Today I is mainly listening to pre-1950 jazz, on Spotify.
Yesterday, listening to the old buffers on TMS twittering on with great enthusiasm about Twitter, I think I finally got it. Twitter, I reckon, is a kind of blog for the kind of people who find writing a whole 160 character text a real challenge.
It's also a means for certain sorts of people to cultivate their egos and satisfy their existential longings by claiming to have hundreds and possibly thousands of 'followers' - “I have followers, therefore I am.” It's similar to having hundreds of “friends” on Facebook, I guess.
A Game of Grace and Character
This blog is not, and never will be, concerned with sport. Therefore it has absolutely nothing to say about Australia being skittled out for 160 in the Ashes decider, and nothing at all to say about England smashing their way to a lead of well over 500 in their second innings yesterday.
What it will say is this: what admirable temperaments were shown by the bowlers Broad and Swann whilst taking all those wickets, and how pleasantly, calmly and decently they showed their pleasure in such success.
It should also be remarked that Trott showed an incredibly mature and unruffled temperament for a guy grafting his way to a century in his debut Test, and in such an important match. We already knew that Strauss possessed such personal qualities, and he's also (again) been magnificent in this match, in both innings.
The less said about England's middle order the better.
But what joy, grace, fun and fluency there was in the bowlers playing so well as batsmen – Flintoff, Swann and Broad taking on the opposition with some controlled and mature aggression, and some great shots. Very entertaining.
On recent evidence both Broad and Swann should now be considered genuine all-rounders. Swann has Test averages of 35 and 30.34, and Broad is not far behind with figures of 31 and 35.22. These compare with Flintoff's 32 and 32.62. Shane Warne, incidentally, only averaged 17 with the bat in Tests. Botham did 34 and 28.4. Kapil did 31 and 29.65. Kallis, the king, 55 and 31.09.
It's also important to say again how impressive Ponting has been in his conduct and his attitude. He obviously learned some hard lessons during the last series in England - about showing grace under pressure - and he's shown real maturity and intelligence in his actions and his words this time around. That's really good to see, and a very good example of how adversity can positively help to shape character.
He had a ball smashed in his face during yesterday's play, and managed to carry on regardless. He's even risen above, and endured without complaint, some ludicrous booing and baiting by some very unsavoury England 'supporters'. The man has developed into a leader who's decent, intelligent, accomplished and modest, and a real model for young men to consider.
Thankfully he received a standing ovation when he went out to bat today, on what may be his last appearance in an Ashes series in this country.
Incidentally, cricket lovers should take a look at this Spotify playlist – very funny, and more have been added on the actual Spotify site, which you can click on at the bottom of the list:
This is a great website:
“Welcome to the online music community that allows you to share Spotify playlists as well as getting your own music blog, finding friends with the same musical tastes and discovering great new music.”
The Dalai Lama – How To Practice
Chapter 1. The Basics
Spiritual qualities [can] be constructed [in] a great variety of ways. However, the mind must be developed by you alone. There is no way for others to do the work, and for you to reap the results. Reading someone else's blueprint for mental progress will not transfer its realisations to you. You have to develop them yourself.
Cultivating an attitude of compassion and developing wisdom are slow processes. As you gradually internalise techniques for developing morality, concentration of mind, and wisdom, untamed states of mind become less and less frequent. You will need to practice these techniques day by day, year by year. As you transform your mind, you will transform your surroundings. Others will see the benefits of your practice of tolerance and love, and will work at bringing these practices into their own lives.
In order for the wisdom of special insight [intuition] to remove impediments to proper understanding, and to remove faulty mental states at their very roots, we need concentrated meditation, a state of complete single-mindedness in which all internal distractions have been removed. Otherwise the mind is too fractured.
Concentrated meditation must precede wisdom.
Single-minded meditation involves removing subtle internal distractions such as the mind's being either too relaxed or too tight.
To do so we must first stop external distractions through training in the morality of maintaining mindfulness and conscientiousness with regard to physical and verbal activities – being constantly aware of what you are doing with your body and your speech.
Since it is through sustaining mindfulness that you achieve a calm abiding of the mind, the practice of morality must precede the practice of concentrated meditation.
