Lunaya Pravda

27 April 2007


I've deliberately held off on commenting on the Virginia Tech shootings, mostly because the incident's relation to gun control (both current and future), has been aptly covered by bloggers far more talented than me. I particularly enjoyed LawDog's commentary on the fact that not only are we denying people the most effective weapons for self defense, but the very mind-set required for it. Excellent point, that.

But what really has me irritated in this and other deadly attacks is the time and energy devoted to public wallowing. People who can be linked to the victims only in some Six-Degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon way are plastered by photojournalists on every television, newspaper, and website, sobbing uncontrollably in shameful displays of psychologically conditioned sorrow. They're rewarded by writers who quote them extensively, telling us all how they'll NEVER be the same, never feel safe, never get past their grief. Strangers leave mountains of candles and teddy bears and flowers and signs as some sick, clich├ęd memorial. Students across the nation are encouraged to visit with grief counselors and hold vigils and talk about their feelings. What an effective way to trivialize the dead.

And next year, on April 16th, we'll be inundated with the same vomitous bullshit all over again. Reopening wounds. Reminding the victims' families of their absence (as if they need it). Public wailing and gnashing of teeth. Grief counselors. Vigils.

The media have conditioned this ridiculous over-the-top response to tragedy in much the same way faith healers condition their followers to fall down during the laying on of hands. Followers see that everyone else falls down, so they fall down when their turn to be healed comes. We see the overwhelming public grief, and we're convinced that we must be hard-hearted and unhuman if we aren't as incapacitated by undiluted grief as all these other folks. And when we've been summarily duped by our emotions, we're paralized by inaction.

T.G. Browning of the Revised Devil's Dictionary, writes:

It's a peculiar, self-absorbed kind of mental masturbation to stand out in a courtyard with a bunch of people you don't know, holding a candlelight vigil for the slain students of Virginia Tech. None of the people there know any of the slain personally. The odds are extremely good that not one bloody person in such a crowd knows anyone who actually knows any of the murdered students. The odds are darn good that only a handful of people, at most, know anyone who knows anyone who is acquainted with the dead. If you're a betting person, it a good bet that no one there, does....

If there is one thing about the VT massacre that should stand out and be talked about, it's this: There was one person there who knew tragedy first hand, having survived a true holocaust: Liviu Librescu, the teacher who was killed protecting his students' backs, giving them time to escape. Like the passengers who prevented the terrorists from crashing their plane into their target, Librescu knew what he truly valued, in his case the students who depended upon him and looked to him for knowledge and leadership.

I can't see that teaching kids to manufacture grief is likely to produce many Liviu Librescu. Nor is it likely that fear will. There are, after all, all too many reasons to fear as it is. Don't weep for strangers for the sole purpose of grieving. Unless of course, you think reality shows on TV have any basis in reality whatsoever. If that's the case, weep on, my friend, great times will surely be yours.

Very few people are taking the time, like lewlew and her husband, to talk to their kids about formulating a plan to deal with violence BEFORE it happens. To think about potential havens, possible weapons for defense, what scenarios might make hiding or playing dead more viable than fighting back. No, most folks are still so paralized by grief (and will remain so) that little will be learned from any of this. And that, to me, is the most offensive waste.

If you really want to honor the dead, shed a few tears if you must, but above all, utilize their deaths as a learning experience rather than a grief competition.

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11 April 2007

Mapping humor

Try this on Google Maps:

1. Click on "Get Directions."

2. Enter "New York, NY" to "Paris, France."

3. Scroll down in the directions to step number 23.

GIS geek humor. Gotta love it.

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10 April 2007

Today's humor

From the creator of Money Talks by way of the Revised Devil's Dictionary newsletter:

Sexual congress: A polite euphemism for screwing someone.

U.S. Congress: A not-so-polite euphemism for the same thing.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

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For two days, I've had the same song stuck in my head.

If Jim Henson weren't already dead, he'd be on my "needed killin'" list now. I'll just have to settle for blaming a certain Bitchitorial post on memetic viruses for infecting me.

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08 April 2007

Does anti-war activism make it harder to get a passport?

Activist contends passport stall tied to anti-war efforts

Thomas Hays, 38, says he applied for a passport with his birth certificate, Social Security card and Washington state identification card in February. He then received a surprise in the mail at the end of the month when the government said it needed much more documentation -- some of which is difficult to quickly obtain -- to give him a passport.

The State Department says it wanted Hays to provide "school transcripts, high school yearbook pages showing your name and photograph, religious records, medical records, (and) tax/employment records."

(Thanks to lewlew, who tipped me off about this article.)

Something sure sounds fishy here, and of course the State Department thugs will never give a reason for requesting all this additional information.

For a couple of reasons, I bit the bullet and got a passport early last year.

My mother and I were planning a long weekend to Canada, and though a passport still isn't needed for a trip to Canada and back (the requirement is coming), we both figured it'd be a little easier than bringing along an original birth certificate.

