More Suicide

I read a small article yesterday about a man in Los Angeles. He and his wife had both been fired from their jobs at a hospital–supposedly one of the most secure sectors in terms of havinf a job–and rather than look for another job, or go on unemployment, he decided that it would be a better idea to kill his family and then himself.

That’s right, he went home, shot his wife and five children, faxed a local television station a note explaining the reasons for their deaths and that they did not want to leave their children in the care of someone else. The police also received a phone call from who they suspect was the father saying that he had just returned home to find that his family had been murdered.

This appalls me to no end. I do not wish to speak ill of the dead, and it is true that I have never been in such a desperate situation as having to support five children without an income, but I still just cannot understand this. I think this man and his wife, who the fax said had planned the whole thing, were cowards and selfish. I would not say that I have strong feeling about suicide, that is I don’t think you go to hell or anything like that, but I do think it is the coward’s way out. There are exceptions of course, like if you are terminally ill and don’t want to suffer anymore or you have lost everything (like your family and friends) and just cannot see the point of living anymore. Even on that last point, though, I still don’t think suicide is the option. Just like it can always get worse, life can always get better.

But to deny your children their lives because you don’t have the courage to continue trying to make a life for them well that is selfish. I am sorry. I did not know this man, and I do not know the whole situation, I know. And it can be argued that the children would have a hard life wihtout their parents, but so what? Life can be hard sometimes (most of the time it seems lately), but it can also be good and easy and fun and great. I am lucky in the sense that both my parents are still alive so I do not know what it is like to live without my parents, but I still think that it is better to live without them than to have them kill me, even if their reason was because they loved me and did not want to see me suffer.

The whole thing makes me sick because it is sick, but also because it seems more and more, that murder suicide is becoming a viable option for people who have lost their jobs and homes and are facing destitution on the street as a result of the ballooning economic crisis. Sure, there have not been too many of the cases, but I believe that their frequency will only increase. That thought scares and frustrates me because the crisis is going to get worse before it gets better and more families are going to be killed out of love and frustration and cowards.

I am sorry if I sound rough or heartless or soulless (something someone accused me of once in a moment of anger), but I cannot help the way I feel. So I guess I am not really sorry for saying these things. Maybe I could put them in a better way–sound more sympathetic or empathetic–but I cannot bring myself to feel sympathy for this man. Empathy is another matter. I am overly empathetic, and I often think that that is one of my biggest problems. Empathy itself is not a bad thing, but sometimes I cannot control it and it causes me tear up and makes me feel tight in the chest like I’m having a heart attack. Of course I don’t know what  a heart attack feels like because I have never had one, but I think you get the idea.

There were reports that the man and his wife were fired from Kaiser Permanente after being investigated for wrongly representing their workplace so they could get childcare. Supposedly the human resources person who fired them told them that “they shouldn’t have bothered to come into work on their final day, and that they should go home and kill themselves.” Of course, Kaiser denies any such words were spoken, but I have my doubts. Human Resource Personnel can be real dicks, and if this particular agent had a problem with the man and his wife, well then it is easy to imagine that they said something like this. I am sure, however, that he/she did not mean it, and was just speaking without thinking. And I do not believe that they would go home and shoot themselves (and their children) simply because some jackass HR man told them to. Still, it is a good example that people need to watch what they say. I know that may sound a little hypocritical considering my earlier tirade in this post, but that does not change the fact that words have power and we need to watch what we say, especially when handing someone such bad news as they lost their job.

As I said this whole thing sickens and frustrates me and I truly hope that others who are contemplating suicide (for whatever reason) seek help rather than acting on those considerations. There is already too much death and suffering in this world to add to it because you are too scared or unsure of life. Suicide is the coward’s way out, with very few exceptions. I honestly believe that.

Israel and Gaza back on?

So after a cease fire was called and Israel troops withdrew from their recent assault on Gaza, it looks like things are about to start back up again. I hope that they do not go as far as they did in the past few weeks, but really there is no way to tell, especially since it has only been like a week (if that) since the cease fire was called.

