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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Angelina Jolie, cockroaches, and murder by MySpace

Culture

Playing pretend can be confusing, even for cockroaches, computers and celebrities. Sometimes, for ordinary people, it can be deadly.
 
Researchers created teensy robots that look a little like Matchbox RVs, and found they could influence the behavior of real cockroaches. At least, they could once saturated with a little Eau de Cockroach to make them more alluring.

More interestingly, the cockroaches were able to override the comput-roach's programming 39% of the time, according to today's Journal Sentinel.

Meanwhile, Angelina Jolie, who has never been know for her modesty or demureness, told the press that her nudity in the new film sensation Beowulf made her blush. Nevermind that it's virtual nudity brought to us by Animatrix technology.  Somehow, it's more real than real nudity.

Perhaps that's because the animators fleshed Jolie out to make her more sensuous. The discovery of breast falsification can be embarrassing, as anyone who was exposed for fraud in the era of home-style bra stuffing can tell you.

As to glamming things up, I've read Beowulf, and I'm telling you, Grendel's dam (mother) did NOT look like Jolie. But I guess if I were the mother of a monster trolling the banquet halls, swamps, and movie theaters, I'd pick Jolie to be my avatar, too.

Those stories seem odd and amusing. But the next story of electronically-mediated pretend is much closer to experiences we can relate to. And it's stomach-turning.

One month ago, Megan Meier, a not-quite-14-year-old, hung herself in her parents' basement near St. Charles, Missouri, when Josh, a boy she'd met in MySpace, stopped courting her and started saying cruel things. At first, he said he didn't want to be friends because people told him she wasn't nice to her friends. Then the whole piranha subculture among teens smelled blood and swarmed in to finish her off.

Distraught, Megan told her mother, "They are posting bulletins (surveys) about me. Megan Meier is a s***. Megan Meier is fat." It can take a long time to learn to handle those killer words, especially if one of them is true: Megan was fat. (As to the "sl" word, it's apparently so lethal that this blog software won't permit it to be written.)

She also struggled with depression. And the adults who made up Josh, neighbors and parents of a former friend, knew that.

From the police report of Megan's ex-friend's mother's statement:

"(She) stated in the months leading up Meier's daughter's suicide, she instigated and monitored a 'my space' account which was created for the sole purpose of communicating with Meier's daughter.

"(She) said she, with the help of temporary employee named ------ constructed a profile of 'good looking' male on 'my space' in order to 'find out what Megan (Meier's daughter) was saying on-line' about her daughter. (She) explained the communication between the fake male profile and Megan was aimed at gaining Megan's confidence and finding out what Megan felt about her daughter and other people.

"(She) stated she, her daughter and (the temporary employee) all typed, read and monitored the communication between the fake male profile and Megan …..

"According to (her) 'somehow' other 'my space' users were able to access the fake male profile and Megan found out she had been duped. (She) stated she knew 'arguments' had broken out between Megan and others on 'my space.' (She) felt this incident contributed to Megan's suicide, but she did not feel 'as guilty' because at the funeral she found out 'Megan had tried to commit suicide before.'"

If we can only be accountable when we are ourselves, it's time to stop playing pretend. A little dose of authenticity, anyone?

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