Archive for August, 2011

Today’s Episcopal Writings

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

In the US Episcopal Church, today is the commemoration of the Rt Rev’d Charles C. Grafton, II Bishop of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. He was an Anglo-Catholic (as we would term him today) and was somewhat infamous for the vestments he and fellow bishops wore at the consecration of his coadjutor, Reginald Heber Weller in the year 1900. The picture is referred to as the Fond du Lac Circus and is reproduced below:

On the occasion of the Consecration of the Rt Rev’d R.H. Weller as Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, 1900.

This is the first known photo of Episcopal bishops wearing copes and miters rather than the usual rochets and chimeres. The dioceses from which these bishops hailed are now referred to as being in the Biretta Belt.
Seated (l to r): The Rt Rev’d Isaac Lea Nicholson, Episcopal Bishop of Milwaukee; the Rt Rev’d Charles Chapman Grafton, Episcopal Bishop of Fond du Lac; and the Rt Rev’d Charles P. Anderson, Episcopal Bishop Coadjutor of Chicago. Standing (l to r): the Rt Rev’d Anthony Kozlowski of the Polish National Catholic Church ; the Rt Rev’d G. M. Williams, Episcopal Bishop of Marquette (now Northern Michigan); the Rt Rev’d Reginald Heber Weller, the Rt Rev’d Joseph M. Francis, Episcopal Bishop of Indianapolis, the Rt Rev’d William E. McLaren, Episcopal Bishop of Chicago; the Rt Rev’d Arthur L. Williams, Episcopal Bishop Coadjutor of Nebraska; St. John (Kochurov) of Chicago, protomartyr of the Bolshevik Revolution, Fr. Sebastian Dabitovich, chaplains to the Russian Bishop—St. Tikhon, then Orthodox Bishop of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.

Why do you have all this to say about a long-dead bishop? you may ask.

Well, among his writings is the below-reproduced letter to a bishop (unnamed). You may find some of the sentiments Bishop Grafton expresses a bit, well, quaint in one way but, in reference to the Leper Colony—er—the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the Anglican schismatics who have buggered off to Rome, timely as well. Any emphasis below is mine.




In addition to the two enclosed cases Bishop —— deposed the Rev. ——, educated at Sewanee, a College graduate, in middle life, married, and who verted to Rome. He married a woman of large means, and the consequent worldliness and luxury, together with disappointed ambition, led to the loss of his priestly vocation. This is one of the many cases I have known where marriage, for various causes, has led to a priest leaving our church for the Roman communion. The wife sometimes wants her husband to give up a life which involves such self-restraint and denial.

And now let me, my dear and younger brother, fraternally say that college education has nothing to do with a man’s loyalty to God and the Episcopal Church. Some of the most pious, loyal, useful, and God-fearing priests in my diocese have never been to College. Marriage is found to be no security against sensual sins, and in a diocese like mine in many cases it just halves the priest’s usefulness and doubles his cares. (emphasis mine)

The true reasons why so many men leave the ministry are: first, that they have never understood or felt the enormity of sin, or realized their own fatally lost condition, and have been most superficially converted. This I am forced to believe is the condition of many of the clergy, and that the sayings of some of the Fathers is true, that a number, it may be a large one, of the Bishops and priests will be eternally lost. Again, in our seminaries, the students are not taught what vocation signifies, how it is to be discerned and preserved. Their conversion is assumed. The sanctity of the priestly life is not aimed at; they are not properly trained in the art of meditation and prayer. Especially they are not taught that in Holy Orders the indelible stamp of priesthood is put on their souls, which shall shine forth forever in heaven, or burn on in intolerable torture in hell.

With my sincere and fraternal regards,
Yours in Christ,

I find this letter refreshing in its frankness. I do wonder, however, whether the Ordinariate’s priests have swum the Tiber because they found marriage an irresistable state, or because they went to college.

An alternative view of Irene

Monday, August 29th, 2011

I am glad that all my friends from whom I’ve heard have emerged from the hurricane relatively unscathed.

Here’s an alternative view. Note that the language is pretty salty from the get-go so if you’re easily offended by that kind of language you might want to go to the next post.

There will always be a Marblehead, Police Log Department

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

I took a look at the most recent date that was posted, and found that, yet again, Marblehead has the most trivial yet interesting and even poignant police activity entries.

Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011
2:02 a.m. Investigated suspicious activity reported on Humphrey and Doane streets. Person was transported to Salem line.
6:43 a.m. Caller reported crane was operating at Parker’s Boatyard on Redstone Lane. Officer found all was quiet, and no one was there. Caller called back to say that it was running again and was informed that it was not unreasonable, given the impending hurricane.
8:09 a.m. Suspicious man reported on Santry Road. Water and Sewer Department confirmed it had a meter reader in the area.
10:59 a.m. Caller at Marblehead Trading Co. on Cliff Street reported that vehicle that had been parked in the area for a few days would be blocked in by boats coming out of the water. Dispatcher attempted to contact the vehicle’s owner.
1:20 p.m. Resident reported that nanny had been stealing from home.
2:06 p.m. Caller reported that a van had backed out of a driveway on Green Street near the Little Store and struck a car, after which driver parked the van and walked off. Officer assessed damage at under $1,000 and found that driver of the van had left his information and that the vehicle that had been struck had preexisting damage.
2:29 p.m. Motorcycle going up and down the street reported on Tidewinds Terrace and Knight Avenue. Officer found the motorcycle on private property and advised owners against using it while it was unregistered.
4:33 p.m. Caller on Pleasant Street reported long-standing problem with phone service.
4:50 p.m. Village Market employee reported person had shoplifted a soda.
5:21 p.m. Disabled truck reported on Puritan and Overlook roads.
6:27 p.m. Caller at Spirit of ’76 bookstore reported that a small child had come into the store crying. Child was afraid that his mother would be mad at him for buying candy instead of books.Young man, I salute your sentiments. When I was your age, I used all my money to buy sweets and borrowed books from the library. Your mother should get you a library card and cut your allowance.
7:11 p.m. Two men rummaging through a vehicle reported on Atlantic Avenue. Officer eventually determined that vehicle’s owner was one of the people seen rummaging through it.
8:05 p.m. Caller reported that a young man had knocked on his door soliciting for the football program and said he thought it odd that a kid would be going door to door so late in the evening.
8:20 p.m. Caller who was headed out for a jog reported having been accused of being a private investigator by man in the back of a vehicle with a toolbox on Gilbert Heights Road. Man was still in the vehicle when he returned from his run. Officer found vehicle empty but ultimately determined that “everything checks out.”
9:15 p.m. Screaming and “goings on” reported on Tidewinds Terrace. Officer found there was nothing going on at the residence other than parents playing with kids.