What started it this time? Well, some Palestinian militants set off a roadside bomb which killed one Israeli soldier. This of course prompted a response from Israel, and no, that response was not one of inviting the Palestinians over for some fine Israeli cuisine. No, Israel responded how they always do when something like this happens: they blew the hell out of some buildings and killed some Palestinians–some of which may have been militants.

This whole thing is just ridiculous. I mean, what the hell good is a cease fire if both sides are just going to ignore it? Palestinians should know by now that any act of aggression against Israel is going to be met with force and result in the further deaths and sufferings of Palestinians. I don’t know if the militants were part of Hamas, or some other radical group, but that does not really matter. What DOES matter is that these folks are now directly responsible for another Israeli attack on Gaza. Of course, Israel is not wholly without blame here either, as they had been carrying out artillery and naval strikes since the cease fire was announced. Now, the Palestinian militants probably should not have detonated that bomb inside Israeli territory, or attacked Israeli soldiers at all for that matter, but can we really expect that? To use the argument offered by so many gung-ho pro-Israel types: Would the US stand still and allow rockets to be launched from Mexico or Canada into our borders? No, we would defend ourselves, just like Israel is doing.

Well, can we expect anything less from the Palestinians? I mean really, they just got the hell blown out of them, a cease fire was called but not adhered to apparently, and they are just supposed to sit there and take it? I am not advocating an eye for an eye policy, or saying that the Palestinian militants are blameless in this new potential outbreak of heavy fighting, but the world (especially the US) has to stop being so hypocritical and condemn attacks from both sides–especially when there is supposed to be a cease fire.

It boils down to the fact that both sides are crazy. That is not new news, but it is tragic nonetheless. If Israel wanted to show the Palestinians that they truly did care about the people of Gaza and working toward peace, they would take the higher ground and lift the embargo on Gaza and follow the rules of cease fire–that means no air strikes, artillery strikes, troop movement into the territory. The same goes for the Palestinian militants–if they don’t want Israel to kill more of their people and city then they should stop carrying out attacks against Israel that only exacerbate the situation. But no, that would be too hard. After all, it is easier to hate and strike out of anger than it is to use diplomacy and acknowledge and abide by treaties that you (and your opponent) agreed to.

The cease fire was nice while it lasted, and I truly hope that this newest violence does not turn into another assault on Gaza by Israeli forces. Hope is not enough, of course, and it is up to LEADERS, Israeli, Palestinian, US, and others to step up and find a solution to this issue. It will not be easy–the region has a history of violence and hate–but it still has to be done. It will not happen overnight, and there will probably still be a lot of resentment around for hundreds of years, but the peace process has to start somewhere. And it has to be a REAL process. None of this “ceasefire’ but we’ll still blow the hell out of you business. That is not a peace process. Hell, it’s not even paying lip service to the peace process. Basically it’s just a breather in the fighting, like the time between rounds in a boxing match. Sure the match gets put on hold but there is no doubt that the two contenders will be back to beating the crap out of each other in just a few moments.

The Israeli/Palestinian/Gaza situation is important not only because it has the potential to sprawl into a larger regional conflict that can then spread into a larger world conflict–that thought is scary enough–but civilians are dying on both sides, brutally at that. Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups launch rockets and set bombs that kill Israeli civilians and soldiers, and Israel retaliates with air strikes and artillery that kills militants and civilians. Of course, both sides end up killing more civilians than they do fighters, but that does not seem to matter to anyone. There needs to be a solution to the Gaza problem so that the loss of innocent civilian life can be stemmed. Furthermore, the longer these attacks continue the more hatred is bred, and with this hatred comes more violence. It is cycle, but it does not have to be an endless one.

