Monday, December 24, 2018

Goodbye 2018

Since letting go of the School Board position I've turned my attention elsewhere.  I just noticed I had no new posts for the year and that didn't seem right.

This year I've discovered that inexpensive online learning is very good stuff.  I took a Udemy course for $10 and it was worth every penny.   

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Beware the Entitled and Entitling Parents

Sunday, June 17, 2018


This should be of interest to everyone:

Friday, November 17, 2017

Twelve Years, So Much Time, So Little Progress - A Postmortem

After twelve years on the Board I decided not to run again.  With the recent election I'm no longer a Region 19 Board member but I've been offered the opportunity to continue participating on the EO Smith High School Building Committee as a citizen participant. Having attended all of the previous architectural studies and proposals for the school is some institutional knowledge that I'd like to keep alive for at least the short term.

I also plan on keeping the blog alive. I haven't written much lately but when I get the urge, I get the urge.

For twelve years I spent my energies in advocating for the students, the taxpayers, and the soul of the institution. And not blindly.  *Everyone* associated with public education has an agenda. To the degree that I could contribute to good things that were accomplished, it was to the credit of a coalition of the willing and they know who they are.

The establishment of the Reynolds, Big Picture inspired satellite program, the realization of an artificial turf sports field (I had advocated for all the fields to been renovated), the establishment of "Bring Your Own Device" internet access, and a few more Board stretch goals were largely the work of Bruce Silva, Lou DeLoreto, and a handful of Board members who rolled up their sleeves.

I mention these things because two of the three mentioned are NOT the way the system typically works.  In fact the system is hardwired to self-insulate itself from anything innovative or different.

This bears some explanation because most of the critical rhetoric of public schools will condemn the institution for being dysfunctional.   In my experience that simply isn't true. Public education is a highly evolved set of self-serving ecosystems that complement each other's comfort zone so as to eliminate every and all outside disruptive influence. Rather than being dysfunctional, these ecosystems are highly refined and ruthlessly efficient.

Obvious and self-evident as it sounds, schools should prepare students for a life of learning, constant change and reexamination of the status quo. And public school teachers and administrators exercise a vernacular of words and phrases that sound exactly as if this is what they do. But the fact of the matter is that they cannot do for students what they cannot do for themselves.  One of the last things an administrator said to me at my last meeting was, "This place isn't built for change."

The teacher's Unions, the administrative unions, the local Boards of Education, the State Board of Education, the commercial education interests, the lobbyists, the status quo parents of college track students, and the armies of sub-professional employees all act in the interest of the system. The system being a paper mill that certifies public school seat time. The system prefers being a monopoly.

Is there anyone out there who would not roll their eyes when someone mentions that "a fox should not be allowed to guard the henhouse"? Yet in education, most School Boards are populated by former teachers, teachers from a district away, vested interests, government unionists, and  so on. School Boards negotiate personnel contracts, curriculum, and much more.  Board members who don't fit that profile are considered incompetent outsiders. You're expected to be a fox to know a fox.

These days I think that public school alternatives may be the only thing that can save humanity.  The public schools need competition.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Congratulations Betsy DeVos

Now do something about this stuff:

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Miracle at the Connecticut State Education Department - Somebody Woke Up!

This news was unreported and buried by Connecticut's MSM. CT News Junkie seems to be a sole source.  This is the kind of news the State government wants to keep buried. Business as usual. Hide the racism.  Hide the incompetence.Let's all be polite because that's what its all about.

I've been watching Connecticut do everything in its power to ignore, slow, and kill any attempt at closing a racial and class divide that keeps generations of children and young adults on a treadmill to early death, povrty subsistence, or a life in prison. We don't call it that.  We call it an education gap.  the gap being that the poor and urban populations of color must understand that there's nothing here for them - no college track, no snowflake, entitlement  treatment - no future except that their children will rinse and repeat this same cycle.

So yeah, a miracle of sorts happened. A State of Connecticut Board member aroused from a bureacratically induced coma;

State Board of Education member Malia K. Sieve listened for close to an hour Wednesday as her fellow board members and professionals in the field discussed Connecticut’s disappointing results on a well-known nationwide science test.She listened to speakers and watched slide-after-slide on an overhead projector of other states surpassing Connecticut in the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress science assessment.< She listened as some said the “good news’’ was that the achievement gap between minority and white students has shrunk since the last testing period in the state.
When she finally spoke up, her words captured the full attention of her fellow board members.“I’m so fired up, not in a good way,” Sieve said. Sieve is a director at HCM Strategies where her full-time job is to work with institutional leaders on education policy. “I’m tired of us all talking so politely,” Sieve said. What the test results clearly indicate, Sieve said, “is we do a better job with one population. We’re doing a whole lot better by our white kids.”Apologizing for getting emotional, Sieve went on to say that, “We act like if we talk politely — it will all be fine.”But by doing that it means “we have not decided that we have to do anything differently yet,” Sieve said. Sieve’s passionate words came after a presentation about nationwide science tests taken by fourth and eighth graders in 2015 that showed Connecticut is falling behind other states, though Education Department Chief Performance Officer Ajit Gopalakrishnan and Renee Savoie, an education consultant, termed the state’s performance as “stagnant.’’

Yeah, "stagnant" is one way of putting it. Maliciously racist might be another. we've been engaged in this dance of irresponsibility for many, many decades.  The State Board of Education has been as worthless a bureacratic body as any in government. Hickups such as this one are a rarity and as you an see, you'll never hear about them unless you look hard.

Truth is that the high stakes testing is a lousy metric for evaluating our schools.  CT is mired in the Orwellian double-speak OF No Child Left Behind and all its draconian successors. All these programs dumb-down educational experiences for kids, Even by this poor metric iyt becomes obvious that CT schoolchildren can be reduced to incompetent parrots when subjegated to generations of comformity indicing brainwashing.

"Stagnant". Brain-dead is closer to the truth.  Malooy needs to flatten these organizations and repeal all the idiotic legislation that has so poisoned the system that we no longer recognise it. making it all go away is the best remedy for this nonsense.

Renditioning Teenagers

In a recent article in the Vice digital  magazine entitled "The Legal Industry for Kidnapping Teens" by Serena Solomon we are given a tour of one of the more controversial aspects of the never-ending "tough-love" industry.

The recipe for finding consumers for this business is simple.

"A critical aspect of the whole operation is gaining parental permission through an affidavit or power of attorney agreement. These agreements temporarily transfer parental rights to the youth transport company, giving workers permissions that include authorizing medical attention or restraining the young person. 
"In general, parents have enormously wide discretion with respect to decisions regarding their children. They can decide to leave their children with people and give them parental rights and no one can interfere," Philip Elberg, an attorney who has worked on cases involving the troubled teen industry, told me.
Elberg added that the large number of abuse complaints triggered by the troubled teen industry isn't matched by the small number of lawsuits because, among other reasons, unless there is a serious physical incident such as injury, sexual abuse, or death of a young person, there isn't much legal ground to stand on after authority has been handed over by the parent."Parents are often the victim," said Bush. "They are desperate to help their child and someone who is supposed to be a professional tells them that this is what they are supposed to do.""
So what happens to the teenager when their parents sign over parental rights?

