Friday, December 19, 2008

Walsh murder "solved"

Before getting into the main part of today's post, I had to comment on the disgraced governor of Illinois (I will not attempt to spell his name without it written in front of me). He vows to "keep fighting." You were caught on tape threatening to rescind donations to a hospital over campaign contributions and trying to sell President-elect Obama's abandoned Senate seat. It's over. No one in the media or political sphere is offering any words of defense for your actions. Again, it's over. You're on your way out of office and, if there's any justice, into prison.;_ylt=AoF3Yyq2A2UQQ6UaRy1GLStbIwgF

Hollywood, Florida police have declared the 27-year-old murder of young Adam Walsh "closed," officially linking it to Ottis Toole, the now-deceased former partner of Henry Lee Lucas. Walsh's father John, the sometimes annoyingly indignant host of America's Most Wanted, has trumpeted for years that Toole committed the crime. Toole, like Lucas, confessed to hundreds of murders, only to recant his confessions or be proven wrong by forensic evidence. Speaking of evidence, the police have not mentioned the type of evidence they have against Toole in the Walsh case, which leads to some skepticism on my part. John Walsh has been extremely insistent that Toole murdered his son, based on clothing "similar" to Adam's found among Toole's possessions and Toole's numerous confessions, later retracted. Toole's niece has also reportedly said that her uncle confessed to the Walsh murder on his deathbed. I understand that sometimes police feel pressure to close a high-profile case, especially with such a publicly grieving father all over the media. But the lack of concrete evidence, or evidence of evidence in the police's silence, and Toole's reputation as a self-aggrandizing liar, say to me that Adam Walsh's murderer could either be dead and not known as a child-killer, or is alive and still among us. Ottis Toole may have killed Adam Walsh, but maybe he didn't. As in the case of JonBenet Ramsay, the tunnel vision that some investigators get in focusing on one suspect can block out clues that could lead to the real perpetrator.

The holidays are upon us yet again, and those of you that survive, I wish you all the best for the new year.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Remembering the victims of Jim Jones

I haven't posted in a long time, because my computer's a piece of shit and I've been so depressed by my busy schedule and my pain in the ass coworkers, but I heard a couple weeks ago that it was the 30th anniversary of the mass suicide at Jonestown. Jonestown was the creation of cult leader Jim Jones, preying on the young and idealistic as disciples for his "church," the People's Temple. When the San Francisco press and city officials started sniffing around Jones' financial and other misdeeds, he moved his followers to Guyana to start a pseudo-utopian community he called Jonestown. After a congressman went to investigate the community, where he and his aides were shot and killed by Jones' loyal soldiers, Jones, his cancerous ego bruised, ordered his followers to drink tainted Kool-Aid. Almost one thousand died that day, following the orders of a cold, calculating egomaniac. That's the saddest part about the whole tragedy. Jim Jones preferred to kill his loyal followers than be found out by the authorities. He ended the slaughter by shooting himself, like so many madmen before him.
As one former People's Temple member said in a documentary about Jonestown, "No one purposely joins a cult." It's a common misconception that the victims of cults somehow deserved it for being stupid enough to join in the first place. But the members of the People's Temple were like anyone else, searching for a belief system and a place to belong. Unfortunately, in their case, they were lured in by the manipulations of a man who didn't care about them or their well-being, only the power he could wield over them. Cults can overtake anyone. We've all had our moments of self-doubt and desperation. Manipulative cult leaders sniff these things out like bloodhounds, and then move in for the kill. Witnesses who miraculously escaped the mass poisoning at Jonestown relate stories of parents forcing the Kool-Aid down their children's throats. These were otherwise decent human beings, under the dangerous spell of a man they thought cared about their best interest, but was only interested in preserving his sense of power. He killed himself after his followers, most likely not out of remorse, but because his ego was so swollen that he saw his followers as extensions of himself, and had to die with him. This dark moment in our history has a valuable lesson in it: blind faith is not the virtue religious types want us to believe it is. It could kill us.
I haven't posted since October, and I had an amazing Halloween. I was a zombie in Todd's haunted house, jumping out of the shadows and screaming at passersby. Then at the parties, Anthony and I were Bonnie and Clyde. In the second week of November, Anthony and I celebrated our first anniversary. One year is a huge record in my very disappointing history of relationships, and at least I have one good thing in my life right now. And he's in Kansas City for Thanksgiving, while I'm stuck here with my family waiting for him to come back on Sunday.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Illogical affection

On an Asperger's Syndrome message board, someone recently posted about the problem that he called "illogical affection." He was referring to feelings that people with AS can develop toward others who may not be true friends, but are just being polite and socially friendly. The problem we face is that we usually can't tell the difference. I know that, for a while, I became so closed off to any sign of affection that I was totally alone, because I had just learned that not everyone who was nice to my face was really my friend. It's still something I struggle with. For a long time I latched onto any guy I liked who showed a bit of interest, and, even when he made it clear that he just wanted a casual relationship, if I liked him and he gave me an indication that he also liked me, I got very attached very fast. It took a long period of reflection for me to realize that, not only did these guys not want to be with me in the long term, I probably wouldn't have liked them at all if my head hadn't been sent in a haze at the first show of affection. But now that I have Anthony, I don't worry about that as much anymore. However, since I still can't always tell who's being genuinely nice and who's just being polite, and what guys are just trying to get my pants off (although that one can be painfully obvious), it's still hard for me to trust people. It's so easy for me to get swept up by someone being friendly, after years of being alone and an inability to understand social cues, that I don't always recognize who is a true friend and who might be talking about me behind my back. Of course, as a result, middle school and high school, where false friendship and backstabbing are common practices, were when I fell into my deepest depressions and developed a severe mistrust of others that bordered on paranoia. Luckily, due to some good recent experiences, my social barrier is starting to fall down.
In other social craziness news, Rapture got shut down by the cops last night. One of the officers told us that it wasn't because of our activities, but because of regulations for residential areas. In my conspiratorial mind, I tend to think that one of the more squeamish neighbors got wind of what was going on (or has an overactive imagination) and called in with a bogus complaint. Because we've never had anything like this happen before. But I'm not about to go all Timothy McVeigh and start bombing government buildings because I feel this is an infringement of my privacy, though it does seem a bit silly. And it didn't help that one idiot at the party was following an officer around, asking questions. Like that wouldn't make things worse. But all in all, it wasn't too bad. No one got arrested, we weren't rushed out of the building, and only the owner of the property will be charged. The lead officer joked that he and the other cops were just "hired muscle" and that, if he took out his handcuffs, he'd be there all night. At least now I can say that I was at a party that got busted by the cops.
With Halloween coming up, very few things can dampen my spirits. Still, I don't know what my costume will be yet. And with Anthony accompanying me to the Halloween festivities, I need a costume that will include him. Bound will be having their annual Hell Ball on Halloween night, with a haunted fun house beforehand. I hope I can make it to both, but I will be at Bound that night to see all the crazy outfits, including Maverick's Charles Manson costume. Halloween: the greatest time of the year.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Nick Cave, the once and future king

Despite my financial troubles and career identity crisis, one part of my life is now complete: I have seen Nick Cave live. Now in his fifties (older than my father), Cave is better than ever. The tracks from his latest album, including the epic title track "Dig Lazarus Dig," were performed at high energy by Cave and the Bad Seeds at the 9:30 Club on Monday. The opening band, whose name I didn't catch, was decent, a melodic and 60s garage rock-influenced version of Cave's early band The Birthday Party (at least that's what I thought), but the audience came to see a legend, and he didn't disappoint. The live performance of "The Mercy Seat," which I was anticipating all night, was almost too intense to bear. Cave's baritone voice is as strong as ever, on classics like "Your Funeral My Trial" and "The Weeping Song" and newer tracks. On "God is in the House," while not one of my favorites, Cave told his audience of the importance of one line, "Moral sneaks in the White House," and asked the crowd, "What do you want to hear?" The show closed with a hard-rocking rendition of "Stagger Lee," a sick update of a traditional song, from "Murder Ballads." A brilliant songwriter as well as a charismatic performer, Nick Cave will always be the king of my music collection and of the dark music scene.
I saw a headline on Yahoo News for a video of Vladimir Putin doing judo (I think that's what it said). Apparently the "Prime Minister" of Russia is a black belt. Like the world needed another reason to be afraid of him.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another school shooting in Finland;_ylt=Ak8Zq5uYyuympZKlE.xUDAZ0bBAF

The Scandinavian country suffered another attack on a school from a lone gunman. Both shooters posted videos on YouTube, both were obsessed with Columbine, and both ended their rampages by shooting themselves in the head. The last detail is a common occurrance in mass murders, and the Virginia Tech shooter shared these traits, although he sent his video to NBC News instead of posting it on YouTube. Finland officials are unsure if the latest attacker had a history of mental illness, but the shooter in the 2007 massacre had been treated for depression.
Finland has the second highest teen suicide rate in the European Union (behind Lithuania), and alcoholism is rampant. It is also one of the few European nations where civilian gun ownership rivals that of the US, although the recent shootings have caused some lawmakers to reexamine their gun policies. After the 2007 shooting, the goverment pledged to raise the legal age for buying a gun from 15 to 18, but never did. A 15-year-old in Finland can legally buy a gun. That doesn't seem right, but I'm sure rural Finns, as well as rural and Republican Americans, would disagree. The Finnish tradition of hunting is sure to be a spoke in the wheel of joining the rest of the EU in tighter gun control. Still, guns are not the only problem here. Compared to the US and the rest of Europe, Finland still has a relatively low violent crime rate. Maybe it's because Finland is an empty, cold country, but why is the teen suicide rate so high? As I've said before, mass murders are essentially suicides with a higher body count, and the two students who turned their rage on the schools were two more teen suicides in Finland, with innocent victims.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sinclair Lewis: forgotten prophet

