Happiness is a Warm Parka. And Friends I Didn’t Know I Had.

I have my coat again, along with most of my personal effects, thanks to the selfless efforts of Let’s Call Him Ray who drove six hours and across a border (now closed to me, barring court appearances) to retrieve my stuff.  My computer, flash drive and notebook have apparently been moved to an Undisclosed Location until Homeland Security is through with them.  I hope they have fun with my financial records, draft manuscripts, and bawdy jpegs (none of which portray naked children in compromising positions, to their probable chagrin).

And since I don’t seem to have done this publicly yet, thanks also to Dave Nickle, Karen Fernandez, and Caitlin Sweet, who drove seven hours through a blizzard in the middle of the night to rescue me from the edge of Mordor.  Thanks to Cory Doctorow, John Scalzi, Patrick Neilson-Hayden, Neil Gaiman, Ursabelle, Richard Morgan, and others far too numerous to mention (although I will try, folks, believe me; in future posts, I will try) for spreading the word.  Thanks to the anonymous author who donated the proceeds of his story in Jetse deVrie‘s Daybreak to  the cause; thanks to Subterranean Press for their “Judge Sn Goes Golfing” campaign; thanks to the good folks at Bakka-Phoenix for passing the hat at their Christmas party.  Thanks to the hundreds of you who have engorged the Kibble Fund for the upcoming battle; people who’ve given everything from one dollar to a thousand to help me out (I honestly don’t know which of those extremes touches me more).  Thanks even to the various souls who regard me as a pointy-headed whiner who had it coming and who belongs in jail; I approve their (generally misspelled) posts here as quickly as I approve the others.  Let them speak.  Let them summon their best arguments.  Let everyone compare the eloquence and substance of both points-of-view; my guess is that the inarticulate splutterings of these trolls will end up helping my cause.

Thanks so much to all of you.

Daily points of clarification:

  • There was someone else with me in the car.  Some of the news threads have described him as a “friend”, others as a “witness”, still others as “witnesses”, plural.  He has not been named, and I’m not going to name him here out of respect for his privacy.  But he asked no questions.  He did nothing wrong even by the insane post-9/11 standards of Homeland Security.  He behaved.  And he, too, was taken from the car, handcuffed, interrogated, detained for hours, and finally spat out at the Canadian border on foot without transportation.  He was treated less harshly than me in terms of physical brutality; but he was treated more harshly in the sense that he had done nothing to to give these people any kind of excuse, however trivial.  His only crime was being in the same car as me.  People should know this.  I am profoundly sorry for what he went through.
  • I’ve seen news items posted online to the effect that the DA has chosen not to press charges in this matter.  I do not actually know what this means in terms of my overall prospects, since I was jailed and arraigned by local authorities.  On the face of it it looks hopeful, but I probably know less than a lot of you at this point.
  • I’ve seen some grassroots stuff happening:  bumper stickers, t-shirts, facebook pages.  I appreciate all of this more than I can say; but for obvious reasons I have to maintain an arms-length relationship to all of it, and can’t get personally involved.  There are enough people out there already accusing me of doing this as a publicity stunt as it is.

This entry was posted on Sunday, December 13th, 2009 at 9:52 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.

101 Responses to “Happiness is a Warm Parka. And Friends I Didn’t Know I Had.”

  1. Alehkhs

    You wily stuntman, you.

  2. Hljóðlegur

    Ah, me.

    Ya poor bastard.

    Consider yourself hugged, and I just don’t believe in that gay touchy-feel crap, so you better enjoy it. 😉

    Ya poor poor bastard.

  3. Robert

    You made the front page of the (online) Toronto Star today, for what it’s worth.

    When you get a chance to check your email, I’m trying to send you a cheque*, but I don’t have an address. I sent an inquiry a couple of days ago but haven’t got anything back yet (and I did check my spam folder).

    * I know you have a Paypal donation button here. I don’t trust Paypal with my credit card data, based on events that are another story (and off-topic at the moment).

  4. Raymond

    Link to Star article, which doesn’t seem to be a retweet of the AP story:


  5. Brian Prince

    I just tried to consider the possibility of Watts performing a publicity stunt and my brain crashed and rebooted.

  6. Daniel
  7. Truth Excavator

    Look at the bright side, you’ve got yourself new fans.

    Best of luck staying out of jail.

  8. Sardonyx

    Do you suppose it’s some kinda karma thing for the Southern Accents events? That’s what I was thinking after I got over the initial shock of reading what had happened to you… I thought pepper-spray.. hrm. Some weird forces at work here! 😉

  9. Branko Collin

    Of course Peter Watts doesn’t do publicity stunts. Peter Atts does, but then, Peter Atts would probably have taken on 300 heavily armed border guards with his bare hands, and written a short story in the snow with their blood, just in time for the Google Maps plane to photograph it and publish it to the tune of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Wizards of Winter as sung by Leonard Cohen–all for the publicity he so craves.

