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The Beer Summit, which includes President Obama, Harvard professor Henry Gates, and Cambridge police officer Sgt. James Crowley has been scheduled for Thursday.  President Obama has reportedly selected Budweiser as his beer of choice, Sgt. Crowley will have Blue Moon, and Prof. Gates either Red Stripe or Beck’s. However, the situation is fluid and these choices could change. Even so, I’ve been wondering if there is anything we can read into these beer choices. For example, President Obama chose a Bud – a good old American beer.  It’s a good Presidential choice – shows he’s all American.  Right?  Well not exactly – not any more.  Budwieser was recently sold to ImBev, a company based in Belgium.  So the President will be drinking, of all things,  Belgish beer.  Now, is that right? I mean if he’s not going to drink real American beer, like Sam Adams, what kind of a message is he sending? And if he wants to drink a foreign beer, why not have a Guinness? After all, he is a little bit Irish.  But come to think of it, have you noticed how he seems to be ignoring that? It’s all fine for him to kowtow to the Saudi Arabian head of state as a gesture to the Muslim world (of which Obama is not a part) and he has hastened to visit England and get chummy with the royal family (of which he is not a part) but he has blatantly skipped paying a visit to the old sod, despite the certainty of a hundred thousand welcomes, despite the fact that the Irish have even written a song about him: There’s No One as Irish as Barack Obama.  But I digress….

What about the choice of Blue Moon for Crowley? Just what is that supposed to mean?  Think about it.  Is there a subliminal message here? You know – once in a blue moon? What does that imply anyway?  While we’re on the subject, remember the incident that started this whole thing? The question that has to be answered, and perhaps will be answered, is this: What should Crowley have done?  Or, to put it another way, what would a wise Latina woman have done? Which brings me to this: isn’t the term “latina woman” sort of repetitively redundant?  Isn’t Latina already the feminine version of the word, so adding “woman” is unnecessary?  And if so, what does that say about judge Sotomayor’s thought processes? Isn’t the use of redundant language enough of a reason for the Republicans to vote as a united block against her because it shows faulty judgment?  But I digress…

And Professor Gates.  First I had heard that he didn’t drink.  Now it’s he’s having either Red Stripe or Beck’s.  I hope it’s not Beck’s because that reminds me of Glenn Beck and then it conjours up all sorts of images of faulty reasoning – faulty reasoning that Sotomayor could never even hope to aspire to.   Or maybe it’s Red Stripe.  Red Stripe is brewed in Jamaica, the land of Bob Marley, the land of “One Love” and “Everybody let’s get together”.  It sure sounds appropriate, but does it sound like Gates?  Wasn’t he supposed to be flying off the handle and accusing Crowley of discrimination and just creating a general ruckus?  Why would Gates choose a beer like that?  When you think about it, his sort of personality sounds more like a Beck’s (Glenn, I mean) doesn’t it?  But I digress…

You know, none of this would be happening if it hadn’t been for that news conference that President Obama had and that reporter asked that question about the Cambridge incident.  You know what I would do if I was President?  I would cancel that reporter’s White House press pass for LIFE!  (This, by the way, is one of the reasons I am not President.) But come on. You know that was a setup question.  That reporter was intentionally pushing Obamas buttons and he took the bait – thereby completely distracting the country from the health plan issue and getting everyone to think about race relations and what kind of beer they like.  Clearly this reporter was a Republican Party plant – look, I don’t care about the evidence – I just know it’s true.  But I digress…

Now, let’s get down to the real issue.  Was Crowley right or was he wrong?  Was Gates right or was he wrong?  It all comes down to stereotyping – which both swear they don’t do, but I’m not so sure.  It’s easy to do that because most  of us use a type of reasoning that is often true, but not always true.  For example, try sticking you hand in a bee’s nest. You will probably get stung.  If you do this ten times, you will probably get stung ten times.  You learn to keep your hand out of bee’s nests.

Now try an experiment. Take a Sacagawea one dollar coin from your pocket and get ready to toss it in the air.  But first, let’s some initial conditions.  Let’s suppose you have already flipped your coin ten times and each time it came up heads.  What is the chance it will come up heads the next time you flip it?  The answer is 50-50.  It’s always 50-50 every time you flip the coin, no matter how long the last heads or tails streak was.

On the other hand suppose you know that blacks commit 80% of the break-ins in Cambridge (I’m just making up that number as an example).  What is the probability that Professor Gates broke into his own house? The answer is 100% because he did – but it was his own house and he was locked out, so it was OK.  But was Sgt. Crowley a bit biased because of the Sacagawea effect?  It can easily happen.  We can easily make the wrong estimates of probabilty, and I’m willing to bet that Sgt.  Crowley wasn’t completely open minded when he met Prof. Gates, even though he might think that he was.  I am also willing to bet that Prof. Gates wasn’t completely open minded when he met Sgt. Crowley. He probably has the same issues with probability.

So will everything be resolved when the glasses are drained?  Will everything just seem a little bit better – if not clearer?  Probably.

If I were to have any input to the occasion, I would suggest they all drink the Jamaican beer.  Then just relax, ’cause everything’s gonna be alright.

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