Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

On Policing – a rambling exploration of violence

June 10, 2016

What is it like to be a police officer?  On the one hand, there is this letter by a police officer’s wife (heavily snipped):

Dear Officer,

I want you to know that I see you.  I see you choose the booth in the restaurant that allows you to have your back against the wall.  I see you walking to your next traffic stop while you hope that it isn’t your last. … I see your cause and I want you to know that I appreciate it.

I need you.  We need you.  America needs you.  I know that the world isn’t making it any easier for you to wake up with the same passion you had when you first started.  I know the world is making it extremely difficult for you to feel like anyone is on your side.  I know the world is making you feel like the only allies you have can only be found in each other.  I know that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to put your life on the line for a world that has seemingly turned their backs on you.

I wish I knew how to fix it.  The only thing I know how to do is support you.  I’m aware that there isn’t a magic solution that will make the world see you for who you are; the amazing men and women in blue.  I just want you to know that I see you. I need you to know that you are appreciated by a vast majority who is in your corner.  I need you to know that you aren’t alone.  I need you to feel the presence of those who love and support you.  We are rallied behind you and ready to defend your character at any given moment.  You are honorable.  You are courageous.  You are worthy of a nation’s support.

And on the other side, police officer tased teen into coma.

police violence


The letter is from the wife of a police officer.  I am the son, grandson and husband of police officers.  If my eyes were better, I might be one myself -or at least have applied. The two extremes posted above, plus the killing of Sammy Yatim by police officer James Forcillo in Toronto have made me unsure of where I stand.

Background on Yatim.  The mentally man stepped onboard a bus and threatened the other passengers with a knife.  They were evacuated, police arrived and Yatim was shot by Forcillo:

On August 19, 2013, James Forcillo was charged with second-degree murder. On July 30, 2014, he was also charged with attempted murder. On January 25, 2016, Forcillo was found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter, but guilty of attempted murder.

At issue in this case was how much of a threat Yatim was.  The passengers had been removed, but the man had a knife.  How far apart were Yatim and Forcillo? Did Forcillo need to approach Yatim at that time?  It appears he, and other officers, could have waited outside the bus.

I’ll return to this in a moment, but I wrote “unsure of where I stand”.  That is still unclear, even in what line or side I imagine exist to stand on or in.

There is one more bit of history to include. My own father was investigated for a shooting.  This was long ago and I do not know the details. Maybe it is better I don’t.  Maybe the question here is, ‘Am I brave enough to learn family history?’

What I think I recall is my father and other officers had a man in a car surrounded. I think he was an escaped convict or possibly a suspect in a violent crime.  It was suspected that he was armed.  In the course of events (how neutrally I phrase this), the man’s hand dipped out of sight and someone (this is not an evasion – I don’t think anyone knows who it was) fired.  At this point, every officer emptied his pistol.

One important point I can add for the education of any  readers. To fire less than every bullet in a revolver or automatic gun requires more control than firing two or three.  If a person thinks his/her life is at risk, there is no benefit to a halfway measure.  The dead don’t get any more dead so firing more shots than needed has no downside.  In any case of a killing by firearm, the fact of the killing is important and should be legally actionable, but the bullet count is not important.

This is a key difference between the Ontario Provincial Police (and probably police in all of North America) and at least one police group in South Korea.  Here in South Korea, officers are trained (how well, I cannot say) to wound, to aim for a leg or arm.

Back to my father.  The killing was ruled justified and aside from nightmares, my father and the other officers received no punishment.

Training now is far different for police officers.  in the 1960’s, my father was hired either right out of high school or soon afterwards.  Police today are often university degree holders and older hires, late twenties or so, are preferred.

Fifty years ago, a few members from every detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police were sent to Wasaga Beach for a long weekend holiday in May -known as the May two four weekend.  They weren’t there to relax but to rein in the motorcycle gangs that converged on the otherwise quiet village.  I am too young to recall, but my father would return home bleeding at night on occasion.  Who were these bikers to disrespect the law and who were these officers who did not have the confidence to stamp the problem out? For that matter, who were the general public that didn’t give enough support to the police to handle the matter safely for all concerned, especially the police that were wounded in such battle?

