Thursday, August 30, 2007

Michael Vick, Shylock and Justice

Hundreds of thousands of people are hotly enraged at Michael Vick last season’s quarterback of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. He was charged with a host of animal cruelty changes for raising and training dogs to engage in fights to the death, as well as for drowning dogs that underperformed. He was facing up to five years in prison if convicted.

This week he plead guilty and before the press issued an apology. That evening and since commentators have debated whether he was sincere or not, whether it was from the heart, the degree to which it was rehearsed, whether he was truly sorry for the act or just sorry he got caught and that his career in the NFL may be at an end. There are some who are demanding that he get the maximum of five years and others saying that the 6 months to a year in prison is sufficient.

I will not play the roll of judge. Not only do I lack the information, but I lack the necessary wisdom even if I had all the information. The cries from the general public and the commentators reveal one great flaw with the “justice system”. The justice system is capricious and vindictive. The justice system is more like Shylock in the Merchant of Venice to satisfy my personal rage than it is about justice. I fear that in this type of situation that the elected judiciary for political reasons will be more concerned about satisfying my thirst for blood than it is about upright justice.

I fear there will be a host of our leaders that will pontificate in a prideful manner before the cameras proclaiming an example has been made out of Vick and that justice has been well served by the harsh sentence. What I fear the most is that few, including our press, will pause to ask if justice has truly been served or if we have allowed our rage and thirst for vengeance to create an injustice.

Michael Vick is a young man who has made a horrible, that should never be forgotten. How do we as a society respond in just manner is the heart of the question. How do we address the act in a judicious upright manner on one hand while applying the redemptive acts on the other. The Falcons are in the process of extracting part of their punishment by seeking millions in compensation to be returned. Then they will fire him. Once he is released the NFL will extract is punishment by suspending him with the games missed during incarceration not going toward the suspension. His neighbors and family will for decades to come extract their punishment with their whispers.

He has likely lost his professional career. Even after he has served his time, paid his debt to society, politicians and other groups will continue to extract their punishment by degrading him. If he made it back to the NFL, only two or three teams would ever consider having him on their team. Even then protest groups may well follow him for weeks confronting him and others proclaiming that he should not be on the field. Unless he goes on to have a string of major accomplishments that benefit society, even in death the penalty will be extracted by the press through his obituaries. All of it will be punitive nature.

Where in the mix is the redemptive restorative work to help a man restore himself. Sadly it will be lacking. Rather than being imprisoned I would rather the courts order him to work full-time for appropriately selected animal shelters and animal rights organizations for the same period he would be imprisoned. What better way to bring restoration and healing? What better way to correct his heart than to work without pay for a year or two with animals that are disserted and hurting? What better thing to do to have his fine go to helping such groups than costing the taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars to incarcerate him.

I fear that instead of a judiciary with the wisdom of Solomon and the courage of a Lincoln that we will have a judge and others who are more concerned about the next election than about justice.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Potomac Two Step

One of the challenges in driving into DC each morning from the Virginia side is doing the Potomac two step over the bridges. Memorial and Key Bridges all have similar dynamics to that of the Roosevelt Bridge. For inbound traffic the Roosevelt is four lanes wide. From the west comes two lanes from I-66. Just before the bridge an on ramp brings a stream of cars with many of them in less than .2 miles seek to move to the left lane while about a quarter of those cars coming down I-66 cross from left to right and off a ramp that starts just past the on-ramp…oh and some cars coming down the on-ramp keep going without merging so that they can take the off-ramp toward the Pentagon.

Just as the two lanes enter the bridge a third lane on the left opens. It is just past this point that a stream of cars enter the bridge and a fourth lane from the right. At the end of the bridge are four different directions, one on the far left going down onto the Potamic River Freeway, the second from the left going of to a ramp toward the State Department, the next lane is second from the right dumps directly into Constitution Avenue, while cars on the last lane, which is on the far right, go either onto Constitution off another road that takes them to Independence Avenue.

In a less than a quarter of a mile cars maneuver from the far right to the far left while others move in the other way. About half the cars move from the far right to the far left or from the far left to the far right. Only about a quarter of the cars remain in their entry lane. The same type of crossing maneuvers by a nearly hundred of cars every minute takes place on every day on the Roosevelt and Memorial Bridges. The same process is repeated during the evening on all three bridges.

Three weeks ago it dawned upon me that in six years I have only known of one accident on any of the three bridges. Drivers are aware of all the crossing and are prepared to allow other drivers to merge or to cross in front of them on the way to the next lane. Unfortunately the same courtesy is not found at the same rate elsewhere in the area.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Marching Cougars 2007

Once again Evie and I have been charged with taking the official Marching Cougars photo. This picture was taken Saturday right after lunch. The picture will ap in the football and Oakton Classic programs. Following the group photo we took a series of sectional pictures, leadership and senior pictures.

Though the Cougars are one of the larger and strongest bands in Northern Virginia, they are far from being the largest. There are three or four schools with bands that have 20 to 40 more members.

