Lessons of Life and Love

Today, I came across an interesting post from one of my favorite blogs, My [Confined] Space. It was a rather poignant post about love and lost opportunities:

A Bawl Story

Yeah… The kind of stuff blockbuster movie tragedies are made of. However what was interesting was the range and content of the comments that followed (you can click on the image or the link at the end of the post to see the original comments @ M[C]S ). To me, the posts all seemed to take either one extreme or another. There were some people categorically stating that being in love with your BBF is a fatal mistake, and that you should run as fast as your little legs can carry you in the other direction. Others were deeply moved by it while others chalked it all up as BS, and shucked the whole thing into their mental garbage bins.

However there were a few who did seem to come away with at least one lesson from it, and I thought there were some good points made. Me personally, I thought this chap handled the situation entirely wrong, but being the anal retentive sociocultural explorer that I am, I couldn’t help thinking about what the real lesson of all of this was, and what I would have done differently if I were in that situation. The results of my musings were rather unsatisfying, but I thought they might make for an interesting post… If you are the type that frequently posts “tl;dr” just go on ahead, leave now, and forever hold your peace. Other wise grab a cuppa, (or whatever your favorite poison happens to be today) and get comfortable…

The very first thing that ran through my head while reading this was that it seemed unfortunate that, despite being best friends with this girl, this guy decided to hide something as important as the fact that he was deeply in love, with her, from her. I can understand why he did it, however his logic for doing so seemed seriously flawed to me. Having never discussed it with her, how could he possibly know she didn’t think of him the same way? This, to me, seems to be one of the fundamental flaws with relationships these days. Lots of unfounded assumptions compounded by having none of the important communication required to clear it up.

That is not to say, however, that telling his female compadre that he was in love with her would be guaranteed make things any easier. But as I see it, there is only one possible problem with telling her. And that is that she might get weirded out by it. To be honest, it sounds stupidly stupid to me. Yep. After all, if she really is your best friend, even if she doesn’t love you romantically, she should still love you enough to understand what you are going through, and be there for you, probably help you find ways to deal with your feelings constructively. But that’s just my opinion. In real life people don’t act in particularly logical ways. Bottom line, if she actually did get weirded out, then he would  have potentially lost a best friend. However from my perspective, if your so called “BFF” bails on you for committing the oh, so heinous, cruel and unforgivable sin of falling in love with them, then they weren’t particularly good friends to begin with. C’est la vie. .

However this train of thought brought me to another interesting consideration. The reality of life is that some people aren’t really honest with themselves about who their friends are and what kinds of people they are.  I’ve noticed some rather illogical behavior with people towards those they consider “best friends”. When those “BFF”s do something wrong, they are quick to excuse the behavior, sometimes even when they themselves would never condone that behavior from anyone else. From my perspective, that is not what a good friend is supposed to do. A true friend should not be ones personal “yes” man. A true friend should always be honest, and should challenge any of behaviors that they know to be wrong. Again, just my take on what friendship means. But I digress.

The point is, when people want things bad enough, they can, and often will, lie to themselves, and tell themselves that someone is their best friend, even though the person is not. I imagine this could happen even easier with a person whom one might be romantically attracted to. They become “best friends” but do not realize that even that “Best Friend” relationship is really one way. You are doing all the befriending, in spite of the fact you have *nothing* in common, (apart from maybe wanting to get them in the sack) and they are just along for the ride. As a result you end up with a best friend who isn’t really your best friend, and isn’t even really the kind of person who you would be friends with if you weren’t sexually attracted to them. Bummer. Big bummer. Anyway, where was I…? Right. Self honesty.

Barring the possibility that the target of ones affections turns out to be a flaky pastry with no fluffy layers, there should be only one other question one should ask, should they find themselves in this situation. Will *my* feelings change if I tell my BFF I love them, and happen to get rejected? This is the scenario that been known to kill people dead (mostly metaphorically, but sometimes even literally). However from my perspective, this reaction makes no sense. If you don’t tell her, you will live the rest of your life secretly in love with your BFF. You will still have to continue to treat them like your BFF. And whatever torture you are putting yourself through will not cease.

