Sunday, May 31, 2015

Like a duck in thunder

Today I had occasion to seek the origin and meaning of the phrase (in full) “like a dying duck in a thunderstorm”.   If you google that phrase, you’ll find plenty -- mostly pages and pages  inconclusive forum discussion;  even if an authoritative answer lies buried there somewhere, daunting to sift the haystack in search of the needle.

So here is the entry from a standard reference-work, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, by Eric Partridge (first edition 1937; many subsequent updates), in its entirety:

To have a ludicrously forlorn, hopeless, and helpless appearance :  coll., orig. rural:  from ca. 1850 (Ware).

Now, as it happens, we can antedate that date;  and this, in a lexicographically most interesting way:  not with a simple antecedent Erstbeleg, but something more powerful though more roundabout.


Back when I was an editor at Merriam-Webster dictionaries, I had full responsibility for the two technical disciplines of Etymology and of Pronunciation, but none at all for the company’s meat and drink, which was defining;  let alone for deciding which new words were to be entered in the flagship Collegiate ™ dictionary, which was lightly revised each year, and wholly reedited each decade.  That privilege fell to the Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Mish -- an intelligent and well-educated man, and not without a certain wry humor;  but as regards the humors, he rather took after his atrabilious and phlegmatic predecessor, Doctor Johnson, whose sour frowning portrait hung over his depth, exactly matching the successor’s habitual mood.  I used to despair at the chef-rédacteur’s obstinate sluggishness against admitting culturally key new words -- they’d make it in eventually, but only after the kairos had long passed -- and occasionally would champion some one particular word for inclusion, loading the files with attestations for the definer to refer to next time around.
One such, at the height of Gorbachev, was glasnost.   Many were the citations I supplied, to lobby for this word, all to no avail.  To be fair to the editor:  One can argue that we can always pile up stats for some particular term, no matter how specialized, by drawing from specialized sources:  which would prove nothing.  (Indeed, we had a science editor who used to do just that.  Check out the profusion of diffuse biochemical terms in the Collegiate.) The Collegiate is not for the specialist, but for the general educated public;  and glasnost is, after all, in origin  Russian:  the Collegiate is quite rightly chary of letting in too many foreign terms (like Erstbeleg -- common in the lexicographic literature, but unknown outside it).  So, how to show that the word had passed into English common currency?
In support of the suggestion that glasnost be included, I submitted slips attesting (from everyday journalistic sources) such derivata as glasnostic, with fully English morphology (and phonology:  the stress shifts to another vowel, which additionally is detensed).  Now, that adjective was nor more than a nonce form, a journalistic flourish, unworthy of inclusion on its own (even as an "undefined run-on" to the noun);  but it did witness the fact that, by then, glasnost had already passed into the everyday Wortschatz of American English, for a confection like “glasnostic” presupposes the antecedent currency of the base.


And so, back to our duck.

Consider the following passage from Dickens’ novel Martin Chuzzlewit:

‘What,’ he asked of Mr Pecksniff, happening to catch his eye in its descent;  for until now  it had been piously upraised, with something of that expression which the poetry of ages has attributed to a domestic bird, when breathing its last amid the ravages of an electric storm

Now,  this circumlocuitous, scarcely lapidary, obscure expression, is (as the annotator notes, in the Penguin edition) nothing more nor less than a winking allusion to the set expression (alliterative, assonant, and striking in its imagery) a dying duck in a thunderstorm.  Moreover, the allusion could not possibly work unless that expression were antecedently quite familiar to the reader, since -- much more than the morphological presupposition of glasnost by glasnostic-- there is a significant gap (lexical, though not semantic) between the original and the pastiche.   The case is often to be met with in literature -- more usually in a droll setting, as here, though we do find  “like the cat in the adage” in MacBeth, an allusion  (one requiring rather a lot of the groundlings, one should have thought) to the Latin catus amat piscds, sed non vult tingere plantas (a cat likes fish, but doesn’t like to get its paws wet).

