Life’s weirdness, NIU, and philo discourse

Well, it certainly has been awhile since I have posted hasn’t it? Or at least it feels that way with all the news and etcetera going on in this neck of the woods. Where to start, I guess I should get the weirdness aforementioned in the title out of the way first.

Unless you live in a van down by the river, you know about the college shooting at NIU. You may also have heard that the perp. was a grad student here at UIUC (yes, apparently classes are that hard here). Joking aside, it is horrible to hear about such macabre happenings. Well, to put the ‘it’s a small world after all’ spin on things, it should be mentioned that the shooter live[d] practically across the street from me, and I had seen him on several occasions on the 5W bus (his was the stop before mine). Now, I didn’t know him, nor would I want to, but I had seen him (cue Twilight Zone theme song). Also, his building is right behind Davenport where I spend the majority of my time on campus. Now I do not subscribe into mass hysteria of what if’s, especially those predicated by media sources, but the inevitable thought has crossed my mind: Why did he drive 2 hours north, when he could have walk 5 minutes east. Strange.

I wonder what makes the choices of madmen. That is not to say that madmen will not…be mad… and (possibly) commit horrible acts. History tells us this will always happen, so get used to it. My question lies more along the lines of what method does such a madman employ? Why did this shooter chose to go into a lecture hall in Matrix style, black coat and all? My first assumption is media influence. Man is anything but original. The media is so good at saturating the public with such ideas, it seems plausible the shooter didn’t have to got out on a limb in order to come up with his scheme. And I’m sure we’ll see a murmur of school threat aftershocks related to this incident (though many of those will not be madmen, but people starved for attention). We see this sort of phenomenon over and over again. Kids burn down there house because of Bevis and Butthead, people through the ages kill in the name of God, Wakalski Brothers cause Columbine…the list goes on. What’s more, generally it’s the media spurning this false cause and effect relationship and association. Maybe they’re onto something. Maybe they should take their own medicine.

Fact is, there are crazy people out there, we just have to accept it. It is pointless in my opinion to try and segregate them from society, especially as there is no thought police (yet, supposedly). Perhaps then, the solution is to stop spreading the news in such a virulent manner. Maybe news should not be a passive process as it is now, where one can turn on the tube and be spoon feed someone else’s beliefs and bias. If news were an active process, forcing the newseeker to be just that, a seeker, society might get a little smarter (at least some of it).

Or, maybe, I am crazy, and just don’t what I’m talking about, your choice…

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve earned a pat on the back…go ahead…I’ll wait. Now, on to my week as of late. Things here have been good. I still am riding my bike, though I didn’t at all last week due to feeling under the weather (as opposed to in I guess). I put on my road slick tires last night, and combining that with the 20-30mph tailwind I had this morning, and I would have been hard pressed to get to campus any quicker by any other means. It was muy beuno, with average cruising speeds around 25mph, it was exquisite. Now, the unfortunate reality of life is that tailwinds turn to headwinds when returning home. I expect a real slog later today on my ride back.

School is going well. Hence the non posting of late. I am in the midst of an intense literature review of stream turbulence statistics and pool-riffle maintenance if you cared to know. Also I am working on processing mounds of ADV (that’s Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter to the uninformed) data for some related research. Fun stuff, well for me anyway. Maybe for kicks I’ll make a post sometime lecturing on instantaneous Reynolds stresses and their implications for sediment transport…that ought to lose some readers 😉

If you’re not Nate, then you should definitely take a gander at his latest blog spawned discourse on truth and belief here or here. It is a nice piece of writing to be sure. I am eager for him to complete the series (hint, hint) as I have oft wondered what it is that makes a Nyet tick regarding belief. I may even put together my own argument as for what I believe in kind, as this is something I actually have spent a great deal thinking about and working through (no guarantees though). For now though, I think I’ll stick to the easier topic of fluid turbulence and sediment entrainment.


2 responses to “Life’s weirdness, NIU, and philo discourse

  1. Madness… Utter Madness. You have given your mother every bit of information that I need to know in order to go completely spastic with worry. Thank you. 😦

    Now on to sunnier surmizings. Cool ! I would indeed be very interested in reading about your admonishment or embelishment on what Nyet is writing. I blush to admit that I haven’t made it over there to read up on this one, but hey, I’ve got plenty of time and will get there eventually. I enjoy his take on life too… very different from yours, but very similar in the same vein. Uh huh, I AM playing myself against myself here.. but I’m Mom, and I’m allowed (if only in my own little world) so live with it. (snicker)

    Also, very interesting use of grammar and spellchecker too. 😀

    Love ya!

  2. Hola Frank – I thought there would be a chance that you had crossed paths with this guy. Glad you and J are okay. Of course, I’d be even “gladder” if these school shootings never happened, but as you’re getting at, they’re awfully hard to predict / contain / do anything about, really. The after-the-fact mentality annoys me – I remember after UVA last year, there was this whole “we shoulda seen it coming” movement. From the sound of it, this was even more out of the blue than that – but either way, is it really a realistic to jail every potential psycho out there? And don’t thoughts in that vein have a pretty strange one way ticket to eugenics component?

    Anyhoo, interesting thoughts about the media. Of course I’ll be captain cynical and say that one, the media’s not gonna go for that – requires too much “brain power” – and two, the psycho’s gonna find an outlet, whether it be faux-matrix or not. (An aside: considering how much buddhism the matrix co-opted, you would think there would have been more of a non-violence message. Whoops). You can point at easy access to guns as a more direct source of the problem. Anyways, it’s clearly a tech-borne social phenomenon – I haven’t exactly read up on it, but I think it would have been hard to have these type of psychotic shoot-em-ups in the 1830s.

    I’ll get on the belief series shortly. In fact, I’ll post there just as often as you post here… 🙂

    Say hi to the rivers for me.

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