purposes, impossible to defend against. Once a badge claims that you’ve “obstructed” his performance or failed to follow her “lawful command” — even though the statute itself never defines what a “lawful command” is, or what its limits might be — you’re basically screwed. (As I wrote in the “Offender’s statement” I was required to submit to Kincaid:  if a border guard had ordered me to get down on all fours and bark like a dog, what — if anything — would make that command “unlawful”?) Caught in that trap, I was luckier than almost anyone else would have been. I had one of the best lawyers in the state (he won a prestigious award for kick-ass lawyering while the case was going down; he never even told me). I had friends to boost the signal all over the goddamned internet; no matter how many newspapers simply cut-and-paste whatever pap appeared in the Times-Herald, no matter how many times the word “choked” and “assaulted” appeared in print, so many other good people helped set the record straight. Two jurors spoke out in public, one repeatedly and at personal cost. Fans of my books, fellow victims of the Border Patrol, folks I’d just shared a pint with in years gone by all chipped in.

I lost anyway, of course. I’m a felon now; there’s a significant chunk of the planet I can’t travel through. But I am free. Beaudry and Behrendt and Kincaid and Kelly, whoever pulls their strings and circles their wagons, didn’t get everything they were after. And the only reason they didn’t is because I had an army on my side.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: what about all those poor bastards who fall victim to the Beaudrys of the world, and have no army to call on? What about the people in Arizona who can now be assumed guilty of illegal residence until they prove themselves innocent? What about the disabled kids and grandmothers who get tasered and beaten without a convenient cell phone camera running line-of-sight?

Not so great a cost perhaps, to be banned from such a place. If travel restrictions hadn’t been imposed, I might have demanded them.

Which brings us to a couple of questions I’ve seen repeated in recent comment threads. To the first — am I forever banned from the US? — I can answer, Maybe not forever. I won’t be visiting any of my stateside friends in their own backyards any time soon. Apparently, though, the conviction can be expunged after five years if I expend the effort. Of course, even if that happens, my name won’t disappear from all the lists that matter. I’ll still have to add an extra six hours to any cross-border trip just to account for the inevitable “random” search. But it will be possible, if unpleasant. And at the very least, it probably won’t be as bad as the last time.

The other question some of you have asked: Is the kibble fund holding out? Do I need more in the way of donations? The answer to that one is, I’m not quite sure yet. The fund was dropping into the red a few weeks back, yes. But then it got a healthy injection from a beast I’d always assumed to be purely mythical: an investment-banker/derivatives-trader-with-a-conscience. (Which probably explains why he’s actually a retired investment banker, who these days spends his time assisting worthy environmental causes.) Current reserves are low but stable; I still have some bills to pay off, and I don’t yet know how much the tying off of other loose ends will cost. I could be okay. I should be okay. But in the event that I might not be, remember that any contributions surplus to need — except for those explicitly authorized for redirection to cat maintenance or the purchase of alcohol1 — will end up donated to some worthy civil-rights cause yet to be decided (the ACLU, the EFF, and The Jury Project are all candidates at the moment). Whatever happens, I won’t be trading solidarity in on Porsches.

Early day tomorrow. I’m going to pop an antibiotic, climb into bed with a pen and a highlighter, and read Squeak‘s kick-ass Von Neumann Sisters until I fall asleep. You can expect subsequent posts to this crawl to veer sharply back into the intertwined worlds of science and fiction. Kafka’s more than had his day.

Sleep tight, mammals. Talk soon.


1Yes, there’ve been quite a few of those.

This entry was posted on Sunday, May 2nd, 2010 at 6:32 pm 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.

73 Responses to “Detox. Recharge.”

  1. Lars

    Sixty thousand?


    Worth it, though.

  2. Michael Johnson

    Oh my–that was an expensive endeavor. Looks like even though you got away, the officer blew his load in your face. But, better that than–well, never-mind. Terrible analogy.

  3. Tweets that mention No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) » Detox. Recharge. --

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  4. Logically Enough

    @Michael Johnson – I think you owe Dr. (a term of respect, at least in my home) Watts a dinner at least. And probably a couple of strong drinks. And flowers tomorrow morning.

  5. Paul C

    Judge Adair’s comment about justice reminds me of the lyrics from a Billy Brag song:

    I said “there is no justice here” as they led me out the door,
    The judge said “this isn’t a court of justice, son. This is a court of law.”

    Of course, it rhymes when sung in a Cockney accent…

  6. Paul

    I am liking the award your lawyer received:

    “In 2003 and 2004 in the federal district court in Washington, D.C., Mullkoff brought a habeas corpus action that resulted in the repatriation to Saudi Arabia of a Guantanamo detainee.”

    I might have to get his card.

  7. Linda

    I’m glad to read your update, thank you for taking the time yet again, but still furious about the entire episode. Surely to God there MUST be some way of making this even better known, and changed such that it cannot happen again. A way that _doesn’t_ include a boycott-like avoidance of travelling to the US altogether — while I’m not a fan of the country in general, there are a few places and a few more people worth visiting.

    I suppose when compared to oil slicks destroying vast numbers of flora and fauna, and the ongoing stupidity re: the provision of medical care, the US citizenry may not consider it (ensuring this injustice never occurs again) top of their priority list. So much to fix, so little will. So late to get to fixing it, too. Is there any point to trying to fix things? Ah, melancholy, my bitter little companion.

