Thoughts from a Baton Rouge native

I rarely comment on contemporary news.  Usually we as the public have incomplete information, which often shows any immediate commentary to be wrong when the facts eventually come out (if they ever do).  Unfortunately, by the time they do, the public has often lost interest.

But with the recent killing of a black man by police in my home city of Baton Rouge, I have a local perspective.  It’s not much of a perspective mind you, since Baton Rouge is a moderately sized city and my personal exposure is very tangential.  Indeed, for most of the week, only being at home or at work, my exposure was fairly non-existent, except what I saw in the news.

But Saturday I went for a haircut in the small town that I live in at the outskirts of Baton Rouge.  The people in the barbershop (all white) discussed the recent week’s events.  Everyone had pretty much made up their mind.  The consensus there was that Alton Sterling was a troublemaker that got what he deserved.  And that shooting in Minnesota?  Well, hadn’t you heard?  They were smoking weed before the cop came up, also obviously troublemakers.  (Note: I haven’t heard anything about drugs in the news I’ve read or watched.)  And that Obama, obviously he’s just trying to leverage the situation to somehow stay in power past his constitutional term.

After the haircut, I went to Walmart.  There was a mix of white and black people there.  It’s a sad fact of the south that white and black rarely mix socially outside of school or work, and things weren’t that much different there.  But I was struck by some of the sullen stares between young black men and young white men.  The usual indifference between different social tribes seemed to have changed to a sort of uneasy wariness.

When navigating my shopping cart around, at a certain point, I needed to get by the pharmacy line.  An older black women’s cart was slightly in the way, but not in any way I couldn’t maneuver  around.  When she saw me starting to go around, she apologized profusely and moved her cart.  I quickly told her that it was fine, that it wasn’t a problem at all.  She asked me how I was today, and I said fine, and asked her how she was.  We both smiled at each other.  In this exchange, I thought I detected a deliberate attempt from the women to be civilized, to not let the recent events put up a divide.  I appreciated it and was glad I could reciprocate.

The rest of my weekend was filled with a similar mix of experiences.  One thing I was struck by is how few people are withholding judgment, how many have already made up their mind and locked their opinion in.  Unfortunately, those opinions seem to divide mostly (although not completely) by the color of people’s skin or their political ideology.

It seems evident to me that, should the evidence eventually demonstrate that the police acted properly, most of the black and liberal activist community won’t accept it, will in fact assume that it is a cover up.  But it also seems equally evident that should the evidence show that the police acted improperly, that they in fact committed murder or manslaughter, many conservatives will not accept it, will in fact assume that the police officers in question are being offered up as sacrifices to an angry mob.

I don’t know what happened in the shootings.  As a careful skeptic, what disturbs me is how many people, including people who preach evidence based reasoning, assume that they do know what happened.  But it’s worth noting how poor the angles were in the publicly available videos of Alton Sterling’s killing, and that we didn’t actually see the exchange between the police officer and Philando Castile, only the aftermath.  If the police officers in these cases are guilty, then they deserve to go to prison, but only if they’re guilty, and they deserve careful due process in that determination.

But one thing that is painfully evident to me is that the black community has been discriminated against by police for decades, long after they were supposed to have been given equal rights, and that technology, in the form of cell phone video, is finally starting to provide evidence for it.  It may be brutally hard to recognize right now, but on a broad scale, this is progress, and another benefit of the internet age.

Something that may not be evident from the news coverage, which often makes it look like the whole city is in meltdown, is that life here is mostly carrying on.  The protests have generally been peaceful.  I’ve driven by one of them and observed people with signs congregating in companionship.

Even in the protests where there were many arrests (over 160 last time I checked), things were mostly peaceful, with people being arrested for blocking the roadway rather than for  violence.  (Although there have been a few limited cases of violence, such as people throwing things.)  The police have been scathingly criticized for these arrests online, but I can’t fault them for trying to maintain order.  After all, what exactly are the police supposed to do when people try to block major roadways or have things thrown at them?