If you do tell her, one of two things will happen. Either she will say “Aww that’s cuuute!! But can we just be friends?!?”, (BTW, welcome to the hell that is the “Friend” zone!), and you will still live your life in love with your BFF, except now she can be more sensitive to your feelings towards her, and you can try to move on. OR the she says “What took you so long, you dork!” And all will be well with the world. Well not quite, but at least you will have jumped one of the major hurdles. But you have to be honest with yourself. Be aware that just because your are BFF doesn’t mean you are automatically in like Flynn. And also realize that a rejection of romantic interest doesn’t inherently mean they weren’t really your friends to begin with. Most folks who think like that are really just pulling a juvenile “sour grapes” tantrum. But you won’t be able to tell the difference unless you are really being honest with yourself.

The thing is, assuming of course, the BFF isn’t a type of cardiologist that eschews surgery with the traditional and time honored scalpel in favor of a wooden spoons, you can not be any worse off than you were to begin with, UNLESS you weren’t being honest with yourself to begin with, OR the person whom you think is your BFF isn’t really your BFF. In which case I say, “To blazes with them!!” Yeah. Yes, I’m sure you probably won’t feel that way as you stand there, fully awake, spoon carving itself a ragged path around your heart, sans anesthetic, but the reality of it is that all you will have lost is an illusion. Nothing of any real value. What you *will* have, at last, is a clear and unclouded vision of where you stand with respect to the friend in question.

If they reciprocate, then good. You still have a lifetime of relationship ups and downs to contend with. But even if they reject you, If they cared about you before, they will still care about you after. If they are the person you thought they were, you will care about them no less. (unless you were, or are lying to yourself about them, which would really be your fault, not theirs) But you will now be free to decide how to live the rest of your life, with no regrets, no questions, no “what ifs” lingering over your head. That’s what I think. But then again I do have this tendency to oversimplify things… :)

A Bawl Story – [My [Confined] Space]

A thieving iron worker with no shame…

Today we see an odd story about an unusual theft during an Iron Workers funeral:

A brazen thief who offered condolences at a memorial service made off with $10,000 collected for the family of an ironworker killed in a Las Vegas Strip construction site mishap, friends and family members said. – [Yahoo/AP]

Now what kind of guy steals from a funeral? Seriously.

“I hope the ironworkers don’t find him first,” Ruth Brown, Rabun’s grandmother, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She traveled to Las Vegas from New Orleans to attend the service. – [Yahoo/AP]

Which echoes my sentiments exactly. What kind of person steals from iron workers? And what kind of genious does it take to be an iron worker stealing from your fellow iron workers? You have to know that your chances of getting caught rise exponentially right?

If, as an iron worker, your gonna steal, why not steal from auto workers. Or dock workers. Or construction workers. Stealing from your own profession is just dumb. And bad form. People today…

He hopes ironworkers don’t find him – [Yahoo/AP]

Necros. Not just for forums any more…

From the “What the…!” Dept., I bring you a dose of mind numbingly unbelievable reality. The sensitive among you may want to skip this post. Otherwise, read on:

A Teaneck hospital lab technician has been jailed after being accused of sexually abusing the corpse of a 92-year-old woman, authorities say. – [Yahoo/AP]

Erm. Where to begin. Ya know, I’ve got no problem with older ladies getting it on with younger men. And if you’re a young guy who likes older women, more power to you. But isn’t there a cut-off point? Don’t you have some set of criteria to help you determine exactly how old is “too old”? And wouldn’t death be a major eliminating factor? I mean,  you would think that rigor mortis would be a good indicator that she’s probably way too far past her peak for the relationship to work. But it could just be me.

