Archive for November 11th, 2003

Only in America


Question from the lovely Norma Yvonne, an Ecuadorian economist striving to understand American ways.

Why are the instructions at the drive-up ATM also in braille?


Flash Mob Evolves


here’s a FlashMob I could get excited about. Even knowing that something
like this COULD happen might breath some life into this moribund phenomena.

Jane’s Addiction performed a surprise "flashmob" gig in central
London.When the band turned up they were greeted by hundreds of likeminded
fans all holding pink balloons.

They played a five song set – Idiots Rule, Suffer Some, Had a Dad, 1%
and My Time – outside the London Transport Museum, before disappearing.

One fan told "It was a lot of fun. There was a crowd around
a busker by the transport museum and they had a lot of red balloons,
some with McScandalous written on them.


The Matrix Defense


week, accused D.C. sniper Lee Malvo may become the latest in a string
of criminal defendants to plead not guilty by reason of "The Matrix"

Basically, if even part of your believes that what we perceive of as
reality is merely an elaborate ruse designed to keep mankind in sonabulistic
bondage then any murderous, destructive behavior can be seen as a heroic
quest for liberation and freedom. If the magic of the movies is "willful
suspension of disbelief", what can we do about those who carry that suspension
of disbelief out of the theater and apply it to the real world.

This is actually a variation on the old "I killed my parents because
they were really robots who replaced my real parents and were trying
to kill me" defense (I’ve been tempted by that one a few times myself.)
On the other hand, viewing conventional reality as an elaborate illusion
which must be broken before true enlightenment can be achieved is a staple
of many mystical disciplines as mainstream as Buddhism.

Malvo told FBI agents that they should "watch `The Matrix"’
if they wanted to understand him, and jailers found lines of dialogue from
the film scribbled on paper in his cell. Even the Columbine killers were "Matrix" fans.
He would not be the first to use this line of reasoning.

In May 2000, Vadim Mieseges, a 27-year-old Swiss exchange student and
former mental patient, confessed to skinning and dismembering his landlady
and stashing her torso in a dumpster in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
The reason, he said, was that she was emitting "evil vibes" and
he was afraid of being "sucked into the Matrix." A judge accepted
his plea of insanity, and the case never went to trial. His preexisting
paranoia, it seems, had turned lethal under assault from crystal meth
and "The Matrix."

More than two years later, on July 27, 2002, 36-year-old bartender Tonda
Lynn Ansley walked up to her landlady, Sherry Lee Corbett, on a street
in Hamilton, Ohio and shot her three times with a handgun. Ansley claimed
that Corbett and three other would-be victims, including Ansley’s husband,
had been controlling her mind and making her have "dreams that I’ve
found out aren’t really dreams." Ansley insisted the murder was justified
because, as she explained in a statement filed with the court, "they
commit a lot of crimes in `the Matrix’ . . . That’s where you go to sleep
at night and they drug you and
take you somewhere else.

from the Boston

Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome at BU


University has been attracting attention for some rather dubious distinctions
lately. First they won a $1.3 billion Federal contract to construct a
bioterror defense laboratory
so they can cultivate and
experiment on the world’s deadliest pathogens.

Then there was the brouhaha concerning BU’s
abortive attempt
to install
"Better, faster, cheaper" ex-NASA guru Daniel Goldin in the President’s
office, a plan so ill-convieved the university had to pay the guy $2
just to
forget about it.

Now comes word from Boston University’s Institute of Sexual Medicine that
Dr. Irwin Goldstein has identified an important new syndrome – Persistent
Sexual Arousal Syndrome – and is trying to develop treatments for it,
so far with patchy success.

The syndrome is the opposite of the usual female sexual complaint —
difficulty getting aroused. Instead, patients sustain unrelenting physical
arousal, no matter how many orgasms they have.

"It’s just a horror," said Lila, a 71-year-old woman who has
had the syndrome since brain and bladder surgery in 1999, and said she
often has 200 small orgasms a day. "It bothers me more than the
breast cancer," an advanced case that was diagnosed two years ago.

"God forbid you ever tell anyone you have this problem," Goldstein
said. "It gets misconstrued, you become `a public menace,’ because
you’re `a pervert.’ "

from the Boston