Sometimes I miss living in Marblehead.

Magritte and welcome to it

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Well, it’s been kind of a rollercoaster week. I did virtually nothing until Friday morning, when I came down with fever and chills of a major variety. I was very upset about this, as on Saturday we were due to travel to Liverpool to see the Tate Liverpool Magritte exhibition. We were to travel with our friends Daniel and Pei, and then meet up with our friend Nicky from Manchester at Liverpool Lime Street Station. Nicky was happy to travel to Liverpool that day as Manchester Pride was on and he wanted to avoid the congestion.

So, I thought good thoughts and prayed some prayers and woke up on Saturday morning a bit woozy, but fit to travel. We discovered before we left the house that the Bank branch of the Northern Line was closed for maintenance this weekend, so we took a 168 bus which flew (nearly literally) direct to Euston Station. We got on the 0907 Liverpool train and settled into First Class, where we were expecting some analogue to breakfast.

Well, there wasn’t much in the way of breakfast. We got free coffee, biscuits, and WiFi, but nothing more nourishing. Daniel and Pei are splendid travelling companions; Pei with his iPad2 (a WHITE iPad, no less!), Daniel with his smartphone looking up questions we had about the areas we were travelling through, and HWMBO for being, well, HWMBO. We won’t waste money on first class next time we travel in Virgin Trains. I suppose they’ll put up the fares so that Branson can rebuild his Caribbean hideaway home.

Now I have taken a day trip to Liverpool with Nicky a couple of years ago. We did the Anglican Cathedral and the RC cathedral and walked through the historic areas. But there wasn’t much else to recommend it. So we were going to go directly to the Albert Docks area, eat lunch, then hit the Tate.

Whatta pain it was walking there. The route is pretty direct, but about every five minutes the heavens opened and it pelted down buckets. We’d shelter, and then stumble on when the rain let up. Standing in front of John Lewis, we were waiting for a momentary lull when a rather obese woman stood there, tapped her feet a few times and said, “Can you please step away so I can walk through without stepping into the puddle?” We duly stepped into the puddle to allow Her Highness to waddle through.

It was Street Music weekend in Liverpool city centre, and every so often there was an upright piano in dubious tune that were available for street performers to play either as soloists or with a group. We urged Pei (who is a concert pianist) to tickle the ivories but he strongly resisted the urge to tickle, unfortunately.

In the downtown area there is a Liverpool One development that has a “restaurant row”. We were glad to find it, but dismayed that at 1145 hardly any of the restaurants were open. I hankered for a burger, and a Gourmet Burger Kitchen beckoned. The info was that it was open from 1100, but there was only us and someone forlornly tapping at the window. So we soldiered on through the mists and rain, and through a bus station, until we arrived at the Albert Docks. By this time we were desperate for a respite from the intermittent storms and wanted our lunch before venturing into Tate Liverpool, so the “World-Famous Pump House Inn” beckoned We went in, found a table, and ordered.

Well. I don’t know what it was world-famous for, but perhaps it was dyspepsia. Pei had a curry that was quite forgettable. Pei and Daniel shared “Duck Spring Rolls”. Well, one would expect 4 or 5 spring rolls but the only reason they could advertise it as “Spring Rolls” is that there were two of them, and both Daniel and Pei were of the opinion that they were not great. Daniel had a Steak and Ale pie which seemed to be OK, according to him. HWMBO had roast chicken, and gave it 5 out of 10. Nicky had ham and eggs, and said it was OK. I had a Burger Platter, which advertised 6 “mini-burgers”, some onion rings and fries/chips. I also got an order of deep-fried dill pickles (no, I’m not expecting). The burgers were dry and made from English beef, which does not taste right to me. Overall, a forgettable “culinary” experience. Oh well, live and learn.

On to Tate Liverpool. I have always been ambivalent about Magritte. Some of it is very deep, and even philosophical. The work “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”, which consists of those words written under the image of a (tobacco) pipe, says a lot to me about what exactly a picture is. It’s a very Lewiscarrollian idea, somewhat like Humpty Dumpty’s opinion about the meaning of words.

And some of it, such as the one I call “Raining Men”, doesn’t say much to me.

Magritte had a bowler-hat fetish, it seems.

In any case, if you can get to Liverpool, the Tate Magritte exhibition is a good one to see. There’s even some smutty pictures, which the Tate terms “challenging”. The one of the Sacred Heart was quite interesting indeed. A perceptive review of the exhibition is here.

So after the exhibition, which was free to four out of the five of us through our Tate membership (I bought one ticket for the fifth member of our party), we had a quick coffee in the Tate café, which was as unfortunate as many of these cafés are, and then walked around the little enclosed wharf area to escape the rain. There are lots of twee shops and restaurants there, some of which might have been better lunch destinations. Then, back to Lime Street station and onto a train at 1619.

One additional observation about Liverpool: it is probably one of the lung and throat cancer hotspots in the British isles. Liverpool-football-club-shirted men spilled out of every pub with fags hanging out of their mouths. The sidewalks were littered with cigarette stubs gently marinating in the rain puddles. Even in the railway station, where smoking was officially banned several years ago, an old hag wandered by with a lit cigarette in her hand looking for and eventually finding her grandson. No doubt he’ll be coughing up his lungs when he turns 16.

Now when we got back to London, there was the question “What shall we do now?” It’s always difficult to decide where and whether to have lunch or dinner when you’re in a group. This is made less difficult, but still challenging, when you have two couples trying to decide those questions. We finally decided on a family-run Italian restaurant around the corner from Great Ormond Street children’s hospital. They said that we could have a table at 1915 if we promised to vacate by 2030, which we duly did.