That said, it seems clear that, on a broader scale, the police have to change.  Hopefully this has become evident to the entire profession.  The systematic humiliation of a minority portion of the population is what lays the groundwork for these types of situations.  It isn’t enough to be transparent in investigations when killings happen.  (Although that definitely helps.)  The automatic assumption of guilt for black people in day to day interactions must change in a sustained and consistent manner.  Otherwise, we will just continue going from one situation like this to another.

This entry was posted in Zeitgeist. Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Thoughts from a Baton Rouge native

  1. Hariod Brawn says:

    Impartiality amongst the public might be helped by the privately-owned MSM exhibiting the same. Apart from one tabloid and one broadsheet, the remainder of newsprint media is relentlessly Right-leaning here in Britain, their online versions following the same trajectory, of course. This isn’t to say the Left-leaning ones are any less bias-free in their supposedly factual reporting, just that they are outnumbered. Along with the political class, these media insidiously promote the notion that we all ought instantly hold distinct views on events, and that vacillation, reservation and doubt necessarily are weaknesses of the intellect. The blogosphere seemed awash with strident, uninformed expressions of opinion following the recent massacre in Florida, most of which I read turned out to be wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting how things are different in the UK and US. Here, the perception is that the media is mostly liberal, although there are plenty of sources that are unabashedly pro-conservative or pro-liberal. It’s more convenient than ever to only get your news from sources that will reinforce whatever biases we hold.

      I totally agree that reservation is often portrayed as only what cowardly weak willed bed wetters do, not something the brave and virtuous do. I’m not really expecting this post to get a lot of Likes or shares, since it doesn’t strongly reinforce either tribe’s current narrative. If I didn’t live in and work in the Baton Rouge area, I probably wouldn’t have written it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hariod Brawn says:

        To be frank, I’m never quite sure what ‘liberal’ means in your country, Mike. It often seems to be a pejorative term. What do you mean when you say the media is mostly liberal – you mean standing for free expression of the individual without judgement?

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s a good question. “Liberal” here mostly means more support for equality (gender, race, sexual orientation, economic, etc), and for government action, such as welfare, free education, healthcare, etc. It’s contrasted with conservatives, who are generally more culturally traditional, nationalistic, business friendly, and prefer smaller government with less regulation.

          Perhaps the faction that most resembles the European idea of liberal are the libertarians, although European liberals might find a lot of American libertarians to be kooks.

          To be clear, I don’t personally buy into the liberal media claim. My experience is that mainstream outlets try far too hard to be even handed.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Hariod Brawn says:

            So Liberalism is not synonymous with anti-government sentiment, not standing for the individual as against the state?

            Funny that (Neo)liberalism should stand as a term for right-wing global capitalism – what could be less supportive of equality and the weal of citizens!

            Oh yes, on your closing point, then the BBC is constantly tripping itself up trying to appear balanced, and in the process saying nothing. It’s become like an in-flight magazine.

            Liked by 1 person

          • “So Liberalism is not synonymous with anti-government sentiment, not standing for the individual as against the state?”
            It can be, depending on what the government is doing. For example, when the government discriminated against gays, liberals opposed the government. But now that the government is trying to prevent discrimination against them, liberals are their allies, at least on that issue.

            It is funny that neoliberalism means something completely different than liberalism. There was a recent Aeon article on this.
            https://aeon.co/essays/everyone-was-a-liberal-now-no-one-wants-to-be

            My comment on the associated thread asking what liberal meant to us, was:
            Liberal to me means someone who wants society to work for everyone, not just the rich and powerful, not just people with the right skin color, or of the right religion, gender, or cultural background. To me, arguments about the size of government are red herrings, distracting from the real issue: is society working for everyone? Or are there factions taking advantage of other factions?