I imagine if a similar problem presented itself today, enough force would be found to charge all gang members at the location and people would accept the rationale for the arrests.

Today, police in Canada are armoured more by their badge than their vest or weapons. If a police officer is threatened, the public normally sides with the officer.

They didn’t side with Forcillo and his position was no defence at sentencing.

The mandatory minimum prison sentence for attempted murder with a restricted firearm was never intended to apply to police whose job is to protect the public, a lawyer for a Toronto officer found guilty in the shooting death of a troubled teen argued Thursday.

But the judge who will decide Const. James Forcillo’s sentence for attempted murder said he saw no reason why police officers should be exempt from the minimum of five years behind bars.

“It’s not a licence to kill,” Justice Edward Then said of police-issued guns. “Police officers are entrusted with the use of a gun for a particular purpose. In this case the jury has found that it wasn’t to serve and protect but it was with the purpose of attempting to kill.”

I feel Forcillo’s profession, and it is a profession now, unlike in my father’s day – does earn him special consideration when on trial for actions done while on duty.  I am definitely not talking specifically about Forcillo, as I know only some of the details available to the public. Here is my reasoning.  In the past, and probably still, killing a police officer who had identified himself as such, was a greater crime than killing someone who wasn’t a police officer.  I feel this is fair because police are required to approach danger while others are welcome, even encouraged, to move away from danger.  Making the killing of a police officer a more serious crime was a way to protect people who worked to protect us.  In the same way, giving the police some greater leeway when they use force seems fair.  They aren’t supposed to retreat from danger the way I, for example, am.

I don’t feel the police should get a free ride, should be able to murder with no consequences.  But I do feel reduced consequences are reasonable.

Hmmm. I do feel I cleared up at least one point in my own mind. “But the judge who will decide Const. James Forcillo’s sentence for attempted murder said he saw no reason why police officers should be exempt from the minimum of five years behind bars.” He definitely should not be exempt. But the possibility of a lower sentence should be open.  If the standard sentence is five to ten years, I feel Forcillo should be looking at three to ten years.  He should not be exempt from a long sentence, but his position as a person who could not run away should mean something.

Now, in reading Boingboing, one might come to the conclusion that police already are free of many legal restrictions and punishments we civilians are bound by. That link is to posts tagged with ‘police’ and a few are not relevant but most are.  I can only hope they are American poli… Not, I don’t want any police officer or department to be so poorly overseen. For the police to be protected, the public has to have faith in them.  I have faith but not quite as much as the wife that wrote the letter excerpted above.

I will finish with this thought.    My father was a patient man with me but also an angry man in general.  Kind-hearted, generous and friendly, but so often angry.  I know what it is like to be a police officer’s son and we heard from the wife of a police officer.  I wonder if police themselves are able to talk about such things.  How do they stay professional – or what makes their professionalism break down?

New direction, same posting rate?

April 17, 2016

I enjoy blogging.


I do most of it these days at creativiti project and Evolution Creation Busan. I, uh, don’t really care for the name of the latter blog but I do post there once a month or so.  At creativiti project, I post a little more than once a week.

This article at motherboard has encouraged me to attempt something similar: Facebook group identifies rare species in Cambodia.

…the loss of a generation of scientists under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s has stunted scientific research into the country’s wildlife for half a century.

But over the past three years, a social media group set up by a pair of nature enthusiasts wanting to share their encounters with the country’s wilderness has mushroomed into a dynamic online community of “citizen scientists” that has provided experts with insights into the distribution of some of the country’s native species and become a portal through which members of the public have witnessed newly-discovered species for the first time.

My goals are a little less grand.  I would love to find rare species but I would settle for less-known species.  Korea has a thriving biology field at universities but I would like to share such information in English.

I enjoyed making such posts and want to do more in that regard.  If I have enough content, perhaps I will look at transferring it to Facebook.


ID these Bees and butterflies?

