Saturday, May 31, 2014

Spree and Why?

The aptly named “Spree” killer’s have run Amok again . . .
"a frolic, drinking bout," 1804, slang, earliest use in Scottish dialect works, of uncertain origin. Perhaps [Barnhart] an alteration of French esprit "lively wit" (seeesprit). According to Klein, Irish spre seems to be a loan-word from Old Norse sprakr. Watkins proposes a possible origin as an alteration of Scots spreath "cattle raid," from Gaelic sprédh, spré, "cattle; wealth," from Middle Irish preit, preid, "booty," ultimately from Latin praeda "plunder, booty" (see prey (n.)).

in verbal phrase run amok first recorded 1670s, from Malay amuk "attacking furiously." Earlier the word was used as a noun or adjective meaning "a frenzied Malay," originally in the Portuguese form amouco or amuco.
There are some of them [the Javanese] who ... go out into the streets, and kill as many persons as they meet. ... These are called Amuco. ["The Book of Duarte Barbosa: An Account of the Countries Bordering on the Indian Ocean and Their Inhabitants," c.1516, English translation], Pan (2000). Lone Wolf: True Stories of Spree Killers. Virgin Publishing. ISBN 0-7535-0437-5.
“Why?” People ask. Why has this happened again?  I’ve put the above suggested reading because this does keep coming up and everywhere there are people who are sure they have the answer, usually with very little to claim as authority, but yet they say they know why.  Some of them are religious and would have us believe that the decline of religion is to blame.(and some the rise of secularism) 
I take that as a serious question and so I need you my readers to take it seriously as well by becoming interested in the topic and history of Spree Killers yourself, because:

What if the average and below average human being just isn’t smart enough to deal with the emotional traumas of life without the prophylactic protection of religious belief?

How about the emotional trauma of wanting a human connection, sex with another person, and being repeatedly denied that comfort? (putting aside whatever reasons they may have been denied or any perception you might have of that as being a sick sense of entitlement for a moment. . . just think about that loneliness.)

Do I pity such a person? Of course I do.  Does it excuse their murder of other human beings?  Absolutely not!  I do find it telling that the first news bite I heard about Elliot Rodger’s killing spree was about his motivations, his rejection by women he desired.  I do think it’s ridiculous that the amount of media coverage and pure hype has gone into his motivation a great deal more than the misery of those victims’ families or what was done to who and when, but how long has it been since the Media was more concerned with factual details than emotional rhetoric?  So am I really surprised? not in the least.   Besides that, everyone does want to know “why” – Why did this happen, Again? and that’s the emotional news bite.

To say that guns are the reason is narrow minded and foolish.  These crimes have been committed with knives.  To say he was psychologically ill, is the easy and obvious answer.  To even take the words of the Killer himself as the answer why, is foolish and lazy.
So I ask these questions: Why are so many of these spree killers so young? Why are they male?  Pan Pantziarka’s book Lone Wolf: True Stories of Spree Killers mentions several contributing factors as well as pointing to some other issues that may be important items to consider too.

  • Have access to and even fascination with guns or other weapons
  • Are experiencing financial difficulties or other failure of life expectations
  • Suffer from social dysfunction – described as awkward, timid, shy, keeps to himself
  • Many of the Killer’s recently lost a dominating Father figure in their lives
  • Create Manifestos or tell others somehow of their anger or even their plans before acting
  • Have suicidal thoughts or impulses
  • Use hate speech and dehumanize other people or extol things that do
  • Express anger over small things, and take everything personally  
There are other commonalities too I’m sure, but these are the ones I’ve noted or others who have written on the subject have noted.  I’m not sure about whether being Male is really evidence of anything, even though I agree that there is still a sense of masculine entitlement in our culture that many have pointed to as the cause.  It’s not necessarily the cause of all the other Spree Killer’s and women could be spree killers’ they’d just probably choose other means, fire, poison, or have skipped the violence altogether and gone right to suicide.  Suicide is almost the defining factor for a Spree Killer vs. a Serial Killer.  Most Spree Killer’s kill themselves or use suicide by cop and Serial Killers usually get caught, studied, jailed and or eventually executed.  That and the rampage factor.

