Monday, April 22, 2013

A Week Later

It's been a week since the bombing attack on the Boston marathon, and if there's one thing you can say about the week, it sure wasn't uneventful.  First there was the bombing itself, on Monday afternoon.  I was working about a mile and a half away, and for a while I wondered if I was going to be able to get home.

On Tuesday, there was an explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas.  This is unrelated to the Boston bombing, and as far as anyone knows, accidental, but despite the intentional terror and destruction in Boston, more people were killed and injured, and more property destroyed, in Texas.

It was late Thursday afternoon when the police released the pictures of the two suspects in the Marathon bombing.  That night, I began to hear things about a gunman at MIT.  At first this seemed to be unrelated.  I went to bed knowing that a MIT police officer had been killed, but thinking that it was the result of an armed robbery at a convenience store gone bad.

I woke up on Friday to find the whole city shut down.  The public transportation wasn't running, my work was canceled, and residents were being told to shelter in place.  It seemed that the incident at MIT had turned out to be the bombing suspects after all (though it doesn't seem as though they had anything to do with the convenience store robbery).  After which, they hijacked a car, and fled to Watertown, where they got into a shootout with police, in which they used explosives (early reports said grenades, but I haven't heard confirmation on that). One of the brothers was killed, but one fled on foot, and the police were conducting a door-to-door search.

Shelter in place didn't necessarily mean stay home.  Many people were out and about when the order came down, and were trapped where they were all day.  In addition, people were evacuated from their homes as the police searched, and forced to stay with neighbors and friends. I wasn't in one of the places that received that order, but I couldn't get to work either, so I pretty much stayed home all day.

They finally lifted that order on Friday evening, and then they found the bomber about an hour later, when a vigilant citizen noticed him hiding in the boat in his backyard (leading a few to wonder how helpful that order was in the first place).

The bombers were identified as two Chechens, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  Both were legal immigrants who'd been in the US for years, and Dzokhar is a US citizen, and a student at the University of Massachusetts.  Right now the evidence suggests that they've been becoming increasingly interested in a radical form of Islam for the past couple of years.  It remains to be seen whether they acted independently, or if they had support--whether in material or training--of any known terrorist groups.

I've been reciting this mostly from memory, and mostly because I want to write down my recollection of it as accurately as possible.  Some more information about the case, and where things stand now, can be found at

Monday, April 15, 2013

Explosions in Boston today

I went down to North Carolina last week to attend my grandfather's funeral, where he received military honors, including a three-volley salute.  I was going to blog on that, and probably still will later this week.  However, something that affected more people than just my family occurred upon my return, namely the bombing attack on the Boston Marathon.

Around 3 pm today, two bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  At this point, it's not known who was responsible for the attack.  There are three dead so far, and over a hundred wounded, some critically, so that number may rise.  The Boston Herald has this to say at the moment:
Two huge explosions rocked the Boston Marathon finish line at Copley Square just before 3 p.m. today, killing three and injuring 134 at last count, including several traumatic amputations on streets crowded with runners, spectators and post-race partiers.

Many of those injured are children — including an 8-year-old killed in the blast, the Herald has learned. Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said tonight there is "no suspect" and the death toll is now at three.
It's being called terrorism, since it is by definition a terror attack, but it's not known whether  it's domestic or foreign, an individual or a group.  We'll find out more in the coming days.

This hits pretty close to home for me. While my wife was in Arlington all day, I was at work in downtown Boston when the attack occurred.  I didn't hear the explosion myself, but it was within a mile and a half of where I work.  Still, I missed most of the chaos, and things had settled down by the time I headed home.

What I don't know is whether anyone I know was hit by the blast.  I know people who were watching the marathon, and even a few people running in it.  So far, I haven't learned whether anyone I knew was injured, but it may be a while before I hear from everyone.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

New Review

My latest review at Black Gate, of Dalya Moon's Broken Shell Island, is now up.  I thought the plot could have been a little more logical, but I liked the story overall.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Alien

C. R. Wiley has an interesting post up concerning the different views of the alien as expressed by C.S. Lewis and H.P. Lovecraft.  It's a really long article, and I encourage you to read the whole thing.

But to give you a taste of how Wiley interprets Lovecraft's view:
Lovecraft believed he possessed greater insight into the nature of things than better-adjusted, healthier people. He took dark comfort in breaking the news to the rest of us that we are all as strange and out of place as he felt he was. He wanted to take his readers Outside, or, perhaps better, to bring the Outside inside. Here’s Lovecraft from yet another letter:
To achieve the essence of real externality, whether of time or space or dimension, one must forget that such things as organic life, good and evil, love and hate, and all such local attributes of a negligible and temporary race called mankind, have any existence at all. Only the human characters must have human qualities . . . but when we cross the line to the boundless and hideous unknown—the shadow-haunted Outside—we must remember to leave our humanity and terrestrialism at the threshold.
Meanwhile, Lewis sees things quite differently:
Because there is a “Wood Between the Worlds” for Lewis, creatures can be said to be beautifully fitted for their respective realms. Beauty does not merely reside in the eye of the beholder (although it certainly should reside there); it is recast. When prejudice and pride are cast away, the lines of alien beauty can come to the surface. Because the Wood Between the Worlds is common to all worlds, inhabitants from each world have the power to recognize the beauty resident in another world. This is not a species of relativism—it is classical Realism in a coat of many colors.
To a theist, all things are the product of God's divine purpose and grace.  They may be fallen and corrupted, but they must contain a spark of the divine, which gives beauty to even the most mundane or alien.