The gun, she smokes

The Sports Guy finally receives the proof he’s been looking for all these years:

Just in case they pull down the clip between the time we post this blog and the time you read this, here’s what happens: when an accountant from Ernst & Whinney throws the seven envelopes into the glass drum, he bangs the fourth one against the side of the drum to create a creased corner (we’ll explain why this is relevant in a second). Then he pulls a handle and turns the drum around a couple of times to “mix” the envelopes up. At the 5:23 mark of the clip, Stern heads over to the drum, unlocks it and awkwardly reaches inside for the first envelope (the No. 1 pick). He grabs three envelopes that are bunched together, pretends not to look (although he does) and flips the three envelopes so the one on the bottom ends up in his hand. Then he pulls that envelope out at the 5:32 mark … and, of course, it’s the Knicks envelope.

Now …

A reader named Greg K. from Fair Lawn, N.J. (I’d give you his whole name, but I don’t want him to be randomly found dead in his bathtub tonight), pointed this out to me: If you look closely right at the 5:31 mark, right as the commish yanks that Knicks envelope out, there’s a noticeable crease in the corner of the envelope. You can see it for a split-second — as he pulls the envelope up, it’s on the corner that’s pointing toward the bottom of the jar.

You know a writer is good when he can interest you in things you care absolutely nothing about.

Sympathy for the devil

As might have been predicted, it appears that one of the primary motivations for the VTU killings was not religion, the lack of religion, Sudden Jihad Syndrome or anything else, merely the sociopathology of modern mass schooling:

Once, in English class, the teacher had the students read aloud, and when it was Cho’s turn, he just looked down in silence, Davids recalled. Finally, after the teacher threatened him with an F for participation, Cho started to read in a strange, deep voice that sounded “like he had something in his mouth,” Davids said.

“As soon as he started reading, the whole class started laughing and pointing and saying, ‘Go back to China,'” Davids said….

“There were just some people who were really mean to him and they would push him down and laugh at him,” Roberts said. “He didn’t speak English really well and they would really make fun of him.”

While it’s extremely unjust that Cho chose to unleash his revenge on those who didn’t mistreat him, it’s not hard to understand that source of inner rage that years of constant abuse at school produces.

Being nearly a year younger than most of the people in my school class and too socially clueless to hide my intelligence, I was unlucky enough to be one of those on the bottom of the social totem pole for most of elementary school and junior high. It was a combination of three things that changed my social fortunes and my subsequent outlook:

1. Because I developed open contempt for my teachers before anyone else did, I was somehow classified with the rebels and budding criminals instead of the complete losers. When the bad boys and delinquents divided themselves into two “gangs”, I was supremely mystified to find myself invited to join one of them. It’s hard to remember everything that long ago, but it may have been the first time I was invited to join anything at school.

2. Scoring six goals in one game against our archrivals earned the respect of the jocks, who afterwards refused to pick on me, with two notable exceptions.*

3. The kindness of one of the most popular guys in our class, who not only came over to my house one weekend in eighth grade but also mentioned it to others the next week. (It also helped me realize that I had absolutely nothing in common with any of the popular people in my class, but even at that age I recognized it was an extraordinarily decent gesture on his part.)

It’s almost embarrassing, in retrospect, that such a small thing could make such a big difference, but what it gave me to understand was that my social isolation was not intentional on anyone’s part, it was simply the natural and inevitable result of inherent differences between me and the normal kids. From then on, I viewed each point of friendly contact as a small victory for foreign relations and each social setback as a minor border skirmish. My hatred began to rapidly fade until by the latter half of high school the only remainders were a) a distaste for dating girls from my school, and, b) a complete lack of any need for social approval.

This background is the reason for one of the more important points of The World in Shadow, which is how we are often given the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others who are at a crucial nexus, and how our inability to see this usually causes us to miss the opportunity. I don’t know if anyone ever had this opportunity with Cho, perhaps he was simply too screwed up or too narcissistic for anyone to make a positive impact on him, but if they did, we can be sure that they missed it.