            When government is oppressive, it must be restrained. But government is far from the only threat to liberty: churches, corporations, many other social institutions, and overall cultural attitudes can be just as oppressive. A weak government that can’t protect citizens from other overbearing institutions isn’t a liberal one.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Hariod Brawn says:

            Thankyou for that link, Mike; it’s an excellent piece.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. News coverage tends to distort reality simply by excluding the mundane stuff of life. It’s true too that they can state facts without elaborating, which leads viewers to make understandable but faulty conclusions, like your point about the protestors who got arrested for blocking the street. In print, the organization of the material is enough to imply things that aren’t actually stated. In visual media, these implications can be more insidious.

    Just last night I made the same point about technology. Most people have cell phones and can make videos very quickly, which in this case is a very good thing.

    Whenever I think about what could have happened all these decades, the untold stories, I’m reminded of the time I was pulled over in the middle of the desert. It was one of those lonely empty highways with an occasional trucker, and very few gas stations or public places. I was driving along and I noticed a highway patrol car hiding in the shadow of an overpass. Instinctively, I checked my speed and remembered I’d put the car in cruise at exactly the speed limit, so I told myself not to slam on the breaks. I passed the cop and made eye contact, which was probably my mistake. Then I passed the only other living soul out there, a semi, and I did so in the most careful way possible, making sure to signal for a ridiculously long time so the cop would see it.

    The cop pulled me over. When I saw those lights, I wondered if my old car had something wrong with it. (I’d once been pulled over three times by three different cops within 15 min. for having a headlight out.) When I rolled down my window, I told him I was going the speed limit according to my speedometer and I’d signaled when I passed, but perhaps my signal was broken? Or my speedometer? The cop said my signal worked, but I’d passed the truck too abruptly. Not so. I’d been particularly careful about passing in the most proper way because I knew the cop was watching. I was certain I’d given the truck more than sufficient space, more than the usual actually. This made no sense at all. I could tell the cop had fabricated this reason to pull me over. He seemed awkward, like he knew he had lied. Then it dawned on me that I was in the middle of nowhere with no one in sight and he’d just made up some reason to pull me over, and I was totally powerless. The law no longer applied. There was no point in bringing up technicalities. Then he asked me to get out of the car…you know, “Step out of the vehicle.” I really did not want to comply and for a split second I thought about hitting the gas, but since he had the gun (and hell, even if he didn’t have the gun, I’m a coward…) I was pretty much at his mercy with my window rolled down and the guy so close. I thought, “This is it. It’s over. I’m dead. Who knows when or if someone will find my body.”

    This is pre-cell phone era, at least for me.

    When I got out of the car, he kept yelling at me to move away from the car and put my hands up where he could see them, etc. I was moving, but he wanted me to move faster. The guy just kept yelling at me. This actually calmed me down because it seemed he would not do something terrible to me or else he would’ve done it by now. He radioed another cop and stared me down for a long while as I stood there on the side of the road, both of us completely silent. The other guy came with a dog, and the first cop watched me while the other tore my car apart, presumably looking for drugs. I mean this literally…the dog scratching at everything, my suitcases emptied onto the side of the road, etc. I didn’t complain because I was just happy to be alive, intact. An hour later they sent me on my way, sans traffic ticket.

    Imagine if I’d argued. The cop had been very tense, frightened of a super compliant and very young 5ft tall Asian girl who looked basically nerdy. If I’d been in a more public place, I would’ve argued. My first thought was not, “This cop has all the power and I’d better go along with what he says because if he wants to kill me there’s nothing I can do about it anyways.” My first thought was, “What’s wrong with my car? Where’s the cause?” It was only after he cooked up his reason that I became terrified. I was completely trusting at the beginning. (Idiotically so, perhaps. And that wasn’t the only time. Boy do I have some crazy stories from that decade.)

    Now consider a situation in which there’s a young man who questions why he’s being pulled over, etc. Even if he does so in a rational way, the tension would be terrible on both sides. Plus, a terrified young man will more than likely behave differently than a terrified young woman. I can imagine him getting mouthy or doing something crazy like slamming on the gas, especially since even I considered it in that moment (and somewhat regretted not doing it as I got out of my car.)

