Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sorry, typing is still a real pain . . .

and probably will be for the next two weeks till I get the cast off. So if I'm light on blogging, you know why.

Anyhow, the first anniversary of the Boston marathon bombing has pretty much displaced recognition of other anniversaries this week, perhaps mercifully including Columbine. What most people probably still haven't caught up with is that it wasn't about bullying or jocks and nerds or anything to do with high school culture or politics. Eric Harris was a psychopath who just wanted to kill as many people as possible for the fun of it, and Dylan Klebold was a tool. That's all. it doesn't really mean a whole lot except that such people exist.

And they could easily get guns, I suppose, although their main intention was to kill people with propane bombs, which fortunately did not go off. But they could have with better wiring skills.

I think this is more or less true of the marathon bombing as well. It doesn't have much to do with Jihad or radical Islam. Tamerlan was a violent lunatic, probably schizophrenic, and Islam was just the particular fantasy around which his violence coalesced. And his brother was also a tool, like Klebold. Don't look for more meaning than there really is, I say.


kathy a. said...

Glad the procedure went well, and you're healing!

You know that "psychopath" isn't a medical diagnosis, right? Something was badly wrong with that boy, with his brain, and nobody figured it out in time.

And nobody figured out they were building bombs. And somebody let guns be available to them. So yeah, I blame the guns, because they carried out the killings planned in a broken brain.

We know that for a variety of reasons, brains get broken. And I am glad that so much is being learned about the brain, nowadays -- how it works, genetic vulnerabilities, environmental influences. But progress on understanding what goes wrong takes decades. In the meantime, we need to know that wide availability of weapons lets people with broken brains do horrible things.

kathy a. said...

Oh, and also that you can't tell at a glance whose brain is broken.

There has been a lot of work on major psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar being brain-based problems, with some genetic components. And also work on PTSD actually changing how the brain functions. And on how stressors in early life change development of the brain. And also work on the genetics, with particular variations contributing to neurological diseases.

This is not all sorted out yet. My personal concern is with an in-law who has advanced early-onset fronto-temporal dementia. (Thankfully, she never had an interest in weapons; it is bad enough without that.) And some cases have a clear genetic defect; and they are exploring now whether that defect is also related to other familial mental illnesses, such as bipolar.

So, in my lay opinion, this shit is complicated.