Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Post No. 113: When the Surfboard Hits the Wall

© 2009, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

The Logistician had many quirks. He loved to channel surf. But he engaged in a different form of channel surfing. He tried to watch as many TV shows as possible.


Fascinated by everything, he’d watch a movie on TCM, The Golden Girls, C-Span, American Dad, the History Channel, Cathy Griffin, and then switch back and forth during lulls.

But occasionally he would, as he used to say, “Hit the wall.” This referred to coming across something which forced him to instantaneously focus on one program. At its end, he tried to determine what distinguished it from others.

He came up with the phrase from his surfboarding days. Well, perhaps it wasn’t really surfboarding, but rather boogey boarding. (A boogey board is a small piece of roughly rectangular hard foam, hydrodynamicallly shaped.)

One of his buddies was a professor. His students gave him a boogey board as a gift.

While hanging out with his buddy’s family, the Logistician fell in love with the sport. His buddy’s kids later gave him one as a present. Whenever he went to the beach, he packed his board.

In fact, he stopped taking women on vacations, opting to sleep with the board, since it gave him what he long sought – a hard mattress, the ability to consume a constant stream of information (uninterrupted), and a peaceful night’s sleep.

He took Boogey with him to a Club Med in Mexico once. There were two beaches. One was for patrons of the resort. The other was a far more dangerous beach. He was warned that only very experienced swimmers should attempt to ride the waves on the GO beach.

Insufficiently challenged by the smaller waves on the GM beach, he headed to the other, just he and Boogey. The waves were 3-4 times larger than on the GM beach. Yet, he thought them manageable.

After waxing his board, out he swam. He got a sense of the wave rhythm, and caught the “perfect wave.” He instantly realized that he was not as experienced as he thought, and found himself on the top of the wave, instead of inside the “tube.” He described the feeling as like God reaching down, grabbing him during an earthquake, and shaking him in the water.

All of a sudden, the wave crashed, and so did he. Disoriented, and his lungs full of sea water, he was tossed to the bottom of the surf… on his head.

As he lay there motionless, and the tide rolled out, he realized that he had “hit the wall.” The wave had his attention.

We watched a C-Span presentation recently, and “hit the wall,” Logistician style.

When we first came across it, there was a woman describing her experience with the legal system following a rape. Something was different about her tone. For a minute, we thought that she was the attorney for the victim, and a victims’ rights advocate.

However, we quickly abandoned that notion, and her intensity soon revealed that she was the victim. She described her frustration with the lengthy delays associated with sending the perpetrator to death row. The camera occasionally panned the silent audience.

She told the story of a detective, requesting DNA samples, and her subsequent discovery that she had identified the wrong black man.

The white woman went on to describe her feelings and the fact that this man had lost 10 years of his life in prison. Some suggested that he was probably a “bad person” anyway, and that she had done nothing for which she should apologize or feel guilty.

Despite this, she wanted to meet the man face-to-face, and he agreed.

While the angle of the camera slowly expanded, we next saw a young black man sitting on the dais, who appeared to us to not have one aggressive bone in his body. We said to ourselves, "This couldn't have been the rapist."

We soon realized that we had met the co-authors of the book, Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption.

After the rape victim described her immediate feeling that this could not have been the man as she observed him walking up her steps, she described him saying that he had no malice toward her, and had already forgiven her.

Cotton, the young black man and co-author, then stood up to tell his story in a very soft-spoken, deliberate manner, mentioning that the actual perpetrator was in prison with him. He also noted that he asked God what he had done to deserve this treatment.

This is story telling at its very best. It will also impress upon you the Common Sense importance of not rushing to judgment and getting all the facts. Check it out, if you interested in “hitting the wall.”


  1. I am not sure, even after reading the above, what "hitting the wall" means. I did surf in my youth (real surfing, not the modified body surfing of a boogey board) and occasionally took on waves that were above my "pay grade". I survived them, as you did, but never thought of that term as applicable. Yet, I think I almost understand what you mean by the description of watching multiple shows simultaneously (something I also do) but I tend to keep it down to two while playing scrabble against my computer. Something will grab me and keep me on one channel which often means hitting the Rec button on the DVR for the other.

