Sunday, April 29, 2007

Has "writing while Asian" become a crime?

A couple of people in my blogosphere have commented on the story of Allen Lee, the Cary-Grove High School senior facing two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct for writing an essay that made his teacher think he sounded like a school shooter.

We an argue out the legalities of this one, but the truth of the matter is, I have some sympathy for the charge. Because this kid is supposed to be a straight-A student, and his comments show that he can write perfectly intelligently.

And the peice of writing in question really does sound like something a crazy guy would write, almost certainly by design. (He claims in his comments that it is supposed to be written "in character," but according to news reports, his assignment was free-writing, so his teacher had no reason to assume he wasn't writing about himself. He certainly didn't tell her.)

Honestly, reading this and comparing it to his usual writing, I have trouble believing that this particular kid wasn't playing a prank on his english teachers.

The essay:

Blood sex and Booze. Drugs Drugs Drugs are fun. Stab, Stab, Stab, S...t...a...b..., poke. “So I had this dream last night where I went into a building, pulled out two P90s and started shooting everyone..., then had sex with the dead bodies. Will, not really, but it would be funny if I did.” Umm, yeah, what to wright about...... I’m leaving to join the Marines and I really don’t give a F*** about my academics, so why does the only class that’s complete Bull S***, happen to be the only required class...enough said. The model citizen would stay around to vote in new board member to change the 4 years of English policy, but no one really stays around to vote for that kind of local crap, so whoever gets there name on the Ballet with a pretty face gets to do what the F*** ever they want with local ordinance. A person is smart, but people are dumb selfish animals. We can’t make rules for ourselves so we vote others to do it for us, but we can’t even do that right, I meen seriously, Bush for President? And our other option was John Kerry who claimed to partake in Vietnam Special Forces missions that haven’t been declassified....F***ing Bull S***. So Power Flower Super Mario. Pudge, hook, rot, dismember “Fresh Meat.” Most new/young teachers are laid back, and cooperative with students as feedback and input into the curriculum and atmosphere. My current English teacher is a control freak intent on setting a gap between herself and her students like a 63 year old white male fortune 500 company CEO, and a illegal immigrant. If CG was a private catholic school I could understand, but wtf is her problem. And baking brownies and rice crispies does not make up for it, way to try and justify yourself as a good teacher while underhandidly looking for complements on your cooking. No quarrel on you qualifications as a writer, but as a teacher, don’t be surprised on inspiring the first cg shooting.

OK, this is apparently how he usually writes: (Yes, this could theoretically have been written by his lawyer, but as again, he's a straight-a student so I'm sure the essay doesn't represent his real writing.)

Author’s Note: This production of the writing is done in the most accurate manner I can depict of the original writing. Grammar and spelling mistakes are included at the best accuracy possible. The first phrase in questions is in fact a Green Day song. The second reference to drugs is in relation to the schools history of drug problems. I am personally clean of all controlled substances. The statement in quotes is done so as a non personal statement as I would have done in reference to a character for a story. The reference to the gun P90 is from a video game, combined with a reference to necrophilia as a comment regarding a seriously messed up situation. A situation such as the rape of villagers during a raid by U.S. troops in Vietnam. I really do not care too much about by continuing academia as in relation to grades. I do however believe on continuing my personal education, and I am actually still working for my classes. My views on the graduation requirements explain themselves. The reference to Mario and Pudge(a DOTA character) are completely random in this essay. The reference to a person being smart and people being dumb is based on a quite from “Men in Black.” I generally do believe the public opinion is best. The rest of the essay is rather self explanatory, the main statement in question I have already released a comment online about. I request that all information I have released is read together, and nothing is given separately or as an excerpt as the administration has seen fit to do.

On an additional note, I have completed the MEPS (Military Entry Processing Station) examinations, and yes a psychiatric evaluation is included in the process. If I’m qualified to defend the country, I believe I am qualified to attend school.

Now, if there has just been a school shooting, and you write an essay like that one, is your conduct disorderly?

