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I am the inferior of any man whose rights I trample underfoot

        HORACE GREELEY

 

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Sunday
Dec142014

THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING!

Saturday
Dec132014

NICE PIECE OF TECH

I'd never heard of this, until my cousin sent me the video. It's actually very sci-fi, and remarkable that it's actually a working device. But, it isn't ready for prime time. It's still being developed (by Cicret), but it seems to be quite close in having a fully functional prototype. It opens up an enormous number of possibilities for the near future. 

 

Friday
Dec122014

THIS PRETTY MUCH SPEAKS FOR ITSELF

Yet, it appears it's neither heeded nor spoken enough in Washington. We're losing a great patriot and public servant with Tom Coburn's retirement.

Monday
Dec082014

BY ANY OTHER NAME...

a punk is a punk. And I can think of no better pejorative in this instance. Students at three very prestigious law schools--Harvard, Columbia and Georgetown--are asking to be granted the right to defer exams. Columbia has already yielded to those demands from a minority student association. Harvard and Georgetown are considering it, responding to similar demands from similar groups.

In fact, the web sites from the 3 groups in question bear remarkable similarities, leading to suggestions that this is a coordinated effort. And the reason for these "demands". The students have been "traumatized" by the grand juries' failure to indict in the Brown and Garner cases involving black men being killed by police action. Surely, especially in the Garner "chokehold" case there's good reason to see the injustice and immorality of that. But read what they actaully said, oozing with a call for self-pity:

“We have no faith in our justice system, which systematically oppresses black and brown people. We are afraid for our lives and for the lives of our families. We are in pain. And we are tired.”

But these are people who aspire to be officers of the court, who need to be prepared to accept the integrity of our judicial system. They need to be prepared to lose--in the courtroom, in business and in life. Not every outcome meets our expectations or even our hopes. The argument goes something like this, as I understand it: As people preparing to join our legal system it is emotionally damaging to our ability to take exams to have seen what we, albeit not the grand juries lawfully impaneled, believe to be incorrect or even unjust determinations. 

Surely, it is conceivable that some students may have found the outcomes disturbing. It is not only conceivable but entirely likely that these future lawyers will be disturbed by many events in their professional and personal lives. Grownups, however, suck it up and do the hard part of living...struggling up the valleys we confront day-to-day. We don't crawl into a hole, or ignore our obligations when things go wrong.

The effort here relates to some warped desire to equate the Brown and Garner cases as the same, evidence of "systemic racism". That's simply absurd. These cases were entirely different in facts and circumstances. For law students, who should be able to distinguish the facts in each situation so as not to let their bias stand in the way of the law, it is very ironic. To see these cases as dispositive of some societal wrong is just wrong. But, it speaks to a fault in the logic and dispositions of these students that should be of concern.

I would never want to hire someone who has demonstrated a willingness to avoid challenges. And I would, especially never hire a lawyer with that characteristic. I want someone who has the fortitude and, indeed, the courage to get through the tough times. Let us assume that these law school cream puffs are so "devastated" by the lawful determinations of two grand juries (involving the deaths of two people these students never met!) as to be incapable of taking exams. What mollycoddling message will these law schools convey by acceding to these demands? What about the next high profile judicial decision that devastates the soft psyche of these children? 

We should demand more from future lawyers. In fact, we should demand more from all our young people, especially those who have yet to confront the painful reality that sometimes stuff just goes wrong for us.

Thursday
Dec042014

WHAT CAMDEN DID RIGHT

It’s an unlikely scenario and an even more unlikely place for it to happen. Camden NJ was the most dangerous city in America. It was common for New Jerseyans to avoid Camden at all costs. A few years back I needed to go to Camden to visit a friend in a hospital there. (Incidentally, it’s a beautiful facility in a terrible area that stands as yet another monument to government payoffs and corrupt politicians.) I drove on high alert, ready to run any red light to get away from even a hint of danger. That’s not the way to attract business, shoppers or new residents.

So, how has Camden responded? It disbanded its police force and turned policing duties over to a county force! But, the outcome was nothing I could have predicted. In 18 months...

  • Murders and shootings have been cut by almost half,
  • Rape and robberies are down about a third, and
  • Other violent crimes are down by about 20%.

This remarkable result is a consequence not of simply the change in the police department management, but a change in approach. Police got out of their cars and walked communities in pairs. They got involved and visible. We’ve seen a move away from community policing in recent years. Perhaps the Camden experience will encourage reconsidering that, especially in the countless urban communities racked by crime. 

Read more: The Economist, 12/04/14; Police and the people: Lessons from Camden