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Bernie Ziebart

The Engineering Perspective

The blog is a view of life, science, politics and education from an engineering perspective. As engineers, we are taught to view the world objectively. We can hope, believe and calculate a particular outcome, but natural laws are inflexible and pay no heed to who we are or what we believe. We must approach the objective dispassionately, while compensating for our own distorted perceptions. Balance is also a key element; balancing between the ideal and the pragmatic, balancing cost and functionality, balancing analysis with action, etc.

Scheduling routine critical self-analysis is the foundation to objectivity. If we do not fully understand and compensate for our own failures, tendencies, habits and skewed thought processes, we will not see the world as it is. Without a regular critical self-analysis we will see the world as we are and then fall prey to self-delusion.

Failure is a great teacher. When failure is coupled with perseverance, it produces the fruit of patience and humility. An engineer, fresh out of engineering school is typically set up for failure early and often. The failure breaks the new engineer of any ideas of self-importance, arrogance and book smarts. Only then can the new engineer be formed and molded into a productive element in the industry.


Sylvester Lewis

An 18-year-old Milwaukee man, Sylvester Lewis, was charged on May 28th with three felony counts in the playground shooting that gravely wounded 10-year-old Sierra Guyton.

Sylvester Lewis was no stranger to the court system. He has 15 prior arrests.

At his last sentencing hearing on Jan. 30, 2013, for armed robbery, prosecutors recommended that he serve 18 months in custody followed by two years of extended supervision, according to a transcript. Under the law, the prosecutors could have recommended up to 5 and a half years of prison.

During the sentencing hearing, Lewis' attorney, Matt Ricci, downplayed Lewis' juvenile record. He told the court that Lewis had been abandoned by his mother and lived with his father, who was disabled by cancer. Lewis planned to go to Milwaukee Area Technical College, Ricci said, and study underwater welding.

"He's not a dumb kid at all," Ricci told Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jean DiMotto. "He's got a future."

DiMotto said she found dignity in cleaning hospital bathrooms when she was Lewis' age and that her two favorite days of the month were paydays.

"You'll really feel good about yourself when you begin earning money in a legal way," she said.

DiMotto gave Lewis a chance to avoid a year of jail time if he successfully completed three years of probation and told him she didn't want to see him in criminal court again.

Under the terms of probation and because of his numerous felony convictions, Lewis was not to be in possession of a firearm.  Lewis was also commanded not to be seen in a criminal court again.    Sylvester, after seeing the destructive nature of his actions and then arrested, convicted and commanded to adapt to the rules of civil society, was bound change his ways and fly right.

Well…despite all of the good intentions, encouragement, leniency and 15 chances, things did not end as planned.


Jean DiMotto and Matt Ricci are the problem.  Sylvester Lewis has committed crimes in the past and will commit crimes in the future. How do I know this? He is a criminal. I expect an elephant to act like an elephant. If an elephant appeared before me in court on the charges of acting like an elephant, I have two options; 1) I could deny that it is an elephant and tell it to act like a bird and place it in an aviary or 2) acknowledge that it, indeed, is an elephant and place it on a nature reserve intended for elephants. 

People like Jean DiMotto and Matt Ricci are insulting us by trying to convince us that we have a bird in front of us. We should not pay attention to the fact that the subject looks like an elephant, acts like an elephant and does things consistent of things that an elephant would do. 

Now, we are shocked that an elephant is not adapting well to the aviary. 

Likewise Sylvester Lewis is not adapting well to a civil society. He was commanded not to be in possession of a firearm. The court documents clearly state that it is unlawful for a felon to be in possession of a firearm, but yet somehow he had one.   Perhaps with 15 more laws on the books, he may be persuaded not to possess a firearm.

I hold Jean DiMotto and Matt Ricci responsible for the shooting of Sierra Guyton. They can’t recognize people for who they are despite a mountain of evidence.  The criminal incompetence of Jean DiMotto and Matt Ricci has not only destroyed a girl and her family, but has effectively destroyed the community.  But a gun buy-back program at a local church should solve everything.

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