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[Dec. 15th, 2012|06:50 am]
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--== From Friday Morning ==--

I am still enjoying the amazement of my rapidly responsive computer.

Christine and i are pondering an informal betting application that runs off twitter and the currency is retweets. "#I-bet 5 RT that Youtube gets dates back in the initial page view by the end of the day."

Hrm, regarding the YouTube issue, maybe it was just that one video. Hmm.

--== ∞ ==--

Reflections on reflections on horror: My first news horror, a horror that really pierced me, was the Challenger explosion. I wrote a long essay on hope and dreams around that event for some publication my senior year in high school. News loops on the home TV etched images into my brain. My memory for news details is poor: my memory of lying out on a bench by our pond, surrounded by a rare snow covered landscape, looking up at crisp stars, hearing the gears shift on the few trucks on a distant highway and the transit of airliners overhead is multisensory.

The next horrors were Waco and the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building. I was in graduate school, news feeds flowed through the nascent internet, and i saturated myself. The fact that events with several years difference bleed together reflects the sort of stasis of those graduate school years where i read Usenet until everything was read. I don't think i had a TV at the time, certainly no cable, but i saturated myself in the text. I don't believe i wrote much about my thoughts and feelings: i believe i was a dull blank slate.

When Columbine happened, and characterizations of the shooters came out, the descriptions rang too close to home. I reached out to old high school friends, and found them reaching out, too. We worried about kids like us being more targeted than we already were in high school.

Then 9/11. We had actually acquired a cable subscription. There was something about the mass paroxysms of horror that pervaded the country that has twisted and turned for me. I acknowledge the scale of the attack was massive, geographically extensive, stunning in its coordination, and thus frightening. I think something rebelled inside of me, though, as i observed the national discourse: a rebellion against being told to be horrified or afraid or distressed.

You can't make me despair.

This is, perhaps, because i know too well the horror of everyday living. Looking at the plastic of my toothbrush and wondering where it will be in a hundred years. Having an egg for breakfast and wondering just how green-washed "cage free" means for the animal who produced it. Driving to work knowing i have the means of death for three or four folks, at least, if i am not paying attention and cause a pile up in sixty mile per hour, close packed traffic. Burning fuel and knowing that pushes the atmosphere another increment towards flooding where i am driving.

And so on. I don't dwell there.

I don't dwell on my local news, either, but i read headlines about shootings, deaths, and missing people. A sample from Thursday:

* two deaths due to accidents
* Man accidentally shoots himself at Newark car dealership
* Peninsula man to be tried for having 145 pounds of explosives, judge rules
* Police escorts help holiday shoppers at West Oakland BART station
* Police are investigating the city's 122nd homicide of the year after a man was shot and killed in East Oakland on Thursday afternoon, police said.
* Cupertino: Bomb threat against teacher closes two schools

News of the Americas from the BBC includes, "The women raped by guards in US prisons."

I rebel against getting caught up in a horror narrative when so many smaller horrors persist around me. And for larger horrors, why should i dwell on the the shooting in Portland, Sandy Hook when i can dwell on a report about "Why efforts to stop factory fires have failed."

Then, on the second day, Sridevi Kalavakolanu, director of ethical sourcing for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., spoke up. "In most cases very extensive and costly modifications would need to be undertaken to some factories," Kalavakolanu was quoted as saying in the minutes of the meeting obtained by The Associated Press. "It is not financially feasible... to make such investments."

Here is a death count of 122 in November (the current count of homicides in Oakland, i note), 700 over the past five years in Bangladesh, alone.

If i honestly ask myself what tragedy i am more likely to have an effect, however small, in preventing again -- if i ask what tragedy could have been prevented -- should that not be the garment factory horror? (At this point, yes, i acknowledge the national debate over gun control, and i acknowledge that as a citizen i should also be doing my part to address the lobbying power of the NRA. On the other hand, reviewing the lists at wikipedia indicates that folks can do plenty of harm with Prometheus' gift.)

So i rebel against being caught up in horror over the tragedy in Sandy Hook, in Portland, in Aurora. I remember, and remember the shooting at Lehigh Southwest Cement Permanente Plant. What about the shooting in Oikos University of Oakland (which contributes 6% of the Oakland homicides, i presume)? I don't recall that: is April too far away or is the fact it happened in Oakland and to Koreans that it didn't get visibility?

Enough! I will go back to my silence, reading your reactions with respect, and perhaps i won't feel nagged by the sense that my silence allows others to project their reactions on to me for some years.

Christine frames my response in post-structuralist theory and quotes Jean Baudrillard to me, then explains i am attempting to preserve my reactions to real (that is, actually experienced) horrors by resisting having emotions triggered by the simulacrum of horrors (the signs, representation, hyperreality of reporting).


Meanwhile, i had a delightful day at work yesterday. I had hours to bury my mind in analysis and examination of an issue; it happened to be process oriented. I did a proper UML diagram, i got access to a test system to configure at will, i did a little research, i designed and tested, i documented my process with more diagrams, and emailed around a powerpoint (bleh). I felt i had really engaged, and - OH! how much i enjoyed my work!

If you are really curious, i can share what i have learned about setting up a Kanban board in Greenhopper using custom albeit generic JIRA workflows. I'm happy to share the XML workflow definition if you wish.

I was bouncing with delight at the end of my work, not wanting to get up to go to dinner until i had completed the last slide and the email to the relevant work discussion list. To go from idea to working prototype (which i consider implementation ready, barring team member rebellion) to documentation in just an afternoon (well, i kept working past 6 pm) is so empowering.

I am really looking forward to everyone being away and the meetings decreasing over the holidays! Please, please let me stay well!


[User Picture]From: bobby1933
2012-12-15 10:57 pm (UTC)

Not a horrible reaction to horror.

However your reaction might be framed, i think it is an exceptionally healthy one. It goes without saying that a component of compassion is part of your overall response.

I also choose to fear what i fear rather than what others fear or tell me to fear.

I am just finishing the last few letters at the end of Etty Hillesum's diary (An Interrupted Life -- which i'm sure is not the title she would have given it) She died at age 29 at Auschwitz. I think your comments would be pleasing to her.
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[User Picture]From: elainegrey
2012-12-16 05:24 am (UTC)

Re: Not a horrible reaction to horror.

I heard about her recently -- was it your journal? Sounds like an intense collection to read.
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[User Picture]From: bobby1933
2012-12-16 03:15 pm (UTC)

Re: Etty Hillesum

Perhaps. I have mentioned her and will have more to say about her,
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[User Picture]From: amaebi
2012-12-16 01:28 am (UTC)
Thank you.

One of the things that bothers me a great deal about the Important Deaths that people go all portentous about is all the Unimportant and Systematic ones ignored, day by day. God bless you for remembering, and for making me feel less alone.
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[User Picture]From: elainegrey
2012-12-16 05:25 am (UTC)
And thank you for letting me know you too are bothered by the horrors ignored.
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[User Picture]From: amaebi
2012-12-16 01:12 pm (UTC)
And even worse than ignored. Shrugged off as unimportant or necessary to The Way Things Work.
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[User Picture]From: bobby1933
2012-12-16 03:22 pm (UTC)
collateral damage! I just saw a documentary on former CIA director Colby. The Very Serious People were all explaining how Colby let his conscience bother him too much, when, it seemed to me, he used it almost not at all.
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