Friday, April 20, 2007

Re: Blacksburg question II

Rich Lowry notes a statistic on "rampage killings" and one doctor's take on the recent rise of such events: "According to an extensive survey in the New York Times a few years ago, about half of rampage killings are committed by mentally ill people, a much higher percentage than the roughly five percent that commit all murders. Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, president of the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center, believes there has been a rise in such killings in the past 20 years, which coincides with the period when we have dumped many severely mental ill people out into society without treating them."

Charles Krauthammer: "In a previous age, such a troubled soul might have found himself at the state mental hospital rather than a state university. But in a trade-off that a decent and tolerant society makes with open eyes, we allow freedom from straitjackets to those on the psychic edge, knowing that such tolerance runs very rare but very terrible risk."

Turns out Charles Whitman had a brain tumor that may have affected his mental state.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Redd - the end

I spent a lot of time on the blog today (for better or worse) and have been back and forth reading and checking. The more I see "redd" the more I hate it.

Therefore, on the very day [update note: actually the next day] that I called for a revolution: I rescind that call, ask you to sheath your weapons, and go with the flow. For now.

"This is not the time, but time is on our side."

Our visitors today

include persons in Canada, Puerto Rico, Spain, Brazil, and Chile. No kidding.

UPDATE: I'm not buying it. I can't get a referring URL for any of them, must be a glitch. Doh!
UPDATE 2: This is nice: the only two real referrals for today are a Google search for "mental illness" and a Google image search for this dude. Where did he appear on SSJ? Glad you asked. Context, if needed, is here. No comment on the mental illness thing.

Re: Blacksburg question

I saw just a bit of the video, but I think I've redd enough to know that this guy wasn't simply very pissed-off, he was mentally unstable. There are dozens of posts at DU (!) from people who know or knew people who were psychotic (and one who was himself), and they all seem to think this guy was a classic case. If that's so, 30 years ago he would have been in a facility and couldn't have done this. I'm not suggesting that everyone who loses it in the way LJ describes is mental (I don't think for instance that anybody believes the Columbine guys were mental) but perhaps that is one part of the puzzle: We used to lock them up, now we don't.


I don't really have big objection to NBC's airing of the tape save for the insensitivity to the families so soon after the event. Having said that, Why not say:

We received this package from the killer, but we here at NBC have chosen not to air [even if only temporarily] the video. We may air it at a future time once things have settled down. For now, though, out of respect for the families and the Hokie family, we withhold.

This would have been the way to go...sing our own praises while doing the right thing.

Re: Interesting redd fact

There won't be salmon redds when I go to Canada in August, but plenty of trout.

I'd redd all that Teddy Roosevelt simplifying the language stuff before. Although I have the exact same difficulty with "read" in the past tense, I think I'm a bit Frenchman-like regarding the language. Now that English is the lingua franca, I hesitate to monkey with a good thing.

Re: Blacksburg


I couldn't agree more about these leaps that we've taken. Used to be that if one got fired/dumped, one sought a new job or a new squeeze; now we open fire. We live in the best of times materially. The poorest in this country live like only royalty could aspire to only a hundred years ago yet even the smallest deprivation, real or perceived, sparks acts like this?

This guy was deprived in no measure.

I cannot fathom this.

The Cask of Amontillado

Poe’s original tale and the Alan Parsons Project song lyrics.

Re: Hostage

Saw the movie a couple of years ago but thought it forgettable. No idea what the "I" stands for....

Interesting redd fact

"An egg sac or collection can be called a 'redd' as in 'salmon redd' for the eggs attached to the stream bottom. Specifically, a salmon redd is the space at the bottom of a stream that a spawning salmon makes for its eggs."

First commie space station

was launched today in 1971.

Prager channels Scooter

"I believe that this early healing talk is both foolish and immoral.

It is foolish because one does not speak about healing the same day (or week or perhaps even month) that one is traumatized -- especially by evil. One must be allowed time for anger and grief. To speak of healing and 'closure' before one goes through those other emotions is to speak not of healing but of suppression.

Not to allow people time to experience their natural, and noble, instincts to feel rage and grief actually deprives them of the ability to heal in the long run. After all, if there is no rage and grief, what is there to heal from?"

Site meter

I just noticed we had lost our site meter. Guess it dropped off when we made the switch to new Blogger. I've put it back so we can again marvel at our extensive readership.

Blacksburg II

Michael - just for your information, the original draft of my post below had several...."begs the question..." references. And though I relish in pushing certain buttons, I felt in this case it would be a distraction.


To date I haven’t commented on the events in Blacksburg. I can say in all honesty that I haven’t seen 1 minute of news coverage on this. I have heard snippets here and there on the radio, mostly discussions on 1) what the school administration and police officials did or did not do and 2) whether or not the video/ writings/pictures that this guy sent to NBC should or should not be broadcast. What I would like to hear a discussion about is the how (not in how it was done, but in how have we, as a society, gotten to the point of anger = mass killing).

