Another Murder Committed by a Police Officer in America and We All Look Away

Guns are a real problem in this country. Not just for citizens, but also in the hands of trigger-happy police officers.

I woke this morning to news that a police officer in Falcon Heights, Minnesota opened fire on, and murdered, the driver of a car he had pulled over for a broken tail light. In the passenger seat, his fiancée, Diamond Reynolds. In the back seat, Diamond’s four-year-old daughter.

The car was pulled over for a broken taillight. A simple “offense,” if you could call it that. Not even an offense; it’s a violation.

Until Diamond starts capturing video of the scene on her phone, we don’t know the particulars of the exchange between the unnamed police officer and Philando Castile. What we do know, according to Diamond, is that Philando informed the officer that he had a conceal-and-carry permit, and that, when he reached for his wallet to get out his ID for the officer, the unnamed police officer shot Philando four times.

Four times.

While his fiancée’s four-year-old daughter was in the back seat.

We know the name of the man who was murdered in cold blood by a police officer: Philando Castile. We know the name of the deceased; why not the name of the police officer?

After being shot, his arm nearly blown off, Philando slumped in the driver’s seat and died by his fiancée’s side. Meanwhile, the police officer stood by the side of the vehicle with his weapon still trained on Philando Castile, and did nothing to call for assistance.

There was no noticeable regret in the police officer’s voice.

No remorse.

Only, clearly, the voice of an agitated person who just murdered another human being.

An agitated person who just murdered another human being, whom he was sworn to protect and serve.

The voice of a murderer, and the cries of his would-be daughter and bride to be.

This is America.

No longer the land of the free.

Especially if you are black.

Playing Chicken in an Election Year

Let’s play this out, shall we…

Today, President Obama appointed Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court of the United States (#SCOTUSnom). Now, the Republican majority has said that they aren’t even going to consider this nominee because of a hypothetical situation discussed on the Senate floor by then Senator Joe Biden (who is now the Vice President). The Republican majority is calling this “The Biden Rule” to try and rally support for their cause.

As Mitch McConnell said:

“The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration. The next president may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy.”

So, they want the people to decide. We did decide when we reelected President Obama. We did decide when we elected the members of the current House and Senate. To say that they aren’t even going to consider this appointment is nothing short of a dereliction of duty. The members of the House and Senate were elected by us. If they won’t uphold their duties, as defined by the U.S. Constitution, then they should be held accountable. They should be impeached and removed from the highchairs they were elected to.

So here’s the rub, folks. The Republicans want the next SCOTUS appointment to be made by the next President, whomever that may be. Essentially, they are banking on a YUGE “if” at a time when Donald Trump is the Republican party’s front-runner for the RNC’s Presidential nomination. Let’s say that the next election is Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump, and Trump loses in a landslide because nobody wants to elect the village idiot to the highest office in the country.

The irony here is, in their failed attempt to see if the Presidential election goes their way, the Republican-controlled Senate faces their next dilemma: It is now #Hillary’s turn to appoint the next member of SCOTUS. That nominee could very well be…wait for it…former President Barack Obama.

Remember, before entering politics, Barack Obama was an accomplished attorney. He graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, and he taught Constitutional Law. And, since SCOTUS often has to rule on the Constitutionality of lower court rulings, who better to be on the Supreme Court of the United States?

The Republicans are playing chicken in an election year. This won’t end well for them.

Reboot This

There’s been a lot of fluff lately about the reboot of the Ghostbusters movie because it no longer features a mostly male cast. So what. The reboot, just as any, should be judged by the script, the chemistry of the characters/actors, and the soundtrack (yes, I hold that accountable, too).

What bothers me most about this is that it’s a bunch of men—whom I will collectively refer to as Bros—who are complaining about replacing the Ghostbusters team with a crew of women.

So, let’s use this as an experiment. Let’s take another successful franchise and flip it around on its sex axis. Let’s use Charlie’s Angels as an example. I think a brilliant reboot of that could be one where the movie starts out with the Angels’ headquarters being taken down. Bosley’s dead (previously played by Bill Murray), and the only remaining Angel is Dylan Sanders, played by Drew Barrymore. She is the new Bosley. Everyone else? Gone. Toast. The opposing faction (whoever they are) wiped them out.

So now it’s Dylan’s job to, as they say, put the team back together. The new Angels would consist of a three-dude team, consisting of Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, 21 and 22 Jump Street), Jay Chou (Green Hornet, The Interview), and Aml Ameen (The Maze Runner). Three fairly beefy dudes who bring different strengths to the new crew of Charlie’s Angels, led by a strong female character whose team faces an unknown threat.

To me, that would be an awesome reboot. But, do you think all of the women would be up in arms because women were replaced by men?

Grow up Bros.

Meanwhile, if anyone in Hollywood is interested, I’ll totally write the script for the aforementioned Charlie’s Angels reboot.