Honestly, I'm hard pressed to say that it isn't.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Happy Administrative Professionals Day

Not too long ago, CC made photocopies and filed and ran down to the deli for snacks for people and mailed things.

Now she has two wonderful ladies in her office who do these things for her so she can research, draft motions, answer interrogatories and write letters.

A secretary's day not too long ago, CC got a gift card and a handshake, then went back to photocopying and filing and running to the deli and mailing things.

This morning, CC dropped forty bucks on two plants in cute planters and two funny cards and she is already at her desk doing research, drafting motions, answering interrogatories and writing letters.

What they say is so true. Tis better to give than to recieve.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

American Idol Note

Blake is dead to me now.


Domesticity so sweet.

Our housemates didn't come home last night.

We didn't think much of it at the time. They work odd schedules and sometimes they stay out late. But there were no baby cries in the morning, and our-Hero-Charlie-the-Brave's car was still missing.

It was then I started to worry a bit.

"Was it something we said?" I asked.

"Maybe he and Tina have been murdered by Russian spies," TheCSO said. (Charlie is ex-CIA.)

We tried their cell phones and they didn't answer, which isn't unusual. Mid-morning, I tried Charlie's mom's house. He and his mom are really close and I knew she would know. I left a message.

Tonight theCSO had heard from her. Charlie had hurt his foot and he and the baby had slept at his mother's house. Tina had been downstairs. (You may think it's weird that we never actually looked in their apartment for them, but you have to understand that our housemates are not typically quiet people. At all. And their car was gone.)

After dark, theCSO and I walked Rebecca around the neighborhood. (What is it that makes the air smell like raisins on warm nights down at the end of our street?) We held hands and talked about our friends, laughing as the dog kept pulling us along.

Two blocks from home, Charlie's car pulls up next to us.

"Hey guys!"

We walk up to the car and talk for awhile, happy to catch up. No, he hadn't been murdered by spies. And we hadn't said anything wrong either. His foot is better, his wife is tired but was grateful for a night of uninterrupted sleep. He's trying to figure out how to burn a CD from Itunes for his sister tonight. TheCSO leans into the car and describes the process while Charlie asks questions.

They could be two small-town old guys arguing over a transmission. Finally, I tell theCSO to just get in the car and go show Charlie. I'll walk the dog back.

I turn away from the car, but Charlie isn't finished talking to me.

"Wait a sec," he says as theCSO gets in on the passenger's side.

"Yeah?" I turn back around.

"Thanks for checking up on us, that meant a lot"

"No problem," And the car pulls away.

I slowly walk Rebecca back home, smelling raisins in the air and wondering if this is what a family feels like.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Apropos of nothing

So, I usually use Arm and Hammer toothpaste, but I couldn't find it this morning. I guess I'm out. Either theCSO or one of my housemates had bought Aquafresh and I decided to try that.

I brushed, spit into the sink and noticed with horror the pinkness of what I'd just spat out. "Damn," I thought to myself. "I have some SERIOUS gingivitis all of a sudden."

Around then I noticed that aquafresh toothpaste is white and red.

Well, that's stupid...

who felt she should say something light today as the CB has been sort of ponderous lately.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Corpse-Cold CC ponders how to reach out.

Today in Youth Group, a girl announced that two of her friends had died at Virginia Tech. And I had no clue what to say, and I'm supposed to be the leader.

I think what came out of my mouth was something like "Oh, gosh, that sucks. I'm so sorry."

The girl was very stoic about it, very much the way I would likely be. We talked about it for a few minutes, then someone said something that allowed for a gradual change of subject. The girl seemed willing to let the topic change, so I let it change, too.

After class I came up to her, gave her my card and said "I know that a lot of people will say 'Call me if you need to talk,' but I'm going to say it too. Seriously, I'm here for you."

She smiled, took the card, said "thank you," and turned away.

People have told me that I'm "hard to help" because I am so flat when I'm upset. Today I see their point. Had she collapsed sobbing into my arms, I would have known what to do.