The key point here is that the first half of Martin Chuzzlewit  (where our passage appears)was initially serialized  in 1843,  thus antedating the Ware/Partridge date.  And if the proverb had occurred literatim, it would antedate matters no further.  But as it stands, we can deduce that the adage was already in wide circulation among Dickens’ anticipated readership, well before 1843:  else he could not have counted on them to get the reference:  and without that, the passage falls flat.

[Psychostylistic footnote]  It is the very paradoxical absurdity of the original adage, that tempts Dickens to toy with it.  For after all, ducks do just fine in thunderstorms, much better than do cats (or the proverbial “drowned rat”) -- rain being, as the expression has it, “nice weather for ducks”.    

Visual proof that ducks don't mind the rain

In just such a fashion does Wodehouse (through his character Bertie Wooster) play, in novel after novel, with the speech in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, that ends “like quills upon the fretful porpentine”.  Or, at a humbler level, such dimestore wit as hasta la pasta (for hasta la vista).
(For our own discourse upon said porpentine, click here.)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Verschwörung !!

[Note: Verschwörung simply means ‘conspiracy’ in German;  but phonetically, it is a much cooler word -- literally, with a cool, dark, caved-dwelling stressed vowel, the sound of a wind  moaning in an unlit dungeon --  ö, with rounded lips half-closed, as in spooky -- subject to ghost-story woo-woo lengthening ad libitum: Verschwöööörung
So!  Now that you’re in the mood …]

Can U say: Verschwööööörung

The details of the current front-page FIFA scandal  will not detain us;  in accordance with terms of our Junior Blogger’s License, we are not permitted to comment about things we know absolutely nothing about, such as sports;  but we are credentialed in chronicling the vicissitudes of the Société du spectacle, and shall do so here.

The outlines of this conspiratorial scandal are vague enough -- “corruption” (gotta luvvit) at the “highest levels” (involving people we’ve never heard of).   And the press, nowise behindhand,  duly trotted out a rogue’s-gallery  trombinoscope of the principle accused (arrested publically, with DSK-like drama, at their “luxury hotel” in Zürich):  as sallow a collection of mugs as you might ever fear to see -- toadlike, puffy, by turns sagging and distended, like mob bosses squinting against the unfamiliar light.    So, everyone assumes they’re all guilty of something;  and what, mediatistically, gives the story particular legs, is that its arrival coincided with the imminently impending re-election of FIFA’s controversial longtime head -- who carefully was not indicted, since then there would have no suspense:  the media is playing this thing like a soccer match.


Our focus is not on the specific content of the scandal, but the interface it presents to the rest of the world:  its crucial viral coating, as it were.  And indeed, like the proverbial elephant, this affaire presents multiple facets, to anyone with an ax to grind.
In particular, we have received a request from the Vatican(**) to comment on the conspiratorial aspects of the case.

(**:  Encyclical #3B-984-777-m)

These are not lacking.

(1) Vladimir Putin has publically charged that the indictments were trumped up to spoil the award of the upcoming World’s Cup to Russia.   On the face of it, that is very plausible, given the current diplomatic background -- if not as the whole explanation, at least one motivation.

(2) Others have claimed that the key to the whole thing involves FIFA’s political stance towards Israel, pointing out that a motion likes before that body  to censure Israel for its treatment of Palestinian soccer teams.  And indeed, Palestinian protestors were out in force in the run-up to the election in Switzerland.
Plausible enough.  The only problem is -- Is the investitagion a conspiracy against Israel, or for it?
(2a)  The most vociferous proponents of this theory champion the “for” camp:  destroy FIFA before it could censure Israel.
(2b)  On the other hand, in point of fact, the censure motion was merely a proposal, with little chance of passing, and indeed FIFA wound up refusing to endorse it;  therefore, the indictments were anti-Israel, attacking FIFA for failing to oppose Israel’s soccer policies.