Little-known Subtitles for the Expendables Movies

The next installment of the Expendables franchise, Expendables 3, hits theaters on August 15. Granted, I haven’t seen 1 and 2, but I think the studio is missing a huge opportunity here to have some fun with subtitles; here are my suggestions:

  • Expendables 1: Everyone’s Got a Gun
  • Expendables 2: Electric Boogaloo
  • Expendables 3: Van Damme Had to Pee
  • Expendables 4: Everyone on the Floor!
  • Expendables 5: Stallone Takes a Dive
  • Expendables 6: Now with Chicks!
  • Expendables 7: Nobody Lands in Heaven
  • Expendables 8: Statham Lifts a Crate
  • Expendables 9: Beuller? Beuller? Beuller?
  • Expendables 10: Here We Go Again

I’d totally greenlight any of those.

What A Difference A Year Makes :)

One year ago yesterday was my last day at Apple. I worked as the “Lead Editor” in the Developer Publications (DevPubs) group for a grand total of 495 days. The time I spent at Apple was—without a doubt—the worst experience in my career.

Flash back to April 2, 2013. I confided in a friend (and former author of mine) about how I needed to get out of there before the job killed me. DevPubs was soul-crushing. Only a few of the writers actually cared about the work, let alone the audience they were writing for (Mac and iOS developers). He mentioned that Ken Case at The Omni Group had posted a Tweet saying they were looking for a writer to join their team in Seattle. I had known Ken and a couple of the engineers at Omni for a few years, but only peripherally, so I decided to give this a shot.

I went back to my office, grabbed my iPhone, went outside and sat on the stoop, and sent Ken the following email:

Hi Ken,

I’m wondering if this position is still open. If so, I would like to apply and can send over my résumé later today.


A little over an hour later, Ken replied:


Yes, it’s still open. We look forward to receiving your application!


I went home that night, updated my résumé, and submitted it through the normal channels.

A week or so later, I was invited up to Seattle to interview for the Documentation Wrangler position. To prep for the interview, I read all of Omni’s documentation. PDFs were available online, so I snagged and read through them, making notes here and there about what I liked or would do differently given the chance. I read through their support articles and went into the forums to see not just the comments from customers, but how Omni’s incredibly dedicated and thoughtful Support Humans responded. I was impressed.

I had two rounds of interviews that morning. Most of my career has been as an editor—magazines, books, online magazines, Apple’s developer docs—and while I have written a few books and articles on the side, this was the first writing job I had ever applied for. I was nervous as hell.

I thought the interviews went well, and they asked a lot of tough questions, including “Why do you want to be a writer? Why now?”, which I feared would come up at some point. I mean, hell, I’m pushing 50. I’d ask that, too. But the best part about the interview the back and forth I had with their sole Documentation Wrangler, David. The man had ideas. Ideas that sung to me. Things we both wanted to do. It was like the Power Twins meeting after they were separated at birth. Except, well, I’m older. Much older. Probably crankier. Definitely.

Now, mind you, about 18 months earlier I had been through interviews at Apple. There was a lot of talk about what they wanted to do, or things I would like to do. There was a lot of nodding and “Yes, we need that here” type of comments. It was encouraging. I felt I belonged there. A lot of my friends and former authors thought I belonged there, too.

The rug kept getting pulled out from under me at Apple, and the writer’s attitudes were appalling. I actually had one writer say to me that all an editor did was check punctuation and look for typos. Maybe that’s what he expected, but I tore his subpar work apart. He complained to his writing manager. I got my ass handed to me for being harsh and critical. Sorry, but in my opinion as a professional editor, this person wasn’t qualified to be a technical reviewer of some of the books I edited for O’Reilly and Pearson, let alone as a documentation writer for material that was going to be used by a worldwide audience of developers.

After 495 days of stuff like that (okay, more like 435, if you account for April and May last year), I’d had enough. The final straw came during a lunch meeting with my manager. As always, he fumbled through the lunchtime conversation; never able to get to the point. And, as he had during a few previous lunch meetings, he said “We still don’t know what to do with you.” I was pissed. I remember walking out of that lunch thinking, “Well, I sure as hell do.”

I discovered the job at The Omni Group less than a week later and applied after talking with Colleen about it. We had moved from Boston to Sunnyvale for my job at Apple, far away from all of her family and friends. A New Englander through and through, I feared that she wouldn’t be interested in a move to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. Colleen, who is also a writer, told me to apply for the job at Omni. She had only been up to Seattle once before to visit her brother Daniel (who now lives in Boston), so this whole area was a strange new frontier for her, but after a year-and-a-half in Silicon Valley, she was as ready as me to get out of there.

My time so far at The Omni Group has been nothing less than amazing. I feel very fortunate and honored to work alongside such dedicated people who care about every last detail of their work. People as picky as me. I like that. And the stuff we talked about wanting to do during my interviews? Yeah, so far we’ve done all of that, and we’re already making plans for ways to improve our documentation in the future. I love this place!

Thank you, Omni, for restoring my faith in a humane workplace where people can get along and accomplish anything. And as I approach my one-year Omniversary, I can’t help but think, “What a difference a year makes.”