    Cotton's book sounds very interesting. I will look for it at my library the next time I am there.

  2. Definition of "hitting the wall?" When something abruptly makes you go, "Whoa!"

  3. and yet another instance of why we should not have the death penalty...100 percent certainty is not found often in criminal cases and as horrific as it was to lose 10 years of life imagine finding a person innocent after they were put to death.

  4. Interesting...I wouldn't mind getting a copy of that book. Thanks for posting.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, by the way. I always appreciate visitors.

  5. I hate injustice. Worse than letting the guilty go free, falsely punishing the innocent. A death penalty might work only if there was an equal punishment for faulty convictions.

    O.J. Simpson was found not guilty 'cause he could afford competent attorney's to represent him. But what about those who are victims of public pretenders and a rush to convict? How do you salvage your good name from that rubble?

  6. DNA evidence certainly has its place in the criminal justice system. However, in the UK they are building a DNA database that not only consists of those convicted for, or currently suspected of, a crime but also anyone who has ever come into contact with the police.

    This means that people who have committed no crime, including those who were arrested but never charged and those acquitted by a judge and jury, remain suspects in the eyes of the police and government - the police Minister even went on the radio to defend such a 'justice' system on the grounds of statistics!

    Innocent until proven guilty has been abolished, as has the idea of 'no punishment without crime'. The UK legal system is no longer based on the rule of law but on the makings of an East-German style Police State.

    More on this at my blog

  7. Bartleby2009: Thanks for visiting our forum and providing a comment which presents some other aspects of the use of DNA. Feel free to visit us often, and we will visit your site also.

  8. A movie where an innocent man was wrongly convicted and executed just started on Turner Classic Movies, "Illegal" with Edward G. Robinson; ;

  9. 'Spector,

    By way of explanation regarding my four-year lateness to this party, I followed the link to this one from the Jodi Arias thread.

    I'll tell you where I hit the wall in the above story: "She described her frustration with the lengthy delays associated with sending the perpetrator to death row." Unless she was speaking metaphorically (or her words have been paraphrased) . . . death for rape alone? When did we adopt THAT policy? Perhaps it would be appropriate for a confessed serial offender . . . but in a situation such as the one described above? Yikes.

    Happily, she did not get her way in this situation.

    The Independent Cuss

  10. Independent Cuss, welcome back. You always provide us with a good reason to do something in the way of research. This time, you prompted us to contact our Fellow on sabbatical in Brazil, the Logistician, regarding his understanding of the issue. As a young black kid growing up in the Southern U.S. in the 1950s and the 1960s, he always regarded rape, particularly that of a white woman by a black male, as punishable by death.

    We conducted a Google search regarding the subject and found this list of articles. Check out item number 2, the Charleston City Paper piece regarding capital punishment.

    Additionally, Wikipedia has an article on the subject of capital punishment in the United States, which was used for various crimes, including those considered at the time as "crimes against humanity," which rape was undoubtedly one. Within that same article, there is a list of the last executions for offenses other than homicide. Pay particular attention to years of the last executions for various offenses.

    That being said, "death row" is still a long way from "execution" in many states. The death penalty remains on the books for many states in the U.S.

  11. 'Spector,

    Thanks for the info; it serves as a good indicator of how out-of-touch I am.

    I should make clear that I don't oppose the death penalty in cases of murder nor in cases of child predation, including those not resulting in a child's death. This is predicated upon strong DNA evidence and/or independent eyewitness testimony.

    Did you hear about the recent debacle involving a convicted (and confessed) rapist/murderer of an 8-year-old girl in South Carolina? He was 14 when he did it, tried as an adult and sentenced to 25 years; now he's 19, requested a new trial, then when he got before the judge he basically said, "Naw, I changed my mind. Just leave me in for my full sentence". The travesty: the deceased little girl's poor mother had to attend the needless "non-trial" and re-live the whole nightmare all over again.

    Had I been the judge, I might have tacked-on some extra time to his sentence "just because" . . . grrr.

    The Independent Cuss


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