Before I get to the main body of today's post, some quick comments on the big political news. If I was the paranoid type, I'd think that John McCain's out of left field VP nominee, female Alaska governor Palin, was a ploy to bring disenfranchised Clinton supporters over to the Republicans. But, knowing almost nothing about Palin, I really can't comment at this time. Another note about McCain: I know he's a war hero, but does that mean he can run a country? He's a popular Republican senator, but it seems everything I read about him mentions his military service and little else. I don't want to diminish how much he and many other soldiers suffered in Vietnam, but a war hero does not necessarily make an effective political leader. That was the point of Beowulf. Also, having fought in a futile war, shouldn't McCain know another futile war effort when he sees one? Yet he continues to justify the mess that is Iraq. Onto Obama/Biden. While I wish the two names were reversed, and still think that Obama should have waited and gotten more experience before running for President, I think the two will balance each other out, with Biden's solid Washington experience and foreign policy knowledge will counter Obama's freshness in the political arena. Also, I hope that Biden will prove a sobering influence on the optimistic but often hollow rhetoric of Obama.
Speaking of American politics, the book I'm currently reading, It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, describes an alternate dystopian history where, in the wake of the Great Depression, America elects a president who becomes a fascist dictator, stomping on free speech, the rights of women and minorities (with particularly venemous rhetoric toward Jews), and the checks and balances system. The major tenet of this fictional president's platform is taking power away from Congress and giving it to the Executive branch. His other platform promises economic security to millions of impoverished citizens, which fails to materialize. Instead, he sends unemployed citizens to labor camps. Doremus Jessup, the book's protagonist, is imprisoned for publishing a disparaging editorial against the regime. Even the Fox News crowd could appreciate this book, because President Windrip is a Democrat who starts out offering support to labor unions and the poor, and the Republican candidate who runs against him is an honest, upstanding politician (an oxymoron, I know). But, as Jessup concludes, the promised government aid to the poor is just a way for Windrip to gain more solitary power over the American people, and he instead gives the money he promised for economic aid to the big businesses that supported his campaign. Colleges in Windrip's America become little more than military training grounds, full of young men whose only aim is to prove how tough they are. Academics become marked men, and women. Christianity becomes the country's official religion, with the expression of any other faith grounds for imprisonment. Women are gradually driven out of the workplace, forced to assume what Windrip considers their "natural" function, as wives and mothers. In terms of artistry, this is hardly one of Lewis' better works, but the America it describes, its anti-intellectualism, politicans saying one thing then doing another upon election, the strangely reversible process of women and minorities gaining then losing rights, the urge to prove its dominance on the world stage, is still resonant today. Jessup, examining American war efforts, reflects on the Phillipines, which he recalls as a war to help a society that didn't want America's help. That sounds all too familiar. The gradual, unnoticed slide into fascism makes me think of something I once heard. A frog, when thrown into a pot of boiling water, will immediately leap out, but, if placed in a pot of warm or cool water, will allow itself to be boiled alive if the temperature is gradually increased. That's why all fascist governments, from Hitler to Stalin to Mugabe, start out slow, gain the trust of the citizens, tell them exactly what they want to hear, then, one by one, taking away their rights, coating it in justification that the citizens often believe. I can't say for certain if things will improve when Bush leaves office, no matter who takes his place, but after the Patriot Act, the shift of power from Congress to the President, and the tragedy of Iraq, are we being boiled alive?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Solzhenitsyn's comments on violence

Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, recently deceased Russian writer and thorn in Stalin's oversized paw, once said, "How can a man who is warm understand a man who is cold?" This is exactly why so many so-called examinations of the criminal mind fall short. Most members of the human race feel some level of empathy toward others, in varying degrees from person to person. But a murderer, serial killer or any other violent criminal does not. Like Dexter Morgan, protagonist of the greatest TV show in history (and I have learned that Season 2 will be out on DVD this Tuesday), says about himself, they feel nothing. Like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, they're not "fully there." Bateman is conscious that he's putting on an act in his daily life, and the shallowness of his personality just happens to go unnoticed in 1980s era Wall Street. The question is, visible in the film but lost in the book among Brett Easton Ellis' heavy-handed writing style, is whether Bateman was driven to violence in the course of his empty materialistic life as a primal escape, or if he was born or made in childhood into a monster, and he found the shallow world of Wall Street an inconspicuous hiding spot for his superficial disguise. The rest of us, with our emotions and empathy, cannot fully understand what goes on in the heads of someone who can easily kill another person just for the thrill of it. When police interviewed Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer, and asked him why he killed, they were unsatisfied with his unsubstantial answer. Ridgeway said that he couldn't explain why he killed 49 women, and the best he could come up with was that he did it "because I wanted to kill them." The police wanted a more concrete response, because they couldn't understand that someone could kill so many innocent people without having thought about it. But to someone like Ridgeway, it may have been as natural an impulse as hunger or libido. And that is, fortunately, an incomprehensible impulse to the rest of us.
A side note: I was watching American Psycho last night, and found myself getting turned on. Either Christian Bale is so fucking hot that he can turn me on no matter what he's doing on screen, or there is something seriously wrong with me. Or maybe it's because I won't see Anthony again until next weekend; with our vacation schedules overlapping he will be returning from his 10-day trip to Kansas City the same day I leave for a week in Cape Cod with my family. I hope to be out at Rapture next Saturday, or seeing Dharmata 101 at Midnight.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What's worse than a violent sociopath?

A violent sociopath with power:

Serbian-Bosnian military man Karadzic, who hid for years in plain sight as a self-styled "alternative health" guru, is going on trial for war crimes, stemming from attacks of ethnic cleansing that left hundreds of thousands dead. And, like the late Yugoslavian tyrant Milosevic, he will be serving as his own attorney. There is an old saying, "A man who acts as his own attorney has a fool for a client." In the past, infamous criminals like Ted Bundy (who dropped out of a Washington State law school before his first prison term), Beltway Sniper John Muhammed, and Long Island Railway shooter Colin Ferguson have represented themselves at trial. And all walked away with long prison terms or death sentences. Why do they do it? I'm sure there are several reasons, but the one overwhelming motivation is most likely egomania, a trait common among sadistic serial killers, mass murderers, military criminals and bloodthirsty dictators. These men (usually) consider themselves so superior to others that they think the rules of the past, like the bad luck of defendants who have represented themselves, don't apply to them. Maybe they don't trust an outside lawyer to properly speak for them and their often complex and incomprehensible motives. Maybe they're just so full of themselves that they think they can do it all. Colin Ferguson, while questioning witnesses at his trial, referred to himself in the third person, an added touch of grandiosity. John Muhammed's opening and closing statements were barely coherent. I'm not familiar with Milosevic's trial or the defense he presented, but I know how it ended; he was convicted. And I'm sure the same is in store for Karadzic. Ferguson and Muhammed killed around a dozen people between them, but Milosevic and Karadzic, or those acting on their orders, murdered hundreds of thousands. These are men with a serial killer mindset who wormed their way into powerful positions, and the result was devastating.
In the case of Ted Bundy, although there was substantial forensic evidence against him in the Chi Omega murders, it was one statement to a witness that sealed his fate at trial, according to the attorney helping with his case. While questioning a police officer about the crime scene, Bundy asked for specific details and a thorough account of what the police found at the sorority house. To the jury, and others watching, this question appeared to be designed to allow Bundy to relive his crime, and the jury later sentenced him to death. This wouldn't have happened if Bundy could have let a professional handle his case, but a narcissist like him would not have accepted that. The judge at Bundy's trial remarked that this notorious murderer could have become a great lawyer, but he "went another way." But even the best attorneys, should they find themselves on the other side of the law, shouldn't defend themselves. They have the right, but that doesn't mean they should do it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Review of The Dark Knight

