Archive for the ‘news’ Category

Octavia Butler, Science Fiction Pioneer, Dies After Fall in Seattle

Friday, June 5th, 2009

This post was originally published at NJ Spoken Word, Tuesday, February 28, 2006.

Octavia E. Butler, sci fi authorA dear friend, Aberjhani, shared the news of Octavia E. Butler’s death with me this morning. Known as a gifted pioneer in a genre of the industry dominated by white males, the African-American author was the first Science Fiction author to receive a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.”

Butler, 58, died Friday, February 24, after she fell and hit her head outside her Seattle, Washington, home. You can read more details of her life and death here in the Seattle Post-Intelligence.

I first became aware of Octavia E. Butler’s work through the Seeing Ear Theatre’s website, which was at the time affiliated with the Sci Fi Channel. There I listened to an outstanding audio production of her book Kindred. Fortunately you can still listen to the book today at this link: http://octaviabutler.net/kindred-audio-drama. The production stars Alfre Woodard, Lynn Whitfield, and features Ruby Dee.

Since then I’ve walked into other Butler worlds such as the Patternist series (my favorite is Mind of My Mind) and most recently her new book Fledgling. She is one of the few writers who can draw me into characters and setting and make me forget I am here on planet Earth. I still recall her people and her words in my daily life. I look forward to continuing my read through her works, and I mourn the literary world’s loss.

Additional Octavia Butler Links

  • Octavia Butler’s Voice (The Opinion Mill)
  • Steve Barnes Tribute to Octavia (Dar Kush, Barnes’ Blog)
  • An NPR Interview with Octavia Butler and an Essay by Octavia Butler at NPR (Yes, Steven Hart of The Opinion Mill, I did get this NPR link from your post. Thank you.)
  • The 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre

    Friday, January 23rd, 2009

    Originally published at Confessions of a Jersey Goddess, April 2007.

    April 18 Update: I’ve noticed people keep hitting this blog
    because they’re looking for the
    VT shooter’s confession. Google’s sending you to
    my blog because I have the word “confession” in
    my blog’s name, same name since 2004.
    Here’s a link at NBC, the network that received
    the gunman’s package/manifesto,
    and to the video and story: LINK.
    This post is a chronicle of the shootings
    on Monday, April 16.

    Update 11:59 p.m., April 16: Laurie at BloghHer has added a new post about how the Internet is responding to the shootings. ABC Nightline also discusses the online coverage regarding the shootings, particularly students sharing grief at FaceBook. Roanoke.com and MTV.com report similar findings.

    Reported at 6:35 p.m., April 16: The death toll at Virginia Tech is now 32, reports ABC News. In its 5:30 news, Channel 7 ABC New York reported 33 dead. Either way the shooting is considered the “worst mass murder” in U.S. History. Witnesses, according to ABC News, describe the shooter as a six-foot-tall Asian man; however, the shooter did not carry ID. Consequently, officials faced difficulty identifying the shooter’s body.

    Charles Gibson ended the ABC news tonight, 6:58 p.m., saying, “I wish I could say this has been a good day. It hasn’t.”

    You may find more in-depth information at Channel 13 News, WSET, Virginia, another ABC station. Another local station for the Virginia Tech area is WDBJ, Roanoke. Virginia Tech’s college newspaper, The Collegiate Times, currently experiences problem with its servers. Virginia Tech is located in Blacksburg, Virginia. Kim Pearson, the blogger who first notified me of this tragedy has a poignant post about the Virginia Tech shooting at this link (Link added 10:18 p.m., April 16).

    Currently people are questioning how the shooter was able to stay at large for two hours before he committed more murders and why the campus police didn’t alert the students and staff sooner. ABC reports that the shooter killed two people at dorm two hours before he began his rampage at the Norris Hall engineering building. Others want to know how did the young man get two nine millimeter guns so easily in Virginia (link added at 11:59 p.m., April 16).

    Over at BlogHer, a commenter on the story, Morra Aarons, says online support communities are popping up on on the Net. She specifically mentions one at Facebook. Another commenter from BlogHer pointed out this blog by a Virginia Tech Student at LiveJournal. The BlogHer post itself by Laurie has multiple resources.

    Update at 2:20 p.m., April 16:
    MSNBC reports that the shooter was a young male in his 20s of Asian descent. The death toll is now, as of 2:25 p.m., up to 31, which MSNBC says makes it the “deadliest” mass shooting spree/mass murder in the nation’s history.

