Archive for April, 2007

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dead eyes; are you just like me?

April 22, 2007

it seems like everyone is talking about the Virginia Tech massacre right now, and rightfully so – thirty-two people lost their lives when a disturbed young man, Seung-Hui Cho, went on a killing spree a few days ago.  it’s definitely important to discuss this tragedy, and to try to find some sort of sense in it.  at least, that’s what i’m sure many of the people personally involved in this tragedy are trying to discover – what was the reason behind Cho’s actions?  what motivated him to kill someone’s child, someone’s sibling, someone’s friend?  and all around the world, people are trying to determine the same thing.  what could possibly drive someone to commit such a horrendous act against his fellow man?

(c) Seung-Hui Cho & NBC

it was a tragic incident, and needs to be discussed.  so was it wrong of American broadcasting network NBC to air and distribute portions of Cho’s multimedia suicide note?  many seem to think so.  the parents of one of the victims even went as far as cancelling their appearance on NBC’s TODAY Show.  but as far as i’m concerned (and my husband Dylan backs me up on this one), pissing off a bunch of viewers and offending the victim’s parents is a small price to pay to allow us, the disattached masses, a glimpse into the mind of a killer.  i’m sure my remarks sound callous, but let’s be realistic – for a start, what could the parents of one of the victims say that we, the viewers, don’t already know?  we know the families and friends of the victims are grieving – we grieve with them.  we know that losing a loved one is one of the most painful events anyone could possibly experience.  there is nothing that these people personally affected by the tragedy could say that a compassionate public doesn’t already understand.  what we don’t understand, however, is what the killer was going through at the time, and how he could commit such a brutal act.  we can’t comprehend how one man could take thirty-two innocent lives.  and quite often in these situations, we will never know. 

however, this killer left us a clue in the form of the multimedia “manifesto” that he compiled and sent to NBC on the morning of the massacre, after he had already killed two people and was about to kill a whole lot more.  this “manifesto”, and Cho’s sketchy past, are the only real clues we have to what was going on in his mind at the time, and it is not until we take all this information into consideration can we formulate any sort of theory about why he did it, and what we, the compassionate public, can do to prevent this sort of thing happening again.

unfortunately, one of the first articles i read about the incident immediately delved into the conspiratorial aspects of the tragedy, and suggested that instead of blaming lax firearms laws, we should blame violent video games and antidepressants.  i remember the good old days when television was blamed as the root of all evil, but now, instead of taking into account the thousands of people being killed in George W. Bush’s illegal war, or the graphic violence shown in our movie theatres, we point the finger at…  video games?  yes, Cho was disturbed, but was this really due to a combination of first-person shooters and prozac?  video games don’t kill people – guns kill people.  and why was he taking antidepressants in the first place?  was it due to the bullying he recieved at school?  was his intense anger caused not by videogames but by everyday people in everyday society? 

don’t get me wrong – i’m not trying to blame the victims, nor am i defending the killer.  all i’m saying is that the answers aren’t always so easy to find.

i’ll be the first person to admit that i’m a loner.  i was bullied a bit at school.  i take prozac for my depression (ie, stress) and social anxiety.  and guess what – i also play violent video games.  fortunately, this combination of factors hasn’t turned me into a gun-toting maniac, and to be honest, i’m not afraid it ever will.  i’m also reasonably confident that even having possession of a gun wouldn’t be enough to sway me to kill someone.  but let’s face it – the likelihood of these people dying would have been greatly decreased had Cho’s access to guns not been quite so easy.  apparently, one of his guns was purchased from a pawnshop, and the other was ordered online.  it’s the ease with which he purchased these weapons that causes me the most amount of concern.  but naturally, Americans want to protect their second amendement right to bear arms, so the fact that a 23-year-old college student had two guns is not as important as what he did in his spare time.  after all, if another student present during the shooting had had a gun of their own, there is a possibility that they could have prevented (some of) the killings by shooting Cho themselves.  someone needs to remind people sharing this point of view that two wrongs do not make a right.  conversely, Cho’s troubled past does not justify his actions either.  all i am trying to say is that there are two sides to every story, even if one (or both) of the sides is “wrong”, and it’s important that we, the public, is able to see all sides, if not just for the basic human right of being allowed to make up one’s own mind.

