18 July 2007
(CNN) -- NFL quarterback Michael Vick, recently indicted on federal charges for his participation in a dog fighting ring at his home in Virginia, is now under investigation for an alleged earlier dog fighting ring that had a bizarre twist. Incredibly, Vick was actually inside the ring fighting the dogs himself.
Vick isn’t contesting the charges. He has been open and cooperative with law officials and the press about his involvement since the charges surfaced. “I figured, hey, things can’t get much worse than they already are. Maybe this cooperation will buy me some leniency when I’m being sentenced.” On that note, PETA released a statement on their website early Thursday, decrying Vick’s actions and pledging to see that he receives the maximum sentence for his actions. This official statement points out that "the one thing worse than training animals to inflict harm on each other for our entertainment is inflicting harm upon them ourselves for our entertainment."
In reply to PETA, Vick was reported to have said, “I’m really sorry. If I had known that I was supposed to just let the dogs fight each other, I would’ve been doing that this whole time. I mean, as soon as I did find out, I made the switch immediately. Believe me, it would’ve been a whole lot easier if I’d known from the beginning. I missed so many practices because of lacerations and puncture wounds on my hands—I had the team doctors breathing down my neck the whole time.”
“Some of those pit bulls are mean machines,” said Vick. “Worse than any linebacker I’ve ever met.”
16 July 2007
Sacramento, CA (AP)--While waiting at a busy intersection in downtown Sacramento, pedestrian Reginald Whipple made a startling discovery that may revolutionize the practice of crosswalking. It all began last Tuesday when he pressed the "walk" button at Arden and Howe.
"After hitting it the first time," said Whipple, "I thought, 'What if it didn't work?' So I decided to hit it again."
Then Mr. Whipple noticed something strange. As soon as he had finished hitting the button twice, the light changed and he was allowed to cross the street.
"Literally, a light just went off in my head. I figured I'd do a little experiment," explained Whipple. "I repeatedly punched the button as fast as I could. Every time I did, the light would change faster than when I only hit it once."
When asked if he thought that the lapsed time before the changing of the light was correlated with the speed of the button-pushing, Whipple shrugged and replied, "I don't know that we can say that just yet. There's still so much more to be done on this study. The exciting thing is that we know that the lights are actually responding to the repeated depressions of the button."
At a recent press conference, Whipple made some conjectures about the inner workings of this phenomenon. "It is my hypothesis that the stoplight networks have developed social practices with pedestrians, and that they have done this to the point where they are now capable of perceiving distress or urgency in something as simple as a rapid burst of button depressions."
Pedestrians all over the nation are now taking advantage of Whipple's startling discovery.
13 July 2007
Kris and I visited our friends Russ and Betsy last week. They fed us, entertained us, and kicked us out to sleep in a tent in their neighbor's gravelly driveway. It sounds bad, but it was actually quite posh--a five man tent with an inflatable mattress. Playing tug-of-war with their dachsund, Terry, was one highlight. Another was watching Russ jump into a not-quite-hygienic canal to fetch his frisbee.
08 July 2007
An unwelcome guest.
I have a problem with my brain: thoughts sometimes get on a loop and just cycle for days, sometimes weeks. My brother X.W. (of course these initials are fictitious for the protection of my brother Eric) suffers from the same problem, and his is of a particularly vicious flavour (I’m practicing my Canadian spelling before we move there). The phrase “I’ve got a song stuck in my head” is the point of departure for X. He’ll be stuck on a line from a song for days. Lately he has had a tough time escaping the rut of “Encarnacion”, a love song by Jack Black in the movie Nacho Libre. And X doesn’t remember with quiet images tucked into the recesses of his private thoughts—X remembers with his entire body, most prominently his highly developed, operatic, stuck-on-full-volume vocal chords. This gives the reader a taste for the struggles endured by my brother and me.
This neurological issue isn’t the same thing as my past-time of being obsessed with a problem or two for years at a time. In fact, this loop malfunction often interrupts me in what contemplations I’ve managed to conjure. Just when I feel I’m on the verge of some important intellectual milestone, everything unexpectedly shifts gears and I find myself mentally repeating something like “gorgonzola . . . gorgonzola . . . gorgonzola,” as if it were the most natural thing to be doing with my time. Other times, it's more of a motor memory. If I'm on the computer I'll find myself just randomly clicking the mouse in circles, mesmerized for minutes by the little white arrow. And this has led me to the latest obsession: the intrusiveness of memory.
Well, it started as an interest in intrusiveness, but now I’ve moved on to other interesting aspects—particularly the ethics of memory.
The more I read about memory, the more I’m convinced that memory isn’t a matter of simple retrieval or access. Rather, it is a relatively creative process that relies upon cues from the situation that called for the memory in the first place, cues including personal contributions to the situation like emotional mood, level of hunger, the particular social goals and fears that are most salient at the time, etc. In light of the possibility of our creative role in memory, intentional or not, we should be anxious to explore different attitudes toward the ways in which we remember ourselves and others.
It seems to me that one important application of these thoughts, if they're accurate, is that we have the ability to examine how we see others and analyze the role of particular memories with them (memories we maybe once considered infallibly accurate portrayals of how things played out), take advantage of our creative role in memory, and reinterpret the event in a more charitable, humane light. If we do this enough, we may even find that we have formed rather pernicious habits of remembering events in a self-absorbed way. I don’t think it would be inaccurate to say that we form addictions to certain roles (usually those that are, ironically, self-preserving in some ultimately destructive fashion), and that our acts of memory tend to be shaped by these roles.
And this also goes for how we remember ourselves. In our struggles to be honest with ourselves, how can we be true to something into which we only have foggy insight? Do we sometimes assume that it is impossible to be wrong about what some mistake, some blunder, or some bloated victory ultimately means for our selves? And do we make the mistake of assuming that these memories about others and ourselves could ever be neutral? What happens when we start to take responsibility for the implications of the meaning of a memory? A memory is never a neutral thing.