Anthony desperately wanted to see the latest Batman movie, and while I'm not usually into the superhero/comic book genre, I had heard enough good things and wanted to see what Christopher Nolan's take on the story would be. While the movie was a bit long, which I felt acutely since I saw it late at night, I did enjoy it. I thought that the praise heaped on Heath Ledger's Joker was just posthumous ass-kissing, and though I still doubt it would have received the same rave reviews if the actor was still alive, Ledger created a memorably sinister character. Using a voice that switches at will from a high-pitched taunt to an evil growl, this Joker is far creepier than Jack Nicholson's. The makeup is less clownlike and more faded and grotesque, with the scars around the mouth visible under the painted smile. Of course, after John Wayne Gacy, anyone in clown makeup assumes an evil stance. The Joker appears from behind masks and from the shadows to surprise and torment his victims. His only goal, he says, is to create chaos. When Batman (when did Christian Bale get so fucking hot?) is at a loss at how to capture the Joker, Alfred the butler (what a perfect role for veteran upper-crusty Brit Michael Caine), recalling a mission to Burma searching for a criminal, says "Some men just want to watch the world burn." The Joker, in the climactic scene, daring two boats of evacuated citizens to blow the other boat up to avoid both boats being destroyed, wants the world to burn. But when the passengers are unable to cause harm to the other boatload, he's left with the surprising (to him) fact that not everyone is as destructive and callous as him. While he tells several different stories of how he got his smile scars, the first one alludes to a drunk, abusive father torturing the young Joker's mother. Though I haven't seen Batman Begins, and I don't know if the Joker's identity is revealed there, I liked that the true identity of the Joker was left unknown. It added to his personification of evil, a nameless man whose only role is to bring misery, the man we wish all our criminals were. The Joker, with an abusive childhood and an urge to create destruction, is a cartoonish embodiment of violent criminal behavior, a miserable nonentity who, through the creation of a sinister alter ego that won't be ignored, aims to make the rest of the world suffer with him. He laughs while others are in pain, giving him the power he likely never had, turning life into a cruel game where he thinks he will be the sole winner. And it's a character Heath Ledger portrays brilliantly. He deserves the praise, although I wish Aaron Eckhart received more notice for his portrayal of Harvey "Two-Face" Dent, a crusading District Attorney with a lust for power and, as revealed in one scene, a tendency to violent behavior long before a trick of the Joker turns him into Two-Face. The Two-Face makeup, with burned flesh and exposed bone and tendon, is enough to make anyone wretch. Christian Bale's Batman/Bruce Wayne is more complex than previous incarnations, a vigilante, not a traditional hero, driven by a personal mission to right wrongs in his own way, which sometimes includes breaking the law. As Alfred notes, Bruce is unwilling to face his human limitations when the superhuman alter ego overtakes him. He's arrogant and insecure, lovesick for Dent's girlfriend but unable to let go of his power as Batman. The brilliant acting, combined with spectacular stunts and battles, and evocative camera work, make the latest Batman installment worthy of the hype.
Michael Savage, apparently a syndicated radio show host, claims autism is just another outpost of the supposed "sissyfying" of American men. Naturally, he neglects to mention that women can also have autism spectrum disorders. He claims all autism symptoms can be cleared up by stern fatherly discipline and appears woefully unaware of neurological breakthroughs that have occurred since the 1950s. He's not worth a lot of space, but I had to point out that this type of disgusting ignorance is out there, and that we desperately need to combat it to advance as a society.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


When Anthony and I first started dating, the concept of a commitment was terrifying. What if I wanted to be with someone else and screwed it all up for a quick meaningless fling? What if I got annoyed by being with him all the time? But now, it's been almost eight months, we've spent entire days together, he's met my family (and now hopefully my mom will shut up about it), he's teaching me martial arts, he's started taking time off of work to be with me (and he's a total workaholic) and I can't imagine my life without him. I will still need my space, but at least he seems to understand that. I can talk to him about how I feel without worrying about how he will react, because I know he will at least make an effort to understand. A healthy, satisfying relationship, with the great job interview I had this morning, and I'm dangerously close to being content with my life.
Now for the crime story of the moment. John and Patsy Ramsay have been cleared by DNA evidence in the death of their daughter, JonBenet. This was a muddled mess of an investigation from the start, with many law enforcement officials so fixated on implicating the Ramsays that they may have ignored crucial evidence. True, when a child is killed, particularly in his or her own home, the parents are the first suspects, but that the police in this case seemed determined to arrest the Ramsays. Former FBI profiler John Douglas, after interviewing the Ramsays and studying the evidence, came to the conclusion that John and Patsy did not murder their daughter. But Boulder officials continued to think they did, and some crime watchers, despite the DNA, still think the Ramsays were involved. The reason for this? John and Patsy's "demeanor." Few things annoy me more than when someone is implicated in a crime because their reaction doesn't "seem right" for someone whose loved one has been killed. Not everyone wears their grief on their sleeve. John Douglas described John Ramsay as a proud and stoic man, not the type to cry in public. That doesn't mean he killed his daughter, just that he could be dealing with his pain in a more private manner. While those who have studied crime and police procedure know that family members are intensly investigated when a murder has taken place, the Ramsays may not have known that, and felt offended when police questioned them, stonewalling the investigation for the worse in the process. It wasn't a smart move, but understandable. In a TV show about Arthur Shawcross, who terrorized prostitutes in Rochester in the 1980s, a sister of one of the victims did an interview next to her dead sister's grave. I found this far more disturbing than the behavior of John and Patsy Ramsay, almost like she was advertising her sister's death and her own grief. Clearly, John and Patsy Ramsay were not perfect parents, since they put their daughter in those very creepy child beauty pageants. But that doesn't mean they killed her. The killer of JonBenet Ramsay is still out there, if he isn't dead or in prison for another crime.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Two crime stories;_ylt=Am.DG83fS4AbgFP9HNUc2ONbIwgF

A Michigan man on trial for murdering two women, and suspected of many more, claims to be innocent. A line in the article alludes to DNA evidence, but doesn't go into detail about the case. One family member of a victim says they hoped to see remorse from the killer, which, to anyone who has studied these types of offenders, is asking way too much. It's understandable for someone grieving to want the killer to grieve too, but these killers have no sense of empathy for their victims. That's how they're able to kill again and again. Most of us, who do feel at least a shred of empathy for others, could never do what killers like this do. The suspect reportedly stabbed one woman and beat another to death with a toilet tank lid. That's a new one. It could indicate an impulse killing; the suspect didn't intend to kill the victim, but got angry and used whatever was available in a fit of rage.;_ylt=AtrG9MnEF6QE0lJDAYoVE7FbIwgF

Over in New Hampshire, a woman who killed two boyfriends has pleaded insanity, a plea rejected by the jury. The defense claimed that their client had a delusion where she judged all men to be pedophiles, and was told by God to kill them. If that's true, why did she date them before killing them? Insanity pleas are rarely successful, especially since the defendant was seen burning the remains of her victims, indicating an awareness of the possible consequences. But even Richard Trenton Chase, the so-called "Vampire of Sacramento," a confirmed paranoid schizophrenic, was judged sane and fit for the electric chair. One victim's mother went off on a tirade, calling the woman "evil" and other victims' rights buzzwords, saying she "took advantage" of a poor, innocent man. I know it's considered poor form to speak ill of the dead, but why are the victims of violent crimes always the nicest, greatest people in the world, according to those who knew them? Why aren't bitches and assholes ever the victims of serial killers? Maybe the deaths, and the often gruesome circumstances, make the family members feel they have to show the victim in the best possible light, for whatever reason.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Bound's DJ Panic was among the performers at Artomatic's goth/fetish show last night, as well as Wormcult (whose set I unfortunately missed), Madame Klawdya Rothschild and Dharmata101. One of the best parts of the show was, since the only bathrooms on the first floor were at the Electric Stage, tourists and other yuppie types coming through and witnessing something they hadn't expected. It almost could have been part of the show. Klawdya and two cohorts did a piece that could only be described as bondage ballet, a representation of a wedding ceremony with literal knots. Panic kept the atmosphere going between acts, and Dharmata101 sounded better than ever. One of their best shows, at least of the few that I've seen. It's a shame more people weren't there to see it. Klawdya will be at the Erotic Art showcase in Baltimore July 18-19, along with Julie Simone and the legendary Annie Sprinkle, and I hope to be there.
I also had time to go to some of the other exhibits at Artomatic. Adrienne Lynee Harris' series of quiet moments captured in photographs stood out, as did Vincent M. Faravharson's paintings and photography exhibits by Serge Batyrshin and Kate McGovern. Other artists that made an impression were MJ Volpe, Brett Davis, Kelly Guerrero, Pat Flynn, Paul Seegars, Bryanna Millis, Gregory Watson, Ericca Riccardelli, the "Tiny Ghosts," Paivi Salonen, Scott Speck, Angela Kleis and Jack Whitsitt. And there's so much more there that I have yet to explore. And it's closing after this weekend.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Stalin's Russia seen from two sides