I leave you with this simply because Tom Waits says it better than I ever could:

So It’s been a While…

since I have written on the blog. Maybe a little over a week, but that is forever in this thing they call the blogosphere. There is no real reason for it either. I have not been too busy, or tired or running around taking care of things. Hell, I haven’t even been traveling (I haven’t been to Prague since the end of December), which is ironic considering the title of this blog.

So why haven’t I been writing? Like I said, I don’t know. Maybe it is because I have been feeling overwhelmed by too much time on my hands lately. Or maybe it’s because I have not been able to really wake up during the day. Seriously, I wake up at like noon and feel tired. Then I am up late and sleep again til noon or later. Now this sounds grand and all (and would be if I were a teenager), but it really isn’t. I find that my energy has been sapped and all I want to do is stay in bed and sleep.

This could be depression, but I don’t really think so. I know depression (have been struggling with it for a lot of my life) and this doesn’t feel that way. Of course, you never really feel depression until you are deep in its throes, but I still don’t think my current situation qualifies. I am not overly sad or moody (okay, sometimes I get really angry at the people that stand in front of the stairs when I need to go up them and there are plenty of other places for them to stand–but that is something that has always pissed me off. It is not a new development) lately, and the standard thoughts of the worthlessness of life and what’s the point of it all kind of things have not been present. I dunno, and it kind of bothers me.

And it is not like I don’t have plenty to write about. The US has a new president. New episodes of Battle Star Galactica have started (and they suck so bad, I could probably write for a year about how much I dislike that show–always have–why I dislike it and how I cannot seem to stop watching it), a new season of Flight of the Conchords, a high school basketball coach not sorry for his team’s 100-0 win over a smaller school’s squad, the Sharks victory over the Red Wings in an amazing game for both teams. So much else.

The point is that I have plenty to write about, but I just don’t really feel like it at the moment. I know that is a lame excuse for not writing, especially when the actual act of writing does make me feel a little bit better. It’s cathartic for me (as I imagine it is for most writers) even when I am talkning about nonsense as I am now (or maybe it’s especially cathartic when I am writing nonsense and not having to concentrate/deal with the crappy and yet hope filled world we live in).

Oh well, whatever has kept me from posting regulary I intend to combat it by trying to put one post up at least every other day. I cannot (and will not) promis anything, but I am going to try. It is too easy to fall out of the writing groove, and if I continue not to write it will just be that much harder to sit down and write when I finally have something real to say.

That is all for now. Have a great time until the next post. Hopefully it will not be too long of a wait.

Disappointment

On a few levels today. The first one that the Sharks lost at home to Calgary last night, in regulation. It was their first regulation loss at home in 11 months, and it is made even worse by the fact that the Flames were the ones to hand it to them. I say it is made worse by this fact because the Flames crushed the Sharks in Calgary not too long ago, and I was hoping that San Jose would get some revenge. I think all Sharks fans, and Calgary haters were. This loss puts the Sharks one point behind the Boston Bruins for the lead league, and only one point in front of the Detroit Redwings, who they face on Saturday.

The Sharks did not play a terrible game last night, but they did take some stupid penalties, which ultimately cost them the game. Can’t dwel on it though, as they have to get ready for the big test that is Detroit, another team that crushed the Sharks recently. I don’t need the boys in teal to stomp the Wings (though that would be nice) but I do want (need) them to win this one to prove that they can be competitive against (read BEAT) the teams they will be facing in the playoffs: both Calgary and Detroit are strong contenders for this.

The second disappointment is more personal. It has to do with my date yesterday. We met at 2, as arranged, and went and had a nice time over coffee. So why the disappointment? Well, during the course of our conversation it came out that she has a boyfriend. I took the news in stride, though it was unwanted, and we continued to have a nice time. I think, somewhere inside, that I knew she had a boyfriend (she’s a pretty girl and I just have a habit of assuming that pretty girls have boyfriends because, well, how could they not?), but I still find it lame. Still, she is a cool person and I wouldn’t mind just being friends with her (I can hear all the When Harry Met Sally Fans saying that is not possible) and I console myself with the fact that while she is not single, she must have other, pretty girl friends who are, so there is still a chance that some good can come of this.