  10. The Gospel According to Whom » Hours

    […] הסיפור הזה לא קשור כלל למוזיקה וקשור אך באופן עקיף לספרים (שגם עליהם אני כותב לעתים רחוקות כאן), אבל הוא מרתיח לי את הדם והדרך היחידה להחזיר אותו לטמפרטורה סבירה היא לכתוב עליו כאן:  ד”ר פיטר ווטס, סופר מדע בדיוני קנדי, זכה להכיר את הצד הפחות נעים של חוק הטרוריזם האמריקני.  במעבר הגבול בדרכו לארה”ב, הוא התבקש לעצור עם רכבו בצד הדרך.  שוטרי הגבול סירבו להסביר לו למה הם מעכבים אותו, הוציאו אותו מהרכב, היכו אותו,  השתמשו נגדו בתרסיס פלפל, זרקו אותו לתא מעצר אחד למשך שלוש שעות ולאחד אחר למשך הלילה, וכשהערבות שלו נקלטה, שיחררו אותו, מהצד השני של הגשר המוביל מקנדה לארה”ב, בחולצה קצרה ומכנסיים ושום דבר מעבר לזה – המכונית שלו, המחשב הנייד שלו והדפים עליהם כתב הערות ורשימות לספר חדש הוחרמו על ידי השוטרים, וווטס צריך לחזור מאוחר יותר בשנה הבאה למישיגן בארה”ב, שם הוא צפוי להישפט על תקיפת שוטר – עבירה שהעונש עליה יכול להיות שנתיים מאסר, ובמקרה שלו, גם מניעה מלהיכנס לארה”ב לצמיתות.  כדי לנסות להגן על עצמו ולעגן את עצמו לשפיות בתוך הסיפור האבסורדי הזה – בעזרת עורך דין פלילי מוצלח שהתנדב לעזור לו – ווטס צריך עזרה כספית כדי להתמודד עם ההוצאות הכספיות של המשפט.  אם יש לכם את היכולת, והרצון, לעזור לו לצאת מהסיפור הקפקאי הזה בשלום, אתם יכולים לקרוא עוד כאן. […]

  11. John C. Randolph

    Have you considered holding a protest march at your nearest US consulate? Or, how about asking your MP to introduce a resolution condemning the thuggish behavior of the USBP assholes who roughed you up?

  12. Westcoast Guy

    Hmmm… I hate to say this but never, ever give -any- Customs/boarder guard/ID-10-T even a possibility of an opportunity to take anything you say or do (or even -don’t do-) the wrong way.

    You all do realize that the police would love to have the almost unbelievably powerful search/destroy/arrest/restrain powers that Customs agents have?

    In this case, it appears IMHO, that Peter simply asked a polite question, like a polite Canadian would do. The act of getting out of his car was obviously an “attack”, and his “resistance” to getting back in the vehicle was “aggression” as well. Or at least by -their- definition. And, at a boarder, it is -ONLY- their opinion that matters/counts. Nobody else has a say in the matter.

    Best of luck with this Peter. Hopefully all the publicity will cause the knee-jerk reaction on their part to be seen as what it really is – over-reaction. Unless they’re feeling embarrassed about it, then who knows what they’ll try and do.

  13. Raymond
  14. 01

    Hello Mr. Watts!

    First and foremost, allow me to voice my sincere support and sympathy.

    However, out of scientific curiosity, I must ask you a question regarding the following statement of yours:

    “All I basically did was use words to ask what was going on”

    With all due respect I would like to inquire whether said “words” were polysyllabic. Those are a known provoking factor for DA.

  15. Nick Nimchuk

    @Brian Prince: Yeah, there’s something quite ironic about this “publicity stunt” after Peter’s recent writing about his moral conundrum regarding promoting himself on his own blog.

    That said, if this somehow leads to a resurgence in Peter’s career, I’ll have to write a nice thank-you note to the Border Patrol.

  16. Terry

    “Brian Prince, on December 13th, 2009 at 12:02 pm Said:
    I just tried to consider the possibility of Watts performing a publicity stunt and my brain crashed and rebooted.”

    LOL LOL you took the words right out of my mouth…

  17. Ken Kennedy

    We love ya, man. Glad you’ve got your coat back.

  18. Orc

    Anyone who’s read Blindsight should know better than to underestimate the power of the subconscious mind. You can’t control your subconscious, but it’s there all the time, plotting. Mine is a regular Dick Cheney, always plotting to make me do things that backfire and is generally being a major PITA.
    All it would have taken for the subconscious to create this incident was to put a clever, sarcastic, non-vulgar remark into Peter’s mind, and he was screwed.
    Doesn’t matter that he, consciously dislikes publicity stunts. His subconscious mind may be more goal-driven, less ethical than his conscious mind.