(3)  Some commentators have mentioned in passing, po-faced, that there might be some questions concerning the timing of the indictments.
Well, uh -- YEH-ah,  doh!!   This case has (incredibly) been on the FBI’s docket for over twenty years;  and then, right in the sweet spot of the news cycle, the Bureau releases this bombshell, smack on the eve of the FIFA elections.  Obviously they were targeting the head of FIFA (who has reigned for seventeen years, muffling repeated scandals) -- who is Swiss.   So, the whole thing is a conspiracy against Switzerland.    
However, on that account, you would expect the Swiss guy to be backed by Western Europe, while the Third World railed against the European Old Boy’s Club and demanded the election of one of their own -- who indeed was in the running, an Ali from Jordan.   But in fact, matters are exactly the opposite:  Europe opposed the Swiss candidate, while the Third World backed him (being utterly unfazed by charges of “corruption”, a concept foreign to their way of thinking, since corruption is simply their usual way of doing business).

It’s all very confusing.  And so -- in compliance with the Papal request -- we are asking you, our readers, to help us out here.   Here are some dots for you to connect:

Potential conspirators
* The NFL : jealous that, for everyone except Americans, “football” means soccer.
* The feminist lobby:  has it in for this utterly male-dominated sport.  Intends to replace it with field hockey.
* The Vatican.  (We here at the World of Dr Justice  explicitly rule out any such involvement by our sponsor  that entity.)
* Obama:  He’s behind every other scandal, probably this one as well.
* The World Bank Zürich -- banking;  the connection is obvious.
* The Bilderberg Group:  probably involved somehow, they usually are.
* The Illuminati [sorry, you are not cleared for this]

Their final goal:
* World domination

Of course -- ultimately, each of those interpretations contains but a fragment of the truth.  Ultimately it all goes back to…

(die Riemann-Verschwoerung)
(La conspiration Riemann)

[Update 1 June 2015]  Speak of the Devil!
The above was satire;  but these days, reality is usually not far behind.  And sure enough:  Right now NPR is running a program on how FIFA is evil because it doesn’t push women’s soccer the way it does men’s.  (Actually, it does push Third World soccer, tremendously;  which is why FIFA’s just-reelected president had the Third World votes sewed up.)  What we need is a different transnational complexus, call it FEMA or GIGA, which gives soccer fans, not what they want, but what Hillary Clinton wants them to want.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

[In observance of this Memorial Day, we repost an appreciation from  Veteran's Day 2012.]


In the atria of some of our clandestine services, stands a wall with the names of those who died in harness, while serving their countries:  but who cannot be publically acknowledged, out of concern for the larger covert mission. (For a similar instance, see here:  The epitaph reads:  “They Served in Silence”.

Today, Veteran’s Day, marks remembrance of those who served in uniform.  Their masses are too vast to comprehend:  and so instead we adress a numinous symbol of this very vastness, and of the unriddlable mystery of history:  the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.   He stands as a mute metonymy  for all who have served or will serve.

There is, in addition, a depth-psychological dimension to this which, for that very reason, is difficult to put into words.  (Lacan may be pleased to pretend that “the unconscious is structured like a language”, but it certaintly does not speak English or French).   This numen poked his head up in antiquity, in the Temple to the Unknown God.

As it happens, France today is likewise commemorating fallen warriors, on the anniversary of the armistice of the Great War:

Sunday, May 10, 2015


Since the press, and even the MSM, has been giving extensive coverage to the ongoing ZOG invasion of the Lone Star State, code-named INFINITE BRISKET (the op designator JADE HELM  is purely for public consumption), we need not go into details here. 

Street scene from this morning, in Bastrop County Texas

(Note to the citizenry:  If you personally have any phoneshots of giant eyeballs in your own township, pls. forward to the tweetfeed #LonghornZombieAlert.)  Our only purpose is to note -- as few have publically noticed -- that Jade Helm is only the second leg of long-laid plans for alien conquest;  we reproduce below  our post from a couple of years ago, documenting Phase One.

