In an effort to better acquaint you, the reader, with the VQR staff, members of our team will share excerpts from our personal reading—The Best 200 Words I Read All Week. From fact to fiction, from comedic to tragic, we hope you find as much to admire in these selections as we do.
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Officially, we also didn’t study the demographic differences between Washington’s seven police districts, though those differences were obvious, stark, and the subject of much derisive commentary from instructors and recruits alike…We didn’t talk about how the city came to be so segregated, or discuss the impact of Washington’s growing gentrification on crime and policing, or ask why 80 percent of all arrests and 90 percent of drug arrests were of African American suspects in a city where black residents make up 47 percent of the population.
For that matter, we didn’t receive any information at all on overall crime rates, arrest rates, or patterns in crime and arrest rates. Theories of policing…merited only a single paragraph in one of the early lesson plans, and we didn’t talk about what effective policing might look like. If the police did a good job, what would that mean? Was effective policing measured by a high arrest rate? A low crime rate? High levels of community trust? Did it require more cops, fewer cops, or cops who did different things? What kind of policing correlated with what kinds of outcomes?
Associate Editor Alex Brock
Tangled Up In Blue: Policing the American City, by Rosa Brooks
It was wartime , and propaganda fell from the sky like dishonest rain. Nazi planes dropped leaflets over British lines in Europe telling them that their wives were in bed with American soldiers, complete with drawings of said wives undressed. The Allied forces flew hydrogen balloons over Axis troops to scatter images of fields lined with German graves. But the scope of both planes and balloons was limited. So when Himmler wanted to send propaganda to the Transvaal in a bid to win the support of the Boers, he ordered his scientists to investigate the possibility of using migrating storks as carriers. Test flights for the Storchbein-Propaganda began, until it was found that a thousand birds would be required for every ten leaflets that reached their target. The plan was abandoned. Others, on the Allied side, were more persistent. In 1940 a dead stork was found on a farm in the North Transvaal with a message on a piece of tape sewn around its leg, sent by the resistance in Nazi-occupied Holland: ‘To our South African brothers: we, the people of Bergen op Zoom, tell you that living under German occupation is just hell.’
Assistant Editor Heidi Siegrist
“Consider the Stork”, by Katherine Rundell, in the London Review of Books
Tears—died on August 3, 2016. Once
we stopped at a Vons to pick up
flowers and pinwheels on our way to
the graveyard. It had been a year and
death no longer glittered. My ten-year-
old putting the flowers perfectly in the
small narrow hole in front of the stone.
How she somehow knew what the hole
was for, that my mother wasn’t really on
the other side. Suddenly, our sobbing.
How many times have I looked into the
sky for some kind of message, only to
find content but no form. She ran back
to the car. The way grief takes many
forms, as tears or pinwheels. The way
the word haystack never conjures up
the same image twice. The way we
assume all tears taste the same. The
way our sadness is plural, but grief is
Editorial Intern Melissa Zhu
“Tears” from Obit: Poems, by Victoria Chang