The current/World Affairs thread.

Discussion of other topics not necessarily Keats or poetry-related, i.e. other authors, literature, film, music, the arts etc.

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Postby Credo Buffa » Sun Apr 15, 2007 10:21 am

I definitely see your point, and I'm sure that's why so many people are against environmentalism. I just see the situation as being this: if in fact global warming is happening, and the effects are manifesting themselves as quickly and as violently as many scientists are saying they could, then we don't have time to wait around for proof. It's the difference between maybe spending a lot of money on something that might turn out to be nothing and saying "Oops, we goofed" and stopping all efforts to redirect them and move on, or not spending that money and turning out to be wrong and saying "Oops, we goofed" while watching entire species become extinct, cities drown under water, millions of people around the world displaced, and God knows what else. If it turns out the environmentalists were wrong, then we can get back on track. If they were right and we didn't listen to them, then we'll have allowed damage on a global scale that can never be reversed without making any effort to stop it.

It's like buying health insurance. I'm dirt poor, it's extremely expensive, and I might live my whole life without ever having any significant health problems or any accidents for which I'd need to spend the tens of thousands of dollars over my lifetime. If I wasn't paying that extra money every month, I might be able to eat better, live in a nicer apartment, turn the heat on just that little bit higher in the winter so I'm not freezing at night. . . But do I really want to take the risk knowing that I could get in an accident tomorrow? Is it not better to take the risk knowing that you're covered--or at least bought that extra time--for the possibility than hope you don't need it? Sure, you might die and it would all be for naught, but how are you ever supposed to know?

What is your "potential fate"? You could live to be a happy and healthy 100, or you could be hit by a car tomorrow and die. The fact is that if you don't know what is going to happen, but the possibility is there, you should have a course of action ready before it happens rather than after, because you might feel stupid having made the extra expenditure that you could have used for other more immediate concerns if you plan and plan and it turns out to be nothing. . . or you might be dead.
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Postby adonais » Sun Apr 15, 2007 2:12 pm

Sounds like you're applying Pascal's Wager to global warming. I guess there are similarities.

Well if I'm done defending the devil, I would offer the suggestion that it's one thing to observe a correlation that is consistent with global warming, and quite another, and a much greater challenge, to understand the mechanisms behind that correlation. If you want to do the right thing, that understanding is probably key. You sound rather impatient (waiting around for evidence apparently isn't your thing), but it's not like everybody is just sitting on their hands. There is steady progress being made towards understanding the complex interactions between the ecosphere, the planet and the solar neighborhood, and the mad scientists are already coming up with all sorts of crazy geoengineering proposals, some of which might actually work, and not cost everybody an arm and a leg in a decade or so. But if you'd rather give up yours now, that's certainly your prerogative. Each to his own. ;)
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Postby AsphodelElysium » Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:34 pm

I'm not particularly certain if this fits in with this thread but here it is anyway. There was a school shooting at Virginia Tech today and the authorities are already claiming it as the worst in U.S. history. There are 32 dead and 28 wounded, possibly dead or dying. This event is painfully close to home. My own university, not 20 minutes away from Tech, has stepped up security in reaction to today's events.

I realize that violence in schools is a problem everywhere, not just the U.S., but this has brought it sharply into focus for me. I was hoping to get everyone's input on this. Why do these things happen? Does it always just boil down to the individual's whim or is there an atmosphere that makes this behavior seem acceptable? It also seems that school violence is a problem that never seems to be solved. An event happens, there are high levels of security and paranoia, and then said event is put on the back burner, security becomes lax, and then something happens again.

Any input is welcome. I'm just really struggling with this at the moment.
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Postby Saturn » Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:41 pm

I'd really like to say I'm somehow shocked or surprised by this in the slightest but I'm not at all.

With the huge number of guns in circulation in the US and the accessibility of weapons [legal or illegal] these things will happen when some unstable person goes off the rails and has an instrument of vengeance at hand.

I can only shake my head with sadness - I don't see how this could be remedied but congress needs to seriously look at the Constitution again, look at the time it was written when the only guns they had were muskets, not hand guns, semi-automatic rifles, shotguns or any of the terrible weapons we have today.

Its time to act now I'm fucking sick of this and the NRA and anyone that supports the gun lobby can go to hell - bastards.

I'm so angry :evil:

Someone on another forum I visit from Philadelphia has mentioned that in there alone there have been 300 deaths already this year from fire arms.