The troubled teen or "tough love" industry is made up mostly of for-profit companies that promise to fix drug addiction, mental illness, and attitude problems. At the center of this industry are the behavioral programs, some accused of abusive practices and even causing the death of teen clients. If the behavioral program is the entrée, then the transportation service is the appetizer, often setting the tone for the treatment the young person will endure for the months or years to come. 
"They can be abducted against their will and this meets all the criteria of trauma," Dr. Nicole Bush, an associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, told me. Bush helped found the Alliance for the Safe, Therapeutic, and Appropriate Use of Residential Treatment (A START) to help protect young people from negligent residential programs and youth transport services.
Several of her teen clients who attended residential programs attribute their post-traumatic stress disorder to the youth transport services that picked them up. One client said she was taken when an SUV pulled up next to the family car. Another described two large men escorting her from a restaurant where she was eating with friends."They talk about nightmares, not being able to sleep alone, or needing a night light," Bush told me. "These are people are in their 20s and 30s, more than a decade after the event."
Bush is quick to point out that not all youth transport services are equal. A 2015 article in the Child and Youth Care Forum found after surveying 350 young people who attended a wilderness program (where nature expeditions are used as a type of therapy) that whether young people were transported or dropped off by a parent had little impact on the treatment outcome.
As far as I can see, "tough love" sure looks a lot more like "rough love" than anyone cares to admit.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Compromising National Security Through Public Schools

One of the most pernicious and successful ways in which cybernetic systems can be compromised is through the act of social engineering.  In other words, a human who has secure access to a system or systems is duped or is compromised by misplaced trust in a third party to granting access to the otherwise secure system.

In recent weeks, at least two public announcements have given me grave concern that the EO Smith School systems may have been compromised  in the recent past.

Most recently, the FBI issued the following;

"Targeting Activity Against State Board of Election Systems Summary 
The FBI received information of an additional IP address,, which was detected in the July 2016 compromise of a state’s Board of Election Web site. Additionally, in August 2016 attempted intrusion activities into another state’s Board of Election system identified the IP address, used in the aforementioned compromise.
Technical Details The following information was released by the MS-ISAC on 1 August 2016, which was derived through the course of the investigation. In late June 2016, an unknown actor scanned a state's Board of Election website for vulnerabilities using Acunetix, and after identifying a Structured Query Language (SQL) injection (SQLi) vulnerability, used SQLmap to target the state website. The majority of the data exfiltration occurred in mid-July. There were 7 suspicious IPs and penetration testing tools Acunetix, SQLMap, and DirBuster used by the actor, detailed in the indicators section below. "
The document goes into further detail of system contagion;

"Conduct vulnerability scans on local government and law enforcement websites and promptly remediate any vulnerabilities (or contact your hosting provider to do so on your behalf). Particular attention should be paid to SQLi vulnerabilities. Website hosting providers should also pay attention to vulnerabilities on other websites on the same server, which may provide a back-door into the local government's website."

Earlier ARSTechnica reported the existence of a previously unknown attack vehicle;

 ""Once installed, the main Project Sauron modules start working as 'sleeper cells,' displaying no activity of their own and waiting for 'wake-up' commands in the incoming network traffic," Kaspersky researchers wrote in a separate blog post. "This method of operation ensures Project Sauron’s extended persistence on the servers of targeted organizations."
Kaspersky researchers said they discovered the malware last September after a customer at an unidentified government organization hired them to investigate anomalous network traffic. They eventually unearthed a "strange" executable program library that was loaded into the memory of one of the customer's domain controller servers. The library was masquerading as a Windows password filter, which is something administrators typically use to ensure passwords match specific requirements for length and complexity. The module started every time a network or local user logged in or changed a password, and it was able to view passcodes in plaintext.
The main purpose of the malware platform was to obtain passwords, cryptographic keys, configuration files, and IP addresses of the key servers related to any encryption software that was in use. Infected groups include government agencies, scientific research centers, military organizations, telecommunication providers, and financial institutions in Russia, Iran, Rwanda, China, Sweden, Belgium, and possibly in Italian-speaking countries."
A number of years ago, some EO Smith students claim to have installed software (thought to be a for-credit school project) onto EO Smith, Town of Mansfield, CT and Mansfield Public Schools. Recent events have disclosed that the software was not written by the students but was outsourced to an eastern block country's software development firm paid for and sponsored by the student's parents in one form or another.

An internet search reveals numerous claims by the students about the scope and effectiveness of the software that appear to have no basis in fact. School officials claim the software was never allowed to co-exist with legitimate school systems.

Further discussion of this issue will be conducted at the September 20th curriculum meeting.

The revelations introduce disturbing questions about the academic veracity of the school's program, the ethical veracity of the claims of the students, and serves as a wake-up call to all public schools when it comes to their system relationship to broader government systems.

Friday, September 09, 2016

The Winds of Change

I received an email from CABE, the Ct Association of Boards of Education, a few days ago. It contained some surprising news in a deja vu kind of way.

"Over the course of 3 hours, Judge Moukawsher read his decision in the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell case. While the Judge did not see it as the role of the court to order specific additional state funding, he issued a series of orders requiring the state to come back within 180 days with plans to revise many aspects of Connecticut’s education system. 
The state must submit proposed reforms consistent with this opinion on the following subjects:
  •  the relationship between the state and local government in education.
  •  an educational aid and school construction formula that is rational, substantial and verifiable
  •  a definition of elementary and secondary education, including an objective and mandatory statewide graduation standard
  •  standards for hiring, firing, evaluating, and paying education professionals;
  •  funding, identification, and educational services standards for special education.
Once the state submits its proposed remedies, the plaintiffs will have 60 days to comment on them and propose alternatives. 
A hearing will then be scheduled."
At face value and assuming we haven't done this dance a few times before, this looks promising.  Then again, considering the principals involved, it can become a cluster-muck of frightening and expensive special interest featherbedding.

Whatever good comes of this will likely manifest itself as one or more unintended consequences of the measures adopted.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Unethical Uses of Psychological Expertise

I'm becoming increasingly interested in the ethics of psychology specifically when it concerns digital media.

A particularly interesting debate has been sparked by the post-911 torture and abuse controversy.

"For Dr. Bradley Olson, who is past president of APA Division 48, which studies peace, conflict, and violence, using one’s training to assist in a mission like JTRIG’s, which involves the deception and manipulation of unsuspecting targets, is inherently problematic. Using one’s “expertise, research, or consultation to guide deceptive statements, even the statements of others, when the deceptive intentions are clearly documented … that is against psychological ethics,” according to Olson, who has collaborated with Soldz, including as a co-founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology. “This is a terrible, terrible violation of psychological ethics” and a violation of the APA’s ethical standards, he added."

Another point of interest, selective publishing: 

"In psychology research, there is a particular problem with researchers who selectively publish some of their experiments to guarantee a positive result. "Let's say you have this theory that, when you play Mozart, people want to pay more for musical instruments," says Simonsohn. "So you do a study and you play Mozart (or not) and you ask people, 'How much would you pay for a piano or flute and five instruments?'"
If it turned out that only the price of a single type of instrument, violins, say, went up after people had listened to Mozart, it would be possible to publish a research paper that omitted the fact that the researchers had ever asked about any other instruments. This would not allow the reader to make a proper assessment of the strength of the effect that Mozart may (or may not) have on how much a person would pay for musical instruments.
Fanelli has examined this positive result bias. He looked at 4,600 studies across all disciplines between 1990 and 2007, and counted the number of papers that, after declaring an intent to test a particular hypothesis, reported a positive support for it. The overall frequency of positive supports had grown by more than 22% over this time period. In a separate study, Fanelli found that "the odds of reporting a positive result were around five times higher among papers in the disciplines of psychology and psychiatry and economics and business compared with space science"."

And, of course, there's money and entitlement that drive certain unethical behaviors;

Whether affluenza is real or imagined, money really does change everything, as the song goes — and those of high social class do tend to see themselves much differently than others. Wealth (and the pursuit of it) has been linked with immoral behavior — and not just in movies like The Wolf of Wall Street. Psychologists who study the impact of wealth and inequality on human behavior have found that money can powerfully influence our thoughts and actions in ways that we’re often not aware of, no matter our economic circumstances. Although wealth is certainly subjective, most of the current research measures wealth on scales of income, job status or measures of socioeconomic circumstances, like educational attainment and intergenerational wealth.

