Tuesday March 11, 2014
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Just reading about what happened in rural Nevada this week is enough to send shivers up and down anyone's spine. To see what I mean, try changing "Fernley" to "Payson" in these sentences.
At 6 a.m. Monday morning firefighters were called to a house fire in Fernley, Nevada. Though the house sustained some fire damage, firefighters were able to save it, but they had a severe shock coming. On entering the house they discovered the murdered bodies of Robert and Dorothy Pape, both 84.
Before two hours had gone by deputies responding to a call for a welfare check in the quiet rural neighborhood had found two more victims, Angie Duff, 67, and an unnamed man, both dead in a home a scant 100 yards from the house where the first two elderly victims were found.
Almost immediately after that a fifth dead body showed up in a ditch along Interstate 80, a 52-year-old man from Spanish Springs, a Reno suburb.
All unexplained violent deaths.
Consider the advice given to residents of the small town of Fernley as day transitioned into night. Authorities had arrested a man as a "person of interest" but were still searching for possible accomplices and warning residents to be on the lookout for strangers.
Lyon County sheriff Allen Deil urged residents on Tuesday to be vigilant. "What we don't want to do is establish some sense of paranoia," Deil told the press, "but we want people to be aware. By all means, lock your doors and windows. Notify us in the middle of the night if the dogs start barking."
Now, put yourself in that position.
Five people dead?
In a town the size of Payson?
"Be on the lookout for strangers?
"Notify us in the middle of the night?"
Even if all it's only the dogs barking?
How well would you have slept?
I'd have been up all night with a shotgun in my lap.
Tom it's about constant vigilance. In the above story, look at the times. If the authorities were somehow able to alert the residents....how would they have done that? By what means could they get the word out and to how many?
Living in Pine, how would you have known of a potential threat? How soon?
Pine has or did have a whistle or siren that could be heard all over town. I believe it was for a fire warning. It was tested every Sat. about noon I think. It would alert everyone of some problem.
Of course by now it is probably gone because it disturbed someone.
It was much louder than the whistle at the sawmill here in Payson.
Scary questions! I can remember two times when I was a boy in Connecticut that someone came to the house with a warning. Once was when someone was on the loose and they were sure he was still in town somewhere; the police knocked on every door in town. The other time it was when they were going to turn the water off in the neighborhood. They went to every house and notified everyone.
You reminded me of something I had completely forgotten. Back in New London we had a huge fog horn in town. Each house had a chart that went on a wall. When the fog horn went off we would count the number of blasts; that told where a fire was, or whatever else was going on. Nine blasts meant that school was let out for the day, in case of deep snow or something.
A warning system like that makes sense. It gets the information out to everyone all at once in just seconds.
Here's an idea. In Susanville, California, a small town, the cable TV puts a channel on their system which shows paid announcements, in 15 second segments. We could have such a system here, which could be used to broadcast alert messages. The police department could post real time warnings.
Not everyone may by on cable and if they are they may not be watching TV.
Still, Pat, I think it's a good idea. The choice of whether or not to keep the set on would be a choice. If the set were on the announcement could cut right into anything else and post a warning for something important.
Isn't the reverse 911 system in place here? I know that last year during the Crown King Fire, evacuations were facilitated by utilizing the reverse 911 system. Should work here as well.
Most people now have cell phones. Would it work with them?
Boy, I guess that my very long weekend dulled my thought processes. You are exactly right, Pat. I do not believe that reverse 911 would work with cell phones.
I love your mention of a whistle or siren or bell that could be heard all over town. Some people might not like it, but, too bad. Safety is more important than a few seconds of discomfort.
Right, Kim. I'd be for it. We had that big old fog horn in New London. Never once did I hear anyone complain about it. It spread information. What could be wrong with that?
PS: I never heard of "reverse 911." It's probably another thing that happened while I was overseas. For years and years my comment on some things has been, "Huh?"
I came back from overseas the last time in 1973 and got called for jury duty in 1977. Someone came to brief us. He asked if anyone had ever been involved in a workman's comp case. I raised my hand.
"You were in a workman's comp case?"
"Beats me. What's workman's comp?"
I was excused. I suppose they figured that anyone who didn't know about workman's comp was too dumb to serve on a jury.
The best part? Instead of explaining he just excused me and I was never called again.
They'd have excused me anyway. The minute they found out I was a scientist they'd have excused me. They do not want scientists on juries. You know all this "critical thinking" they claim they are going to try to teach the kids? That's what we do. It's why it's hard to fool us. We ignore hype and look at facts.
That would never do on a jury. Lawyers depend on arguments based on things like sweeping generalizations, false assumptions, figures of speech, false analogies, card stacking, faulty dilemma, ignoring the question, and so on.
I'll give you just one example of--let's say--card stacking because I know you'll recognize it and it'll amuse you because you've seen it so many times.
Lawyer: Were you there, Mister Jones?
Jones: No I was not.
Lawyer: Then why is it that you are so aware of the circumstances of the event?
See? The fact that Jones may know all about what happened does not prove that he is in any way guilty, but you read any case and you will see that kind of question over and over again. Its purpose? To plant the idea in the juror's minds that the person has guilty knowledge. It doesn't make a whit bit of difference to most people that it is based on false reasoning.
Remember the Fish case? One question the prosecutor asked poor Fish was, "Why, Mister Fish, did you feel it was necessary that day to carry such a heavy handgun into the woods on a well traveled path on which there has been no record of a bear attack in more than forty-five years?" (I am paraphrasing, of course.)
See what's wrong with that?
a. Prosecutor is testifying (about bear attacks).
b. The prosecutor is stacking the cards against the witness. Why should the witness have to justify what kind of weapon be carried? He carried a weapon for self-defense. The choice was his. Who else should make it? Grandmas Moses? What difference does it make that there have been no bear attacks on that trail? And for that matter, who really knows that there haven't been?
And sure enough, one of the jurors (a female) said right after the Fish trial that the reason she voted guilty was because he "carried such a big gun."
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