    This story is already prompting discussions on MSNBC’s live video about whether those from Asian cultures feel alienated in European-centered cultures. In addition, they’re examining violence among alienated young males in general, understanding and recognizing the signs of rage and calls for help, and whether we have a culture that makes it easier to shoot your way out of turmoil rather than talk your way out. They’re discussing narcissistic personality disorder and other personality disorders.

    Much of the commentary about causes on MSNBC comes from former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt. Here’s a piece at North Carolina Wesleyan University on the history of profiling.

    Experts say this gunman was very methodical and planned the shooting well-ahead of time. They ask and do not answer, “How do you know the difference between someone who is just a little angry and depressed and someone who’s going to go out and take nearly three dozen lives?” As happens in such cases, people want to make sense of the tragedy.

    There was also some confusion earlier about whether another shooting may have occurred on the Virginia Tech campus separate from this shooting two hours before the massacre started. However, later reports say it is the same gunman who shot someone (two women) in a dorm prior to going to one of the engineering buildings (Norris Hall). Again, the source on this is MSNBC live video.

    One student, Trey Perkins, who was in Norris Hall when the shooting started, told MSNBC that the first thing he thought of was his mom, how devastated she would be if anything happened to him. He said when the gunman came in to his classroom, he shot the instructor first. Other reports say the gunman chained building doors to prevent victims from escaping.

    According to ABC, the first shooting of this type on a college campus happened at The University of Texas in 1966. A young man, Charles Whitman, killed fourteen back then. Wikipedia reports the death toll in 1966 as 15. Crime Library, a link used by Professor Kim, agrees with the ABC figure of 14 and is probably a more reliable source than Wikipedia.

    Pointing to incidents like Columbine and the recent shootings at the Amish schools, experts say that it’s important to reach out to people you know affected by these shootings now with shows of support. It makes a difference in deterring post-traumatic stress syndrome. After Katrina I wrote a post on coping with grief, disaster, and change. Some people may find the resources there helpful in this situation (Link).

    Reported earlier at 2:20 p.m. today: President Bush will address the nation on these shootings at 4:15 p.m.

    Reported earlier at 12:16 p.m.: This is not commentary but an FYI to readers. MSNBC reports that a gunman shot and killed 22 people at Virginia Tech University this morning and wounded others. Another blogger informed me and team members of this tragedy. MSNBC begins its report as follows:

    BLACKSBURG, Va. – At least 22 people were killed Monday in a shooting rampage on the Virginia Tech campus, police said. They said the gunman was among the dead.

    In addition to those killed, officials said at least 28 people were wounded.

    Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum said the gunman was dead, but that he didn’t know how he died.

    Read the full story with both live and static video at this link. ABC is also reporting the story at its site. Click here if you want CBS’ coverage of this story.

    Related: The Colors of Killers

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    Jersey Guys vs. State Troopers: Bad karma, dudes, bad karma

    Monday, December 22nd, 2008

    Originally published at the dead blog, Confessions of a Jersey Goddess, Friday, May 04, 2007. So, some of the links may not be zombified, just dead.

    I sort of don’t know what to say about The Jersey Guys feud with New Jersey State Troopers and the troopers union official who publicly released one of the Jersey Guys’ personal address and contact information. I’m unsure of what to say because it’s The Jersey Guys we’re talking about of New Jersey 101.5 FM. These fellas aren’t known for being responsible when it comes to handling information or considering how the words that come out of their mouths will affect others’ lives and sometimes safety. So, maybe the release of Craig Carton’s home address is a case of karma or what goes around comes around. For you Sunday School alumni, that’s you reap what you sow.

    It seems The Jersey Guys decided to inform the public that our “wonderful” state troopers were about to go on “a ticket-writing blitz,” according to a story at The Bridgewater Courier. Divulging this information, that the story says The Jersey Guys picked off trooper message boards, pissed off the troopers’ union.

    Angered that a popular radio show drew attention to police message board posts calling for a ticket-writing blitz, the head of the state troopers’ union Thursday said the show had endangered police and showed television cameras the home address and license plate number of New Jersey 101.5 FM personality Craig Carton.

    In a blistering news conference, state police union leader David Jones said more motorists have been confrontational during traffic stops since Carton, and then Gannett New Jersey newspapers, publicized the chatter about stepped-up ticket writing, which anonymous posters discussed on a password-protected message board for union members.

    Jones opened his news conference by holding up a paper with Carton’s home information, which he held in front of him for the duration of his remarks.

