Saturday, February 24, 2007

My crappy night

As I'm sure most of my friends already know, I got robbed last night on my way to Bound. I was walking in the area around the Navy Yard Metro, looking for those elusive things in DC known as taxis, and someone came up behind me and grabbed my purse. I tried to pull it back, but he yanked it away and I fell. There was a gas station nearby, and I called the cops there. I'm not expecting anything, but they did give me money for the Metro ride home. I spent the night at my parents' house, since my house key was in my purse. I didn't even care about the money, but all the damage control was such a hassle. I had to get my lock changed today, stop my credit card and ATM card, and tomorrow I'm getting a new cell phone. I didn't get hurt, and it could have been a lot worse, but I'm still a bit shaken up by the whole thing, and I don't know when I'll feel ready to go out again. Hopefully I'll be out for St. Patrick's Day in a few weeks. I love St. Patty's Day.
I love going to Bound, but it's so hard to get to the new venue without a car. I've always been fine going out on my own, but now I know firsthand what bad things can happen, and I don't know if I'll be comfortable going out alone again. I've always done things on my own, and I hate the idea that I need to be with someone just to be safe. I have great friends, and some of them have offered to come to the club with me. Now I just need to get my new cell phone to contact all of you.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Utah mall shooter update

The Utah mall gunman now has a name. He was an 18-year-old Bosnian immigrant, but beyond that, all that's known about him is that he lived in Salt Lake City with his mother. His aunt said he was "such a good boy." How many times have we heard that before? They're all "good boys" until they pull the trigger. Just ask the relatives of former Eagle Scout and newlywed Charles Whitman (of the bell tower in Texas). Like Whitman, the motives for the Utah shooter's spree are unknown and, with the shooter dead, we may never know. All investigators can do is piece together facets of the shooter's life immediately before his rampage, as Texas officials attempted to do with Whitman. Since no one appeared to know anything about the shooter, he may have been a loner and, like many mass murderers, felt a need to exact revenge on the world he thought had ignored him until he ended his own life. Whitman's autopsy revealed a tumor in his frontal lobe, which may have influenced his behavior. There's no word yet on what, if anything, has been found in the Utah gunman's background that might have served as a trigger for his rampage. But you can expect me to keep an eye on this story, as I have with JonBenet Ramsey/John Mark Karr, the Amish school shooter and the Ipswich Ripper in the past.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Shooting spree in Utah mall

No information has yet been released about the shooter, who went into a Utah mall and killed four people with a shotgun, except that he was 18 years old. From the information provided in the article, the shooter looks like a typical mass murderer; the random victims, the public setting, the shootout with police that ended in the killer's death. One witness said that the killer looked like a "regular Joe," a sentiment that is so often heard about the perpetrators of violent crimes. With so little information about the shooter, I can't offer any insight into his motives, but, if he's like most mass murderers, as he appears to be, he lived his life as a nonentity, or had a series of escalating disappointments in his life until he snapped. The mass murderer's ultimate mission is often suicide, with the desire for one final act of revenge on the world the killer feels has wronged him.
On a completely different topic, I had an amazing night at Entre Nous' Valentine's Day Ball last Saturday. A great performance by belly dancer Yasmina, followed by two hot women as a human buffet. I got to see some good friends and a few new faces, and said a final goodbye to Rosie and Moses, who are moving to Arizona. But, as I often do, I got a bit depressed. It was a Valentine's Day celebration, and as much fun as I had at the ball, I got depressed over the lack of love in my life. Again. Sometimes when I go out, it seems that everyone is paired off except me, so often the third or fifth wheel. The guys I want are always with someone else, and the only guys who want me are total losers. Who among the lovelorn doesn't get a bit depressed around Valentine's Day?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Interview with a great writer,8599,1585914,00.html