Now the starter was good (my usual Italian restaurant starter, Insalata Tricolore: mozzarella, tomato, and avocado in olive oil and balsamic vinegar), but ordering spaghetti and meatballs was a mistake. Mother Hansen’s Spaghetti and Meatballs was miles better than that. The meatballs were veal, which doesn’t particularly appeal to me, and the spaghetti, which was somewhat more dente than I like, was seemingly dipped in sauce then drained, so there was hardly any sauce left on it. Oh well.

Home and to bed.

Marblehead police log for last week

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

I occasionally excerpt some of the gems from the Marblehead, MA police log. Somehow, it wasn’t really as funny this week, although there are some interesting items. It seems that someone has been breaking into cars on an industrial scale this week.

Monday, 15/8/11

12:08 a.m. Employee closing up reported person knocking on the window at Maddie’s Sail Loft on State Street. The person knocking left soon thereafter, and employee was able to leave as well.
12:13 a.m. Investigated report of man trespassing and jumping in the bushes at the Philanthropic Lodge on Pleasant Street.
3:22 a.m. Investigated noise complaint on Farrell Court. Person agreed to keep the noise down.
4:07 a.m. Caller on Prince Street reported someone under his truck attempting to take the tire rims. Suspects could not be located.
6:45 a.m. Caller on Mechanic Street reported her vehicle’s glove box had been emptied overnight. She said she would call if she discovered anything missing. Officer checked area to see if any other cars had been entered.
7:30 a.m. Caller on Mechanic Street reported GPS unit had been taken from vehicle.
7:51 a.m. Walk-in reported his car had been broken into on Mugford Street.
8 a.m. Investigated report of purse on the ground with its contents dumped out on Pearl and Elm streets. Owner contacted, and she reported that her car had been broken into as well, with some loose change, sunglasses and a flashlight taken. Her husband’s car had also been broken into, with a flashlight and coins taken. She was concerned that personal medical information may have also been taken from the car.
8:14 a.m. Car break reported on Pearl Street.
8:15 a.m. Caller on Mechanic Court reported that her car had been broken into overnight. The person who broke in left the door open and reportedly took $25. She reported that a neighbor’s car had also been broken into.
8:17 a.m. Walk-in from Elm Street reported his family’s two cars had been broken into overnight, with a laptop taken from one and nothing from the other.
8:31 a.m. Caller on Mugford Street reported that when he got in his car, his glove box was open and things were scattered about. His wife’s car had also been broken into.
8:55 a.m. Walk-in from Mugford Street reported that her car had been broken into but nothing appeared to be missing.
9:27 a.m. Caller on Bradlee Road had a question about laws regarding property damage related to a July incident in which a pole was struck by a vehicle that drove away.
9:35 a.m. Walk-in from Mechanic Street reported that her car had been broken into. She believed nothing had been take but had found her glove box and another storage area open.
9:48 a.m. Low-hanging wire reported on Ocean and Atlantic avenues.
10:09 a.m. Traffic lights not working properly reported on Ocean Avenue and Pleasant Street.
10:27 a.m. Caller on Pearl Street reported his parents’ car had been broken into outside his apartment. He reported that it did not appear as if anything had been taken.
10:40 a.m. Two girls came into the station to report that the bikes that had borrowed from one of the town’s yacht clubs had been stolen from the driveway of the house where they were staying on Jersey Street.
10:58 a.m. Minor two-vehicle accident reported near Abbot Public Library on Pleasant Street. Parties had already exchanged information by the time officer arrived. Struck vehicle had been taking a left on Pleasant.
12:22 p.m. Well-being check conducted on man on Washington Street.
1:53 p.m. Caller reported finding knife around the area of Frost Lane, possibly related to the morning’s break-ins.
4:09 p.m. Walk-in reported car on Washington Street had been broken into overnight. Nothing appeared to have been taken.
4:40 p.m. Caller on Mechanic Street reported overnight break-in to vehicle with nothing taken.
4:42 p.m. Investigated report of two youths in a Ribcraft waving their arms and yelling for help on Marblehead Harbor. By the time officer arrived, the Ribcraft had been tied up to another boat to be towed to the Eastern Yacht Club. The Ribcraft had run out of gas.
5:25 p.m. Investigated report of possible sailboat in distress last seen heading out towards Halfway Rock. Harbormaster notified. Harbormaster found boater but no one in distress.
5:45 p.m. Caller on Pleasant Street reported that his car had been entered but nothing appeared to be missing.
6:32 p.m. Investigated report that set of golf clubs had been stolen from garage on Preston Beach Road earlier in the afternoon.
7:23 p.m. Walk-in reported husband had made threats. She was advised about her right to an emergency restraining order but said that she just wanted it on record for now.
7:31 p.m. Harbormaster called to inquire as to whether any reports had been made about a boat on the rocks along the Neck. There had been none. Harbormaster could not find any sign of boat.
7:47 p.m. Investigated Elm Street resident’s report that car had been entered with flashlight and change taken. Wife’s car had also been entered with purse taken, as previously reported.
7:50 p.m. Caller on Washington Street reported two cars had been entered the previous night but nothing was missing.
9:04 p.m. Investigated report of 15 to 20 kids fighting in circle on Broughton Road. Two 911 calls then directed police to the area behind the high school. One person was found bleeding from the head and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, which officer followed. Mother was notified.
10 p.m. Investigated report of two people with a flashlight on Roundhouse Road. They were walking from Heritage Way and just cutting through.

