do something!

It’s interesting that the last post I wrote was about how I thought the NYPD was doing a great job with OWS and now today I’m writing because that same police force just kicked the protestors out of their home base last night. But my point is the same: I think they went about it in a very civil and fair way. This wasn’t Oakland with tear gas and rubber bullets. This was slow and methodical and restrained. And lets be clear, the police weren’t acting on their own here. This was all due to orders from the mayor. If you’re going to be mad at anyone it should be him.

But this post really isn’t about the New York situation. It’s more about my feelings about this entire situation including the Occupy Philly group (who I see every day and who is heading towards their own confrontation with authority). It’s about my anger at the local media who do their best not to cover the movement or when they do, they cover it with a bias. It’s about my utter despair with the fact that almost nobody I know even cares about what is going on, as if we aren’t at a historic moment right now. As if the Declaration of Independence was being drafted and other than the people at Independence Hall, nobody gave a shit.

I don’t know if the Occupiers are doing the right thing. I’ve complained a lot about their strategy and tactics over the past few months. I’ve debated with myself a lot about what I could do to participate and what we all should do and I haven’t come up with a good answer. But what I have figured out is that at the least, the Occupy Movement could be a catalyst, a starting point for change in America. We all agree that things are messed up. Everyone I talk to has some complaint about something wrong in America (and the world) but everyone always just accepts that things are fucked up and we can’t fix them. And that’s what’s bothering me the most lately. We do have a way to fix things but yet for the most part we don’t even try.

It starts with paying attention. If you woke up today and didn’t find some real news to ingest then you’ve failed yourself and your country. I was watching someone on the bus today reading the Daily News and do you know what story they were reading on page 3? It was a full page story on how Chelsea Clinton got a job at NBC. That, my friends, is not news. It’s not important. It’s filler, its soma, its bullshit to keep you distracted from what’s really going on. Every day you should be seeking out real news from around the world. Watch documentaries, follow blogs, find the most non-biased mainstream media you can. Pay attention to what is really going on and shun bullshit.

The next step (if you want to actually do something to change the world) is to share your news and maybe comment on it. Post an interesting story on facebook or twitter, share what you are learning. Talk about real things from time to time with your friends or co-workers. Teach and educate each other. We have all these tools now to communicate and yet we don’t. This makes me insane some mornings. Sure it’s cool and fun and even fulfilling to post about what’s going on in your life, but use your social stream to educate a little bit too.

Then you move to support. Support movements and groups that are doing things you agree with. You don’t need to use money, in fact, oftentimes it’s better you go out and volunteer your time instead. Or better yet, do both! Change only happens when people demand it. These occupiers are doing it and we’re essentially laughing at them. Can’t you see how wrong that is?

I really urge you all to take a minute to participate in making our world a better place. And most of you aren’t doing that. By simply living your life, and riding the roller coaster, you’re just being a sheep. You don’t need to be a great leader or anything, just be aware of what’s going on and try to be part of the solution.

2 Reasons I’m mad today

I don’t have the time to make these posts as verbose and link filled as I’d like but I do have time to express how pissed I am about 2 issues today.

The first is local. There was this cop here in the city who was shot in the head and killed the other day. This city is up in arms about this. There is a huge reward for his killer, we had a moment of silence at the Eagles game yesterday, there are news stories all over the place, etc. etc. From the looks of it, this is the biggest tragedy of the year. Let me tell you why I’m bothered by this. Why is it that the shooting death of one cop is 100 times more important to the city than the shooting death of 300 or so young black kids in N. Philly? Seriously? What the fuck is up with this? I mean I don’t want to see anyone shot and killed, and every death is tragic, but what is wrong with our society here that one death is more important that another? Why is this shooting so much more important to everyone?

The second. Do I even need to mention this? Pakistan. On Saturday, which you may or may not know, President Musharraf (citing terrorism) declared a national emergency fired the Chief Justice of his supreme court and pretty much instituted martial law. First off, this sounds eerily like what I was talking about a couple of days ago, but that’s not why I’m angry today. I’m angry because despite the fact that this is a nuclear nation and despite the fact that our country considers the stability of Pakistan to be paramount in our fight against terrorism and despite the fact that OBL and his crew are based there, our national and local media seem to have had on Saturday no interest in this story. It wasn’t the lead anywhere. It wasn’t even the second or third story on the local news. I had to work hard on Saturday (bless the BBC) to find it being talked about with any depth at all. Why is this?

Why can’t Street see the obvious about guns and murder?