  19. Alehkhs

    Approximate English translation of post “The Gospel According to Whom” (above):

    “This story is not about music at all but indirectly tied to books (I write them too often here), but it makes my blood boil and the only way to return it to reasonable temperature is write about it here: Dr. Peter Watts, a Canadian science fiction writer, acknowledges the unpleasant side of American terrorism law. At the border crossing on his way to the U.S., he was asked to stop the vehicle off the road. Border Police refused to explain why they were holding him, took him out, beat him and used pepper spray against him, threw him to one detention cell for three hours and another for the night, his bond paid, they left him, on the other side of the bridge leading from Canada to U.S. In, short shirt and pants and nothing beyond that – his car, his laptop and pages they wrote a new book notes confiscated by the police, Watts to come back later this year to Michigan in the U.S., where he is expected to be judged by assaulting an officer – an offense punishable by two years imprisonment, in his case, even prevented from entering the U.S. permanently. To try to defend himself from this absurd accusation – with a successful criminal lawyer who volunteered to help him – Watts needs financial help to cope with the expenses of the trial. If you have the ability, desire, to help him get away with this Kafka story, you can read more here [https://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=943]”

  20. nfonseca

    I just found out about all this. In a perfect world, all police officers are correct, understanding, firm and just. As we all know, in every country, there is no perfect world, and even less police forces unblemished. My country is no different. It so happens that, for some reason, I never liked the idea of travelling to the USA. Really, for no particular reason; I just prefered to think of sunny beaches closer to home, in Europe. ‘Till one day, I heard from a friend how she was roughed up in a Washington airport. Then, through the years, I heard other similar stories from people from several countries. There’s a pattern here that is very difficult to not see.

    And besides, this kind of institutionally-allowed violence made by trained violent-prone of men over simple citizens in everyday situations is plain bully-esque, and by definition, wrong. To say the least.

    Hope everything turns out ok for you.

  21. Canadian SF author beaten at US border at Port Huron - Page 2 - FlyerTalk Forums

    […] three posts (all evidently vetted by his lawyer) on the situation. I'd like to hear opinions on what he claims happened to the passenger: 'There was someone else with me in the car. Some of the news threads have described him as a […]

  22. Mike

    Reminds me of my experience re-entering the US after 2 weeks back home in Australia for my father’s funeral. The border official asked for “all the paperwork supplied to grant me my working visa for the USA”.

    I asked why I would need this when the visa had already been granted (and said paperwork would have taken up quite a lot of lugagge space since it included the articles of incorporation of my employer’s company in the US and Australia).

    He responded that he could ask for any damn thing that he wanted and then sent me on a wild goose chase all over the airport so that I would miss my connecting flight.

    I suppose I could count myself lucky that I wasn’t one of my innocuous Canadian colleagues who’d been thrown into a holding cell for a night or two after a routine border crossing to visit family.

  23. David Page

    hi Peter,been following the events here and on various blogs. Im really sorry and angry about it. You have my unfailing support in this. I will be donating what I can very soon. I would also like to say that Ken Macleod was kind enough to post about your situation and is where I came across it first. I wish you the best of luck and resolve of this atrocity. Your loyal fan always.-D.Page

  24. Matt McCormick

    PW, I am so sorry to hear about this whole thing. My students heard about it and let me know. They’re all rooting for you. I hope it will all get worked out quickly and fairly, if such a thing is possible after such a travesty.

    Now I’m looking forward to the vengeance you get in your writings.


  25. Paul

    I told my dad about this on the dinner table (he and I are both huge fans) and he agreed to the complete fucked-up-ness of the instance and was wondering if you were likely to take a (rather justified) anti-authoritarian bent in your novels from now on. I’d love to see it, after seeing the scientific articles/ideas posted here I’d love to see how your futuristic police would most effectively oppress its populace…

    we will be sending a donation shortly, and wish you all of the best. I thought I was done apologizing for being American to foreigners after visiting Europe during the Bush years, but that may have been unwarranted optimism.

  26. tomintokyo

    I read the article sent through your FB fan group with dismay and am so sorry you were subjected to such outrageous treatment. Unbelievable. No, actually and sadly, it is believable. Hang in there.

  27. Christophe Thill

    Awfully sorry about what happened to you. That’s an ugly world we’re living in. Shame on the border guards.

  28. Bard

    It seems to me that it’s strange that us Canadians are bringing to light the abuses that American citizens should be….

    Then again we’re (relatively) safe and out of the arms reach of those @ssholes who could make life so difficult for a US citizen – you can bet the fear of that sort of thing is keeping a lot of Americans silent when they should be out there getting the issue of these clowns turning their once great country into a fascist and totalitarian state.

  29. Chris in NY

    @ Bard

    I wouldn’t be quite so quick to judge:

    Comparing Goodman to Watts:

    About the Goodman story:

    Opinions (see the second one regarding Canadian powers of holding people):

    I rather think paranoia while perhaps nurtured and cloned in the US, has spread.

  30. Keippernicus

    I made a video on this and its amazing to me how many people threw up comments or sent me PM’s saying stuff like “How do you know he didn’t kick one of the guards?” or shit like that.

