communication from the dead

Well, thanks to mdxi’s mirror, I’ve just read the letter left behind by the man who shot his professors in Arizona.

mdxi: “chilling” is an over-used but apt word

He’s right. On one hand, it’s lucid without the edgy calm we like to associate with our killers. On the other, despite his story, there’s nothing that suggests that his actions could have any meaning. What I wonder is, why can’t the depressed be helped before they come to feel feel beyond help? There are so many people in the world, now, but we’re more and more alone. It sounds like a sentimentalist cliché, I guess, but it’s true. How much do we know about our neighbors, anymore? Or about other people we see every day? Why do we know more about how celebrity couples met than about our coworkers?

If he’s to be believed, his instructors were the kind of bureaucrats we’ve come to expect in education. They were concerned with following procedure and enjoying positions of power without actually contributing to the excellence of society. Maybe Flores’ perception was twisted, but it’s an easy one to believe. had an article on the letter.

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Note the advertizement in the top right?

Now, I won’t get into some kind of tirade stating that this is directed marketing gone mad. It’s probably just coincidence, or an unfortunate keyword match. Still, it got me thinking: why is so much of our source for news covered in advertizements? I don’t mean to suggest that we need to have an entirely ad-free media; that’s crazy talk. Why, though, has the line between information and entertainment become so blurry? World news has become coverage of recent scandals and tragedies. Local news is for human interest and traffic reports. Why don’t news programs educate us about the ways in which our world is changing?

I suppose that, if we view them as benchmarks to our world, we can see how it is changing: it’s getting worse.

I’m addressing you.
Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time Magazine?
I’m obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.

I don’t know what’s wrong with this place! Is this what the First World is about, now? Is there another World left that still has culture?

These are the things I’ve been thinking about as I prepare to plummet into Nanowrimo. Why do we keep killing each other and ourselves? “The Christian Party” says it’s because we banned school prayer. I’m not kidding.

  • Since the US Supreme Court banned school prayer in 1963, the extraordinary high suicide rate of American men killed an additional 715,000 of them.
  • Banning school prayer also caused an additional 550,000 homicides.

Despite this, it looks like the suicide rate has been steady for some fifty years. The murder rate is down, too.

So, why are getting these kinds of killings? I don’t get it.

Written on October 30, 2002