The connection between being victimized at school and unleashing violence isn’t imaginary, in fact, it is so strong that I recently read how police in some states are beginning to ask administrators who the bullies are so that they can keep track of their victims! Now, if that is not sufficient indictment of the public schools for you, then I’d be very curious to know what, if anything, would be.

Cho’s words seem to echo that point from Shadow, which was written after Columbine: “You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today. But you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off…. You have vandalized my heart, raped my soul and torched my conscience. You thought it was one pathetic boy’s life you were extinguishing. Thanks to you, I died, like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and the defenseless people.”

Unfortunately, Cho is likely correct and he surely will serve as an inspiration for the victimized and the bullied, just as Harris and Klebold of Columbine fame have. And this isn’t necessarily an entirely bad thing, because there’s absolutely no need or excuse for the abuse of the weak by the strong or the victimization of the unpopular by the popular.

* For those of you who’ve read Shadow, Kent Peterson was real. Although in real life his name was Clark and it was a junior high problem, not a high school one. By 9th grade, we’d reached an accomodation of sorts.

An American coward

The Regression to the Mean doesn’t seem to have learned anything from the Holocaust or any other violent incident in world history:

I have to dissent, in the strongest possible terms, from John Derbyshire’s shocking posts on Virginia Tech. The notion that a human being or group of human beings holding no weapon whatever should somehow “fight back” against someone calmly executing other people right in front of their eyes is ludicrous beyond belief, irrational beyond bounds, and tasteless beyond the limits of reason….

Everyone who wants to know the actual facts of the matter should read David Maraniss’s account of what happened inside the classrooms.

I read it and it seems to me that people were hiding under desks, hiding behind lecterns, huddling by walls and generally behaving like terrified sheep, the two professors and the three guys who held the door in the computer class being the obvious exceptions. (The article doesn’t say, but the word choice leaves the impression that the ex-military professor may have made the mistake of trying to talk to the guy.)

Don’t hide behind the lectern, throw the damn thing! Break a chair leg off, hide behind the door and stab him in the throat if he pushes through while the others throw desks at him. If the gun shots are pops, not big booming cannon sounds, you know it won’t kill you unless you get hit in the head or the heart.

That Maraniss account doesn’t support what Podhoretz is saying, it makes Derbyshire’s point for him. Just looking around my office, I see glass frames that would make daggers, a lamp that would make an effective spear, two bookends that would smash a skull if thrown, chairs with heavy wooden legs and metal balls on the feet, a six-inch sharpened letter opener and an assault rifle with an extra banana clip… okay, so maybe the average academic office doesn’t have the latter.

The point is that you can turn nearly anything that has heft or length into an effective weapon. You may still be outgunned, but if you’ve got the benefit of numbers, you can and will win if you fight back. At the very least, you are giving yourself and those around you a chance to survive.

Women are legal children

I’m only surprised that she will serve any time for murdering her husband:

A preacher’s wife who claimed her husband abused her was convicted Thursday of voluntary manslaughter for shooting him…. Prosecutors had asked that Winkler be convicted of first-degree murder, but the jury settled on the lesser charge after deliberating for eight hours. She faces three to six years in prison….

Prosecution witness described Matthew Winkler as a good husband and father, and the couple’s 9-year-old daughter testified she never saw her father mistreat her mother. Mary Winkler also said under cross-examination that her husband did nothing for which he deserved to die.

You see, women can’t be held responsible for anything they do or say, because they are children. And while you certainly can take offense at my assertion that women are not equal to adult men if you wish, I note that I am merely stating an obvious and easily observable fact of the American legal system.

There is an example of this almost every day. Consider the following:

The New York woman who told investigators two men stabbed her and her 3-year-old son, leaving the boy in critical condition, in a purported robbery last week was arrested today on an attempted murder charge in the attack, police said.

After questioning, Franca Gasperetti, 43, of Floral Park, N.Y., admitted she “snapped” and stabbed herself and her son, Anthony, with a 12-inch kitchen knife “in a fit of rage” after “her affair with her husband’s friend had been exposed,” according to her arrest affidavit.

Based on the results of the Tennessee murder – excuse me, voluntary manslaughter – one can only expect that she’ll get probation, the house and custody of the child after the divorce.