Hmmm. Some of this sounds all too familiar.

Edit: I located the UConn Ethics hotline for any of you out there who may have questions about any local activities that come to mind;

"You may use the University’s confidential reportline at 1-888-685-2637 to report any compliance concerns you may have. Individuals who report in good faith possible compliance issues will be afforded confidentiality and/or anonymity to the extent possible under the law. Also, you may file a complaint directly with the Office of State Ethics."

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Return to American Free Speech

There's a tendency to believe that high school students graduate into the adult world but anyone who is a parent knows better.  Today the exposure to mass culture is saturating and a large part of that saturation is an exposure to the most exotic and raw aspects of human nature and behavior.

But the victim mentality has crept into every aspect of life and the easiest way to deny free speech these days is to claim that the speech of another is offensive to just one. And if the one happens to have the resources to threaten lawsuits the silence is absolute.

It is blissful to hear that the University of Chicago is making an attempt to steer America back to its cultural soul.

The University of Chicago recently made it clear to its crop of incoming students that academic freedom and inquiry remain pillars at the institution, and that the university does not support "so-called" trigger warnings or offer safe spaces that allow students "to retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own. Here is how the university welcomed its incoming class of 2020:
Welcome and congratulations on your acceptance to the college at the University of Chicago. Earning a place in our community of scholars is no small achievement and we are delighted that you selected Chicago to continue your intellectual journey.
Once here you will discover that one of the University of Chicago’s defining characteristics is our commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression. … Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn, without fear of censorship. Civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us, and freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to harass or threaten others. You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.
And then, the coup de grace:
Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.
You can read the entire letter below. (CLICK HERE to see how students and alumni responded.)

Love it!.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Republic of Mansfield (The Prequel)

On June 13, 2016, Cory Sipe a reporter for The Chronicle, a Willimantic, CT newspaper contacted me via email saying;
"Frank,  I would like to talk with you about a letter sent to the BOE referencing a story you wrote referencing a graduate on the Keep EO Smith Downtown Facebook page and other comments. I tried to call you at the number listed on the District 19 page but it just keeps ringing. I can be reached at 860-423-xxxx ext. 3339 or you can e-mail me back with a written response if you would like."
Later that day, I responded,

I am unaware of a letter referencing an EO Smith girl. The last thing I posted on a Mansfield site was a fiction piece that contained composite characters; two helicopter parents, a girl (e.g. Suzy Creamcheese), a boy (e.g Andy Ambitious), and a narrator. The setting is Mansfield, the kids graduates of EO Smith.

The garbage can manufacturer based on any number of CT start-up companies making a better mousetrap. There obviously is no space garbage can.

It was in response to a conversation with a fellow who didn't know who Salman Rushdie was to demonstrate that their constituency are more likely to take fiction seriously than factual documents.

Why?  What's going on?


Frank Krasicki"
My assumption was that Cory would circle back with more questions. My current contract is a profoundly time and energy-consuming R&D effort so when Cory did not get back in a timely manner I decided to annotate the story to clearly identify its allusions, metaphors, and so on to provide Cory and any other media or interested party a place to find the information without interrupting my work day or trying to contact me otherwise.  I do a 4-5 hour round-trip commute each day.

That annotated version was posted here and its purpose was simply to provide a public place to access the information.

Since then, the story has apparently taken on a life of its own. Like a scene from a Cheech and Chong comedy skit, numerous individuals claim that they know exactly who these fictional characters *ARE*.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Defining Academic Fraud and It's Consequences

A topic that recently has come to my attention and that I haven't written very much about lately is academic fraud in it's many guises. Some recent research into the subject happened upon an excellent definition from the 2010Academic Fraud Today: Its Social Causes and Institutional Responses by Richard A. Epstein journal article.

"Academic Fraud involves a deliberate effort to deceive and is distinguished from an honest mistake and honest differences in judgment or interpretation. Academic fraud is defined as plagiarism; fabrication or falsification of evidence, data, or results; the suppression of relevant evidence or data; the conscious misrepresentation of sources; the theft of ideas; or the intentional misappropriation of the research work or data of others."
A related article from The Prospect titled, "Why not to exaggerate on your scholarship applications" by Katlyn Tolly includes a section called Don’t Commit the Crime if You Can’t Do the Time.

"When it comes to scholarship or college applications, lying is taken very seriously. According to the Voice of America website, Kara Jo Humphrey, an admission counselor at Truman University quoted, “If an outright lie is detected, the student has already agreed through signing the application for admission that they accept the grounds for dismissal from the institution and the inability to participate in any and all other privileges that go along with attendance. Other consequences may bar them from ever applying/being accepted to attend the school at a later date.” In other words, if you’re caught lying, the school has the right to expel you from the university or worse. You now have a permanent label attached to your name and record as “the student who lied on their application.” It may be difficult for you to make a comeback in the college scene."
And in a fairly recent case reported in The New York Times, Yale Student is Accused of Lying on Application by Karen W. Arenson the consequences can reach from beyond mere academia.

"To Yale admissions officials, Akash Maharaj was an appealing prospect: He had earned straight A’s at Columbia University. Now he wanted to transfer. Yale not only admitted him; it gave him a $32,000 scholarship as well.
Since then, however, much of his application information has turned out to be false, Yale said, and he is facing charges in Connecticut of larceny and forgery. "

We're going to explore this topic in much more detail in the coming weeks.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Higher Education Statistics

About a week or two ago, I got an email from the Courant that illustrated an interesting statistic, the national average of students attending higher education (for 2013).  It says 66% of ALL students who graduated in 2013 attended an institution of higher education.

For EO Smith that number was 71% for 2013 and over time we average 69%.

Now, some people will claim we are marginally higher because of our proximity to UConn.

Others might compare our costs to national averages and attribute it to that.

Yet others might look at it and call it an anomaly.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Annotated Republic of Mansfield

Decomposing "The Republic of Mansfield" Microfiction

It's been many years since I last published a Microfiction.  Most were published in a Xerox magazine that I co-published in the mid-eighties in NYC called "Silicon Daze".
Every once in a decade or so I attempt resurrecting the Daze in digital formats but soon get overwhelmed by time and circumstance.

The Republic of Mansfield, unlike previous stories, is more complex and political than anything I've written before.

These days I sit on a Regional High School Board in Connecticut and I sit on a sub-committee that has been evaluating school building needs.

After years of study and unaffordable architectural proposals, the committee is pursuing selling and swapping  the Regional school assets to the University of Connecticut.
The existing school and property sit in downtown Mansfield right next to UConn.  It once belonged to UConn and these days, due to University growth the property and assets hold real value.

At this point in time, we're just doing due diligence in attempting to find out if UConn and Region 19 have something feasible enough to take to voters to approve.

Behind the scenes, two University psychology lecturers organized a Facebook webpage group opposing the Board's initiative to bring the matter to a vote assuming such a negotiation were feasible.

At stake for the citizens of the Region is an opportunity to afford a state of the art new high school as opposed to affording little more than routine maintenance on the existing school.
And clearly the existing facility has exhausted its mission as a viable 21st century high school which will be costly once the reality becomes obvious.

In very short order, the website critical of any attempt to vacate the existing school for a new one began manufacturing FUD [fear, uncertainty and doubt] at an alarming rate.
Furthermore, the tactic was truly affecting the community at large. In an attempt to simply eliminate as much of the disinformation as possible, I (citizen me) answered as truthfully and bluntly as possible whatever concerns were being raised.

