Friday, July 24, 2009

Discretion is the Better Part of Valor - Part II

The debate about Professor Gates' arrest continues, and I realize that some may feel that my post also lacks discretion (though the impact of that indiscretion is a good deal smaller, essentially insignificant). In my last post I linked to the blog of "Doctor Cleveland," who it could be said was putting the most credence into Gates and his lawyer, Charles Ogletree's, statement, or side of the story.

Since then I have found Sgt. Crowley's initial report. originally posted an alleged copy of the report, but then took it down and put up what seems to be an altered version of the original. You can read more about that and get a full copy of the original posting at The Phoenix, at least until that story is mysteriously removed and replaced.

Crowley's report does place the incident in a very different light, however, even if his side of the story is complete true, it still seems, as one national observer has already noted, as though cooler heads should have prevailed.

And if Sgt. Crowley continues to refuse to apologize and the Cambridge Police Department continues to stand behind him, one really has to wonder: if they were so sure that their conduct was appropriate, why did they immediately drop the charge of disorderly conduct?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Discretion is the Better Part of Valor

I can't help but feel that the arrest of Professor Gates by Sgt. Crowley shares striking similarity with another high profile incident; Officer Robert Powell's detaining of Ryan Moats.

Both incidents involve white officers and high-profile African-Americans, but I don't want to get into the role that racism may or may not have played in these situations. Instead I think they are most striking because of the behavior of the police officer.

Over and over again I've heard the case from colleagues, friends, and random people on the street, "It's a police officer's job to respond in high-pressure situations. It's life or death. They have to be ready for anything. He was just doing his job."

Yes, they have to be ready for anything. And, while it's melodramatic, they do put their lives on the line far more than most professions. But the first and last part of that argument are a gross over-simplification. If you want to reduce the role of the police to a handful of words, at least look as far as the motto on the door of a police cruiser: "to serve and protect." It's not good enough for an officer to just "respond," they must respond appropriately.

There's been plenty of sensationalism about the possibility of racism in this case, and Obama's response, but no one that I've seen has gotten to the heart of this incident better than Doctor Cleveland who's July 23rd post is measured and thoughtful. Something we all wish Sgt. Crowley had been.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Postcard Rescue #3

Postmarked: Yorkton, July 23, 1:30 PM, 1934.

Stamp: Steam removed.


Miss Irene Wilson

Postcard Message:

Dear Irene,
- Well we're on the road
again, this time we're minus
Mother and Constance. We
are combining business
and pleasure in a trip
to Edmonton and Calgary,
perhaps Jasper. Wish
you were here so we could
show you what Manitoba
has to offer in the way of
beautiful scenery, wonderful
roads and camping accommodations.
The road into the park rises 1000 ft.
in 3 miles and is continually
winding and dipping, providing
wonderful views across the
surrounding country. The lake is
nestled in the summit. In four yrs
the woods have been transformed in the most modern
resort - all buildings, cottages, cabins etc. of cedar tongue logs
- wonderful roads - large hotel - modern camp site with
log shelters with stoves and every convenience. Wish you'd
come and see for yourself -- Love to all -- Stuart.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mysteries in Data Entry

I check a tutor sheet for 5/15/09. One of the students on the intake
form is listed as:

Susan Bivian (w/ Mick)

I think, ah, two students have come in to the writing center. Susan
signed in and she didn’t know Mick’s last name, so she just wrote

Then I get to the next tutor form for 5/15/09 where one of the
students on the intake form is listed as:

Susan Bibiano (w/Dick)

That’s funny I think, so I consult the tutor names on the intake form
and discover that on 5/15/09 both “Mick” and “Dick” were serving as
tutors, so these Susans visited both tutors, and that cuts the numbers
of visits from 4 to 2.

Then I look them up in the student rolls to find their schools. There
is no Susan Bivian. There is no Susian Bibiano.

There is one student, a Susan Biliano. So I note it with a star on the
intake forms, and then add 1 writing center visit to the column for
the “PATH” school on 5/15/09.

That’s 1 visit out of a total of around 1500 I have to sort through.

O.J. would make it clear that it's part of his tutors' jobs to spell their students name correctly on the intake sheet (ask them to do it, or just ask them how to spell them. He'd also encouraged them to only make one entry, per student, per visit. But then, O.J. wonders why anyone in this day and age is still doing handwritten intake sheets, rather than using an online scheduling and data entry form, or at least adding the pertinent information to an excel spreadsheet.