To be honest, (no offense intended to any 90+ year old ladies who may be reading this) I have difficulties imagining getting it on with a live 92 year old woman, never mind a dead one. But this guy… well… At least you can say he ain’t picky. That’s not what I’d say. You can say it. If you want to. But I think he’s just plain nuts.

Tech accused of abusing elderly corpse – [Yahoo/AP]

A minor “Hit and Run” with tragic consequences…

It never ceases to amaze me the lengths to which some people will go to avoid bearing the responsibility of their actions, as displayed by the ff article submitted by a friend:

A woman, fleeing the scene of a wreck that she was involved in, crashed her car into a tree Thursday night, killing her child, police said.

The woman, who was not identified, was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. But the boy, believed to be between 5 and 7 years old, died at the scene, said Atlanta police Officer James Polite.

Police said that minutes before the collision, the woman – who has not yet been named – was involved in a minor wreck on Jonesboro Road and Cleveland Avenue in Southeast Atlanta. – [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

You know, even though we don’t know the details of the original accident that caused this woman to decide to flee, and eventually careen out of control, it is easy to see the trail of bad decisions that got her there. First, a “Hit and run” is just plain irresponsible.

We may never know why she decided to run that day, but regardless of who is at fault, if you are involved in a traffic collision, to drive away from the scene without ascertaining the condition and well being of anyone else in the collision is just not acceptable.

But to then decide to drive your vehicle so fast that you lose control of it going round a curve with your young son in the car is just plain negligent. Plain and simple. I firmly believe that the most honest measure of our character can be seen in how we react when we are faced with difficult situations. And to be quite frank, I think this lady was of very poor character. And she paid for her bad decisions with the life of her young son.

Some people seem to think that responsibility is something that can be shucked when it is inconvenient. In fact, the opposite is true. It is at the times when it is the most inconvenient that being responsible is of the greatest value. Is is sad that such a small inconvenience had to cost so much. Had this woman understood that, her son might still be alive today…

Woman kills her child after fleeing minor wreck – [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Killers: Life, death, and the gray paradox in between…

Given that earlier today, I posted my opinion on what I think the criteria of a true “killer” is, I find it ironic that I should run across an article dealing with the ethics of the death penalty for a person who meets the legally circumscribed definition of a “Killer”:

“The European Union notes with great regret the upcoming execution in the State of Texas,” the Portuguese presidency of the 27-nation bloc said in a statement.

Texas is expected to hit the 400 mark on Wednesday — putting it far ahead of any other U.S. state — with the execution of Johnny Ray Conner for the 1998 shooting of a grocery store clerk.

The European Union, which on Tuesday called the death penalty “cruel and inhumane,” is opposed to all capital punishment and has called for its worldwide abolition.

“There is no evidence to suggest that the use of the death penalty serves as a deterrent against violent crime,” the statement said, adding that its irreversibility meant that miscarriages of justice could not be redressed. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

What I find most interesting about this article, is the EUs objection to the death penalty on the grounds that it:

  1. Has not proven to be a deterrent against violent crime.
  2. Is cruel and inhumane.

Oh really? I might actually have bought reason one, if the sole purpose of the death penalty was to be a deterrent to violent crime. But most of the people whom I think would think deserve the death penalty are people who could watch someone getting brutally massacred right before their eyes without batting an eye, and proceed to enjoy a steak dinner like nothing happened and then sleep like a baby that night. IMHO The death penalty is not a deterrent. It’s cleanup.

That’s not to say that the death penalty couldn’t be a good deterrent for the more normal types of killers. It’s just that nobody thinks it’s going to happen to them unless they actually see it happen, up close and personal. Humans are visual creatures. If you really want to make an impression on them, you have to show them. How many people you know have actually ever seen an execution occur? I’m willing to bet few to none. So how exactly is it intended to be a deterrent?

