Recent comments

  • Park Police Arrest Men Who Brought a Loaded Submachine Gun to a Playground in National Capital Parks-East   5 years 48 weeks ago

    As a follow up on crime statistics, I was just checking them out for this year. A quick glance of the numbers shows that more homicides have happened in Police District 7, which is Anacostia, than any of the other districts. Property crimes are higher in some of the other police districts. Even if crime rates were lower, my point would have been the same. You can't talk about any kind of crime in this park and this place without talking about - it's not a unique kind of event that can be abstracted from the neighborhood or the city's context.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Park Police Arrest Men Who Brought a Loaded Submachine Gun to a Playground in National Capital Parks-East   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Shaw is gentrified (my friends in Proposition One - the anti-nuclear vigil at Lafayette Park in front of the White House - can tell you that by the rapid increase in property taxes that they can't afford to pay) and the Benning Road / East Capitol Street area isn't far behind. As the H Street corridor has become overrun with new businesses and as Capitol Hill expands to the east toward RFK, things change - though not the crime. Actually, as far as crime rates, it depends what you look at. The highest number of robberies, for instance, in DC happen in NW neighborhoods, 2 of which no one would expect given the number of yuppies living in them (Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, and rapidly gentrifying Columbia Heights are the three neighborhoods with the highest number of muggings). But, Anacostia - especially Ward 8 (Marion Barry's ward) is certainly the poorest ward in the city. The idea that someone has a submachine gun in the park in Anacostia wouldn't really surprise anyone.

    But, no, Ted, this isn't an issue that's reducible to its face value. It's simply an accident that it's a story of guns in a park in this case. There is no real boundary in DC between parks and non-parks, and so no real boundary where they appear and don't appear and the reasons why. The story gets at that somewhat by noting the way neighborhoods and parks overlap somewhat (and this park unit is actually more geographically definable than some in DC - but it never matters; take Rock Creek Park, which cuts the NW of the city in half - it's still an impossibly blurry line from the ongoings of the city itself, especially as it must be crossed constantly just to get from one part of NW to another part. You simply cannot grasp or discuss this story without talking about the context of this city, of these people, and what brings them there.

    This is a minor story in the DC world; it's a complete non-story in the parks world, except to highlight that the national parks run so many of the parks in DC, so much so that the only question of relevance when an arrest is made is what jail you have to go find them at. Gun regulations in the park would do nothing to change this story; removing the park boundary would do nothing. All it would change is the location of the jail and what uniforms are doing the arresting - not a particularly interesting discussion. Of course, some will talk about how this is evidence that the park units might be stripped off, especially in the unique environment of DC where the parks are essentially city parks run by NPS. Okay, sure, whatever ... but highlighting this instance should point us to different questions, even on a national parks site. Or, are we that vacuous in the way we consider stories? If we are going to talk about a crime in Anacostia, we have to talk about the world that makes up National Capital Parks-East. That's the ecosystem, much the way that buffalo, bears, wolves, and lodgepole pines make up the one right outside the door of where I live now. The urban environment, particularly this environment, which is not simply a city - but a city with a unique and particular history that colors how issues like this are discussed and considered - needs to be essential to the discussion. In fact, to look so narrowly at the guns in park aspect of this is to go off on a wild tangent; it's merely the incident. I would say the same about a report about a speeding ticket in Yellowstone - what it would say is something more about the relationship of people and wildlife, not about speeding per se.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Park Police Arrest Men Who Brought a Loaded Submachine Gun to a Playground in National Capital Parks-East   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Anacostia is actually a large and diverse section of Washington, DC that includes many well-kept homes and even some mansions in the neighborhoods adjacent to Fort Dupont Park. There are indeed areas that have high poverty rates and are prone to crime but I would avoid painting with such a broad brush about a section of DC that is probably far safer statistically than other neighborhoods such as Shaw and sections of far Northeast along Benning Road and East Capitol Street.

  • Park Police Arrest Men Who Brought a Loaded Submachine Gun to a Playground in National Capital Parks-East   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Actually, in the purist sense, laws are what we "civilized" people use to delineate between law-abiding citizens and the criminal element. To repeatedly utilize the rhetoric, as has been stated in SO many previous threads that laws only apply to those who follow them is ludicrous, and a prime example of flawed logic. A society that maintains a moral compass, a sense of decency, respect for ALL members and many most importantly, a personal sense of honor requires little in the way of "forced" supervision and monitoring. Unfortunately the human animal has yet to aspire to that height of civilization, hence the need for some manner of legal documentation specific to what is and more to the point, what is not permissible within our societal structure.