Tuesday, 16/8/11

3:25 a.m. Farrell Court residents reported tractor-trailer with engine running at Marblehead Charter School. Officer got driver to shut off engine.
12:32 p.m. Sandie Lane reported receiving annoying phone calls from person claiming to represent Publishers Clearinghouse.
12:44 p.m. Man came in to station wanting to press charges against person who had been harassing and taunting him on an ongoing basis.
3:15 p.m. Subject of no-contact order asked for assistance in delivering letter to person who had taken out the order. He was informed that police would not violate the order by delivering it for him. Man also reportedly refused to put out lit cigarette in station lobby until dispatcher informed him that an officer was coming to speak to him. Man reportedly asked two officers to deliver the letter, to no avail.
3:32 p.m. Wire reported down near Eustis and Cornell Funeral Home on Elm Street.
4:24 p.m. Caller reported that contractors working at the old Warwick Theater were in the middle of the street, causing traffic issues. Officer found that there were workers in and out of the fenced area of the site but nothing blocking the street. Officers planned to keep an eye on the situation, however.
4:25 p.m. Caller reported she had “bumped” into fire hydrant outside National Grand Bank on Pleasant Street with her vehicle. She reported that there was no water leaking and no visible damage. Water Department notified. Employee found that hydrant was broken and bagged it. Fire stations were notified.
6:36 p.m. Erratic driver reported on Ocean Avenue could not be found.
7:40 p.m. Officer was flagged down by worker at Marblehead High School who could not get an office window to shut. School maintenance department notified.
9:42 p.m. Vehicle broken into on Sunday night reported on Washington Street. Stereo faceplate had been taken. Driver’s door had been unlocked.
10:02 p.m. Investigated report of kids screaming using profanity on Green Street. Officer found no one around and all to be quiet.
10:40 p.m. Large group of kids reported in Chandler Hovey Park. Police moved the group along and closed the gates.
11:16 p.m. Two men having an argument and possibly a fight reported at Memorial Park on Pleasant Street. Officers could find no sign of the fight.
11:18 p.m.Walk-in reported seeing two suspicious men while walking her dog on Sewall Street. Woman said she startled one of the men, who was in the back seat of a car. The men reportedly separated and then met back up, which she found odd. Officer inspected car, which was locked and alarmed. Men could not be found.

Wednesday, 17/8/11

2:35 a.m. Investigated possible assault at Tony’s Pizza on School Street. Officer spoke to people involved, none of whom wanted to press charges.
7:14 a.m. Caller on Curtis Street reported that his vehicle had been broken into overnight and that his GPS unit had been taken. A computer was also missing from the car. Other property from the car was found in a nearby yard.
9:09 a.m. Investigated report that vehicle on Curtis Street had been entered and rifled through. Owner did not know if anything was missing.
10:33 a.m. Unregistered vehicle towed after traffic stop on Ocean Avenue and Pleasant Street.
10:54 a.m. Responded to the scene of crash between pickup truck and bicyclist on Gregory and Commercial streets. Cyclist suffered a possible wrist fracture and was transported to North Shore Children’s Hospital. Bicyclist “came out of nowhere” according to 911 caller.
11:59 a.m. Caller notified that workmen were grinding cement at Lafayette Convalescent Home, which caller noted might trip the smoke detectors.
12:46 p.m. Walk-in complained about LaRouche Political Action Committee supporters at post office on Smith Street, whom she found “creepy.”
12:48 p.m. Walk-in reported having been awakened at 3:30 a.m. to the sound of car doors slamming at the Marblehead Housing Authority complex on Rowland Street. She then witnessed three young men acting suspiciously. She said she did not call police immediately because she saw them leave the area prior to making the call.
2:22 p.m. Caller reported being involved in a fender-bender on West Shore Drive and Lafayette Street and expressed concern about the older people in the other vehicle, who may have experienced whiplash. EMS was not needed, however.
2:38 p.m. Checked home on Bayview Road after resident expressed concern about possible tampering with lock. All was OK.
3:14 p.m. Caller on Fountain Inn Lane reported having been assaulted by female trespasser who then left headed toward downtown on Washington Street. Woman was reportedly in her 50s and overweight with long frizzy hair, wearing a straw hat and carrying a clipboard. Police could not locate her.
5:31 p.m. Driver of vehicle “cruising the area” taking pictures reported on Leggs Hill Road. Police could not find the vehicle.
8:06 p.m. Investigated report of vehicle being driven recklessly and tailgating on Pleasant and Bessom streets.
8:29 p.m. Three-car crash reported at intersection of Pleasant Street and Mohawk Road. One vehicle had to be towed. There were no injuries. Highway Department called to scene for sand.
10:53 p.m. Loud group reported at Devereux Beach. Officer found all to be quiet.

