Afghani Acid Assaults
The streets are not safe if you are a girl going to school in Afghanistan, where it has become a risk to get your education. Recently, young women have been attacked outside of their schools. The assailants shoot acid into the girls’ faces using toy guns. The veils worn by the students shield most of their faces, but serious damage is being done. It is a mystery to who is doing this, but many believe it is being done by those who oppose the education of females. The Taliban banned schooling for women when they were in power, but since their demise women have been able to go to school. The Taliban claims it is not responsible for these assaults. Nothing has been done about this matter other than NATO forces calling the attacks “cowardly”, so these women continue to live in fear.
- Joe Pugliesi
The virtual world has put a whole new twist on marriage and adultery through the medium known as Second Life. Second Life "allows users to create alter egos known as 'avatars' and interact with other players, forming relationships, holding down jobs and trading products and services for a virtual currency convertible into real life dollars."
It is this very world that has caused enthusiast, Amy Taylor's divorce with her husband David Pollard, after catching him in a compromising position with a prostitute...in Second Life. If this seems a bit strange, don't worry it only gets stranger. Amy and David were married in real life and in Second Life in 2005. Amy began to suspect that David was cheating and subsequently hired an online private detective to track David's activities in the online world. It was Amy, however, who discovered David's avatar having sex with a "virtual prostitute." (...) Amy told the Western Morning News, "he never did anything in real life, but I had my suspicions about what he was doing in Second Life...I looked at the computer screen and could see his character having sex with a female character. It's cheating as far as I'm concerned." The couple is now separated, but David maintains his innocence stating: "we weren't even having cyber sex or anything like that, we were just chatting and hanging out together."
Patriot Act aside, is it really okay to base real life decisions on someone's online activities? When did it become okay to remove the differentiation between the virtual and the real? I don't know about you, but I find it ridiculous that an entire marriage’s survival could be based on one of the member's online sexual proclivities—sounds to me like Amy just wanted out. Conveniently enough, she is currently "dating" someone she met while playing World of Warcraft.
Out of principle, I avoid the news. With headlines reading "Triple Baghdad Blasts Kill Dozens", "Boy, 8, on double murder charge," and "Teenage girl wins right to die," it’s almost masochistic not to. News of the school building that collapsed in Haiti killing most of its students early this week, four of whom belonged to a single mother, is even worse. "China Stomps on Call for Tibetan Autonomy," yet again. "Mystery of lost US nuclear bomb,” still unresolved. "Woman Abducted by North Korea alive." And all this, not even inches apart on the screen, not even seconds from reading: "Music Video: Squarepusher in Session." Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent hours studying to Squarepusher's "Tundra," and I appreciate the video. But, really? (....)
Reading the news, for me, just reinforces that wrenching fear that the world might really be as terrible as it seems, and that maybe we are as base, savage, and as full of cruel instincts as my guts sometimes writhe to feel. My failure to keep up with the news is not something I'm proud of. I realize it’s almost as though I am turning away from those that need to be acknowledged, that are in need. But it's taking the news of others’ suffering so lightly, lightly enough to hold it on level with "Music Video: Squarepusher in Session," that makes me sick enough to avoid it.
In Long Island seven high schoolers set out “to beat up some Mexicans” on Nov 8th. They settled for an Ecuadorian, whom they pummeled and killed. This is what one member on the VNN site had to say: “This beaner's full of shit. People don't want to tolerate, and shouldn't, people who aren't supposed to be here stealing jobs away. He fails, conveniently so, to mention the difference between legal immigrants and illegal immigrants.” Here’s another: “Six White's should be worth at least 10 times their number in casualties, so 6 x 10 = 60 dead latrinos and it may be worth talking about. I'm just sick of seeing good White folk lose their lives…”
It's hard to find the will to keep reading when you realize that you and those around you might not be as different or far from these boys as you’d like to be. Criminals, murderers, but boys, still just boys—as my younger brother is still a boy, and my youngest sister is dating one. How do you take this in? How does it inform your interpretation of the world around you? How does it con you into perceiving differently the quiet boy on the train you might not have noticed an hour ago? Aside from anger, or rage, what drives us on? Which mouth replenishes the hope that feeds us when that kiss Bernard of Clairvaux spoke of is silent and dry?
Tonight, after hours of searching through at least ten reputed news sites, I found these blatantly small-coin, nothing-stories, almost not even worth reporting, except that they helped find what that faint source of hope is for me: "Lost Wallet Found After 55 Years," "Lost Wallet Returned 39 Years On," and "Thief Sent 'Sorry' Letter to Shop." Sometimes seeing the small acts we are capable of can help reconstruct, and illuminate, the greater ones.
Mr. Glenn Goodlove probably lost his wallet in the back seat of his 1946 Hudson car while kissing a girl, home on leave from the US army. Two classic car collectors found the wallet, and went through the trouble of locating the Glenn Putnam on the ID, to then find he had changed his name. Mr. Goodlove, now 75, reports BBC, says, “the find has brought memories of [Mr. Goodlove’s] youth" flooding back. "I could see the house and the car and the town and all the good stuff from living there.”
Doug Schmitt, now 57, left his wallet on the counter of a petrol station in Utah in the Spring of 1967. The owner saved the wallet, hoping Mr. Schmitt would return. Decades later, Mr. Schmitt was located on the internet, and sent the wallet, with its $5 in cash and 8-cent airmail stamps still in it. Mr Schmitt, who is an antiques dealer, said "he was used to looking through people's old relics and letters, but was surprised to find himself looking at his own history." "I never thought I would be the object of something like this," BBC quotes him, "not at this age, anyway." His wife is glad for the college picture of her husband with a full head of hair.
"Dear sirs, I am writing this letter to make amends to you for something I have done in the past," read an anonymous letter received by Imran Ahmed. "About seven years ago I was walking past your shop late one night when I noticed that someone had broken into it," quotes BBC. "I used this opportunity to enter your shop where I stole 400 cigarettes. The money enclosed (£100) is to pay for those cigarettes which I stole from you.” The writer, a recovering drug addict, explains, “As part of my ongoing recovery I try to put right all of the wrongs I have done in the past, at least where I can…” Imran Ahmed was touched by the remorseful letter and the writer’s desire to “strive to lead a decent and honest life....” He plans to donate the money to a drugs' charity.
In these three stories, two people consciously took the time to consider what might illuminate a strangers day, a third made a wrong right, (a wrong most likely forgotten by everyone but himself), and a fourth gracefully accepted an apology and was in turn inspired to help another. The selflessness necessary to risk a storm or a flood, as so many relief teams and volunteer workers do, is admirable; but the amount of consideration and thought it takes to perform the smaller acts that most often go unapplauded, suggest that even the meeker of us have something to offer. These small incidences of kindness and redemption hardly ever make the headlines, but remain buried in there somewhere, under all of the garbage and debris, that, did I mention, we are slowly finding ways to clean up....
Source: BBC- Lost Wallet Found After 55 Years
BBC- Lost Wallet Returned 39 Years On
BBC- Thief Sent 'Sorry' Letter to Shop
- Carolina Alvarado