Madness, just sheer madness.
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Postby Malia » Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:50 pm

Dalva, I am with you in your shock and in the questions that seem to flood one's mind when this kind of catastrophe occurs. I've been listening to reports about this from NPR all day and have heard several horrifying stories about a gunman who roamed the halls of the Engineering building laughing every time he shot of a round. This coming after he supposedly shot and killed two other people at a dormatory 2 hours earlier. It seems so senseless, its true. Just recently, someone stalked and killed his ex-girlfriend at the University of Washington campus--that happened only about a month ago. For someone to have the kind of meltdown the guy at Virgina Tech had, who knows exactly how something like that could happen? I'd say it had to be a combination of factors, surely. I can't determine whether or not times today are any more violent than in the past. . .I think about the "Wild West" and people were regularly slaughtered then--it was a fight or die society in many respects. But it seems to me that part of the reason we see people "going off" in the way that guy did today is that people aren't able (or aren't taught) that there are many ways to deal with stress and mass violence should be last on the list. I think there are people who just overload--they don't have anyone to talk to, they don't have support networks, then they perhaps get into violent video games and ideations as a way to subjugate their rage--which maybe causes them to disconnect from empathy and see others as inanimate objects that they are then "allowed" to kill. Certainly, people shouldn't be allowed to get automatic and semi-automatic weapons (at least not easily--but I suspect if gun control laws were tightened, people would find a way to get their pieces on the black market) . . . this is so much rambling on my part, but I too have been struggling with this whole issue--so complex--no easy answers, to be sure. I think, ultimately, there is a disconnect taking place in our society. . .aren't there usually signs that a person is headed toward mass killing? Can we be more aware of these signs as individuals and a society and try to intervene and help these troubled people before its too late?
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Postby Saturn » Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:07 pm

I missed this whole story today and only heard an hour ago and will not be reading or watching any more about it, it would upset me too much I know that.

Malia, I doubt there were many serial killers in the Wild West period - sure it was a violent, hard time but things like this just didn't happen as far as I know.

The argument the pro-gun lobby would give is "Oh these things wouldn't happen if everyone carried a gun the decent law-abiding citizen could take out the bad guy" - and I understand that logic but where does that end??
It doesn't... until every single person walking the street is armed for their own "protection" and no-one wants to see that [or do they??? :shock:]

Of course there's no one answer to this, no one reason WHY someone would do this but the thing I want to see changed is the WAY he was able to do this, the access to the weapons.
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Postby AsphodelElysium » Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:21 pm

I think you're right Malia, there is a disconnectedness in our society now that I don't think was there before. There is a lack of empathy and that goes back to my original question. Is it a lack of empathy for just the person doing the killing or does the environment that person is exposed to make it seem more like the "thing" to do. I am not in any way, shape, or form condoning what was done today, I'm just questioning whether or not the environment we live in makes this a more attractive alternative to some people? It is a good observation that perhaps there was no support system for this guy, that he felt he had nothing to lose and because the world had been sh***y to him, then it was okay for him to be that way back. But what can be done to remedy that? How can you make support systems more readily available? Our healthcare system sucks, period. Most people can't afford counselling or medication. And even if these things were available, would it make a difference?

I agree too that even if guns were taken out of the hands of people who would not use them illegally (which they shouldn't be), it does not mean that they would be taken out of the hands of criminals. They are criminals, they don't obey laws, that is the point. But Saturn is right too. The laws need to be stricter, guns need to be monitored. There are just so many layers to the whole situation. And to fix one thing (gun laws, etc.) you would have to fix other things (society's lack of empathy, availability of healthcare) because to fix just one wouldn't help in the long run.

So, with all that in mind, what can be done? :(
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Postby Malia » Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:51 pm

All I can say (in sum) is that this issue is far more complex than simply being about gun control or the availability of firearms, etc. I'm one of those people who believes that everything and everyone is connected in some way--this crazed gunman is, to me, a symptom of a deeper problem in society that we are not only affected by but involved in. It isn't just
"someone else's" problem, is what I'm trying to say. We are all part of society, we all contribute to it--we have a responsibility to try to do more (our small part, as individuals) to create a more functional world. True, pain and suffering and crazed gunmen will probably still be a part of our society no matter what we do, but that is no reason not to *try* to make a positive difference.

Saturn, there were quite a few serial killers in the Wild West--pretty much every famed (and infamous) gunslinger and many lawmen could be considered serial killers. And these are just the people we know of.
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Postby adonais » Tue Apr 17, 2007 5:51 am

Three cheers for the second amendment.....or not.