    Could it be that the subjects decided it best not to tip their hand as to their true intent by prematurely "gunning it out" during an unexpected visit from the authorities? Or, given the locale as quite aptly described in Jim's post, could it have been intended as a plant for someone who was to attempt to leave the jail in an untimely pre-release party over the holiday weekend? Speculation and imagination can lead us anywhere without some type of hard evidence, but my spidey-sense tells me that this most God awful weapon was not to be used by the goofs who brought it to the park. Blowtorches like this have no place in a civilized world, which is precisely why they currently are allowed to exist. Our lack of moral compass and incessant lobbying from groups who claim that one should be able to obtain whatever manner of firepower they believe is required for the purposes of "hunting and providing for the family". The only animal this repeater was designed to hunt, my friends, I most certainly hope you're not throwing on the barbecue this or any other weekend. If you are, PLEASE have the decency not to tell anyone, except maybe your minister, should you be so inclined, and the local constable.

    In either case, to Officers Brecht and Omo, a most deserved "well done" and "thank you" are due from us all. There can be no room for doubt on anyone's part that this machine pistol wasn't going to be utilized for any purpose that could even remotely be described as "proper, useful, or justified".

  • Park Police Arrest Men Who Brought a Loaded Submachine Gun to a Playground in National Capital Parks-East   5 years 48 weeks ago

    MRC said:

    "Give [the D.C. Parks] to the City then there is one police force, who knows the parks as part of the neighborhoods. ... This split jurisdiction seems to me as a nightmare from the point of law enforcement.
    In many contexts across the nation, I believe the maintenance of a separate, unique, isolated Park law enforcement is inane bordering on the ludicrous.

    Facetiously, Olympic Nat'l Park enforcement consists of one man who really wanted to do something else, a small boy, and a pet dog. To cover a million acres. Olympic enforcement should be done by the Counties in which it is embedded, and in fact both State Patrol and County Sheriff double-patrol part of the Park jurisdiction, are handy to all of it ... and likewise in most Parks. The present set-up is rinky-dink, bogus, and ineffective in the face of any real need.

  • Park Police Arrest Men Who Brought a Loaded Submachine Gun to a Playground in National Capital Parks-East   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Jim Macdonald asserts:

    "The issue is Anacostia, poverty, racism ..."

    The topic of this post, titled "Park Police Arrest Men Who Brought a Loaded Submachine Gun to a Playground in National Capital Parks-East" is unusually tightly-focused, and it is a guns-issue topic, to an unusually emphatic degree.

    That some would prefer to divert the topic of discussion away from issues & matters with which they are uncomfortable (gun rights, 2nd Amendment, legal firearms in the Parks) but which are indeed closely tied to the actual topic of this post is understandable, but it remains simply that: an attempt to divert the conversation & thread.

    This weapons-offense story is not about the bane of poverty that afflicts our American cities, nor the scourge of poverty that ravages much of planet Earth (to which we give short account).

    This story is not about the urban decay & dissipation on display in many of our cities. The 'modern city' is a business-model which has demonstrated the limits of it's competence. An interesting theme - but a separate topic.

    This is not a story of broad philosophical strokes and over-arching rhetorical devices.

    This is a guns-story of the plainest & earthiest kind.

  • Park Police Arrest Men Who Brought a Loaded Submachine Gun to a Playground in National Capital Parks-East   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Eloquent and spot on. I am interested in solutions. Any ideas?

  • Park Police Arrest Men Who Brought a Loaded Submachine Gun to a Playground in National Capital Parks-East   5 years 48 weeks ago

    I'm not talking about Piscataways except in an ironic sense. The issue is Anacostia, poverty, racism, a place that has been left behind, and the world that has grown up around this depressed place. It's only irony that allows this to be called a national park at all, although there's something green about it in the stench of the air.

    That this story is the same as the story of the place that came long before is simply just ironic.

    And, that people think this can be simply a story of people defending themselves and gun rights and crime entirely misses the point ... a story like this that becomes a discussion of that is lost in the abstraction of the ideological discussion. The people in this downtrodden, heavily African American area where things like this are regular occurrences inside and outside the park cannot be allowed to become another general conversation about guns and self defense.

