Thursday, May 12, 2011

Malorie's Law, HB 2470

Thanks to Tim Kreitz for bringing this to my attention this morning.  I have a deep respect for the laws I'm sworn to enforce.  This letter does not express all of the problems I see with this potential law.  Please contact your representatives to make sure this is handled correctly.  While Malorie's death was a preventable tragedy, the bill needs major trimming if it is to be effective in preventing more loss.

Here's where you'll find the text of the bill:

Here's the letter I sent to my elected officials:

                This letter is to request your support in keeping HB 2470 (Mallorie’s Law) from being passed as-is.
                I write this letter as a citizen, peace officer and motorcycle owner.  This bill concerns me because there are many elements of it that simply do not make sense and would be a waste of the government’s time to pass and enforce.
                The singling out of “sport bikes” is the most disturbing part of this bill.  Any motorcycle, regardless of type, is deadly when used improperly.  The purpose of this bill appears to address passenger safety and should apply equally to all motorcycles.  The singling out of sport bikes appears as an emotional discrimination against the type of motorcycle involved in Mallorie’s death.  My state should seek to protect all passengers of motorcycles regardless of their style.
                Requiring a person to be a licensed operator to ride as passenger has no benefit to safety.  A licensed motorcycle passenger, regardless of experience level, has no ability to control the vehicle that a non-licensed passenger has.  If a person is not capable of responsibly carrying passengers, they should not be allowed to operate a motorcycle.
                I would support the provision that passengers could be carried only on motorcycles equipped with the features as described in the bill: permanent seat, footpegs and handholds.
                Thank you for reading this letter and please do your part to keep our traffic code practical and useful.  Our state has become very motorcycle friendly and I ask that it remain so. 


Matt Vann

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Roswell for David

It’s no wonder that government employees are a tough sell for conspiracy theories.  I’ve traveled on military orders where I faced 50/50 odds that my hotel reservations were hopelessly screwed up.  I was in the Coast Guard for three months before I convinced them I was in the Coast Guard and not being paid.  As my back pay trickled in, another error docked me $2500 in travel claims and I was back to $23 paychecks.
Secrets are never kept.  Like the helicopter that was left in Bin Laden’s yard, even the biggest secrets eventually leave a trail.  I love the social phenomenon that Roswell has created.  It’s become a pop culture icon.  Every school I went to had UFO books written in the 50’s and 60’s and my name was on every card.
Around 1984 I stumbled upon The Roswell Incident by Charles Berlitz.  The book was four years old and laid the entire story out much as it is heard today.  Evidence has gone and witnesses disappeared.  Why wasn’t this all over the news?  They even had sketches of the alien bodies and descriptions of the wreckage.
I first saw the Project Mogul explanation at the Roswell museum.  This is where the story comes from that it was a weather balloon.  Mogul wasn’t a weather balloon.  It was an array of weather balloons hoisting Mylar reflectors secured with tape marked with symbols.  It was composed of a number of balloons (dozens or more) and would certainly make a mess when it hit the deck.  Mogul was abandoned because it was expensive although it was somewhat successful in monitoring Soviet nuclear testing.  I believe that this would be a very strange find even today.  There would be no writing, marks or anything else that would leave a trail to the maker.  After all, it was a spy balloon that could easily come down in Red Square. 
The military, according to the press, said that a “flying saucer” had crashed.  I firmly believe the military made the statement, but flying saucers were quite a novel thing at the time and there were a number of unusual aircraft being developed.  It wasn’t necessarily associated with extra-terrestrial visitors.  A friend who grew up in the 50’s told me how fascinated he was the first time he saw a piece of Mylar.  That’s what the foil-like balloons in the mall are made of.
Here’s the rundown of the whole Roswell story as I see it:  A Project Mogul array drops out of the sky and crashes on a Rancher’s plot.  What goes up must come down.  Being a patriot, the rancher calls the nearby army base and lets them know.  They find a pile of unusual junk in the field.  They start making calls.  It’s a small town, so word eventually gets out that the army is scurrying like ants in a cold-war fury trying to figure out what’s going on.   At some point the Mogul crew makes the connection.  They call the Roswell base and find out that the Mogul’s toy is in Roswell’s yard.  “The paper is asking what it is.  What should we tell them?” asks Marcel.  Mogul responds, “Tell them it’s a flying saucer for all we care.  Don’t tell them it’s a spy balloon!”  62 years later some nobody is posting on his blog about it.
The rest is folklore dismissed as conspiracy.  I’ve never heard a credible witness statement.  First, I don’t believe for a second that the army would call a local undertaker for caskets.  The army deals with more dead people than any organization in the world.  They know the drill.  As for the others, I seriously question any story where somebody just happens by a roomful of dead bleepin’ aliens.
The disappearing witnesses are icing on a conspiracy cake.  It’s the oldest trick in the book.  Create someone who knows everything and proves the conspiracy true, then remove him from the face of the earth.  What are the chances that no one on an army base would remember a red-headed nurse in a time when there were very few women on base?  That’s the alleged witness who sketched the likenesses on a cocktail napkin.  Even if you wiped a person’s digital existence, they’re in every high school album, memory and church roster that the conspirators would never find.
If you're my vintage and spent some time breathing in the 70's and 80's, you remember what it was like living in the cold war.  We feared the slightest spark between us and Ivan.  There's no doubt that every molecule of Mogul was ground up and incenerated to avoid fightin' words. 
I have a great time with the Roswell story.  We have a collection of alien artifacts in our home from an alien fetus in a jar to the skull of a gray.  I saw the same skull half-unearthed on the cover of a checkstand magazine. 
Cheers to one of the greatest stories of our times.  I just hope that somewhere on Zeta Reticuli there’s some little bug-eyed dude having a cigar next to a model of my skull on his shelf.