Thursday, April 19, 2007

Could the Zodiac Killer be Nearing Apprehension?

Could it be that the Zodiac Killer has finally been identified? There is a new suspect, who came to light following the recent discovery of a previously unknown post card. The clues in the message have led investigators to a man fitting the Zodiac in dozens of ways. Could the case be about to break after nearly 40 years? See the details as they happen on the website linked above.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

On the Virginia Tech Shootings, Reluctantly

The shootings at Virginia Tech this week were a horrific example of the depths to which a damaged soul can sink.

This young man (I won't use his name because he deserves no remembrance) had given signs for years that there was something amiss. Reading his 'plays' quickly conveys his deranged mind - and though kids often write about murder and suicide, this writing is easily distinguished from ordinary dark thoughts. I can see why the students didn't want to be in class with him, and why professors sought some way to deal with him. On a personal and individual level, one wishes that he had been helped or sequestered long before he committed these terrible attacks.

It is often impossible for our society and systems to do so, both because of the limitations of both, and because of the presumed liberties to which Americans (and resident aliens) are entitled. The right to privacy, the right to freedom from imprisonment, the right to free expression all conspired with the limitations of our systems and society to keep this killer at large in society. Until a person is a danger to them self or others, we cannot compel them to accept treatment. Until a person has committed a criminal act, we cannot detain them or require treatment. Often, even when they have committed violent acts, they will not receive treatment.

In this case, when the time bomb detonated, it was catastrophic in the number killed and wounded. It was different in the number of dead and wounded, but not in kind, from the many murders of smaller numbers or of individuals, that take place every week. There was a case of murder-suicide recently at the University of Washington. There had been a romantic link in that case, but the outcome was the same: a disturbed and violent man broke with reality and killed another person and himself for reasons only he will ever know. I suspect that the same will be true in this case too. We'll never know why the killer murdered and maimed, and it seems to me that we will never really be able to prevent such acts altogether. The means of violence may vary - driving a car on a crowded sidewalk, a gun, a bomb, a sword - all of which were used last year by people similar to the shooter at Virginia Tech.

It is a natural thing to want to find answers and 'make sure it doesn't happen again', and I hear a lot of people discussing just those topics in the media and at the coffee shop. But the truth is that unless we can change our system and society enough to identify and help or isolate people such as this prior to their breaking point, these violent acts will continue to happen.

Misanthropes kill others and kill themselves because at the root of it all, they hate people, they hate what it is to be human. And that hatred can only lead to murder-suicide. Because they are persons, and therefore hated themselves. And they cannot escape themselves.

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About me

I am 47, married with kids. I love history, literature, crime fiction and non-fiction, psychology, philosophy, music. I enjoy good conversation and chasing new information on a new topic of interest. My best friends are the people I grew up with, though I have made friends along the way. I love to spend time -any time - with my kids, as well as reading, writing, movies. I like sports, too, though advanced arthritis has made me more of a spectator than participant. I am an executive, with experience in consulting, manufacturing, technology, marketing and operations. My extended family is a source of happiness and encouragement. I am a lucky guy, not least because I understand so.

Sunshine on Discovery Bay

Sunshine on Discovery Bay
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