Before I continue with the topic of the Tipping Point, I wish to draw your attention to a couple of friends’ blogs that I find very interesting. The first one is from Paula and she writes in a very nice prose tidbits of her life. I think I suggested her that, at some point, she should publish her collection of short stories. They are light and insightful. A breath of fresh air when it comes to reading for the re-creation of our mind. You can find Paula’s blog at the following address: http://3nthemorning.wordpress.com/
The second blog is from Bob. He teaches a religion class to a bunch of kids 14 to 18 years old. I met Bob in Italy in the mid 70’s in my hometown where he stayed for only a few months. During those few months, I came to appreciate his spirituality, which is above and beyond his own beliefs and religion but is an integral part of them as well. Bob is writing this blog for his students, but I have read what he writes and I found again that spirituality that I had met in him more than 30 years ago. Whether you are a religious person or not, Bob’s blog would feed your spirit if you’d care to listen inside your heart while you read what he has to say. Bob’s blog can be found at http://a100thpart.wordpress.com/
Finally, another friend of mine, whose name is Bob as well, has created a web domain for my blog. Now you can simply type http://albertodefeo.net/ and you will be transferred to my blog. Thank you Bob.
Few final considerations about the Tipping Point, which I hope may apply to your lives. As I wrote before, in the mid 90’s the New York City’s crime rate dropped so much that the City of New York went down to be the 136th city for crime among major cities in the USA, par to Boise Idaho. “There was a time when it wasn’t uncommon to hear rapid fire, like you would hear somewhere in the jungle in Vietnam,” Inspector Edward A. Mezzadri, who commands the Seventy-fifth Precinct, told Malcolm Gladwell. “You would hear that in Bed-Stuy and Brownsville and, particularly, East New York all the time. I don’t hear the gunfire anymore. I’ve been at this job one year and twelve days. The other night when I was going to the garage to get my car, I heard my first volley. That was my first time.”
Gladwell writes: “what accounts for the drop in crime rates? William J. Bratton-who as the New York City Police Commissioner presided over much of the decline from the fall of 1994 until his resignation, in 1996-argues that his new policing strategies made the difference: he cites more coordination between divisions of the N.Y.P.D., more accountability from precinct commanders, more arrests for gun possession, more sophisticated computer-aided analysis of crime patterns, more aggressive crime prevention. In the Seven-Five, Mezzadri has a team of officers who go around and break up the groups of young men who congregate on street corners, drinking, getting high, and playing dice-and so remove what was once a frequent source of violent confrontations. He says that he has stepped up random “safety checks” on the streets, looking for drunk drivers or stolen cars. And he says that streamlined internal procedures mean that he can now move against drug-selling sites in a matter of days, where it used to take weeks. “It’s aggressive policing,” he says. “It’s a no-nonsense attitude. Persistence is not just a word, it’s a way of life.”
All these changes make good sense. But how does breaking up dice games and streamlining bureaucracy cut murder rates by two-thirds? Many criminologists have taken a broader view, arguing that changes in crime reflect fundamental demographic and social trends-for example, the decline and stabilization of the crack trade, the aging of the population, and longer prison sentences, which have kept hard-core offenders off the streets. Yet these trends are neither particularly new nor unique to New York City; they don’t account for why the crime rate has dropped so suddenly here and now. Furthermore, whatever good they have done is surely offset, at least in part, by the economic devastation visited on places like Brownsville and East New York in recent years by successive rounds of federal, state, and city social-spending cuts.
When social scientists talk about epidemics, they mean something very specific. Epidemics have their own set of rules. Suppose, for example, that one summer a thousand tourists come to Manhattan from Canada carrying an untreatable strain of twenty-four-hour flu. The virus has a two-per-cent infection rate, which is to say that one out of every fifty people who come into close contact with someone carrying it catches the bug himself. Let’s say that fifty is also exactly the number of people the average Manhattanite-in the course of riding the subways and mingling with colleagues at work-comes into contact with every day. What we have, then, given the recovery rate, is a disease in equilibrium. Every day, each carrier passes on the virus to a new person. And the next day those thousand newly infected people pass on the virus to another thousand people, so that throughout the rest of the summer and the fall the flu chugs along at a steady but unspectacular clip.
But then comes the Christmas season. The subways and buses get more crowded with tourists and shoppers, and instead of running into an even fifty people a day, the average Manhattanite now has close contact with, say, fifty-five people a day. That may not sound like much of a difference, but for our flu bug it is critical. All of a sudden, one out of every ten people with the virus will pass it on not just to one new person but to two. The thousand carriers run into fifty-five thousand people now, and at a two-per-cent infection rate that translates into eleven hundred new cases the following day. Some of those eleven hundred will also pass on the virus to more than one person, so that by Day Three there are twelve hundred and ten Manhattanites with the flu and by Day Four thirteen hundred and thirty-one, and by the end of the week there are nearly two thousand, and so on up, the figure getting higher every day, until Manhattan has a full-blown flu epidemic on its hands by Christmas Day.”
Can we actually see these things in our lives? Can we forecast a tipping point in our community or in our lives, our career, our family troubles and so on? I believe in a way we can. We need to be persistent about what we think is good for ourselves and for those around us and things, eventually will change for the best. Sometimes, they have to get even worse but if we hold faithfully to the thought that one day the point will tip in our favor, I believe it will.
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