Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Department of second thoughts

Ah, well. My blogging record's not so great this week, is it? First I wrote about the conjoined twins who -- bravely? foolishly? -- determined that they'd rather die than remain connected. And in fact, after some 50 hours of surgery, they did indeed die, making me regret, at the very least, my somewhat flip title for that post. No matter how daunting the odds, one always imagines, going into such procedures or writing about them, that the results, in our age of medical miracles, will be positive. In this case, the medical was not quite miraculous enough. The New York Times has an interesting follow-up piece on the sad ending to this hopeful tale, including an interview with the twins' adoptive father, who had decided against the surgery as too risky when the girls were younger and remained opposed to it now. The girls didn't listen, of course, and pursued the surgery doggedly until they found someone who would give it to them. Certainly, there's not a parent who can't relate to that; in most cases, our children find less expensive and medically complex ways to risk their lives, but it's often in the pursuit of that same contradictory mix of the desire to be an individual and the desire to fit in that drove these doomed twins.

I also wrote recently about how positive I'm feeling about video games, just in time for a news story out of New Jersey that blames them for the actions of three teens who apparently plotted a Columbine-style massacre. The kids were caught with swords, guns and tons of ammo, and only a botched carjacking is thought to have thwarted their plan to kill a few classmates and then drive through town on a random killing spree. The boys are said to have been fans of the video game "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City," and some of their paraphernalia and MO are apparently similar to situations in that game. So maybe I'm wrong, and video games really are the root of all evil, and will turn your sweet untroubled child into a merciless killing machine. And maybe I'm enjoying a false feeling of security, since my daughter's into games like "Monkeyball" and "The Simpsons Road Rage" that don't put a big emphasis on murder and bloodshed. But who am I kidding? Those little monkeys in "Monkeyball" plunge off the side of the track and into pits of fire if you make a mistake, and the Simpsons regularly mow down pedestrians in their pursuit of points. It's just a baby-step from there to bring a machete to your high school prom.

Come to think of it, maybe I better just stop commenting on news stories for a while.

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