Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

July 5, 2005

Grand Rounds XLI

Filed under: — Different River @ 7:35 pm

Grand Rounds XLI is up at the Medical Connectivity Blog.

Save a Life, Go to Jail

Filed under: — Different River @ 7:16 pm

You’ve heard the cynical expression, “No good deed goes unpunished”? Well, here’s a literal fulfillment of that dictum: Dave Newman was arrested and jailed for saving the life of a drowning swimmer.

This is not an exaggeration, and there don’t seem to be any “mitigating” circumstances. One person jumped into a river to swim and got carried away by the current. Another person jumped into the river to save him. The rescuer was arrested for illegal swimming; the original swimmer was not. The original swimmer thanked the rescuer in the presence of the police; the police did not even note the rescue in their arrest report.

Here’s the full story:

July 5, 2005, 11:02AM

Houston swimmer’s rescuer ends up in jail

SAN MARCOS (AP) – A San Marcos man was arrested after rescuing a swimmer from the swirling waters near a restaurant on the San Marcos River over the weekend.

Police say Dave Newman, 48, disobeyed repeated orders by emergency personnel to leave the water. The police report does not mention Newman’s rescue of 35-year-old Abed Duamni of Houston on Sunday afternoon.

“I was amazed,” Newman said after getting out of Hays County Law Enforcement Center on $2,000 bail Monday morning. “I had a very uncomfortable night after saving that guy’s life. He thanked me for it in front of the police, and then they took me to jail.”

After being handcuffed and put in a Texas State University police squad car, Newman was taken to jail and charged with interfering with public duties.

Duamni, who said he did not see any signs warning swimmers of the dangerous currents, jumped into the water several times before the current caught him. He had just finished eating at the restaurant when he decided to go for a swim.

“I reached a point where I said, ‘I’m dead,’ ” Duamni, who was visiting San Marcos, said from his Houston home Monday night. “There’s was nothing I could do. I thought, ‘That’s it, I’m over, I’m gone.’”

After reaching Duamni, Newman said he swam with him under a waterfall and deposited him on the shore opposite the restaurant. He could hear law enforcement personnel telling him to come back to the shore by the restaurant.

According to the report, Newman smirked and seemed annoyed by officers’ requests. He stood in the water for about 15 seconds before swimming downstream, to avoid the turbulence from the waterfall, and across the river to the officers, the report said.

When he came across the river, the officer stuck out his hand like he’s going to help him out of the water, and he put cuffs on him,” said the Rev. John Parnell, pastor of St. Augustine Old Roman Catholic Church in Fort Worth.

According to the police report and witness accounts, the crowd that had gathered to watch the rescue was upset when they saw the police arrest Newman.

Parnell and another man blocked the police officer’s path to the squad car while other members of the crowd yelled at the police, telling them Newman had saved Duamni’s life and should not be arrested.

University spokesman Mark Hendricks said he did not know whether Newman rescued Duamni. Hendricks said it was his understanding that Newman was uncooperative with authorities.

When Duamni got out of the water, he saw Newman in handcuffs and asked who he was. “I said, ‘What’s the deal,’ and the police said, ‘He got you out,’” Duamni said.

San Marcos resident Bob Ogletree said he understood why emergency personnel wanted to clear the water, but didn’t understand why Newman had to be arrested.

In 1999, Texas State University, which owns the dam and the land around it, erected a fence to prohibit access to that part of the river. Later that year, the City Council enacted a swimming ban on that portion of the river. But Newman led a successful campaign to get the fences around the swimming hole removed and the ban relaxed.

In April, 22-year-old Jason Lee Bonnin, and a Texas State University student, drowned after he and three other restaurant workers jumped from the eatery into the river.

Yes, they really do believe these things

Filed under: — Different River @ 10:00 am

I’ve been getting some interesting comments on this blog, with people defending positions that I find utterly indefensible. While it is tempting to write these comments off as the rantings of fools and ignore (or even delete) them, the fact is that many reasonable people find it simply unbelievable that anyone could think such things, and as a reasult don’t realize what “we” are up against. It seems unbelievable to us that people would actually believe this things, since they don’t make any sense — but that’s not a requirement for people to believe something!

Previous examples in comments on this blog include a parent who says she would kill her daughter for throwing a coy of the Koran and a neurologist who seems to think it’s OK to tie fully conscious patients to their beds to make them starve to death.

Now we have a a Mr. Schulz from Hamburg, who claims that Britain, not Germany, was responsible for World War II, that it was German civilians who suffered attrocities at the hands of the Britisn, not the other way around, and that Germany (unfairly) lost 150,000 km2 of “histo[r]ical land” after the war. In other words, he claims that Germany was the victim, not the aggressor in Europe in World War II.

Normally, I’d dismiss this as the ravings of a lunatic or a fool — but (a) I’ve actually heard these arguments before, and (b) lots of Americans are unaware that some Europeans things this way. Thus, I feel an obligation to respond.

It is utterly preposterous to claim that Britain, rather than Germany started World War II. Germany invaded Poland and divided it with the USSR just a few months after promising in a treaty with Britain not to invade Poland. The fact that Britain “declared” war after Germany actually began the war does not mean that responsibility for the war lies with Britain rather than Germany.