++++ Original post from August 28, 2012 +++++

The blogosphere is ringing with increasingly frenzied reports of a planned invasion of Lubbock, Texas, by U.N. troops, led by the President himself on a white (! O, the irony!) charger.   Even the puling, sniveling-liberal New York Times (note codeword: New… York !!!) has finally had to admit as much:

Official Stirs Texas City With Talk of Rebellion
The county’s top elected official, County Judge Tom Head, made an appearanceon a local television station to generate support for the tax increase. He said he was expecting civil unrest if President Obama is re-elected, and that the president would send United Nations forces into Lubbock, population 233,740, to stop any uprising.
He is going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N.,” Mr. Head said on Fox 34 last week. “O.K., what’s going to happen when that happens? I’m thinking worst-case scenario: civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war, maybe. And we’re not talking just a few riots here and demonstrations. We’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy.”
And if the president did send in United Nations troops, Mr. Head continued, “I don’t want ’em in Lubbock County. O.K. So I’m going to stand in front of their armored personnel carriers and say, ‘You’re not coming in here.’ And the sheriff, I’ve already asked him. I said, ‘You gonna back me?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I’ll back you.’
“Well, I don’t want a bunch of rookies back there,” Mr. Head said. “I want trained, equipped, seasoned veteran officers to back me.”
Mr. Head, a Republican who serves as the county’s emergency management director and presides over the commissioner’s court, made international headlines.

The only flaw in this analysis is that, um, the President, as such, does not have any actual U.N. troops at his disposal, unless he is somehow hiding some in the West Wing.  Even the United Nations  barely has troops at their disposal, apart from a ragtag band of hapless untrained ill-armed Africans.   And even these it typically fears to use, as witness the stirring rise of the self-proclaimed newly independent people’s Islamic popular Muslimist emirate of free and autarkic Azawad, whose doughty handful of tribal irregulars  bid defiance to the effete-hankie crumpet-munching ladies-debate-club on the East River.

Such awkward facts have led a deluded few to doubt the Absolute Truth of these Lubbockion allegations.   But the crack news team at the World of Dr Justice has nonetheless discovered -- in yet another exclusive scoop for WDJ -- that all that piffle about “U.N. troops” and what have you (which, really, shouldn’t fool a child) is a just a cover story for the REAL invasion plan:  a Democratico-Papistical conspiracy of the first magnitude.  And the insertion force is none other than the notoriously lethal and brutal Swiss Guards !!!  To be commanded by the Pontiff himself, riding at their van in the armored Popemobile !!!!!

The invasion force, drilling somewhere on the campus of Bryn Mawr

Buttressing the case (by now iron-clad), our HUMINT forces  have detected mad cackling laughter  emanating from the attics of the Vatican.

Our research staff has further discovered that the whole plot was hatched as part of the Riemann Conspiracy;  details available to our paying customers only.
For the inside scoop, enter your password, your passcode, and the even digits of your Social Security Number, and send us five hundred dollars in small-denomination nonconsecutive unmarked bills (ten-percent discount for readers of the Executive Intelligence Review);  then click here:

To the Nice Lady, from Teddy

To the Nice Lady,
from Teddy
(Mother’s Day 2015)

When I need you, you’re always there.
You make it nice  to be a bear.

Your sweet hands made  my little outfit;
what would I ever  do without it?

Bedtime’s the time  that I like best,
by your love  kissed,  caressed,  and blest.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

День Победы

Remembered Victory

The media have, justly, been giving ample coverage to today’s Victory Day celebrations in Russia, commemorating the defeat of the Axis in World War II.   The coverage of this largest-ever patriotic-military display  has been better than perfunctory, examining in addition  the political undercurrents which -- more than a typical Fourth of July celebration in the States these day, say -- deeply color this year’s remembrances.

