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a blog by Ann Althouse

"Actually, if you google the word senicide you’ll see that many parts of the world have a push/pull relationship with their older members..."

"... the push of veneration, the pull of elimination. The United States with its chrome-plated dreams of spit-shine modernity was never much for the admiration of its senior citizens. Way before taunts of 'Okay, boomer' and the calling of people with experience the pejorative term 'olds' this country has had a tendency to isolate the grizzled dotard, if not on an ice floe then in retirement camps where they could gum pudding and play bingo away from the delicate eyes of youth. It would be easy to blame the sixties, with silly slogans like 'Don’t trust anyone over thirty' or even sillier movies like Wild in the Streets, where anyone over thirty-five is herded in camps and given mandatory doses of LSD."

So writes Bob Dylan, in "The Philosophy of Modern Song."

So, of course, I google "senicide," and I'm reading this Wikipedia article "Senicide," while picturing 81-year-old Bob Dylan reading it too. Highlights:

The Heruli were a Germanic tribe during the Migration Period (about 400 to 800 CE) [who]  placed the sick and elderly on a tall stack of wood and stabbed them to death before setting the pyre alight....

Herodotus says of the Padeans of India: "... It is said to be their custom that when anyone of their fellows, whether man or woman, is sick, a man's closest friends kill him, saying that if wasted by disease he will be lost to them as meat; though he denies that he is sick, they will not believe him, but kill and eat him...."

In Nordic folklore, the ättestupa is a cliff where elderly people were said to leap, or be thrown, to death. While the practice has no historical evidence, the trope has survived as an urban legend, and a metaphor for deficient welfare for the elderly....

Herodotus tells us about the Massagetae that: "Though they fix no certain term to life, yet when a man is very old all his family meet together and kill him, with beasts of the flock besides, then boil the flesh and feast on it. This is held to be the happiest death; when a man dies of an illness, they do not eat him, but bury him in the earth, and lament that he did not live to be killed.

Contemporary Culture — In modern day western-culture, senicide often takes the form of placing senior citizens in overcrowded conditions where preventable diseases can easily spread. More often than not, these spaces are separate from other generations of people so problems such as quality of life, hygiene and isolation are less detectable to the wider population.

There are 3 citations for that last proposition, and all 3 are about Canada. 

I'm giving this post my tag "gerontocracy," thought the topic is only implied. We currently have a gerontocracy in the United States, but when these old people were young, there was "Wild in the Streets":

"He talked to you like he ran the store. … There’s always people in jobs that aren’t liked — Andre was one of them...."

"Andre was kind of picked on a little bit by some associates at the store.... There were definitely other employees that made fun of him.... He didn’t have a social life.... It was work, home. Home, work. It didn’t seem like he had much of a support system, if any.... He was known in the store for being hostile at times.... He had too many moments where he’d be overly aggressive."

Said Nathan Sinclair, a former Walmart employee, quoted in " Walmart shooter described as aggressive, angry, but motive unclear" (WaPo).

"Mayor John Suthers of Colorado Springs said that someone in the club had acted quickly to grab a handgun from the gunman, then hit him with it..."

"... subduing him. Two patrons then pinned the gunman down until police could arrive, according to the club’s owners, who viewed security video."

From "Here are the latest developments in the Colorado Springs nightclub shooting" (NYT).

It's hard to picture grabbing a handgun from a man who is in the middle of using it. But then to use the gun to hit the erstwhile gunman.... I guess your hand is not in the position to fire the gun. It's reversed and pointing more or less at you. And isn't the gunman's hand grabbing to get back to the trigger and shoot you? Once you've gone that far, perhaps the only thing you can do is to grip the barrel and clobber the guy with the grip.

Is that what happened?

Whatever happened, kudos to the man who disarmed the murderer.

CORRECTION: Oh, no. The difficult tangle I tried to picture is wrong. The murderer was using a rifle and carrying a handgun. That made the handgun easier to grab and to grab by the grip. If you got that far, would you use the handgun to hit the murderer?

IN THE COMMENTS: Enigma reminds me that there is a standard term for hitting someone with a gun: "pistol-whipping." Actually, there are 2 terms — "pistol-whipping" and "buffaloing," as I learned from the Wikipedia article, "Pistol-whipping":

Pistol-whipping or buffaloing is the act of using a handgun as a blunt weapon, wielding it as an improvised club....

The term "buffaloing" is documented as being used in the Wild West originally to refer to the act of being intimidated or cheated by bluffing. It would develop into a term meaning to strike someone with a handgun in the 1870s when Stuart N. Lake reported Wyatt Earp doing so.... The new use of the term developed because the act of hitting someone with their revolver was seen as an additional insult to the character of the victim....

The practice of using the handgun itself as a blunt-force weapon began with the appearance of muzzle loaders in the 15th century. Single-shot weapons that were tedious to reload were used to strike opponents directly in close-quarters combat after their projectile had been expended. It was entirely up to circumstance whether the user had time or chose to reverse the gun in their hand and strike a blow with its handle or merely swung the heavy weapon as a club or baton holding it normally....