How have we gone from middle or high school “angst” issues (bullies, depression, break-ups with girlfriends, etc.) that used to be settled with, at worst, fist-fights across the street from the school that lasted maybe 10-15 minutes to taking multiple weapons to school and killing not just the bully or the ex-girlfriend, but seemingly random others, then killing yourself?

How have we gone from “road rage” issues (slow drivers, getting cut-off, not turning right on red) that used to be settled with shaking a fist or finger gestures to ramming the other vehicle/running them off the road and/or pulling out a gun and shooting them?

How have we gone from getting fired/let go/downsized from your job that used to be settled by yelling at your boss or going to the local bar and getting drunk to first killing your spouse and/or children, then going to your ex-employers office, killing the boss and any other random employees that you run into, then killing yourself?

I truly can’t comprehend the leap that Americans, for the most part, have made in this regard. Is part of the problem about our understanding of the “why” or “how” the fact that professionals don’t have the opportunity, after the event, to talk to these individuals because for the most part, the event ends in their death, usually by their own hand? Is part of the problem the American, as compared to the rest of the world, “gun culture”? Is part of the problem the individual freedoms that we enjoy which make it more difficult for authorities to more closely monitor (observation, arrest, confinement, etc.) those in our midst that have been identified by others as potential “problems” or “risks”?
I’m not very interested in discussions about “triggers” or what may or may not have happened in these people’s past. I would hazard to guess that break-ups and parental abuse and depression and stress and mental illness have been with us for eons. The causes have always been there – it’s the effect that has changed and escalated.

The Stand

So I'm on page 651. Almost finished, right? Wrong. This beast clocks in at 1141 pages.

The Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition

Hostage movie

No, no, no. This guy is not Mars Krupcheck.

IMDB. What does the I in (2005/I) mean?

More Robert Crais

I can also recommend Demolition Angel and The Two-Minute Rule.


Didn't realize it had been made into a movie until I grabbed this picture. I liked it but have two (non-spoiler I hope) questions: 1. Where does the money come from/is it plausible? 2. If she is on the payroll, why do they need Talley?


More "redd"

From the Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society:

"When we did this we found that we could make these words regular in most cases by changing only one letter. These you can see in our book called Bridges to Old Spelling. Here is a sample line from that book:

good new spelling: hedd bredd redd (p.t.) dredd reddy.

bad old spelling: head bread read dread ready.

But why, you may ask, use double-d? Why not bred, red, led? For two reasons:

1. If you read red, led, bred, in a sentence they suggest a quite different meaning. In new spelling we save every semantic difference just as we do in old spelling.

2. Our experiments prove that the eye stumbles when it runs across a word with one letter missing. But good reading forbids stumbling, it demands instantaneous comprehension."

TR was an advocate of phonetic spelling:

"During his presidency, Roosevelt tried but did not succeed to advance the cause of simplified spelling. He tried to force government to adopt the system, sending an order to the Public Printer to use the system in all public documents. The order was obeyed, and among the documents thus printed was the President's special message regarding the Panama Canal. The New York World translated the Thanksgiving Day proclamation:

When nearly three centuries ago, the first settlers came to the country which has become this great republic, that confronted not only hardship and privashun, but terrible risk of their lives. . . . The custom has now become national and hallowed by immemorial usage.

The reform annoyed the public, forcing him to rescind the order. Roosevelt's friend, literary critic Brander Matthews, one of the chief advocates of the reform, remonstrated with him for abandoning the effort. Roosevelt replied on December 16: 'I could not by fighting have kept the new spelling in, and it was evidently worse than useless to go into an undignified contest when I was beaten. Do you know that the one word as to which I thought the new spelling was wrong — thru — was more responsible than anything else for our discomfiture?' Next summer Roosevelt was watching a naval review when a launch marked 'Pres Bot' chugged ostentatiously by. The President waved and laughed with delight."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Watchman

Joe Pike. He's a mono-syllabic Jack Reacher without a sense of humor. Which is funny if you know Reacher.

The Watchman


I deleted the earlier reference so I'll duplicate it here: I've always had a hiccup reading "read" if it's in the past tense and there isn't a contextual clue that it is the past tense.

It seems to me that "redd" would eliminate my problem. Let's try it; maybe we'll start a movement.

Re: King Hack

Although I've only read, er, redd, two of his novels, I've always thought him an artist, at least linguistically. Pure beauty with the language.

Danse Macabre

Bagged it halfway through. For serious students of the genre only I think. I have not read/redd most of the books or seen most of the movies referenced, so was at a distinct disadvantage. Two more points: 1. King's a good writer, and this book shows he's a scholar by any measure of the word. I hate it when he is dismissed as a hack. 2. It's fairly clear to any persistent reader of King's fiction that he's an Unreconstructed Lefty. This non-fiction makes it crystal.