A while back we all had a laugh when John Street did his “take a deep breath and put down the gun” TV address. At the time I was pretty convinced that it wasn’t going to solve any of our gun/murder problems. I was right. For a while I thought that the solution was to just add more cops on the street, or push for better education, etc. But I was wrong. I just read the most amazing article in Philly Magazine about the issue and I urge you all to do the same.

The thrust of the article is twofold. First it demostrates how pathetic and sad and detrimental our 911 system is. The thought of all that wasted effort by cops responding to calls hours after they have come in just makes the logical/organized part of me just cringe. The second part of the article talks about an alternate solution. One that has worked all over the country (including NYC) and thats for police to focus on looking for guns that people are actually carrying. The thought is that gun crime occurs in the same areas over and over again and often for stupid reasons (like someone looked at someone wrong) and if we can deter people from carrying guns we can actually cut down on these senseless crimes. The cops (according to this plan) should spend time in these areas focusing on crimes where they can actually frisk people and then take away their illegal guns. This, if done often enough would deter people from carrying them all the time.

“Looking for guns on the street is not a lock-’em-up strategy,” he says. “It’s not a fill-the-prisons strategy. It’s a specific and focused deterrent strategy that is trying to deter one thing — and that’s people carrying guns around. Because if people don’t carry their guns around, and somebody bumps into them and doesn’t say ‘Excuse me,’ or somebody looks at them with a stare that they find offensive, then they may have to go home to get their gun to do something about it. But by the time they come back, the person may not be there, and the impulse may pass.”

That “stare that they find offensive” is the sort of thing over which young Philadelphians have so often been dying _lately — “Stupid arguments over stupid things,” as police commissioner Sylvester Johnson recently put it.

“Sometimes fights are followed several days later by an assassination, so there’s no guarantee that people won’t get shot when those disrespecting incidents occur,” Sherman says. “But what the evidence suggests is that it’s going to happen at a lower rate if they don’t have their guns in their pockets.”

And what about Philadelphia?

“The police in Philadelphia are not looking for guns in the street, and that has a context in this 40-year story that we have to understand,” Sherman says. “But we also have to understand that as far as the evidence is concerned, the National Academy of Sciences says it is the one thing we know works to reduce the homicide rate. And it’s the one thing we’re not doing in Philadelphia.”

The sad thing is that we were on this path with Timmony and the COMPSTAT system (which we have but don’t follow in any useful way). But now we do stuff that does nothing to solve the problem. Think about it. Why is Philadelphia the one city where this problem is getting worse when all across the country it’s getting better?

if you wanted to play it as safe as possible, you’d model your police department on Philadelphia’s. You’d keep officers in their cars. You’d control and monitor their movements by tying them to the _never-_ending queue of 911 calls. You’d initiate a program for which there is virtually no supporting evidence, like Operation Safe Streets, in which officers do little more than stand on corners. (From a recent study in the scholarly journal Justice Quarterly: “Operation Safe Streets failed to have a significant citywide impact on homicides, violent crime or drug crimes.”) You’d have COMPSTAT meetings, but you’d excise their most important element: accountability. In New York, COMPSTAT meetings are renowned for the rough give-and-take between the top brass and precinct commanders. The prospect of being dressed down in front of your peers was one of the ways former commissioner William Bratton ensured that local commanders would take ownership of their precincts’ successes and failures. John Timoney brought COMPSTAT to Philadelphia, but officers tell me the current version is a far cry from New York’s. “Here, we have COMPSTAT lite,” a former Philadelphia officer told me. “We just go through the motions.”

“Every police chief is just one headline away from losing his job,” Commissioner Johnson told this magazine in 2004. He’s correct, but the history of big-city policing in America offers a caveat: A chief may lose his job if there’s a corruption or brutality scandal, he may get fired if he commits a personal indiscretion, but if the homicide rate jumps up, he is actually pretty safe. The recent history of Philadelphia proves that.

Ugh.. we have to do something.. The sad thing is that there is a solution but nobody seems to want to follow it. What’s that all about? I bet if Milton Street could make money off this system it would have been in place long ago..

PGW Bonuses

Of all the utility companys I’ve ever had the pleasure to deal with, PGW has been the worst. They are just the most rinky-dink organization (have you ever called their customer service and listened to the recorded greeting?). I hate paying their bills. They charge a ton of money, pay no attention to weather people actually pay thier bills and generally are mismanaged from top to bottom. I’m not the only one who feels this way.

So why did their executives get bonuses this year?