There is one aspect of the generally unisonous coverage  that I wish to take issue with, however.   The tone of the presentation in America -- and this, through no fault of the Russians -- has been skewed by the increasing hegemony of sentimentalist Victimology in the American media’s treatment of just about anything.   Again and again, the reporters intone:  The Soviet Union suffered 27 million dead over the course of that conflict.  An enormous (key word) “Sacrifice”.
Now, a funeral is not the time for the historian to step into the pulpit;  but these deaths happened seventy years ago;  moreover, they are being cynically instrumentalised by Putin  to revive the cult of Stalin -- and thus, of Putin himself.  (Kudos to the media for having reported the recent law making it a crime to criticize the USSR’s behavior in that war.)

First, a bit of moral clarity, to clear the head of the fumes of sob-story sentimentalism.   If, seeing someone about to drown, you leap into the pounding sea to save them, and so doing, die, then you can properly be said to have sacrificed  your life.   (Note:  A sacrifice can be in a good cause or a bad one;  that is not the point.)  But if you are simply sauntering down the sidewalk chewing gum, and you get squooshed by an asteroid -- that is not a sacrifice;  that is just bad luck.
Similarly:  If you spot someone being beaten or robbed, and intervene, you are sacrificing your own safety.   But if you yourself have been backed into a corner and are being pummeled with murderous intent, your fighting back, while prudent, is hardly a “sacrifice”.

Now:   What the USSR suffered in the war was, morally, closer to bad luck than to sacrifice (as we shall show), nay indeed was worse than the mere bad luck of the stroller in the parable, who after all did not provoke the asteroid in any way -- did not shake his fist at Olympus and cry “Bring it on!”  But the Soviets, to some extent, indeed Brought It On.

(1)  First, by the Stalinists’ instructions to the Comintern.   Although the KPD had no love lost for the Nazis, they nevertheless, on instructions from Moscow, during “Third Period” Stalinism (inaugurated 1928) objectively treat the SPD and other labor/reformist parties as the main enemy of the moment (the Nazis presumably to be mopped up later).   Had they formed (as the pejorative catchphrase had it, back in the day) a “United Front from Above” against the Brownshirts, Hitler might never have come to power.
To be sure, one he did come to power, and all moderate or progressive forces had been crushed like a bug, such Kommunisten as remained did, belatedly, try to oppose the Nazis, faute de mieux.  But it was way too late, and partly their own fault.

(2)  Second:  For several months prior to the outbreak of world hostilities in September of 1939,  France and Britain had been courting Stalin to form a pact directed against potential further aggression from Germany, in particular in preventive defense of Poland.  Stalin toyed with them, then let them drop.  Instead -- stunning the world -- he signed a pact with Hitler.  That was the signal for Hitler to launch his Blitzkrieg.  As for Poland, Stalin and Hitler carved the thing up between them in advance (along with much else along Spheres-of-Influence lines).  Had Stalin not done this, WWII might never have occurred, or might have been quickly decided quite differently if it had;  for Hitler was, tactically, more cautious (in the early days) than most folks are aware of.  (Cf. his gingerly occupation of the Ruhr, the plebiscites in Sudetenland and the Saar, etc.)
Presumably, those events are among those that are now illegal to criticize.

As for the Komintern … during the Popular Front that succeeded the Third Period, the various CP’s did form anti-fascist alliances.   But the instant Stalin inked his Nazi pact, they all turned on a dime and began denouncing the democracies instead.  So much for anti-Nazi steadfastness.

(3)  During the purges that began in earnest in 1937, Stalin choreographed the legal murder of the flower of the early leading Bolsheviks.   In itself, that is not germane to our tale.  But he followed it up with the decapitation of the Soviet officer corps, thus greatly weaking his army on the eve of world conflict.  Worse than imprudent -- reckless.