When she turned away, I felt like the best thing to do was give her some air and know that if she never called me, I wasn't the person she needed.

Goodness YRUU stuff isn't easy sometimes.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Words that still ring true

(I didn't write this. I stole it from here.)


Of course the World Trade Center bombings are a uniquely tragic event, and it is vital that we never lose sight of the human tragedy involved. However, we must also consider if this is not also a lesson to us all; a lesson that my political views are correct. Although what is done can never be undone, the fact remains that if the world were organised according to my political views, this tragedy would never have happened.

Many people will use this terrible tragedy as an excuse to put through a political agenda other than my own. This tawdry abuse of human suffering for political gain sickens me to the core of my being. Those people who have different political views from me ought to be ashamed of themselves for thinking of cheap partisan point-scoring at a time like this. In any case, what this tragedy really shows us is that, so far from putting into practice political views other than my own, it is precisely my political agenda which ought to be advanced.

Not only are my political views vindicated by this terrible tragedy, but also the status of my profession. Furthermore, it is only in the context of a national and international tragedy like this that we are reminded of the very special status of my hobby, and its particular claim to legislative protection. My religious and spiritual views also have much to teach us about the appropriate reaction to these truly terrible events.

Countries which I like seem to never suffer such tragedies, while countries which, for one reason or another, I dislike, suffer them all the time. The one common factor which seems to explain this has to do with my political views, and it suggests that my political views should be implemented as a matter of urgency, even though they are, as a matter of fact, not implemented in the countries which I like.

Of course the World Trade Center attacks are a uniquely tragic event, and it is vital that we never lose sight of the human tragedy involved. But we must also not lose sight of the fact that I am right on every significant moral and political issue, and everybody ought to agree with me. Please, I ask you as fellow human beings, vote for the political party which I support, and ask your legislators to support policies endorsed by me, as a matter of urgency.

It would be a fitting memorial.

CC's feeling somewhat better

I went in to work this morning and did a few things that I could only do at the office, then photocopied some files and came home. I've been reasonably productive, and much happier, since.

Hint: The leaf of one's dining room table makes an executive-sized lapdesk that fits two files and a laptop.

Unfortunately, that I am answering interrogatories means that Bill Barr's suggestion of a whiskey and lemonade cure for what ails me will have to wait. But hey, there's always this evening...


Thursday, April 19, 2007

For the love of God, won't somebody amuse me?

I am home sick in bed and it turns out all my books are boring. Everything on TV, too. The billion magazines we have all over the house?


Even the internet has begun to bore me.

(Item: I've only been awake for three hours.)


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I read the guy's plays so you don't have to.

FWIW, I found the Virginia Tech Shooter's Plays and read them. I've summarized and commented on them below.

The plays:

Richard McBeef: An angry teenage boy is trying to convince his mom that his stepdad is a murderer/child molester. Though he admits to the stepdad that he was lying, he's successful in breaking up his mother's relationship, but the stepfather kills him.

Mr. Brownstone: A bunch of teenagers sneak into a casino and are playing casino games, talking about how much they hate their teacher and wish they could kill him. (They make many references to how the teacher "ass rapes" people. Whether this is intended as metaphor isn't clear.) The teacher shows up at some point. One of them wins the jackpot and the teacher claims that the kids knocked him over and stole his ticket. So the teacher gets the money and the kids swear they will get revenge.

CC's Thoughts on them:

Both stories are badly written and seem more like the work of a high school kid than a college student. He does not come off as if English were his second language, he comes off as very immature and an unsophisticated thinker. He also doesn't understand some of the basics of playwriting. (E.g. If at all possible, avoid having scenes take place in cars.)

Honestly, though, had I been in a class where these were workshopped, I would have thought the guy was a jackass, but I wouldn't necessarily have thought "school shooter." He comes off as much more mentally ill in "Mr. Brownstone."

I do write mysteries myself, and though the shooter's work is very bad, when I reread the summary I wrote of the first play, I might easily have written a story with the same plot outline.

