Archive for August 29th, 2009

Never

A recent avalanche on one of the book mountains that stud the terrain around this place unearthed a copy of Oriana Fallaci’s Interview with History. I hadn’t looked into the thing in years. 2660066230055596006MtpIpf_fsReacquainting myself with Fallaci’s 1972 interviews with Golda Meir and Yasir Arafat, I was first surprised and then amused by the frequency and fervor with which these individuals declared that they and their peoples would “never” do this or that. Because so many of those “nevers” have, in the intervening 37 years, actually come to pass.

Dialogue on Israel and Palestine is today as spiked with words like “no” and “never” and “always” and “forever” as it was in 1972. I thought it might be worthwhile to review some of Meir’s and Arafat’s once-upon-a-time “nevers,” as a hopeful illustration that never, even in this fractious sliver of the planet, does not have to mean forever.

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Burnt Offerings

Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest.

—Deuteronomy 12:13 

Excited they were, the officers of the Lancaster, Ohio police department, with their newly issued tasers. So, the day after they were armed with the fry rods, officers encountering Daniel Wood—a well-known local substance-abuser, who’d been arrested some 50 times on minor charges—well, they figured they’d give ‘em a try.

Problem is, Wood had been inhaling aerosol fumes. And so when they shocked him with 50,000 volts of electricity, they also set him on fire.fun with fry rods

“Clearly,” said Police Chief David Bailey, “this is not the way we’d hoped to get started.”

It’s not like the officers didn’t known any better. As set forth here, an Australian man recently exploded into flames—suffering third-degree burns to his face, neck, chest, and arms—when he was electrified after sniffing gasoline.

And during four months of training, Lancaster officers were exposed to a six-page policy paper that decreed that tasers “shall not be deployed in an atmosphere where flammable fumes are present or on indivudals that are known to have come in contact with flammables[.]“

Oh well. At least Wood lived. Unlike the thus-far unidentified man who was electrocuted Thursday for fleeing an officer in a Los Angeles County subway station. Or Craig Prescott, who in April was fried to death in the Stanislaus County Jail.

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When I Worked

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