    Now imagine that young man is black and has dealt with harassment from cops before, only then nothing violent had happened. He might not have the kind of trust I had, but he might trust that the worst that could happen to him would be utter humiliation and rough treatment, not death.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, that’s a sobering story. I wonder what about you made him decide to pick on you. Do you think it could have had anything to do with your ethnicity? I wonder about that sometimes because, while I’m white, I generally have a hispanic look (I’m actually of cajun french stock, but I don’t look like it), which I’ve been warned could buy me grief driving in the southwest.

      That’s the problem with policing. Many of the people it attracts really do want to serve and protect, but it also attracts bullies, people who are primarily motivated to be in authority over others. I know I’ve been pulled over before just because the cop was in a bad mood. One pulled me over one day because I was driving too slow…on a temporary emergency wheel after having a flat. He “let me off” with just a warning, but I’m pretty sure if I’d been black, I wouldn’t have been so lucky.

      I was also pulled over once in college on suspicion of drinking. They made me wait 30 minutes to blow in the breathalyzer thing. When it showed 0.0% blood alcohol, the cop cursed, looked at me and said, “You still ran that red light.” Which was BS, and I said so. He replied, “Son, I’m writing this ticket and you’re signing it, or you’re going to jail tonight.” So I signed it (not wishing to go to jail). That cop later agreed to pull the ticket when my dad talked with a city councilmen. Again though, what happens to people who don’t know who to call?

      The police do have a very hard and dirty job, and they need the authority to do it in a way that values their own safety. But that authority is very susceptible to being abused. Technology is increasingly giving citizens the ability to document those abuses. Hopefully it will lead to changes.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t think my ethnicity had to do with his reason for pulling me over. If anything, being an Asian (er, half Asian) woman has biased people in an opposite direction. For instance, back in grade school I let someone copy my answers (I did that ALL THE TIME). That person got in trouble, but the teacher not only didn’t punish me, but laughed it off. I was always viewed as the good kid, the good student, etc., and I always got the benefit of the doubt. And this happened almost instantaneously in some cases, just from looking at me.

        I think the reason the cop pulled me over was because of my car. It looked like a drug dealer’s car, in a way. I think he was on the lookout for a similar car, but who knows. He seemed too jumpy to be simply pulling me over to meet some quota.

        Your story sounds like a fishing expedition. He probably felt embarrassed for thinking you were driving drunk and treating you like that, wasting your time, but couldn’t acknowledge he was wrong. So typical. And when someone has that much power, they can get away with things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to. I’m sure that happens way more than we like to think. They know that you can dispute your ticket if you go to court, and that unless you’re terribly broke, you’re not going to waste your time. You’ll just pay up and shut up. I’ve heard they rarely show up to court to dispute you, in which case you win by default. I don’t know if that’s true, but in any case they get off the hook for the time being, no punishment for them, you can avoid paying the ticket if you really have the desire and resources to show up to court. That’s just it, though…they can cook up anything and there’s no way to prove one way or another what really happened. And when they’re in the wrong, you lose time or money (or both, depending on how you look at it.) This is where technology can put people in check.

        BTW, the jalopy cars I used to drive drew a lot more attention from the cops than the cars I’ve driven since. I’ve only had one speeding ticket since college, and that was entirely my husband’s fault. (This is sort of surreal: We were driving in some very remote location and had just gotten off the main highway. He felt I was driving too slowly, I told him I was driving exactly the speed limit. He complained that we’d never get home, there weren’t any cops, etc., so I said, “Fine, but if I get a ticket, you’re paying for it.” To which he replied, “Fine.” Then I gunned it up a hill. Pedal to the metal. Just over the hill a cop clocked me and pulled me over. After writing me my speeding ticket, he noticed I had my arm over the seat belt and asked if I’d just moved my arm or if it had been that way while I was driving. I told him the truth, that the seat belt was too high and it choked me unless I put my arm over it. I even demonstrated my potential discomfort in wearing the seatbelt “properly.” He gave me another ticket for that!

