Building The Perfect Beast

Reading, Writing, Wanderlust, and Commentary

Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

Zero Tolerance is Exactly What it Sounds Like

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Four men in four separate cities are dead over a shoplifted cigar, a single sold cigarette, a legal pocket knife and a domestic order for child support. Do any of us feel appreciably safer for the cost? Do any of us still want to talk about breaking a few eggs to make that omelet? Do any of us still want to defend the absurd and brutalizing notion that by using our police officers to stalk our ghettoes heaving criminal charge upon criminal charge at every standing human being, we are fixing, or helping, or even intelligently challenging the other America to find a different future for itself?

Why yes, yes we do. Incredibly, we do.

Brilliant bit by David Simon in the aftermath of Baltimore and Ferguson and, damn… there’s really a list…

Source: Zero tolerance is exactly what it sounds like:

Written by Jeffery Battersby

May 12th, 2015 at 4:07 pm

Posted in Asides,Commentary

An Interview on Writing, with Garth Stein

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I have no idea who Garth Stein is, although I have heard of (but have not read) his novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain.

His take on how he writes (or doesn’t) squares with mine to a near perfect T.

When and where do you write? I write like writing is a job. I have an office. I go to it. I fart around in the mornings, tending to business, editing, reading. In the afternoon, I look at the clock and think, “oh, crud, I have to get something done! It’s almost time to go home and fix dinner!” So I write furiously until I go home and fix dinner.

I also liked this bit:

What’s your advice to new writers? Take acting classes. Actors need to know all about the motivation of their characters. They need to know where the character is coming from and where he is going to, what he wants, what he needs, what he will die without having, etc. Even though it might not all be in the text, it has to be in the mind of the actor playing the part.

You’ll find the entire interview at Advice to Writers.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

May 6th, 2015 at 10:41 am

The power of Pomodoro

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Starting this week I will be taking over the weekly reigns of Working Mac at This week I take a look at the Pomodoro Technique, something I use when my focus is at a minimum. Kicking off a timer will often help me get back on task.

Working Mac: The power of Pomodoro (or, how to slice your time to stay on task) | Macworld

Written by Jeffery Battersby

May 6th, 2015 at 9:12 am

It’s Time, Again, To “Think Different”

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Hours after coming out of the police academy, I was told something as a new rookie officer: You’d rather be tried by 12 jurors than carried by six pallbearers. In my impressionable first days, I saw officers leave the precinct every day touching the lockers of their fallen brothers. They started their shift on the defensive, thinking about protecting themselves, as opposed to the communities they served, regardless of the complexion of those communities. —Eric L. Adams, We Must Stop Abuse of Black Men (emphasis mine)

Cops can get into a state of mind where they’re scared to death. When they’re in that really, really frightened place they panic and they act out on that panic. I have known cops who haven’t had a racist bone in their bodies and in fact had adopted black children, they went to black churches on the weekend; and these are white cops. They really weren’t overtly racist. They weren’t consciously racist. But you know what they had in their minds that made them act out and beat a black suspect unwarrantedly? They had fear.Constance Rice, Civil Rights Attorney On How She Built Trust With Police (emphasis mine)

Two Great pieces, one a NY Times Op-Ed by Eric L. Adams, current Brooklyn Borough president and a former NYC police officer, and the other by Constance Rice, a civil rights attorney.

Both of these pieces reflect on something I have thought for years, which is that police officers often start their days on the defensive, thinking they are an oppressed minority in a “dangerous job”. It is this way of thinking that leads to what we have seen so often over these last few months, but what must have been going on every day before the advent of cell phone video cameras.

There needs to be a change in the way that police think. A change in the “culture” of policing. Yes, it is a dangerous profession, but taking on a dangerous profession doesn’t give anyone the right to behave or act in a manner that, instead of focusing on protecting a community and the individuals in it, takes an active role in putting others at risk, in order to proactively protect oneself.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

December 5th, 2014 at 8:12 am

Why I’m No Longer on Facebook

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Matt Honan as an interesting article on Wired that illustrates exactly why I left Facebook a few months back. He spent two days “liking” everything he saw and the end result was that his entire newsfeed became a giant clutter of garbage. While that should come as no surprise, what is disconcerting is how Honan’s “likes” began cluttering the feeds of his Facebook friends:

While I expected that what I saw might change, what I never expected was the impact my behavior would have on my friends’ feeds. I kept thinking Facebook would rate-limit me, but instead it grew increasingly ravenous. My feed become a cavalcade of brands and politics and as I interacted with them, Facebook dutifully reported this to all my friends and followers.

That first night, a small little circle with a dog’s head popped up in the corner of my phone. A chat head, from Facebook’s Messenger software! The dog turned out to be my old WIRED editor, John Bradley. “Have you been hacked,” he wanted to know. The next morning, my friend Helena sent me a message. “My fb feed is literally full of articles you like, it’s kind of funny,” she says. “No friend stuff, just Honan likes.”

This is exactly what began happening to me. I “liked” almost nothing on Facebook, but my newsfeed was becoming increasingly cluttered with the detritus of what my friends liked. Less about their families and photos of their vacations, more and more about what band of the 70s they were and what shampoo they enjoyed.

I’d like to say I miss Facebook, but I don’t. I miss the real, personal updates that helped keep my finger on the pulse of my friend’s personal lives, but I don’t miss the trashed-up news feed at all. And I’m never going back…

Written by Jeffery Battersby

August 11th, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Commentary,Featured

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Michelle Obama Cites View of Growing Segregation

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Michelle Obama Cites View of Growing Segregation

Today, by some measures, our schools are as segregated as they were back when Dr. King gave his final speech.

—Michelle Obama

Interesting that this should appear in the NY Times this week as I was just making mention of this to my wife and my mother.

Just this past week I had the pleasure of meeting the young man I’ve spent time corresponding with this past year. He is a student at a school west of Atlanta, where a friend of mine teaches 5th grade. The population breakdown of the community is about 50/50 black to white, but what I found most interesting was that the school where my friend teaches, based on my totally unscientific observation, has a white population of less than 5%.

According to my friend, who has been teaching in this district for quite some time now, the school district lines have been drawn and redrawn over the past several years so as to keep all the poorest children and children of color in the school where she teaches.

If you don’t think segregation is alive and well in the US you are greatly mistaken. It may not be as obvious as it once was, but it exists and it is, perhaps, more insidious than it ever was.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

May 18th, 2014 at 10:39 am

Dear Son, Don’t Let Robin Thicke be a Lesson to You

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Matt Walsh on bludgeoning Miley Cyrus while giving Robin Thicke a pass:

In any case, this gives you an idea of the full scene: A 36 year old married man and father, grinding against an intoxicated 20 year old while singing about how she’s an “animal” and the “hottest bitch in this place.” And what happens the next day? We’re all boycotting the 20 year old. The grown man gets a pass.

Must read.

Tip o’ the hat to Josh Cohen. While you’re at it, give his Kickstarter a look.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

August 29th, 2013 at 2:48 pm