Something to chew on

This is a pretty interesting Slate article that argues that, although nobody liked Ariel Castro, we should not be rejoicing that he managed to kill himself in custody. That his death indicates some serious problems with the system that was supposed to keep him alive.

Unfortunately, much as I hate to admit it, I’m inclined to agree with them. I’m not thinking about Castro so much as other people I’ve heard about, people locked up for far lesser crimes, who were also permitted to kill themselves behind bars. The article points out that suicide is responsible for about one-third of all inmate deaths — and that’s not something anyone should be proud of.

Internet commenters can gloat that Castro’s no longer a guest of the taxpayers, but he’s also not serving his sentence. And if you want to talk about where your taxpayer money is going, you might also want to ask how it’s managing to pay for a system of “protective custody” that makes it that easy for a man to die in it.

Quite so. As for Castro himself, as the article points out:

And on NBC Wednesday, psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos said that Castro “decided his fate, something [his victims] were never ever able to do for themselves. He had ultimate control. To some extent this was in a way his last slap to their faces — ‘I’ve got this over you.'” […] Today, it appears instead that Ariel Castro got to choose a means of escape – an escape that came mere weeks after his confinement — in sharp contrast to the years of isolation his victims knew. That death suggests that a man whose entire modus operandi was about power and control got to exercise his power and control right up to his final breath. And there’s no way you can convince me that’s any kind of justice, for anybody.

I hate it when this happens…though this is, I think, a first

I got an email in my inbox this evening about someone who was less than satisfied about what I wrote about her missing son and wanted me to make changes. As long-time readers of this blog know, such communiques are not uncommon. I sent the standard response, asking what I could do to help her.

Slight problem, though: the email ARRIVED in my inbox this evening, but according to gmail it was SENT a full week ago. The poor woman probably thought I was ignoring her all this time. Fortunately I noticed the discrepancy as I was sending the reply, and added a note to my email to her explaining that for some reason I hadn’t gotten her message for a week. I hope she believes me.

I don’t think this has ever happened before, but if it does in the future I’ll have to tell gmail customer service about it. She could have reached me faster by sending me a postcard!

Critical mass

The term “critical mass” has a multiple definitions. For example, in physics, it’s “the minimum amount of fissile material needed to maintain a nuclear chain reaction.” In business, it’s “the minimum size or amount of something required to start or maintain a venture.”

The Urban Dictionary offers another: “when something reaches the threshold of its limits.” Let’s think about that for a moment, that definition as applied to the Charley Project:

1. The number of cases that can be added is, to all intents, unlimited.
2. Every case that gets added can and will be updated eventually, if only to just take it off again.
3. Therefore, the number of cases that can be updated is also unlimited.
4. The number of cases I am able to add and update is finite.

So, when someone asks me “Why haven’t you added So-and-so yet,” that’s basically the answer.

I find myself feeling the need to prioritize. There’s a lot of stuff that, in a perfect world, I would put up, but is Only So Much I Can Do. So many things wind up in the slush pile.

I tell myself I cannot help it. It’s mathematics.