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Friday, May 09, 2003  

People are saying

•An awful superlative

Oregon now has an eight percent unemployment rate, the highest in the nation.

Oregonian Mark Wohlwend, jobless and homeless in middle-age, is among those people.

"If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone," said the 50-year-old. "I never imagined I'd have trouble getting a job or be living on the streets."

Wohlwend was among about 40 people lined up at the Oregon Employment Department Office in Portland on Friday, the day the state announced Oregon's jobless rate had zoomed to 8 percent.

Commenter Brendan at Solonor listed reasons to like Oregon a couple months ago.

*Beautiful mountains and what remains of the forests.
*Moderate weather-rains alot, not much more.
*Gorgeous, almost pristine coastline, never crowded. And all the little towns along it are quaint and friendly.
*No sales tax, cost of living is tolerable.
*Fairly low crime rate.
*Bridges, bridges, bridges.
*Bigfoot/UFO cults-not as popular as you'd think.
*Women outnumber men.
*Lots of dunes, caves,waterfalls (though not nearly as spectacular as in Hawaii)
&Portland is a medium-sized city with a small town mentality.

*Bruce Campbell lives here-that should be reason enough!"

I don't know how other Oregon bloggers feel about this, but I am beginning to wonder if I should continue to become rooted here. I am currently self-employed, but unless I can produce another book, that will not last. I will have to get a job.

•A hero or a wannabe?

Some folks are hailing the hiker who amputated his own arm as a hero.

Hiker Aron Ralston, his right arm trapped beneath a huge boulder for five days, snapped both major forearm bones near his wrist and then used a cheap utility knife to cut himself free, he said in his first interview since the ordeal on May 1.

Ralston told reporters in Grand Junction, Colo., that he initially tried to amputate his forearm three days after becoming trapped on April 26 in a remote canyon in Utah. But he could not pierce the skin with the dull pocketknife.

But call me Mac Cynical. I am skeptical for two reasons.

*He broke almost all the rules of hiking, mountain climbing, fishing, e.t.c., by going out ill-prepared and alone.

*Some people want to lose limbs.

Clean up the coffee or Coke you just spit on your monitor while reading the second reason and I will explain.

Wannabes are members of the amputee fetish community who want to become amputees. Technically, they are apotomenophiles.

Apotomenophilia: a paraphilia of the stigmatic/eligibilic type in which sexuerotic arousal and facilitation or attainment of orgasm are dependent upon oneself being an amputee [from the Greek, apo, from + temnien, to cut = - philia]. An apotemnophile becomes fixated on carrying out a self-contrived amputation, or obtaining one in a hospital.

The blogger at Joy has no doubts: "Anyway, I've got a new idol. He is Aron Ralston! Ahhh hero!" But then, like most people, he has probably never heard of wannabes.

I'll wager the blogger at Babblogue hasn't either. He says we should be proud to have Ralston in the gene pool.

It's an astounding story. If someone wrote a piece of fiction everyone would claim it was too far-fetched. I cannot imagine the resources and resilience that Aron must have, not only to survive the ordeal, but to make that decision: to cut off his own arm so that he could survive. That's the kind of man you want by your side when things go wrong.

Notice how Ralston's negligence in putting himself in the position he was in is completely overlooked.

I did not take time to wade through all the blog entries on the topic, but will guess nearly all of them are similar to the two referenced.

Do I know the fellow is a wannabe? Of course not. He could have just screwed up and been forced to amputate his arm as he said he was. But, a significant segment of amputees obtain their limb losses purposely. Once one is aware of the phenomenon, one looks upon stories like Ralston's a bit cynically. You can learn more about wannabes and other amputee fetishists by reading this blog entry.

•Justice in Kopp case

A murderous anti-abortion zealot has gotten what he deserves.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Anti-abortion extremist James Kopp was sentenced to 25 years to life Friday for the sniper slaying of a doctor, declaring without a trace of remorse: ``I wish I could do 10 life sentences or 10 death penalties'' to save the unborn.

Kopp, 48, received the maximum for the 1998 murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian, 52, an obstetrician-gynecologist and father of four who was cut down by a bullet that came through his kitchen window.

Kopp, a militant known in anti-abortion circles as ``Atomic Dog,'' told the judge he did not intend to kill Slepian, but would do it again.

I must say say Kopp's defense, 'It was an accident, but I meant to do it,' is novel.

It is doubtful he will ever walk free again, considering the other charges against him. However, I suspect he enjoyed his years on the lam in France.

Kopp still faces a federal trial on a charge of interfering with the right to an abortion, which carries a maximum life sentence. He is also a suspect in the wounding of four abortion providers in Canada and Rochester between 1994 and 1997.

•Conservatives and public education

Fred at Rantavation has begun a series on school resegregation you should read.

Let's recap--in part I, I discussed the fact that in any measure, "the level of education" in public schools has, at the very worst, remained constant. From standardized testing, correctly reviewed for sample size, average student scores in any basic subject (reading/math) have remained constant. From demographic data, non-white student performance has risen dramatically. The ratio of graduates to non-graduates have continued to rise, as has the ratio of students entering college::those not entering college.

Fred has given solidity to an idea Laura and I have been thinking about. I wonder if conservatives' emphasis on shifting to charter, private and home-schooling isn't a mechanism to further shut ethnic minorities, especially blacks and Hispanics, out of mainstream. Though they often tout the privitization movement as being meant to help minority students, its actual effect will be the opposite since minority parents are least likely to be able to afford private schools. Vouchers? In most cases, the amount allocated, an average of $200 if I recall correctly, is too small to make any difference unless parents can already afford private schooling. Read Fred.

5:19 PM