And point 2 is laughable at best. Is life in prison supposed to be less cruel than death? Sure you’ll be alive, but it won’t exactly be a picnic either. Many who get life ending up serving a reduced sentence anyway due to bing killed in prison. And inhumane? There are such things as humane executions. Is death by lethal injection inhumane? I don’t think so. If I had to go, what better way than to just fall asleep an never wake up again. Quick and painless. I don’t think it gets any more humane than that.

Now obviously, I have no intrinsic objections to the death penalty. There are some people who will never be able to function in a socially constructive way, and can never be rehabilitated. And I think these people only pose a continuing threat to the well being of everyone else, and can safely (in my opinion anyway) be removed from society. But there are problems.

The biggest problem, is the only valid objection I saw in the article. The fact that the death penalty is irreversible, and if there is a mistake there is no way to rectify it. I can’t argue that, because our legal system has many flaws. Innocent people are found guilty and the guilty walk free. On the basis of that alone, we ought to abolish the death penalty. Not because it’s not a good solution for eliminating incurably violent criminals from society, but because the system too flawed to accurately determine who really deserves that penalty.

The legal system, for all of it’s massive and highly detailed rules and regulations, is still run and decided by living, breathing, human people. Each person has different belief system, different ideas of right and wrong, and different thresholds and tolerances for things. And few cases feature objective and irrefutable evidence like a video camera or an audio tape that tells the whole story in an accurate and objective manner. The judge and jury often has to make assumptions and decisions based on assumptions. It’s just isn’t morally or ethically responsible to base anyones death on human assumptions and feelings.

But even if the system could determine with 100 percent accuracy who should get the chair, we can’t kid ourselves about what we are doing. There is a paradox to this way of thinking. We are, in effect murdering a person in cold blood. Yes, we are doing it to save the lives of others that we know could be killed if the killer is allowed to continue to live. But we are being killers ourselves, simply because do not have, and cannot come up with, a better solution. Imagine that. We have no imagination…

EU urges Texas to halt executions before 400 mark – [Yahoo/Reuters]

War is waged both externally and internally.

A military report stated statistics that soldier suicides are the highest they have ever been for 26 years:

The report, obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its scheduled release Thursday, found there were 99 confirmed suicides among active duty soldiers during 2006, up from 88 the previous year and the highest number since the 102 suicides in 1991 at the time of the Persian Gulf War.

The suicide rate for the Army has fluctuated over the past 26 years, from last year’s high of 17.3 per 100,000 to a low of 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001.

Last year, “Iraq was the most common deployment location for both (suicides) and attempts,” the report said. – [Yahoo/AP]

I always find it sad that we even have to have an army. I realize that humans being the creatures we are, it is sometimes necessary to use force to defend against force. But in this case, I don’t believe it was warranted, and the kinds of mental trauma we put our faithful troops through is really not a just payment for their service.

It is really a crying shame.

Army suicides highest in 26 years – [Yahoo/AP]

Death In Dishonor…?

The the propensity for suicide within many Asian cultures has always been a source of wonder for me. Cases like the following are quite common:

Zhang Shuhong, who co-owned Lee Der Industrial Co. Ltd., killed himself at a warehouse over the weekend, days after China announced it had temporarily banned exports by the company, the Southern Metropolis Daily said.

Lee Der made 967,000 toys recalled earlier this month by Mattel Inc. because they were made with paint containing excessive amounts of lead. The plastic preschool toys, sold under the Fisher-Price brand in the U.S., included the popular Big Bird, Elmo, Dora and Diego characters.

 The Southern Metropolis Daily said that a supplier, Zhang’s best friend, sold Lee Der the contaminated paint.

 … Zhang hung himself on Saturday, according to the report. It is common for disgraced officials to commit suicide in China. – [Yahoo/AP]

Now I’ve never agreed with the philosophy of suicide. I believe that it is an easy way out. Living in the face of tribulation or disgrace is much harder to do, however I believe that the greater honor is having the courage to live through and atone for your mistakes.