    Helping to battle that companion is the news of peoples’ generosity. I’m relieved that your many friends, fans, brothers in arms were able to contribute enough to keep you from being seriously in the red … I was one of them, and while your attempts at writing thank you letters are admirable, I don’t need one. Your continued freedom is thanks enough in my mind. And may your lawyer reap great karmic benefits from his skills presented in the last months.

    Let freedom ring! I’m sure there are thousands who celebrate with you — do you feel that feeling? Collective quiet joy. It’s all yours, be sure to keep it in a safe place to sample as needed. 🙂

  8. keanani

    “Officer Beaudry…demanding”…neighbors “mow their lawns.”

    Poor grass. Not allowed to be wild, unique and free but cut down to simulate order and conformity. The self-annointed power-tripping extends from the job-related sphere into the realm of which he has no justifiable power. A bully will always be a bully in all facets of his life. Too bad people are not standing up to it and putting an end to such nonsense. What’s he gonna do? Claim the long hippie-like-grass growers are not obeying his orders because the green stuff is illegally messing up property borders?

    Alas poor grass, uncut graminoid, not free to reach for the sun in unmolested wild beauty, hairlike blades of viridian, malachite, algae, deep fir, hunter and clover. Grassy green evokes feelings of calmness and reassurance tapping into that primal psychological level that we human beings are safe because the wild, voluptuous blades represents a fertile, alive and water-rich environment.

    “I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,
    To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
    To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
    To pass among them, or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round
    his or her neck for a moment—what is this, then?
    I do not ask any more delight—I swim in it, as in a sea.”

    “I Sing the Body Electric” ~ Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman

  9. Allister01

    +1 to the writing. I am dying off of that line about Judo at the end of the State of Grace preview.

  10. Chris in MN

    Re: “Dr.”, I think it’s Will Roger’s fault. He may not have met a man he didn’t like, but I wonder if he considered the educated human.

    When a certain party walked in, my impression of the thought process when eye contact was made:

    “Oh, hi—wait, I hate this motherfucker—count to 10…”

    The exit looked mighty rehearsed (it was synchronized, BTW, sorry you missed that). Something definitely went on behind the scenes and though I missed that specific look Adair gave, I have to concur with your findings. The rest of his speech (but not the sentence) was to put him back in Switzerland, though.

    BTW, saw a Hawaiian paper article headline earlier today somewhere and it reminded me that they let Polanski back in and, hey, *you* didn’t even fuck anyone.

    Remember, mostly it’s just stupid being stupid. “Evil” mostly just sits around and masturbates mentally (at least that’s what anecdotal evidence suggests).

  11. Nick N

    It’s great to hear what I assume is the first time you’ve really been free to remove the “defendant” filter. It’s also great to hear that you are coming out somewhere approximately even with regards to the cost, though I find it frankly terrifying that defending yourself from this kind of thing could cost $60k.

    I do have one recommendation, however. As you sober up and get back to the business in life, before everything returns to normal, you should sit down and do some serious soul searching about what has to be the most critical pair of personal questions at this juncture of your life: why is there a goat in your living room, and why does he give you that look every time you walk past?

  12. V

    “It took a few moments for me to realize something they assumed went without saying: US juries don’t trust the highly-educated, and are more likely to convict someone already guilty of holding an advanced degree.”


    Thank you for sharing this.

    Wishing you the best for recuperation.

  13. RandomJ

    Glad to hear you’re doing fine (for a certain, rather stretched, definition of “fine”), Peter.

    The randomness bit is hilarious (they even fail at security it turns out… Almost sad, really).


    “” I’m glad to read your update, thank you for taking the time yet again, but still furious about the entire episode. Surely to God there MUST be some way of making this even better known, and changed such that it cannot happen again. “”

    Might I suggest a “Hitler responds to Peter Watts sentence” video (a-la ) with ol’ Adolf expressing the sentiments typical of the “jackbooted thug/troll” brigade?

    I would have done something like that myself, but I fail at video editing (yer damned com’pewtors hate me)

  14. keanani

    Chris in MN said: “saw a Hawaiian paper article headline earlier today…”,
    not Minnesota paper? ~ and “‘Evil’ mostly just sits around and masturbates mentally…”, we be discussing that in the Sarasti thread…

    Guava jam is great. E a, e a e a…

  15. Somebody Who Has Been There

    In terms of the travelling thing — speaking from experience, you’re good pretty much anywhere that isn’t the U.S.

  16. Seruko

    I still think it is more Camus than Kafka but congratulations! all the same.

  17. Hljóðlegur

    I can guaran-damn-tee that jurors were weighting a Phd. maybe 3 percent and how the defendent dressed, sat, spoke and all his non-verbal cues and expressions 53 percent. They looked at Peter and decided whether they liked him and whether they could see him *choking* a uniformed officer.

    People are hopelessly biased in that direction, and they think for some reason that they can take a global, gut measure of person in general as a guide to whether or not they could commit a criminal act.

    I have no doubt that every day guys get convicted for stuff they weren’t even near because they spoke poorly and fit what the jurors think of as a thug, and that men who are guilty as Ted Bundy go free because they are handsome, well-spoken, and glibly convincing.

  18. Charlotte

    Sixty thousand dollars. Holy cow. I don’t know which I’m more amazed by, the cost of defending against such a charge or the fact that anything near that sum was raised. I suppose that I’ll be appalled by the first and greatly cheered by the second!