It's probably worth noting what the two plays had in common:

1. Angry young people who are ultimately punished for their actions.
2. Accusations of molestation (admitted to be lies in the first play, possibly hyperbole in the second)
3. Lots of swearing, much of it sort of odd in the way that kids who are just learning to swear use swearing badly.

Anyway, that's what I gleaned from them.


"All laws must be followed" examined.

At a church meeting I attended last night, someone told me she had read that the President's reaction to yesterday's Virginia Tech shootings was to talk about how we still shouldn't have gun control.

A bunch of us thought that was odd. I speculated that he might have said it before the second shooting.

Anyway, after hearing about it from a few more people, I decided to look it up.

It turns out that Bush himself didn't say anything about gun rights and the shooting.

His press secretary did say:

" "As far as policy, the president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed. And certainly, bringing a gun into a school dormitory and shooting numbers -- I don't want to say numbers, because I know that they're still trying to figure out how many people were wounded and possibly killed. But obviously, that would be against the law and something that someone should be held accountable for. " "

But that was in response to a direct question from a reporter about whether the shootings would change the president's mind about gun control. I'd say that having been asked the question, the quote forms an unsurprising answer that is not particularly offensive in context.

A reporter tried to follow up: "Columbine, [the] Amish school shooting, now this, and a whole host of other gun issues brought into schools. That's not including guns on the streets in many urban areas and rural areas. Does there need to be some more restrictions? Does there need to be gun control in this country now?"

The press secretary's response: "The president -- as I said, if there are changes to the president's policy, then we will let you know."

Anyway, that's the story behind that quote. Perhaps it would be ideal if one large shooting changed the president's mind, but it would be unrealistic to expect that. (Particularly since the guns weren't legal anyway, so he could always make the argument that tighter gun laws won't make much difference to people who aren't even following the existing laws.)

Personally, I would be very wary of any publication where I heard that quote taken out of context. The writers at such a publication likely assume no one will look up the context and may well be misleading on other issues.


Clarification: The guns were purchased legally. The fact that this guy destroyed the serial numbers MADE them illegal. Anyway, if that distinction matters to you, there, I've made it.

Friday, April 13, 2007

CC's Complex Feelings on Don Imus

I’m honestly torn on Don Imus. I think I dislike everybody involved in this mess excepting the Rutgers ladies themselves.

I’ll start with Imus. I find the “I was a firm believer in racial justice and political correctness until rap music changed my mind” argument ridiculous. (Note that this isn’t a quote from Imus, but what I see is the essence of his argument.) I wonder if Imus would rather be a racist than an old man who tried to sound current and couldn’t pull it off.

Also, people who claim that Imus’s right to free speech has been violated by his bosses not letting him say whatever he wants on a television show that his bosses pay for are idiots. Free Speech means the government can’t stop you from saying what you want. You can still get fired, people don’t have to like you, you can even get excommunicated.

But honestly, can we please find someone other than the Reverend Al Sharpton to represent what white people consider the majority African American view on these things?

I mean, I can’t deny that Al Sharpton knows something about the power of words to hurt people. Between the Tawana Brawley case and the Crown Heights Riot,
Sharpton has repeatedly shown himself to be a man willing to hurt lots of people in the name of his cause.

I don’t know if he was ever required to apologize to the family of the rabbinical student killed by the riot Sharpton worked hard to incite, but I do know that I find it weird that Sharpton feels that anyone who says anything against African-Americans ever owes him an apology and we all go along with that.

I mean, the ladies of Rutgers were hurt less by the initial comment than by the fact that people like Sharpton have worked so hard to keep it in the press. I’m torn on that one. Maybe a comment like that needs to be famous so we can all hold it up as a bad example for society. But does that help the originally insulted person more or hurt them more? I doubt there’s one answer.

It also leaves me wondering: At this point, what can Imus do?

He’s apologized over and over, he’s provided excuses, his reputation has been destroyed, he’s gotten fired.

