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The Pecman

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  1. I gotta say, where I grew up (Tampa, Florida), it was frequently 90 degrees and 90% humidity in the summer. Not fun.
  2. Excellent comments, as always, from Des. I agree: I have never met an Aussie in America who didn't have a genuinely humorous, self-depracating sense of humor. Just having the ability to cut through all the bullshit impresses me, and I love that about most of the Australians I've met and worked with.
  3. I think the only way to write it would be from the viewpoint of the kid who shot the video but is now overwhelmed with regret. Otherwise, trying to get inside the head of the wronged boy would be pretty torturous. My twist on the idea would be like this: A gay kid is occasionally tormented by a good-looking, popular, athletic kid in school. The gay kid -- we'll call him Joe -- has friends, some outside interests, but makes no secret he's gay. He's fascinated by the athletic kid -- we'll call him Mikey -- and even though Mikey is rude and abrupt to him, there's an undeniable attraction there, at least from Joe's side. The torment isn't necessarily physical, more like an occasional rude remark, a taunt in the lunchroom line, nobody getting beat up. But still there. Joe starts taking candid shots of Mikey the athlete -- maybe at track meets, maybe on the football field, whenever -- and one day, manages to get some surreptitious shots of Mikey jerking off in the restroom. Because Mikey has rejected him up to this point, Joe opts to exact some playful revenge by posting segments to the net. Mikey completely freaks out, loses all his friends, and winds up killing himself... which is not nearly the ending Joe had expected. I think exploring the mindset and attitude of the tormenter has more possibilities than staying with the kid in the videos, and could also illustrate why one thoughtless act -- especially one done at the careless push of one button -- could totally destroy somebody's life in just a few seconds. Me, I'm not one to tackle stories with downbeat, depressing endings, but I think somebody could do something with this core idea. I'd agree to help with ideas, rewrites, and editing if somebody else wants to go for it.
  4. I knew privacy had evaporated when they started assigning Social Security numbers to newborns, just to keep track of people. And the NSA is just out of control. I think as long as people act reasonably and don't do stupid stuff, you generally have nothing to worry about. But maybe I'm naive.
  5. Dr. Hawking's comments are all based on theoretical physics, so finding real proof is always a struggle -- even coming up with mathematical models. (I did work for a few weeks on the Disney film The Black Hole, but I suspect the movie was so bad, Hawking's theories don't apply.) I have a theoretical premise that Michelle Bachmann is a fascist cunt, but that's just me.
  6. I'm still mulling this over and would challenge my fellow authors: what possible ending could you write for this story if it were fiction? I read an awful lot and see a good chunk of films & TV, but I'm very hard-pressed to come up with a satisfying ending here. One thing I did think of: if the segment was only 6 seconds on Vine, it would've theoretically been possible for the parents to immediately compel Vine to pull the clip off the service within 24 hours of the incident. YouTube, Google, Vine, Snapchat, Twitter, and a bunch of other services have whole departments in case to deal with potential child pornography, libel, or other legal problems, and they can and will get the videos down quickly. The best I could hope for would be, yank the video down, keep the kid out of school, and when he comes back, just deny everything. "Nope, that wasn't me." As long as nobody actually downloaded the video, he could theoretically be fine. Unless there are complications I don't see here.
  7. 95 in the shade in Northridge. Stultifying.
  8. I can think of a few things that are very bad about Australia. For one, just try to emigrate or get a job there if you're from a foreign country. I don't think anybody fights immigration more than Australia. I love Australia in many ways, but don't pretend all of it's good. The single best thing I like about the Australians I meet and work with is that 90% of the time, they're totally direct, no-BS people, and it's good to deal with that, especially in LA.
  9. I know of cases where there were Uncles who were within a couple of years of their Nephews or Nieces (particularly in large families), so crap like this is bound to happen. People are people. There are laws on the books to stop Uncles and Nieces from getting married, but that's a different problem.