May 26, 2014

If anyone reads this post, can they ID these bees or this butterfly?  A quick google search didn’t help.bees and bugs (1) bees and bugs (3 b) bees and bugs (4 b) bees and bugs (15 b)

Help with ‘Trust rating’ pop-up, please

March 19, 2014


Here are four examples of this, uh, virus? that has shown up on more than half the pages that I virus 1 ad virus 2 ad virus 3 ad virus 4

These ads never show up for Facebook or Feedly.

The only thing I can think of as the source for these ads is I recently added a Chrome extension to download videos.  It was Video Downloader Professional.

Updated mere minutes after original post:

The problem was likely Lucky Leap. which has since been removed.  From the limited surfing I have done, that seems to have fixed the problem.

Ship leaking oil near DaDaePo

February 17, 2014

From Busan Haps:

BUSAN, South Korea —  An accident involving an oil supplier and an 80,000 ton cargo ship has caused a huge quantity of oil to leak into waters about 2.8 miles northwest of Busan Saeng-do, with  237 kiloliters of Bunker C oil has leaked into the sea.

The amount of the leaked oil is one-and-a-half times more than that of the recent Yeosu accident. The oil has spread 4.5 kilometers south from the scene of the accident.


There is more at Yonhap. And Daum media.

I have learned elsewhere that the Coast Guard has more than 60 ships onsite.  The Korean Navy, Busan Fire Dept, private environment cleanup groups and other groups also have ships and boats onsite. When the recent Yeosu oil spill first occurred, it was deemed to be easily manageable and only a small fleet was sent to work on it. Then, it was found to be larger than previously reported and more ships and personnel were sent but the oil had had time to spread. This time, the response was much greater. Coast Guard vessels from as far away as Sokcho responded to this spill.

Awenda on Thanksgiving Monday

October 14, 2013

We had a picnic at our backyard provincial park today.  Awenda is just 10 km from home and really haven’t gone there as much as we should have.

My son learns to take chances:

awenda thanksgiving (3 b) awenda thanksgiving (3 c)


The variety of rock forms is suddenly interesting to me.  I have lived near Georgian Bay for years and never cared about the rocks.  They were mostly good for snorkeling over or diving off of.awenda thanksgiving (24 b)

Methodist Point:awenda thanksgiving (36) Stitch

I have had trouble capturing the vibrancy of the fall colours.  It has something to do with the right distance.  I can get one tree or one leaf but getting the feel of the forest eludes me.

awenda thanksgiving (39 b)

Today was the last day for camping this year.  Awenda Provincial Park is open for day visits until sometime next year

Porcupine in Penetanguishene

April 21, 2013

Porcupine in Penetanguishene

I spotted this guy on a branch over a minor road near Waypoint. It was the first porcupine I’d seen in ten years and my son’s first ever.

That didn’t take long

November 3, 2010

I prepared ahead – albeit insufficiently – for November and Nanowrimo.  I’ve had an idea for a novel for some time now and have wanted to try writing it.  I have written short fiction and essays short and long for this blog, a few magazines and my students.  I was ready, I felt, to extend myself…

No point in being wordy now.  It will take an extreme effort of will to continue at this point.

Oh, Nanowrimo, for those unwilling to follow the link, is short for national Novel Writing Month.  The organization is international now, so the name is both cumbersome and incorrect.  Anyway, the goal for Nanowrimo is to type 50,000 words during the month of November.  Quantity is important and quality is not.  This makes sense to me as the first step is a sort of brainstorming, with the expectation of massive revisions coming afterward.

By the end of November first, I was a little behind in my word count, but not disastrously so.  In the late afternoon of November second, I received word that my father-in-law had fallen from a tree -a cultivated persimmon tree, so it was particularly tall – and we spent that evening driving to the hospital and visiting with him.  Still, I could catch up.  However, we made plans while at the hospital to work at the farm all weekend to help the family catch up on their work.

I’ve enjoyed even this half-assed attempt at Nanowrimo and see real value in it.  I hope that I can get it together and continue working on my novel even if I don’t reach 50,000 words.