so was NBC wrong for making Cho’s final words available to the public?  in my humble opinion, no.  sure, i found many of his personal photographs chilling, and probably just watched the clips to satisy a morbid curiosity to see what all the fuss was about.  but i saved the clips i watched, and have filed them in a multimedia folder on my hard drive next to “911 truth” clips and the Daniel Pearl execution.  does viewing – and saving – these clips make me a sick bastard?  i’m sure my family, partner and kitty cat will attest to the fact that i am not evil or mentally disturbed.  so why did i keep them?  because they’re real.  because these types of events happen all too frequently, and we, as a society, need to learn from them to stop history reapeating itself. 

recently, my father sent me a link to a clip compiling 60 sniper shots by Iraqi insurgents against the US military, and for a moment, i was a little taken aback.  why was my father, one of the most gentle and compassionate people i know, forwarding clips showing American soldiers being murdered?  but the answer’s really quite simple – because it happened.  these things happen every day, but we’re lucky if it’s featured in the crawl along the bottom of the screen during a news programme.  we’re told about these soldiers being killed, but without seeing it for ourselves, the reality of the horror is often completely missed by the audience.  the deaths become a statistic, merely faceless numbers.  sometimes we need to be reminded that these are real people committing these horrific acts, and that these are real people that are dying.

Light & Ryuk - Death Note

i’m sure some people (ie, manga fans) will be horrified by my making this connection, but i can’t help thinking about this whole Cho/”manifesto” business while i’m watching the anime Death Note.  the main protagonist in the story is Light Yagami, otherwise known as Kira, who has the power to kill using a supernatural notebook dropped by a Death God.  by simply picturing his victim’s face while writing their name in the Death Note, Light takes it upon himself to rid the world of evil by killing all the criminals.  he hopes that when society realises evil deeds will lead to certain death, a form of utopia will be created – a utopia where he is the “ruler god”, where he is justice.  all the while, he is being pursued by the world’s most brilliant criminal investigator known as only as L.  i’m usually not a huge fan of manga, but i find this series both engrossing and incredibly thought-provoking.  the line between right and wrong is often blurred, and it’s difficult not to sympathise with Light.  although we know that two wrongs don’t necessarily make a right, and technically we know that Light’s actions are morally (and socially) objectionable, we can’t help thinking that if we were in a similar situation with the same sort of power, perhaps we would do the same thing – for the “good” of all mankind.  and this has been happening throughout history for as far back as we can remember – the religious crusades, ethnic cleansing and even the actions of people such as Seung-Hui Cho were all committed because someone thought the world would be “better off” without certain types of people.  the compassionate human knows these ideas are not right – are not good – but usually we don’t really know how or why someone else would think otherwise.  that’s the beauty of Death Note – it lets us into the mind of the highly intelligent and charismatic Light, helping us to understand that sometimes good intentions are, in fact, morally reprehensible, even though they may seem perfectly sane and reasonable.

English-subtitled episodes of Death Note are available in a number of places online.  You can get them through BitTorrent, or download them from couple of websites.  my preferred choice is Death Fan, which has all the episodes available through MegaUpload, but Death Note TV also has most of the episodes, including some you can watch online.

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it’s all grey to me

April 20, 2007

i was looking around the ‘net for Fortean videos – y’know; UFOs, unexplained phenomena, alternative histories, that sort of thing – when i stumbled across the Grey Lodge.  it doesn’t take a genius (or a Twin Peaks fan) to realise that this place deals with things that can’t be categorized in simple terms of black or white, but come from that fuzzy place in between.  it is divided into two sections – the Grey Lodge Occult Review, and GPod (which is essentially a blog version of the infrequently updated magazine-style Occult Review). 

as the name suggests, the Grey Lodge reviews (and shares) various types of media for those of us with more… eccentric tastes.  they have pretty much everything – documentaries, art films, audio books, podcasts – even the Daily Show.  they don’t host all of the files themselves, so a basic knowledge of using BitTorrent is needed to get some of the best stuff (I had been looking for a copy of Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint 9 for months).  the Occult Review side has just been updated for the first time in about two years, but all the original content is still there, so don’t forget to have a browse once you’re done with GPod.  (which will take a while, if you’re anything like me – and my download queue has never been fuller!)

if YouTube and Google Video are more your thing, check out Anomaly Television, which posts numerous videos each day under a variety of themes (such as UFO Monday and Cryptozoology Wednesday).  don’t forget that you can use a website such as KeepVid to download these videos to watch at your leisure.

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is there anybody out there?