(4)   True, the Soviet Union did eventually fight the Nazis; and it may well be that the average Soviet soldier was unusually valorous, I don’t know.  But Stalin did not turn against Hitler until Hitler turned on him -- to Stalin’s astonishment.  Stalin had even had advance warning of Unternehmen Barbarossa from a well-connected spy in Tokyo, but discounted the warning:  he just couldn’t believe that his good buddy Adolf would do that.
In short:   When he had a free and unforced choice whom to ally with,  Stalin chose Hitler.   Only when backed into a corner did he fight back.

So:   Not to be churlish, but to depict the events being commemorated today as a noble “sacrifice” on the part of the USSR, is to be blinded by the Care Bears version of world history.   Putin has been working towards reviving the cult of Stalin as part of his pursuit of the “Total Vertical”.   The West should not be his cheerleader in that plan.


As for genuine sacrifice:  Britain and France get at least half credit.  True, they tried apeasement for several months;  but knowledge of the futility of this  is due to hindsight.  Indeed, if Hitler had succumbed to one of the various assassination attempts, or had choked on a grape-pip, history might commend the Munich Pact as having spared the continent another war.   Only after Hitler invaded Poland -- while still making irenic gestures and cooing noises towards the West (noises that had become all too familiar, and to which the West was now immune) -- did France and Britain realize that it was only a question of sooner or later, and the longer they left it to later, the stronger Hitler would be when he eventually turned on thém.   So, they hadn’t been driven into a corner yet, but they could foresee the corner:  thus, at that point, declaring war on Germany was a matter of enlightened self-interest, not sacrifice.   Still, the general public was not widely aware of that, and grumbled at “dying for Poland”.  Also, none of the various other European states and statelets  came to their aid;  so, kudos, as far as it goes.

On the other hand, full marks go to Canada, which got into the game early, ramping up arms production to (prospectively) support Great Britain, and punching well above her weight in the war, when it came.  This, though Canada hadn’t been attacked, and was not likely to be.
(The U.S., of course, stayed out of it until Pearl Harbor forced their hand.)

In Washington,  the festivities were, by contrast, non-political, and much lower-key:  an Antique Airshow -- A Good Time Was Had By All.   (In fact, I wasn’t even aware of the Washington celebration, though I listen to a D.C.-based radio station;  they gave much more coverage to the event in Russia.)

Basically, for better or worse, Americans don’t pay a lot of attention to world history, and certainly do not ‘get’ the deep psychopolitical currents that roil the Old Continent.   Thus, here an original twist on the commemoration, from Berlin, at which Americans would merely blink:

Reichsbürger scheitern beim Sturm auf den Reichstag
Rechtsextreme Demo am Hauptbahnhof - aggressive Stimmung gegen Journalisten

Der 8. Mai als Tag der Befreiung vom Hitlerfaschismus ist ein Tag, der an die grausamen Folgen von Nationalismus und Faschismus erinnern soll. Doch in Berlin nutzen Rechtsextreme, Reichsbürger und braune Esoteriker das Datum für ihre eigenen Zwecke. Auf zahlreichen Demonstrationen stellen sie ihr völkisches Weltbild zur Schau - welches sie selbst als antifaschistisch verbrämen. Unterstützung erhalten die Extremisten von den Nachtwölfen aus Russland.

We cum 2 celebrate with U


In eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists put on a demo similar in sabre-rattling tone, though not in scope, to that of Putin.
In Kiev, no military parade at all:  Just a laying of a bouquet at the tomb of the unknown soldier.


Yet another layer beneath these nation-specific undercurrents, lies another, inchoate, and more obscure, which spans Europe.  

(1) Visible and above the depths of public sentiment,  there is one hegemonic ideology reigning in “Europe” -- “Europe” in the European sense of the ECC:  the Eurocrats.   These answer to no constituency, but carry on merrily, demanding this and legislating that.  The overall silhouette of their proposals is to abolish traditional European national cultures, and to let go even of much (like Christianity, traditional marriage, or masculine valor) that has long spanned political boundaries,  and allow the European peninsula (for so it suddenly appears, exposed and frozen, on the map) gradually to melt into the African and Middle-eastern landmass, without resistance.

