Because I just haven’t busted out my inner egregiously offensive child lately, and she’s almost chewed through the steel door…
Zeta runs deep.
Virginia Tech mass-murderer Cho Seung-Hui was, it seems, no Dungeonmaster. He was no World of Warcrafter. He was no mom’sbasement-dweller. Police found not one computer game when they searched his room, not one multiplayer game on his computer. But the intrepid reporters at The Smoking Gun have found a smoking gun of sorts, a zeta male marker as unmistakable in its way as running around wearing an official LOTR elf cloak or Spock ears.
They found his eBay records. It seems the man was quite the passionate rubber duck collector.
In addition to purchasing ammunition clips on eBay, Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui last year bought an assortment of rubber duckies via the online auction giant. That’s right, the mass murderer paid a total of $21.50 in two February 2006 auctions that netted him three dozen small squeaking toy ducks and one giant rubber duck. Cho, using his eBay handle “blazers5505,” purchased the items on successive days from an Illinois dealer who appears to specialize in the yellow bathtub items. On the following pages are screen captures of the eBay duck auctions won by Cho. Both pages remain archived on the auction site, though most of the killer’s eBay activity–which apparently began in 2004–has, over time, been deleted from the site.
It is unclear, of course, why the sullen lunatic needed the novelty items.
We barely tolerate how other people drive,
how the hell are we going tolerate those same people packing heat?
An Armed Society is a Society that Ducks for Cover a Lot
Over at Mostly Harmless, the Mostly Thought-Provoking Constructivist has asked an interesting question:
What better way to acknowledge how truly awful a week this has been than to try to start a meme asking people to describe the posts they chose not to write out of respect for the recent dead?
As longtime raincoaster fans know, we’re so not about the memes here, but this one has jolted me out of my minimeme-izing mood and I’ve gone ahead and submitted it to Digg and Reddit, and you may second that if you so desire by clicking on those links.
I see eteraz has observed a moment of blog silence; I respect that and thought about doing that, but it did not seem authentic to me. A blog is silent until you post; for me, the best tribute I could give was not silence but meaningful speech. I did resolve not to speak on the issue unless I could usefully contribute; bandwagon-jumping is particularly abhorrent on a hearse.
As for me, well this isn’t going to cover me in glory but the fact is that I believe the first thing I posted after I learned about the shooting was an amusing and utterly flip quiz, At What Price Would You Sell Out? I generally resort to quizzes when I have nothing to say but want to feed the blog anyway, and so it seemed; as I posted it I thought, “well that’s bought me a few hours at least.”
The shootings sat in my brain for the next several hours, as I resisted the urge to learn more about them. That sounds strange, but after the ordeal I went through with the Kimveer Gill posts, I was not in a hurry to jump back into that trauma soup. In fact, I first learned about the Virginia Tech shootings when I was checking stats and saw that suddenly my Gill posts were doing very well.
Finally, I decided to give in to my impulses and find out what actually happened. It was clear the blogosphere was going nuts trying to find out information, and the police weren’t giving it out, so it became something more creative, more positive, than just sniffing at corpses; it became possible to, by finding and disseminating the truth, to help in some way. I spent some hours researching and saw that, one by one the mysteries were getting cleared up faster than I could possibly do a roundup. Any efforts on my part would only be duplications, so I didn’t make any roundups.
I only posted the cellcam video from Jamal Albarghouti, because watching it raised a lot of questions. Not questions of fact; questions about what it was like to be living through something like that.
I’ve always preferred questions to answers, but maybe that’s a character flaw.
Then I went right back to posting flippant things: a Will Ferrell video and an admittedly valuable but incongruously satirical political post about duelling manifestos from the amazingly irrelevant Michelle Malkin and an imaginary lizard from Buckaroo Banzai. I had promised Robert Chaplin to post about Teeny Ted from Turnip Town and his 10 Counting Cat video, which are both marvelous on any other day but Teeny Ted, the smallest book in the world and normally very newsworthy as well as amusing, was completely overshadowed by my subsequent post on the Bath Disaster, in the wake of the Virginia Tech debate.
