Back at the coffeehouse while daughter does karate. The old grey-bearded poet with BO is here. The short lady who fell asleep with her thumb in her nose is not. A fellow I interviewed a while back - he lives in an old drugstore, and has a magnificent 100-year-old marble soda fountain - is here, and just waved hello. There is also a man in a bike helmet walking back and forth outside in the rain, blowing smoke out his nose, scowling, and talking to himself. He could be talking on a phone, but there’s no earpiece. He stalked through here a while ago, glaring at the floor. He would seem to be obviously mentally ill, except for the bike helmet; for some reason, that suggests a rational, participating member of society.
But that’s never a safe assumption. As I tweeted - don’t want to autoplagiarize - “Any sign of madness will be reclassified as an "eccentricity" if the person is wearing a brand-new bike helmet.”
CHECK THIS SPACE tomorrow around noon; if you don't follow me on Twitter, look at the twitter box for the URL for my next breezy little Strib blog.
Yeah, yeah, you know.
I suppose you’ve seen the story of the bus monitor taunted by some very, very bad kids. You know what’s not the cause of their behavior? Low self-esteem. They’re not dumping on her because they feel bad about themselves. I’d wager they’re taunting her because they feel very good about themselves, and have never been informed of any reason why they shouldn’t.
This will be instructive for them, then.
The internet - oh, internet. Who knew it would lead to things like this? I don’t mean the uploading of cellphone videos of cruelty - in portrait mode, the preferred aspect-ratio of idiots - but other things, which are good:
* Story becomes a sensation, and hundreds of thousands of people are invited to participate in one of the most friction-free, no-brainer acts of judgmentalism they'll ever have. Even people who smack-talk on the internet and babble out boisterous abuse on an XBox Live game can look at this and feel something. So we may have a new standard for determining whether someone’s soul has been completely encased in a black bony shell. If you can’t condemn this, or you think it’s funny - if you can’t look at that and think of your own mother - then you’re just lost. Life will repay you accordingly; it’s just a pity you’ll never feel yourself to blame, merely the recipient of a mysteriously large quantity of bad luck.
* Once again, it works from the bottom up: it took newspapers and TV a while to get on to this, but once they got it, they did what the internet minions don’t or can’t. They got an interview with the poor lady and one of the parents. TV still has power, because they have bigger cameras and a number and pretty people who frown and look compassionate in front of some interesting graphics. One guy showing up with an iPhone and a blogspot address isn’t going to do it.
But it wouldn’t have happened without the guys with iPhones and blogspot addresses.
* Then there’s the numberless crowd of Avengers on a shame quest. When this thing hit Reddit, people started to find out who the kids were, and while Reddit apparently forbids posting of personal information, 4chan of course does not; a few hours after I clicked on the link and started googling the kids’ names to see what sort of storm got kicked up, I found a long doc with contact information for everyone involved, including parents, including where the parents work, and the co-workers of the parents. WHICH. IS. WRONG.
The document had the Facebook urls for many people involved, including the parents; a few have vanished. Whatever people had built up on those pages, whatever connections they’d made, histories they’d assembled: poof. One of the kids kept his page up to insist that he wasn’t in the video. n
* And then there’s the angels who swoop in, set up a charity, try to get $5,000 for the lady so she can take a nice vacation, and I think it’s almost $85,000 now.
So the miscreants will pay, and the victim gets to take a cruise or go to Disneyworld. Marvelous. Because some are vile but most are not. Not because humans are born good and most of us remained in that happy natural state, but because they were taught, and they listened, and they learned, and saw that the Golden Rule actually has something going for it. All of civilization depends on the majority of its citizens not taunting the bus monitor just because they can. It’s all down to that. Behave.
Lots of motels - it's Colorado today. Seventeen of 'em, here. Have a grand day, and I'll see you around.