  19. Mike Tevee

    “I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: what about all those poor bastards who fall victim to the Beaudrys of the world, and have no army to call on? ”

    Or what about the question, how did the amazing, eloquent, magnanimous
    words of Jefferson on his Bill of Rights get so diluted and twisted that
    a guy getting his ass kicked by armed goons gets arrested and convicted
    of a felony? How did the “Land of the Free” become the opposite of
    what it was supposed to be? After 911, we started to believe our own propaganda, our own BS. Anyone with a tin badge was suddenly a superhero.
    Chalk up another casualty due to hubris.

  20. Hljóðlegur

    Or what about the question, how did the amazing, eloquent, magnanimous words of Jefferson on his Bill of Rights get so diluted and twisted that a guy getting his ass kicked by armed goons gets arrested and convicted of a felony?

    If I may, I’d like to note that it has always been this way if in America if you were poor and/or black, Jefferson or no. This brutalizing of citizens by the police isn’t new in any way – what is new here is that tall, educated, white men are now getting the kind of treatment previously reserved for the underclasses.

    Why do you think that some of the locals were so vituperative about him being a “smart-assed” “snotty”, i.e., uppity writer? They were the working class stiffs finally getting a chance to see the upper classes get treated to same side of the shit sandwich that they have been enjoying for years.

    No one is more reactionary than the frightened people hanging onto the bottom of the economic ladder, because they have so much more to lose.

    In other words, when you have been continuously and callously bullied for long enough, you develop a keen fear and respect for the bully, and are incensed when other people haven’t. It just enrages you when someone else insists that they deserve to be treated respectfully, because you seldom are. It’s sort of “well, who the hell do they think they are?” And what does it say about me that I laid there and took it all these years? I can see that causing a little rage.

  21. Robert

    If I may, I’d like to note that it has always been this way if in America if you were poor and/or black, Jefferson or no. This brutalizing of citizens by the police isn’t new in any way – what is new here is that tall, educated, white men are now getting the kind of treatment previously reserved for the underclasses.

    I remember a bit of the 60s and 70s, and the goal then was to raise everyone up to the same height, not hammer them down to the same (low) level.

  22. Chris Gerrib

    Well, if any of my small donation is left, please consider this official blessing to spend it on booze or whatever else tickles your fancy. If you come up short (on lawyers, not booze) put me down for a re-donation.

  23. 01


    I thought we were discussing protocadherin metabolism, the nature and evolutionary implications of rape, and Blindsight vampire sex in the Sarasti thread… 😉

    @ Hljóðlegur

    Relating to, and even being supportive towards, your abuser, is a very well known response in humans. In fact, I wonder if it’s specific to humans.

  24. keanani

    Hljóðlegur said: “…when you have been continuously and callously bullied for long enough, you develop a keen fear and respect for the bully…” Not necessarily. Some, certainly. “When you” signifies a totality.

    I respectfully disagree. 🙂

    Some of us turn fear into courage, and do not respect those whom respect was never rightfully earned nor deserved.

    Culture plays a part in this. Lessons are learned. Some of us know there is no way we would do such a thing to anyone just because we were dealt such human ugliness. It really depends upon the individual and the choices that he or she would make.

    I know many people who have been seemingly crushed into a warped shell of a human having lived a life that “should” have made them retaliate and lash out, but they didn’t, because they knew it was wrong. They stood fiercely against that which they themselves endured.

  25. keanani

    @01 who reminded me: “I thought we were discussing protocadherin metabolism, the nature and evolutionary implications of rape, and Blindsight vampire sex in the Sarasti thread…” But of course! Although it seems we did not exactly answer some of the questions posed, then there was that whole conscious/conscience thingy and all that sex talk so it makes sense that “evil” and “self-love” may enter that overflowing stream… 🙂

  26. walrus

    You know, I just realised how close I came to having something similar to what happened to Dr Watts happen to me. I changed queues at immigration at LAX because the other one was moving faster.

    An armed police officer of some sort ordered me back into the other queue. After an Eighteen hour flight I very nearly protested.

    I will never go back to the States ever again.

    I’m so glad you aren’t in jail.

  27. Julia

    Slightly off topic. I apologize. Since there seems to be a bevy of cat people who follow this blog, I though I would share. The video is both heartbreaking and beautiful.

  28. OPM Lover

    Want to know what explains the investment banker’s donation? Like you, they thrive by wasting “other people’s money” on whatever trifles come along. Sixty large? That’s an awfully expensive temper tantrum, even if you didn’t pay for it.

  29. Chris in MN


  30. Peter Watts

    @OPM Lover,

    Nice try, “Oh Really”. The new alias suits you. But anyone who regards this as a”trifle” is an idiot. Not that you haven’t already proven as much repeatedly in the past.

    I would point out that since you’re already on the spam filter here, you might as well go somewhere else to get your rocks off. But I’m coming to the conclusion that you must not have anywhere else to go. Regardless; henceforth, you’ll have to be content to watch while the grownups talk.

  31. keanani

    Perhaps if the Beaudrys of the world realized just how good they have it, to be grateful, and could imagine themselves in the shoes of another who doesn’t, realizing just how lucky, how fortunate, to have been born where they are, having opportunities and chances, to be able to easily obtain food and eat, have shelter, obtain an education, have people who care about you, to even live, some, a few, maybe, could be better human beings…

    Being grateful for what we do have~

  32. Chinedum Richard Ofoegbu

    Due to my deep loathing for cats (and – to be fair – dogs), I cannot donate to Kibble. So I guess I’ll buy another copy of Blindsight instead.

    In other news, you’re not going to jail! Woohoo!

  33. Tea4Phage

    Okay, where IS this Sarasti thread?

  34. gordsellar

    Holy crap, what a ridiculous mess, but at least it’s as sorted now as it can be. I’m glad at least someone in the system has some sense, and that you’re not in a cell now… and I hope the transition back to normal life is smooth.