        Lesson learned. You don’t get points for telling the truth.

        BTW to the BTW…I don’t always drive the speed limit (which I realize makes it sound as if I really do fit that good girl stereotype…and I guess generally speaking I do fit the bill, but not in this instance!) I tend to drive the speed limit when I’m out in some remote area (fewer fish to fry, better to run with a pack, LA being the ideal location for driving like a maniac) or in some place where I know there will be cops, like a posh neighborhood in OKC.

        All right. Don’t believe me. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • On getting the benefit of the doubt, I can see that, but you never know what prejudices people might have.

          My college stop definitely was a fishing expedition. It happened along a strip of nightclubs on a Thursday night. Believe it or not (the cop didn’t), but I wasn’t out partying. I had just left a friend’s apartment where we had spent several hours studying. They pulled me over, saw my bloodshot eyes (allergies and fatigue), assumed it was from drinking, and things proceeded from there.

          That speeding ticket story is hilarious. My equivalent is an old girlfriend that once urged me to run a red light at ~3 AM. There didn’t appear to be anyone around, it was an intersection with a notoriously long light cycle, and she really wanted to get home. So I ran it, and immediately heard a siren. The cop laughed when she owned up to egging me to run it, but he still ticketed me.

          Liked by 1 person

    • As weird as this sounds, I think the solution involves a lot of police and police supporters honestly asking the questions “what are the legitimate reasons people have to hate me.” I’d say the same thing for young black men, by the way.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. taurisstar69 says:

    I don’t see where you are able to understand the dynamics of this world fully. I’m seeing alot of misguided assumptions in your posting baton rouge native.

    Your assumption that we in the south don’t mix white and black which assumes the northern states do. The truth is the opposite. In the South the black and white communities are in several different areas, in the northern states you will find all of whites separated from all of black. In public I talk with Everyone and I’m from Hammond, 30 miles from Baton Rouge.

    You touched on the black discrimination by police and aren’t realizing the group that’s 16% of our population commits over 50% of the crime. But yes I agree that are being targeted more.

    The truth about Alton is that the officer was a piece of crap for shooting him and will go to prison. But Alton WAS POINTING HIS GUN AT PEOPLE, he was selling illegal copies of music in plain view a blatant disregard for the law. And most IMPORTANTLY he didn’t comply with police and started to fight them. That’s the effing stupid thing alot of dumb ass people do. Don’t fight the cops because in the scuffle you might grab their gun and they can shoot you for that. People who get beligerent with police deserve to get beat the hell up.

    Black lives matter is total garbage….
    ALL LIVES MATTER. don’t single out one group and then set that matter. All the peoples lives matter.

    Like

    • I make no claim to fully understanding the dynamics of the world, but I’ve learned enough to be profoundly cautious of accepting the assertions of people who think they do.

      On blacks and whites mixing, I can only pull from my own experiences. I specified the south because I don’t have that personal experience for the north. But in south Louisiana, it’s still rare that I go to a private cookout or party and see the races mixing. Walk into a typical church in Louisiana on a Sunday morning, and you’ll find it either overwhelmingly black or overwhelmingly white.

      But note that I did say “rarely”, not “never”. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. I know mixed race couples. Things are slowly changing. There is progress. And most people interact with other races at work or in school, making it increasingly more likely that we’ll see each other as people instead of some other tribe. But outside of work and school, it’s still relatively infrequent.

      Blacks do commit a disproportionate share of the crime, but they are also a disproportionate share of the victims. Most of that is because a disproportionate number of them are poor. Yet, poor whites don’t seem to receive the automatic assumption of guilt that even professional blacks often do.

      On your assertions about the cops and Alton Sterling, I can’t really say anything more than what I said in the post, and urge you to be careful about what you think you know.

      On the Black Lives Matter movement, everyone seems to assume that they are asserting that only black lives matter. But their actual point is that black lives matter too. Given the statistics, I can’t say that they’re out of line for pointing that out.