I also wanted to get a passport before they became "enhanced" with RFID. The state department offices here were due to start issuing RFID-enabled passports by the summer of 2006, so I beat that deadline by a few months.

The decision to get a passport wasn't an easy one, and because of the RFID deadline, I felt a bit pressured to make a choice. Though the idea of having to produce citizenship papers on demand is morally repugnant to me in every possible way, I'd still rather have one more tool at my disposal if the shit ever hits the fan. I can choose whether or not to show it, and having one might make a few situations easier than if I didn't have anything to produce.

Now I'm glad I didn't wait. With situations such as Mr. Hays', and Homeland Security now sharing available personal information with the Canadian border guards, I can only think obtaining passport approval is bound to become increasingly difficult.

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04 April 2007

The relationship pity party

Lately I seem to be stumbling onto far too many people whining about relationships ending badly, and then blaming one entire sex or the other as the root of all evil based on their former beloved's behavior. Often they'll back the stereotype up with the weak justification of personal experience (e.g. "This happened in ALL my relationships," or "This happened to all my friends, too.") And I'm perilously near my snapping point when it comes to all this superfluous bitching and moaning about circumstances most of them could have foreseen if they'd opened their eyes even a smidge in the beginning.

When the men are doing the complaining, it's usually how some woman turned into a vindictive, greedy, lying wench, and ruined their lives by spilling all their dirty secrets to the ONE person they hoped would never find out.

Let's group all those behaviors except the last into one category. To all of those, I have nothing but the question "What, weren't you AWAKE during the relationship?" If your woman was displaying ANY of those traits at the end of your relationship, she likely was displaying them BEFORE you ever met her.

  • Did you ever see her end a friendship? How did she handle it?
  • How about quitting a job she didn't like? Did she burn her bridges and try to take a few folks with her?
  • Has she ever talked about how her previous relationships ended?
  • Has she ever bragged about "getting even" for a perceived wrong? (Double flags if she ever says she got even "just because she could.")
  • Did she repeatedly mention how she'd like to quit her job and have someone take care of her?
  • Did she pressure or guilt you into paying any of her bills? Have money problems she needs help with?
  • Do her friends try to get as much money out of a man as they can? Does she support or denounce that behavior? (Yes, the kind of company she keeps is a reflection on her.)
  • Does she slip in commentary that she's being somehow unappreciated by her employer, her friends, her family, or you?
  • Has she ever made comments that indicate a sense of entitlement?
  • Does she make a habit of taking little things that aren't hers? Borrow without returning? Losing borrowed items without making restitution?
  • If a cashier gives her too much change, does she give it back?
  • Does she lie to her friends or family for no good reason? (Double flags if she's ever bragged about getting away with a lie.)
  • Cause damage to a total stranger's property and not make every effort to pay for the damages?
  • Did you ever catch her in a lie, only to have her shrug it off as no big deal?
  • Has she cheated on former lovers in the past? Does she express any genuine shame about it now?
As for the dirty secrets, if you didn't want them getting around, why did you create them in the first place? And why did you trust an obviously vindictive, dishonest person with them?

These lists are by no means exhaustive... the point is that rarely do people with the above traits demonstrate them in just one sphere of their lives. It's highly likely these whining men have seen their woman display one or more of these behaviors, probably long before the relationship waned. And though I hate to spell it out, here it is: if he sees his significant other behaving like this while they're still passionate about each other, it's highly likely that he'll be on the receiving end when all that romance goes henshit later. If she's willing to shit on her family, friends, or employer, why on earth wouldn't she shit all over her boyfriend or husband, too, once he's on her list?

But I don't want to bag on the men only - women can be just as guilty of wilful ignorance as their male counterparts sometimes are, and just as whiny about it afterwards.

The women I've been so unfortunate to overhear do an equal amount of bitching, and it's usually about how their man was unfaithful, lazy or unproductive. So again, let's take these one at a time.

  • Did you find out how his previous relationships ended?
  • Did he cheat on someone else with you, only to dump her for you? (This is a doozy. If you were the other woman, how can you honestly believe there won't be an "other woman" in YOUR future?)
  • Does he condone his friends' cheating?
  • Does he display any of the dishonesty listed above?
  • Does he make a habit of doing nothing but sitting on his ass?
  • Does he have a history of on-again-off-again employment? Quitting jobs for no good reason?
  • Is his place a complete pigsty, even when he has ample time to clean it up himself?
  • Does he move back home with his parents whenever things get too tough in the real world? Does he move back with them just so he has more money to buy expensive toys for himself?
Seriously, why should anyone who was wilfully blind to such a high degree deserve any sympathy after the fact? These folks CHOSE their significant others, likely knowing these faults existed, and figured some kind of mystical rain dance and some finger-crossing would save them from having that high-powered fuck-you-over laser of destruction turned on them. And the twitterpation of a new love is no excuse. Relationships can and do end, and anyone who isn't smart, serious, or mature enough to give a damn about finding an honest, forthright partner really isn't working up any tears from me once that partner starts to reign the fire down.