  35. 01


    The Sarasti thread can be found here:

    Warning: it’s HUGE.

  36. rm3154

    Disclaimer: slightly off topic and likely posted to the wrong blog

    About the Von Neumann Sisters manuscript: the reference is to self-assembling machines, correct?

    Just wanted to point out that the Von Neumann name is pregnant with heavy, multiple meanings. In certain circles, the name in the title will have the unintended consequence of invoking the equivalent of a demigod — a being with a heavy reputation, not entirely benign. Game theory, the theory of computation, the first-strike doctrine, mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics, the atomic energy commission, the notion of a geometry where the dimension (read degrees of freedom as in 2dimensional, 3 dimensional) is a continuous quantity (2.71828 dimensional spaces anyone?) —- Johnny was a singularly inventive and influential individual. The preceding list is far from complete.

    As a sideways glance at the name in question, may I recommend the autobiography of Stanisław Ulam (title: “Adventures of a mathematician”), a fellow emigre , confidant of Von Neumann, and key member of the Dr Strangelove fellowship that conjured the god of thermonuclear weapons into the present plane of existence.


    The following problem can be solved either the easy way or the hard way.

    Two trains 200 miles apart are moving toward each other; each one is going at a speed of 50 miles per hour. A fly starting on the front of one of
    them flies back and forth between them at a rate of 75 miles per hour. It
    does this until the trains collide and crush the fly to death. What is the
    total distance the fly has flown?

    The fly actually hits each train an infinite number of times before it gets
    crushed, and one could solve the problem the hard way with pencil and paper by summing an infinite series of distances. The easy way is as follows: Since the trains are 200 miles apart and each train is going 50 miles an hour, it takes 2 hours for the trains to collide. Therefore the fly was flying for two hours. Since the fly was flying at a rate of 75 miles per
    hour, the fly must have flown 150 miles. That’s all there is to it.

    When this problem was posed to John von Neumann, he immediately replied, “150 miles.”

    “It is very strange,” said the poser, “but nearly everyone tries to sum the
    infinite series.”

    “What do you mean, strange?” asked Von Neumann. “That’s how I did it!”

  37. Außenseiter

    Sixty-K? You know, in late the 1930’s, one could buy an airliner with that.

    I’m wondering how exactly is US going to collapse..
    When the borrowed money runs out and federal gov’t is insolvent, will the homeland-security wither, or will it survive while everything else goes to hell?

    It’s worth noting that in Weimar Germany, it took just a few years to get to from relatively every-day inflation to wheelbarrows. Federal Reserve magicked up 1.5 trillion $ last year. The supposed ‘recovery’ is a sham.

    It’s quite possible that US of A as a superpower we all know and love will be gone by the end of the decade..

  38. Hljóðlegur

    The fly actually hits each train an infinite number of times before it gets

    Only if the fly is a point. Can we crush a point with a train? I like the idea of crushing a point.

    Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

  39. proudinjun

    “I’m wondering how exactly is US going to collapse..”
    We may all be reduced to fending for ourselves. Living off the land. At that point being rich won’t depend on how much currency we have in our portfolios, but how much wisdom we have in being “in tune” with our surroundings and what’s available through nature. The hot commodity will be knowing the person that can hunt, fish, gather, and has the knowledge on how to preserve the fruits of these labors to get them through a hard winter. Just a paranoid thought…

  40. Robert Prior

    The US can’t support anywhere near its present population with what’s available through nature. Even most ‘survivalists’ will starve after a few years, once their high-tech survival gear runs out.

  41. Hljóðlegur

    @Robert Prior: Even most ’survivalists’ will starve after a few years, once their high-tech survival gear runs out.

    And all the CostCos are gone:

    @proudinjun: The hot commodity will be knowing the person that can hunt, fish, gather, and has the knowledge on how to preserve the fruits of these labors to get them through a hard winter.

    Not to mention the guy with the Geiger Counter.

  42. proudinjun

    You don’t need high tech survival gear. You need to get back to the basics of shelter, water, food. Having respect for what nature provides and knowing how to gather without depleting. People have gotten complacent about their food sources. Go to the market, buy your food. The key is doing for yourself and helping nature out. My husband and I provide over 60% of my family’s food by hunting, fishing, gardening, and gathering. I harvest my own seeds in the fall, and use them in the spring for my new garden. I can, smoke, cure my food. I don’t live on a farm. I have under 2 acres. Knowledge is the key. Respect is the key. If you met me, you would never think that I live the way I live. You’d think I’m a typical city girl. My grandmother was a young mother trying to raise 2 children in the depression. She taught her children how to survive, and my mother taught me how to survive. Combine that with my husband’s native american heritage of hunting, fishing, gathering, and we provide for us. I could go into the woods of southern Michigan right now and find enough food to feed my family for the week, less the meat. Take me to the St. Clair River and the protein for those meals is taken care of. I don’t consider myself a survivalist. I don’t have any high tech toys. I have some tools, such as a fishing pole, a shovel, some rakes, a hunting rifle and ammo. I also have a strong back and I’m not afraid to work. I have my own water source for potable water, and if need be I wouldn’t need an electric pump to get to it. I have my canning jars and canners. I have a smoker, which doesn’t use electricity. I have wood burning stoves in my house, and I gather my own wood, I don’t purchase it. I respect nature. I don’t go in and rape a berry patch for everything it has. I take what I can use. Greed is not the order of the day. Common sense is. I could and do provide for my family just fine. When I have a surplus, I share it. People need to get back to being human beings and quit being so “me” oriented. The world would be a nicer place. But maybe that’s just in my little piece of the world.