    Faith in humanity slightly increased now but still wallowing well below the usual level of ‘dismal.’

    Feckin’ cops.

  31. Alehkhs
  32. Bin There Dun That

    You always have to be careful around “guards” … generally folks in those positions have a personality that WANTS to be in a position of power over others (they made that career CHOICE didn’t they? What does that say?)

    They may desire the power of God (including life & death) — or would like to have — and short of becoming a Sadam Hussein or Adolph, the fastest way to achieve that goal (at least partially) for a frustrated jock bully or cop wanna bee, is to aquire a position of “authority and control over others.

    Once there — they may need affirmation of their power by waiting for any hint of questioning their “authority” so they can prove to themselves and others that “I have the”power!!”

    When your around “guard-types” you have two choices turn your “suck-up/brown-nose generator” on full blast … or risk feeling the rath of “my power!” Take a lesson from those who suggest you may have deserved it — they have their “suck-up/brown-nose generator” set on such a high level (turbo?) that they AUTOMATICALLY believe all guards are angels rather than God.

  33. Tyler Montbriand

    I think that article rather misses the mark. Why is the border patrol seizing and searching your computer not a violation of privacy unless they put it in a database? If anything this is an affirmation that they can and will violate your privacy to the limit of the letter of their law. Combined with Watts’ debacle, that statement leaves a real sour taste.

  34. Andreas

    Sorry for what happened to you. I just finished reading Blindsight a couple of days ago, and I had planned to let my brain cool down a bit before getting the Rifters trilogy. Well, guess what – I just ordered Starfish. Let us all know if you need more money for those lawyers, I’ll paypal you a few quid. And here’s hoping Dumbspeech gets done soon.

  35. Alehkhs

    Yea, sorry: It’s still an invasion of privacy to seize and inspect personla information such as the computer.

    @Tyler: I was meaning more about in-depth articles rather than simply regurgitated AP statements.

  36. Heather

    So, I sent a letter to Homeland Security’s complaints people on your behalf. Their response was quite a bit shorter than my letter (being as mine was something of a rant), but here it is for you:

    If Dr. Peter Watts desires to apply to the Department of Homeland
    Security’s Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP), he may do so by
    visiting: http://www.dhs.gov/xtrvlsec/programs/gc_1169676919316.shtm.
    In the alternative, he can complete the appended Traveler Inquiry Form
    and return it with an original signature and a copy of his unexpired
    passport to Trip@dhs.gov.



    The “appended form” is a PDF that I can forward to you if you really want.

  37. Sam Wright

    There are obviously issues with the way the Border Patrol goes for long periods of time using absolutely no common sense. Sadly, I believe it is true that the Border Patrol has more authority than the average cop to rifle through anyone’s belongings on a whim.

  38. redindiangirl

    The best revenge will be putting the lunkhead guard in a novel and then being eaten by a giant squid.

  39. Chris in NY

    On a lighter note and as a break from frustration, National Geographic pics and video of an octopus using two coconut shell halves for cover:


  40. SpeakerToManagers

    Peter, I’m glad you got out of the US and back to Canada relatively intact. And I’m impressed with the quality of your friends’ networks; they blew up an internet shitstorm about your egregious treatment as fast as I’ve ever seen it done. If your case ever does come to trial it’s going to be in the glaring light of internet visibility, which makes me believe there’s a good chance the prosecutors will be persuaded by the publicity so far to drop the case.

    Just as way of venting, I suggest your next novel include a description of Department of Holy Shitheads activities at least as scathing as Cory Doctorow’s in “Little Brother”. Being eaten by a squid just isn’t cruel enough.

  41. Russell Martin

    Hey, Peter, “sorry for your trouble,” as my Irish ancestors used to say. I don’t do PayPal… but a cheque is on its way to Bakka-Phoenix.

  42. Checkpoint USA

    “It seems to me that it’s strange that us Canadians are bringing to light the abuses that American citizens should be….”

    Actually there are Americans putting themselves in harms way while attempting to bring to light abuses associated with the Department of Homeland Security.

    You can check out a few of my web sites for starters:

    * Video encounters of CBP agents at internal checkpoints:

    * Roadblock Revelations:

    * Checkpoint USA:

  43. Anonymous

    Winnipeg Free Press has you covered as well.

    How will the border officials justify their actions once the video of the “choking” is released?

    Best of luck to you.

  44. Homo Sum » Blog Archive » When The Black Wind Blows

    […] that it will vindicate Watts. Sure enough that I’ve put my money where my mouth is and become one of those friends Watts didn’t know he had, for three reasons: because it could as easily have been me at that border, because while I […]

  45. Tommaso

    SpeakerToManagers: “Just as way of venting, I suggest your next novel include a description of Department of Holy Shitheads activities at least as scathing as Cory Doctorow’s in “Little Brother”. Being eaten by a squid just isn’t cruel enough.”

