The Jaws Coverup: Good Cop vs. Bad 'Rats

I think it is safe to say that it is obvious to anyone who has watched the classic film Jaws  that the character of Alex Kintner is horrifically killed by the same shark alluded to in the film's title. 

However, this past year while seeing the film continuously in play on the Independent Film Channel and after seeing all I have seen from litigious lawyers in recent years, I began to form a theory on who, or what, could be responsible for Alex Kintner being killed by the shark.

While Chief Brody may have suffered a public slap of shame from Mrs. Kintner, he was nothing more than the fall guy for the people who would not let the beaches be closed in spite of the information they knew.  There. You smell that? That is a lawsuit in search of an antiestablishment lawyer and, oh, but to hypothesize of how such a coverup would be viewed by the public. 

Imagine the Hypothetical:
A town's mayor knew a girl was killed in open waters and later parts of her body were found on a public beach -- by whatever means does not matter, a person was killed -- and the mayor did not report it to another jurisdiction, nor call for a separate investigation from another entity, nor listen to his medical examiner or his chief of police; and instead he demanded the beaches be opened for the sake of the almighty summer dollar?! 

Holy sardines; that story would be eaten up in a public feeding frenzy faster than the shark ate Alex.

Then to add on top of that: The owner and publisher of the local newspaper did not report the death of the female swimmer, the very death which prompts Brody to close the beaches. Now why wouldn't such a story be published; is the death of a swimmer in open waters not considered news worthy in a town surrounded by water? 

Plus, it is that swimmer's death in which the medical examiner agrees to amend autopsy reports based on urging from the mayor -- a doctor altered documents at the request of a politician?! -- which all takes place in front of the newspaperman who does not report on the coverup, since he is a part of it. Oh, can't you just taste the deception waiting to be revealed in a courtroom? 

Not to mention the newspaperman is also a town councilman and he is the one who cites the legal requirements of shutting down the beaches to Brody!  Can you say 'conflict of interest'? I can. 

Obviously the position as a town councilman is a major conflict of interest with being a newspaperman for this character, since he is unwilling to report information to the public which concerns their safety yet he is willing to have a say on what benefits his personal interests when it goes against public safety and, not to mention, his profession as a reporter. Oooh, if that doesn't put the 'rat' in bureaucrat, I don't know what does. 

When it comes to the technical/legal requirements of shutting down the beaches that the newspaperman cites to Brody, those are the laws that I speculate are responsible for Alex Kintner being killed by the shark. The shark killed Alex, no doubt about that, but had the law not been used against Brody and had the beaches gotten closed, would Alex not have been killed on that particular day? I like to think the possibility strongly exists, but I am bias since it is my theory. 

I mean, hello! Parts of a body are found washed up on shore. And a town councilman has the gall to cite the law in order to stop a police officer from protecting the public and closing the beaches while the matter is under investigation?!?!  As a kid the shark scared me; as an adult this 'rat scares me even more.

Now, while the law was used for evil in this case and not for good, the law was ultimately a helpless victim in the hands of heinous henchman. What are laws but words on paper, and words on paper are just that -- words on paper. Inanimate and one-dimensional, words have no power on their own without an individual to act upon the words.

So, what brought those words of law into so much power that the result was a little boy being killed and a mother losing her child? Bureaucrats. Specifically three bureaucrats in the form of one mayor, one councilman, and one medical examiner.

I like to think positively that such a lawyer exists who would rip these fictional 'rats to pieces without a trace left for plankton to feed upon. A girl can dream. And that is all any of this is, hypothetical dreaming of what would be in a fictional setting.

In reality, even though bureaucrats take part in coverups, and newspaper reporters do not always report accurate or correct information, and doctors have been found guilty of amending or falsifying reports, my time in court has shown me that lawsuits do not always solve everything for everyone.

Lawsuits do not bring dead people to life. Lawsuits do not make pain go away. Lawsuits do not guarantee justice, truth, or money...unless you are being paid to work on the case, of course.

So it is probably best that Jaws played out the way it did, without a nasty and costly lawsuit, and without a three-ring circus of he-said/he-said. Because the fact is if people want to see that, they can visit their local courthouse.

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Hank Schrader: The 'Bad' Behind the Badge

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The recent multi-week marathon of AMC's Breaking Bad ended the other night, but I could not bring myself to watch the ending again, not yet anyways. I am still heartbroken from the first time I watched it.

The entire series leaves me laughing and lamenting; feeling torn and twisted, amused and awestruck; unsure what to think from one scene to the next, and humanely woeful for all the parties involved. 

Pretty much how I used to feel at the end of a day of taking down the record in legal proceedings. I think that is one reason I enjoy Breaking Bad as much as I do; the dynamics of the characters parallel what I have seen played out in real life.