  43. proudinjun

    @Hljóðlegur, loved the link! Yes, I also use my dehydrator for food. Chris from MN was here, HE KNOWS!!! Loved that goose jerky! (Although that was actually smoked.)

  44. rm3154


    The fly was carrying a warning, trying to warn the train drivers about the collision. Each time, after delivering its message, the fly turned around and flew back to check whether the other train had heeded the warning. It never stopped, never faltered in its determination to prevent the catastrophe.

    It goes without saying that the fly was only the first of many casualties of the horrific collision alluded to by the math problem. The news coverage of the tragedy made no mention of the fly. Perhaps it wasnt a fly at all, maybe a crow, or a hummingbird — but certainly not a dimensionless dot. That would be missing the point; it was a living creature, capable of pain and volition, and it flew a pointless 150 miles before everything came to an end.

    As for Von Neumann, he died of cancer at an relatively early age and asked for a Roman Catholic priest to hear his deathbed confession. Luckily, a fly on the wall witnessed the whole thing. It was a different fly from the fly in the math problem. There is no resurrection; once a fly dies, it stays dead.

  45. Peter Watts

    proudinjun said:

    I don’t go in and rape a berry patch for everything it has.

    And that’s great, but I think the problem is: everybody else will. Societal collapse is gonna scale the Tragedy of the Commons up to Godzilla-size, and for every one person treading lightly upon the earth, ten thousand others will be trampling the place to pulp, stuffing grass and twigs into their mouths in the desparate hope that they won’t starve today as long as they have something in their gut.

    I’m guessing your berry patch will last about two minutes from the time the nearest fleeing SUV runs out of gas.

    (And just to prove that keanani and her posse aren’t the only ones out there who can quote the classics:)

    Families, screaming, line the streets
    And put the windows through
    Of corner shops where keepers kept
    The country’s lifeblood blue
    And take their pick; And try the trick
    With loaves and fishes shared
    And the vicar shouts as the lights go out
    And no one really cares.

  46. proudinjun

    And that, my dearest friend, is the tragedy of what humanity has become. When we have to arm ourselves against our neighbors to defend our food, society has officially collapsed. It’s a scary prospect, but the times they are a changin’. I have no doubt that things will become ugly, because they are already becoming ugly. And this is just a little appetizer of things to come. Elkhardt, Indiana already has public service messages airing on their local stations informing the locals on where food banks will be set up for the day. How do I deal with it? Be the best person I can be. Share my surplus of ANYTHING with the people I love. Help with actions if I don’t have the money or commodities to share. By not ignoring people in pain. But I also have to be strong against those that will take, those that feed upon the weaknesses of others. It’s a tightrope I’m walking here, and if push comes to shove, I can push back. And, hopefully, I can do it with dignity and grace.

    So, what’s the answer? Stand guard over my berry patch with a shotgun filled with rock salt? Once again, scary prospect. Can a small part of society pull together and feed off of each others knowledge in a productive way? I would like to think so. Or are we going to become a police state amongst ourselves? I would like to think that once everybody is in the same boat, they will come around to a “sink or swim” mentality that tells them that working together for the greater good beats the hell out of pillaging and burning. But I’m probably just being naive. I guess that helps me sleep at night. But, even though I have a serious doubt that my government can or will help, I have to believe that the human element is inherently good, and that the citizenry of my country has enough sense to pull together and do what’s right.

    I’ve seen first hand, through your experience, that people can be decent and pull together for a cause. That, Peter, is what gives me faith in the nature of humanity.

  47. C.S.

    “Even most ’survivalists’ will starve after a few years, once their high-tech survival gear runs out.”

    I’ve encountered some long-bow users, who gently consider many survivalists to be niave. They ask – are you going to trust either your freedom or your survival to a technology that you can’t completely produce on your own?

  48. proudinjun

    @CS “are you going to trust either your freedom or your survival to a technology that you can’t completely produce on your own?”

    I agree. The simplest tools used by people with the knowledge of how they work will prevail in a survival situation. You can purchase all the dehydrated provisions that money can buy and they do you no good without potable water. People will deplete without replenishing. I don’t consider myself a “survivalist”, Per Se, but rather a person that knows how to survive. Snares, long-bows, shovels, rakes, fishing poles…they’re not really on the hard-core survivalists list of tools. But the knowledge on how to use these items will make all the difference in the world.

  49. Hljóðlegur

    @rm3154 – It never stopped, never faltered in its determination to prevent the catastrophe. ….it was a living creature, capable of pain and volition, and it flew a pointless 150 miles before everything came to an end.


    By God, you’re a poet. *salutes non-point fly*

    *taps plays softly*

    @C.S. – They ask – are you going to trust either your freedom or your survival to a technology that you can’t completely produce on your own?

    Wholehearted agreement – that is why I am practicing bludgeoning animals to death with rocks, bricks, and chunks of cement. I figure after civilization falls, they’ll be plenty of that sort of implement lying about.

    @proudinjun – we were so entranced with the idea of 84 #10 cans of CostCo dried peas, corn, potatoes, blueberries, rice, all splayed forth from the cans in colorful streaks, we nearly bought the lot of it. Then we thought – what volume of clean water would we also need to store to rehydrate it all??? If the basement flooded, would the house esPLODE when the dehydrated stores got damp?

    I don’t go in and rape a berry patch

    Again with the raping. Is that all people think about around here?