Time magazine has interviewed Martin Amis, one of the world's greatest living writers. It says he's currently in Philadelphia on a book tour. I hope he comes to DC soon, if he hasn't already and I missed him. His book London Fields is one of the best I've ever read, and his latest sounds interesting, a period piece about Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. In talking about it, he comments that if he goes to Russia, he might be poisoned, as has been the standard for perceived enemies in Putin's Russia.
His novel Money was highly critical of the cult of greed that arose in America and England in the 1980s, and in this interview, he wonders why so many Americans can't bring themselves to say that the radical Islamic fundamentalists are wrong. I agree that this violent fundamentalism is dangerous, and those responsible should pay the consequences. But at the same time, the US government should be able to do this without relying on torture and unjustified wars. I'm still waiting for proof of the link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. As I've said before, it's odd that American evangelicals and radical Islamists hate each other so much, just because they call their gods by a different name. Both factions hate gays, women and sex, and want to make religious law the law of the land. A comment I read on an online forum said that Christian fundamentalists have a "penis envy" of Islam fundamentalists, and this commenter is probably right. These radical terrorists who hate America have beaten radical American Christians at their own prudish and prejudiced game. The Islamists, in many parts of the Arab world, have actually succeeded in making their religious superstitions the law. If more American leaders keep invoking the name of God at every opportunity, give federal funding to "faith-based" charities that discriminate on the basis of religion and let American Taliban groups like the Christian Coalition continue to exert influence over them, we could end up with a Christian theocracy to rival the Islam theocracy of Iran in oppression and fear of God, if we godless liberals (and conservatives, libertarians, etc.) don't fight back. Even now, on the DC Metro, I am faced with posters advertising "A Second Look," an anti-abortion group. That a service used by people all over the city is blatantly advertising this is a frightening sign. To bring it back to Martin Amis, after this tangent, he once said that religion is "the desire for approval from supernatural beings." Outside the indoctrination of faith that many of us have had instilled in us from childhood, having been taught that religious teachings are sacred, the whole idea of religion (magical ghosts in the sky, miracles, angels and demons) is ridiculous.
On the subject of religious nutcases, I heard that Ted Haggard, the evangelical preacher caught soliciting sex from a male prostitute, has just completed a "gay rehab" program. He's no longer gay, according to the evangelical council. If only there was a rehab program to stop him from being a theocratic asshole, but I doubt his church would sponsor that.

Monday, February 05, 2007

New potential evidence in Atlanta Child Murders case

25 years ago, Wayne Williams was convicted of the infamous Child Murders, despite being believed innocent by many. New DNA testing might reveal that an innocent man has been in prison for 25 years.
The evidence originally presented by the prosecution was hardly airtight. Williams' car was seen speeding away from the dump site of the last victim, who, at 27, was older than the rest of the victims (but was mentally handicapped). The rest of the evidence was based on fibers found on the victims and in Williams' house, and hair found on the victims that supposedly matched Williams' dog. But as the article says, this science was new at that time, and the fibers linking Williams to the victims were common carpet fibers. The DNA evidence was mitochondrial, which is not as exact as most DNA testing.
Even in 1982, some people in Atlanta and around the country questioned Williams' guilt, calling the evidence inconclusive at best. One crime writer I read a while back believes that there was more than one killer in Atlanta at the time, and based on the variety of victims and MOs in the loosely linked cases, I have to agree. Roy Hazelwood, a former FBI profiler who consulted on the case, was positive that the killer was black because a white person would have been easily noticed in the black-populated area of Atlanta where the victims were abducted. That didn't stop the theories circulating that the KKK was responsible for the killings.
While there was evidence linking Williams to the last victim, and he was only officially tried for two murders, he was considered the Atlanta Child Murderer. As with Michael Devlin, the Missouri kidnapper, authorities tried to link Williams to all similar cases. When Bruno Hauptmann was arrested as the kidnapper of the Lindbergh baby, it was assumed that he acted alone, and was subsequently executed for the crime. But recently, far too late, evidence has come out that at the very least casts doubt on Hauptmann's exclusive involvement. Charles Lindbergh was not the most cooperative witness, and as a result many potential suspects might not have been discovered. Another former FBI profiler, John Douglas, believes that while Hauptmann likely had something to do with the kidnapping, it was highly unlikely that he acted alone. For instance, when the baby was carried down the ladder, the evidence indicated that two people were involved, one to enter the room and hand the baby off to the other, who was waiting on the ladder. While Douglas is still a strong supporter of capital punishment, the list of potentially innocent inmates either on death row, serving life sentences or already executed should be enough to make one question the ethics of this penalty.
A final unrelated note: I was looking at one of my old posts, where I referred to a short story by Albert Camus. I listed the title as "The Missionary," but the real title, found in Camus' short story collection Exile and the Kingdom, is "The Renegade." Still, it is definitely worth reading, one of Camus' best pieces of writing.