The Masculine issues, especially the dominating father figure, are still a huge cause and raise the question in my mind as to whether for some the sudden loss of the dominating sky father “god” might be too much of a strike against their identity.  If it leads to floundering lack of direction, depression and feelings of inadequacy, it could result in a suicidal spree.

If we yet have religious folks and Aliens who don’t look human show up, then I predict there will be a huge number of people who will cease to feel special, they’ll have anger over being lied to for years and for having wasted years all to gain a lie.  Such a proof of the lie of Abrahamic religions “in God’s image” will spawn either mass murder or suicides, or possibly both.  I hope I’m wrong, but if you’ve read any H.P. Lovecraft, you know I’m not the only one to speculate on this particular cause of sanity loss.

So read up, talk to other people, pose the hypothetical situation to the religious especially:
“If you found out for certain sure that God did not exist, and you even had incontrovertible proof of this fact, then what would you do?, would you share it? How would you feel? And what would you do with the rest of your life?”

Friday, May 30, 2014

In Memory of Voltaire

François-Marie Arouet  21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778 

Famous for his wit and for his pursuit of justice which meant he often clashed with the Catholic Church.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Humiliation Humor

(Oh Cat shaming and Dog Shaming - try googling them, there's a few too many human shamings too.)

Okay so Humiliation Humor is the type of humor I cringe at seeing examples of on television or elsewhere. First let’s talk about what I mean by humiliation humor. Some would say most humor is humiliation of either people, places, situations or things. That’s a pretty broad definition but they’re possibly right – watch the French film “Ridicule” to see some of the examples of classic types of “wit” which is critical to the characters in the film for their success or failure at the 17thcentury royal court.
For me the humiliation has to be of people and usually they are being humiliated by the fact that they are being seen inadvertently embarrassing themselves. A classic example can be found in the British television show “Coupling” where one of the characters unaware that there is a bunch of people about to jump out and wish him a happy birthday, proceeds to do a strip tease for the attractive coworker who had lured him into the room for the surprise party. It was especially bad because as a viewer we are in on the surprise and are made to feel even more culpable when we see the luring Co-worker say absolutely the perfect set of lines to put the hapless victim at ease and ready to strip. It feels like deliberate bait –though it’s just that she was his current crush.