Apalling, this tragedy.
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Postby Saturn » Tue Apr 17, 2007 9:22 am

Malia wrote:
Saturn, there were quite a few serial killers in the Wild West--pretty much every famed (and infamous) gunslinger and many lawmen could be considered serial killers. And these are just the people we know of.


Of course I know there were people who shot and killed many men, over time but not like this, not mass slaughter.

Not that that makes any difference of course but this is completely different in nature.

One other thing I'd like to say is that events like this bring into focus even more sharply the need for more research into mental health.

TV/film violence, rock music, video games etc. are enjoyed by millions and most people can draw the line between fiction and fact and you can't blame or legislate for the .01% of people who are unstable enough to do such a thing.

Sure guns don't kill people, people kill people but you give bad or unstable people access to dangerous weapons and they will cross that line.

Of course any knee-jerk reaction would be pointless. I don;t know if any of you have ever heard of the Dunblane tragedy which occurred in Scotland in 1995 where a man went amock shooting kids in a school - well after that incident the UK government staged a gun amnesty and a ban on small firearms.

After this of course all these guns went on to the black market and figures suggest there are more illegal firearms today than ever before.

I liken the control of guns to the control of drugs - there will always be people who want them and people who will seek to profit from them.

Both problems are insoluble in the current climate and the methods being used to combat them are not working.

The wars on drugs and on illegal drugs are lost, its how the battle is fought that is important.
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Postby AsphodelElysium » Wed Apr 18, 2007 8:18 pm

Malia, bless you, you are absolutely right. Things here are still very much subdued. There have been many candlelight vigils, both at Tech and here at Radford. It is strange, but perhaps very natural, that when the absolute worst happens, most people are at their very best. The community here is tight knit to begin with but it solidified after this happened. My only regret is that we can't be this way all the time. Perhaps if we were, tragedies like this would not occur.
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Postby Malia » Wed Apr 18, 2007 8:38 pm

AsphodelElysium wrote: There have been many candlelight vigils, both at Tech and here at Radford. It is strange, but perhaps very natural, that when the absolute worst happens, most people are at their very best. The community here is tight knit to begin with but it solidified after this happened. My only regret is that we can't be this way all the time. Perhaps if we were, tragedies like this would not occur.



There will be a candlelight vigil at my University (Gonzaga) tonight--students at our campus want to express concern and solidarity with V. Tech. You're right in that it seems that when the worst happens, people stand a little tighter together. It is a shame that it takes tragedy to really make that solidarity stand out. But I guess when we have a brush with mortality, we see the world a little differently. . .priorities shake themselves into place.
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Postby Saturn » Wed Apr 18, 2007 11:43 pm

Putting things into context a bit, not to detract from this story, but things like this are happening as well:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6567329.stm
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Postby adonais » Thu Apr 19, 2007 12:31 am

Cho's plays

This is....I don't know what to say.

And now the word of a poet is somehow a taken as a credible psychological diagnosis? (cnn) He was just "mean" ??? I don't know what's going on here.
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This is appropriate

Postby MonroeDoctrine » Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:43 am

Actually the organization I'm a part of is investigating the incident so if you are interested you can log on to www.larouchepac.com

The context in which the individual finds himself is crucial. Look at the amount of people that come back from Iraq and have a bunch of psychological problems. Look at the fact that there has been a shut down of health care that is suppose to treat people with physical and psychological problems (such as the shut down of Walter Reed Hospital).


Something the think about

Unfortunetely there have been policies put forward in the Post War era to turn the military into a private mercernary force. Video Games, Violent Music didn't just come out of elfin grots in some magical land, these are all a part of serious intelligence operations. Now some research has been done on this Virginia gunman and it turns out he was actually addicted to
Counter Strike. It is something worth noting; and it can help one get an insight into the culture.

Video Games have their origin in the military and it is well known that the military openly makes video games for the Market. It is also known that today's video games are extremely fascist. Just look at Grand Theft auto and other similar games; any game where one can just masacre people would make Hitler proud.

And I must say that Video Games are not the only thing out there that comes from some type of organized attempt by powerful institutions to create a fascist culture.


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The best way to counter the insanity is to get people to participate in awesome classical culture. John Keats, Shelly, Moses Mendelssohn, and Friedrich Schiller. What better way to get people to be compassionate towards their fellow man than inspiring people to do so with art?





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