November 19, 2003

Wise Chica

Once again itís time to reflect on the fact that Bethany is my ultimate hero in life.
Given the fact that I canít think about anything that has to do with school (with the exception of poetry, which plagues my every waking moment), it figures that one quirky comment would exercise my mind to a ridiculous extent.
I call Bethany after class, and she relates to me her latest dilemma.
ďI canít do Tae Bo after it gets dark,Ē she says.
ďWhy? I donít run when it gets cold, but thatís because it just sucks,Ē I say.
In all her enlightenment, she says, ďPeople can see in my windows. I donít want people to see me doing Tae BoĒ.
I love this. Isnít it true thought? Arenít we all like this?
I laugh heartily, then explain all the reasons thatís ridiculous.

Itís not so weird to see someone doing Tae Bo that people would stand in the middle of the street to watch. People do Tae Bo. We all have cousins or friends or neighbors who do Tae Bo. We all at least know someone who knows someone who does Tae Bo. Now, if you were practicing tantric sex in your living room, people might stop and watch.
Someone would have to actually look long enough to even notice, anyway. I mean, theyíd be across the street or at least on the sidewalk, and anyone just glancing at your house probably wouldnít even notice you, let alone your movements. And if someone is looking in your window long enough to realize youíre doing Tae Bo, you need to know about it anyway.

I could keep going, but then I realize that Iíve been far too thoroughly analyzing Bethanyís Tae Bo problem and that I should be doing something productive. So I tell her that itís actually probably normal for her to feel that way. She tells me it is normal. We agree that itís not rational, but itís normal. She wins, and Iíve lost my excuse to procrastinate.

Posted by Jess P at 10:35 AM | Comments (3)

November 16, 2003

This Killer Country

Like Carla Rae's post shows, there is a lot of craziness in this country where murder is concerned. Many cases in the news recently have exhibited the lack of consequences faced by those who commit murder. Whether they're aged millionaires who crisscross the country, disadvantaged rural youth, or prominent members of our own communities, murderers are getting off frighteningly easy lately.

It was an article in Rolling Stone that first drew my attention to this issue of murder. The piece described the final hours of 13-year-old Maryann Measles and the struggle her mother has endured in the aftermath of her death. In 1997, Measles had fallen in with the wrong crowd in her hometown of New Milford, CT, where her maturity made her feel out of place among the kids at school. She found acceptance in a group of older teens, but her good looks and outspoken nature sparked jealousy in the girls she thought were her friends. A few months later, Maryann disappeared and her mother was left to carry on a crusade that continues to this day.

Maryann Measles was gang-raped and wrapped in chains that would keep her body below the surface of the Housatonic River for months. The exact cause of death is not known, as her head was held underwater but she may still have been alive when her body was bound and thrown into the river. When Maryann failed to turn up after she was reported missing, her family was forced to conduct their own search. Though they were urged to stop, the Measles' dressed in black and spied on the houses of her friends in hopes of finding clues as to Maryann's whereabouts.

Four years after the disappearance of Maryann Measles, eight suspects (including three women) were arrested in relation to the murder. Cindi Measles, Maryann's mother, was reported to have said that she didn't think justice would ever be done. One of the killers was known to have bragged of his hometown that "This is New Milford...You can get away with murder." It remains unclear what punishment will be faced by those involved in this killing, but the Rolling Stone article quoted someone close to the case as having said that it's likely that at least four of the suspects will receive reduced sentences for providing information to incriminate the others.

The Robert Durst case mentioned by Carla Rae is another high-profile murder trial that ended with a bewildering verdict. Durst is a fascinating defendant in that he cross-dresses, is an avid marijuana smoker, and is believed to have been responsible for a number of killings, including that of his late wife, over the years. Robert Durst, however, is a rich man, the primary heir to a billion-dollar fortune, and can afford the kind of defense team that can convince a jury that beheading is a reasonable action to take in self-defense.

Speaking of self-defense, that was the claim that allowed Ligonier podiatrist Karl Long to avoid 40 years in prison for killing his wife. Despite the nature of the crime (Elaine Long was suffocated with a dry-cleaning bag), the suspicious nature of Karl's wounds (the prosecution claimed he inflicted them himself), the fact that she was cheating and had emptied their savings, and the fact that he had been trying for years to end his marriage, Long was convicted only of third-degree murder and sentenced to a mere five to ten years with credit for time served.