    When people think of Washington, DC, they think of government and Constitution and aloofness from the rest of the world; unfortunately, the country is aloof to the human stories of this city. In a place like DC, whose gun laws were recently struck down by the Supreme Court, a city whose people will always be close to my heart, making this another abstract discussion about parks and guns (fueled by a practical instance), really only exacerbates the colonial status that the city still labors under and these people most of all. What I mean by that is that colonialism is exacerbated by the discussion because the event mentioned in this park unit is essentially neither a park story nor really a gun story; to discuss this story as though it is blinds us to the lack of voice that the people in DC have and perhaps the people of Anacostia have most of all (the Indian reference was a veiled reference to that).

    Submachine guns and crime are mainstays of a city with such wealth. You don't walk through the streets of DC as a resident without being consciously aware of it - whether you are inside or outside of the parks. And, you notice race, and you notice where people live and don't live, where they walk and where they don't walk. Anacostia is perhaps the most extreme example of the DC experience, and a unit managed by the national parks in Anacostia is almost irrelevant to what happened. So too is any discussion about the merits of the 2nd Amendment; with or without it, the same condition is there. With or without extreme gun laws, with or without those parks - and if people don't stop and look at that instead of going right at the same pat discussion that is so common here on this site - then they will totally miss what happened and why east of the river.

    Free DC,
    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Park Police Arrest Men Who Brought a Loaded Submachine Gun to a Playground in National Capital Parks-East   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Is there any reason why the city parks of D.C. are in the jurisdaiction of the NPS and their Park Police? Give them to the City then there is one police force, who knows the parks as part of the neighborhoods. Not two with experience in the either the parks or the residential areas. This split jurisdiction seems to me as a nightmare from the point of law enforcement.

    And who would believe the city parks are managed according to the Organic Act anyway.

  • Park Police Arrest Men Who Brought a Loaded Submachine Gun to a Playground in National Capital Parks-East   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Jim,

    I do have a strong interest in Native American themes, and have become a much more assertive advocate on their behalf as the 'victors version' of history has worn thin for me. I may well look into the native context that you bring up.

    However, this is not a story about Natives: It's a weapons-offense story that happens to have occurred on former Indian territory ... a circumstance that would apply equally to all the rest of North American as well.

    This story is indeed closely germane to 2nd Amendment themes - which are currently before our Nation and the National Parks constituency as rarely before - and is not an Indian-story.

    The "story of this place" may well be interesting & important, but it's a different topic.

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   5 years 48 weeks ago

    I believe the simplistic answer to the protection of historic signage is simply, and feel free to correct (or feel indignant by the usage of) the colloquial grammar:

    The system ain't got no money for such altruistic pursuits.

  • Park Police Arrest Men Who Brought a Loaded Submachine Gun to a Playground in National Capital Parks-East   5 years 48 weeks ago

    The park is in the poorest part of the District of Columbia; the Park Service has its local jail in that area as well. It's a very sad and filthy place - you can't go there without recognizing that racial divisions are alive and well in our country.

    It's in an area right along the riverfront, which used to be a Piscataway Indian trading area - but long gone and forgotten by most.

    And, thinking of this, one thought comes to mind - if we reduce this discussion about this place to guns and the rights to bear them, then we are severely misunderstanding the story of this place and the people who live there.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Hidden Hall of Records at Mount Rushmore   5 years 48 weeks ago

    I'm certain that the new movie, National Treasure, will stir up renewed interest in the hall and its creator.

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Omar asks:

    "... why does the NPS not Protect [historic signs] from Vandalism, ie. plexiglass enclosures."
    I agree, Omar, historic artifacts deserve some thought to protection & preservation. There are different ways to protect, some of which are already implemented. The factors that weight on the plexiglass approach (which I have seen used) might run like this:
    • The sign has made it a lifetime without anybody feeling compelled to fabricate a corny excuse to vandalize it.
    • Artifacts need a range of forms of protection: e.g., plexiglass will be excessive for some roles, and insufficient for others.
    • There are huge numbers of artifacts, and the burden to provide high levels of assurance that a fool could never damage any of them could be too costly.
    • We really do depend as a society - beyond the question of a nice, local, old sign - on the good will and common sense of everyone. That approach lets us have the freedom & personal responsibility we like to enjoy as mostly reasonably human beings ... and generally this policy is efficient & effective.

    We don't hear as much about shoplifting in stores anymore, and I think that is thanks to video cameras studding the ceilings, etc. As people become conditioned to the fact that in increasing numbers of public contexts the setting is be video-recorded & monitored, substantial security improvements can be had simply by mounting a fixture that is suggestive of a camera.

    It's a tough call in some of the diverse settings where vandalism might occur, and perfection will surely elude us, but it is right & worthwhile that we think about protection and continue to seek improvements.

