Rainier Valley/Sun May 23/1:21 pm Officer Glenn Osburn reports: "While en route to the call, a suspect description was given as an Asian male, 23 years old, 5'6", short black hair, medium build, black shirt, and black pants. I arrived and nobody was standing outside. I went inside and found the victim sitting at the bar with a bloody paper towel on top of his head... I asked him what happened, and he said that he didn't know—one second he was sitting at his table minding his own business, and the next, people were throwing bottles at him."

This report reminds us of a major human problem: being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Whenever we carefully plan a trip or even on a whim decide to walk into a bar or visit a friend, what we want most—what we are after always—is to be in the middle of the right place at the right time. But against this most human hope, this deepest of our desires, the complicated web of connections and events can suddenly throw us right into the worst imaginable situation.

Lake City/Sun May 23/3:01 pm Officer William Miller reports: "Upon arrival, I spoke with victim. He had observed the unknown suspect pushing a female inside the bar. Victim stated that he confronted the suspect, who then punched him in the face under his right eye. The punch left a one-inch laceration and shattered his glasses. I asked if victim required medical attention, and he declined medics at the scene. Victim further stated that, after he was assaulted and continued to argue with the suspect outside, a black semiautomatic handgun was displayed. He stated the suspect then racked the slide [of the gun] back and pointed the barrel of the weapon at him and others outside the bar. Victim described the suspect as a white male in a baseball cap."

In this report we find an excellent example of "costly signaling." The theory, which has its origin in the work of Amotz and Avishag Zahavi (they called it the handicap principle), is too long and complicated to adequately explain in this column, but Professor Steven Shaviro gets to some of the heart of it in this lucid passage: "Evolution can lead, and evidently has led, to the development (in human beings and evidently other organisms as well) of 'true altruism' or the impulse to help others or the group in general, even at considerable cost to oneself."

By intervening in a conflict between people who are complete strangers, the victim in this report was "costly signaling" in a serious way. Indeed, the altruistic intervention almost cost him and subsequently others their lives. But the woman in this report, the first victim, she was in the right place at the right time. recommended