In equally short order, the responses I was getting was that everything I refuted with fact or reason was either a lie, propaganda, or proof I [and the Board] had surreptitious and self-serving motives.
It was not only obvious that few if any of this cohort were interested in facts but they began to behave like traditional hate groups who have no interest in community good at all. Nor were they interested in eliminating rumor, innuendo, or red herring arguments from the discussion.

As a fan of Daniel Kahneman, I was aware that his prescription for attempting to talk sense to say Climate Change deniers is to change the story or provide a different narrative that clears the intellectual -cough- constipation.

My thought was that this group was as likely to treat pure fiction [satire] as an opposing truth that they were compelled to reject because they rejected everything from the outside. Just such a story needed to be hatched.

I spent a week or so constructing a framework loosely inspired by the David Foster Wallace book, Infinite Jest but instead of a massive volume the story would fit on a single sheet of paper as my previous stories had been done.

The Republic of Mansfield was the setting, a self-entitled set of fascia characters representing a typical Mansfield family. Beneath that, Mansfield could be any well-to-do white American town.
One [serious] theme on the Facebook site warned of ghosts. I used that idea to create subliminal doppelganger character counterparts who remain invisible to the casual reader are those who live in the community who are unrepresented and who assume no entitlement status.
The STEM reference was based on another criticism. The cadence of the story - one dubious act after another intended to suggest objection while reading like business as usual. 

The pivotal theme of the story hinges on the double-entendre phrase "role model" or "roll model". It refers to an obscure scholarship once earned by a couple of EO Smith students for creating clothes made out of duct tape. The actual students have nothing to do with the story except as archetypes nor does the scholarship - the duct tape roll becoming the story 'glue'.

I liked the idea that the authentic students we graduate are often metaphorically duct-taped together enough to survive high school and move on. And the students of entitlement need the same metaphorical duct tape as reality catches up with fantasy.

With that in place the rest of the story is little more than a composite of character sketches and cut-up rumor segments exaggerated to fit an entitlement mentality. The fascia parents - helicopter parents showering money and favor on their children.

And  their, "mirror, mirror on the wall... who's the fairest of them all.. " children to become the royalty of academic nations.

The subliminal characters enjoy no such special treatment, borrow to get ahead, and get no special attention.

The "space garbage cans" are loosely related to yet another rumor found on the Facebook group page that alluded to UConn chemical spills in the town of Mansfield. For the story, what better solution than imply such things could be shot into outer space instead of dumped locally?  But why stop there? In a world of IPOs, why shouldn't everyone on the planet shoot their toxic garbage out to distant worlds?

And the EO Smith "special place" is being forever stuck in EO Smith as if in a Twilight Zone episode where the wish of never leaving and never changing is granted. 

By now you're probably wondering why I bother deconstructing the satire. Well, the story apparently *was taken seriously" in some fit of literal interpretation. So, in fact, the fiction - a satirical rumor construct wrapped in mock science fiction wrapped in first person narrative has taken on a life of its own.

Here it is:

"So the other day, I hear a story about an EO Smith graduate that is a bit entertaining that I'd like to share. It's about a young lady who graduates from EO and goes off to a big University and winds up in a STEM program or something like that.
In pretty short order, her dad, a cynical guy who thinks money can corrupt the system proves that he's not so cynical after all. Maybe her mom from what I hear is quite the charmer all on her own, is involved as well.
Anyway, the dad. Well he and the girl cook up a cock and bull narrative about sending a garbage can into outer space and the whole world can throw something into the garbage can for a price. The garbage can is special because dad may have a financial interest in the manufacture of the can.
So the family invents a special academic grant that they self-fund and the University that cannot say no to cash... well... graciously devours. So far so good.

And wouldn't you know it that the academic grant could apply to just about any worthy student in the University Department and is a glove fit - believe it or not - - wouldn'tcha know it- - son of a gun - - for the daughter.

Before you know it, the daughter is now given a special title because of the entanglement of the garbage can's very special interest to a government agency dedicated to sending junk into space! Who cares if the narrative reads like the back of a Fruit Loops box.

By now the spin is out of control. The media picks up on the daughter as if she's running a government agency program! She becomes a cover model for a magazine celebrating the hard earned achievements of women everywhere. What else can the poor girl do but unfriend everyone she went to high school with? Now she's a *role model*.

By now, what started out as an insider nod-and-wink "family assist" has taken on a life of its own. Kids all over the world want to put their trash in the garbage can and pay money to do it. Dad is in heaven. So the family entangles the younger son in the garbage business to manage finances.
So I say to the guy telling me this story, "So what happened? I have some trash I'd like to throw into space and crash into a planet too."

The fellow just shakes his head and says, "Nobody knows. The evidence was thrown into the garbage can. But what we do know is that they love garbage and they love EO Smith just as it is."
Heartwarming stuff. Kind of choked me up when I thought about the special place EO Smith has for this family.

I love inspiring stories."

Sunday, April 24, 2016

AntiDisciplinary Learning and High School Curriculums

The term "21st Century School" has become an empty catchphrase for the architecture and construction of schools that are still stuck in Carnegie Seat time classes and business as usual in a fashionably decorated child warehouse.

There's an unholy political dance that has subsumed intelligent discussion about public education and for the purposes of this essay we'll not revisit that topic.

At EO Smith, the Building Committee is now engaged in performing due diligence in gathering and formalizing ideas about the potential for  developing a new facility. Potential is the key word because getting from here to there is a complex process.

A month or so ago MIT announced a new magazine that it called antidisciplinary ( a Joi Ito original phrase - see:  That conceptual framework for a magazine got me  to thinking about educational possibilities.

I wrote this email to the stakeholders at EO Smith today;

"At our last Building Committee meeting I made a comment about anti-disciplinary learning without enough context to make it sound like anything more than a guy blowing smoke.

So let me clarify and offer a phenomenal video that illustrates the concept.

The interdisciplinary concept sounds good and has been tried over and over with occasional but fading success.  It's largely a dead-end. And its a dead-end because it continues to to try to union together two subjects as if they were autonomous stovepipes of guarded knowledge. 

So at EO we have successfully implemented Big Picture that allows individual students who have a personal calling to pursue that.

But what the world increasingly looks like is something different and we catch glimpses of it with kickstarter and open source projects.  It is this. The problems individuals are expected to help solve are no longer can be solved by the sole individual. And so for high schools, this means a new kind of Big Picture (maybe Broad Picture) - one in which a semester of learning no longer has to do with "subjects" but of the learning involved in examining [tho not necessarily solving] a very complex problem like the one presented in the video.  You don't have enough fingers and toes to count the instances of math, art, history, critical thinking and so on involved in the presentation.

Okay, so "why would we do this in high school? Isn't this for post high school?  The answer is that of the students who do go on to college, fewer than a third ever graduate by age thirty or so. take into consideration the number who never attend and it becomes obvious how critical sophisticated high school learning is. 

One last note. the Long Now Foundation is Stuart Brand's follow-up to the Whole Earth catalog. His wife is attempting to clone a Woolly Mammoth in addition to other extinct animals and this presentation by Jane Langdale is shockingly accessible and interesting throughout.  The Q and A at about 2/3 through is great. Try fitting this into subject-based learning."

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Arne Duncan Is Finally on His Way Out


I tried this comment with the the Times;

"So the reign of terror is being reigned in. Rather than be allowed to resign and collect a fat federal pension, Duncan should be put on trial for child abuse. Good lord get the federal government out of the Education business. Close the Department of Education forever."

Haven't heard a word since.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

School Bus Technology

One of the subjects of interest that the Region 19 Digital Learning Committee will be discussing this year is School Bus Technology.  We talk a lot about school technology but the most tragic headlines seem to involve high-risk students and school bus incidents.

And given the high-tech advances in automobiles its time to examine school bus technology.