Two recent books, Martin Amis' novel House of Meetings and Pete Early's account of conversations with a former KGB spy Comrade J, tell two very different stories from inside the Soviet Union. The central character of Amis' novel is a gulag prisoner, forced into a labor camp for "fascist" views, or dissent from the Communist party line. Amis describes the excruciatingly cruel conditions in which these prisoners were forced to live for many years of their lives. Many of the prisoners were there because of "Western sympathies" or other forms of challenges to the Communist state. But I read House of Meetings while also reading Comrade J, where Sergei Tretakov (the name is probably misspelled since I don't currently have the book in front of me) details his life as an elite member of the KGB and SVR, the new name given to the KGB after the fall of Communism. Tretakov describes the living and working conditions of KGB operatives, which were much better that those of ordinary Russians and included access to Western luxury goods, a blatant hypocrisy that was never questioned. While reading about the suffering of gulag inmates under Stalinism, I also read about the special treatment given to the spies and secret police dedicated to keeping conditions dour for the Russian people. It's hardly surprising that Soviet officials were such self-serving hypocrites, but reading about it next to accounts of the gulags makes it all the more glaring and unforgiveable.
Tretakov also reveals the duplicitous and often cruel training that every KGB hopeful had to endure. In several interviews, his loyalty to the Soviet Union is tested, as well as his personal conduct. One interviewer tries to engage him in friendly discussion about "French girls" (make of that what you want) and mocks Sergei when he says he's married and has no experience in that area. Sergei also, in keeping with his loyalty to the state, backs up a recent controversial diplomatic move and is again mocked by his superior. Thinking he has blown the interview, Sergei later hears that the superiors were actually very happy with his performance. This is only a minor example of what KGB spies had to go through, including meticulous background checks and covert missions that potentially involved turning over friends and family to Soviet officials. Sergei was praised for lying to colleagues and ratting them out, which Amis' Russian protagonist describes as a characteristic unique to Russian criminals, in that they don't see betrayal as a crime. The fact that Amis includes future president Vladimir Putin with "Russian criminals" is likely why Amis joked that if he went to Russia, he'd end up getting a dose of polonium like the unfortunate Alexander Litvenenko.
As a member of the SVR, Sergei was sent to America to find state secrets to send back to Russia. During this time, Sergei became a double agent, also giving Russian secrets to the US government. After his retirement, he contacted true crime writer Pete Early to tell his story. Early was skeptical about Sergei's motives, but since the US government had taken care of him and his family financially, it wasn't about money. Sergei said that the reason he came forward, knowing that it could lead to his death, was to warn Americans that just because the Soviet Union has fallen doesn't mean that Russia is now their friend. The KGB still exists under a different name, and has infiltrated American soil. Sergei Tretakov is a skilled liar and double agent, so his motives may not be entirely honorable. But still, he tells an intriguing and often frightening story.
One of Sergei's best stories is his shock at discovering that Vladimir Putin had become president of Russia. Putin was a low-ranking member of the KGB who had never distinguished himself in a remarkable way. Even after serving as a member of Boris Yeltsin's cabinet, he was not a favorite to win the upcoming election. Until an attack on a Russian state building that was blamed on Chechan rebels (I really need to look into this story further, so it's not as complete in this post as I'd like). Putin vowed swift justice on the perpetrators, which made his popularity among Russian voters skyrocket. It's all a bit suspicious, and would set the course for more suspicious acts to come. Included in Comrade J is a collection of photos, such as one of Sergei Tretakov with other Russian spies, one who would later become Vladimir Putin's chief of private security.
In House of Meetings, the protagonist, looking back on his time in the gulags, has one wish: an apology for how he and millions of other prisoners were treated by Stalin and his minions. The damage can't be undone, but for the officials to acknowledge their wrongdoing might make his suffering a little easier to take. In the mess that the Bush administration has made, again the damage has already been done, but somehow I feel that an admission of guilt, an acknowledgment that mistakes had been made, might make it slightly easier to forgive them. But the League of Evil has refused to admit any mistakes in Iraq, the economy, 9/11, or anything. Condeleeza Rice tried, during a visit to England when she said that the administration had made "thousands" of mistakes in Iraq, but she and/or her co-conspirators promptly ate her words and tried to convince the world and themselves that they had been right all along. Backing down and admitting defeat isn't always a sign of weakness. Sometimes that's what takes true strength. I've learned that myself, that it's often hardest, but best in the long run, to admit that I've made a mistake and to learn how to fix it and avoid the same behavior in the future.
In a side note to my last post: Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Robert Kennedy, was a Palestinian radical who objected to the US's support of Israel and thought that he could somehow start a revolution (or something) by shooting an American politician. It may not have mattered to Sirhan who he shot, as long as it was an American public figure.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Remembering Bobby Kennedy

Forty years ago today, Robert F. Kennedy died after being hit with an assassin's bullet. He didn't have the opportunity to fulfill his political promise, but he won many admirers for his stance against the Vietnam War, against poverty and the imbalance of wealth, and for equal rights for all Americans. That Kennedy, a popular figure in the black community for his support of the civil rights movement, was killed shortly after Martin Luther King illustrates the status of black Americans forty years ago. Back then, a politician saying he or she supported civil rights for blacks was like a politician today coming out in favor of gay rights; it was a very polarizing issue. I can only hope that in another forty years, rights for gays will have reached the status of civil rights for blacks, as a right that no hopeful leader would dare question without committing political suicide. Robert Kennedy was ahead of the curve, aligning himself with the civil rights movement and the efforts of leaders like Martin Luther King, and he was killed for it. Kennedy was only human, and he was far from perfect, but at least he tried to make a difference.
On the subject of assassinating political figures, it always seems to have the opposite effect the assassin intended. With the exception of John Hinckley, who had no personal beef with Ronald Reagan and would have shot anyone who happened to be President at that time, Sirhan Sirhan, James Earl Ray, John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald (or whoever you happen to think killed JFK) and anyone else who killed or attempted to kill a public figure probably hoped to enact a counter-revolution by killing the revolutionary figure of their choosing. But that's never what happens. All the assassins do is turn their victims into martyrs for the cause, giving them an aura of near-saintliness that they may not have been able to hold had they lived out their lives in full. Assassinating the perceived enemy doesn't achieve anything but giving the murderer a brief feeling of satisfaction, and public notoriety. It rarely, if ever, helps the assassin's cause.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Scott McClellan and the psychology of dissent

There was nothing in former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's comments about the Bush administration and the war in Iraq that didn't just confirm suspicions I already had. They were lying to the American people about the reasons to go to war, Karl Rove is an amoral opportunist (honestly, who didn't already know that?) and the whole administration is a corrupt mess. But now the Bushites are left to do damage control, and their first instinct was to call McClellan a bitter former employee. I don't know the circumstances of McClellan's exit from Bush's league of evil, but since I already had an inkling of what he said happened behind the league's closed doors, I'm inclined to at least listen to what he says.
The "he's just bitter" argument was also leveled against Mark Felt, the former Number Two in the FBI recently revealed as Woodward and Bernstein's informer Deep Throat. Supposedly, according to the Nixon faithful, Felt had a grudge against Nixon for passing him over as head of the FBI, and wanted to take him down. With both Felt and McClellan, I feel that while they had personal conflicts with the powers that they spoke out against, they ultimately broke their silences because of a crisis of conscience. Having that information about the powers that be screwing the people they're supposed to serve grated on their minds. McClellan could have spoken out sooner, but at least he did. McClellan and Felt may or may not have been trying to exact revenge on their former bosses, but their personal problems with them probably made their decisions to come forward easier, that any thought that they might be hurting those they accused vanished with the knowledge that the bosses had committed terrible wrongs, and that they they themselves had felt betrayed.
As illustrated in Putin's Russia, dissent sometimes comes with a heavy price. Alexander Litvenenko, a former KGB spy who had accused other KGB officials, including future president Vladimir Putin, of corruption, was poisoned with polonium, and the top suspect, another former KGB spy named along with Putin in Litvenenko's testimony, has been hiding out under the protection of the Kremlin ever since.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Does being ethical pay?

That's the headline on the paper someone's reading in this coffeeshop, and in my experience, I'm inclined to say that no, being ethical does not pay. Particularly in the fields of business and politics, even those who go in with the best intentions often find that in order to succeed, they have to sell their principles to the highest bidder. There are exceptions, as there are to every rule, but I personally have found that sticking to my ethical tenets has had mostly unfavorable consequences. By ethics, I don't mean the religious right's definition of a "virtuous lifestyle," I mean basic human decency: don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal. And as much as I believe in this way of life, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who wants to make a name for themselves or a lot of money. Someone with strong morals would have second thoughts about serving their own self-interest at the expense of another, or compromising their beliefs in order to succeed. But a psychopath, one who by definition has no sense of ethics or empathy, would have no problem doing whatever it took to help themselves, and those are the people who rise to power and flourish in life. I left a well-paying job because I couldn't reconcile my principles with those of my employer. Then I went into debt. And now that I'm doing something I like, I'm still in debt, even though I feel ethically sound. Sticking to my principles might be good for my overall well-being, but it hasn't been good for my career.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Gaining perspective

Good news, at least for me: I'm very slowly crawling out of debt. I have a second job, doing boring clerical work for a nonprofit, nothing I'd want to do long term, but it'll help. And it's quiet, so I have time to think. And what I was thinking about today was how my current relationship has helped me gain a new perspective on the brief wastes of time that I once called relationships. I used to fall apart and vow revenge on a guy who dumped me after two or three dates, or who just stopped talking to me after we hooked up a few times. I used to be very alone, and these were the closest things to relationships that I'd ever had. But now that Anthony is in my life, I know what a real boyfriend is supposed to be; someone who calls while he's out of town because he misses me, someone who makes plans to see me, someone who I can introduce to my friends without having first to analyze what to introduce him as, and someone I can be honest with when he does something that annoys me. There are things about Anthony that annoy me, which happens in any relationship, but this time, unlike the other guys I used to think were my whole world, I felt comfortable talking to him about it, because I actually thought he would listen. And he did. Now I see my former relationships for what they were, guy try-outs to prepare me for meeting someone special, but, I now see, nothing special themselves. Now I wonder why I made myself crazy over people who were so obviously not worth the trouble, but I guess I didn't know any better at the time.
And now for more good news: Bound is coming back on May 30th. Anthony and I saw the new space for both Bound and Entre Nous last Saturday, and it's a very cool spot for Bound. There's a glassed-off area that's perfect for both playing and voyeurism, a decent dance floor, great deconstructed atmosphere, although the bar leaves a little something to be desired. I do not want Bound to have to move again, so I'm urging everyone in the DC area interested in the goth/fetish subculture to come out on Fridays for the only dark alternative club event that night.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pope tries to atone for priest sex crimes