    It depends how the squid eat him… I’m sure Peter can came up with some alien creature that will kill our “subject” in some slow, psychologically damaging, and ultimately futile way. I’m ready to be surprised here 🙂

  46. Ian

    oh, and call me paranoid, but if you get back the computer or discs, try to find a way to copy the files without putting them to another directly connected computer. I would assume at this point whatever goes on that computer will find a way to DHS. That being the case, anything you put on it about this incident likely will be used against you. Not that I’m paranoid but this is the current USA we’re talking about and most Americans still haven’t even figured out “homeland security” used to be a Soviet-era term of endearment / department.

  47. Diane Boyer

    I’m with Robert re: the credibility of credit card info on PayPal. I’m instead going to buy a bunch of your books, Peter, and mail them to my friends Stateside for Christmas presents. Who would you like me to buy them from?
    By, the way, old friend, yes, I am that person you knew in high school. If it makes you feel any better, all the scuffs might be for an excellent cause. U.S. border guards at Port Huron have been treating visitors like shit for years. I’ve crossed there numerous times myself to visit family in Michigan,and it always the same intimidating story, and I’m just a boring old middleaged person.
    Time to find out where the food chain leads there, and ask who’s accountable for ‘staff training’.

  48. Peter Watts

    I’m posting this simultanously in the comment streams of all relevant newscrawl posts.

    This is a moderated blog. I’ve nonetheless approved pretty much every comment made to this point, including— especially — those of the trolls and LE-apologists, because I figured what the hell: both sides, right? I’ve allowed pros and cons and even lip-smacking threats of buggery from Deliverence hillbillies. I kept silent, and was accused of not answering simple questions. I made a comment, and simply drew in more trolls.


    I have two things to say on this matter before the filter goes up. Anyone whose IQ is set anywhere above room temperature will know that I can not discuss blow-by-blow details of this incident because they are evidentiary: I am not going to hand the prosecution advance details of my defense any more than I am going to announce how much money’s been raised to fight this thing. This case is too important to jeopardise in a futile attempt to satisfy a supercilious doofus like JMG8.

    Secondly, there are those who think that this was an act of grandstanding on my part, that I took pleasure in it somehow, that I was looking for a fight and wanted things to escalate. Think about that. These people are saying that I deliberated waded, unarmed and alone, into a nest of heavilly-armed and ill-tempered border guards who wield as close to carte-blanche on the use of force as you can get outside a Sopranos episode — and went out of my way to provoke them. That I enjoyed it. That I did it for fun.

    These people are idiots.

    Previous posts stand. Subsequent posts at moderator’s discretion.

  49. ebear

    A publicity stunt that will sure sell a lot of books… for a guy who’s giving away his backlist for free…

    Oh, *honey*.

    Their earth logic. It’s not much like real logic, is it?

  50. Chris J.

    Well, it looks like PZ Myers picked up the story, too! Not a bad person to have on your side, I must say!


  51. Brain

    I think most people assume you did something to provoke the guards b/c they’re forgetting one important fact: You’re Canadian. Canadians don’t antagonize people for the most part.

    Now Americans on the other hand…

  52. jrronimo

    I’m hopeful if there is a news story reporting a DA not pressing charges. I sincerely hope this all goes in your favor and just blows over as soon as possible.

    Good luck, Dr. Watts. I do enjoy your books.

  53. me

    when you claim “All I basically did was use words to ask what was going on” were you saying to the officers something along the line of: “What the fuck do you dumb fucking pigs think you’re doing with my fucking SUV you fucking moronic pigs?”

    The language, of course, being in keeping with your own “words” on your blog.

  54. Ian j.

    I just thought I should add my support. As a protester I’ve seen a lot of overzealous authority figures. These things have a tenancy not to survive the light of day and hopefully that will be the case here.

  55. Anony mouse

    Peter, if I were the paranoid type I might come to the conclusion that JMG8 worked for the authorities and was trying to bait you into making statements that it is not in your interest to make until all of the legal hurdles are completed.

    I cannot comment on the Peter of 2009 because I knew him over 20 years ago. However, I think even Peter will admit that he sometimes speaks before thinking through the possible consequences. But this is also what is appealing about him. Was it smart for him to get out of the car? No. Was it smart for him to question the border guards? No. Was it smart for him to refuse to get back in the car? No. But guess what? None of these actions, with the “possible” exception of refusing to get back in the car, constitutes a crime. And even if the refusal of an order is a crime, it would be a misdemeanor at best.

    The only people that know what happened here are Peter, his friend and the border guards, and I suspect that each of them perceived it in a different way. That is why eye-witness testimony is so flawed.

  56. Chris J.

    “That is why eye-witness testimony is so flawed.”

    Hey, that sounds like part of the plot line to a book I once read…

  57. redindiangirl

    I’m starting to get really really annoyed with the fascist apologists out there. Suffice it to say Peter, I’m committed to donating monthly until this thing gets off your liver. And I’m still voting for guard-being-eaten-by-giant-squid in horrible, graphic imagery with each beaky bite being described with grim hilarity.