This scene in coupling is possibly an extreme example; however, my empathy for him was over developed by being teased as a child in front of groups of other people. This has probably made me more sensitive to the humiliation one would obviously feel in such a situation. This type of humor is common in British comedy (there’s another example in “A Fish called Wanda”) and that makes me wonder what is it like to grow up and go to school in Britain? Bullying there may possibly be even worse than my own experiences. Then again, in “A Fish Called Wanda” John Cleese’s character hangs a lantern on his characters incipient nude humiliation scene by talking about how English people walk around petrified that they’re going to say the wrong thing and embarrass themselves. *shrug* - perhaps this was to prepare his audience? Or was it the influence of the Americans in the cast and on staff?
So why does this humiliation type of bullying happen? And why does it happen in front of other people? It’s probably just another facet of our social behavior. In the movie “Ridicule” the skillful display of wit evoking humor increases people’s reputation and speeds them to that so coveted personal meeting with the king. In the more humdrum world of school, well it’s used to impress other people there too, and to deflect attention away from the would be comedian. Yes, there is a fine line between comedian and bully.
Still don’t believe in the fine line I’m talking about here? Well I have a personal example. When my husband and I were on our honeymoon he decided it would be neat for us to go to a comedy club. The opening act, or warm up guy for the audience, was one of those comedians who drew his comedy from interactions with the audience. He asked questions such as “who here is married?” Then – “how long?” My husband, sweet fellow that he is, innocently volunteered answers for us to this warm up guy who found ready meat, in his opinion, of our newlywed status. This supposed professional not only wanted to make fun of our newlywed status but when he picked up on the fact that I was not cool with it, and was trying to discourage my husband from giving him any more material, I then became the focus of his speculative brand of humor. Then my feelings became the subject of laughter and disrespect.
Now you may think, just suck it up!, who cares? And sure I don’t sweat it that much, and my husband and I are both children of divorced parents, so we know very well that most marriages end in divorce. We know ridiculing the institution seems natural, but I submit to you, no one entering into marriage goes into it wanting it to end, even if they happen to have a prenuptial agreement. Otherwise, why would anyone get married in the first place?!
Interesting thing to note, Comedians start their routines this way often, asking questions of the audience, even if they don’t wait for the answers. Is this because they want to show that they’re good at improvising? Do they think it shows more talent? They obviously think their audience will forget that they are still directing the way the show goes by the questions they choose to ask. I challenge these comedians to try it the other way around, try true improv and ask their audience to ask them questions or ask the audience to direct their act in some other way instead. On our way out of the comedy club we had an opportunity to ask a question of the guy who was the main act, and well I wasn’t particularly surprised that his response was kind of testy. Comedians seem to be a rather defensive lot to me.
So what were my unfortunate and humiliating experiences that caused me to distrust comedians and in particular dislike humiliation humor? There’s a certain age among girls where they know just enough about sex to be curious but not enough about people to understand motivations. At that tween age I was approached by some girls who were mostly strangers, so I didn’t know what they were about. Their leader asked me to tell them about sex, like it was a big mystery and I was the only person who could explain it to them. It was done in some ways to try and make me look impressive, but it was also presented as if it was a test that if I passed, would impress them.
Except the thing about frank discussions of sex and sexual things at that age is you know that it’s a naughty topic, so if you profess not to know or worse not to want to know in answer to the questions, then you’re a prude and if you actually answer the questions or show that you do know about sex, then you may have some initial signs of respect but ultimately you will only be asked more questions as an “expert” then when you don’t know an answer as invariably you won’t, then you become an ignorant idiot and a slut.
This sophisticated ploy by the bully is to seem to pass the torch or center of attention to their unwitting victim and to set them up for a fall by being the interviewer. Since the leader is the one asking the questions, they hold all the power in the situation, and this is something most kids take a while to figure out. Then the bully commentates on the answers to their questions and the victim finally realizes what the game is about.
Still don’t think interviewing someone can be used to bully? Watch Bill O’Reilly interview someone, and you’ll see it’s clear he knows how to do it. You’ll see especially what I mean if the issues in the discussion are controversial and he disagrees with his guest’s stance on the issues. And of course that is one of the reasons why the comedian Stephen Colbert has chosen to profess admiration of “Papa Bear” and emulate O’Reilly with his character on the Colbert Report. Colbert in his parody does a good impression of O’Reilly’s interview style for our amusement. It’s one of the most genius aspects of his act because every time he does an interview the subject of his humorous parody isn’t even on screen, and yet everyone who’s seen both shows, knows exactly what Colbert is doing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Absurd Truth

So what do the two articles below have in common (other than being on Salon)?

Isn't there so much more to this culture than just the thin sliver this article chose to focus on? for instance would we really be seeing the changes in human rights for the LGBT community  now, if it weren't for the past 20 years that created this "normcore" culture?

So Salon is a bit of a liberal echo chamber but I can't help that I happen to also like most of the subjects that they choose to focus on too, and of course what Atheist isn't loving Neil right now? but no what I think these two articles are underscoring without meaning to is what they really have in common.  There is an inherent hilarious discordant part of our culture that refuses to step back and look at itself.  A refusal to be objective. A denial of even a need for objectivity.  It is both hilarious and saddening at times, but humor is often both painful truth as well as hilarious absurdity simultaneously.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Atheist Holey Book
Look! - Atheist Humor
In the Beginning. . .
So this is my nascent entry here and I’d like to say this blog is meant to be humorous, not that it couldn’t get serious at times but primarily I aim for humor, or I’ll point you to humor. What is humor?? I’m no expert but I’ve noticed there seem to be various nuanced differences between the types of humor, from punning to slapstick and from situational and character driven to humiliation humor (that’s one I don’t like but some people do) all these different types of humor seem so subjective. Will I figure out from doing this just what I find to be funny? Maybe or maybe I’ll find it’s a lot like my love of art and music, determined by my mood and the place I’m in with my life. Here’s a great resource and starting point on humor: 
On the Personal Side
One thing I remember from my college years when I was reading the NY Times a great deal, there was someone’s commentary on humor or rather the difference between tragedy and comedy. The difference they described was hope. So when there’s no hope it’s tragedy? Not necessarily so, it’s all in the specifics of the

Tim Minchin

To all those who point out how funny the things we choose to believe in actually are, like:
Tim Minchin - yeah I'm a fan!