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Merry Christmas 2007

May your holiday season be filled with many fond memories!

Above the Law

Few things really get my blood boiling like this video from an Austin. Cops like this who think they are above the law are a menace to society and make generally law-abiding people like me extremely wary of all cops. I’m sure there are some good ones out there, but my experiences with cops have been mostly negative*, and but for the grace of God I haven’t ended up like the poor person in the video. Apparently, all the cop got was a three day suspension. How about a felony assault charge and a life ban from any position of authority ever again? Thats what he deserves.

Now, I am totally in favor of law enforcement being able to get down and dirty with real criminals, but someone taking their time to get their drivers license because the cop is being a total dick is not a criminal activity. Another thing that makes me sick is that there are people out there that think the cop was acting properly. But I guess every despot has had followers.

* negative experiences include:

Being “pulled over” (I was on foot) by a Bellevue motorcycle cop for crossing a one-lane crosswalk against the signal. Ok, I can accept that I was breaking the law, even if it is a stupid law. But then the cop goes on to lie to me — he told me that “my parents wouldn’t have to find out” since I cooperated with him. Not that I cared — I told my mom just minutes later (I was walking to her office). What makes this whole thing a negative experience is that the cop proceeded to file some paperwork and my parents got a letter from the police telling them that their son had been caught crossing against the light! The lying SOB!

Being harassed with threat of arrest by a Bellevue cop for a phantom hit-and-run. My brother’s college roommate was visiting, and he was driving near downtown Bellevue; I was a passenger. On a hill, a car pulled up extremely close behind us (we even mentioned this fact to each other before the rest of the story occurred). The roommate attempted to start up the hill, but drifted back a small amount because of the steepness of the hill. He slammed on the brake, but we weren’t sure if we had hit the back behind us. So we looked  back at the lady in the car, who, it appeared to us both, was telling us to just drive on. She seemed annoyed that we were stopped, and made no indication that we had hit her. Apparently, that all changed in the several hours after the incident. So it suddenly became a hit-and-run, and a cop showed up to harass me and the roommate. He made it clear that he could arrest us both, that we had committed a felony, and that he meant business. Only the timely arrival of my dad got the situation back under control.

Another arrest threat, and being sworn at, by another Bellevue cop, for a well-controlled skidding maneuver, which the cop decided he could chose to interpret as “reckless.” At a party at a friends house in Newport Hills, a friend of mine was having a bad time and I noticed that he needed a break from the present company, so I suggested that he and I take a ride. Since some of the party-goers had been giving him a hard time, I peeled out in front of the house on my way out. The truck was in complete control the entire time, but it made a pretty good sound. I had been careful too – no cars were coming from either direction when I performed the maneuver. So when immediately after, a car was behind me, I knew something was up. I couldn’t see that it was a cop, but I had a very strong feeling that it was, so I drove very conservatively for several blocks with the car following me. I finally pulled into a parking lot and the car followed me again, and the cop finally revealed himself by turning on the light bar and the bright interrogation light that cops use to intimidate people (and occasionally to do something useful, like look for real criminals). Apparently his plan was to see if I was going to speed or do some crazy out-of-control stuff. Obviously I didn’t oblige him, so instead the cop tried to get a rise out of me and asked repeatedly if I was a “smartass” and told me he could arrest me for reckless driving (I was thinking that it would never stand up in court, but I just smiled and said, nicely, “I don’t think that is necessary”). Having me grovel for 15 minutes was apparently enough for him, and he eventually let me go, because he figured he couldn’t really make anything stick anyway.

There was the cop in Issaquah who pulled me over for doing five over the speed limit because he “didn’t see my brake lights” after I passed  him. I guess he got a rush out of seeing the power he had over people, and failing to get it from me, decided that he would force me to give him the rush by showing me that he could write a ticket for 5 over.