On his visit to America, Pope Benedict has met with victims of molestation by priests, attempting to heal wounds that had been inflicted repeatedly for years. While it's refreshing to see that the church has finally formally acknowledged the wrongdoing of its priests, the prescription of prayer and trying to keep pedophiles and homosexuals out of the priesthood doesn't feel like enough. First, homosexual does not equal pedophile. Second, prayer is not a proven method to prevent problems. Third, pedophiles are by necessity crafty and duplicitous, and are rarely filtered out through a preemptive strike. There's a reason so many pedophiles become teachers, clergymen, or marry into other families, because they know that in those positions, they will be trusted by children and parents. The Catholic Church has just about as much hope as the rest of the world of rooting out pedophiles in their community, and prayer and their "holy" status will not help.
The sex abuse scandal that the church claims has ruined their reputation could have been prevented. It all started in Boston back in the 1960s, with Father John Geoghan. The despicable way his case was handled singlehandedly opened the vault on how the church responds to scandal. When parents told church officials about Geoghan, instead of turning him over to the police, Bishop (later Cardinal) Bernard Law sent Geoghan to another parish after undergoing church-approved "counseling," where, of course, Geoghan victimized more children. This time, when parents voiced their outrage, Law sent the priest in for another round of counseling and moved him to another parish. This continued for 30 years, until the Boston Globe broke the story, and Geoghan and later Cardinal Law were forced out of the church. Still, with all the evidence, although Geoghan was eventually put in prison on a dubious charge which had apologists rallying to his side despite what he had done in the past, another priest interviewed for an American Justice episode about Geoghan said he preferred to remember Geoghan as a "saint" and martyr. Geoghan was not sent to prison and defrocked just because of his beliefs, he was a pedophile who used his status to prey on innocent children entrusted to his care. If Geoghan had gone through the proper justice channels the first time around, many children would have been spared, the Catholic Church would have been applauded for appropriately dealing with a criminal who had snaked into their ranks, lifelong Catholics wouldn't have had crises of faith and formed their own factions or abandoned the church altogether, and the church's attitude toward the sex crimes of priests would not be called into question as they are now. Of course, this is assuming the church and Geoghan didn't try to circumvent the rules, and there would be repercussions from something like this no matter how it was handled. One thing probably would have happened whenever Geoghan went to prison; he was murdered by an inmate who didn't want to be in the presence of a child molester.
As everyone in DC knows, the pope had a mass in Nationals Stadium today. That meant crowds of the faithful, curiosity seekers who just want to see an iconic presence without thinking about what it means, and men of the cloth clogged the metro, and probably will until the end of the day. I saw a monk, in a brown robe, getting off at the Takoma station. When do you ever see monks, except around old churches in Europe? As far as I know, there aren't any monasteries in the Takoma/Silver Spring area. And on my way to work, for two stops, I was surrounded by six priests. I was tempted to take out the copy of Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian, but, after thinking about it, I decided I didn't want to create an incident or, worse, cause a descent of priests desperate to "save" another immortal soul.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The faith race

One outdated, misogynistic faith, Catholicism, has been surpassed in worldwide followers by another outdated, misogynistic faith, Islam. The Vatican spokesperson lamented that Muslims have been having more children in recent years than Christians, not including the fact that the children are no more Catholic or Muslim than their parents tell them to be, and should not be counted among the faithful. The spokesman (and of course it's a man) made it all sound like a competition, which it clearly is. Every religion wants to take over the world and force the entire earth's population to their knees, and now Catholicism's alpha-male position has been usurped by Islam. As the likes of Jim Bakker, Peter Popoff and their fictional counterpart, Elmer Gantry, have made clear, faith is a business, and a highly profitable one, and each sect wants to have the most customers to gain headway in the world faith economy.
Now for a personal disappointment. In addition to still sinking in debt, I just found out that the job I recently applied for that I very much wanted will not be given to me because I don't have enough experience. It was for a teaching assistant at Ivymount School's Model Asperger Program. Along with teaching being the only job I've ever had that I can tolerate, I felt that my own experiences with Asperger Syndrome would be of special benefit to the children in the program. I never heard that I needed any kind of certification for this job, and I got my current teaching assistant job with the same amount of experience, so I stupidly thought that it might be enough. But, as the vicious circle of employment continues, I need more experience to get the job I would be great at, and to get the other jobs that would qualify, I'll need yet more experience, and so on. This isn't just another job and paycheck that I feel I've lost, but I really thought I could make an impact in this program. But I guess my tutoring sometimes very difficult kids and my 25 years of living with, and overcoming, Asperger's Syndrome don't make me qualified for anything more that a pseudo-polite form letter telling me I'm not experienced enough to be a teaching assistant for the type of child I once was. With one golden opportunity passing me by, I'll have to go back to finding a way to sell my soul for rent money.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The brilliant disguises of serial killers

One thing I've always found interesting about Dennis "BTK" Rader is just how well he managed to blend into his community while hiding his murderous impulses. He isn't the first figure in criminal history to have a double life, but Rader never even got arrested before his crimes as BTK were linked to him, unlike another vaunted pillar of the community, John Wayne Gacy, who spent time in prison on a child molestation charge before he began burying the bodies of his teenage victims in his crawlspace. Some experts have credited Rader's ability to carry on his double life to an ability to compartmentalize his environment. One forensic psychiatrist who spent time with Rader believes that he was capable of genuine affection for his wife and children, who by all accounts he never mistreated, but anyone else, those who would become his victims or "projects," was not seen as human, but an object for him to achieve his goals of murderous fantasies. Rader's cold tone during his court confession shocked the members of his community, who had previously known him as a friend, church council member and Boy Scout troop leader.
Still, even Rader's facade started to crack before he was linked to the BTK murders. While working as a community "compliance officer," patrolling the community to make sure everyone's pets were on leashes and enforcing other community policies, he made several enemies with his lust for power and arrogance. Most often, as with BTK, the victims of Rader's arbitrary flexing of power were women. One woman says that Rader filed a report that her dog was off her leash, then had the dog put to sleep, just because the woman wouldn't get rid of her boyfriend, which Rader had told her would solve the problem. While Rader was working as a compliance officer, the BTK murders stopped. The forensic psychiatrist believes that since Rader was able to exercise his need for power and control as a compliance officer, he didn't feel the need to exercise control over life and death. A non-entity like Rader, who a former classmate said was remarkable in how unremarkable he was, with a need for power simmering under the surface had to make a name for himself in some way, to show the dominance he felt he had. Like many other serial killers, Rader was undone by his arrogance. After eluding capture for almost 30 years, a book written about the murders named someone other than Rader as the prime suspect, something that Rader clearly could not stand. He wrote a letter to a local TV station on a computer in his church. When forensic investigators linked the letter to the computer, and surveillance cameras placed Rader at that computer at the time the letter was written, BTK was captured.
Herb Baumeister was another midwestern serial killer who expertly kept his murders a secret from his wife and children. When his wife Julie thought Herb was out of town on business, he was trolling Indianapolis' gay bars, searching for victims. But Herb made the fatal mistake of leaving a surviving victim, who helped police identify the man responsible for the murders of several gay men around Indianapolis. After Julie found bones in their backyard, Herb gave a convincing, though false, explanation that they were animal bones one of the children had found. When police actively searched for Herb after finding human remains on his property, Herb fled, and eventually committed suicide. With the killer himself dead, the families of the victims, still desperate to blame someone, turned their rage on Julie, claiming she must have known what was happening in her house. But in an interview, Julie indicates that she was just as ignorant of Herb's true nature as their friends and community. And she probably was. Dennis Rader's wife didn't know her husband was BTK before the rest of the world found out. But because Dennis Rader was taken alive, his wife didn't face the accusations that Julie Baumeister did. The families and surviving victims of BTK could face the man who had terrorized them, but Herb Baumeister killed himself before the police could capture him, so the grieving families had to turn their need for revenge on the one who was closest to the killer, his wife, who must have known something living in the same house as the now dead killer. If Herb Baumeister was as convincing a liar as Dennis Rader or any other Jekyll and Hyde serial killer, Julie probably didn't know anything about her husband's true nature until the police told her, and was left with the knowledge that a man she trusted and built a life with was responsible for the deaths of innocents.
A similar situation happened when Wayne Henley, the accomplice of Houston serial killer Dean Corll, shot Dean to protect his friends. With Corll, the Svengali, dead, Henley and David Brooks, Corll's other accomplice, were left to answer for the crimes. Both Henley and Brooks received multiple life sentences for their roles in the murders, but, as one investigator noted, if Corll had been alive, he would have taken the brunt of the punishment, and Brooks and Henley would have only been tried as accomplices. But with their ringleader already dead, and questions arising as to how strong Henley's role was in the murders, Henley and Brooks were tried as the killers, with only their stories about Corll to defend them, although they both confessed readily to their roles in finding victims for Corll. An investigator in the case said that shooting Corll was either a smart move in self-defense, or the stupidest thing Wayne Henley could have done.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New bodies at Barker ranch?

