Colorado Springs – CNN.com just issued an update regarding a hostage situation in New Hampshire, involving a man with bombs strapped to his chest and Hillary Clinton‘s presidential campaign headquarters earlier today. About 1:00 PM local time, Lee Eisenberg walked into Clinton’s offices and took volunteer workers hostage.

Some time after the hostage crisis developed, one of the hostages and Eisenberg called CNN multiple times throughout the afternoon and talked to CNN staffers.

Eisenberg said he had mental problems and couldn’t get anyone to help him. CNN chose not to report Eisenberg’s calls to avoid compromising the safety of the hostages.

Earlier Friday, presidential election candidate Hillary Clinton was in Washington, preparing for a mid-afternoon Democratic National Committee function with Howard Dean. When the crisis erupted in Rochester, New Hampshire, Clinton immediately canceled. Dean expressed support and empathy towards Clinton.

You can read more on this developing story at CNN.com.

Also, a detailed report of the crisis in a minute-by-minute account (through news updates) can be found at The Caucus – part of the New York Times web site.

Paotie’s PostScript: I don’t know if this is another case of an out-of-control mentally ill person acting out on a public figure, or if it’s a man genuinely desperate for help. Or both. Still, the mental health care system has been a disaster for too long and maybe Eisenberg fits within the profile of a failed system.

And, I have to confess to having wondered what it must be like to walk into a legislator’s office and have their undivided attention – even from several states apart. I’ve seen too many legislators ignore my emails, and I’ve heard countless complaints of similar issues from other people as well.

Which is the bigger issue here: mental health or the fact too many politicians ignore their constituents? Or both?

Be good .. or be good at it.

:)

Paotie

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Posted at 11:15 PM under Crumblings of Stuffs

Colorado Springs – December is tomorrow and that means one other thing besides the excessive gluttony of Christmas: seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. During the cold and dark winter months, some untold millions of Americans suffer from yet another commercially-driven diagnosis in SAD.

I resisted the urge to take a shot at people who are SAD, but considered instead to try and brighten up your day with some funny quotes for you to muse over the weekend. Yes, I know, Polly – SAD isn’t something to take lightly, but then again, Thai men with penile dysfunction swapping votes for Viagra is proof of humanity gone drug-crazy.

And if you live here in Colorado, please think good thoughts for lots of snow. Weather forecasters are predicting a La Nina season, in which little snow and continued drought are expected. Because of a lack of snow so far this year, I offer my empathies about SAD because I’ve got my own version of it: Snowboarding Affective Disorder.

Anyway, to drown out our pre-winter blues and to prepare us for the winter onslaught of our commercially-driven drug culture and Christmas holiday season, here’s this week’s Friday Fun with Fonetics:

“Know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change. But pretty soon, everything’s different.” – Bill Watterson (author of Calvin & Hobbes)

“I think that all right-thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that ordinary, decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not! But I’m sick and tired of being told that I am!” – Monty Python

“I know why Superman left Krypton. Earth was the only place he could get steroids!” – Milton Berle

“I get to go to lots of overseas places .. like Canada.” – Pop Idiot, Britney Spears

“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unkowns. That is to say, there are things we know we don’t know. But, there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we don’t know we don’t know.” – Donald Rumsfield, former US Secretary of Defense

I don’t know what the hell Mr. Rumsfield said, but it sounded pretty good to me, and I’ll leave you in hopes of having a great and safe weekend. Enjoy college basketball and the final college football games before Bowl Season starts. Forget about being SAD – be like a plastic bag, instead.

And root for Missouri, too.

Be good .. or be good at it.

:)

Paotie

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Posted at 11:15 PM under Daily Crumblings

Colorado Springs – The issue of cyberbullying continues to slowly crawl throughout the blogosphere, and by early indications, additional laws against cyberbullying may finally be on the way. For many, laws against cyberbullying will be a welcome relief from constant barrages of mean-spirited, nasty and often blatantly hateful actions done via the Internet. Change is needed, but at what cost?

Some bloggers suffer through discrediting campaigns; publishing of personal and private information by other vindicative people; and other acts designed to somehow discredit, embarrass, humiliate, and harass people into submission. And it seems the more “controversial” a person’s opinions are, the more likely they will be subjected to many forms of cyberbullying.

Support women’s right to choose an abortion? God help you if an anti-abortionist found out you once had an abortion and published that information on their blog just because you question the validity of the government’s role in citizen’s private lives.

Other people will defend the fact that we enjoy freedom of speech on the Internet. They argue that the federal government at the least, should not make federal laws regarding cyberbullying – that’s a job left for states and local municipalities.