There was the State Patrol officer who gave me a ticker for “speed to fast for conditions” after a tire quickly deflated on the SUV I was driving, which sent me into the ditch. The same officer also told a fellow citizen with a wench that he could not pull be out of the ditch; instead I had to pay nearly $300 to wait an hour to have a “professional”  tow truck pull me out and take me to Les Schwab where I got the tire’s large but fixable leak finished. I would have preferred to spend that hour putting on a spare on and driving back to Les Schwab myself, but apparently the state police have a contract with this particular tow truck company. Yes, my friends, police corruption is alive and well in this country.  I later fought the ticket in court and won, in part because the cop had no idea what actually happened. The only redeeming part of the tow truck ride was the driver telling us stories about how he had towed cars that went off the road in snow and ice under the contract (of which he saw all of $12, he told us). In more than a few instances, the cops who had called in the tow truck and written the drivers tickets ended up in the ditch themselves. I imagine that they didn’t write themselves tickets. Above the law once again…

A regular sight on the highway is a solo cop in the HOV lane just avoiding traffic and speeding 10-20 over as well. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cop not speed on the highway in fact, and always at speeds that would get any otherwise law-abiding citizen pulled over. I wonder if cops understand how much damage they do to their profession when they pull over good people who are only following the cop’s own example.

Next time: How to get back at the cops.

Ryan’s Theory of Grade Points

Yesterday at work after discovering the last of my grades, I came up with what I think is a reasonable way to think about grades, at least for me. By taking the 0.0-4.0 grade as an exponent of 10 provides a number that seems to me to be about equivalent to how well I actually did in a class. For example, I feel that my 3.9 is Computational Bioengineering was about 10 times better than the 2.9 I got in BioChem. Similarly, the 4.0 I got in 467 was about 1.25 times better than the 3.9 I got in my BioE classes.

This paradigm translates fairly well to letter grades as well: Each half-letter grade (ie, A to A-, which is equivalent to 4.0 to 3.7) represents a 2 to 2.5 multiple of the “grade goodness.”

B+ = 3.3 -> A- = 3.7 = 10^3.7 / 10^3.3 = 2.5x difference
B- = 2.7 -> B = 3.0 = 10^3.0 / 10^2.7 = 2x difference

I’m not sure how well it translates to very low grades, but it seems to work well down to my lowest UW grade — a 2.4 — where the system tells me that I did about 40 times worse than I could have, which certainly feels about right.

Silverfir Productions

Last night, in yet another sign that the music industry establishment is in its death throes, I went into the music production business. Local artist Daniel Moretti decided to cash in a four-year-old coupon to hold a studio session at Chez McElroy. The result of about five hours of work is a four-minute-long song that is a quite impressive piece of music, although I still need to do a little production work on it. Entitled “Over and Over,” download it below for a listen!

Daniel Moretti – Over and Over

Autumn 2007 Grades

Looks like predictions were just in the nick of time… Grades began to be posted today. The Capstone grade is preliminary — the grade I get at the end of next quarter there determines my grade for all three Capstone quarters.

I will fill in the rest when they are posted.

Course Course Title Credits Grade

Looks like the Dean’s list is likely (Yup); With a good grade in 499, I can even maintain my hard-fought 3.7 GPA average (Yup). Stupid Biochem (Yup).

Graded Credits
Grade Points
Grade Point
Total Credits
18.0 66.80 3.71 18.0

Grade Predictions — Autumn 2007

A friend of mine mentioned to me last night (ie, a few hours ago) that I had not yet posted grade predictions for my most recent quarter. Thanks to her reminder, I am now correcting this oversight.

Biochemistry (BioC 405): 3.0
Computational Bioengineering (BioEn 485): 3.9
Neural Engineering (BioEn 499C): 3.9
Advanced Digital Design (CSE 467): 4.0

Not So Hardcore

LAN party today, 1-whenever, and I fell asleep at 3:30 or so. Just got home, and people there are still going. So much for youth!