Thursday, January 27, 2005

California's Suicide Watch

The accident in LA yesterday which killed ten people is a tragedy, in the truest sense; it was a fateful consequence that could have been avoided. One wonders if the mental health services of the state hadn't been gutted by the Guhvuhnoh's indolence and the decades-long aversion of California taxpayers to do the right thing and provide for the common benefit, that the suicidal man who parked his SUV on the tracks might have been prevented from doing so by an earlier intervention. He'd tried to kill himself twice in the previous day, yet was not restrained. Suicidal people are not rational; they are prisoners to their depressions and illnesses, and the consequences of putting a car on the tracks, I'm sure, were not clear to the deranged person.

Yet the DA is filing murder charges that carry the death penalty. The death penalty? For a mentally ill suicidal man? It may be one of the easiest capital cases a DA has, since the prisoner will long for the sentence to be carried out. Of course, in the meantime, he's on a suicide watch at jail.

What kind of a bizarre society is this? We have a mentally ill man who tries to kill himself, but is released back into society. He tries to kill himself again, but manages to kill ten people. In the name of justice, we now want to judicially kill him, but now we have a 24-hour watch on him to prevent him from killing himself.

I don't understand what sense of justice there is behind this. And the next time the legislature and governor guts mental health services in the name of fiscal health, one wonders whether the incredible cost -- both literally of the accident, and in terms of the impact on the hundreds of survivors of the victims for the rest of their lives -- will be totted up against the cost of providing those services.

I doubt it.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

At Least It Wasn't an Anne Coulter Book

I've occasionally posted about the weirdnesses of having robots and agents watching one's buying and borrowing habits and so forth, usually to marvel at how Amazon or somesuch recommended something totally out of the blue, and it turned out I was quite happy and interested in whatever it was they recommended.

So I thought perhaps that when a "recommendation" came up for a manual on how to dissect a cat that this was perhaps a new novel by Mark Weingardner or Connie Willis or Michael Chabon. I clicked on it, and nope, it turns out it's just a manual about how to dissect a cat.

I don't want to dissect a cat.

However, one of our cats died recently (of advanced kidney failure), and I did find myself wondering a few weeks afterwards how long it would take her buried body to decompose in our climate. Did Amazon's ESP detect this and get a slightly off recommendation? Is the chip inside my brain that communicates with Amazon headquarters slightly defective?

I am left a little perplexed and slightly discombobulated, wondering vaguely if I should be more interested in cat dissection and if perhaps we had made the best decision about the disposal of our cat's body.