  50. Außenseiter

    I meant “collapse” as in gov’t being completely bankrupt, meaning that it doesn’t have much power anymore, accompanied by economic hardship.

    Utter societal collapse is somewhat.. unlikely, barring sudden epidemics of very infectious neurodegenerative diseases or something equally unprecedented . Not what I had in mind.
    More something like Argentina economic collapse, or perhaps a “Greater depression”.

    It would take a determined effort to make agribusinesses stop producing food. What would happen to their profits then? Everyone has a mortgage to pay off, and even if they don’t, it makes more sense(~it’s more profitable) to cooperate and specialize than for everyone to go and plant potatoes or hunt whales or deer.

    Expecting division of labor to disappear overnight is slightly preposterous.

    Those longbow users are loons. A proprely maintained bolt action rifle can last centuries(there isn’t much to break, if it is a good design, so you just have to keep it from rusting), and is superior to a longbow in every way. (show me a longbow user hitting a man-sized target at 400m..)
    WWI surplus ammunition is still pretty good, if it was stored right. How many people are alive who remember WWI, eh?

  51. proudinjun

    Regardless of whether our economy collapses or society as a whole collapses, people still have to eat. If you can’t afford it, something’s got to give.

    I’m not suggesting beating animals with bricks, but if that’s what works for you… a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do.

    I, too, prefer a well maintained firearm to a longbow. It’s getting your hands on the ammo thing that’s in question…

    I don’t remember WWI on a personal level (wasn’t around) but lessons can be learned, if you take the time…

    Finally, I know I’m naive. That’s why I sleep so well. An ostrich with my head in the sand.

  52. Hljóðlegur

    @proudinjun – I’m not suggesting beating animals with bricks, but if that’s what works for you… a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do

    Thanks for not suggesting it! It’ll help me maintain my market share on this? My plan is to get really good at it, then hire myself out as a specialist after the collapse, when inexperienced brick-lobbers are getting really hungry because they just don’t have the skills. I bash em, in return for getting to eat some of it after my clients cook it.

    Between your home-grow food and my bashing, I’d make a fine skill addition to your compound in about 2025. And just think, that dehydrated Costco stuff will still be edible!

  53. Chris in MN

    Goddamit, people… I’m three-point-five chapters into writing my first novel (an impossibility in any year I’ve known not ending in ’10’) and you people give away the kitchen sink! Just stop it, I’m writing this tale!

    PS: Hawking saves the day (see link). Do yourselves a favor and add Geekologie to your RSS feeds. Of course, he’s been wrong before, but what are the odds he is this time? 😉

    “If I could turn back time…” (but is that Cher or The Calling? You’ve been Rorshached, bitch!).

  54. proudinjun

    Sounds like a game plan. As long as you bring something to the table!!! We’ll have to find a way to advertise for your well honed trade without giving away any of the particulars. Otherwise, others will try to copy your technique, and then where will society be? People running around bricking the neighborhood’s feral dogs and cats. Chaos prevails!!! Civilization at it’s finest…

    By the way, thanks for the chuckle:)

  55. proudinjun

    Chris in MN… Get over it!!! You know how I am!!! Glad to hear you’re writing, and
    I’ll stop, already.

  56. Chris in MN

    Ah, feel free to let your paranoid minds wander… I’ll just steal your ideas provided they don’t include vampiric necrophile duck rape. Think Disney covered that with Darkwing Duck.

  57. proudinjun

    OH MY GOD!!! I haven’t thought of that cartoon in years! Do you think Darkwing would dare venture into the berry patch? If he did we’d be having duck with a lovely raspberry sauce for dinner. His ass would definitely be mine! Just one more meal I wouldn’t have to worry about. And Hljóðlegur wouldn’t even have to hit him with a brick!!! I’d still invite him over for a bite. Just in case I need his services during the lean times, you know?

    Sorry to disappoint anybody, but no rape involved.

  58. Chris in MN

    Only of Mother Earth.

  59. Rommie

    Pure delight to read of the final outcome. This case has been full of surprises, a real eye-opener, an education. First, I assumed (Pollyannas R Us) that this case would end well, because — rationally — the US does not want to discourage or frighten potential tourists. Now, I see that as an extremely weak factor, if it is a factor at all.

    What a genuinely close call you had!

    I started reading in more places than just your blog, read with some dismay about people’s problems at the US border, much worse than I ever expected.

    I was surprised that a US jury is more likely to convict if you have an advanced degree.

    I was surprised that the Toronto newspapers did not cover this story properly, but were sloppy and lazy.

    I was irritated by the myriad trolls, or those none too bright, who defended the guards’ behaviour as Entirely Right & Proper, Anything Goes in Protection of the Homeland. Lots of fear and suspicion, there. I expect that sort of viciousness will only get worse, and also turn inward as the US continues its decline.

    Here is another incident, not involving the border patrol, but indicative of where things are going. “Houston Police beat up a Chinese diplomat inside a Chinese consulate”

    My contribution to your case were relatively small – I trotted off to Bakka Phoenix to deliver a donation and buy a book. I also spread the news to friends in Toronto and to net friends in the Second Life community.

    As I was sending out the news, I saw that the accurate news was going out via the internet, through a variety of communities and channels, not just Charlie Stross, Boing Boing and the science fiction folks. You, sir, had a mischief of very active mice (or maybe a glaring of mousers?) and typists on your side, getting the news out around the world.

