Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"A Troubling Thought"

Rod Dreher says, more eloquently, some of the things I was trying to say last week.

"It's Not Just Pet Food"

Another reason to eat less processed food: ingredients from China that go into much of our processed food and vitamins aren't well-regulated, and likely contain heavy metals and other harmful substances.

Oh, yay. Well, given my allergies, I don't eat a lot of processed foods anyway, but I do take vitamins. Think I'd better start looking at where those vitamins come from.

Monday, April 23, 2007


A friend recently started treatment (radiation, chemo) for cancer. She shaved her head preemptively, and is refusing to wear "cute" chemo hats etc., opting instead for a baseball cap. Her SO says she looks better bald than Britney (which wouldn't take much, frankly).

I ordered her a tshirt with the radiation symbol on it. I think it'll suit her twisted sense of humor.

Heck, what else can you do in the face of Death but flip him the finger?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Vortex, 2

Ok, this kid, Cho, was beyond the edge -- he'd been living IN the Vortex for a long time, and the system failed to help him or prevent him from hurting others.

It's apparently very difficult in Virginia to get someone psychiatric treatment if they're delusional and refuse treatment. That needs to change. The kid who shot up the police station in Chantilly is another case in point, and there were a number of articles and essays in the Post about how hard it is for the parents of mentally ill kids to get their kids proper treatment; the kids wind up being a danger to themselves and others. This is the latest instance.

The law used to make it possible to commit people who were not mentally ill, which was wrong. But now it's gone too far in the opposite direction. I hope the state of VA takes a serious look at this.

The rant he mailed to NBC is interesting. He targets rich kids and our consumerist culture. That certainly doesn't justify his actions, but it's clear that alienation and bullying aggravated whatever else might have been wrong with his brain.

The opposite of alienation is connectedness/community. He was uprooted at a young age (8) and thrown into a completely alien environment. That's a difficult experience even for kids who don't have mental health issues. Some come through it (Cho has a brother who is, by all accounts, highly successful), but in this instance, maybe it pushed a fragile child further toward being broken.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Vortex

Re: the VT shooting --

So all the chirpy media types are going on about "how could this happen?" I want to smack them upside the head and say, "Fuckin' DUH". Another poor kid was teetering on the brink of the abyss of rage, alienation and despair, and fell in. It was suicide. Only he decided to take other students with him, which is the difference between him and, say, a random student who might have hung himself or taken pills. You never hear about those kids on the national news, because they go quietly. This one decided to go with a splash.

From "Dark Matter: The Psychology Of Mass Murder" in today's Post:
"They're not looking for highs -- they're depressed, angry and humiliated. They tend to be rejected in some romantic relationship, or are sexually incompetent, are paranoid, and their resentment builds. They develop shooting fantasies for months or years, stockpiling dreams and ammunition. The event that finally sets them off, Welner says, is usually anticlimactic -- an argument, a small personal loss that magnifies a sense of catastrophic failure.

"But they don't 'snap,' as you so often hear people say," Welner says. "It's more like a hinge swings open, and all this anger comes out."

They plan everything about the killings, he says, except how to get away.

"It's about suicide," Welner says. "It's about tying one's masculinity to destruction."

It's also rare for them to be truly psychotic, he says."
So. Alienation, disconnection, frustration, rage. Modern dis-eases, sicknesses of the soul.

Most of us dance around the vortex. Many of us develop ways to cope. Some don't. The difference between the shooter and the rest of us isn't that big. Or maybe the difference is that we're hanging on to hope with our fingernails. Dostoyevski's little oak leaves in the spring, the damned dandelions popping up their optimistic yellow heads despite death, destruction and Roundup. You just have to keep going.

April is the Cruellest Month


APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ich bin ein curmudgeon

People suck. In particular, I've been dealing with two people -- one is a friend, one a complete stranger -- who attacked me for doing things they thought were wrong. In the first instance, the friend is a known "sea lawyer" (i.e., someone with no legal background who gets into arguments on subjects he knows nothing about), and he tried to tell me I was "price fixing" when I was simply negotiating my wholesale price with someone who wanted me to make an item for his shop (it's not price fixing if you aren't the sole supplier, and I'm not). In the second instance, I was attacked by someone (and yes, I mean attacked -- you should see the emails) out of the blue for posting something on my website that I have full permission from the author to post. The attacker now owns the item in question, having bought it from the author, and thinks she owns all the intellectual property pertaining to that item as well. Which is ridiculous.


You know, being an author (even of a relatively obscure book) can be a real pain in the ass. I have no delusions of grandeur about this book. It's netted me a few thousand dollars, which has paid for my garden beds and some plants and otherwise paid off some bills. It's been a modest success in the hobby. But I still have to go to work every day to pay the bills, and I still put my socks on one foot at a time. I don't like the kind of fawning adulation I get from some people; any competent writer participating in the hobby could have written the book. It's not that big a deal. Worse yet are the few people I run into who think they have to score points off me by proving me wrong in an argument. That's just dumb, and ugly.

All this has put me off writing any more books. I really should write #2, and get it published, but there you are.

I can only imagine what a huge pain it would be if one were a truly famous person. Makes you understand some of the famously reclusive authors. At least I have the option of switching hobbies and being completely unknown again.