An investigation of the former home of Charles Manson's "family" could turn up evidence of other victims of Manson and his followers. There are reports of hitchhikers who came by the ranch and were never seen again, and one of two women who came to the ranch and fled in the night to go to the police, claiming Manson had threatened them.
It is entirely likely that Charles Manson and the Family had more victims than the Tate-LaBianca murders indicated, but, as a former investigator says, those were the only murders they could solidly link to the Family. A criminal enterprise like the Family would have readily killed outsiders to keep them quiet, or the other victims could have been early casualties of "Helter Skelter."
Serial killers are frequently only charged with a portion of their crimes. Ted Bundy was charged with one murder in Utah, an abduction in Colorado, and five murders in Florida, for which he was executed. But according to other victims discovered and Bundy's own confession, he likely murdered at least 20 women. Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer, is believed to have killed 49 prostitutes and runaways, but he said, "I've killed so many women I've lost count." Russia's Andrei Chikatilo has one of the highest confirmed body counts in the history of serial killers, at 53 known victims, but his count could also be higher. As we all know, serial killers are known liars. The reverse of this is also sometimes true. The hundreds of victims Henry Lee Lucas once claimed has since been scaled to a confirmed three; his mother, his girlfriend, and his former landlady. And there's no way to know how many of his patients Dr. Harold Shipman murdered, although some estimates place the number in the hundreds.
Happy belated Saint Patrick's Day. I hope you spent the evening like I did, getting drunk with my significant other while listening to a classic Irish rock band at an American version of an Irish pub. I also hope your hangovers are gone.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Missouri serial killer faces charges;_ylt=Aie2maeLIvsaVnH8Yn7cyUdbIwgF

A man who has confessed to murdering nine women in the 1970s and 80s is scheduled to go on trial for five of the murders. The murderer is described as frail-looking, now in his 60s. When he wasn't out killing women, he spent most of his adult life in prison on sex crime charges. The county sherriff views him as an "animal." But he's not an animal. Despite what he's done, he's human, which makes him and those like him even more frightening. When Richard Speck, murderer of eight student nurses, was captured after days on the run, as one journalist said, "We expected him to have horns growing out of his head." But all the public got to see was a poor alcoholic who had just attempted suicide. It's what's commonly called the "banality of evil." The monstrous deeds committed in a society are not committed by supernatural evil beings, but by those who look just like us. Who could have picked former law student and Republican party insider Ted Bundy or church council member and loyal family man Dennis Rader out of a crowd as vicious murderers? In the book I'm currently reading, The Human Stain by Phillip Roth, the narrator talks about the wish of societies to "put one face" on evil. But that's impossible. Evil comes in many faces, often those we trust. One of the most dangerous people in the world is a man whose wife has just asked for a divorce, at least if crime statistics are taken into consideration.
On the same topic, it's also almost impossible to predict whether a child is a future serial killer. Even if they come from an abusive family or enjoy hurting animals, this isn't a guarantee that the child will be violent as an adult. Most little boys grow out of burning ants with magnifying glasses and don't escalate to human targets. At the learning center where I work, there's an eight-year-old boy who appears to have many signs seen in the childhoods of violent criminals. I can't say for certain if his parents are abusive, but my boss told me that the kid's father dropped the f-bomb several times during a conference, and the mother seems to keep him on a short leash. He's unruly, often disruptive, makes threats (which we don't take too seriously) and appears to be obsessed with fire. If he also tortures animals and wets his bed, he would have the violence preindicator trifecta mentioned by John Douglas and Roy Hazelwood of the FBI's Behavioral Sciences Unit. Still, none of this means that this little boy will grow into a serial killer. As my boss and my coworkers have told me, this kid can sometimes be nice and quite charming, which also calls to mind the more cunning of serial murderers. Supposedly, he has a manipulative streak, which could just mean he'll turn into another clever narcissist, often found in the otherwise prestigious law, political and business fields.
More sad news for my favorite club Bound; Felix has kicked us out. The exact reason isn't clear, but according to some reliable sources, one of the owners got freaked out by the gay/lesbian vibe he saw the last time Bound was there. If they were hosting a fetish club, they should have known what to expect. Or maybe they expected some glamorized porno version of a fetish club, hot girls getting spanked with their boobs hanging out. Of course that can be seen, but it's not at all representative of the diverse Bound crowd, which includes gay, bi, lesbian, transgender, and many others that defy categorization. If that's too much for the owners of Felix, we can't force them to change, but we can let the DC club-going public know what happened, and let them decide if they want to support a venue run by this philosophy.

Friday, February 29, 2008

The demon parents of Cromwell Street

The Biography Channel recently did an interview with Mae and Stephen West, children of notorious British murderers Fred and Rosemary West. They consider themselves lucky that they survived, since their sisters Anne Marie and Heather were murdered by their parents. Throughout their lives Mae and Stephen were told that if they misbehaved, they would end up under the house "like Heather." After the police raided the house, the children found out that this was not an idle threat. The body of Heather, along with several other young women who either worked for or were acquaintances of Fred and Rose, was found under the house.
Predictably, Fred and Rose were abusive parents. Fred frequently sexually assaulted his daughters, and they brought home their other sex partners, and Rose never hid the fact that she was a prostitute from the children. Both parents physically abused the children, and Anne Marie's death was likely the result of a beating gone too far. Hearing Mae and Stephen speak about their childhood, they show little emotion, but Mae frequently looks down, and both speak softly as they relive their experiences and how they wished for "normal" parents. Sex was so out in the open, they say, that they felt like they weren't allowed to be children. Add to that the horrific abuse, and it's surprising that Fred and Rose West's surviving children didn't become murderers themselves, although Fred's cousin was arrested shortly after the Wests for sexually assaulting young women.
Teresa Knorr was another sadistic parent that frequently turns up in the backgrounds of serial killers. Teresa killed her first husband and drove away at least three others with her possessive and jealous nature. After claiming self-defense in the murder of her first husband, saying he was abusive, a claim that may or may not have been true, she was found not guilty. She had several children with her many husbands, and was abusive to all of them, especially her daughters. When her daughter Susan died from a gunshot wound inflicted by Teresa, the mother ordered her two sons to help her dispose of their sister's body. Susan Knorr's body was discovered, and Teresa was charged with murder. On a TV show about Teresa, her surviving daughter wonders what kind of person she will be after having a mother like Teresa Knorr. While not all children of parents like the Wests and Teresa Knorr end up violent criminals themselves, coping with this type of trauma is never easy, as seen on the faces and heard in the voices of Mae and Stephen West.
It's rare to hear about a serial killer's children, because most of them don't have any. If they can't sustain a relationship, as most psychopathic killers can't, they usually don't get as far as having children. But the ones who do, either because they are experts at hiding their secrets from their families, or, like the Wests, have found a kindred evil spirit, inflict untold damage to their children, either physically or when the child discovers that their father (or mother) has been keeping such a horrific secret.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Muslim misogyny and theocracy reaches new lows

This just in from my blogger buddy Big Heathen Mike: a woman is facing execution in Saudi Arabia (which for some reason is still considered a "key ally" to the US) for being a witch. Apparently in Saudi Arabia, the Middle Ages never ended. For all their oil and wealth, they still believe in the evil nature of women and the existence of witchcraft, and their government is backing them up. Only intervention from the Human Rights Watch could possibly stop this innocent woman from being executed for a nonexistent crime. Even if we eliminate the ridiculous charge, this woman wasn't even allowed to face her accusers or hear the specifics of the charges against her. But I guess the Saudis don't consider women complete citizens, so they aren't entitled to the same rights as men. There's so much bullshit here I need a shovel and a protective mask.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Profile of NIU shooter;_ylt=AgymPcpjhy0n8HwsONEU3lxbIwgF