If you wilfully ignore or condone those little white lies, thefts of convenience, disrespect to others, past or present vindictiveness, or any of those not-so-subtle hints of future boulders that could very well come down on your head, then don't come whining to anyone who'll listen that the entire opposite sex is out to get you. You made all the choices that lead you to this point. You chose who to date. You downplayed the importance of character in a mate. If you want someone who'll treat you honestly and fairly when the relationship ends, then you damn well better wait for someone who's honest and fair to begin with. (And yes, they exist. Perhaps not to the degree we'd all like, but they're out there.)

Those dishonest, greedy, assholes who've fucked you over deserve some scorn and shame of their own--certainly their behavior deserves nothing less--but you are not immune. This didn't happen in a dating vacuum. It's intellectually lazy to refuse to acknowledge even the slightest possibility that you had a role here and, more importantly, to blame an entire sex rather than suffer the unpleasantness of some introspective pondering and accepting of blame.

I'm out of patience with the rampant pity party. Take some responsibility for yourself and your decisions. If you can't be bothered to do that, then please, for the sanity of the rest of us, shut the fuck up.

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03 April 2007

Robert Jamieson still doesn't get it

It comes as no surprise, but Mr. Jamieson, who I've written about before, misses the final fucking piece that might have saved a life.

Remember these names the next time someone suggests that women seek restraining orders just to get a leg up in custody battles, or when law enforcement is slow to take seriously the cries of battered women.

Griego had done everything to escape the mad love of her ex-boyfriend. She got a protection order in March. She ignored the phone calls he made to her job. She told friends to be on the lookout because he was psycho. She even moved a couple of times, changing her phone number. None of it worked.

Yes, she tried to avoid him by rearranging her life. But no, she HADN'T done everything she could have done. She could have armed herself against someone obviously an aggressive, threatening stalker and the high probability he would seek her out for some kind of confrontation. (And by "armed" I don't just mean that she could have run to the nearest gunshop and bought a handgun. I mean obtaining a firearm AND practiced with it, gaining both skill and accuracy.)

For these reasons, women need a safety plan, according to domestic violence advocates. They can make arrangements to stay with family or friends whose addresses the stalker doesn't know. They can alert their employers so police or security will be notified when the batterer comes to the workplace. They can change their phone numbers, their route to work, their schedule -- anything to make them more difficult to find.

A scared woman can turn everything upside down -- as Griego did. She even had the restraining order sitting on her desk in case Rowan showed up.

Nothing short of dropping everything -- quitting her livelihood or leaving town -- could stop the man whose warped and angry love stole her precious life.

A scared woman can also turn the tables around, learn how to use a gun defensively in an attack. Again, Mr. Jamieson, she could have successfully ARMED HERSELF. Why is it you continue to ignore the possibility that, had a gun been part of that necessary "safety plan", she might well be standing here today to tell reporters like you how she fought off a dangerous stalker hell-bent on preventing her escape?

The title of your commentary "A piece of paper alone can't stop abuse," and indeed the entire piece, are screaming "so what DOES stop abuse?" Running and hiding sure didn't in this case. And I have to wonder why people like you think victims like Ms. Griego should have to go to ridiculous lengths in disrupting their lives in order to prevent any confrontation (or resolution) in the matter. By not arming herself, the statement is made that her attacker's life was more important than her own.

Responsible gun owners don't relish the idea of shooting someone, even in self-defense. It can be a long process involving police, lawyers, and perhaps the family of the person shot. But they do at least recognize that their lives are far more valuable--and worth defending--than that of any would-be attacker. It's sad people like you continue to refuse to do the same, and it's upsetting that you continue to argue that she has no legitimate right to pick up the one weapon her attacker is almost certain to have.

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02 April 2007

New blogs on the roll

I've recently been enjoying a couple of blogs I've found, so I'm adding them to the roll over there on the side.

The first is To The People. The author(s) have a decidedly libertarian bent, and there's some non-political human-interest type stuff in there, too. Worth a look.

The second is Last Free Voice (the name comes from the television series "Dark Angel"), which I stumbled upon while searching for any updated information on the still-defunct-and-silent Hammer of Truth. Specifically, I was searching for one of their writers, Michelle Shinghal, because I had enjoyed her posts at HoT and wondered if she'd simply moved on to greener pastures. Happily, I found her over at Last Free Voice along with a few other former contributors to HoT. There's still a bit more coverage of Libertarian Party politics than I care to peruse, but the former HoT writers, along with some fresh blood, have much to say that isn't LP-related and is well worth reading.

For example, today LFV provided a thought-provoking entry, a Defense of Plagiarism in public schools, exploring the suggestions that plagiarism is fraud, theft, or breach of contract, or that it's otherwise negative because kids aren't using or developing any creativity. This is the first of two posts on the subject, and I look forward to the second entry.

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Never piss off an engineer

I'm wondering how many people at Verizon could actually calculate this. Hell, I have a degree in engineering, but I can't remember how to do a summation like that anymore.