Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

How strange is it that this pin is not made from recycled materials?
We're planting trees today. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Twitter Suicide Posts

On April 10th, a Twitter user began "unfollowing" everyone and deleting all of his tweets (posts) except for these tweets that he made that evening:

1) Have you ever been driving a car and suddenly realize you have no idea where you are or how you got there? My life is like that.

2) April showers bring May flowers. I was foolish to wait. If only I had showered her with April flowers things may have gone differently.

3) Dear Holy Trinity, If you are omniscient then Jesus committed suicide. So can people who commit suicide go to heaven?I’m asking for me

4) Of all the lives I've lived, I'll miss this one the most.

The imagery on the profile, including a leafless tree used as an avatar, pointed to an ominous conclusion. The user ceased all public communication after that. For hours, much of the Twitter community was deeply concerned about the well-being of this person. Many of us contacted everyone we could to try to find this user and check on his safety. Another twitter user, who appears to be his wife was located. Eventually, she responded that everything was alright and placed the blame for the incident on her husband's theatrics. To her credit, she thanked the community for their concern. He had decided to leave Twitter and created this stunt as a parting gift.

Many users were involved in trying to help this person and they should know that they have demonstrated a great deal of character in their actions. They should remember that people who show signs, such as these, of needing help must get it quickly.

Some have deleted the history of their communication from that day. I assume that they prefer to move on. This is understandable, but moving on is not forgetting. I know that some others were directly involved in the “joke” or in the promotion of it and simply found it easier to erase the record of their actions, but posted retweets of users congratulating them on their prank.

I have since learned that this is not an isolated incident and that suicide has been threatened via tweets before, but the callous disregard for the consequences in this case seems to be unique. A lesson to be taken from this is that you can't always take Twitter seriously. This is a lesson that we have learned about the rest of the internet already, and is part of what makes Twitter entertaining. The danger is that many may be taken in by lies disguised as the truth, or come to doubt everything.

I know that my family's experience with suicide makes this more important to me than it may be to someone else. My concern is that, because of this incident, someday someone who is truly in need of help will not be taken seriously.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Revising Theatrical History

I remember it vividly. I was standing on the edge of my toilet hanging a clock, the porcelain was wet, so I slipped, fell, hit my head on the sink, and when I came to... I had a vision! A revelation! A picture in my head! A picture of this... The Y-Chromosome night-light!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Tortured Analogy

Here's another way of looking at the hypothetical torture fallacy.

Quick! There's a fire on your stove. You are certain that the only way to keep your house from burning down is to throw gas on the fire.

Are you nuts?

Somalian Piracy, Captain Phillips and the Politics of Crisis

My thoughts and well wishes are with Captain Phillips of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama and his family. Phillips was taken hostage yesterday during an attempt to pirate the vessel that was thwarted by the crew. I find it disheartening that people are so quick to label the president's restraint in commenting as inaction. This comes even as the events are still unfolding. The navy is working to resolve the matter. I am grateful for their efforts and appreciate that they are bringing in law enforcement expertise from the FBI as this is a criminal matter. The administration, in refraining from comment may actually be aiding the navy's efforts.

To be fair, secrecy has not always served us well in the past, but neither has a rush to action from the White House. Both of these strategies were defended in the past by some of the same pundits who now raise objections. This is an ongoing issue that will hopefully be the recipient of more informed awareness as it strikes closer to home. This site offers some historical perspective in the form of a timeline of Somalian piracy since November of 2006:

This is nearing a conclusion, one way or another. As the pirate's lifeboat runs out of gas, maybe the wind will go out of the critics' sails. I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Yet Another Email That Deserves to Die

About a week ago, my aunt asked for my view of this email which has been floating around in various forms for awhile. I wrote this response and have since been pointed to other responses that could be subject to the very same criticisms I voiced. It may be viewed as a waste of time to treat these rants seriously, but it felt good to ignore the obvious dishonest and baiting aspects and to treat this as a literary exercise, however verbose it may be.

My opinion is not of consequence in relation to this email. The color grey cannot be described to someone who only sees black and white as the author of this divisive rant appears to be. Maybe, red, blue and purple are more accurate metaphors. If there is a person who feels exactly as the person he describes, and I am not sure there is, I don't know if they would be capable of taking offense. Otherwise, this painting of "everyone but me" as a ridiculously out of touch extremist only serves to make the author and the like-minded reader feel superior.
My straightforward critique is that this email is far too didactic to be considered as effective rhetoric for all but a select few, although some mighty big historical aberrations have occurred as a result of words that were much less inflammatory. To be fair, if the intended effect is absurdist hyperbole, this is quite successful and could be viewed as humorous or laughable.

That's my view as requested,


Xenophobia on the Rise?

Lou Dobbs, uptick in nativism groups, "evil alien horde" movies and increasing anti-hispanic hate crimes. Are the current economic and political conditions making xenophobia worse, or am I overanalyzing?