Mission Statement - De-Spinning the Pro-Taser Propaganda

Yeah right, 'Excited Delirium' my ass...


The primary purpose of this blog is to provide an outlet for my observations and analysis about tasers, taser "associated" deaths, and the behaviour exhibited by the management, employees and minions of Taser International. In general, everything is linked back to external sources, often via previous posts on the same topic, so that readers can fact-check to their heart's content. This blog was started in late-2007 when Canadians were enraged by the taser death of Robert Dziekanski and four others in a short three month period. The cocky attitude exhibited by the Taser International spokespuppet, and his preposterous proposal that Mr. Dziekanski coincidentally died of "excited delirium" at the time of his taser-death, led me to choose the blog name I did and provides my motivation. I have zero financial ties to this issue.

Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 - a year in review...

The Year 2008 In Review

(And this is just a sample. It's not even all the major highlights.)

We started the year 2008 with a review of an "article" in IEEE Spectrum written by Taser's leading braintrust member, Dr. Mark Kroll. We more-fully exposed Dr. Kroll's extreme financial ties to Taser. [LINK] & [LINK] Then we dissected his Taser mouthpiece article more fully. [LINK] It was also noted that Dr. Kroll is a serial non-discloser of his close ties to Taser. [LINK]

Also very early this year, we noted that the X26 taser has a electrical waveform with characteristics that are the exact opposite of those characteristics that were claimed to be the reason that the M26 taser was 'safe'. The older 1999-era M26 taser is high frequency and low duty cycle. The 2003-era X26 taser is low frequency and very high continuous 100% duty cycle. I've not seen this critical technical distinction high-lighted in any other source. Taser's own data sheets mention the raw information, but not a word about this critical change to the waveform. [LINK] [LINK] and [LINK]. See also [LINK].

Some of the basics of Canadian law jumped out at me. I'm not a lawyer, and perhaps there is 'case law' that has taken away some of our fundamental rights (I doubt it). But some of the mistakes being made are (quite literally) elementary. Lawful 'force' is a noun. It's not a damn verb. Police officers and officials that think that they're allowed to use painful electric shock as a form of on-the-spot torture to coerce (force - verb) someone to obey are morons. Let me repeat - morons. The language used to forbid such behaviour is crystal clear. If 'failure to obey' is an offense, then add it to the list of charges and bring the subject before the court. You're not allowed to torture. And Tasers-R-Torture. [LINK]

By the 6th day, it had been noted that former Taser Board of Director member Mr. Bernie Kerik was facing charges that might result in him being jailed for up to 142 years. [LINK] [LINK] (Update: now facing just 28 years. [LINK]) In Canada, we have Sgt Darren Laur (Victoria, BC) and his 'apparent and perceived conflict of interest' [LINK], and coroner James Cairns' jaunts [LINK]. There are quite a few more ethical lapses associated with Taser and/or Taser-associated folks - eg. [LINK] - review the whole blog for more.

Shooting holes in Taser propaganda is a continuing theme of this blog. After Smith's appearance before SECU, I blasted away at the pure BS Taser propaganda. [LINK][LINK][LINK] There is so much propaganda from Taser that is so weak that almost anyone with a modicum of skepticism can instantly see the logical and technical flaws.

By early February, I'd tracked down a certain Taser fan-boy, (apparently) named David E. Zuskin, who (it seems) had been spamming the Internet with his nonsense trademark 'TASERS SAVE LIVES EVERYDAY' (in all caps) - which is both factually and grammatically incorrect. He has since installed a brain and now keeps a much lower profile (now he's 'Bob'). But he's still out there spamming the Internet - and nursing his investments [smirk...]. He got his bum smacked by his ISP [LINK] after clumsily entering my blog e-mail address into many investment-related news letters as some sort of punishment. Typical... ...these law and order (sic) folks are the ones that will break the law to maintain their order. LOL.

Another theme of this blog is taser abuse, misuse and overuse. For some reason [LINK], tasers are constantly being used where there is little to zero justification. Honestly, I don't care if the police are equipped with flame-throwers, so long as everyone is being perfectly honest. But if the manufacturer of flame-throwers starts claiming that they're perfectly safe, and that the burnt-to-a-crisp subjects are simply examples of Spontaneous Human Combustion, then those flame-throwers need to be put away until the brains are reinstalled and lawsuits settled.

By March, we had had a visit from Grettir, who may or may not be Dr. Mark Kroll himself (it certainly sounded like him). [LINK] The flawed thinking by Grettir was crystal clear - some of the logical errors were shocking in their simplicity - such as double-dipping for the natural protection of everybody's shared anatomical characteristics. The other points were equally easy to shred. It's clear that even self-styled big thinkers sometimes make small mistakes.

I note with interest that as these sorts of pro-taser arguments have been shredded by this blog, they tend to disappear from the Taser PR machine. The only argument that they've been using recently has been the 'reduces injuries to the police officers'. Yeah, so would a 'shoot first and let God figure it out' policy. They've very few arguments left standing.

By April, I had noticed that the higher RMS current values had been expunged from the later data sheets. [LINK] Taser would probably say that it was to reduce confusion. Yeah thanks for thinking of us. Nothing to do with ~160 milliamperes RMS being well above the safety limits, eh?

BC Transit Police revealed their empty-headed policies in April. Tasering fare-cheats for gawd's sake. [LINK] Idiots!