Danse Macabre

Scooter a Racist

I love History of the English-speaking Peoples Since 1900 so far, so I am a white supremacist.

From Jonah Goldberg at The Corner, Johann Hari has written, “Pigmentation—the old basis for dominance—is now discredited, so he [Andrew Roberts] has politely switched to linguistics.”

Or so Hari contends Roberts has advised George W. Bush. I know nothing of the Springbokers so I hope I don't eventually find out I have been duped, but I'll be shocked, shocked I say, if that turns out to be so.

It just couldn't be because we (the pigmentally-challenged) have gotten some things right. I personally prefer the term "The West" but that might take in too many of the EU. Probably too much Tolkien influence.

Mona Charen channels Scooter

"Yesterday, literally before the blood was cold at Virginia Tech, I heard some university official telling the press that they planned to import a phalanx of psychologists and counselors so that the 'healing' could begin. Sorry, but this is unnatural. When something so monstrous happens, you need time for shock, rage, even for numbness. A decent interval is required before you can or frankly should think about 'healing.' The therapeutic instinct, so ingrained in our culture, feels almost indecent."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

"Healing" in Blacksburg

After 9/11 when the late Peter Jennings was hosting a bunch of kids on the following Saturday on an ABC Saturday Morning Special, I made an unfortunate comment to my hostess essentially saying, "What what the heck do we care about what these kids have to say?"

She, rightfully so, shot me lasers. After a bit, I apologized.

The idea that we should already be calling for healing without a period for rage and then mourning strikes me as premature.

Don't know if I can do this without audio...

but for the last several years I've noticed something aurally annoying to yours truly.

The sound made by the letters "tt" in the English language as spoken by Americans, particularly Californians.

There is an ad (for Efax I think) running on the Hewitt show lately that has pushed me over the edge. Generalissimo Duane says, "...and click on the radio 'button' and enter Hugh Hewitt...."

The way he says "button" sounds to me like he is pronouncing, very quickly, both Ts. It sounds like, "but-tin." Again, the two "t" sounds are said very quickly, but it just drives me nuts. Isn't it pronounced "bŭt´n?"

OK, thanks to maybe I can do this audibly.

This is really embarrassing but the first time I noticed it was in the movie Clueless about 10-12 years ago.

What a misanthropic curmudgeon am I.

Re: Babe

Didn't hear the show so I can't comment on the substance but the "Babe" use is almost as annoying as Laura Ingraham's use of the "royal we."

And yes, I've adored Michelle Malkin since about 1998. Her sites are here and here and in the links section to the right of this post--Hot Air. (Warning, she periodically blasts Olbermann.)

Not sure I get the "taken out of context" issue, to me, context is essential. If not in context, how many of my comments could nail me to the tree? Certainly he might have been using the context argument as crutch, but I didn't hear the comments so I don't know.

Tonight he's blasting the Second Amendment.

Another Dennis Miller Update

Found out yesterday that he is on a local station here in Dallas at 8pm. So I thought I would give him a listen. I tuned in around 9:30pm and I lasted all of about 3 minutes, maybe. I don't know who he was talking to, but I could couldn't get past all the "babe" references. I don't have a transcript, so I'm having to do this from memory:

"So, babe, I mean I saw you on Hannity & Colmes the other night and what got you all amped up? I mean, babe, we're just sitting here, taking normally and while I disagree with you in some areas, I feel like we have a connection and I can at least hear what you are trying to get across. The other night, what got you so worked up man, talk to me babe."

But as amazing as that was, the response from his quest was even better. I assume the guest was on H&C along with Michelle Malkin (I have no idea who she is - I'm sure Mike and Scooter do). So as the guest is trying to explain what got him so amped up, Dennis breaks in and this exchange takes place - again, from memory):

Dennis: "I mean, babe, you called her a prostitute - where did that come from? I mean, man, a prostitute?"

Guest: "Yea, I called her that, but you have to understand, I meant it in a political sense. I said it in a political context - I didn't call her a 'real' prostitute, I was calling her a 'political' prostitute."


What I gathered was that the guest didn't explain his context on H&C, nor did he throw in the "real" vs "political" part. He just used the term "prostitute" and everyone just missed his "context".

I just love the whole "taken out of context" arguement that most pundits take when they are called on their comments. I don't even think that Dennis was calling this guy out for what he said, he was just wondering what got him so worked up. But the guest went immediately to the "taken out of context" defense.

By 9:35 I had tuned out. I doubt I'll be tuning back in any time soon, babe.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Beyond the Beltway

I know I'm the only SSJ, er, not "alum," uh, proprietor who lives alone but does anybody besides me listen occasionally to Beyond the Beltway on Sunday evenings? Although some of the guests are beyond the pale, I generally find them to be genuinely "fair and balanced."

I know, I need a life. At least I don't stay up late on Sundays to listen to the godfather of the Political Internet.

English-speaking peoples

We've taken Normandy!