Looking at the three practices – morality, concentrated meditation, and wisdom, - we see that each serves as the basis for the next. Therefore all spiritual progress depends on a foundation of proper morality.
Here's a little story that pretty much sums up what's wrong with Britain in the 21st Century. What could be more civilised that gently punting on the River Cam, in and around Cambridge - one of our loveliest and most serene County towns, and a pre-eminent university town? Nothing? We're still a sick, uncivilised, amoral, spiritually barren society, at our very core.
Yesterday's Guardian carried an interesting story by Jon Henley, under the heading,
A Force to be Reckoned With.
The Metropolitan police have announced a new strategy for next week's Climate Camp – putting women officers in charge of the operation. Will this avoid the violence seen at the G20 protests?
The last team Inspector Liz Owsley of the Metropolitan police worked on, not so long ago, happened to have just one woman. All the rest were young male PCs. There was a moment, she relates, when a bit of a situation was starting to kick off with a bunch of yobs in a courtyard. A constable was getting overly verbal with one of the lads, trading insults: a real slanging match.
"So the woman officer just turned to him and said, quite gently, 'You're not helping,'" Owsley recalls. "It was only a small thing, tiny really, but it was classic. Women police will always want to resolve a situation with the least possible upset. Their question is always, can we do this without confrontation? Is it possible without conflict? There just isn't that same kind of macho aggressiveness you can get from the men. We're better communicators."
After the public outrage and official brickbats heaped on the Met's handling of G20 protests in London in April, during which a newspaper vendor, Ian Tomlinson, died after being hit by a police officer, news this week that both senior officers controlling tactics at next week's Climate Camp will be women has been broadly welcomed as evidence that the force may be trying to adopt a less confrontational approach to policing demonstrations.
Superintendent Julia Pendry – who once took Scotland Yard to an employment tribunal before settling her sexual discrimination claim out of court – has been named "silver" commander for the operation, and was quoted as saying she selected her deputy, Inspector Jane Connors, because she was "reasonable, sensible and able to communicate".
Perhaps the most noted American researcher into gender differences in policing, Joseph Balkin, observed that "policemen tend to see police work as involving control through authority, while policewomen see it as public service". In some respects at least, he concluded, "women are better suited for police work than men." But can the Climate Camp protesters really expect a different experience to the unpleasant, even brutal one many of them encountered in the City earlier this year, simply because the officers in charge are women? Certainly their management style is likely to be different, believes Jennifer Brown, a professor of forensic psychology at the University of Surrey who has spent the best part of 20 years researching gender issues in policing.
"The police service has been thinking a lot about leadership styles, about the difference between transactional leadership – 'This is what I think we should do' – and transformational leadership, which is more consultative, 'negotiative'," Brown says. "As a generality, the way in which women police approach leadership ... is more likely to be: let's sit down, let's think about this together, let's hear what everyone has to say."
That would seem to be borne out by at least one study published in a leading US police journal, which concluded that female police executives tend to be "more flexible, emotionally independent, self-assertive, self-confident, proactive and creative than their male counterparts." Male police executives, on the other hand, were "more authoritarian and prejudiced".
Several promising preliminary meetings have reportedly already been held between the Met and the event's organisers, who have also been assured that the more controversial policing methods used at last year's Climate Camp at Kingsnorth power station in Kent – placing a "ring of steel' around the camp, for example, and depriving protesters of sleep by playing loud music through the night – will not be repeated.
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There is now, based largely on extensive US research, a mounting body of evidence indicating that women officers do indeed behave differently on the ground to their male colleagues, especially in potentially difficult situations. "Women police officers rely on a style of policing that uses less physical force, are better at defusing and de-escalating potentially violent confrontations, and are less likely to become involved in problems with use of excessive force," write, unambiguously, the authors of one report. "In addition, women officers tend to possess better communications skills than their male counterparts, and are better able to facilitate the co-operation and trust required to implement a community policing model."
Brown confirms that "for the most part, men are more likely to get themselves into trouble through the use of force. The number of complaints against men is proportionately higher. Women are less likely to resort to batons, pepper spray or quick cuffs to get out of trouble, and more likely to use negotiative skills to talk someone down."