(2) In antithesis to this, are worries whether that is such a good thing.  Nervous glances at what-all is happening throughout Africa and the Middle East, are not reassuring.   Such worries churn the gut of das Volk, of la France profonde, but are scarcely permitted to disturb the Narrative in the bien-pensant media.   So soon as a Swede, or a German, gives voice to qualms, he is shushed up and branded a Nazi;  and we have already disposed of them.
And this is where Putin comes in:  not from stage left (Stalin), but stage right.
[No time to develop this analysis further here;  meanwhile, the catchword for this countercurrent is:  Eurosibérie.]

Putin and his biker buds

[Update 11 May 2015]  Can’t make this stuff up:



(House-wren  coloratura)

Once of a sudden,  over my head,
a burst of birdsong.
¡ Such a big voice
 for such a tiny bird !

(Listening hidden  from amid
the leaves and twiglets of surrounding bush,
Miss Lady Wren cocks her head and thinks,
He’s  the  1   4   Me !!” )

Friday, May 8, 2015


br/a/n/ch/es . .

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ornithological epiphany

A red-red cardinal
with a green leaf in his beak

alighted on a ledge, almost within reach of me;

then cocked his head,
and flew off.

Monday, May 4, 2015

May Monostich

~       ~

The mating-cry of the lawnmowers    echoes  from glen to glen

~       ~

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Locked Van Mystery

The circumstances surrounding the tragic and violent recent events in Baltimore, are shrouded in a swirl of rumor, rhetoric, half-answers, prevarication, sheer invention, and mutually contradictory shreds of evidence, tossed this way and that by interested parties, compounded by a slothful media, and the incoherence of the mayor and the state attorney.   The ordinary news-junkie  is left simply at sea.

There was actually more publically-available hard evidence available early on  in the Michael Brown case:  
   (1)  The video of the robbery and beating in the minimarket.
   (2)   From the autopsy, a diagram of the entry-wounds.
These two together refuted a host of confabulations (which, however, continued to be embraced by the non-empirical).

But the Baltimore case is like a classic Locked Room Mystery.   Professor Plum was last seen sitting by the fireplace in his windowless library, reading Plutarch.  The solid oak door was locked and bolted from the inside.  Yet later -- after the police battered down the door -- he was found dead in his armchair:  protruding from his dressing-gown, a dagger of rare oriental design.   (“The murderer obviously came down the chimney!” someone interjects. -- But no, it was the depth of December, and the professor was as frileux as a house-cat;  there was a roaring fire upon the hearth.)

"I tell you, it's impossible !"

So now we have the case of a man shackled and locked into a large metal box.  The prosecutor alleges that whatever was responsible for his death, happened in there.  Yet by that time, the only person in any sort of proximity to the prisoner  was the driver, apart from another passenger who, however, is said to have been separated from the prisoner by a firm metal wall.
(Actually, that is what people are assuming, but I’ve yet to see the thing described.  Usually, partitions in paddy-wagons are grates, not hermetically sealed barriers.  And if so, then a lot of what people have been saying  is nonsense.)

The upshot:  With indecent haste, the ink barely dry on a preliminary report, the state attorney rushes forward and charges:
(1)  The driver -- who, however, is not actually alleged to have so much as laid a finger on the guy.  The result is:  Murder Two, moreover with a “depraved heart”.
(2)  Five other cops -- none of whom  were actually present during the supposedly crucial events in the unseen interior of that locked van -- are charged with a variety of crimes, some with manslaughter.

As a mystery story, that is very badly plotted.   As an application of the judicial system … taceo.

So why not read
some really good detective stories instead!
A distinct improvement upon real life.