When it comes to not knowing what to think, it seems as if the total no-brainer of the series is that Walter White is the baddest of the bad, the cruelest of the cruel, and the horror of all horrors. Walter is no saint, I give him that. However, is Walter the only bad character on the show? Not by a long shot.

There is book-cooking Skyler, kleptomaniac Marie, and lying Lydia, just to name a few of my favorite bad girls; not to mention the countless characters throughout the series who carry out the orders of whoever is paying them, no matter how bad the order is.

But then there is the archvillain of Walter; the unsung hero, in the eyes of many who live in a land ruled by arbitrary laws and are guarded by a devious henchman of laws, called a DEA agent. That's right, Hank Schrader, the baddest of all bads -- a dirty law enforcement officer. Okay, maybe not super dirty, but dirty enough to be just as bad as, and maybe in some respects worse than, Walter White.

Just like Walter, Hank is no saint, but one major difference I see in the two characters is that Hank, as a law enforcement officer with the Drug Enforcement Administration, has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America as a requirement of performing his basic job duties; whereas Walter being a high school chemistry teacher, to my understanding, is not charged with the same responsibility to uphold the Constitution in his work capacity.

That alone sets the two fictitious characters apart in levels of badness that are easy to overlook in a society where a good-sized consensus hold the blind belief that law enforcement officers can do no wrong.

Hank does plenty wrong. In fact, I cannot help but wonder: Had Hank listened to his superiors early on and never pursued the cases as he was told, would he have lived? As it plays out, Hank is a bad boy and does not follow orders, and as such he does not live. Oh, such fate-ridden heartache, I just love it!, especially since it is fiction.

As well, Hank bails his wife Marie out of her kleptomaniac problems time and again, to the point where he jokes about her robbing a bank when a colleague stops by to visit.

Think about that: How good is it of Hank, as a law enforcement officer, to not do right by his charge and turn in Marie? Instead he uses his position of power to pull strings and get her out of hot water; and if a law enforcement officer is not willing to do that for everyone else, is that right of him to do it at all?

Granted, this is only a television program and not real life, but it is a program that triggers my mind like nothing else on the boob tube because the fictional scenarios and character dynamics have strong similarities to matters I have witnessed firsthand. Thus, I wanted to share my thoughts about the ethical dilemmas and questions I see being presented should others not see them as I do. It is a dirty job, but someone has to dissent.

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Don't get me wrong, when it comes to Hank not turning Marie in that is a loving thing for Hank to do, because he understandably does not want something to happen to Marie (and possibly his career), so it benefits him overall to help her when she needs it. 

Just like Walter, Hank is willing to do much for his family when it comes to protecting Marie from herself. Still, it does not look good in my dissenting eyes when sorting through the 'good' and the 'bad,' yet at the same time I totally get why Hank does it. Oh, such delicious dynamics!

Next, there is the entire way in which Hank goes about gathering evidence on many of his cases, which is not always within his work guidelines or the bounds of the Constitution, and that is made crystal clear in the very first episodes of the series by the revealing dialogue between the characters.

Hank, as a law enforcement officer throughout the series, does not tell people the full truth in order to get the information he is seeking and as such encourages his underlings to work in the same way; nor does he care if anything happens to people in police custody since they are all scumbags in his eyes.

So, how does that make Hank into a good person? It does not, not in the slightest to me. All it makes Hank look like is a dirty dick-ass cop who only cares about himself and solving his cases no matter who is harmed. And how is that any different than Walter, who will do whatever it takes to protect himself and his family?

Hank and Walter are mirror opposites in that they have the same good intentions for what they do and they both leave trails of victims in their wake, whether intentionally or not. The only difference is that one has a badge to do it legally as a law enforcement officer and is therefore automatically, without question, viewed as 'good' because of it. I love it!

Hank obviously has no regard for the Constitution, none whatsoever unless it is serving him, and neither does Marie as it stands out in my recollection of her poo-pooing the document a couple times in the series due to it keeping Hank from getting his perps. Now that is scary.

Of course Walter is scary too, no doubt about that, but law enforcement officers who do not respect their legal bounds are scarier to me because they seem more prevalent in modern America than mild-mannered chemistry teachers turned mad-minded meth chefs who take down international drug kingpins with the magic of science. Between the two, which have you read about most in the news?


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Parallel Problems: Measles Infection & Vitamin A Deficiency

With a local case of measles reported in Port Angeles, Washington, it gives me reason to make myself more informed as to what measles is so I can recognize it, and what options there are for taking preventative measures to boost my immune system.

