|That the brothers Tsarnaev are more than the labels we would hastily apply to them is obvious, I know. Then again, labels are especially tempting amidst the twin confusions of breaking news and municipal lockdown. Stories like the one that has now been shorthanded as the "Boston Bombing," or the "Marathon Bombing" — among them "Aurora," "Newtown," "Columbine" — have their cycles. And we have entered the time in the cycle when, alleged culprits identified, our need for answers tends to merge with our need for justice. We seek patterns, so that we may find in them explanations. We confuse categories — "male," "Muslim" — with cause.
We focus on contradictions: He had a girlfriend, and killed people. She was a mother, and a murderer. And we finally take refuge in comforting binaries — "dark-skinned" or "light-skinned," "popular" or "loner," "international" or "homegrown," "good" or "evil" — because their neat lines and tidy boxes would seem to offer us a way to do the thing we most crave right now: to put things in their place.
The problem is that there is no real place for the Boston bombings and their aftermath, just as there was no real place for Aurora or Columbine or Newtown. Their events were, in a very literal sense, outliers: They are (in the U.S., at least) out of the ordinary. They were the products of highly unusual sets of circumstances — of complexity, rather than contradictions.
But we don't often treat them that way. Instead, in times like this, we tend to emphasize adjectives rather than verbs. "How can you be a good person and a terrible person at the same time?" CNN asked this morning. That it would feel the need to wonder says a lot.
|Monday marks the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day. Just as for the first Earth Day in 1970, people across the planet will voice their concerns for Mother Earth. This year, the theme is "The Face of Climate Change." The organizers of the Earth Day Network have been gathering faces, of humans and other animals, to bring attention to the crisis of our time: global warming. The mosaic of faces with be available Monday on line and at thousands of events worldwide.|
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2006—More Flu Stories:
|It's interesting that ANY discussion of bird flu engenders a reflex "fear/hype" response amongst some posters, (and the usual media culprits) as if the very existence of the discussion (and the provision of neutral information) is an affront to propriety. For example, here's a simulation from the Los Alamos National Laboratory on Avian Flu infection dynamics should 10 people be found positive in a major America City like Los Angeles. The low probability, high impact nature of the Quicktime movie simulation speaks for itself. But as the Science editorial goes on to say:
An energetic response to H5N1 does not have to be alarmist. [emphasis mine] We can marshal existing concern about this particular strain of avian influenza to build a long-lasting international infrastructure to monitor and thwart threats from such emerging infections.And Americans are concerned. They're a little concerned about bird flu (or the pandemic flu version) and very concerned about the government's ability to deal.
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