The following video is a useful, indirect start;

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Obstructing Justice: Cult Trophy Hunting and Ferguson

Let's take a look at some of the metaphorical implications of the Michael Brown execution and examine the likelihood of co-incidence to the possibility that a new cult may have systematically infiltrated the Missouri government and local political offices.

Here we'll examine whether or not the actions that have yet to be cross-examined in any court of law constitute clues to the migration and popularization of a new Christian Death cult that has foreign tentacles.

Let's examine the foreign version of this cult. Carrie Gracie of the BBC issued a news story called The Chinese Cult That kills 'Demons'. That story describes (bolded text my emphasis) -

"The cult in question is called the Church of the Almighty God and claims to have millions of members.
It was an ordinary evening in a small town McDonald's in east China until a family of six arrived trying to recruit new members to their Christian cult.
They moved between the tables asking for phone numbers and when one diner refused they beat her to death, screaming at other diners to keep away or they would face the same fate.
The savage murder was filmed on closed circuit TV and on mobile phones.
It shocked China. Who were these people prepared to kill over a telephone number?
Interviewed in prison later, one of the murderers, Zhang Lidong, showed no remorse and no fear.
He said: "I beat her with all my might and stamped on her too. She was a demon. We had to destroy her.""
"The public face of the Church of the Almighty God is a website full of uplifting hymns and homilies. But its core belief is that God has returned to earth as a Chinese woman to wreak the apocalypse.
The only person who claims direct contact with this god is a former physics teacher, Zhao Weishan, who founded the cult 25 years ago and has since fled to the United States.
No one knows exactly where he is, but much of the website's message of outright hostility to the Chinese government is delivered in English as well as Chinese. "
"In an east China cemetery on a hill above vineyards and orchards, Wang Jiannan picks his way carefully between the headstones.
He lost his mother and his sister to the cult nearly 20 years ago. But now he's lost his father too.
On 1 October last year, his sister beat their father to death in a grim forerunner of the McDonald's killing. Like those killers, she saw her victim as a demon who must be destroyed."
The references must seem self-evident to most readers but let's compare Officer Wilson's description to the vernacular of the Church of the Almighty.  The combination of stealth pseudo-Christian organization and the reference to ridding the world of "demons" seems to ring a bell.

And as we list the litany of co-incidental anomalies about the killing and the absence of investigation of this case, we must ask ourselves whether or not Wilson could have possibly acted alone or in concert with others and then, whether those others have a deeper and darker relationship that this killing alludes to.  And let's not be coy here.  Both the Klan and the Extreme Christian Death cults who shoot abortion doctors and cult members who stray may have reincarnated themselves something along the lines of the Church of the Almighty God.

The following are facts as we know them.  Are they "in plain sight" clues to something else,

  • By law, American Police now have a near immune power over life and death. Death cults share the same belief.
  • What does the dropping of shell casings at the scene of the crime mean? Does it have numerological significance?  Does it accurately reflect the number of bullets fired in this case or is Wilson fulfilling a symbolic ritual?
  • Most of the casings are manually dropped by the body as if this were a trophy or gladiator killing - Wilson standing over the vanquished demon emptying his casings rather than feeling sick or saying a prayer for the man he killed (after all this was his first deadly encounter that we know of)
  • Wilson needed to "wash his hands of blood".  Where did he get so much blood on his hands that they needed washing? Two bullets were fired in the SUV - one hit the door, one grazed Brown's thumb. Was the blood on his hands soaked at the dead body?  Is there a Christian equivalent to the washing of hands? Could this have been a signal to the prosecutor?
  • "The St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch, did not recommend a charge or charges against Officer Wilson."
  •  The police handing of the death is odd and almost ritualistic.  Review the section of this article that lists what's different about the Ferguson Grand Jury.  The differences are so extraordinary that they are stunning.  Notice the numerology - a three month mock trial, 25 days of deliberation (nothing significant about those numbers is there), what could the testimony of investigators mean if they had not done due diligence?, why was Wilson allowed to testify - was he instructing cult members within the Jury?, McCulloch claims to have released "all" the evidence - but evidence is not a commodity but a process of discovery - what would discovery reveal?

  •  The body was left lying in the street for four and one half hours.  Wilson was treated as if he was directing the cleanup team. He was allowed to move about freely, do whatever he wanted to with his gun and cartridges before turning them in.  No measurements were taken of the crime scene - would the numerological introduction of standard police practice interfere with the ritual being played out or would treating the crime scene like a crime scene interfere with a cult ritual?
  • Why did Wilson have a redness on the side of his face away from where Brown is alleged to have hit him.  Cult-ritual?, botched cover-up attempt?, what? 
  • Wilson is married shortly after the killing of the demon.  Cult ritual? Cult reward?
  • Funds are publicly raised for a non-existent defense - cult reward?
  • Wilson resigns, "hoping to stay in law enforcement" - cult promotion within the system?
  • Wilson calls for healing with in the community.  Given his contempt for Ferguson, what community is he referring to?  A cult community? A network of government infiltrators?

In Stanley Kubrick's film Eyes Wide Shut, a film detailing cult behavior there is a scene in which a ritualistic killing of a woman is explained as (bolded tet my emphasis),
"Ziegler therefore admits that people attending the ritual were high-level, well-known and powerful people. Kubrick is therefore making clear that the richest, most powerful deciders of the “real world” meet in these types of rituals … and that these rituals are off-limits for the profane.
When Bill mentions Amanda, Ziegler gets more defensive and replies: “She was a hooker” – meaning that she was an Beta slave that could be easily disposed of. Then Ziegler tells Bill that everything that happened at the ritual was a charade to scare him, Bill answers:
“You called it a fake, a charade. Do you mind telling me what kind of f—-cking charade ends with someone turning up dead?”
This highlights the fundamental difference between the public’s perception of occult rituals and what actually happens. Regular people are lead to believe that these elite rituals are nothing more than goofy meetings of people with too much time on their hands. In reality, these elaborate rituals often incorporate real attempts at Black Magick and include real blood sacrifices and other terrible acts.
If the demise of the old cults and hate organizations has given rise to a new, more sophisticated version of the old then we are in trouble in this country because absolute power corrupts and it corrupts absolutely.  Why bother with lynch mobs when joining the local police department allows you and other members of any hate group to determine life and death?

While Wilson is probably not a cult member, the peculiar patterns that are in plain sight suggest otherwise.  Whether Death cult, gamification of ultra-violence, or profound incompetence, the volume of such killing in the past year alone is an alarming wake-up call for us to take a closer look.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Recipes for Obstructing Justice: Common Core Arithmetic for Grand Juries

Update: The initial narrative of this post is corrected based on the fact that some of the preliminary information it was based on has been clarified and given greater detail

We're back with yet another lesson we learned from the Ferguson execution of Michael Brown. you won't see this one on Sesame Street but you should and every urban school in America should be learning this because, well, *you* could be the next victim.

Let's start with a map that showed up in the New York Times that gives us some baseline numbers and proportions to work with;

Click this link that will bring up the NYTimes page that properly labels everything on the diagram.

Update: Here's the Washington Post's version;

Let's examine the text that accompanies the diagrams.

"Mr. Brown’s body was about 153 feet east of Officer Wilson’s car. Mr. Brown’s blood was about 25 feet east of his body. This evidence supports statements that Mr. Brown continued to move closer to the officer after being hit by an initial string of bullets."
Exercise #1) Brown's body is 6'4" long.  His feet  are closest to the farthest blood stains found at the scene of the shooting (at about 180' based on the WaPo diagram tho this distance seems on the high side and 171 feet or so based on the NYTimes diagram). How far are his feet from the farthest drip of blood? (the WaPo diagram measures his head at about 153', Brown was  6'4).