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The authors of Men, Women and Police Excessive Force: a Tale of Two Genders conclude that the average male police officer in the US costs from 2.5 to five times more than the average woman officer in compensation payments for excessive force; is nine times more likely to have an allegation of excessive force upheld against him; and is three times more likely to be named in a public complaint over the use of excessive force.
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In short, women officers are not necessarily reluctant to use force, but they are far less likely to use excessive force. "Excessive use of force takes a serious toll on the individuals involved," say the report's authors, who include the centre's director, Margaret Moore. "But excessive force incidents [also] severely erode the trust between the police and the public. Every sustained allegation undermines the confidence the community places in their police, and limits the police's effectiveness to fight crime and serve the public. When the community comes to mistrust the police, they withdraw the co-operation that is essential for police to perform their job."
That argument presents a convincing case for putting many more women officers on the streets. There are others: studies in the US and elsewhere – summarised in a report, Hiring and Retaining More Women: the Advantages to Law Enforcement Agencies – show that in terms of overall competence, effectiveness and productivity on patrol, there are no meaningful differences between male and female officers, and (a tough chestnut, this one) that physical strength and aggression are not determining factors in either general police effectiveness, or the ability to successfully handle a dangerous situation.
Others have it that women officers are far more in tune with the aims of "community-oriented policing", the generally accepted modern approach to policing which is based more on communication and co-operation with the public. Women police have been found to be the target of fewer insults than their male colleagues; to be less cynical and more respectful of members of the public; to have a beneficial influence on the behaviour of their male colleagues and a community advantage over men in several areas, "including empathy towards others and interacting in a way which is not designed to 'prove' anything".
You could almost formulate the question this way, says one female officer who asked not to be identified: "It's not, can women make good police officers. It's why should so many unsuitable men, with the way they respond to so many situations, the way they so often have to prove who's biggest, be allowed to try? Any policewoman could give you a dozen examples of male colleagues getting it wrong."
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There is an acknowledgement within the service here, says one study supervised by Brown, that it needs to "reconsider its style and priorities ... and create a model of policing that is more consultative. The model that has evolved takes on initiatives having the appearance of a more feminised style."
The overall trend, the study's authors say, has been "a shift towards interpersonal and communication skills away from the physical skills pre-eminent in more traditional models of policing."
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Brown – who cautions against generalising, and notes that it is perfectly possible for male police to have "a more feminine way of doing things", and vice versa – puts it this way: "There's still a culture that if you're not dedicated to the job 24/7, you're only half a copper."
But the benefits, to police forces and the public, of having more women officers are now unarguable, Owsley says: "The real issue is changing the culture. Things could be changed overnight if the Association of Chief Police Officers wanted them changed."
To save readers the trouble of looking it up, here's Oxzen's comment on CiF:
It's incredible we're still carrying on such a debate in terms of 'masculine' versus 'feminine' qualities and sensibilities, when clearly what's at stake are emotional intelligence, social intelligence and spiritual intelligence, which senior police officers, as well as their juniors, may or may not possess in abundance.
Daniel Goleman's book 'Social Intelligence' begins with a very illuminating anecdote about the way in which a 'socially intelligent' commanding officer in Iraq dealt with an angry mob when confronted whilst out on an operation with his small group of soldiers. Needless to say, the answer did not lie in the violent use of brute force.
In such high pressure situations people (both men and women) reveal the extent to which they possess aspects of intelligence such as empathy, intuition, wisdom, compassion, morality and anger management skills.
The key questions that should concern us are how these qualities and intelligences can be developed; why they're so under-developed in so many of us; and what can be done within schools and through in-service training in the professions etc to develop them.
How bizarre that there wasn't a single reference in this otherwise interesting and informative article to the concepts of social, emotional and spiritual intelligence.
Crimes Against Humanity and Global Justice
There's been a huge interest these past few days in the release of the Lockerbie bomber, and the part that the Prince of Darkness may have played in it following secretive discussions with the Libyans when he met them in Corfu. Many people are clearly outraged that our government may have influenced the decision on account of wanting to improve Britain's prospects for increased trade with Libya. Or was Manglebum's meeting just coincidental?
Two opinions worth reading are those of Geoffrey Robertson QC and AC Grayling – both people whom Oxzen has massive respect for.
'We should be ashamed that this has happened'