Thursday, 18/8/11

12:43 a.m. Caller requested assistance in getting intoxicated woman out of home on Hawkes Street. Woman was picked up by another person.
6:40 a.m. Caller on Hereford Road reported that someone had put two planters through a car windshield.
7:31 a.m. Caller on Hereford Road reported having received a call from someone alleging to be with AMVETS, asking her to leave a check on the door to support care packages for Marblehead residents serving in the military overseas. Caller asked if the agency could mail some information. They declined, instructing her to write “for deposit only” on the check. Caller was told that the town’s veterans agent had been consulted, and he was not aware of any current fundraising drive.
7:56 a.m. Driver of white van picking through people’s trash reported on Pig Rock Lane. Vehicle could not be found.
9:56 a.m. An excerpt from the most recent edition of Marblehead Reporter columnist Dawn Bucket’s “Up for Air” column regarding the smashed birdbath behind the Marblehead Community Center was provided to police.
10:53 a.m. Calthrope Road resident reported that one of the family’s bikes, a “retro-style” girls’ bike with green-and-white frame and pink wicker basket on front, was missing.
11:09 a.m. Callers calling on behalf of three vehicle owners on Bradford Court reported that cars had been entered sometime between Sunday night and Monday. Cars had been gone through but nothing was taken.
11:35 a.m. Caller on Wyman Road reported car had been damaged overnight. He reported that it appeared a piece of PVC pipe had been used to smash the rear taillight. Caller had heard crash/noise outside the previous night but did not notice damage until morning, when neighbor pointed it out.
12:16 p.m. Caller reported that her car had “crapped out” in between two no-parking signs on Washington Street. She reported tow would arrive within the hour and wanted to try to avoid getting a ticket.
1:07 p.m. Investigated report of gas leak on Washington and Franklin streets. Gas company was on scene. Detail requested.
1:26 p.m. Walk-in reported bike valued at $350 had been stolen from Farrell Court.
2:59 p.m. Owner of Village Market on Pleasant Street reported shoplifting incident overnight, which was captured on security video. He planned to make a copy of the video on DVD and provide to detectives.
3:15 p.m. Assisted teen home alone with someone pounding on the door on Robert Road. Officer found that it was someone dropping off a package.
6:14 p.m. Manager of Atlantic Avenue business called to reported that one of her workers had been followed from Salem by a man in a car and that she had just seen the same car go by the business again. She requested that an officer be in the area when the employee left for the day.
7:32 p.m. Man was seen stumbling while walking before getting into a car on School and Pleasant streets. Vehicle could not be found.
8:32 p.m. Man came into station to seek advice after receiving a text message from significant other who had changed the locks of the house who also intended to obtain a restraining order. He said he would stay elsewhere for the evening.
8:40 p.m. Caller on Schooner Ridge reported hearing door rattling. Neighbors had checked things out and found no on around, but caller wanted incident logged.
9:30 p.m. Investigated report of hit-and-run in parking lot of Boston Yacht Club. Officer found it appeared to just be a “bumper tap.” Swampscott Police went to the residence of the striking vehicle. Owner of striking vehicle knew owner of other vehicle and said she would call him to discuss the matter.
9:44 p.m. A 39-year-old Marblehead man was arrested and charged with domestic assault and battery after police investigated a returned a 911-hangup call and heard a woman in the background yelling for the police to come after man answered the phone and reported that he and woman were having an argument. Man could not be transported to Middleton Jail due to his level of intoxication, according to the log, and also at one point fell out of his bunk without apparent injury. He eventually was taken to the hospital for treatment of a medical issue.
9:50 p.m. Woman upset and crying walking down the street reported on Gerry Street and Atlantic Avenue. She was located on Atlantic and Central Street and given a ride to another location in town.
10:26 p.m. Investigated report from Swampscott of overdue boat with two 25-year-old men on board on Marblehead Harbor. The 23-foot blue Whaler was reportedly experiencing engine problems and could be drifting anywhere from Nahant to Salem. Harbormaster notified. Swampscott had already contacted the Coast Guard. Police also received multiple reports of people in the water yelling for help. The three people managed to get onto dry land; boats were upside down, however. Log notes that caller from Sargent Road “had given great information as far as visuals and actual location.” A report of the three people having been in the water for three hours proved inaccurate. They had been on top of the capsized boat, which was in the water for three hours. All three refused medical treatment by EMS. One of the boaters went home with a parent, while the others were transported by Swampscott officer.
10:31 p.m. Well-being check requested on driver of vehicle leaving Corinthian Yacht Club. Driver said she was fine.
10:37 p.m.Suspicious activity reported in parking lot on Preston Beach Road. Caller reported that a white pickup truck seems to show up every Thursday night, where another SUV pulls up to it and three men get out of both vehicles and put something in the back of the pickup and leave. Caller reported that vehicle was there at the moment but no one was around it.

Friday, 19/8/11

12:38 a.m. Investigated report of loud banging “all night” on Elm Street. Officer reported that the alleged offender said she had just gotten home from work about 10 minutes earlier.
12:58 a.m. Caller on Mugford Street reported two men whispering outside her house who had taken off when she said she was going to call the police.
10:26 a.m. Caller on Cowell Street reported that her neighbor — an ex-cop that thinks he can do anything, according to the caller — is blasting music, and continues to do so even though she asked him to be quiet.
10:44 a.m. A report of a motor vehicle hit and run on Crestwood Road.
12:27 p.m. Caller on Farrell Court reported that her expensive steak knife was stolen from her residence. She said this is not the first time knives have been stolen from her.
12:38 p.m. Caller on Bubier Road reported ATM fraud
3:10 p.m. Caller on Village Street reported a dead crow in her neighbor’s yard that is attracting flies and is “gross.”
3 p.m. Several reports of trees stuck in wires around town
4:29 p.m. Report of water filling the street at Water Street and Arnold Terrace due to high tide and excessive rainwater.
4:46 p.m. Caller on Fountain Inn Lane reported that a suspicious female, who had allegedly assaulted the caller two days before, was currently walking down the street
9:20 p.m. Units responded to a large group of youths in the stands at Seaside Park. One kid had marijuana on him. His parents were notified to respond to the scene.
9:15 p.m. A group of five youths were reportedly smashing bottles in the entrance of the park at Wyman Road. One was placed under arrest.

English Riots, Round 2: The Aftermath

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Just after the riots, I blogged on some of the nonsense that was being tossed around about the causes and possible cures for the civil unrest. There have been new developments as those arrested by the constabulary during and after the rioting are brought to court.

In the remarks that follow, I except the assaults and murder charges, which are horrific and have not yet come to trial.

Many if not most of those accused have pleaded guilty, since the evidence is often overwhelming, involving not only testimony by the police but also CCTV recordings. When brought before magistrates, the sentences available range from a conditional discharge (“We’ll let you go if you promise not to do it again; if we catch you misbehaving, you’ll be looking at a spell in jail.”) to 6 months in prison. A good proportion of those brought before magistrates have been bound over to the Crown Courts, which have much greater powers of sentencing.

Some of the sentences already passed in the Crown Courts include:

  • A young mother of 2 who accepted a pair of looted shorts from a friend: 4 months in prison, reduced to probation and community service on appeal;
  • Two young men who made separate Facebook postings calling for riots to begin in Cheshire (not the most volatile of English areas); the only people who showed up for their riots were the police: 4 years in jail—being appealed as we speak;
  • A student who stole £4 worth of bottled water was given a 6-month sentence.

The consequences of these tough sentences include an increase of 1000 in the jail population in England and Wales. The number of people incarcerated in England and Wales has now neared 87,000, and there are fewer than 1500 places left in the entire system. There are more than 2000 accused still to be sentenced. Prison governors (=US “wardens”) are fearful that overcrowding and the prison inexperience of those who are being jailed will result in increased assaults and tension among the inmates.

The politicians have generally either publicly applauded or quietly acquiesced in the severity of the sentences being passed on those caught up in the rioting. The hang ’em and flog ’em brigade in the Conservative Party is noisily crowing that those miscreants who have been sentenced are getting exactly what they deserve and only tough sentences will do.