I don’t mean to imply that I am going to be friends with her because I want to get close to the hot friends she might have, I’m not that much of a douche, but I am just trying to find a silver lining. And even if she doesn’t have any pretty, single friends, well it is always nice to be around pretty girls, even if they are unavailable because who knows, they always could become so. Again, not saying that I will hang around waiting for her to break up with the boyfriend, but if it happens and I happen to be around, then that’s cool.

So yeah, while yesterday started out promising–I had a date, the Sharks scored in the first minute of the first period of the game–it ultimatley ended in some disappointment. Nothing I will lose sleep over, and nothing world shattering, but just kind of frustrating I guess. Oh well. Such is life, love, and the pursuit of the Stanley Cup.

I Have a Date

Well kind of. Probably not really. I met a woman at a holiday party for the language school that I work for in early December (after my birthday but before getting mugged). We drank lots of wine and chatted a lot. Her name is Hanka, she is quite pretty, and wears glasses which is always a bit of a turn on for me (hey it makes her look smart and smart IS sexy). Anyway, we exchanged numbers, but with the craziness of the holidays and all the other bullshit that was going on at that time I never got around to calling her.

Then I kind of forgot about her. Didn’t mean to, but stuff like that happens, you know. Well, yesterday I received and SMS from her (that’s a text message for all you Americans) wanting to know if I wanted to meet up for coffee. She said that she had had fun talking to me at the party and that she had been thinking about meeting me, but she was busy with the holiday and exams (she is a student but not one of mine so there is no problem there). I was happy to hear from her, but there was a problem; I had no credits on my phone.

See, here in the CZ there are two options for making calls/sending messages with a mobile phone. One is to sign a contract and get a plan. This is probably a good idea if you make a lot of calls or send a lot of messages. I am not one of those people, so I opt for the second option: Buy some credits to put on the phone and then call/text freely until those credits run out and the phone needs to be recharged. Well, my phone had been out of credits for a few days when I got her message inquiring about coffee. I was unable to respond, obviously, and I was scared that this opportunity was going to pass me by. Sure, she was just asking if I wanted to go to coffee, but hey, everything has to start somewhere, right?

Lucky for me, though, I had just gotten paid. This meant that I had money to buy credits for my phone, which I did directly. I ran to the T-Mobile store, put some credits on my phone, then SMSed Hanka saying that I would love to have coffee with her.

So now I have a coffee date on Thursday in the early afternoon. This is good news for me as it has helped my confidence level and proven that I am not completely repulsive to the opposite sex in this country (I have been told that I have a funny face, but I think she was trying to be endearing). I know we are just having coffee, and I am not going into this meeting with any kind of expectation (or at least I’m trying not to), but I am happy nonetheless, and now I can say that I have a coffee date with a Czech woman, which is just plain cool.

Some Presidents to be Really Proud of

Here are a couple of videos about Presidents that we can truy be proud of. The first one is JFK. Watch the video and tell me he wasn’t one of the greatest ever.

And here is one about the nations first, and possibly greatest President ever. I never knew he invented cocaine, or ate opponent’s brains. Did you?

Maybe Obama DOES Support Terrorists

This is the only conclusion I could come to when I heard/read that he is not going to go after the war criminals/terrorists in the Bush administration. Obama has said that he wants to look forward not backward and make sure that his administration is on the right track. Well, that’s all fine and good except that by not prosecuting those who tortured, authorized torture, and lied to get us into at least one illegal war then I have to say that we are not on the right track. Criminals need to be punished, and not just the ones on the street who are poor and disenfranchised. I am sure that we all know someone in our lives who has broken the law and been punished for it. My question is what makes our leaders exempt from prosecution. Nothing, really, except that they have money and power and apparently that is enough to get away with breaking national and international laws.

