Sunday, August 23, 2009

Will and Way

Will do. Willpower. Will Power. Will: (noun) volition, actualization of choice. Will: (modal verb) qualifier of future action.

Do. A deer, a female deer. Do:(noun) Dao or Tao; way (of life, thinking), path. Do: (auxiliary verb) to perform, execute, fashion; occupation (e.g. "What do you do?")

Where there's a will there's a way, they say. But could 'Will' be the way? And if the way is not 'Will', when will I find it? Is there some way to follow your way without 'Will"? And in what way can the way be a way if you don't what you have to, do what's hard, do what it takes?

Bliss is overrated

According to the author, Dumbledore is among her favourite characters, and she enjoys writing Dumbledore because he "is the epitome of goodness." Rowling claimed that, if she needs to tell her readers something, Dumbledore speaks for her, as he "knows pretty much everything" about the Harry Potter universe. However, Rowling mentioned Dumbledore regrets "that he has always had to be the one who knew, and who had the burden of knowing. And he would rather not know."

I'm only going to say this once: What is this fucking garbage about "rather not know"ing? Are we grown-ups or are we children? It's so pervasive, so insidious and so utterly naive. Deal with it. Everyone has burdens. The smarter you are, the more responsibilities you have -- responsibilities to yourself, to your family, to the world. Responsibilities to those who can get along as well, to those who just aren't as smart. But as onerous as those burdens may be, why would anyone who was a leader come to the conclusion that they'd be better off as a sheep, as one of those whom they led? That conclusion only makes sense if the person leading you is a better leader than you are...and in that case, that person should have your responsibilities anyways. Ignorance is no picnic if someone isn't doing the thinking for you. It isn't a pleasant surprise or some magical adventure. If you don't know what's in store for you tomorrow -- if limited understanding of history, cause and effect, action and consequences leaves you wondering what's next -- ignorance is generally a pretty frightening condition. Humans have so little control over their lives; ignorance is to have even less. Far from freeing us, it shackles us to a world of apparent senseless variability where everything that happens, good and bad, is unexpected. And the real joke is, of course, on people "in the know" who lament that 'ignorance is bliss' because if you don't know that being "in the know" is better than the alternative, you aren't really 'in the know". But people in the know will at one point or another look at the people looking to them and say, quite foolishly, "Boy, you don't know how good you have it." Bullshit. The grass is always greener. To those who say ignorance is bliss, I say: grab your balls, put on your hat and go outside. Man-the-fuck-up.

Or, if you'd prefer, step-the-fuck-off.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Cop and the Professor


So there's this hubbub the Yanks are throwing over this row between black and white, academic and working class, professor and cop, friend of the President and not.

First, a little background. I don't have any personal experience in being stopped or harassed by police, but I have accumulated enough anecdotal testimonies from people of various walks of life to conclude that it happens, it happens frequently and people to whom it happens have little recourse other than to suffer through it.

Next I have to acknowledge that there are at least 3 reasons why a police officer would stop you: a) he suspected you of committing a crime, b) he was witness to you committing a crime, c) he felt like stopping you. And while no one has a problem with the second reason, the first and third really rile people up. I understand this but it is a sucker's game. As pissed off as I might be for being stopped, how many crimes have been prevented because a guy had a hunch? Do we really want police officers to be nothing but after the fact chroniclers of violence and mayhem or do we want them to prevent crime before it happens? Because if we have any expectation that those bastards actually prevent crime, we have to expect them to harass people who are aiming to commit crimes. How else will it happen?

Now here's the part that bothers me. Cops are mostly retards. I'll have to go to school for 8 years to be a doctor. And it won't be fun. I will know everything that mankind has ever known about the human body. But if I wanted to carry a gun, have the authority to kill people lawfully and have enough insight and good judgment to walk the tightrope line between harassing a future perp or stopping an innocent citizen, what are the qualifications for that? A high school diploma? Some college work, the academy? Maybe 4 years, if that. And you are the front line of law enforcement. You're supposed to be a symbol of law and order, the ever-present threat of lawful force. Like the physician you have to make split second decisions, not just on drawing a weapon, but on which weapon to draw, how to approach a suspect and do it all while (usually) afraid for your own life. There aren't many instances where a doctor is afraid for his own ass doing what he's doing. And he trains for 8 years!

So it seems like police are undertrained for the shit that they'll face, and the shit that they'll face can be heavy, and as a result, it's a 50-50 that when they stop someone that person should actually have been stopped. It's a 50-50 that when they shoot someone that person should have been shot. It's a 50-50 that a cop will do the best thing possible at any given time.

Tots, I know what you're saying. Grandpa, what about the street knowledge that cops have, that must count for something? Oh it does. And its hard not to notice in this case that what the cop needs, the professor has and what the cop has the professor needs. The professional academic is someone who has all the training in the world but never really applies it and never faces the issues they master in any practical way. All the books that Henry Gates ever wrote about race relations and the Black experience didn't seem to teach him the simple, practical truth that a police officer -- whether justified or not, whether his authority is legitimate or not, whether he's a dick or not -- owns your ass, has a gun and can use it. This big scholar of the African-American experience should know that Black people in his country have been killed for far less than being indignant and mouthy to police officers and that all the righteousness in the world doesn't change the practical consequences of talking back to cops (Professor Gates could have gotten indignant with an African Lion that was sitting in his living room, but his righteousness will be small comfort after it eats his ass). In no way does this excuse a cop from being a dick, but, considering cops are dicks, you should try not to antagonize them.

Basically this was an encounter between two egos, two immovable objects. The cop could have given the old man who he was accusing of breaking into his own house the benefit of the doubt, recognized an honest mistake, and been no less a man for it. The professor could have given the cop that was literally just doing his job the benefit of the doubt, and concluded the faster he gets this dude out of his house, the less likely he'll be accidentally shot in the head. But instead, the professor probably got mouthy about how he's friends with the President, and the Cop either figured I'm arresting this old cripple cause he's mouthy or I'm arresting this old cripple because he's Black. I'm sure race had some part in all this, but even in spite of the racial overtones, cooler heads would have gone a long way.

So they were both "right" in doing what they did -- and because they had 'right' on their side an old cripple spent a night in lockup, and a cop is branded another racist pig, less trustworthy to half of the people he's sworn to protect. What's the big deal with having to be 'right' all the time? Was being 'right' worth it?

Grandtots, be weary of being right. Doing good is far more dependable.

- Kamil

See also:

(It's about time we started having higher expectations of cops)

(Conciliation requires confrontation)

(Battle of the two types of pricks)

(Why would someone need to be told this: Don't fight with people badder than you, or at the very least pick your time to strike.)