  58. Peter Watts


    when you claim “All I basically did was use words to ask what was going on” were you saying to the officers something along the line of: “What the fuck do you dumb fucking pigs think you’re doing with my fucking SUV you fucking moronic pigs?”


  59. Alehkhs

    Well, evidently “The Times Herald filed a freedom of information request to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Monday seeking the release of the video. The department has five days to respond to that request.”

    The Teuthian Army marches on…

  60. Anonymous

    To Chris J.,
    was it Lolita by Nabokov?

  61. Tyler Montbriand

    Mr. Watts, your lawyer has probably suggested if not done this already but on the slim chance they haven’t, you should get in touch with the Canadian consulate.

  62. Tyler Montbriand

    Dr. Watts. Pardon me.

  63. Raymond
  64. Help Peter Watts : The Tinuum
  65. Rob

    Anyone else getting tired of the posts that basically say “do not engage with authority figures. Do exactly as they say with your sheeple head down, looking forward, never asking a question. Submit to the bootheel and they will let you off easy, maybe”

    It’s not unreasonable to have an expectation to be treated as a human. I understand that there is a ‘law of numbers’ going on and the lines have to keep moving, but us average citizen types shouldn’t feel intimidated or afraid that asking any questions is going to have some kind of unjustified reprisal. It’s an unspoken intimidation tactic to keep people toeing the line. You read about it time and time again; http://lewrockwell.com/orig3/monahan1.html / http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2008/03/tsa-defends-nip/ / thousands of stories, told and untold. This is all in a so-called ‘civilized’ country!

    As posted before – the vast majority of people in authority positions are just normal people doing abnormal jobs. The few extreme power-tripper cast a bad light on everyone.

    I just hope the people who make comments like “He’s probably some whining liberal, he deserved it” meet up with a TSA agent on a power trip, with a fresh box of probing gloves. Maybe their wives, too. Let it strike home and watch the red-faced outrage begin..

  66. Posh
  67. Terry

    “Rob, on December 15th, 2009 at 2:29 pm Said:
    Anyone else getting tired of the posts that basically say “do not engage with authority figures. Do exactly as they say with your sheeple head down, looking forward, never asking a question. Submit to the bootheel and they will let you off easy, maybe” ”

    Yes, Rob, I am. It’s very frightening to think that folks assume they will be treated badly by LEOs and accept it as normal. I am thankful that for the most part those of us in Canada do not have to proceed from that assumption. It’s useful to remember: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. — Edmund Burke”

  68. Posh

    Also, seems that Peter has made enemies of Roman-era reenactors.


    Now Peter, did you make fun of their costumes?

  69. Keith David Smeltz


    Operational paranoia keeps me warm at night. Given how easy it is to take certain basic precautions and how much abuse the USA has recently put people through, it seems harmless to plug the laptop’s harddrive into a $10 usb adapter, and convert all the documents into a format that can’t support viruses, spyware, or trojans — PDF is pretty unhijackable, right, and so is EPS? If nothing else, there’s a free PDF->SVG tool. The Lenies can be probably be filtered out without destroying actual data.

    If anyone can put malware into an SVG file, I may just surrender on the spot.

    It would seem prudent to not turn on the laptop. Just in case the hardware has been tampered with, too.

    I’m sending this story to all my friends, not that my small voice will help much, but these violations need to see all the light of day that we can bring to bear on it.

  70. rms

    To defend the individual victims of police lies, one by one, is not an adequate response. Since defense is so expensive, the police figure that making the false charges is enough to ruin someone’s life even if he avoids being convicted.

    The best defense is a good offense, so we should organize to make the police regret these crimes.

    Maybe we can put up a big sign in Canada near that border crossing, saying, “Did the US cops beat you up? No? YOU WERE LUCKY THIS TIME. Don’t risk it again! See http://www.xyz.org.”

    How about a campaign in Canada to boycott US goods until the US drops these charges, apologizes, and pays compensation?

    Mr. Watts could also go on a speaking tour to (1) raise funds for his defense and (2) organize the campaign to push back. It’s a lot of work, but offers the possibility to turn a defeat into a victory.

    Is Farley Mowat still alive? He might want to help.

    There are plenty of sources to demonstrate the tendency of police in the US to attack innocent people, then frame them on charges of attacking the police.

  71. Raymond


    PDF is eminently hijackable, if one uses Adobe software to open it with. Vulnerabilities in file formats are usually due to underlying vulnerabilities in the format spec (unusual) or the most common software used to open the file (much, much more common than you’d like to think). Most malware embedded in document formats either exploits buffer overruns or stack overflows in the opening software to execute arbitrary code (OS dependent, usually), or (especially in the case of newer, web-enabled formats) facilitates cross-site scripting attacks or redirections to compromised servers which perform drive-by downloads.