What is apparent is that the long sentences being passed upon those convicted of riot-related offences will mostly be appealed. The principles behind sentencing here in the United Kingdom is that the sentences should be fair, should be proportionate to the offence, should be mitigated by cooperation with the police, previous criminal history, and guilty pleas, and should be generally similar for similar crimes. The long sentences seen so far seem to fail all those four principles and, upon appeal, have a good probability of being reduced.

What to do?

If I were in the government, the first thing I would do is ensure that, for offenses that would not normally attract prison sentences, the miscreants be sentenced to community work that helped to repair the damage suffered in the unrest. Putting someone who stole 6 bottles of water in jail for 6 months will solve nothing. The offender (who had no previous criminal record) does not need rehabilitation from a life of crime. He needs to assist in building his neighbourhood back up.

Second, I’d keep quiet about the effects of government cuts on the poor. Sounds a bit harsh, no? And yet, these cuts have virtually nothing to do with the current life situations of those caught up in the unrest. The cuts have not yet taken hold or been effected. Youth this year who are going to university will pay much lower tuition fees than those who will be going next year. There is, of course, some effect on people through the publicity given to cuts in aid and rises in costs. Politicians who bemoan government cuts as the cause of the rioting are jumping on a bandwagon of lies and half-truths.

Third, I’d mobilise the goodwill that showed itself in the gangs of broom-wielding people who turned up to clean up the streets and the shops after the rioting had stopped. This kind of goodwill almost always accrues after a serious civil calamity and, yet, the government thanks people at the time and makes little or no effort to keep that goodwill around and harness it for civil good.

Fourth, I would try to think of new ways to help bring about a more equal society. This is an almost impossible task, but worth pursuing. It does not have to be from a religious or spiritual source. And it does not have to mean equality of resources and wealth across the whole society. What it does mean is that equality of opportunity must be manifest in society. Those who are more affluent need to realise that some of that affluence comes from their own opportunities afforded by society, and should be plowed back into that society, whether through taxes or through contributions to voluntary charities working toward equality.

I’m not saying that I believe that this will happen overnight, or even within my lifetime or yours. If it doesn’t happen peacefully, there is a danger that it will happen forcefully, through crime and through unrest. Perhaps that’s the only way that it will happen, and that is not desirable, on many levels.

Today’s Decadent URL

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

As a “mixologist”, I limit myself to simple concoctions such as a gin and tonic, bourbon and Diet Coke, or at most, a Manhattan. The ingredients required and the instruments necessary to make these are pretty inexpensive. However, I just got an email from a cocktail website that mentioned an ice pick. The blurb states:

Anvil Ice Pick – extra heavy duty ice pick with an anvil end for scoring ice. Perfect size for hand carving ice. For all international orders, due to weight, an additional $1.99 will be added per item to the total shipping cost.

Now you might think that such an implement might cost US$10, or perhaps at most US$19.95.

You’d be wrong.

The English riots

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

We’ve had riots in England since last Friday night. The facts are quite murky at the moment, but what we know is this.

First, last week police made a planned car stop to arrest a passenger. A scuffle or disturbance ensued, and the police shot their target to death. A gun (modified starter pistol) was found in the auto, but had not been fired. The police say that they thought they were about to be fired on. The dead man had been known to the police, but his family claims that he had never been convicted of a crime. This doesn’t mean he’d never committed any, mind you.

Second, the family marched to the local police station (in Tottenham, North London) to demand answers. They waited outside the police station for several hours and no police spokesperson came to meet them. The crowd became restless and a riot broke out. Buildings were burned and shops looted.

Third, over the weekend and through Monday the unrest spread to other parts of London. Youths who had coordinated their activities through smartphones roamed through shopping areas smashing windows, burglarising shops (sports stores were most favoured, followed by mobile phone stores). A family furniture store in Croydon that had been in existence for 5 generations was torched. Shops along the Walworth Road (just around the corner from me) were targeted.

Fourth, an extra 10,000 police were deployed Tuesday night in London. Therefore, rioting broke out in Manchester, Salford, Birmingham, and various other northern cities.

Now there has been a shitstorm of comment about this, on Facebook, Twitter, and in various blogs. But there are several points I’d like to highlight.

First, people tend to refer to the youths as “animals”. Children are not animals. They are complex human beings with needs, desires, and aspirations. They may not be very nice aspirations (I want to be a gang leader, for example, isn’t a great aspiration), but aspirations they are. We cannot write these young people off as “animals”.

Second, the hang ’em and flog ’em brigade is talking about shooting looters, putting them away for long stretches in prison, and generally removing them from society in one way or another. Not a good idea in general. While those who have committed crimes should be punished, if even one looter is gratuitously shot and killed the situation will be made much worse. This is especially true of people committing crimes against property. Last I heard, the death penalty for burglary had been removed in the 19th Century.

Third, those who would excuse the looting as “youth protesting against the way society treats them” are seriously misled. Yes, changes must be made. However, the best way to change society is not to smash the windows of your nearest sports store and try on trainers to steal. The best way is to become politically involved, vote the rascals out (or in), contribute to civil society, and do your best to expose the inequities of society through publicity, not through looting. The best way to ensure that your voice will be marginalised is to do a spot of looting. My guess is that the looters who were old enough to vote last year didn’t bother.

There is a lot of excess energy around. If these youths had devoted as much energy to finding a job or a place in education as they have to running around town centres looting, they’d all be employed or in education today. This energy needs to be harnessed, somehow. The energy is like the wind, which simply blows debris around until you use it to turn a turbine and produce electricity.

Similarly, the government needs to do more than denounce the looters as criminals, animals, and thugs. Most of them are probably thugs (whatever a “thug” is) and those who have committed crimes are criminals. But as a society we seriously need to consider what to let these people do. If we don’t find something for them to do, we’ll end up having riots whenever people get bored.