Author Paul Wellman notes that clubbing an opponent with the butt of a gun held by its barrel, as seen in some Westerns, is problematic. First, the danger of an unintentional discharge could fatally wound the wielder. Second, many early revolvers of the black-powder cap and ball era, were relatively fragile around their cylinders relative to solid single-shot weapons. Third, rotating a gun so that it can be held by its barrel takes extra time, potentially crucial in a conflict.

To avoid the risk of damage or potential delay, pistol-whipping may be done with the gun held in an ordinary manner, hitting the target with an overhand strike from either the barrel or the flank of the gun above the trigger. It was a fairly common way to incapacitate a man in Western frontier days....

The practice was seen as a means of avoiding fatal confrontations. Instead of opening fire, an officer could knock someone unconscious with the barrel of their revolver which they claimed lowered mortality rates. This technique would later be considered a form of police brutality....

AND: The NYT has more detail on the man who took down the killer: "An Army Veteran Says He Went Into ‘Combat Mode’ to Disarm the Gunman/Richard M. Fierro, who served for 15 years in the military, said he was at Club Q in Colorado Springs with his family, and took down the man who killed five people."

Fiero was at the bar with his wife and daughter to see a drag show. When the shooting began, he got down on the floor, but when "he saw the gunman move through the bar toward a door leading to a patio where dozens of bar patrons had fled... he raced across the room, grabbed the gunman by a handle on the back of his body armor, pulled him to the floor and jumped on top of him."

The gunman, who Mr. Fierro estimated weighed more than 300 pounds, sprawled onto the floor, his military-style rifle landing just out of reach. Mr. Fierro started to go for the rifle, but then saw that the gunman had a pistol as well.

“I grabbed the gun out of his hand and just started hitting him in the head, over and over,” Mr. Fierro said.... [H]e yelled for other club patrons to help him. A man grabbed the rifle and moved it away to safety. A drag dancer stomped on the gunman with her high heels....


"He looked forward, he said, to a better diet in prison, with more vegetables and fewer carbs. Life in prison will allow him..."

"... to correspond with his friends, perhaps including a pen pal whom he said he wanted to marry. He’ll have recreation time, be able to play sports and maybe even watch his favorite teams compete on TV. Opponents of capital punishment often claim that life in prison is worse than death.... Instead of putting him out of his misery, they insist, keep him alive so he’ll really suffer. Three decades of documenting daily life on death rows and inside maximum security prisons.... have taught me.... the most vicious criminals often have the best jobs, best hustles and easiest lives.... Mr. Cruz’s hopes, expectations and dreams for his own future remain realistic...."

Writes lawprof Robert Blecker, author of "The Death of Punishment: Searching for Justice Among the Worst of the Worst," in "If Not the Parkland Shooter, Who Is the Death Penalty For?" (NYT).

"I just don’t understand this"/"What do we have the death penalty for?"

Said the parents of one of the Parkland victims, when the jury spared the killer the death penalty.

From "Live Updates: Families Shocked as Jury Spares Life of the Parkland Killer/'The monster that killed them gets to live another day,' said Tony Montalto, whose daughter, Gina, was among the 17 people murdered in a Florida high school" (NYT).

In each case, the jurors found that prosecutors had proved many aggravating factors — that the crime was especially heinous and cruel, that it was committed in a cold and calculating manner, and that the gunman had created a great risk of death. But they did not unanimously find that the aggravating factors outweighed mitigating circumstances that the defense lawyers brought up at the sentencing trial.... 

Before court adjourned, Nikolas Cruz sat with his lawyers huddled around him, showing little emotion after the jury spared his life.

ADDED: The public defender, Melisa McNeill, made the argument that convinced the jury:

She described Mr. Cruz as “poisoned” by his biological mother’s heavy drinking while she was pregnant with him. That led to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which was misdiagnosed by experts throughout Mr. Cruz’s life, Ms. McNeill said, despite the slew of developmental problems and sometimes violent behavior he exhibited, which overwhelmed his adoptive mother.

In retelling the story of Mr. Cruz’s troubled childhood, Ms. McNeill urged jurors to consider the mitigating circumstances that she said should spare his life. Unlike the aggravating factors presented by the prosecution, which were generally factual in nature, she said, mitigating circumstances can mean different things to different people.

“Were there things about Nikolas’s life that you wish hadn’t happened?” she asked the jury. “Are there things that he didn’t get that you wish he would have gotten? Was he missing people in his life that you wish he hadn’t missed?”

If they answered yes, she said, “That’s mitigation — that’s a reason for life.”... 
And she repeatedly reminded the jurors that they did not have to impose the death penalty. To do so would be to act out of anger, she argued, and would “serve no other purpose at all, other than vengeance.”

“Grace is not a limited resource,” Ms. McNeill said. “Compassion is not a limited resource. Mercy is not a limited resource. Sentencing Nikolas Cruz to life is the right thing to do. So I now put in your hands his life.”