You would be correct to question the textual assertion that states it's 25' in the NYTimes diagram.

Exercise #2) Brown's body is 6'4" long.  His stride is approximately 3 feet long when he's walking? Using the distance of 21' (based on WaPo diagram) feet between where his feet fall and the most distant blood drop.  How many strides walking could Mr. Brown have walked?

If his running stride is 4 feet and he's getting ready to charge like a football linebacker, how many strides could he have taken?

Exercise #3) The length between Officer Wilson's SUV and the middle of Michael Brown's body is 153 feet. what is the total distance between the start of the measurement at the SUV and the farthest trace of blood using the 21' foot estimate and including 3 feet for half of Brown's body.

Now divide 180 feet by three to calculate the total number of yards involved.

Exercise #4) Draw a bee line between the farthest bloodstain and the hat by the SUV.  Let's call that the longest distance between Brown and the Officer.  Now draw a line across the middle of Michael Brown's back and extend it past the SUV. Let's call this direction the "Final Resting Trajectory".

Do these two lines tell you that Michael Brown was moving in a straight line along the bee line or would you say he would have been zig-zagging to fall forward along the "Final Resting Trajectory"?
Could he have been charging anyone along the beeline that way?  Where would the officer have needed to be standing along the Final Resting Trajectory to have been facing Mr. Brown?

The Washington Post diagram shows the dispersion of bullet casings but gives us no sense of distance between Wilson and Brown although it certainly looks as if Wilson waits until he has caught up with Brown sufficiently to claim that he was in danger based on the legal guideline that would give him plausible deniability.

Exercise #5) Since the majority of bullets were at Mr Brown's head where would the bullets on his arms have been hit if his arms were raised close to his head?

Exercise #6) Calculate the time it takes a 240 lb classmate to grab a banana from the  console section of a mid-sized SUV by climbing through the window and using his right hand.  Try punching the person in the van with the left fist oh the person's right cheek. Now try it again with a 210 lb security guard from your school protecting the banana. Can the classmate climbing through the window throw a punch in that position?

Recipes for Obstructing Justice: Deconstructing the Split-Second Decision

There is hardly a case when a Law Officer is involved in a shooting of a suspect that the ubiquitous defense used to justify the shooting is the Split-Second Decision.  This terminology is so popular and romanticized that it qualifies as a popular culture meme. Just about everyone who shoots another person claims both self-defense and the necessity to make a split-second decision.

The importance of understanding what this terminology means is critical for the general public because in cases such as the #Ferguson shooting , the Cleveland shooting of a 12-year old boy playing with a B-B gun, the shooting of a Black man in Ohio at a Walmart and more, the excuse for a deadly shooting of the suspect is that the officer has made a split-second decision.

Even more troubling is that this defense is exercised by Bounty Hunters (this one shooting a vehicle), citizens who feel threatened, and for all kinds of other violent person to person activity. For the sake of our discussion we'll stick to understanding what a split-second decision means to the police, what reasonable cause to shoot someone means, how a jury should understand the limits of applying split-second arguments, and how the split-second decision argument can be abused to subvert fact and justice.

And just to be sure none of this is misconstrued, we are not speaking about encounters in which officers are in hand to hand combat or being ambushed, situations in which shooting is already being exchanged, or when an officer otherwise find themselves in compromised or disadvantaged situations.   While split-second decisions may come into play, officers need do little more than act in self-defense.

What Does Split-second Mean in a Violent Police Encounter?

First let's disassociate the split-second decision from terms like quick-thinking or making snap-decision.  When the term split-second decision is used by law enforcement or legal defenses to explain the reason a police officer has shot a subject a number of very specific conditions must exist.  The most important of these conditions involved is what is the time the police officer has to decide to shoot-to-kill before the officer themselves are in danger of being shot?

Shooting to Kill Metrics

The following video explains the research that has been done over decades to inform police, courts, and juries of the arithmetic of a face-to-face, gun-to-gun, police to suspect standoff with both facing each other.

Disclaimer, at the end of this video there's some blue language and the narrator gets one detail wrong.  When he says the word liberal, the studies actually refer to anyone (liberal or conservative) who is educated. The more educated the slower the reaction time.  Even more specifically, anyone who sees life in absolute black and white terms is likely faster to make a decision one way or another.

What this fellow is describing is the scientific framework used to understand the last reasonable responsible moment to make a decision to shoot a suspect with the intention to immediately and conclusively incapacitate a subject.  This is almost always a shoot-to-kill decision.

The framework itself is called Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA).  It is based on studies such as Reasonableness and Reaction Time. This study refers to an experiment that tested the reaction time of trained SWAT team officers who were past peak in reaction time to suspects in peak reaction  time condition holding a gun in a number of variations in a face-to-face confrontation 10 feet apart.

In other words, the study attempted to establish a baseline for the last responsible moment a police officer should wait before shooting and this baseline already builds in an edge condition that gives the Officer the benefit of the doubt when pulling the trigger.  The experiment involved 24 year old suspects who were modeled after the worst-case suspect who had already decided to shoot whoever they confronted, the officer was modeled after a 34-year old middle-aged, trained SWAT officers whose reaction times would be slower, and confrontation was close, direct, and unequivocal.  The study concluded (statements bolded are my embellishments);
"When the average reaction times of the police officers and suspects in our study were compared, they showed that police officers and suspects were taking about the same amount of time to fire. When the individual exchanges were examined, police officers fired at the same time or later than the suspect 61% of the time. Additionally, even in the situations where the officer was faster, there was less than a .2 s difference, suggesting that the suspect would still get a shot off in most of these encounters. The process of perceiving the suspect’s movement, interpreting the action, deciding on a response, and executing the response for the officer generally took longer than it took the suspect to execute the action of shooting, even though the officer already had his gun aimed at the suspect. Although our sample size is not large, our results are consistent with previous research and our general understanding of the reaction process (Brebner & Welford, 1980; Grossman & Christensen, 2004; Honig & Lewinski, 2008; Luce; 1986; Welchman et al., 2010). Completing all of the steps necessary to interpret a situation, select, and then execute a response simply tends to take longer than it takes to execute an already decided-upon action.
We did not find a significant difference in firing times or reaction times by gun position. Suspects with their guns down by their sides fired as quickly as suspects with their guns pointed at their heads, and officers reacted in the same amount of time in both situations. It would seem then, that from a mechanical point of view, both types of suspect are about equally dangerous."
The time that this mock worst case OODA encounter took is less than half a second. These results are not only accepted by the Policing community they are baselines for defining the reasonableness of Police incapacitating a suspect with a gun in a face-to-face situation.  There's no reason to quibble about the accuracy of studies like these.  They define a rule of thumb by which we (citizens, jurors, police) can agree provide a rule of thumb definition for further discussion.BBgun

The Rule of Thumb Criteria for a Reasonable Split-Second Decision to Lethally Incapacitate a Suspect

1. The suspect must be observably armed with a gun in hand.

2. A sole officer must have his gun drawn, ready to shoot at the body mass of the suspect.

3. The officer complies with laws and policies regarding fair warning to the suspect to drop the gun immediately, to freeze, or whatever other command the officer has issued AND the suspect does not comply.

4. While the distance between officer and suspect may vary it is irrelevant to making the split-second decision. The officer must anticipate the possibility that gunfire will be exchanged and the officer is right to shoot first and to shoot to incapacitate.

This criteria is an absolute minimum to establish reasonableness.  The officer shoots to incapacitate without needing to second guess the action. A suspect who is observed to have a gun in hand and changes position even with back to officer to obscure what is being done with the weapon remains an imminent threat to the sole officer.