Safety margins were examined here [LINK]. They didn't stand-up very well to even a modest application of scrutiny.

But the most important contribution of this blog might be highlighting the relationship between the M26 waveform, and the X26 waveform, and the potentially huge impact of the seemingly-minor change to the waveform. A little DC offset changes everything - it lowers frequency (more dangerous), and it VASTLY increases duty cycle (to 100% continuous). It really seems that Taser forgot about Fourier. [LINK]

See also the guesstimated spectrograms [LINK].

We started plotting the number of taser-associated deaths per month, by month. The running average jumped up from much less than 1 per month before the introduction of the X26 taser in 2003, to a fairly steady 7 per month after that point. Perhaps it's just a coincidence. Perhaps all these deaths are just coincidences. [LINK] and others... [LINK]

In May, the brave BC Mounties tasered an 82-year old man in his hospital bed. Because he had a knife. It was 'a very dangerous situation'. So the frightened officer walked up really, really close to the elderly man and zapped him at close (zero) range. Yeah, it makes no sense to me either. [LINK]

Taser chairman Tom Smith more-or-less accidentally admitted that tasers takes one life for every 70 'lives saved'. [LINK] Well - ah - that's nice. Except that they claim that almost every time a taser is deployed, it counts as a life saved. Which is nonsense. And that just leaves the lives lost. Not to mention the Karma issue [LINK] of saving some lives at the expense of instituting a street level "death lottery" [LINK] on everyday citizens that do not deserve such risks.

We've reported incidents where diabetics in comas [LINK], people sleeping [LINK], and those having epileptic episodes [LINK] are tasered. These sorts of examples, which are almost endless in number, shred the old stale argument about 'just obey the police and you won't be tasered'. If you see that argument, please be gentle to the weak and ill-informed mind that houses it.

Another theme is the extraordinarily bad Taser-certified training. Given the actual behaviour of some supposedly-trained police officers, the only possible explanation is that the Taser-certified Trainers are brainwashed numskulls, and the Taser-certified training material is so poor as to be considered evil. [LINK] How else can you explain this nonsense? [LINK] !!!

This issue is (far and away) more than sufficient to fully justify a moratorium to allow time to surgically removed all the Taser propaganda from the skulls of those that have been Taser-certifiably brainwashed. It might take a year or two to sort out.

It's probably time to remind the readers that this taser issue is not just in the cross-hairs of a few outrage civilian bloggers. People with PhDs are also pointing out that some of Taser's so-called studies are useless. [LINK] And a more skeptical mind might ask, 'Wouldn't the pro-taser 'researchers' be familiar with the basics of Statistics 101?' Are these uselessly-small sample sizes an innocent mistake? ...or a sign of deeper issues?

Inconvenient facts like this [LINK] must annoy Taser: "...people with heart problems are about 5% of the general population (2% to 8% averages to 5%), but they represent 54% of the (tasered-then-dead) victims. That's about an 11-to-1 ratio that needs to be explained. Well obviously [sic] there's no connection [sic] between the taser and the heart. None at all...[ROLLS EYES]..."

Mid-way through 2008, the NIJ released a report that found no evidence of a high risk from tasers. Well DUH! What about low to moderate risk? And NIJ excluded huge swaths of the population, which add up to most of the population. [LINK]

Then a truth-stretcher named Billo turned the NIJ statement around to claim that this proved that Tasers-R-Safe. [LINK] Which it doesn't. [LINK]

Oh my! Then it was noted by another blogger that Billo the Blogger is a certain William Oliver and he is sitting on the same damn NIJ Taser Study panel!! Oh my gawd. [LINK][LINK] and especially [LINK] !!! Isn't that amazing!! This unabashed taser fan-boy is sitting on the NIJ panel "studying" tasers. And then he systematically twists the NIJ findings to suit Taser. What a bunch of clumsy clots.

On the subject of clumsy clots - I discovered by accident that Taser's lawyer Micheal Brave was registering domain names that promote "Excited Delirium" and he points these URLs to a seeming-front organization. Read it here [LINK] and [LINK] You're either in on it, or you're being played like a trumpet.

Taser likes to highlight its legal record, but not that fact that they actually settled many cases to make them go away. [LINK] [LINK]

By September, the RCMP had been body-slammed by an independent report [LINK]. But by mid-December, the RCMP thumbed their noses at the Parliamentary committee SECU that directed that the RCMP recategorize tasers as impact weapons (to cut back on the abuse, misuse, and overuse). [LINK][LINK] I guess the RCMP doesn't take them seriously, but they should... [LINK]

Still in September, the Canadian Police Research Center (seemingly acting as a branch of Taser sometimes, sat beside Taser at SECU for gosh sakes!) report failed to note that tasers are already considered to be firearms. [LINK] You'd think that might be worth noting. They had their chain yanked in August [LINK].

Taser's French distributor got himself arrested. [LINK] For some reason, Taser seems to be occasionally associated with people (Di Zazzo, Kerik) that are not as far above the law as they thought.

There is so much more. The above tidbits are just a sample of the issues that we've discussed. I've made some very interesting findings along the way.

It's been a crazy year for Taser. Their stock has tanked "due to oil prices", but I believe that the next year is when the perfect storm of cold hard facts will intersect with the legal system to make the year 2009 even more interesting for them.

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