However the one thing I have always admired these folks for, is their great sense of honor. Killing yourself because you have been disgraced is one of the ultimate testaments to your values. I think the penalty is rather extreme, but I believe that the sentiment behind it is certainly one worth upholding.

Honor is a difficult thing to find here in the USA. Pride? Yes. Innovation? By the truckload. Determination? To blindness. Patriotism? I think we have an overabundance.  Honor? …. Meh.

Sometimes it seems like we are all too willing to throw our honor out the window in return for a paycheck. Perhaps if we had as much stock in honor as these folks, our country might be in a better place than it is right now. Just a thought…

China toy boss kills himself amid recall – [Yahoo/AP]

China’s gentler, kinder side…

China has banned crude birth control advertising slogans for it’s national one child per family policy:

China has banned crude and insensitive slogans promoting the country’s ‘one-child’ family planning policy, such as “Raise fewer babies but more piggies,” which have stoked anger in rural areas, state media said Sunday.

China’s 28-year-old family planning policy limits most urban couples to just one child and allows some families in the countryside to have a second child if their first is a girl.

Critics say that has led to forced abortions and sterilizations and a dangerously imbalanced sex ratio due to the traditional preference for male heirs, which has prompted countless families to abort female fetuses in hopes of getting boys. – [Yahoo/AP]

Now the real reason I posted this was not because of the slogans, but because of the interesting detail that it seems that many Chinese families are aborting female fetuses in order to get boys.

It seems to me that, after a few generations of aborting female fetuses, your overall population production ability would drop dramatically. Which could be a good thing to begin with, but could turn bad really, really, quickly.

And it would suck to try and find a wife if you are a guy, because your selection would be slim to none. I really hope the Chinese what they are doing…

China bans crude birth control slogans – [Yahoo/AP]

The often hidden psychological effects of war…

I just read a very sad story about the brutal assault of an civilian Iraqi family in their own home.

A military jury on Friday found a soldier guilty of rape and murder in the slayings of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family.

Jurors deliberated much of Friday evening before convicting Army Pfc. Jesse Spielman, 22, of conspiracy to commit rape, rape, housebreaking with intent to commit rape and four counts of felony murder.

Military prosecutors did not say Spielman took part in the rape or murders, but alleged he went to the house knowing what the others intended to do and served as a lookout. Spielman had pleaded guilty on Monday to lesser charges of conspiracy to obstructing justice, arson, wrongfully touching a corpse and drinking.

 Spielman’s sister, Paige Gerlach, screamed: “I hate the government. You people put him (in Iraq) and now, this happened.” [Yahoo/AP]

It is hard to know exactly what was going on in this soldiers head while all of this was going on, but we know for sure that at the end of the incident, an Iraqi girl had been raped, and her family murdered in cold blood. The most important point about this incident is not that the brutality and heartlessness of the crime is unusual, but rather the opposite. The ability to kill without hesitation is a requirement in order to be a good soldier. In times of war this is a necessary ability. In a theater where your combatants are just as likely to be women and children, as men, you learn to kill each with the same level of efficiency. The problem however, lies in the other less salient side effects that occur as a result of this kind of conditioning.

What happens when you reach the point where you can look at someone, a race, or a demographic, and no longer see a human being? Just a soft target? Well, in war, it makes you a better soldier. But once you learn to kill people without guilt, what else might you be capable of? And will you have to moral fiber to discern the right from the wrong and act on it? We may never know the reasons Pfc. Spielman went along with all of this. But I can understand Paige Gerlachs’ hatred of the government. She and her family will be forever emotionally scarred by this incident.

But the sad fact is, though the government may have put them in Iraq and trained them to kill Iraqi men, women and children without guilt, it was not the government who made them murder that family. They were not ordered to do so. The did this of their own free will. And I’m sure they are not the only ones to have committed such war crimes. But the actions of few such out-of-control soldiers, if any, will ever be publicized, even if they are caught. And yet they will return to our soil, with this black mark upon their psyche. And that is the ultimate problem with war.