What does the NYT know about me?

I was scanning the front page of the NYT, looking for headlines to click, and I noticed that the Times had picked out a set of things recommended for me. I was pleased for an instant and genuinely ready to to share Penn Jillett's love for hot baths and cold watermelon, but...

What does the NYT know about me? 

... I don't like the implications of the rest of it. The kiosk and the toilet are okay — lowly and functional — but don't push Jeffrey Dahmer at me, and don't juxtapose him with a person with a mysteriously drooping face.

I go to read the Penn Jillette article and the word editing slows me way down:
Jillette’s latest novel, “Random,” is about a young man who inherits his father’s crushing debt to a loan shark and turns to dice — and other dangerous measures — to dig himself out. That the dice bring him luck sends him a new philosophy of leaning decisions both big and small up to chance.

I waste time thinking about what "leaning decisions" are — a special category of decisions that ought to be resolved by a throw of the dice? No, it must be a new philosophy of leaving decisions both big and small up to chance.

But here's the hot bath part: "Every night I take a bath that’s so hot that I come very close to passing out — and I use scented oil, the whole thing is done as girly as possible." Okay, I take very hot baths, and I am privileged — being a woman — not to have to think about whether anything I do is "girly" and —having little sense of smell — not to want anything "scented."

As for the watermelon, Jillette — who is privileged by his whiteness to be able to openly extol watermelon — relies on watermelon as a weight-maintenance food. 

Jillette recommends skepticism but not cynicism: "Cynicism is attributing the worst motives to people. Skepticism is looking for the truth." I'd say cynicism is consciously dwelling on the awfulness of people, and skepticism is pretending you're all about rationality while inferior people dwell on the unknowable contents of other people's minds.

Here's the article about the toilet:
[H]e’s built a sanctuary to showcase his ideas about environmental sustainability: the Shower Tower, the Worm Palace (crucial to his composting toilet), the Tea Cave (where he has stored more than 50,000 pounds of rare, aged tea), the Tea Pagoda (where he’s hosted tea ceremonies for friends and dignitaries for more than 40 years) and so many more.... [H]e never had permission to build any of it. “I’ve been a scofflaw all my life,” said Mr. Hoffman, 78. “I have to recognize that.”

Ah, yes, I can see this is like articles I've chosen — and blogged about — in the past. Eccentric real estate projects and the law. 

At one time, he argued that his property could be considered a film set and exempt from much of code compliance because his home was the site of a documentary about his home-based tea business.... Landing a historic designation still appeared to be his best route....

As for Dahmer and the drooping face, I won't read the Dahmer article. Why does anyone need to "relive it"? And I'll skip the mystery of the drooping face.

"At least 13 people were killed, including nine children, when a gunman wearing a T-shirt with a red swastika, opened fire on Monday in a school..."

"... in the central Russian city of Izhevsk, Russia’s Investigative Committee reported. The gunman, reportedly armed with two weapons, also killed himself.... Two pistols near his body had braided cords with the words Columbine, Dylan and Eric, a reference to the 1999 Columbine school massacre.... Putin has insisted that the war in Ukraine is intended to eliminate 'Nazis' from eastern Ukraine.... Russia, however, has long had far-right, neo-Nazi elements within its own population.... School shootings in Russia are relatively rare in comparison with the United States but may be becoming more common, with three mass shootings at educational institutions since May last year. Just over a year ago, an 18-year-old university student, Timur Bekmansurov, killed six people and wounded 47 at Perm State University. In May last year, Ilnaz Galyaviev, 21, killed nine people at a school in Kazan, Tatarstan, including seven children. In 2018, a fourth-year student at Kerch Polytechnic College, Vladimir Roslyakov, killed 21 people and injured 67 in Russia’s worst school shooting...."

"Prosecutors in Baltimore are asking a judge to vacate Adnan Syed’s conviction for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a case that riveted America..."

"... when it was turned into the hit first season of the podcast 'Serial.' The state’s attorney for Baltimore City said in a motion filed Wednesday in circuit court that a nearly yearlong investigation, conducted with the defense, found new evidence, including information concerning the possible involvement of two alternative suspects. Prosecutors are requesting Mr. Syed be given a new trial. They said they weren’t asserting that Mr. Syed is innocent. 'However, for all the reasons set forth below, the State no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction,' said the office of Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, which is overseeing the reinvestigation. The office is recommending Mr. Syed be released on his own recognizance pending the continuing investigation...."

The Wall Street Journal reports.

Top comment over there: "This is the same Marylin Mosby that indicted several Baltimore cops for murder and failed to get a conviction. The same person who was caught cheating on taxes or a mortgage application. Now she wants to release a convicted murderer while their retrial takes place and no definitive suspect has been identified...."
"Actually, if you google the word senicide you’ll see that many parts of the world have a push/pull relationship with their older members..."What does the NYT know about me?

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