An article printed by the Tribune Review in August reveals the factors that render the court's decision ludicrous. A 240-pound man does not need to push his wife's face into a bed for six minutes to defend himself. This is a big guy. Even if he'd shoved her with enough force to knock her out, he would not be on trial for murder. And what person in their right mind would defend himself against his knife-wielding wife with a dry-cleaning bag? The idea of a murder suspect losing consciousness and passing out on top of the victim, smothering them, seems like something you'd see on TV. It would seem ridiculous there, too, but it worked for Karl Long.

Upon his release (which could happen as early as 2007), Long will be able to return to life as usual, as his podiatry license remains intact. He'll be able to return to his kids, something Judge Ober wanted to make sure of.

On November 15, the Trib reported:
"During a daylong hearing yesterday, Long's family, friends and patients testified about his good character and his need to be with his two children. The judge said he was swayed by that testimony."

These are the same two children who were present in the house while their father was murdering their mother.

These three cases are just an example of the strange state of today's American justice system. In a time when young people are spending years in prison for possession of marijuana, men and women like the defendants in the cases I've described are serving more lenient sentences for murder. Where is the justice in that?

Posted by Jess P at 8:29 PM | Comments (4)

A Call for some Thoughtfulness

Hello kids...this is another entry that could merit a disclaimer, but because it's about common courtesy, I don't feel pressed to add one.

I've noticed the need for some kind of initiative to rally for a recreational computer lab. For we who remember the Cyber-Castle, that sad excuse for an area to goof off on computers is more useful now that it's gone - no one will ever again waste a trip to Sullivan in hopes that IT will keep its perpetual promise that the computers have been fixed. My issue is not that I think we're in dire need of community labs for playing games and downloading music. It's that I feel that if Seton Hill continues to accept people into the community that cannot handle themselves responsibly in public, it needs to provide them a place to behave the way they do without disturbing those around them.

I am a loud typer. This fact weighs on my mind every time I set foot in an academic computer lab. As I type, I am constantly aware of how much noise I'm making, wheter or not people are around, and am always trying to minimize the disturbance as much as possible. When I am startled repeatedly in the time it takes to type a two-page paper by an Ashanti ringtone, however, it becomes very difficult to care about how the sound level of my typing will affect those around me.

I will be the first to admit that I am a cellphone addict. I understand as much as anyone that we all forget to turn our ringers off (or even down would be nice) every now and then. Maybe you just pop into a lab to check your email and your phone happens to ring. That's understandable. What's not is why the hell anyone would think to put their phone on vibrate and then put it on the table. It makes just as much noise as the ringer would!

My procedure for handling cellphone situations is simple. My ringer is off during class and whenever I'm in a setting where others are working. If I do answer, I leave the room or say briefly that I'll call back. If I forget to shut the ringer off, I quickly accept or reject the call to stop the noise. None of these things has made my life any more difficult. I promise.

There are many other violations of computer lab etiquette taking place at Seton Hill on a daily basis. Someone quietly playing games, however, beats someone talking on the phone, listening to MP3s, and typing a paper any day. Maybe if responsible lab users are given a space where only legitimate work is done, that space won't have to be locked up at 6 pm due to vandalism. Maybe it could even be a space where the paper could be set free, its placement in the printer no longer subject to the whims of elusive workstudies. Wouldn't it be wonderful?

Disclaimer at the end: I don't mean to ignore the fact that the writing center is one such wonderful place. The burden of creating a true working environment, however, should not be placed on them. When we're paying as much as we are to attend an ACADEMIC institution, the availability of an ACADEMIC experience in an ACADEMIC computer lab should not be limited to one room in 5th admin.

Posted by Jess P at 5:22 PM | Comments (3)

We've Got Spam!

It's official...our space has been infiltrated. Much to my surprise, I found this barrage of spammage on a blog of my homework, of all things. This would be really annoying in a string of comments that people actually cared about, but I think this spam thing, in moderation, could be quite beneficial.

