Tuesday, November 29, 2005

One of the most interesting news stories i've read about the suicides in Japan was posted recently on the Japan Today site. Aside from pointing out that the most popular method of suicide in that country is hanging (in contrast to the impression one might get from news coverage that the most favored method uses carbon monoxide), there's an interesting blurb by psychiatrist Takahashi about women being "physiologically better equipped to resist the suicidal impulse than men." I'm not quite sure what that means; does it mean that female bodies are actually more robust than males?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Nitschke will relocate Exit International's website from Australia to New Zealand due to the repressive legislation of the former country.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

CNN is Yellow

There’s something ironic about a show named “Paula Zahn NOW” airing a story about an event that happened over two years ago. Even allowing time for the investigations required to produce the investigative journalism for which CNN supposedly prides itself, one has to wonder why it would take so long to sort through the facts and to listen to the opinions of all the parties involved. Part of the delay in airing that news segment on television was apparently due to the story being bumped in favor of covering the events related to a number of hurricanes that have recently left parts of the southern U.S. in shambles, but that wouldn’t account for why the story is airing years after the event took place. Given the nature of the news trade, one has to conclude that the story of Suzy Gonzales’ suicide really isn’t considered important by the CNN journalists; it’s one of those “filler” stories that is used to take up time in a news show when there’s nothing more interesting to report. It’s the equivalent of what’s called “small talk” in casual conversation.

There’s nothing wrong with small talk per se, but when investigative journalism indulges in it one would hope that the people producing the story would at least try to present a balanced view rather than try to palm off opinions as objective fact. The show blames the posters to Usenet group alt.suicide.holiday for the death of Suzy. Suzy’s father states that the newsgroup “brainwashed” his daughter into killing herself. But by her own account she had started thinking about suicide when she was 11 or 12 years old, years before she started interacting with the posters to that group. Why isn’t that mentioned in the show? The news story claims that posters of ASH “gave her the tools” with which to commit suicide, but if there was evidence that someone from ASH shipped her the cyanide or other paraphernalia with which she killed herself, why hasn’t that person been prosecuted under the existing laws of the land which prohibit such assistance?

Given that there are people who attest that their experience with ASH has actually encouraged them to live and that one of these people was interviewed for the news story, why wasn’t even 15 seconds of the 4 hours that were spent filming an interview with him included in the story? Is it because a “heartbreaking belief” makes better copy than the whole story?

And why doesn’t this “cautionary tale” provide any suggestions as to how parents could actually open a dialogue about suicide with their progeny? Earlier in the show there was a segment that encouraged parents to discuss with their kids what exactly it is they are learning in school; is the message here that it’s more important to know what one’s kids know about sex than it is to know if they are thinking of killing themselves?
Three girls commit suicide together without using the Internet.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

If anyone had doubts about "Intelligent Design" being a 21st Century mutation of Creationism it looks like Pat Robertson has affirmed that it indeed is.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Roger Graham, the U.S. national in Cambodia being sued for having a website extolling Cambodia as a place to die, shut the site down briefly, but now it's back online with his side of the story.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Evolving under our noses

In 1925 a teacher named Thomas Scopes was put on trial in the U.S. for teaching the scientific theory of Evolution in class in Tennessee. From all accounts of the trial the people who opposed Mr. Scopes demonstrated a level of understanding of science about on par with what one might expect from a monkey. From what I gather, the opponents held a rather simple view: if a theory of the origin of life was not fully compatible with the account of the origin of life as stated in the Christian Bible, then it was incorrect. Darwin’s theory of Evolution was a form of heresy.

Eighty years later (i.e., the present time), the Kansas State Board of Education has apparently decided that the most rational way to reconcile science with theology is to redefine science itself so that it is not explicitly limited to natural explanations. In other words, in Kansas a theory can invoke supernatural explanations of phenomena and still be considered “science” and therefore can be included in the curriculum of science education in that state. So the strategy of Creationists has changed: if they can’t force people to accept that theology trumps science, then the solution is to ignore the essential differences between the two and then insist that the two world views they represent get equal time in the classroom when the pupils are being taught about science. It is, in other words, a denial of one of the elements that makes science a science. Whatever claims the advocates of Intelligent Design make to legitimize their paradigm, they still fall short of being scientific because there is no way to test their theories. “Intelligent Design” is a black box that has to be accepted on faith if it’s accepted at all, and sheds about as much light on the mechanics of the origin of life as discussions of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

US national in Cambodia is currently in trouble for running websites that suggest that country is a good place to suicide. Perhaps he should have suggested Switzerland instead.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Terminally ill in Australia make their own suicide pill.