    “I’m going to release the names and addresses of these people and then their sponsors, and all of the car dealerships and everybody else that sponsors that show is going to have to deal with the reality that they’re putting public servants and the public in general in harm’s way, and I’m going to make sure that everybody knows, until they get their act together, who these people are, where they live, what they do and how it is that they’re misleading the public and creating this furor,” Jones said.

    He later said he wanted to show that a host of the “Jersey Guys” lives in Pennsylvania. (From The Courier story)

    How unJersey of one of The Jersey Guys to live in Pennsylvania. But yikes! Would you want your personal address released to the public if you spent part of your day insulting people publicly?

    Before I go much farther, let me say that the state troopers deny that there’s a ticketing blitz. Jones, the guy from the union, says The Jersey Guys are exaggerating.

    Furthermore, The Star Ledger reports that state police are investigating Jones’ alleged threat against The Jersey Guys. A state police spokesman also said that Jones was speaking on behalf of the union not on behalf of New Jersey State Troopers.

    Per The Courier, Carton responded with the following:

    My safety and more importantly the safety of my family is paramount to me, and I can not and will not allow them to be put in harm’s way because of the misguided rantings of a powerful police figure.

    His safety and his family’s safety are important to him as they should be. I get that, but I wonder how much Carton considers the safety of others when he and his colleague Ray Rossi do their shock jock routine.

    I bet if a few of the people of New Jersey who are of Latino and Mexican descent could’ve handed out one or both of The Jersey Guys’ personal information a few weeks back, someone would’ve done so. After all, didn’t The Jersey Guys in essence encourage ordinary citizens to harass private citizens of Latino and Mexican descent with their “La Cucha Gotcha” game? It was their version of “find the illegal alien” game, and they encouraged their faithful listeners to play. The game’s name alone suggests which group The Jersey Guys felt should be targeted.

    The masses playing the game didn’t need to know your personal address to harass you. They just needed to notice you at work and find your skin coloring or your last name to be “unAmerican” and therefore suspect. It was okay with The Jersey Guys for people to be harassed and possibly endangered based on appearance and last name just a few weeks back.

    The Art of Reckoning and The Jersey Guys

    So, now the state troopers have a game for The Jersey Guys. We know it as “tit for tat; you kill my dog, I kill your cat.” In this case I guess we could say, “You put the troopers in danger, they put you in range of obsessed fans and psychopaths.” Ouch!

    According to a recent episode of Numb3rs on CBS called “The Art of Reckoning,” using a Tit for Tat strategy when you want to get information from a prisoner can be very effective. In game theory it’s called equivocation and has to do with rational self-interest, “the prisoner’s dilemma.” Some folks say tit for tat is what we used in the Cold War to break Russia, but it can backfire if one party is extremely stubborn or possibly nuts.

    Note for NonGeeks: “Game theory is a branch of mathematics that has many more important and far-reaching applications than the name may imply, such as in warfare and business.” (PDF source)

    The state troopers aren’t trying to get information from The Jersey Guys in this case, but apparently they do think they’re at war. They also skipped the first step of the game, which is both parties, selfish agents, mimic cooperation. (Uh, maybe the troopers feel they were cooperating by not releasing Carton’s personal data sooner.) It seems the troopers want to teach those Jersey Guys a lesson now about putting troopers’ lives in danger by putting one of The Jersey Guys in danger. I guess the troopers hope The Jersey Guys will learn that it would be in their rational self-interest to not do that again! Or maybe Jones tends to over-react. What do we know about this guy?

    Can you say lawsuit?

    I don’t know if The Jersey Guys have grounds to sue, but this is pretty hairy, scary stuff here. Again, according to The Courier story, the chief operating officer of Millennium Radio New Jersey, Andrew Santoro, called for an investigation. The article also reports that Carton and Rossi walked off their radio show after Jones’ news conference revealing Carton’s personal data.

    I agree that Jones, the union guy, is using intimidation tactics. I don’t condone what Jones did, and certainly knowing the reputation of Jersey State Troopers, that they’ve abused their power in the past, I’m not going to cheer one of their union reps on in what seems to be another example of power mania.

    What if something happens to Carton’s family? Did his family do anything to deserve having their lives in danger if some obsessed fan decides to pay them a visit or more likely some angry listener?

    Still, for The Jersey Guys this entire situation may be a case of what I already suggested, karma. As the old folks used to say, “You’ve made your bed; now lie in it!”


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