Category Archives: Essays

This is a very boring name for me writing about the stuff that’s on my mind. I strive to make the essays more interesting than the word “essays” and this description.

PAX, WSU, H1N1

CNN is reporting that 2500 students at Washington State University have come down with the H1N1 virus. From the article:

…officials were surprised that the long Labor Day weekend, when most students left campus, did not do more to interrupt the virus’ spread.

Long Labor Day weekend, eh?

Maybe some of these students who left campus went across (EDIT: different towns!) the state to PAX. The Penny-Arcade Expo was also hit with H1N1. I mean, (EDIT!) Washington’s a big place, but it’s no stretch to imagine a few thousand local college students hitting a convention geared towards their demographic, right?

I’m not pointing fingers at anybody here. I’m just drawing connections that the CNN folks really should have already drawn — there was a big event (EDIT!) across the state, and both the University and a crowded convention center make for a fantastic confluence of vectors.

You know what? H1N1 notwithstanding, I still wish I could have made it to PAX this year. But I’m glad I’m not in college anymore.

We have more in common than you think.

In following a friend’s blog I happened across an incident in which two people who had been friends IRL and online for years parted ways less than amicably over discussions of politics.

It got me to thinking: how different are the right and the left, really? And the more I thought about it, the more I came to conclude that any two people in the most politically distant “poles” have far more in common than they think. And I’m not talking about stupid stuff like “they breathe air” or “they like the flavor of cumin.” I’m talking about core values.

Who here does NOT value friendship? What about good health? What about peace of mind?

Who doesn’t enjoy (or long for) happy familial relationships? What about long-term sexual partnership?

What about the freedom to choose? The personal agency to make a considered decision for oneself?

The places where we differ seem to be in our beliefs about how to reach those things we value. And oddly enough, once we focus on implementing our values we conclude that anybody who wants a different implementation than we do must not value the same things we do.

That’s simply not true.

The avowed atheist and the devout christian (to pick a set of polar opposites) know that their beliefs differ regarding those things widely considered unknowable. What they forget is that they cherish and uphold the exact same principles. And so do lots of other polar opposites. And in their attacks on each others’ implementations (of the very same sets of values, don’t forget) they create these massive “logical” arguments which prove beyond any doubt that their opponent is somehow evil, or stupid, or both.

The greatest evils in this world are those which cause good people to hate each other.

Oh no… it’s the INTERNET again!

Apparently the loner/loser who died after allegedly murdering a fellow student in Montreal had a website profile at “vampirefreaks.com” in which he said all kinds of darkly portentious things.

The CNN article ends with this choice paragraph:

AP reported that vampirefreaks.com came up in a murder investigation earlier this year. A 23-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl accusedin a triple murder in Medicine Hat, Alberta, had profiles on the Website.

Okay, let’s think about this for a second and make sure we’ve got the cart in front of the horse… the Internet has a website that caters to those with dark fantasies about death, cursedness, tragedy, and the goth perspective on the mortal condition, eh? And now we learn that some of these people commit suicide and/or murder?

Boy, howdy. Shut that site down NOW. Because people never killed people before they had websites where they could talk about it… did they?

Oh, wait. In 1989 there was a different shooting in Montreal in which 14 people were killed. That was pre-World-Wide-Web, for those of you keeping score at home.

There is no changing the fact that some people are twisted enough to act upon their mental instabilities in violent ways. Whether these people twisted themselves through substance abuse, or otherwise re-wired their pleasure centers so they can get off on the pain of others, it’s not the internet’s fault. I will concede that some of these people recruit, and they twist each other by goading each other into more and more depraved lines of thought, but don’t go trying to lay all the blame in one place. Had Kimveer Gill not had internet access, we’d probably be blaming his musical choices, the video games he played, or the trashy vampire novels he dogears. None of these things enable mass murder without the help of a sick and twisted person.

You cannot blame the bottom of the barrel for the things that sink to it.

Speaking of “enabled,” kudos to the police officers on the scene. It seems they were there on an unrelated call, observed suspcious behavior (gunman on campus? Shots fired? Hmmmm…) and engaged the suspect effectively and permanently.