By choosing not to go after BushCo (it’s not official, but Obama said he probably won’t, which means he won’t) Obama is condoning the behavior of the past eight years, behavior that he had been condemning. Now, the man is not in office yet and there is not telling exactly what he will do once he is there, but this bit of news is disheartening to say the least. Obama promised change, and we may still get it, but I think that the implication was that he would bring about more change than what it now looks like he will. As I said, though, he is not in office yet (only a few more days) and I don’t want to jump the gun and start condemning him for actions that he has not even taken yet, but this stance on not prosecuting the people responsible for the deaths of countless Iraqis and Americans leaves a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Another thing that bothers me is that he has said that he will not close Gitmo in the first 100 days because the situation is too complex. “It is more complicated than people realize,” is what (or close to) he said about it. Okay, I can understand that Gitmo is a sensitive area and that some people there really did want to take aggressive action against the US when they were first captured (and if they did not then, I am sure they do now after the way we have treated them), but that does not change the fact that we are holding and torturing these people illegally. We have no right to keep the place open, and up until yesterday I thought Obama understood that. He says that we can’t just close the place down because some of the people there want to harm America, but we cannot prosecute those people because the evidence against them is tainted (hehe) due to the interrogation tactics (TORTURE) used to obtain it. Well, it is easy then: let them go. Sure, that might come back to bite us in the ass when one or 50 of them conduct terrorist actions against America or her allies, but that is not the point.

In the American legal system, if the prosecution blows it and offers tainted evidence it can result in a mistrial which then results in either another trial or the whole thing being thrown out and the accused being let go. It is an unfortunate side effect of our legal and justice system, but it is there to insure that more innocent people stay out of jail than in jail. And I would think that any evidence obtained through torture would be worthless and inadmissible anyway, but then again I am not a legal expert, and the people at Gitmo are not subject to any kind of law, America or otherwise. Well, that is not exactly true, they are subject to BUSHLAW which basically means that they are at the mercy of those who keep them detained, and with no hope of that situation changing as cries from human rights groups, families, and others have gone ignored by the current (and most likely the incoming) administration.

It saddens me to think that Obama will not go after the men and women who have perpetrated the tactics of torture and spreading terror in the name of The War on Terror, and since he is not going after these terrorists I can only offer one explanation: Sarah Palin was right (never th0ught I would type those words); he really does pal around with terrorists. Sure, they are not Islamic terrorists, or even American radical terrorists (like the weather underground or whatever it was called) but terrorists nonetheless and he pals around with them. Hell, he is even moving into one of their old houses.

I commend the fact that Obama does not want to dwell on the past, and think it is good that he is focused on moving the country forward. However, I think there is a difference between dwelling on the past and making people pay for crimes they have committed in the past, and that difference is that criminals (of all economic levels and means) need to know that they will be held accountable for their criminal actions. If that message is not made clear (especially in today’s world where white collar criminals have run the world’s economy into the ground) then there can be no hope for CHANGE, which, as we all recall is the platform that Obama ran on in the first place.

My one true hope (and it’s so ridiculous that it might just be possible) is that Obama is saying there will be no prosecutions because he does not want G W Bush to be able to issue presidential pardons in a pre-emptive strike against impending indictments. That would explain Obama’s reluctance to come out and say that he is going after these crooks to the fullest extent of the law, and if it is true (which I highly doubt–I’m naive but not that naive) it is brilliant. It is brilliant because not only should these peckerheads be tried, but if they are convicted they should serve time, something that would be impossible if they were given Presidential pardons.

Of course, my invented plan for Obama does not guarantee that these liars and thieves would serve any jail time because Bush is still President and he could still pardon himself and those around him in an effort to thwart any forthcoming prosecution. I’m not exactly sure how that would work (or even if it would be legal) but if BushCo has proven one thing during its time in power it is that it can, and often does, do things that are both seemingly impossible and definitely illegal–getting America into an unjust and illegal war and hiring thousands of mercenaries who operated with impunity for years to fight that war.