Less than a year after the rampage at Virginia Tech, another American university suffers an attack by a pissed-off young man toting a gun. As expected, those close to the shooter described him as "happy" and "stable," but unlike many other mass murderers, he revealed a darker side long before he picked up his gun. He was reportedly abusive toward his on-and-off girlfriend, and had a history of mental illness. The exact type of illness isn't identified, but it was reported that in the weeks before the shooting, the gunman had stopped taking his medication. An untreated mental illness can have tragic consequences, particularly if the disorder in question is paranoid schizophrenia. Plagued by hallucinations, a schizophrenic is so detached from reality that they sometimes do the unthinkable. Herbert Mullin killed random victims in Southern California because he heard the voice of his father telling him to "sing the die song." In northern California, Richard Trenton Chase murdered three people, including a mother and her child, and drank their blood because he believed that his own blood was turning to dust, and by drinking the blood of others, he could replenish his own veins. And in the twisted world of Scientology, Jeremy Perkins, whose schizophrenia went untreated due to the cult's hatred of psychiatry, stabbed his mother to death. But even if the NIU shooter wasn't schizophrenic, stopping his medication could have led him to take extreme actions. Since, like most other mass murderers, he ended his shooting spree by taking his own life, he very likely had a history of depression, and, with his mind inflamed and his rage level high, he wanted to take others with him when he ended it all.
In older crime news, a forensic anthropologist is examining the remains found in Belle Gunness' Indiana home over 100 years ago to determine whether the body could have belonged to this infamous black widow. I saw a documentary about Gunness a few years ago, and in the annals of black widows and female killers, she had a unique savagery. Most female murderers prefer the delicate administration and clean, and excruciatingly slow and painful, method of poison, or, like Aileen Wuornos, the quick and detached method of gunfire. But Gunness' victims were chopped up and burned, either in lieu of or in addition to being dosed with poison. The controversy surrounding her own death came after her farmhand confessed on his deathbed to helping Gunness dispose of her victims. When authorities arrived at the house, they found it burned to the ground, with 20 or 30 charred corpses buried in the ground. Three relatively fresh bodies were also found, supposedly those of Belle and her two children. But some found it difficult to believe that Belle was actually dead. The corpse that was supposed to be hers was decapitated, removing the distinctive facial features. Also, Belle was a large woman, and the corpse seemed to indicate a lighter build. While the new forensic evidence indicates that the body could belong to someone of Belle's height, it remains unclear whether the truth will come out. But Belle Gunness was nothing if not crafty, and self-serving, so no one would put it past her to fake her death to elude prosecution.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Two sexual predators

The first in the Valentine's Day recollection of vicious sexual predators is Moses Sithole, responsible for the murders of 37 women and one child in South Africa, a nation plagued with violent crime. In a post-apartheid South Africa, Sithole conned impoverished women into his company by offering them employment, then led them to an isolated field, raped and strangled them. Sithole was the African Ted Bundy, deceptively charming to those who met him, and unspeakably cruel to his victims. Sithole, like Bundy, blamed all women for the wrongs inflicted on him by his mother. Also, when a woman accused him of a rape he swore he didn't commit, Sithole began his murder spree after being released from prison. In his mind, yet another woman had screwed him over, and he wanted revenge on all women. In the minds of the more rational, murdering women to correct a supposedly false rape accusation appears counterintuitive. If any authorities thought Sithole might be innocent, that feeling evaporated when they saw how brutally Sithole murdered his female victims. "I was wrongly accused of rape by a woman, so I'll kill 37 women and one woman's child to get back at women and prove my innocence." It makes no sense, but that's just the warped logic characteristic of serial killers.
On Investigation Discovery a while back (one of my favorite cable channels), I saw a show about a serial rapist who, right before his arrest, went by the name Ian Thorne-Green. His real name, which I don't remember, was revealed when Thorne-Green's crimes were matched to a string of other sexual assaults. As far as I know, he never killed anyone, except his domineering mother, who he beat to death with a baseball bat during an argument, but his female victims were left in critical condition. Like Ted Bundy and Moses Sithole, Thorne-Green was charming to the point where he could lure unsuspecting women to their doom. Even the arresting officers were disarmed by Thorne-Green's pleasantness and intelligence. I wish I could remember more about this case, or find something about it, but all my searches have come up empty.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Crime stories;_ylt=AhQI9dIA.TqZ1aimzKykL3dbIwgF

A West Virginia police officer stabbed his wife because she wanted a divorce, one of the major reasons for her decision being his violent tendencies. If that's not crazy enough, the officer chose to stab her in front of her fifth-grade class. So he not only caused his wife critical injuries over a request for a divorce and traumatized their son, but he also traumatized several other children in the process. Often in my life, I wonder what's wrong with most people, and stories like this just reaffirm that many members of the human race are beyond reason and undeserving of being a member of our species.;_ylt=AvaXZgbmuSI66oIBDcIooftbIwgF

Many years after the death of John Gotti, the Gambino crime family faces indictment in several unsolved murders. Some cases are 20-30 years old, and a few are even older. I'm always thankful for an excuse to keep the ever-declining world of organized crime and La Cosa Nostra in the headlines.;_ylt=AvABZ9VjNJspNZc6S1fEl6ZbIwgF

An even better mob-related story; a former New York cop who allegedly served as a mob hitman faces tax evasion charges. A lot of people with violent urges look to careers in law enforcement, from serial killers to more mundane rageaholics. They enjoy the power that comes with such a position, and it provides an excuse to act on their impulses if the opportunity arises. But for this particular cop, the life of a police officer wasn't satisfying his bloodlust, so he went to the other side of the law to get his fix. I'm sure the mob loved having such dirty goods on a cop. Of course, this is all just speculation.;_ylt=AgsCmXa_qFQ3HVjViJ7o3ixbIwgF

Mitchell Johnson, who was 13 when he and a friend shot up their middle school, is now 23 and charged with another gun-related offense, namely possessing a gun while under the influence of a controlled substance. Johnson had been in juvenile and federal prisons until he was 21, and now, two years into his freedom, he's looking at another lengthy term.;_ylt=Ah5b97_ehRB.sVQnci_GhFlbIwgF

Over in Georgia, an accused rapist now faces murder charges after going apeshit in the courtroom, overpowering a security guard, stealing her gun and shooting four people. His defense team will try an insanity plea, but judging from the other similar cases I've studied, this defense is rarely effective.;_ylt=AiSYPg9.JpZRZeduPEuxASRbIwgF

A man accused of killing a hiker in Georgia has been linked to a similar murder in North Carolina. The killer claims his motive was robbery, but who knows. From the photo, he looks like something out of Deliverance. But maybe that's the Southern prison doing its work.;_ylt=AoYVY0b5WwI8KDXLiEUtuYZbIwgF

Yet another man accused of killing his wife. This type of homocide is almost mundane to crime watchers, but this case gets notice for creativity. Like the man described in the first case, this killer stabbed his wife after she threatened to leave him. But this one, instead of stabbing her in front of schoolchildren, hacked her to death with a machete while she slept. It's different, and even the authorities were at a loss as to why this man kept a machete under his bed. What kind of person keeps a machete in the house if they don't live in Africa or South America? Maybe that's why his wife wanted to leave him.

Yes, it's been a busy couple of weeks in American crime. Too busy to provide substantial analyses of the various violent acts that occurred. But they caught my interest, and I love to share strange and crazy crime stories with my readers.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Scientific atheist

What kind of atheist are you?
created with
You scored as Scientific Atheist

These guys rule. I'm not one of them myself, although I play one online. They know the rules of debate, the Laws of Thermodynamics, and can explain evolution in fifty words or less. More concerned with how things ARE than how they should be, these are the people who will bring us into the future.

Scientific Atheist


Apathetic Atheist


Militant Atheist


Spiritual Atheist




Angry Atheist




Science isn't my forte, but I have found that I am often logical to a fault. I always overthink things, sometimes to the point where I can't sleep. Occasionally I feel like a robot, because I don't understand human emotions: "What is this thing you call love?" I couldn't say if I've ever been in love, because I barely know what it is. So the concept of religion, unwavering devotion to an invisible being with violent mood swings, or even a benevolent one, isn't for me.

Australia's former life as a penal colony is coming back to haunt the nation, with several serial killers and other dangerous types calling the subcontinent home. Martin Bryant, described as "a quiet lad and a bit of a loner," went on one of the deadliest killing sprees in the country's history. He fits the standard mass murderer/spree killer profile; history of abuse, IQ of 79, causing him to be ridiculed and isolated, diagnosed with schizophrenia. Australia also saw the brutal rampage of a killer known as "The Mutilator," a Scottish-born man who, after murdering his often homeless male victims, chopped off their genitals and left them in bags scattered around his home area. Leonard Fraser was another Aussie who set fear into the hearts of his countrymen with his streak of rape and murder, and, unlike most other serial killers, was described by law enforcement as "looking like a violent man."
Why are experienced law enforcement officials surprised when serial murderers show no emotion when describing their crimes? When Leonard Fraser maintained a stoic expression at the announcement of his murder conviction, they were surprised by his coldness. On a show about Joel Rifkin, the prostitute murderer who stalked New York in the early 1990s, the investigators recalled being shocked at Rifkin's flat tone in describing his brutal crimes. I'm a mere civilian, and I'm not surprised. These men, and in a few cases women, are all but incapable of "normal" emotion. Psychopaths are what a writer would call a flat character, with little emotional expression and even less understanding of their motives. Rifkin says that he didn't feel any unusual surge of rage before killing his first victim, he was just overcome with the desire to kill. In the excellent film No Country for Old Men, Javier Bardem plays a convincing psychopath, chilling in his stoic demeanor and violent actions.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tom Cruise reveals his true intentions