If you think the idea of thousands of amateurs trying to write novels in November is crazy, you aren’t alone. Laura Miller, at Salon, feels the same way and salutes the reader.

Consider turning away from the self-aggrandizing frenzy of NaNoWriMo and embracing the quieter triumph of Kalen Landow and Melissa Klug’s “10/10/10” challenge: These two women read 10 book in 10 categories between Jan. 1 and Oct. 10, focusing on genres outside their habitual favorites. In her victory-lap blog post, Klug writes of discovering new favorite authors she might otherwise never have encountered, and of her sadness on being reminded that “most Americans don’t read ANY books in a given year, or just one or two.” Instead of locking herself up in a room to crank out 50,000 words of crap, she learned new things and “expanded my reading world.” So let me be the first to say it: Melissa and Kalen, you are the heroes.

pool safety

July 3, 2010

1) Before taking a shot, look behind you make sure your cue has …

Alright, this post is about swimming pools and water safety, not billiards or the like.

Today, Yahoo News was highlighting a Toronto politician who wanted all children in Toronto to receive swimming lessons so as to prevent drowning.  He felt this would be cheaper than paying for lifeguards to watch every pool in Toronto.  Soon after he made his suggestion, a boy was found floating in a pool with no vital signs. He was pronounced dead the following day.

On Friday afternoon, a boy was plucked from the pool at the Toronto Don Valley Hotel at Eglinton Avenue and the Don Valley Parkway. He was taken to hospital with no vital signs and died Saturday. Another child taken out of the pool was conscious and mobile.

Smitherman says it would be too expensive to make sure there is a lifeguard on duty at every pool including those in condos.

The swimming-lessons pitch is part of a plan Smitherman released Friday to transform Toronto’s schools into community hubs, offering a broad range of government services including daycare, recreation facilities and libraries.

I am unconvinced.  Kids, especially young boys, will find pools and get into trouble even if they are good swimmers.

I guess my feeling is that there is a price that can be placed on human life.  I don’t know what it is, but, for example, I would be willing to accept a few boating deaths of idiots if I didn’t have to carry all that ridiculous safety gear in my canoe on short trips.

Hmm, did that make sense?

I’ll try again.  I don’t want anyone to die and I am comfortable saying we should protect young people in particular.  Yet, they will always be people who kill themselves doing stupid things.  Creating new red tape and expenses to stop those deaths will cost too much per unit death.

All that said, I would like more lifeguards at swimming areas in Korea and more understanding of  water safety in Koreans who use pools and beaches.  Recess isn’t enough (from a Q&A at the Joongang Daily):

All outdoor swimming pools in Korea must abide by the regulation set by the Korea Swimming Pool Management Association that swimming is allowed for 40 to 45 minutes, with 15 to 20 minutes rest time in-between.

According to the manager at the outdoor swimming pool in Jamsil, the recess is for health and safety reasons. By emptying the pool, staff can clean up debris or pick up lost items or foliage. A brief rest also can help prevent hypothermia among young children, who tend to stay for a prolonged period of time at play, and also prevent accidental drowning.

The pool I take Alex too, doesn’t have recess, nor does it have any visible lifeguards. There are security cameras, if that helps.

I will try to find death-by-drowning rates for Korea and the list of causes.

Korea Herald: visiting this site may damage your computer

July 2, 2010

Today, I visited a library near DaDaePo Beach.  It had a pretty good English section for children’s books – from the Jungle Book, the Secret Garden and White Fang on down to younger ages.

It also had the Korea Herald available.  I haven’t seen the herald in print in years and haven’t visited the site in a few months, since Safari recognizes it as a malware site.  Is it okay to visit? Anyway, I took a few photos of things that caught my interest. Click to embiggen if you want to read them.

Last year, at Gangwon Notes, I wrote about trans-boundary water and water recourses so this conference sounds interesting.  There was only the photo and caption, though.  No further details.

I also read about a ‘Green camp’ in Gangwondo.  I am busy – and they haven’t asked me- but I would love to be involved in a wilderness/conservation-themed camp here.

Since I cannot link directly to the articles, let me say they were in the July 2nd, 2010 edition.