    If you think PDFs are safe, tell that to the clients of mine who have paid me good money to remove that nasty Personal Antivirus malware shit off their machines, which they caught by opening malicious PDF files. Or go peruse through Adobe’s security bulletins for the last two years. And don’t think SVGs are inherently secure – their animations allow for embedded Javascript and DOM access. You want secure? Print it. Then lock it up. Or, if that’s don’t actually feasible (ie for most of us) then use a different PDF viewer such as Foxit, Evince, KPDF, etc. Preferably open-source and the latest version.

    No, what you do with a laptop you’ve got back from the DHS is pull out the hard drive, put it into a computer running Linux (or *BSD, or Solaris, or something unix-y and up-to-date) and recover your documents that way. They don’t have the same selection of off-the-shelf police spyware for the unices as they do for Windows machines.

  72. Terry
  73. Tom

    The best that can be hoped is that a prosecutor will decide not to proceed for lack of grounds and the DHS won’t hassle you on future border crossings.

    If it turns out that my donation via the Nibblet fund isn’t needed for legal defense, I’d like it put towards beer, scotch, chocolate cake, cat food, whatever works as small recompense for the stress and personal cost of your encounter with DHS and the justice system.

  74. Dr. John Gopal

    JMG8 has been seen on several websites trying to putdown (read belittle) Dr. Peter watts with a astounding amount of enthusiasm.

    It is fairly obvious that JMG8 is one of the CBP guards in question trying to get out of the “hole”, which is by now the size of a moon crater.

    Good luck at the court, JMG8. You will need it.

  75. Keith David Smeltz


    Mister Stallman! I am such a fan, love your work.


    I stand corrected — not only did I not know about these vulnerabilities, but I mistook where the risk might originate. I was worried about file formats when I should have been thinking about the interpreter.

    I already use NoScript in an attempt to stop cross-scripting attacks, and avoid all Adobe, Windows, Flash browser plugins and closed-source sotware. That should keep the honest people out.

    SVGs can carry Javascript? *horrorstruck* So they can. Not good.

    Seconded: a unix-y foss crytographically-authenticated OS should be used to convert/filter the returned documents in case of software tampering.

  76. callmehats

    That is insane. Hang in there. If this even makes it to trial, I’m sure you will be acquitted. The general consensus in the US is that Homeland Security is a joke, and no one likes police brutality. I think being Canadian can only help you. Most Americans tend not to think of Canadians as foreigners. We just assume Canadians are pretty much the same as Americans, but you know, not assholes. That’s why we pretend to be Canadian when we go overseas.

    If this story were reversed and you were American and the border guards were Canadian, I would absolutely assume you were asking for it.

    You should consider suing the guards for police brutality. If you’re even allowed to. The Patriot Act or some other shit might give them carte blanche to do whatever they want. And if you are wondering, yes, my country does scare me a little.

  77. Peter Watts

    Posh Said:

    It’s now an issue of race?

    Nah, that’s just our old friend JMG8. He’d made only two posting to his blog before yesterday — and if the recursive American flag doesn’t tip you off as to his leanings, the headings on those postings are pretty much a giveaway — but his recent hard-on for me seems to have breathed new life into that stagnant corner of teh tubes. Feel free to check out Posh‘s link if you’re still interested in what he has to say. He could probably use the hits; after four months his previous postings had only garnered one follower (assuming it wasn’t JMG8 himself), although I expect that’ll go up now that he’s jumped on the bandwagon.

    @Dr. John Gopal: I don’t know if this guy is one of the guards in question; I’d be surprized if their bosses hadn’t told them to keep their mouths shut in public, and JMG8 does seem to be a very Jump/How-high-sir kinda guy. Still, even most of those who disagree with me just speak their piece and move on, rather than frenzedly nipping at every ankle in biting range. The man’s investment seems almost pathological for anyone with no personal involvement in the issue.

  78. Albatross

    Good luck to you. As an American I would apologize for this abuse on behalf of my nation, except my nation seems to be turning into exactly the kind of dystopian wonderland of ignorant authoritarianism that promotes and encourages such pointless brutality, so such apologies would probably seem quite lame. Instead, just remember that for writers everything is material.

  79. Chris in NY

    Frustration break of the evening:

    BBC TV series Life video (both beautiful and creepy) of sea stars, worms and urchins moving about in time lapse, and finally feasting on the corpse of a seal. No mention if Ken Lubin had anything to do with the mammal’s demise.


  80. Chris J.

    That video is interesting! There is also this other one of an octopus using a coconut shell in the same fashion a primate would use a rock or a stick. It’s only a matter of time before they overtake humans!


    Oh, and give them hell next week, Peter!

