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Sometimes I Wish That It Would Rain Here

Monday, October 30, 2006

Irvine police shoot armed bank robber and innocent bystander

that's what a recent OC register headline should have read. instead, it said, “Irvine hospital worker accidentally shot by police.” confused by the difference? me, too.

as this article describes, last Friday, a man was reported to have robbed the Wells Fargo Bank at Barranca and Creek at knife-point. at knife-point! as the man tried to flee, police fired on the man and shot him in the hand. however, in the process, the police also shot an X-ray technician working at her desk in a local medical building. this is where I come in.

the building in which this technician works is the building where I currently go for physical therapy. I was in fact in physical therapy on Friday, but I left at approximately 11:15, and it seems that the police chase started around 11:20. in all likelihood, as I was biking by the bank, the suspected robber was inside, carrying out his activities at knife-point. at knife-point!

there are two aspects about this episode that I find most disturbing. first is the way the event is reported in the OC register. I’m not for promoting a culture of fear, but would like to know when an armed bank robbery occurs less than 5 miles from my home. however, looking at the headline, it sounds like there was some accident in the ER or something. the news is that the police shot this woman in the process of chasing down an armed bank robber, an important fact very down-played by the headline.

the second disturbing part is that I had to have one of the assistants at physical therapy today ask me if I was there for the excitement on Friday before I found out about the robbery and shooting. granted, I am less than diligent in following the news, but I don’t live in a cave, either. again, I’m not for promoting a culture of fear by reporting on every robbery and homicide in east LA, but I do want to know when this stuff happens so close to the place that I call home.

oh yeah, and did anyone hear about the shooting in the Park West apartment complex this past winter? some guy was found lying on the side walk after having been shot. the only reason I heard about it is because my girlfriend was living in Park West at the time. and oh yeah, Park West is only about 2 miles from UC Irvine.

ah, the safety of a planned community.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

pocket protector for the 21st century

a lab mate posed an interesting question to me. it used to be that wearing a pocket protector was the epitome of geekiness. however, while that symbol is certainly still a part of the culture, you don’t really see that many people actually wearing pocket protectors in earnest anymore. what, he asked, would be the modern equivalent, the pocket protector for the 21st century?

I paused for a moment, considered the question, then answered: the plastic cell phone belt clip.

no offense to those of you who may use such equipment, but what other modern worn accessory meant to carry, protect, and make constantly handy devices valuable to a geek screams geekiness more than a cell phone belt clip? suggestions?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

professing and processing

it occurred to me the other day that the words “professor” and “processor” only differ by a single letter. hm…

taking a look at the etymology is even more interesting. professor is one who professes profess. profess is associated with the professing vows as to affirm one’s faith and allegiance before becoming a member of a religious order (Church of Reason, anyone?). the Latin roots (where my linguistic tendencies tell me to look) are fateri, to admit or confess, and pro-, before or forward. so, we get to put forth, or to acknowledge openly, as before others.

now look at the etymology of processor, a person or thing that processes (my emphasis). process (v) is following a routine, systematic procedure, often either as in manufacturing, to produce something, or so as to treat a series of items or individuals in a similar manner (i.e., the army recruiter processes applications/applicants). the Latin roots are cedere, to go, yield, or withdraw, and, again, pro-. so, we get going forward, the act of moving forward, with the connotation of doing so in a systematic way.

look at these two together. the initial reaction might be to consider the way that the professor is a processor of knowledge or information, exploring new conceptual areas via a systematic procedure, potentially even creating new knowledge or information (some notes from a talk about a year ago on the culture of information, and our concept of information as a substance – that feels very Lakoff and Johnson). alternatively, professors are processors of students, whom they treat in a systematic, routine way, moving forward through quarter after quarter, year after year of students.

this is not to say that the actual job of being a professor is (or is only) being a processor. the point is merely to point out some interesting conclusions that one might draw from the etymology. and to spark discussion…