      Like

      • taurisstar69 says:

        I hate to admit it but I was not taking into consideration that in poor white houses they are highly likely to commit crimes as well. I wonder if it’s proportionally similar to other ethnic groups. I’ve known many poor white trash clans and most of them are in every way the most untrustworthy people you can meet.And what I find across the board is they think they always have to prove how tough they are. So they constantly talk about fighting and who they are going to beat up.

        Maybe it’s because they are able to claim superiority to rich folks because they preach rich folks are chickens and weak. So they have a coin they value as the most important for a person to have is the ability to fight and be tough, but they are not able to wake up and go to work, which takes willpower strength. They are also extremely insecure and jealous people and are known to be vindictive to one another in the most childish ways. Like calling methadone clinics to turn in other people for selling their doses while they are also selling their own. They usually do stuff like this when someone else has something good happen to them.

        So maybe when poor people try to manipulate their internal worth so they can feel superior is how these bad personalities develop. And once they start developing many of their community perpetuate the actions with their own similar action.

        Like

        • Most crime, I think, is borne of desperation or ignorance. Most of the people who get caught in desperate circumstances aren’t well educated. Throw in drug addiction or abusive parents, and you have a recipe for the people you’re discussing. Unfortunately, genetics also has a role, making some people more innately predisposed to fall into these circumstances.

          Yet, some people do manage to climb out of it. I know people who started out dirt poor with alcoholic or other drug addicted parents, who manged to eventually get through school and get a professional job. But their climb was much steeper than mine or anyone else raised in a relatively wholesome environment. It seems like public policy should look for ways to increase the number of people who can succeed at that climb.

          Like

          • taurisstar69 says:

            Of course that’s a reality in the poorest communities. There are amazing people who can have abusive alcoholic and drug addicted parents, have no food in the pantries, trash strewn across the floors and grow up as kind caring self-sufficient people. Poor communities have thousands of these people and for the most part are more numerous than the scum bags. The scumbags are in the rich communities as well and they may look successful because of income they have many similar issues that are in the poor’s bad apples. Though it seems the volatile easily offended macho bravado is mostly embedded in the lowest income brackets.

            Like

        • White trash here –

          The reason we untrustworthy tough guys are always showing how tough we are is that fear is really the only way I know to get respect out of high class folks. Working hard doesn’t do anything at all for respect, btw. If anything, the tail end of an 80 hour work week is the worst because you will have bloodshot eyes and you will look like crap. You will not have showered enough, your hair will be a mess and you will generally look stoned. You will get pulled over and searched – ask me how I know.

          Hard work also does nothing to reduce the suspicion of real people. Staying on the right side of the law is also not helpful on either the respect or suspicion ledgers.

          I’m sure it’s worse for black people.

          That said, I truly believe we need to understand why other people fear and hate us. I’m willing to admit there are lots of reasons for nice middle class folks to fear and hate white trash. Are you willing to admit there are reasons for BLM activists and trashy Trump supporters to hate you?

          Like

  4. s7hummel says:

    Michael. and may we, however, abandon this cruel world and come back to the beauty of the Universe. and here we have such a problem … finally (this) man wrote quite reasonably (partly!). or maybe i’m wrong?
    ………….
    and that our biases towards simplicity, elegance and more unification is completely wrongheaded and has nothing to do with our physical Universe. In science, as in all things, we cannot afford to be driven by our own preconceptions of how things ought to be. Rather, we owe ourselves to view the Universe exactly as it is, and to listen to the story it tells us about itself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. In some ways, I think classic physics might have made us overconfident. Newton’s laws were so simple and elegant, and it seemed right and proper that everything must eventually be reduced to similar simple and elegant conceptions. The problem is that Newton’s laws eventually fell to Einstein, whose conceptions are much more complicated. And quantum physics just poured gasoline on the fire. Scientific discoveries seem to keep complicating rather than simplifying things.