And those intentions include world domination through Scientology. The crew at Defamer has preserved the YouTube video that Scientologists quickly got taken down for all the world to see. Cruise, looking possessed as always, and adding a manic laugh to punctuate his diatribe, claims that Scientology is the sole authority on drug rehabilitation. Said program, Narconon, is an untested therapy that includes, if reports I've read are correct, vitamin saturation and saunas to, I guess, sweat the drugs out. If it sounds crazy, that's because it's Scientology. He also says that Scientology has unequaled success in rehabilitating criminals and curing mental ills. Until I see the evidence, from what I know about Scientology, I'm not buying it. This "religion," "therapy," "cult" or whatever it is was created by a failed science fiction writer whose sole motivation was to make money. This video was likely taken down by the cult brass because Cruise mentions "Suppressive Persons," a term that's supposed to be confined to the group's inner circles. "SPs" include anyone who questions or contradicts Scientology, and according to L. Ron Hubbard, these are people who need to be intimidated into silence. Scientology has ruined the lives of those who have spoken out against it, like Paulette Cooper, Jon Atack (whose book A Piece of Blue Sky I highly recommend) and the writer of a highly critical article in Time magazine. It's impossible to tell how deep Cruise is in the bowels of Scientology, whether he is a true believer or in on the scam. Atack, a former Scientologist, writes in his book that most Scientologists are not bad people and genuinely believe that their chosen religion or therapy is legitimate, but have been misguided. It's a cult trademark to take advantage of trusting lost souls. Charles Manson did it, Jim Jones did it, and Hubbard did it, with his successors continuing to take money from followers and ruin more lives.
Anyone who was on the Metro yesterday probably saw the sign-waving troops of the anti-abortion army. I guess it's not enough that anti-abortion group A Second Look has ads on the trains, now I have to look at more signs. One featured a picture of a baby with the words "Face it. Abortion kills." The word "life" is written on the back. It's not worth it to try to reason with these people, such as explaining that most abortions take place in the first trimester, when the fetus looks nothing like the picture they place on their signs to drum up sympathy and guilt. For the most part, their minds are made up. What really bothered me yesterday was seeing a little girl with who was probably her mother holding a sign. She looked about eight or nine years old. I find it hard to believe that a girl that age could make an informed decision about this issue without pressure from her parents. I always have a problem with parents who bring their children to political protests, because the child hasn't decided to come on their own, but was roped into it by their mother or father.
Scientologists and anti-abortion protesters: two things guaranteed to make me mad.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Russia: Mafia state?

I was watching a show on the History Channel about the Red Mafiya, Russia's organized crime faction, and it revealed some disturbing news. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, most Russian businesses pay at least 30% of their proceeds to the mob for protection, while one-third of Russians make less than a dollar a day. The Red Mafiya, aside from striking fear in the hearts of even other gangsters (on The Sopranos, Tony tells an associate, "Don't fuck with the Russians"), is more intellectually sophisticated than the average criminal enterprise. One scam involved buying cheap grain alcohol in the US, dying it blue and shipping it in industrial tubs, claiming it was window cleaner to bypass the charges attached to shipping alcohol. When the "window cleaner" got to Russia, the coloring was removed and the cheap booze was sold as vodka. With a reduction in charges, and the large amounts of vodka consumed by Russian citizens, the Red Mafiya made millions of dollars in the process. First the tyrannical Czars, then the failed experiment and paranoid leadership of Stalinism, now an economy run by gangsters and a government run by an ex-KGB officer who is possibly offing his enemies with poison, as well as several active serial killers; Russia changes, but very little has improved for the people.
On US soil, a black man charged with raping several men is currently imprisoned in Texas. Though it wasn't addressed during the trial, his outlook isn't good. Rapists are low on the chain of command in prison, often raped themselves once behind bars, and a homosexual rapist would likely be even lower, especially in Texas. And while Texas has come a long way from the time when a black man was dragged to his death behind a truck, this rapist's race could pose another problem. I'm unfamiliar with the cultural reasons behind this, but I've heard that homosexuality is a particularly strong taboo among black men.
Personal news: For the last few nights, I haven't been able to sleep. When I go to bed, I can't stop thinking and just drift off. I think about what's happened, things I saw and heard that day, which lead to similar past events, and on and on until an hour has passed with no sign of my mind stopping. I've never done drugs, aside from antidepressants and sometimes drinking way too much, but on those nights, I think it might be nice to have something that will turn off my overactive brain. But there are a lot of reasons why I've never used drugs. Primarily, I'm already paranoid and hypersensitve. If I used any kind of mood-altering substance, I think my head would explode.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I am an island

It's fun to think of myself as a tortured genius, even if it's not entirely true:

You Are 81% Tortured Genius

You totally fit the profile of a tortured genius. You're uniquely brilliant - and completely misunderstood.
Not like you really want anyone to understand you anyway. You're pretty happy being an island.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A very sad story

A woman killed her daughter because she couldn't handle the child's autistic behavior. That's depressing enough, but then the mother said she felt responsible for her child's condition because she had been vaccinated. The mother, as an MD, should know by now that the link between autism and vaccines has been thoroughly discredited. She said she loved her daughter but hated the autism, and wanted it out of her life. However it happened, the child came with the autism, and most parents in that situation do their best to help the child cope in whatever way they can, even though it may be difficult. Being a parent is hard, and I know I couldn't handle it at this point in my life. This mother took the easy way out, suffocating her very young daughter because she didn't think she could handle the child's condition, something hundreds of other parents deal with.
I have an interest in autism because a few years ago, I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism. When I was younger, everyone knew I was different, something I never heard the end of from nasty kids and confused adults, but they didn't know what was at the root of it. AS didn't enter the DSM until 1994, when I was 12, and didn't gain public recognition until years later. I was diagnosed at 19, after I had developed the social skills that were lacking when I was a kid. AS is marked by social impairment, an inability to pick up on social cues that most people inherently understand. All my life, I've heard that my "tone" was saying something I never intended to say with my words, something I was totally unaware of. The casual terms of endearment that adults use with children, and sometimes adults use with other adults, like "hon" and the like, were intolerable to me, and still are. Someone who doesn't know me has no business calling me hon or darling. And in introductory casual conversation, I still hate being touched. Once in high school, a teacher tried to put his hand on my arm while conducting a condescending talk about one of my assignments, and I recoiled. When I object to these things, I have people telling me they're just trying to be nice, but I don't see it that way.
Because of my condition, it has always been hard for me to make and keep friends. But it has improved as I've gotten older, as I've gradually learned the social techniques that I previously didn't understand. On my new favorite TV show Dexter, as unsettling as it is to identify with a serial killer, in a flashback scene, a teenage Dexter is approached by a girl, asking him if he's heard about the spring formal. He says yes, but nothing else. When the girl leaves, Dexter's father tells him that the girl wanted him to ask her to the dance. Dexter replies, "But that's not what she said." I totally understood. There's so much work in communicating; not only listening to what's said, but deciphering body language, tone, context, it goes on and on. I shouldn't be too surprised that it took me so long to pick up on it, and why I still need work in perfecting it, even though it seems to come naturally to almost everyone else.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Major turnaround in my life

After four long months of being unemployed and becoming broke, I finally have a new job. It doesn't pay too much at first, but I'm tutoring again, something I've always enjoyed, and I'll have a steady income and won't go totally broke and have to leave my apartment. This news, combined with my still-flourishing new relationship (though I'm still not sure if I should call him my boyfriend), has put me in a rare good mood, and I'm hoping it continues.
There has been some sad news though. Bound will not be open again until February 1st, due to moving to yet another venue. But from what I've heard, the new spot is a good one, so please, a call to the goth/fetish freaks out in the DC area, please come out on Fridays and support us. What else is there for our people to do on Friday nights? Also, my friend Juan, of the awesome band Baskorov (sorry if I misspelled that), is leaving for New York soon. I wish him the best of luck in NYC, and would like to make it out to the band's last DC area show for the time being tonight, but it's tough for me to get out there, and it looks like I'll already have plans for later tonight. Still, if anyone can make it out there, please support them.
For all the changes in my life, both good and bad, one thing remains constant: stupid guys who think they actually have a chance of having sex with me. Guys who can't spell, including one whose page on MySpace was a mess of near-illiteracy, and one who gave me his phone number. For the very few of you who don't already know, giving your number to a stranger you see online is a bad idea.

Monday, January 07, 2008

First blog of 2008

A week into the new year, I'm cautiously optimistic. Although I just found out via form email that I didn't get one job I interviewed for, I have an interview tomorrow and a promising lead on another possible opportunity. I get to keep my apartment for another month, and Anthony and I are still seeing each other.
New Year's Eve at Bound was a great time, though I wish more people had shown up. I guess there was too much competition from Rapture. But Anthony and I had a great night, recorded in a photo taken by our good friend Phoebe. We also ended up at Bound last Friday, where attendance was down yet again. Bound has lost yet another venue, and I want more people out for the grand re-opening at Felix on Februry 1st. There was a decent crowd at Midnight last Saturday, so I know the market is there. And Bound is the only event of its kind on Fridays, so where is everyone? Angels on Acid, an awesome band, will be perfoming at Felix on Bound's first night there, so that should be a big draw, I hope.
At Midnight, I saw another awesome band, Mankind is Obsolete. Very goth/synth, but with a hard-rocking edge. A cool band made up of equally cool members. I wish I had the money to buy a CD or T-shirt, but being unemployed, I didn't. Maybe next time they come through town, and I'll be there when they do.
So I'm going into 2008 with a slightly improved mood that I hope doesn't turn around and bite me in the ass, as often happens when I get a shred of optimism. But a happy new year to everyone who has helped me through the hard times and joined me in celebrating the good times. Happy 2008.