Private industry too needs to step up to the plate and help by creating more entry-level jobs for people, giving them on-the-job training and a road up through the ranks. With the mad dash for continuously increasing profits, those types of entry-level jobs have disappeared to India or to computing. We need to bring them back here and find ways of recreating those manual labour jobs that used to be the poor’s ticket out of poverty. If Sony had created more jobs in Enfield with their warehouse, perhaps those workers would have protected the warehouse rather than become rioters burning it. Of course, much of the inventory in there was CDs and the like owned by independent producers and musicians, many of them rappers. It’s all gone now, melted into a pile of goo.

If we’re not careful, the rest of us will be melted into piles of goo, figuratively. The time to act is now—tomorrow may be too late.

To all my Singaporean friends

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Happy 46th National Day!

Today’s DIE-hard Football Fan URL

Monday, August 8th, 2011

A gentleman in Ohio named Roy Miracle died recently, and his family decided on a very unique tribute, pictured in this Daily Mail story.

Some feel that it’s a bit macabre, but even though I (of course) didn’t know Mr. Miracle, I think that celebrating his love of his football team is something that he would have enjoyed. After all, this gentleman was waked on his motorbike (yes, there is a picture), and this one stood for the entire time (also a picture).

Today’s Gay Nostalgia URL, New York City Department

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Coming of gay age in New York City in the 1970’s and 1980’s was vibrant. The availability of easy sex on the piers at the end of Christopher Street dissolved into the AIDS crises beginning in the early 1980’s. Bars opened, continued, and closed. Apparel and leatherwear shops opened, flourished, and closed. The Christopher Street Bookstore flourished too, along with Ty’s, Boots and Saddles, the Stonewall, the Oscar Wilde Bookshop, Manatus, and all the rest.

If you were around Christopher Street in these days, you’ll find your heart and mind taken back there by this walk through the gay village. I am now mired in reminiscence, and thank Matt Rettenmund for the heads-up.

I remember the first man I knew with AIDS, who lived a few blocks north of Christopher on Bleecker. He had been a social worker, and we spent lots of time having coffee around the area, talking over politics, men, and AIDS. He died in around 1985 or so.

I remember the many years I attended and assisted at Integrity/New York’s eucharists at St. Luke’s in the Fields just south of Christopher on Hudson. The first week I attended, in February 1988, I circled the block twice before I got the gumption to go in. The President, Nick Dowen, was so welcoming that, although I had to run out as their speaker was someone from the leftwing political group I had belonged to, I returned the next week and became an Episcopalian in October.

I remember each Pride March I attended, every year, and the exhilaration of walking down Fifth Avenue and then turning on to Christopher Street and ending up at the Pride festival. What a privilege and a pleasure that was!

No other place I’ve lived except for London has as many associations for me as a gay man. I’m proud to have been a small part of it, and while I realise that time marches on and the gay village has moved to Chelsea, I would love to go back and have a lovely lunch at Manatus followed by a civilised drink in Two Potato, with all those whom I loved but see no longer.

What a wonderful evening yesterday!

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

I am one of these people who rarely if ever wins anything substantial. Occasionally I’ll win a few quid at the lottery, and once I won a draw after answering a software testing questionnaire and got £250 worth of vouchers. But lately my luck hadn’t been very good.

Last week HWMBO and I went to a concert by his favourite English singer, Raúl Malo, at Queen Elizabeth Hall. The opening act was by a group called the Lucinda Belle Orchestra, headed by a beautiful harpist and singer named, natch, Lucinda Belle. I had never heard jazz harp before (and her harp is something to behold, decorated as it is with a saying and various other pictures) and she has a way of magnetising an audience into participating. You wouldn’t think that a QE Hall audience would reply enthusiastically “Woo-ooo!” when the singer sang “Whoa-oh” but she got a very good response.

The only disappointment is that so many people were more interested in hearing Malo than in hearing his opening act: entire sections were empty. Those of us who attended got a card with a QR code to download some of her music. We then settled down to hear Malo (who is very good: this year we were much closer and could actually see him; last year we were in the last row and could only see a very tiny figure on the stage).

When we got home I duly scanned the code and got the music.

The music is quite good and well-worth downloading. After downloading, there was a competition: if you tweeted about the download and used a specific hashtag in your Tweet, you would be entered into a draw for a prize: free entry to Ronnie Scott’s jazz club to hear Lucinda Belle. So I tweeted.

And we won!

So last night we presented ourselves at the door and got two seats at the bar. Now, to be honest, the seats were pretty uncomfortable, especially for me and my foot. The wine (I had two small glasses, and HWMBO had one) was pricey for what it was. But the gig was great.

The opening set was by a guy named Earl Okin. He’s been around since Hector was a pup, it seems, and his website is, um, unique. He began with a few guitar and vocals pieces, and a few stories about people he’s met and worked with at Ronnie Scott’s. He’s very witty, and when he went to the piano and gave a lesson on stride and whorehouse piano, he was not only entertaining but a very good singer. You may want to turn off Flash if you go to his website. He does need a website designer, desperately; however, he is a good performer.

After the whorehouse piano lesson, he returned to the guitar and did some bossa nova with a Brasilian singer. I’m not an expert but his Portuguese accent was pretty good.

While Earl was up there, Lucinda walked by, sat on the barstool next to mine, and asked whether we were the people who had won her competition. I said that we were, and I introduced her to HWMBO. She is a very beautiful woman, with a lovely smile and a fabulous wardrobe.

Now we are lucky that we ate before we got there, as there was no place to eat where we were. But there were waiters galore, including one Hispanic (I believe) young man who was flirting with me whenever he went by. I expect it was just for fun, but it certainly warmed the cockles of my heart.

Lucinda Belle’s Orchestra went on around 8:30 pm, and she proceeded to sing and play the harp so well that you would think that the harp was a natural jazz instrument. Her dress was a flouncy number with a leopard-skin print that just swirled around the stage as she sang.

What did she sing? One song was about Valentine’s Day, which really got me as our anniversary is Valentine’s Day. Later on Lucinda answered my thank-you email with: “I think you may have found your song for your anniversary…” and I think she may be right. Her harp is named “Diana”, by the say, and she shlepps it around herself, at least until she arrives. The orchestra was more extensive than the one she led at QE Hall. There was a piano/accordion, a cello, a percussionist, a bass, a guitar, a clarinet/trumpet/flute/sax, and a trombone. They worked together really well in the space, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and the music. Her song about a couple who robbed banks (not Bonnie & Clyde) was a real roof-raiser!