As an aside, a suspect who is leaning on a rifle in a Walmart store with his back to a team of SWAT officers constitutes no imminent threat to engage the officers and justifying a split-second decision to use fatal force is not reasonable (here is where legal loopholes and fatal force creep contribute to obstruction of justice for the suspect and it is also where the local police policies and guidelines kick in). We'll discuss this in more detail below.

5. The age, gender, race, mental capacity, handicap status, or other distinguishing feature of the suspect is also irrelevant.  An officer observing a suspect with a gun who is not responding to immediate direct commands from the officer can and should be incapacitated to protect the officer and the ecosystem of people, property, and integrity of infrastructure.

As an aside, the shooting of the young boy (Tamir Rice) possessing a BB gun at a recreation center in Cleveland by the police officer in the drive-by confrontation is almost precisely a textbook example of the split-second decision reference model that the Reasonableness and Reaction Time experiments made their conclusions on.  The officer is put in a situation where he and his partner are face-to-face with a boy who is brandishing a gun.

In the case of Tamir Rice, the question that has to be asked is why was the confrontation at such close range necessary in the first place.  While this played out as a split-second decision, it was initiated by the officers themselves and not by the suspect. What possible good reason could there have been to engage the suspect at such close quarters?

The first part of the OOCA framework is to observe.  The boy is in the Gazebo with no one around him and he hasn't harmed a passerby.  The Police Chief when addressing the press spoke about the tactic of the drive-by as if the only concern was that the officers could have more safely killed the boy from a distance rather than putting themselves in danger. this is not atypical of the indifference to the rights and welfare of suspects authorities everywhere express.

The Police Officer's "Fear for My Life" Consideration

The Reasonableness and Reaction Time study that Police use as their source reference material for [rightfully] justifying the Benefit of the Doubt in shooting first when encountering a suspect with a gun also informs us of the danger that an officer can expect in such a face-to-face encounter (p. 355);

Suspects successfully shot the officer in 77 (50.3%) of the 153 coded exchanges. The suspects’ shots hit the officers in 34 of the 65 (52%) of the gun low scenarios and in 43 of the 88 (48.8%) gun high scenarios. This difference was not significant 
(χ2(1) = .177, p = .67).
The police officers successfully shot the suspect in 138 (88.5%) of the 156 coded trials. The officers hit in 75 of the 88 (85.2%) gun high trials and 63 of the 68 (92.6%) gun low trials. This difference was not significant (χ2(1) = 2.07, p = .15)."
This is important to note because the sole officer making the split-second decision in the worst case scenario has a 50/50 (rounded) chance of being shot while the suspect will likely be lethally shot 85% of the time  And when the suspect is making a move toward a weapon in this edge scenario the officer's hit rate moves into the nineties percentage-wise.

As we move away from that edge case, to add more observation time, more officers, and better police advantage we not only move away from split-second decision categorization of the encounter, we also must acknowledge that the suspect's chances of hitting an officer diminishes as the chances of the suspect holding a gun and being lethally incapacitated approach near certainty.

Officers who understand these statistical probabilities have an upper-hand even in highly stressful and split-second decision encounters. assuming personal recklessness for being overconfident doesn't kick in, fear of the suspect out in the open such as the boy in the Gazebo, the man in the WalMart, or the teen in Ferguson should be a minor consideration unless the encounter is far more complex situation.

Fear on the part of a police officer becomes even more incredulous when the suspect doesn't have a gun.  Officers often claim that "the suspect had a knife (or something that looked like a knife)".  Unless the suspect is in very close proximity it is hard to understand pleading a split-second decision or the use of lethal force needed to be made.

These fear arguments become more absurd in the public's mind as the alleged weapons turn out to be a bottle of cola as in the case of a mentally disabled man named Otto Zehm or in the case of a banana being pointed at an officer.

The Reasonableness and Reaction Time study also addresses this issue (bolded text my emphasis).

"Our findings have two implications for the reasonableness standard. First, the reasonableness standard is based on what a well-trained, prudent officer would do in a given situation. The current study informs the reasonableness standard by providing parameters for police officer performance when responding to armed suspects. Our results show that even well-trained officers, who are operating in nearly ideal circumstances, with their guns aimed at a suspect, cannot reasonably be expected to shoot before the suspect raises his or her gun and fires.
Second, the reasonableness standard considers the danger perceived by the officer at the time of the use of force. The current findings serve to illustrate the extreme danger that armed suspects present to police officers. Our findings show that even when a police officer has his or her gun aimed at a suspect and the suspect is not aiming at the police officer, the police officer is still in extreme danger.
The results reported here have two primary policy/training implications. First, the results highlight the extreme danger that armed suspects pose to police officers. Because officer involved shootings can be traumatic to both the officer and the public, training should focus on helping officers avoid the type of situation presented here.
Training should also teach officers how to mitigate the dangers posed by armed suspects. Distance and cover are generally considered to be an officer’s friend when dealing with armed suspects. More distance and/or cover reduce the ability of the suspect to fire accurately at the officer and thus the danger to the officer is reduced. This gives the officer more flexibility in his or her response.
Second, several of the officers who participated in the study indicated their intent to have new recruits in their agencies participate in scenarios similar to the one presented here. These officers indicated that participation in this type of scenario would give the new recruits a better understanding of the dynamics involved in this type of situation and help correct inaccurate beliefs about shooting ability. The officer–participants indicated that this improved understanding of deadly-force encounter dynamics could help save officer lives. We, therefore, suggest that police departments consider implementing the type of scenario presented here in their training programs."
"We do not believe that the findings presented in this article support the position of: “shoot everyone with a gun” or “shoot everyone with a gun who does not comply.” "

Indeed in researching this material, a recent incident concerning another boy playing with a toy gun and being shot by an officer was found.  In this case the officer, shot but did not kill the boy. Citizens and juries should expect this outcome more often than fatal shots being taken when there is a sole officer who has more time to react and when multiple officers have established a strategic advantage over a subject.

But if we are going to expect fewer accidental and mistaken suspect deaths, there needs to be a strategy built into the police training regimen.  In fact, it needs to be incorporated into the OODA framework itself.

The Marines ironically have succeeded in incorporating a more responsible behavioral modification that reduces the chances of accidental or emotionally fatal actions on the part of Marines.  In a LinkedIn article called "'Marines Don't Do That': Mastering The Split-Second Decision", Michael Wheeler describes a strategy;
"Imagine that you’re a British Marine commando in Afghanistan. Your unit comes  across an insurgent, badly wounded but unarmed. One of your fellow soldiers seething with rage, points his pistol at him and is poised to shoot. “Shuffle off this mortal coil,” he says. “It’s nothing you wouldn't do to us.”
You have mere seconds to act. You’re not close enough to restrain him. What would you say? 
If you weighed your options for more than an instant, time’s up. It’s too late. As it was for the others at the scene. Before they could act or speak, the angry soldier shot the defenseless captive at close range, then turned to his fellow commandos and said, “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.”
But word did get out in the following days. The whole incident had been videoed by helmet cameras. (The grainy picture posted here is from that film.) The soldier was recently found guilty of murder, the first such conviction in Britain since World War II.
Handing down a life sentence, the judge said, “You treated that Afghan man with contempt and murdered him in cold blood. By doing so you have betrayed your corps . . . [and] potentially increased the risk of revenge attacks against your fellow service personnel.”
It was a tragedy all the way around. For the victim, most certainly. Also for the convicted soldier who had an otherwise unblemished service record. And likewise for the troops who witnessed the killing and anguish over what they might have done to prevent it.
There is no simple answer that would guarantee a different outcome, but some military experts believe that the murder might have been prevented if just one other person in that unit had the presence of mind to say four words: “Marines don’t do that.” Replay that short sentence in your head as if it were directed to you. Note that it does not include the words stop, order, or wrong. That omission makes the statement all the stronger. Its aim is to put the spotlight on the person, not the act.
“Marines” is the most important word. It comes first and works on two levels. It tells the soldier, “Remember who you are. Don’t renounce your identity.” Uttered by a fellow marine, it also says, “Your brothers are here with you.”
You may think I’m reading too much meaning into that sentence. When I came across an analysis of the incident by an ethicist, Paul Valley, I forwarded it to a former student of mine, Major David Dixon, recently retired from the US Marine Corps. David kindly gave me permission to quote his reply:
“Wow, this is extremely apropos. A few months ago I spoke at the University of Washington about how the Marine Corps teaches ethical decision making in situations exactly like this. . .. This is exactly what we teach: ‘Marines don't do that.’ Verbatim, it is in my PowerPoint slides.”
According to David, every US Marine received this training in 2012, from senior personnel to the most the most junior enlisted troops. It’s more than a technique or a tactic. Instead it’s an expression of a deep sense of values and responsibilities."
If Marines are taught an ethical basis for their split-second decision making then is it asking too much that American police officers incorporate similar standards of conduct?  Codes of conduct can supercede fear by instilling a much clearer sense of responsibility, proper conduct, and desired consequence in the individuals "doing their job."