This advertising isn't such a bad thing. It doesn't flash at you, and if these spammers go about it right, they could actually tailor their ads to your interest. That doesn't seem to be what they're doing at this point, but it stands to reason that it would be far more productive to place ads that a person might actually look at.

Another good thing about this is that it will help to weed out blogs that are worth visiting (it would be my luck that I'm writing this after my blog's been stagnant for a while). A blogger can easily delete these unwanted comments, and will if they care at all about their page. These things have a tremendous capacity to disrupt conversation and become extremely annoying. We've learned from email spam that this sprinkling is bound to become a deluge. Blogs that don't receive regular maintenance are sure to lose readers at lightning speed when this takes place. This could become tragic for bloggers who update weekly (or ones like this).

If you're having trouble or just want to read more about this issue, check this out for some tips.

Posted by Jess P at 4:16 PM | Comments (2)

November 6, 2003

Special Guest

For my own enjoyment and for those who either didn't take notes or missed out on Dr.Mortensen's presentations today, I thought I'd post some of the ideas and links she mentioned.

Prior to today's presentations, all I knew about the history of the Internet I learned from Alamak. Now that I've heard from Dr. Torill Mortensen, however, I'm eager to study the Memex, Engelbart, Nelson, and Habermas. The concepts of hypertext theory she brought up today are far more interesting than I ever thought possible.

I'm sure many of us could benefit from spending some time at the World as a Blog . After just a few seconds on the site, I saw a post about spammers preying on Movable Type weblogs. I know Amy can't be the only one interested in this.

Among the other topics mentioned were Henry Jenkins (the cockroach guy), blogs for the poetry kids, some innovative women, and barbarian blogs.

All in all, Dr. Jerz's classes were wondrous fun on Wednesday, and thanks to Dr. Mortensen I've found the inspiration I needed to rejoin the big yummy endless conversation.

Posted by Jess P at 7:04 AM | Comments (2)


Has anyone else had the terribly nasty experience of working on a post for hours only to have their window (only the one with the post-in-progress in it) close due to the whims of some mysterious evil force? The total of my fruitless blogging time just jumped to 5 hours, so now I'm off to blog with paper and pen.

Ed, could you post that program again?

Posted by Jess P at 3:23 AM | Comments (4)

Everybody SCREAM

Disclaimer: I am not anti-sports. I have a great deal of respect for anyone who can balance a school schedule and a training/competition schedule (I don't think the people involved in this ruckus were athletes anyway). I DO, however, have a problem with people who don't respect those around them.

When I arrived on campus tonight, Sullivan Hall was absolutely electric. Somehow when everyone filtered into Main Complex, though, they resembled a pack of rabid animals. Wake up kids...high school football is over.

I'd just like to take a moment to express my heartfelt sympathy for all you poor souls who reside in main complex. There was a time when we'd be reprimanded for riding the computer lab chairs down the ramp in front of Maura Lounge. That was annoying, but we understood. But now, THERE ARE SPORTS! The hell with quiet hours! Why would anyone want to sleep at 1:30 in the morning when they can run around screaming and hitting people with big inflatable red things? Screw the "academic" in "academic computer labs"...the sports teams can use the rooms as lounges, and that would be far more productive than anything else you could use them for.

Seriously, I think the Midnight Madness thing is great. I've never seen such excitement on this campus...not since the last serious ice storm when you could actually slide across the parking lot on cafeteria trays, anyway. It's fantastic that people are supporting the teams (Though I can't figure out what letting every commuter know who's sleeping with whom in Havey has to do with sports). The fact remains, however, that there are still some students here who came for Seton Hill's reputation as a respected academic institution. Those people, in order to achieve their goals, need to sleep. If they're awake, they're probably trying to concentrate. So for those of you who didn't notice, people live here.

So come on. Don't scream in Lowe Hall in the middle of the night. Stop throwing things and jumping on people. Stop breaking things. Quit slamming doors in people's faces. The world will be a much happier place.

And do not give me a hard time about this post if you were one of the kids who was all (insert cheerleader voice here) "School Spirit, Go Griffins!" and then making fun of the cross country team.

Posted by Jess P at 2:24 AM | Comments (9)