If art imitates life and life imitates art, then where does that leave the Internet? If anything, the Internet has imitated the best and worst of both life and art, but the extremes between person-to-person conversations and blogging, for example, are so vastly great that the worst of society becomes painfully evident to all: the Internet is a free-for-fall with no clear rules of accountability, as the sad story of Megan Meier painfully demonstrates.

Lots of people are angry about the poor girl, who suffered from depression, and the perception that a cyberbully caused her to kill herself. Some argue Meier, 13, already had previously unresolved issues relating to depression; additional questions about the family, the family’s history and other variables are being challenged as possible additional and mitigating circumstances involved in the suicide.

Still, others maintain that Lori Drew directly caused Meier’s death. They insist that the woman – masquerading on MySpace as a teenage boy seeking a romantic interest – deliberately and cruelly caused the suicide that sparked international interest in cyberbullying. They argue that Drew knew what she was doing and took advantage of a child’s confusion and depression to fulfill an ulterior motive: to find out rumors about Drew’s own daughter.

Prior to reports of Meier’s suicide circulating throughout the blogosphere, the town of Dardenne Prairie, Missouri reacted in much the same way cyberbullies operate: they began launching a series of attacks on Drew, and many people went to such extremes as publishing her identity, along with other personal and private information about Drew’s family and herself. The result of the cyber-lynching of Drew? A cyberbullying law being passed.

I don’t know about you, but the last sentence disturbs me. A mob of people essentially took free reign to act out publicly against a woman who has not yet been charged of a crime. Because they launched, by all definitions, a smear campaign and a witch-hunt against Drew, they were able to have a law passed to protect future children from committing suicide – or at the least, make someone accountable when cyberbullying occurs.

Out on the blogosphere, or the super highway of information, there is little in the way of accountability. The Internet is the modern-day Wild West, a free-for-all system that rewards a National Enquirer-like obsession. Know somebody you don’t like? Use the blogosphere to get even. That’s the way things are now. And you need not look further than Dardenne Prairie to see evidence of both the Wild West and mob mentalities at work.

I confess to having launched my own form of commentary grenades towards people that I felt deserved it. I admit that for me to complain about cyberbullying would make me a hypocrite – except I’m not complaining. I knew people would try to discredit me the first chance they had if they became angry with me. Much has changed since I first logged on to the original Internet Relay Chats in the very early 1990′s while in college.

It is no longer about your opinion – it is now about somebody else’s opinion when people become angry with you. If you say you like Ford cars, you stand a good chance of being harassed by Chevy drivers if you dare to make the claim that, “Chevy sucks. I buy Ford.” In the old days on the Internet, the usual flak you’d have gotten would mostly be restricted to the sites you visited online, such as a Yahoo! chat room.

Today, though, you’re liable to be firebombed either by some Internet Al Sharpton wannabe, or the girl you looked at yesterday turned out to be a potential blackmailer who will publish wild (and false) claims on her blog that you had sex with her whilst your wife was attending a sex-toy party last Sunday night. It’s just not the same anymore.

Many citizens of Dardenne Prairie reacted very much like the cyberbullies they intend to protect their children from. They engaged in not just cyberbullying against Drew in a tit-for-tat game of “an eye for an eye,” but they also reacted with a mob mentality. Of course, they didn’t break any laws and neither has Drew – yet.

We need more accountability for cyberbullies. I don’t claim to have the answer to how to best do that, but change is needed. I’d just rather not see people act like crazed idiots, engaging in the very same crimes they seek to outlaw. We don’t need mobs of people acting stupid to make a law – that’s what elected public officials are for. If you’re angry that they don’t respond to you, then take it out on them. Don’t take it out on your neighbor because an empty gallon of milk drifted from his trash can into your front yard.

As for MySpace, sadly, the blogging site iself has become a microcosm of society. And in a perverse sense, the acts of the townsfolk suggests very strongly that American society has also regressed from the representative republic that is America to a spiraling democratic society, hell-bent on electronically lynching anyone standing in the way. Not much further from democracy is anarchy, and the Internet is just that – an anarchist’s wet dream come true.

Finally, I welcome changes to somehow regulate the Internet. I’d just prefer if we’d not praise the mob-mentality that the town of Dardenne Prairie, Missouri engaged in – the very same acts that occur routinely all across the blogosphere, and some might argue, caused the death of a young girl.

Be good .. or be good at it.

:)

Paotie

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Posted at 11:15 PM under Daily Crumblings