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April 10, 2012

Why the NYPD is turning on their bosses

Today's long read. Why the NYPD Is Turning on Ray Kelly -- New York Magazine
Last year ended with a spate of unpleasant Police Department headlines. On Staten Island, an officer was caught on tape bragging he’d “fried another nigger,” then pleaded guilty to extortion and civil-rights charges. In Brooklyn, eight current and former cops were arrested by the FBI for smuggling guns, among other charges. The nasty run continued: In March, a Washington Heights cop was convicted of a gunpoint sexual assault. The NYPD was also increasingly under attack for the tactics it has used to drive crime down to historical lows and to head off terrorist strikes. City Council members, prospective mayoral candidates, and �civil-liberties groups have flailed the NYPD for stopping and frisking thousands of innocent black and Latino New Yorkers; a series of Associated Press stories has explored the department’s far-reaching surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods. But while those debates raise important questions, they are largely about policy choices that can be either altered or continued by the next mayor and police commissioner. And the spate of outright criminal behavior by cops, ugly as it was, was not particularly aberrant: Any large organization is going to employ a handful of miscreants, and every police era has its share of corruption. More worrisome, to the functioning of the department and the maintenance of public safety, now and in the future, was the anger rumbling just below the surface of the NYPD—and, on a couple of occasions, bursting out into plain view. In September, cops contributed to a Facebook discussion on the raucous West Indian Day parade that labeled marchers “animals” and “savages.” In October, scores of cops converged on the Bronx County courthouse as sixteen of their colleagues were arraigned on ticket-fixing charges, waving signs reading JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS and some wearing T-shirts that said IMPROVING EVERYONE'S QUALITY OF LIFE BUT OUR OWN. The accumulation of woes and discontent made it look as if Commissioner Ray Kelly was suffering from something more than third-term drift. It looked as if he were losing control of his department.

We broke the climate

Heatwave: Start of 2012, March shatter US heat records - NYPOST.com
WASHINGTON — It has been so warm in the United States this year, especially in March, that national records were not just broken, they were deep-fried. Temperatures in the lower 48 states were 8.6 degrees above normal for March and 6 degrees higher than average for the first three months of the year, according to calculations by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That far exceeds the old records. The magnitude of how unusual the year has been in the U.S. has alarmed some meteorologists who have warned about global warming. One climate scientist said it is the weather equivalent of a baseball player on steroids, with old records obliterated. "Everybody has this uneasy feeling. This is weird. This is not good," said Jerry Meehl, a climate scientist who specializes in extreme weather at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. "It's a guilty pleasure. You're out enjoying this nice March weather, but you know it's not a good thing." It's not just March. "It's been ongoing for several months," said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. Meteorologists say an unusual confluence of several weather patterns, including La Nina, was the direct cause of the warm start to 2012. While individual events cannot be blamed on global warming, Couch said this is like the extremes that are supposed to get more frequent because of manmade climate change from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

25 Reasons I Hate Your Main Character

25 Reasons I Hate Your Main Character
1. No Agency: Reactive Over Active The protagonist helps to shape the story through her actions. It’s just how she rolls. Only problem is when the reverse ends up being true: the story forever pushes the character. It’s like in a boxing match — some boxing matches are dreadfully one-sided, with one poor sod taking a limitless pummeling, his head looking like a Ziploc baggy full of ground bison. That’s not a good mode for your story. Your protagonist should not be constantly on the ropes. Sure, the inciting incident might demand reaction (“My daughter was kidnapped by angry polecats! To action!”), but the character must have or claim agency for herself. I despise characters who never grab the reins of the story, not even by the tale’s end. . . . 18. Atlas Pooped A character is more than just his philosophies. We are not the sum total of our beliefs. We have friends and family. Hopes and dreams. Secret plans and bizarre sexual peccadilloes requiring an oil drum full of egg whites and Abe Vigoda in a too-tight wetsuit. If your character fails to possess those things and is just a mouthpiece for his (or worse, your) belief systems, then I will come to your house and beat you about the head, neck and butthole with a copy of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. . . .