You will be able to find Josh with a quick scan.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Josh's Two Dates

Josh has finished his last year at Orkney. As Evie noted, the seniors dress up just before the evening meal. Each night is a different theme. Friday night, the seniors dress for their “dates”. On Tuesday the underclassmen bid. As two young ladies pooled their money and bid $18, Josh was had two dates. As you can see from the pic of his dates, Josh has a clean face again.

One of the other events is the seniors going climbing up the mountain in the dark to have a special bonding moment. They share their thoughts before they descend the mountain to attend a senior’s party until 1 AM.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Josh Is Home

Josh arrived home from California last night. Evie brought him put to Orkney late this morning. I was already there helping and taking pictures (see the Oakton to the side). He has to do some catch-up on the drill. Next week he has to get moving on his summer assignments. He will only have two weeks to get the homework done (yes they have homework before school starts).

As you can see mom and dad wore their Crossmen shirts to honor their son. Josh wore his Crossmen shorts and this year's Crossmen tour shirt.

Josh already has a spot for next year if he wants it. Yes, he wants it. Next year they go to marching Euphoniums which are five pounds heavier than the marching Baritones.

I am at the office Tue and Wed and return to Orkney Wed night. Evie is in charge of Senior day which is Thursday. Some of the seniors such as Justin who is one of his best friends had their hair done this afternoon in a Mohawk.

By the way, Josh says the Rose Bowl field was one of the worse fields they marched upon all summer. While it was flat, the grass was in poor condition and there were wholes in the grass all over the place....and there has not been a football game played on it since last season.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Yawn, 756*

Barry Bonds’ homer 756 hit on the 7th has been met by a load national yawn. People in San Francisco may have followed the progress and celebrated but the nation by enlarge merely yawned.

Though some sports commentators have tried to hype the progress and achieve, the nation responded with a yawn. Other outlets and commentators gave the coverage that they did because they knew if they did not give it some attention on in a prominent place in their sports coverage that they could end up as part of the story. Some commentators have all but admitted that their coverage was driven more by political reasons rather than readership demands.

One commentator went as far as to say that Bonds should have done the class act to redeem what is left of his reputation and for baseball as a whole by graciously retiring at 755. That act may well have been respected by the nation.

The nation yawns at 756* as Bonds because it cannot cheer a cheater. Plain and simple, the nation has heard and judged the mounting evidence and found the explanations to be paltry, and has determined that Bonds’ is a cheater and the nation does not reward cheaters with a standing ovation. Bonds is not a roll model or a good example of an athlete that they wish their sons and daughters to emulate. For all his posturing, Bonds is an emperor without cloths.

I commend Hank Aaron and President Bush on how they handled themselves on this matter. The President is expected to make a congratulatory call. He made that call, not at the end of the game or with media coverage but quietly in the middle of afternoon. Aaron did not fly west and follow Bonds once he hit 754 so that he could be present for 755 and 756*. Instead, he sent a short video message on congratulations without fanfare. Both men fulfilled their responsibilities graciously but in a manner that is consistent with the “*” that will be attached in people’s minds to the record.

As he dances before the public, the emperor has no cloths.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Send A Message to Josh

Ahead of the World Championship that start Thursday friends and family of Crossmen members are being encouraged to send a message to their Corps member. It would be great for each who reads this blog by Thursday evening to send Josh a message.

The messages are being given to each member and posted in the school hallways and posted online (here is the link to messages posted so far... )

Make sure you include "Josh Sears - Crossmen" in the subject line and Josh S in the text as their are about seven different Joshs in the Corps this year.

Below is the invitation and the address to use for sending the greating.

Send your Cadet or Crossmen a special 'Note from Home'
Thursday, August 2, 2007
By: Caryn Goebel

Messages to be posted at both corps rehearsal sites

Championship Week is ever so close and the members of the Cadets and Crossmen are ardently working their programs “This I Believe” and “Metamorphosis” to perfection for the series of World Championship shows in Pasadena, Calif.

Wouldn’t it be great to share with your son, daughter, loved one or friend marching or working with the corps your words of encouragement, praise and recognition? Youth Education in the Arts will send along your sentiments in Notes from Home to your favorite Cadet or Crossmen.

It will mean so much to the members and staff to read your words of love and pride as they head out to their biggest show of the summer. It’s easy, quick and one more way to let these amazing performers and teachers know how much you care.

Notes from Home will appear on the YEA! Web site and also be printed and posted at the corps’ rehearsal sites for your special member to see.

Some guidelines:

Keep it short, similar to a classified ad, four to six lines
Pet names are great, as long as they’re printable
Feel free to send multiple messages. We’ll see they get them
Most of all, let these talented people know how much you care
Send your Notes from Home to Caryn Goebel at Make sure you let us know whether your message is for a Cadet or Crossmen.

Notes from Home will be accepted until Friday, Aug. 10.