    Unfortunately, this case has made me much more aware of where the US is probably heading. Where it ends up is hard to foresee; possibly the collapse will be in large patches, not universal. Possibly the US will end in the sad and depressing condition of Heinlein’s book, FRIDAY. Heinlein appeared to be pessimistic about the U.S. — wrote about growing illiteracy in his EXPANDED UNIVERSE OF ROBERT HEINLEIN (1980).

    Now a question — when does Chapter 2 of STATE OF GRACE appear? How long did it take to write Chapter 1?

  60. magetoo

    Haven’t commented during this whole thing, but I just wanted to say how glad I am that this place is returning to normalcy. (Or its usual state of weirdness, depending.)

    (But what really triggered it in the end is seeing one of my favorite fictional characters posting just above. Please do leak into this reality some more.) :)

  61. David Weekly

    As a supplement for the reader, let me present without commentary the list of pages that Andrew Beaudry has publicly declared he is a fan of, as retrieved from on May 5, 2010:

    Jerusalem, Can this Goat get more fans than Barack Obama?,, Brigitte Gabriel, The Ken Pettigrew Show, Not Giving Welfare to Illegal Immigrants, LIES LIBERALS TELL, Mommy, Why Does Obama Help Terrorists?, Support Tebow’s Super Bowl Ad, Michelle Malkin, Get Well Nicholas!, Margaret Hoover, Faces of Israel, Now The End Begins, American Rationale, 1,000,000 people who think Barack Obama will LOSE in 2012, Agathel – Special Products, FlemingandHayes, Shira Gabriela, Capitalism, Harpen Sings, Prophet Muhammad Widget, JWisdom, Dennis Miller, הרב ישראל מאיר לאו, Czech girls, Michael Savage, Ten Commandments, Happy Hanukkah!, Mark Steyn, Glenn Beck, The Jewish Internet Defense Force, Jon Voight, Megan Fox, Boobies!, Ehud Goldwasser ~ אהוד גולדווסר, Mark Levin, I Love Israel!, I Don’t Smoke, Christians Supporting Israel as our Ally, Resist Socialism, OBAMA IS _____________! (You fill in the Blank), Restoring Honor Rally, Bill O’Reilly, EDL Abdul, Tania Patriot (Tania Ashe), Walid Shoebat Foundation, 2012 Is NOT The End of The World!!, Tea Party Union, Soul of American Warrior: A Writer’s Journey Comes Full Circle, Aliza Davidovit, Veteran Services Unlimited, Inc, Zionist Organization of America, “Salope” plus qu’un mot, une nouvelle classe sociale, Andrew Grant White – The Citizen President, Patriots To Unite In Washington DC, April 15th, 2010, The Pledge of Allegiance, Pamela Geller, Conservative, Iranian Friends Of Israel, Joseph A. Gillan, Jstreet Does not represent me, Israeli Children, Americans Against Acorn, 林依晨 Ariel Lin, Candidate Lisa Kaplan, UN Watch, Israel Connect, ✡ I Support Israel Against Her Enemies! ✡, CJPAC, Middle East Forum, I Am A Zionist, Israel has the right to defend its citizens., Daniela Santanchè, ACT! for America,, Sarah Palin, Nonie Darwish – Arabs For Israel, The Heritage Foundation, Eldad Regev ~ אלדד רגב, Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Noah David Simon, The Gathering of Faith-Based Conservative Patriots, Ronald Reagan’s Inaugural Address Jan. 20 1981, I am a Jew and I will NOT vote for Obama in 2012, As a pro-Israel Jew, I cannot and will not vote for Barack Obama in 2012, Go Wanda!, Obama = Only Beginning to Advance a Marxist America, OBAMA IS THE WORST PRESIDENT EVER! Agree? Become a Fan & Suggest 2 Friends, Can this Jackass get more fans than Nancy Pelosi?, Octagon Buzz, Unleash Israel and Her Military, WOMEN OF THE WORLD UNITED AGAINST ISLAMIC/MUSLIM SHARIA LAW, Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו, Israel Must Not Be Divided Again., Dear Obama, Stop blaming Bush. It’s getting old. Sincerely, Everyone., I think soldiers in Afghanistan shouldn’t have to pay to call home., I hate the kid who talks through instructions, then asks all hour for help., I LOVE DOGS, 3WISHES.COM, O.B.A.M.A. (One Big Ass Mistake, America), ISRAEL HAIOM, Rush Limbaugh Page, United Israel Peace, Geneva Summit, Hooters, First Fruits of Zion, National Terror Alert, Lingeries seexy =D, La De Da’ Artisan Bears, Bren Pollock-Smith, Artist, Geert Wilders, ANTI ISREAL ANTI USA, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), The Temple Institute, Rick Perry, B’nai Brith Canada, IT IS CALLED ISRAEL NOT PALESTIN!, It’s called ISRAEL, not Palestine!!!, Yes I Am Looking At Ur Sexy Ass ;), Socialism Survival Podcast, USS Freedom (LCS 1), Hot girls only =), Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Yousef, SUPPORT OUR CANADIAN TROOP’S, Americans for Liberty, Salute our Troops and Bring them Home Safe!, Anjem Choudary and Islam4uk is a threat to national security!!!, Drunken Blow Jobs, IPT The Investigative Project on Terrorism, I hate it when I wake up in the morning and Barack Obama is President., Socialism Doesn’t Work, Countering The Myths – A REAL Pro-America, Pro-Israel Fan Page, American Security Council Foundation, Dr. Tenpenny on Vaccines, The Jerusalem Post –, Burlesque Performers, I Don’t Smoke!, I HATE CIGARETTES, Capitalism, LA Family Law Attorney, Randi Susan Klein, Conservative Rule, black women are sexy, Jews, Brunette is better, Tattoo & Piercing, I ♥ Jerusalem | חולה על ירושלים, Operation Gratitude, MAXIM Magazine, The Washington Examiner, cats, Outpost54 Tshirts, Obama: Make the arms deal with Israel, Conservative Crusader, Animation, Europa ima jednu manu, sto su najlepse devojke na balkanu :), I dont care about your farm, or your fish, or your park, or your mafia!!!, Bagels, America’s Conservative Voice, SIAD – Stop Islamiseringen Af Danmark, California, Israel Defence Force, San Diego, California, Peace Through Strength, Burka? NEIN! Sharia? NEIN! Minarett? NEIN!-Und dazu steh ich!!!, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, Phillip Pasmanick’s Israel Security Seminar, Chris Canny for State Representative District 89, Brian Szmytke for President, McClain’s Old Florida Gourmet,, PAUL RYAN for PRESIDENT – 2012, 28th Amendment to the Constitution, Florida Tenth Amendment Center, New Revolution Now Fan Page, Eric Cary for State Senate, The Grinder Radio Show & Video Webcast, The Conservative Camp, Bizness Wizness – Every Businessman’s Stop, Constituting America, Gadi Adelman, Bamboo Bob, Tim Burns, 1st-line Equipment, Voice of the People fan page, Brian Miller, Conservative writer John T. Flynn (1882-1964), AMERICA HATES WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH, I Pray All Day, Del’s, The Fan Page Network, Freedom Czars of America!, Start bringing your video camera’s to every 9-12 and Tea Party Event, TH’ DUMB OL’ EAST TEXAS BOY —– JOHN L SULAK, Milton Friedman, PRO-LIFE ROCKS!!!, Fred Thompson, Everybody Draw Mohammad Day – May 20th, 2010., Let’s Nuke Mecca ?