I recognize that for all the illnesses I hear about in the news I do not always have an understanding of the signs, symptoms, remedies, or even the basic chemistry of how the illness operates in the human body. Once I start to learn those things then I realize what the real fear is -- the unknown.

The fear of the unknown easily creates feelings of anxiety and helplessness, at least for myself; the good thing is that I recognize this. Sometimes news sources include anxiety-relieving information along with a fear-inducing story, but often not. Why? Because nobody can do everything, including news reporters, but everybody can do something, including taking on the responsibility to research what I do not know when I recognize I do not know something. 

Anyone else remember life before the Internet and only being able to find reference materials in a library? I do. That is why I cannot get over the awesomeness of having search engines available 24 hours a day to research answers to my inquiries. I do not have to wait for a library to open; I can search out answers and do my own analysis of what I accept or reject all from the comfort of home. Such awesomeness makes my toes tingle.

So, instead of fearing the unknown when it comes to measles, I searched the Internet and read through select pages of information to gain more knowledge about the virus. Not only did it put my anxieties at ease but I learned new information regarding preventative care:

  • Dr. Andrew Weil, MD: Measles, symptoms, causes, conventional treatments, what Dr. Weil recommends, MMR vaccine guidelines, vaccine side effects.
  • Kate Birch, RSHom(NA), CCH, CMT: Homeopathy and the treatment and prevention of measles, signs and symptoms, approaches for prevention and treatments, measles prevention schedule.  
  • World Health Organization: Measles, key facts, signs and symptoms, who is at risk, transmission, treatment, prevention, response.

All three links have helpful information regarding measles. I prefer the Dr. Weil link the most as he covers the pros and cons of vaccines along with reference sources. As well, his mention of vitamin A deficiency has exposed me to learning more about the importance of vitamin A when it comes to immunity wellness to combat measles. 

So, with the help of the Internet I found even more resources to expand my understanding of measles and vitamin A. All links are included below to help others learn about the importance of vitamin A, its relation to measles, and what food sources contain vitamin A. This is medical/nutritional information, not advice;  always consult with trained experts.
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Vitamin A and Measles
by Dr. Clive E. West, Ph.D., D.Sc.

Nutrition Reviews, February 2000, Vol. 58, No. 2
Medical paper with studies, charts, and footnoted references

Here are a few standout sentences that caught my attention
in regards to vitamin A deficiency and measles:
  • The high impact of the disease [measles] can be attributed to poor nutrition status, particularly with respect to vitamin A. 
  • In developing countries where vitamin A deficiency is widespread, WHO and UNICEF recommend that children with measles be given a massive dose of vitamin A.
  • It is therefore important to provide children who develop measles with vitamin A upon the first contact and on the subsequent day.
  • Measles infection was shown to compromise nutrition status and vice versa. The nutrient that appears to play the most important role in this respect is vitamin A.
  • Therefore, measles infection and vitamin A deficiency need to be considered parallel problems. 
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More Helpful Vitamin A Resources:
  • Bembu: 26 Foods High in Vitamin A for Healthy Eyes
    • 'A diet rich in Vitamin A can prevent nighttime blindness, eye inflammation, and dry eyes.'
  • HealthAliciousNess: Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin A
    • 'Vitamin A i[s] a fat soluble vitamin, and therefore, needs to be consumed with fat in order to have optimal absorption.'
  • MedLinePlus: Vitamin A function, food sources, side effects, recommendations, alternative names, references.
    • 'If you don't get enough vitamin A, you are more likely to get infectious diseases and vision problems.' 
  • Merck Manuals: Vitamin A deficiency and toxicity; etiology, symptoms and signs, diagnosis, prevention, treatment.
    • 'Primary vitamin A deficiency is usually caused by prolonged dietary deprivation.'
  • True Vitamin A Foods: Why You Won't Get Vitamin A From Carrots; retinoids vs. carotenoids, deficiency and toxicity, pair vitamin A with vitamin D foods.
    • 'Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. So, we can neither consume adequate vitamin A or absorb this vitamin A if we are on a low fat diet. (Period.)'
  • WebMD: Keratomalacia 
    • 'Although rare in developed countries, vitamin A deficiency and keratomalacia may occur secondary to conditions associated with impaired absorption, storage, or transport of vitamin A, such as celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, cystic fibrosis, liver disease, or intestinal bypass surgery and any condition that affects absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.'
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Got an informative measles/vitamin A resource to share?
Leave it in a comment.

Thank You for getting informed!

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Word of the Day: Groupthink

(1) Approaching problems or issues as matters best dealt with by consensus of a group rather than by individuals acting independently; conformity.

(2) Lack of individual creativity, or of a sense of personal responsibility, that is sometimes characteristic of group interaction.
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