April 19, 2007

or “moon anomalies for beginners”.

moon base?

when i recently informed my sister that they’ve found structures on the Moon (along with various other unexplained anomalies), she requested some websites where she could see and read for herself.  now, i’m sure she wants to see actual evidence of these structures on the Moon (and Mars), but to be frank, there is no “real evidence” (yet).  what i mean is, there’s nothing that you’d see that would make you go, “oh my god, that’s a building!”  when viewing images of the Moon (or any other astral body), you have to keep in mind that these photographs were taken from very far away, and that many have been censored or doctored by NASA.  in a way, you have to look at these anomalies in context with their surroundings.  for example, take the above picture of a “Moon base” – at first glance, you see a crater on the Moon.  but if you look closer, you’ll notice that although the majority of the Moon (in the image) appears “flat” and “smooth”, the area around the crater in the middle of the image is vastly different.  there are bumps and ridges and lines.  sure, it’s possible that they are natural formations, but then we have to ask ourselves – what caused this “natural formation”?  weather?  a meteor shower?  are these likely options?  and then you have to use your imagination a little – if we took a photograph of a city on Earth from high above, would it still look like a city?  or would we just notice that the terrain looked “bumpy and different from its surroundings”?  that’s often the case with these photographs – they are taken from too great a distance to really represent what they are.  we can’t see the individual streets and buildings and parks.  but we can see that there’s something there, something that’s different from what we might expect.  that’s why these are lunar anomalies, not hard evidence of the existence of extraterrestrials.  we look at these images and say to ourselves, “gee, that sure looks like a photograph of a city taken from a great height”.  the proponents of these lunar structure theories aren’t saying “that’s a Moon base” – they’re saying “that area there looks different and unexpected, and warrants further investigation”.  usually these anomalies are given fanciful names to illustrate what they resemble, or what they could represent.  if we see what looks like streets, we’ll nickname it “the freeway“.  if it’s round, we’ll call it a “dome“.  the important thing to remember is that we don’t really know what extraterrestrial buildings would look like.  we don’t know what materials the architects used, if the structures are above or below ground, if the “streets” are really roads at all.  we could even be looking at the ruins of a city, and not a bustling, thriving metropolis.  a skeptic could look at any of these photographs and state that they see nothing unusual, that the lunar landscape looks exactly as they imagined it would.  but a viewer with an open mind might think, “yeah, that does kinda look like a city from far above – maybe there is something there”.

i’ll admit that i am a “believer” – i think it’s highly unlikely that we are/were the only “intelligent” creatures to ever inhabit this solar system.  i’ll also admit that when i look at some of these images, i can’t see a damn thing.  but then there are photographs that really make me scratch my head and wonder, “what the hell caused/created that?”  as i said earlier, they could all just be amazing natural formations, but i’ll be damned if they don’t look artificial.  so all i ask of you, the viewer, is to keep an open mind, and try to put things into context.  ask yourself the right questions (ie, “how did a triangle get into that crater?”).

a good place to start is the Anomalies Network – specifically, their page on Moon/Mars anomalies.  the links under the “general information” heading contain a wealth of images and information.  the anomalous Moon images page just contains links to images, so is a good place to whet your appetite before plunging ahead.  also be sure to check out the pages about the “tower”, the “shard”, the “castle”, and the “monolith graveyard” on Mars, as these are probably the most “obvious” examples of unexplainable structures.  for a summary and explanation of what you’re seeing, make sure to read the “interpretation of anomalous structures on the Moon” page, where a geologist backs up the claims of the man who originally discovered these bizarre structures, Richard C. Hoagland.

Hoagland actually specialises in mysterious Mars anomalies, so once you’re done perusing the Moon pictures, there is much information to be found on his own website, the Enterprise Mission – and let’s face it: the stuff on Mars is often a hell of a lot weirder.  there’s a lot to wade through, and it’s not particularly well-organised, so good luck.

but back to the Moon – it wasn’t actually the supposed structures that piqued my sister’s interest in the Moon, but my claim that it is a hollow, artificial satellite.  now, i read a hell of a lot of stuff online that i often don’t keep a track of, and unfortunately, i can’t locate the site where i originally read this claim.  however, i did manage to find a number of interesting articles that follow this theme.  Strange Moon facts sums it all up rather nicely, but for further reading, check out the following articles.  if anyone knows of any good hollow moon/artificial satellite pages, please let me know – my inquisitive sister will thank you for it!