      Just in case anyone is wondering what we’re talking about:
      View story at Medium.com

      Liked by 2 people

  5. s7hummel says:

    beautiful. only that it was maybe even better if it was 120 words. so maybe something more about that. and the best in the form of micro essay, but this is above 149 words! know. probably you don’t have time to deal with such stupidities? anyway after my stubbornness you can see why Poles managed to lead to the collapse of Great Britain!

    Like

    • Stan, not sure what else I can say in agreement with Siegel’s views. If you need verbiage, you might be better suited getting it from his post.

      Poles led to the collapse of Great Britain? How so?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the explanation Stan. I had heard that immigration was a big factor in Bexit, but didn’t realize that Polish and other Eastern European immigrants were specifically one of the issues. That’s sad, and makes that outcome even more sordid.

      (Not that my own country currently has any reason to feel morally superior on this subject.)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. s7hummel says:

    at the moment it isn’t important this whole idea of ​​unification. let’s skip it. only let stay at this little detail contained in these two sentences (…) — as you wrote about it (so beautiful, but so little). now only a little extensive and deeper…
    Michael. if i didn’t believe in the power of your mind, that’s all would make no sense!!!
    ……………
    In science, as in all things, we cannot afford to be driven by our own preconceptions of how things ought to be. Rather, we owe ourselves to view the Universe exactly as it is, and to listen to the story it tells us about itself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that’s one of the main insights of modern science, that we have to look at the world to understand the world. Philosophers will engage in logical proofs, and mathematicians in mathematical ones, but nothing in science is settled until someone has racked up actual observations.

      And the possibility always exists that new observations might throw cherished theories under the bus. Although the idea that general relativity, quantum physics, evolution, or any other bedrock theory will be completely dismissed is fantasy. Any new theory will have to explain the same observations that the old one did. Those old ones may (probably will) turn out to be special cases of some other more general theory, much as how the Newtonian theory of gravity turned out to be a special case of Einstein’s general relativity.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. s7hummel says:

    great format which I really like. must to admit i was wrong! 99 words it’s actually enough to write a good (micro) essay!
    only now i realized that the shorter text means more difficulty in expression of reasoning. but is it possible that Michael could be afraid of intellectual challenges? rather absolutely impossible?!
    anyway what makes this fact that a text can be called an essay? what is the difference between the essays and the text that is only opinion or descriptions? and what is your definition of an essay!?

    Like

    • Hmmm. “Essay” is one of those words only loosely defined. Most blog posts are essays, as are any substantive comments. I wouldn’t consider a fictional story to be an essay. I think I have to go with Merriam Webster’s definition: “a short piece of writing that tells a person’s thoughts or opinions about a subject”. “Short” is obviously subjective. A 140 character tweet doesn’t strike me as an essay, although some of them are as carefully constructed as any essay.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. s7hummel says:

    Michael. and what interesting you could write about the expansion of the universe? this time doesn’t necessarily have to be beautifully. the most important is the meaning of what you write… and this certainly will not be a problem!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Michael says:

    Hi Mike,

    I have been offline for a bit but read this on my phone I think when you posted it and wanted to say how much I appreciated your thoughtful articulation of a sensitive issue. Your concern for all people shines through and I would certainly wish that more of our fellow human beings would learn to reflect on their own responses, and the way so many of us tag onto the happenings in the media and overlay our personal stories upon them. I was reminded of the story I saw on an ESPN documentary some months back about the Duke lacrosse team, and that debacle. I don’t know if you are familiar with that one or not. But to see people so passionate and angry, yet knowing so little about the actual events… is disturbing in some ways.

    I was sorry to see the story on television only an hour or two after reading this of the retaliatory shootings in Baton Rouge, and do hope the community finds ways of coming together peacefully on these important issues that affect us all…

    Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Michael,
      I’m grateful for your kind words and wishes. The searing events on Sunday seem to have had the ironic effect of calming the community, at least for now, although in truth progress was being made before the shooter came in from out of town.

      Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great article as always, Mike. Thanks for approaching these things so intelligently.

    Liked by 1 person

Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s