Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Damage We Do...

My car was towed last night. My trunk doesn't always latch properly--it looks closed but isn't actually latched tight--and it eventually triggers the car alarm. I always double-check the trunk when I close it, but apparently on this occasion it slipped my attention. I parked way out of hearing range of where I'm staying and the alarm was apparently going off from 11pm until 1am, at which point it was towed.

So this morning I walked out to the car and found it missing. It took a while to figure out where I've got my new license plate number written down (a harder problem than you might think) and more time to figure out who I was supposed to call to figure out where my car was.

After waking up Aaron and getting a ride to the tow yard I retrieved my car and found the following left on my windshield:

(click to see a bigger version)

The letters are excessively ugly, vindictive, and mean. I was stricken by their ferocity and cruelty. I found them deeply troubling and they made me quite sad.

I shook my head in shock. In the meantime a man who worked at the tow yard was cleaning the wax pencil markings off my windshield. He looked over and without a moment's thought he kindly offered: "Some people just don't understand" while he continued to clean my windshield.

I think he nailed it. You don't even have to articulate what it is that they don't understand. They just don't understand.

As horrifying as the ugliness was before me, it was almost as equally reassuring to hear this man's simple, easy acknowledgement.

I decided that something needed to be done, or rather said, about this.

I'm going to be leaving a letter for each resident of the nearby buildings that includes copies of the two ugly letters. I don't know if anyone will read it or get anything out of it, but the effort is worthwhile regardless. I don't know if the people who wrote the letters will see it, but at least a few of their neighbors will see the letters they wrote.

The text of my letter will read as follows:

To my neighbors,

I apologize for the disturbance my car alarm caused Sunday night; there are few things more annoying than a car alarm blaring all night long. If I had been within hearing distance of it, I obviously would have dealt with it immediately. Please accept my sincerest apologies.

To the people who left the notes on my car,

Again I apologize. It was an accident that resulted in an immense annoyance for you which I deeply regret. But do realize that there was no malicious intent to personally offend you or anyone else. There was no laziness or oversight on my part. I live a number of buildings away and simply could not hear that the alarm had been triggered.

The towing and release fees for the car amounted to $184.15. That’s more than an entire day’s take home pay for most people. I hope you’ll agree that this is a just penalty for the disturbance the alarm caused. I bear no grudge about this fine. I would have had the car towed if our roles were reversed (and would have done it much sooner than waiting until 1am).

But what I would not have done is leave the angry, vindictive letters that you felt justified to leave. While I understand your frustration with the situation, I do not accept your cruelty and ugliness.

Let the punishment fit the crime. Being fined $184.15 is appropriate; wishing that I flunk out of school is not. You could maybe argue that I was a “dumbass” but certainly not an “asshole” since I wasn’t being rude – I simply wasn’t within hearing distance. “Inconsiderate” almost works but still isn’t quite applicable. As for “shit-for-brains,” well… that’s just lovely.

The damage that we do to each other unintentionally is regrettable. But the evil that we do to each other intentionally is sickening. I have included copies of your letters so that you and your neighbors may reflect upon this theme. I’m not being pithy here. I’m serious. Life can be difficult enough without adding more poison to the well. Learn to recognize the difference between an innocent mistake and a personal affront and deal with each situation in its due measure.

I am honestly sorry that my mistake ruined your evening. Be assured (or gratified, if you prefer) that the vindictive ugliness of your letters has ruined mine.

Monday, July 23, 2007

read: Why al-Qaida wants you to think your Muslim doctor is the enemy. - By Eboo Patel - Slate Magazine

see: Why al-Qaida wants you to think your Muslim doctor is the enemy. - By Eboo Patel - Slate Magazine

Another good article that helps to illuminate the Muslim viewpoint and how it relates to our anti-terrorism approach and rhetoric.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A worthwhile read: link to washingtonpost.com article

see: Bush Still Doesn't Get It - washingtonpost.com

Don't let the anti-Bush title get you up in arms (if you're one of the 28% that still approve of him). The article is really about the perceptions and opinions of Muslims worldwide. It helps sort out who is a threat to us and who isn't and lays out a pretty clear picture (sure, perhaps too simplistic) of how and why our foreign policy is a blundering mess and counter-productive to boot.

Though one bit of tangential Bush-bashing - the author points out the following, which I found quite funny:

Today, rather than extending his hand to the people of Pakistan, Bush is marching in lockstep with the country's fading dictator, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who is mockingly referred to as "Busharraf."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

'Ginormous,' 'DVR' Added to Dictionary

see: Discovery Channel :: News - Human :: 'Ginormous,' 'DVR' Added to Dictionary

It is a glorious day for the word "ginormous" but a sad day for me; the fun and kitschy-ness of using an obviously made-up, somewhat anti-intellectual word has now been spoiled by its legitimization.

I'm sure its akin to skaters who get a bigger rush illegally skating in a stranger's drained backyard pool than at a city-sanctioned skate park.


Holy crap, we're dumb

"A Newsweek poll released last week found 41 percent of Americans still believe Saddam Hussein was directly involved in financing, planning or carrying out the September 11 attacks, though no such connection has been found."

That's from a Reuters article posted TODAY - July 12th, 2007. Unbelievable.

Another excerpt, about why we should stay in Iraq:

"They came over here on our land and took down the twin towers. People forget that," Randy, a Vietnam veteran, added.

see: Americans tired of Iraq war, split on withdrawal