She’s signed a deal with Universal Music, and her album “My Voice and my 45 Strings” is out now, and, she says, available at iTunes (I can’t find it at the moment). When I’ve got my iTunes sorted (it’s a loooooong story) I shall download it.

Ronnie Scott’s was new to me. I’ve known about it for a long time, of course, as it’s just north of Old Compton Street in Frith St. in teh Gay Village. Normally admission is £20 or £40, and this just gets you a table (if you’re lucky). The food looked and smelled pretty good, but I’m told in reviews that it’s a bit overpriced for what you get. And I shudder to think of how much the tables in front of us (about 12 people) spent in food and wine. I enjoyed the ambiance, and would like to go again. As one of the flagship jazz clubs in the world, Ronnie Scott’s deserves more than one free visit. But the prices are such that the only people who can afford to go are City slickers with more money than brains, or rich tourists who want a night out with some good music.

We pushed our way through the Friday night West End crowd, with me muttering about “Damned tourists!” and HWMBO trying to keep me calm. Got home and I must say I was uplifted and enthused about the evening, in a way that nights out haven’t affected me for a very long time indeed.

There will always be an America, NRA Department

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

The problem of guns in the United States continues on, thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision that carrying a gun is a constitutional right. The difficulty is that some people take this to mean a Federal license to kill. A mother on a SEPTA bus in Philadelphia slapped her misbehaving son, and was reprimanded by another passenger, who threatened to turn her in for child abuse. She called her friends, who met the bus at a later stop. She got off, and they opened fire. Thanks to the SEPTA surveillance cameras, we can see it all. Make sure you watch when the elderly lady belatedly drops to the floor of the bus a second before a bullet whizzes through the bus just where she had been standing. Thanks to Ron’s Log for this.

Today’s Wise Words

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

“The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”—James D. Nicoll

Today’s Hong Kong Living URL

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Hong Kong is famed for the difficulty people face in buying a flat. The video below is an example of what some people have to put up with. (It’s a parody, I’m afraid, but I’m told it’s very true to life). Next, London?

Today’s Wedding URL

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Those of us who have seen Four Weddings and a Funeral will remember the bumbling vicar played by Rowan Atkinson. Well, your vicar need bumble no longer during your wedding. This couple was “married” by computer program. Computing magazine faults the relatively simple GUI of the program, but as the couple says, the computer is their best friend so why no have their close friend do the honours.

The marriage, of course, was not legal until they went and signed the registers before a Justice of the Peace. But it’s the bit that counts, in this case Mr. Bit the robotic vicar.

Today’s 404 Video

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

We all occasionally get “Code 404” when surfing the web. It means that the page we requested through a URL is not available for whatever reason.

Normally these 404 notification pages are pretty anodyne. There are a few that attempt to be mildly humorous. However, the page you get when looking for a dead page on Nosh is different, and includes this video.

Nosh: 404 from Firespotter Labs on Vimeo.

Marblehead police log—When is a “rock” not a “rock”?

Monday, August 1st, 2011

I haven’t posted a police log in ages. Not much crime goes on in Marblehead (pace the occasional murder, assault, or bank robbery) but what there is, is sometimes fascinating for its small-towniness.

Excerpts from the Marblehead police log for Thursday, July 28, 2011.

12:36 a.m. Car struck tree on Tedesco Street and Leggs Hill Road. The driver was not injured, but the car had to be towed. Police planned to mail citation for impeded driving.

1:40 a.m. Caller reported someone ran across street after striking her car with a rock in the area of Laurel Street. Car was not damaged, and officer determined object that had been thrown was likely not a rock.

1:54 a.m. Person running reported near Marblehead Community Center on Humphrey Street. The person could not be found.

8:29 a.m. Caller on Rockaway Avenue reported having an altercation with man who was picking through his trash. Caller thought the man might return and do something to his home or family. Officer was asked to look for man and speak to him about his behavior.

8:34 a.m. Investigated reported that contractor’s tools had been stolen from new home being built on Leggs Hill Road. Detectives called to investigate break-in to home.

8:36 a.m. Assisted with paper exchange after minor two-vehicle accident in Miller Plaza parking lot on Pleasant Street.

10:08 a.m. Attempted to keep the peace as woman came to Naugus Avenue to retrieve property.

10:10 a.m. Bass Rock Lane resident reported trash barrel and recycling bin that had been put out the night before were missing. They were later found “overboard” at the beach.

11:30 a.m. Beach Street resident reported receiving harassing series of misdirected collection calls. Officer spoke to bank and received assurances that the resident’s number would been removed from their system.

11:49 a.m. Investigated alarm with odor of burning in the area of the street on West Shore Drive. Burnt food was the source.

1:43 p.m. Caller on Evans Road complained about noise coming from rock breaker for three days. She was referred to the building inspector.

2:15 p.m. Man called to say that divers had pointed a spear gun at him while he was fishing off the shore of Magnolia. Dispatcher called Gloucester Police who said the man should not have been fishing there and would call him to follow up.

2:29 p.m. Suspicious man who remarked “not too safe here” to sunbather at the small beach/park at the far end of the causeway near Harbor and Ocean avenues could not be located.

7:23 p.m. Two drunken women about to drive away from Barnacle Restaurant on Front Street reported. One of the women, age 51, was taken into protective custody.

11:52 p.m. Loud party with fighting outside reported on Atlantic Avenue. Officer reported no fight and surmised that caller may have mistook playing around for a fight.

Today’s Mystery Transit URL

Monday, August 1st, 2011

For those of us who have lived in New York City, hardly anything about the subway system surprises us. Delays? Yawn! The blind saxophonist who used to ply the #1 train years ago, but who could navigate through the end doors with ease? A tourist attraction! The screech when the #1 train used to navigate the tight turn at the old South Ferry station? Turn up your iPod volume!

But for some commuters, there was a new sight on one platform that stayed there for days without any official intervention.