  62. Joseph Hertzlinger


    This is not in accordance with stereotype.

  63. Hljóðlegur

    May 20th is “Everybody Draw Mohammad” Day? I didn’t know that! I was under the misapprehension that it was “Everybody Smoke Pot” Day.

  64. Chris in MN

    Joseph Hertzlinger, on May 5th, 2010 at 10:40 pm Said:
    This is not in accordance with stereotype.

    Well, I’ll be. Gay relative? See, no person is all bad. 🙂

  65. Rommie

    Nah – Beaudry’s opposition to the Westboro Baptist Church likely has nothing to do with being sympathetic to gays. He’s against demonstrations at funerals of US soldiers — disrespecting HIS guys. If this church had demonstrations elsewhere, Beaudry might possibly join in.

    The list of links is amazingly long – doubtful that Beaudry reads more than a very small fraction, and – then, only those in English. The whole list looks like a general statement of beliefs – like the Apostle’s Creed prayer. 🙂

  66. keanani

    Peter said : “(And just to prove that keanani and her posse aren’t the only ones out there who can quote the classics:)” 🙂

    Sorry, but I am certain that I do not have a posse, nor do I have a stinkin’ badge. 🙂

  67. Chris in MN

    “Here come the jesters, one, two, three…”
    “Mama, put my guns in the ground…”

  68. adicat

    Well, i am glad to see that is over, and bananachip has you safe at home.

    the stuff about TOR? Freaking AMAZING,

  69. The Less Interesting Times » Blog Archive   » פיטר וואטס משוחרר

    […] זה סוף סוף נגמר. […]

  70. A note to the LJ troll… - Have Satellite Truck, Will Travel.

    […] think Mr. Watts paid a terrible price for a remarkably insignificant event. He laid out roughly $60,000 defending himself. He cannot enter the United States again for at least five years, if ever again. […]

  71. bonnie

    Your jury wasn’t as powerless as they thought they were, if only they had been informed of Jury Nullification. Alas, therein lies the rub, a crucial lack of knowledge among the citizens who serve on juries.

    A simple search will turn up many sources for you to read and I hope you will publicize it as many of us here in the US want the abuse of power to be halted and Jury Nullification is one effective way to do it. If only your jury had known!

    Here is a source I like:

    The only upside of this slimy affair is that I discovered your writing:)


  72. Gent

    This link was just sent to me of an audio recording of a Canadian crossing the border. At a proper crossing, heading South.

    Now, this guy’s tone was pretty aggressive. The whole way through this I was waiting for them to Beaudry the guy. It was quite painful to listen to the whole thing. This fellow obviously did not hear about your experience!

    I have to wonder if they’ve been told to use their words more than their weapons since your case, Peter.

  73. Mike 71

    As a follower of “We move to Canada,” I recall this horrendous incident. This sounds like what one would expect when attempting to leave the Third Reich for a neighbouring home country during wartime! I can certainly understand the reluctance of foreigners to visit the U.S., despite its government campaign to spur tourism. I recall the account of one pissed-off New Zealander from several years back, who had a far less brutal encounter with U.S. border Gestapo, who swore that he would never return here and encouraged his friends to avoid the country like the plague! In the wake of 9/11, I can certainly understand a healthy fact based paranoia about someone trying to smuggle a “dirty bomb” into the country, but doing something like this to someone leaving the U.S. defies reason! It will only piss-off Canadians to the extent that they will want to take their holidays elsewhere than south of the 49th parallel! Perhaps, the Canadian Foreign Ministry should issue a travel advisory that travel to the U.S., like travel to Somalia, Yemen and Zimbabwe is done at one’s own peril!