To claim that Britain is responsible for World War II is no different from claiming that if the police arrest a murderer, it is the police not the murderer who is to be blamed for the murderer’s loss of freedom. But if the murderer had never murdered he would not have been in jail, and since he has murdered, it is better that he lost his freedom.

And yes, Germany lost land after World War II. This is what happens when you lose a war. You cannot expect that Germany could invade and conquer Poland, Russia, Belgium, France, Denmark, and so on, then claim that it is somehow unjust that Germany “lost” a few cities after the war. There is no such thing as a “limited liability war” in which you try to take others’ terroritory, but upon losing insist that your territory is sacrosanct.

And this is completely putting aside the fact that to talk of the German state’s “historic land” in 1945 is rather disingenuous. At that point, Germany had only been a united state for 74 years (since 1871), and during that period its bounces changed several times. There was no “historic” German boundary at that time.

Dick Durbin, Guantánamo, and Vietnam (2)

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:13 am

Responding to my initial post on the Dick Durbin scandal, Ollie (who has his own political blog here, and a very cool math blog herethis describes one of my favorite math mind-benders) commented:

Had we read of our prisioners getting treated in this way (e. g., our POW’s in Vietnam) we would have been outraged.

I responded with some descriptions of how are POWs were treated in Vietnam, and compared them to how the prisoners in Vietnam have been treated.

Now, a bona fide POW held in Vietnam has spoken out — and his description of the horrors of the POW prison in Hanoi so far exceed even the most severe (and unproven) allegations of mistreatment at Guantánamo as to defy any comparison.

James H. Warner writes:

As a Marine Corps officer, I spent five years and five months in a prisoner of war camp in North Vietnam. I believe this gives me a benchmark against which to measure the treatment which Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, complained of at the Camp of Detention for Islamo-fascists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The senator’s argument is silly. If he believes what he has said his judgment is so poor that his countrymen, assuming, of course, that he considers us his countrymen, have no reason not to dismiss him as a witless boob. On the other hand, if he does not believe what he said, the other members of the Senate may wish to consider censure.

Consider nutrition. I have severe peripheral neuropathy in both legs as a residual of beriberi. I am fortunate. Some of my comrades suffer partial blindness or ischemic heart disease as a result of beriberi, a degenerate disease of peripheral nerves caused by a lack of thiamin, vitamin B-1. It is easily treated but is extremely painful.

Did Mr. Durbin say that some of the Islamo-fascist prisoners are suffering from beriberi? Actually, the diet enjoyed by the prisoners seems to be healthy. I saw the menu that Rep. Duncan Hunter presented a few days ago. It looks as though the food given the detainees at Guantanamo is wholesome, nutritious and appealing. I would be curious to hear Mr. Durbin explain how orange glazed chicken and rice pilaf can be compared to moldy bread laced with rat droppings.

In May 1969, I was taken out for interrogation on suspicion of planning an escape. I was forced to remain awake for long periods of time — three weeks on one occasion.

On the first of June, I was put in a cement box with a steel door, which sat out in the tropical summer sun. There, I was put in leg irons which were then wired to a small stool. In this position I could neither sit nor stand comfortably. Within 10 days, every muscle in my body was in pain (here began a shoulder injury which is now inoperable). The heat was almost beyond bearing. My feet had swollen, literally, to the size of footballs. I cannot describe the pain. When they took the leg irons off, they had to actually dig them out of the swollen flesh. It was five days before I could walk, because the weight of the leg irons on my Achilles tendons had paralyzed them and hamstrung me. I stayed in the box from June 1 until Nov. 10, 1969. While in the box, I lost at least 30 pounds. I would be curious to hear Mr. Durbin explain how this compares with having a female invade my private space, and whether a box in which the heat nearly killed me is the same as turning up the air conditioning.

The detainees at Guantanamo receive new Korans and prayer rugs, and the guards are instructed not to disturb the inmates’ prayers. Compare this with my experience in February 1971, when I watched as armed men dragged from our cell, successively, four of my cell mates after having led us in the Lord’s Prayer. Their prayers were in defiance of a January 1971 regulation in which the Communists forbade any religious observances in our cells. Does Mr. Durbin somehow argue that our behavior is the equivalent of the behavior of the Communists?

Actually, I was one of the lucky ones. At another camp, during the time I was being interrogated in the summer of 1969, one man was tortured to death and several were severely beaten. In fact, according to Headquarters Marine Corps, 20 percent of my fellow Marines failed to survive captivity. Have 20 percent of the Islamo-fascists failed to survive Guantanamo? [No prisoners there have died.; --DR]

The argument that detainees at Guantanamo are being treated badly is specious and silly. In the eyes of normal Americans, Democrats believe this argument because, as Jeanne Kirkpatrick said 20 years ago, they “always blame America first.” This contributes to the increasing suspicion, in red states, a problem that Democrats are aware of and are trying to counter, that Democrats cannot be trusted with our national security. Only the Democrats can change this perception, most recently articulated by White House adviser Karl Rove. The ball is in their court and I am certain there are steps that they can take to change this perception, but making silly arguments about imaginary bad treatment of enemy detainees is not a move in the right direction.

As if that weren’t enough, VariFrank points out that conditions for common criminals in San Quentin are much worse than for terrorists in Guantánamo.

Remember the ‘Y2K bug’?

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:45 am

Just asking. :-)

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