    Dad said (when asked if the Master lock on the barn could withstand a bullet):

    "We put locks on doors to keep good people honest, not to stop the bad ones."

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   5 years 48 weeks ago

    If these signs and other signs around the National Parks are felt to be "Historic" (designated), then why does the NPS not Protect them from Vandalism, ie. plexiglass enclosures.
    Are the fines that are collected for vandalism going to be used to protect similar historic signs in the future?

  • Park Police Arrest Men Who Brought a Loaded Submachine Gun to a Playground in National Capital Parks-East   5 years 48 weeks ago

    And here I thought it was illegal to have firearms in a national park! Wait..it is against the law. Plus those fully automatic weapons were not legal to possess anywhere. Silly me. Laws only apply to people that follow the law. As this article has stated, the criminals already have the weapons in our parks and the rest of us are left unprotected. Hail to the leftists for empowering these guys!

    We need to have reasonable regulations regarding firearms in the parks for those that do follow the law. The total ban we have now is unenforceable. Until we require the complete search of vehicles and persons entering the parks and put large, unscalable walls around them to limit entry, weapons will enter the parks.

    Fortunately, these two guys gave up early. Otherwise, the officers and god knows who else could have been toast. Kudos to Officers Brecht and Omo!

  • **** Viewing National Parks Traveler on Firefox 3.0****   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Yeah, but that module usually only contains the five most recent posts. On good days there might be five or six kicked out, and if you rise too late or miss a day, well, you'll miss the juice;-) And don't forget the featured post.

  • **** Viewing National Parks Traveler on Firefox 3.0****   5 years 48 weeks ago

    You've made the juice too accessible by the backdoor! I usually follow a link directly to an article from my Yahoo module. While that article is up, the Visitor Center and Recent Comments appear on the right. That's all I need. Now, if you hide those frames, I'll be forced to go to the front page, which would make me angry....and you wouldn't like me when I'm angry. ;-)

  • **** Viewing National Parks Traveler on Firefox 3.0****   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Kirby, you don't go to the front page?!?$#?!!! That's where all the juice is!

    Ted, Bill's paying me to thwart FF.

    Anon, yeah, we saw the problem with Safari, too. Not sure what became of that.

    Beamis, flattery will get you nowhere. But remember the sentiment once we get the non-profit;-)

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   5 years 48 weeks ago

    My great-grandparents homesteaded in New Mexico, and Grandpa was raised in the classic "Three Sisters" agricultural + ranching milieu. Through him, all his kids have continued to refer to sorghum as sogrum, and are always non-plussed when somebody (who doesn't know not to..) asks, "You mean sorghum?"

    Furthermore, both Granddad's & Dad's given name is "Teen", a very rare moniker which we can't account for ... and very hard to research on the Internet.

    ... So me fuss about weird usage? Not on your sogrum pancakes!

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   5 years 48 weeks ago

    When I lived in deepest rural South Carolina they would ask a newcomer if they "was kilt?" Which was a polite way of asking if you were married.

  • **** Viewing National Parks Traveler on Firefox 3.0****   5 years 48 weeks ago

    It's too late because I upgraded before I knew of the consequences. I'll scroll down and see what I'm missing. No biggie. You're worth the hassle Kurt.

  • Flooding Nurtures Life in Congaree National Park   5 years 48 weeks ago

    I might add that the Harry Hampton Visitor Center is among the best in the NPS. Everything from it's setting (almost invisible from 100 feet away!) to the educational dioramas and mounts to the most energetic rangers I've ever met made that VC a memorable one for me. Badlands may have just eclipsed it as my favorite VC, but I love the Harry Hampton. Which begs the question: Who was Harry Hampton?

    Wikipedia tells me he was a British hero of the Boer War.....gotta be a different Harry.

    Hmmm...seems he was an advocate for preservation of the area from back in the mid-twentieth century. I should probably learn more about him. I'm such an obsessive naturalist, I tend to overlook human history I should know.

  • Park Police Arrest Men Who Brought a Loaded Submachine Gun to a Playground in National Capital Parks-East   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Strange alright ... 'course, had they been in a homicidal frame of mind, they had more than enough firepower to overwhelm the two officers - and escape. They were up to something irregular ... but maybe not a shooting-spree.

    Hope we get more info on the case.

  • **** Viewing National Parks Traveler on Firefox 3.0****   5 years 48 weeks ago

    It was sometimes like that with 2.0 on a Mac as well, and with Safari.