  81. Wolfpack mauls victim(s) at US-CAN border « alien eleutheronomy

    […] dogs at the United States/Canadian border recently. While he suffered significant injuries and lost his coat, he has thankfully […]

  82. Dan O.


    I don’t know if you really need to worry about malware infecting your files when you get them back. But you probably want to take your computer and flash drive to your lawyer and have a forensic copy made http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_forensics#Imaging_electronic_media_.28evidence.29 before you even turn the computer on. Then leave the original disks with the lawyer so you will have an exact copy of whatever they have incase they claim anything different. Also, do the same with the most recent backup that you made before the trip.

    PS: You don’t need to print this unless you think it could be helpful to any of your readers that find themselves in a similar situation.

  83. Trevor

    I can truly believe Mr.Watts story. The Amerikan Gestapo revel in the fact that “you have no rights in Amerika ” and they are totally out of control and very very aggressive in their approach to people.
    The only solution I can see is do not visit Amerika— (the government or it’s minions are NOT to be trusted) or if you live there LEAVE before they start filling their camps —-just as Hitler filled his.
    Torture,Waterboarding,Secret Prisons,Abu Ghraib,Black Prisons,Rendition anyone?THIS IS NOW THE AMERIKAN WAY !
    Who authorizes these fascist goons to behave the way they do?
    I have withessed very unwelcoming behaviour by ICE officers several times.Very sad to observe.

  84. Teresa Nielsen Hayden

    Our fury was instantaneous when we heard what had happened to you.

  85. adicat

    naked jpegs?! *groans*

  86. Ian

    “I have withessed very unwelcoming behaviour by ICE officers several times.Very sad to observe.”

    I’ve seen the videos on youtube of the several thousand (it is claimed 125,000, I don’t know about that) “casket liners” the CDC is storing on a disused soybean field in Georgia. No matter what the official claim or non-comment, it’s quite odd to have that many ‘stackable’ coffins. Really. I mean who does that? I’ll go out on a limb saying typically there’s only one intended use for a coffin, right?

  87. Marcie

    The latest story from the Times Herald is more than a bit scary. The police have given out more details of their side. They are making it look like a much bigger thing than they did before, a long, drawn out physical struggle, with Peter supposedly making it all the way back to his car and having to be dragged out. Exactly how are they planning on backing this up?

    I’m not sure how to post links here, but this is the address:


  88. Peter Watts

    We all knew they were going to do this. And the “details” are anything but: statements to the effect that I was “irate” and “aggressive”, but no quotes or details as to what was actually said to support those claims. These are statements of opinion, not fact. They are not evidence.

    Let’s see what the video shows.

  89. PhilRM

    “Let’s see what the video shows.”

    What do you want to bet that it was “inadvertently” deleted?

    (Can’t bet a copy of one of your books, because I own them all!)

  90. Cog

    Earlier today most of the comments on that article were very negative, but some good ones have been showing up lately 🙂

    “Traxx wrote:
    If you read this closely, you will find that Watts is a superhero, who can overpower trained officers on various occasions, even giving them a Darth Vader like choking. On top of that Watts is immune to pepperspray. (To all you people without a sense of humour, this is obviously not true)

    Please, dear god tell me people are not seriously going to take this article at face value.”

  91. Chris in NY

    I can’t understand why Peter didn’t just leap into the air and fly across the bridge when this started.

  92. Ian

    “I don’t know if you really need to worry about malware infecting your files when you get them back.”

    If they think it’s worth their trouble for a public figure, or to get inside scoops on anything sent by email to a lawyer, or from the lawyer, the hardware itself could be replaced. That’s going to take deep inspection by someone who knows how computers are made, to know what’s tampered with. Any software involved might only be hooking into the use of said alterations to make surveillance easier, but may not even be required to get the job done.

    Expensive as these things can be, I’d write it off in the same position. Get the data, yes, as safely as possible, but the device itself, the programs as-is … all a write-off. It isn’t only a question of what can be taken from the device, but what can be put onto it (in the future) by keeping a door open, which can cause serious legal troubles.

  93. Ian

    oh ya, just to make sure I got it straight: send cheques to the book store but address the cheque to Peter Watts, right?

  94. Douglas Wokoun
  95. Ben

    I hope you are able to legally clean their clocks. Sorry this happened, which I could do more than offer words of support (though I do try to get folks to read your work), but times being what they are…

  96. Posh

    Haha! I’ve been keeping up with the comments on the Times Herald story ( http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20091218/NEWS01/912180310/Report++Sci-fi+writer++irate+ )

    Looks like our buddy JMG8 is himself getting trolled…

  97. Terry

    I will be thinking of you tomorrow, Peter. Good Luck.

  98. Alehkhs

    Good luck tomorrow Dr. Watts

  99. Chris in NY

    “Looks like our buddy JMG8 is himself getting trolled…”

    Recently he’s switched over to the most recent DailyKos article to exhibit his OCD. 😉


  100. Jennifer Green

    Good luck Dr. Watts, hope all goes well today. Awaiting updates with bated fingertips.

  101. Chris in NY

    “Science fiction writer bound over to circuit court”


    Ask a Lawyer: What does “bound over” mean?