And everyone is still mad at him.

It seems sort of an ironic end to a guy who became a celebrity through insulting people to be forever hated now for insulting the wrong people the wrong way.

And while any of us could have seen that "Nappy-headed Hos" would cause problems a mile away, what is offensive and to whom is a really complex subject. To take an example that's pretty personal to the UU blogosphere, pretty much all UUs have heard UUism referred to as a "cult" at some point, we know it's not so we ignore it. But when Robin Edgar heard his revelation referred to that way, it obviously really hurt him. Not condoing anything else he's done. But I do believe him that he heard it called a "cult" early on and that really hurt him. And as I mentioned above, there are a bunch of things Al Sharpton has done that I don't condone either.

I’m not a Don Imus fan. But, if, say, the Simpsons went to far and did something really, really over the top insulting Christianity and Christians started to pull up every example of Christians being the target of unkindnesss on that show, I would be pretty quick to defend their overall record as making fun of everyone but not really meaning any specific insult on any specific group.

Heck, I already defended South Park the same way when Scientologists were condemning it.

What Imus said was way out of line, whatever his motivations for saying it.

I guess I’m having trouble seeing why this is so different from similar incidents of entertainers making fun of similar groups.

Do we need to change the culture of entertaining ourselves by making fun of people?

As a major, major, Simpsons fan, I hope not.

But I don’t know.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Random Thought on American Idol

Ever notice how when people vote for Haley because she's sexy, everyone says they are voting for her because of her looks, but when people vote for Sanjaya because he's sexy, everyone says they are voting for him because Sanjaya has immense personal charm?

IMHO, Sanjaya is usually far worse than Haley, but nobody talks to him like he's a talentless slut.

Melinda's still my girl.


Bad! Bad Universalist!

I like this website.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Two odd conversations

Easter Sunday, the Chalicefamily was out having brunch. (This is our Easter tradition. "Throwing eggs at houses" is not, no matter what Charlie says.)

At one point the Chalicerelative was talking about her church service. She then turned to me and said "What do Unitarians do for Easter?"

"Well," I said. "Some churches just have a regular service, some do a celebration of new life and springtime, but I'd say most do a service on Jesus, though the focus is a little different because we don't believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ."

(I probably should have said "most of us don't" but I was trying to keep things simple and sometimes "simple" and "inclusive" are impossible to both achieve at once.)

"I'll tell you something, Miss Sue*, I'll bet you most Christians don't believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ these days."

"That's funny, because I remember sitting in church saying 'I believe in..."

"Oh, I know we SAY it, but not many people believe it."

Now first of all, I don't believe that most Christians don't believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ, though I believe that her friends don't. And secondly, not having to recite creeds I don't believe in is one reason why I'm a UU.

But I didn't think saying either of those things would be as effective as just letting her words hang in the air.

So that's what I did.


Today at work, I was walking through the office.

"Hey, c'mere!" One of the other paralegals said.

"What's up?"

"Larry Shiflett is the father of Anna Nicole's baby," she said.

"Who's that?"

"He's the photographer, not the guy on the birth certificate."


"I didn't want it to be either of them," she said. "I didn't want anybody to be the father."

Now, I'm pretty sure she meant that she didn't want any of the men who had come forward to be the father so the search pool would have had to be widened, but the idea of Anna Nicole Smith having an immaculate conception amused me all the way back to my office.


*No, you cannot call me that. And don't put "Whatever you say, Miss Sue" in the comments. That's not funny, it's just irritating and if you have the impulse to do such things you may want to examine yourself for other irritating habits.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Church of the Water Cooler

If, perhaps you've only been a UU for fifteen minutes or so, it's remotely possible that you haven't heard enough "Yes, we have no religion" jokes about UUism for one lifetime.

Should this be the case, feel free to check out this admittedly nicely done UU World Parody.

I realize it's April Fools day and I'm supposed to laugh, but geez, I hate it when people go for the tired joke...