At the end of any war, you will have not only damaged your enemies population, but your own as well, both physically and psychologically. A war of any kind comes at great cost. To both sides. And unfortunately the rewards are sometimes not worth the sacrifices. It is not something to be entered easily or lightly, no matter how strong you may think you are.

Soldier found guilty of rape, murder – [Yahoo/AP]

O.J. Simpson Rides again…

Yet another chapter in the O.J. Simpson saga unfolds:

O.J. Simpson says his hypothetical account of killing his ex-wife in his aborted memoir “If I Did It” was invented by a ghost writer and filled with errors that he refused to correct for fear of appearing to be guilty of the crime.

Simpson related his involvement in the book, which was scrapped shortly before its release date last year amid a torrent of public outrage, in a rare, hourlong Internet interview streamed live on Tuesday by the Dallas-based Web site Market News First (www.MN1.com).

On Monday, after a long legal fight, rights to the book passed to the family of murder victim Ron Goldman, a friend of Nicole Brown Simpson who was slain along with Simpson’s ex-wife at her Los Angeles home in June 1994.

Goldman’s father, Fred Goldman, who originally opposed the book, said this week he wants it published because he views it as “an indictment of a wife-beater, of a murderer, written in his own words.”

Judith Regan, the publisher who originally brokered the book deal, has said she considered the book Simpson’s confession.

Simpson said the book was composed by a ghost author, and that he reluctantly agreed to include a chapter containing a “night-of-the-crime” account as told by him only after the publishers promised to clearly label it as hypothetical. – [Reuters]

Now this whole situation has an air of macabre incredibility. This kind of thing is only supposed to happen in movies right? I mean who, in their right minds, having been accused of murdering their wife and her friend, and been found liable in two civil suits, would actually attempt to participate in a book that chronicles the murders? Regardless of whether it was hypothetical or not? Could O.J. not have been aware of the storm of additional suits and hatred and such that this would create? There is just so many things wrong with this picture.

First off how can you do this, all the while hoping to convince people of your innocence? It’s a no win situation. Even the comment he made about not correcting the inaccuracies of the account rides dangerously closed to the line of making a self incriminating statement. If the account was truly wrong, and you are trying to clear yourself, then he should have been totally gung-ho about correcting it to explain how he didn’t commit the murder.

And how about this “Ghost Author”. If this “ghost author” knew enough to write a book he/she shouldn’t have needed his help. They should have had the cohones to put their name on it and go to the publishers. Unless the actual murderer wrote it, in which case O.J. qualifies for one of the most manipulated men alive on the face of the planet today.

But if that were not the case, Mr./Mrs. ghost shouldn’t have been writing the book anyway. As a result, they would have needed his sign off on it to publish it without him suing them. So either way, he had a choice in the matter. I believe a smarter/braver man would simply have said “No.” and walked away.

If I were in his shoes and I were innocent, I’d be trying to wash my hands of the whole deal. Move on, leave it all behind. Not making/participating in/editing/whatever a book about it. On the other hand though, if I were Nicole’s parents I would also be trying to do the same thing…

As I have pointed out in another post, peoples greed tends to often get the better of them. Even if people have a legitimate reason to sue another any honorable intentions often gets swept away by the prospect of making some cold hard cash. And I think “cold hard cash” is a good description. It makes people’s hearts cold and hard. Ok I just reread that aloud and realized that it is may be the corniest/cheesiest thing I’ve posted to date. Let that be a warning to you. Anyway, back to the matter at hand…

What I’m trying to say is this. Even though the Goldman estate may have legitimate reasons to want to have the book published, sometimes that reason will be overshadowed by the prospect of the money they will make. I’m waiting to see if they donate the money from the book to a domestic violence cause or pocket it under the following, oft-used rationalization: “I deserve it”…

What do you think they’re gonna do?

O.J. says ghost author wrote flawed murder account – [Reuters]