A Police Officer's Racial Considerations; Weapons Bias

Unsurprisingly, Police Officers have been  studied to determine the effect a subject's race may play in an officer's exercise of duty.  In a study called Weapon Bias - Split-Second Decisions and Unintended Stereotyping by B. Keith Payne, we discover that racial bias does exist and it exists on a hierarchical basis.

The study first defines a concept called Weapons Bias (bolded text my emphasis);

"...we developed a laboratory task in which participants made visual discriminations between guns and harmless objects (hand tools). A human face flashed just before each object appeared: a black face on some trials, a white face on others (see Fig. 1). The task for participants was to ignore the faces and respond only to the objects (Payne, 2001).
There were two versions of the experiment. In one version, participants responded at their own pace. In the other version they had to respond within half a second on each trial. In the self-paced condition, accuracy was very high regardless of race. However, participants detected guns faster in the presence of a black face. This suggested that the black face readied people to detect a gun but did not distort their decisions.
In the snap-judgment condition, race shaped people’s mistakes. They falsely claimed to see a gun more often when the face was black than when it was white (Fig. 2). Under the pressure of a split-second decision, the readiness to see a weapon became an actual false claim of seeing a weapon.
These effects are not bound to the details of a particular experimental paradigm. Several independent lab groups have reported strikingly similar results using a variety of different procedures."
What is important here should be obvious. In split-second decision situations in which police officers are already trained to shoot first if a gun or imminent physical harm is present , race introduces a wildcard.  It is politically incorrect to admit that race is a factor and quite frankly such an admission opens the officers and their interests to legal entanglements and socially uncomfortable alibis.

This brings us back to our previous topic of why a law enforcement officer would claim they feared for their lives when so often in split-second decisions the advantage is overwhelmingly in their favor and there is no mistake about the job description before the job is taken - your life may be in danger.  But if we factor in this racial wildcard it is easier to make sense of such claims.  'Fear' is a code word for racial dissonance under pressure.

When an officer "sees" a gun in the hands of a suspect, uses lethal force to kill the suspect, and then realizes the suspect has no gun or was holding a banana or cellphone or some other silly item, the defense of such a fatal act is often rationalized as a mistake out of fear.  But from this study, we know that mistakes such as these are more often made when a black man is the suspect.

In fact, another study concludes;

"Police officers and students exhibit an apparent “hierarchy of bias” in making a split-second decision whether to shoot suspects who appear to be wielding a gun or, alternatively, a benign object like a cell phone, research conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder and San Diego State University has found.
Both the police and student subjects were most likely to shoot at blacks, then Hispanics, then whites and finally, in a case of what might be called a positive bias, Asians, researchers found.
In the first study of its kind, Joshua Correll, Bernadette Park and Charles M. Judd of CU-Boulder’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and Melody Sadler of San Diego State University examined how police and a group of undergraduate subjects decide whether to shoot or not to shoot “suspects” in a multi-ethnic environment."
It is worth mentioning that these studies find law enforcement personnel to be less biased than the general American public when making such split-second judgements.  This means legal cases that involve Bounty Hunters or property owners or home invasion victims may be even more likely to feel threatened by racial differences than police would have been.

Again, the split-second decision defense that is so ubiquitously applied to police shooting suspect cases becomes all the more complex and worthy of deeper understanding by law enforcement and trial jurors.

Even more interestingly, the Weapons Bias study that's cited previously recommends a behavioral modification to the OODA framework (bolded text my own emphasis);

"...the officers with the most firearms training showed the least race bias. This finding suggests that the routine training that officers receive may effectively reduce weapon bias. There is evidence that practice in identifying weapons may have beneficial effects on both controlled and automatic components of responses and that these benefits extend to police officer volunteers (Plant & Peruche, 2005; Plant, Peruche, & Butz, 2005).
Finally, a recent study shows that although people cannot simply will the weapon bias away, certain specific strategies may be able to eliminate the automatic component of the bias. Stewart and Payne (2006) had participants form simple plans that linked racial categories to specific counterstereotypic thoughts (Gollwitzer, 1999). For example, participants made the plan, ‘‘when I see a black face I will think ‘safe.’’’ Unlike participants who simply tried to avoid bias, those who formed specific plans showed no automatic race bias. Together, these studies offer clues to how and why specific strategies may succeed or fail."
In cases of wrongful death, the question of malfeasance on the part of Police Departments regarding weapons recognition training is obvious. An officer making a split-second decision will only be as responsible for his actions as the Department itself enables the officer to be.

The second recommendation should sound familiar. when officers introduce counterstereotypic thoughts into the OODA model to observe the weapon more carefully when black and Hispanic faces are the first thing they see, they become better law enforcement officers and less likely to make a mistake.  The fact that this exercise is practiced by the Marines as described earlier reinforces the integrity of the suggestion.

Third, there is something important here to learn about 911 calls.  In the case of Tamir Rice, the boy playing with a BB gun, the 911 agent who took the call very quickly asked the race of the person being reported.  Given what we just learned about Weapons Bias and the Hierarchy of Racial Bias it seems prudent that the 911 procedures and best practices come under new scrutiny to help clarify rather than exacerbate potential police encounters with suspects.

Obstructing Justice by Subverting the OODA Model

In examining the defense of using lethal force when confronting suspects, it is obvious that the split-second decision defense is often used for a number of reasons.

  1. It's imprinted through mass-media as a legal meme for officers to be given the benefit of the doubt in the shooting of suspects and taken for granted as such.
  2. It implies in personal terms that the immediate shooting involved almost no time to think.
  3. It dampens or obfuscates the broader issue of why a split-second decision was necessary almost by self-definition.
Yet within the framework of split-second decisions is the recognizable framework of OODA.  The integrity of the framework assumes that an officer will at least Observe the situation, Orient themselves to strategic advantage based on the observation, Decide whether or not to use lethal force, and then Act accordingly.

In many of the split-second decision cases in which suspects die there appears to be a short-circuiting of the OODA cycle.  Police officers often appear no to bother Observing and Orienting. A 911 call that involves firearms seems to trigger an a priori automatic decision that lethal force will be necessary and once on the scene perfunctory and obligatory legal necessities are performed hastily and an Act of violence is administered.

This short-circuit is resulting in suspects who are attempting to make sense of what is going on around them, maybe attempting to surrender or tell the officer they are not a threat, and as they do so, the officer who has not observed or oriented themselves either is shooting.

This is not an administration of Justice but an execution in which officers hide behind the rhetoric of justified action when the suspect in fact had no chance of being recognized as an innocent.