It’s like I was eating doughnuts when what I really wanted was beef. Having finally posted on the Bath Disaster, I felt that I could relax. Three posts is a low amount for me in one day; I’ve done as many as 12. In this case, though, it felt as if the quest was complete; I’d done an original and meaningful contribution to the discussion around the meaning of death and what actions the world could take going forward, both on an organizational level and on an individual level. I felt proud.
And, I’m ashamed to say, I saw almost instantly that it was doing well in hits, and I said to myself, “It’s okay, I don’t need to do any more posts tonight. That will keep the blog going for hours.”
I really did.
The next day, I didn’t post because I wanted to leave that post at the top of my blog, and because I felt sure it wouldn’t hurt my standing to do so. I had promised Robert I’d post 10 Counting Cat, but the thing is: it’s about a cat that kills a lot of birds. It’s not really about anything else. It was certainly a bizarre choice to put up in that context, but I did it anyway; if there’d been no promise, there’d have been no post today. I did register that it was tasteless both absolutely (which we’d have no issue with, ever) and in context; it’s not as if I didn’t know. And then I topped that off with a post about Zeta Males and whether a robust virtual life would divert them from a fatal spree.
And so, the tale of what I didn’t post is really not the story at the raincoaster blog. Taste and context have never really been my forte, to say the least. This blog is like a sack of amazing things: dip your hand into it and you could come up with anything from an Archduchess to a dingleberry.
Overall, things balance out, but in the short term, with a fine lens, it can look pretty ugly.
In the comments section of my post on the worst school massacre in US history, I posted this:
I have been thinking, putting the profile of these mass murderers together with my theory of the popularity among so-called Zeta Males of Second Life, World of Warcraft, and other such virtual life forums. They fit very well together, but what are the effects?
Does participation in a community such as Second Life give such people (ego-driven failures, basically) enough gratification and recognition that it reduces their inclination to turn to violence in the real world?
Now that, if I say so myself, is an interesting question.
And so it is.
First, mass murders of the Virginia Tech and Bath Disaster proportions are generally carried out by tightly-wound, ego-driven men who would conventionally be described as failures. They have high ego but low accomplishment, and the disparity between these two drives them literally insane. They account for the difference between their self-opinion and their status by convincing themselves that various conspiracies or forces are working against them.
In Kimveer Gill’s case, he settled on bullies, although he himself had not been bullied; he essentially picked an excuse that was popular with his online peer group, who commonly complained about being bullied. In Andrew Kehoe’s case, he believed it was the School Board and the taxation system’s fault he was facing bankruptcy, ignoring the fact that his farm failed to prosper because he farmed according to his (inaccurate) theories rather than according to sound principles. In Cho Seung-Hui’s case, he blamed the rich and debauched generally, specifically stating repeatedly that the killing was their responsibility, not his.
These are Zeta Males.
Now, let’s look for a moment at the post I did about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I discovered that, even though I have difficulty affording the basics like food and shelter (and my internet bill is three months overdue right now) I am highly self-actualized and recognized by the community. According to standard theory, this should be impossible, but obviously it isn’t. It’s because of this blog. It is because of the internet. It is because I can go online and know that I will be seen and heard and respected if I prove myself, which I know I can do in this arena. I have a record of accomplishment in the cybersphere.
This is precisely what is so attractive about Second Life. In another forum, there was a lively discussion about who joins SL, with those less sophisticated in the ways of the internet assuming that it would primarily be populated with teenagers. This immediately seemed wrong to me and, indeed, proves not to be true; it seemed obvious that Second Life was most attractive to mature people who’d failed in First Life. It’s a Zeta-being magnet, because it gives you the opportunity to hit REPLAY and live your life over, and if you don’t like the way it’s going, you hit DELETE and create a new life. This is not something that those accustomed to success would find compelling.
Now, the question becomes, does participation in online worlds fill these people’s needs for recognition and somehow bleed off the deadly pressure, or do they fail even online, thus reinforcing their destructive tendencies?
If there’s hard information out there about this, I haven’t found it. I would love to hear from psychologists tracking membership in these online forums, though, and what I am hoping to hear is that it can transform people from embittered, dangerous and irrational outsiders into something closer to a sane human being.
I want to be optimistic about this…but…