  10. My partner-the-lawyer says that delaying tactics like this are often used in trials like this, partly to give the (new?) attorneys a chance to come up with a reasonable defense, and partly to put as much distance between the incident and the trial. He's seen 2-3 years go by in some cases, even serious ones like rape or murder. Don't forget that the courts already dismissed the parents' lawsuit against the school for not protecting their bullied (and now unfortunately dead) son. But there is a chance the parents will try a different tactic and sue them on other grounds. I'm stymied as to why the DA can't go after the camera kid on the basis of child pornography. It seems to me that this is pretty cut-and-dried, particularly when the camera kid was deliberately trying to cause embarrassment & suffering on the part of the person he was surreptitiously shooting.
  11. Exactly. The camera kid is the real perpetrator here, and the person who be severely punished. Punishing all students by forbidding them to have cell phones won't solve the problem. (My niece and nephew are 9 and 10, respectively, and their schools will allow them to have cell phones... but my brother and sister-and-law believe they won't be ready to own one until they're in junior high. I understand that thinking, since kids tend to lose stuff.) BTW, my partner (who's been keeping an eye on this story for me) tells me they did have the preliminary hearing for the camera kid today in San Diego, but his attorneys have begged off, requesting "more time to prepare for his defense." I'm aghast at that, since the incident happened on November 15th, 2013, but what are you gonna do? (The victim, Burdette, died on November 29th, exactly two weeks later.)
  12. That's my experience as well. But famously, there are authors out there who sit down in front of a blank page and have no idea how a novel is going to end, and somehow they manage to get them done without a plan or an outline. Stephen King is one of them, and I believe he has more than 50 best-sellers out there, some of which are extremely good (and some of which... not so much). I like to draw up a short outline of bullet points that I have to hit in each chapter, just so I know how to get from A to Z. There are some famous authors who make extremely elaborate notes, hundreds of pages (thousands, in the case of Tolkien and J.K. Rowling) with biographical information, maps, drawings, historical timelines, etc. Me personally, I think a little goes a long way, but there's certainly an element of discovery in the writing process where you don't necessarily know all the subtle details of where the story or the characters are headed. You might understand the destination, but all the minutia is the hard part (to me).
  13. Ah, the dog would eat the cat. Sad, but it might be worth it. I'm freelance, so I go where the work takes me.
  14. Hmmm, it's two consensual adults, though technically it is uncle and nephew.
  15. Whoa-oh, it's too hot (too hot) too hot, baby... gotta run for shelter, gotta run for shade... #5 from 1980, huge dance hit.
  16. What if the kid drives a BMW 760Li to school? Does everybody get one of those? There are $15 Tracfones out there that work fine as simple cell phones. Everybody's got them. Again, I already know in LA County, they ban the students from any phone conversations in classrooms -- period. Hallways are permitted, lunchrooms are permitted, outside on school grounds is permitted. The problem is the bad behavior. Trust me, people's lives can be ruined with an audio recorder, or a video camera, or even email. This goes far beyond the specifics of the incident here. There have been half-a-dozen school suicides in the last couple of years just from students bullied on social media like Twitter and Facebook -- no cell cameras involved. The results are the same.
  17. It's hotter where we are, Cole, out here in the dreaded Valley... the depths of Los Angeles. Just checked: 97 degrees, no AC. We enjoy the suffering -- it makes us human.
  18. Mr. Garner was a nice man and a real pro. I worked on the last season of Rockford Files for Universal (1979-1980), and I got to watch him shoot a few scenes from a distance. Never met him personally, but I know a half-dozen people who did work with him closely and they said he was a genuinely good guy, low key, no ego, no tantrums. What you saw on TV was pretty much the guy. I think his last major film, the 1994 feature version of Maverick (with Mel Gibson), is an extremely underrated film -- very funny, full of surprises, and a very interesting, thoughtful film. Anybody reading Shattering Fate -- I know, I know, very late in getting updated -- will find out shortly I'm stealing a few choice bits from that movie. Hey, it's written by William Goldman, so at least I'm stealing from the best...
  19. There are thousands and thousands of schools around the country that allow students to use cell phones, and nobody has used them to destroy anybody's life yet. This is a new and unique situation. We can't say, "use a phone, go to jail." It's not going to work. (I'm reminded of recent school shooting incidents where the frantic parents were extremely grateful that the kids were able to use cell phones to call the cops when the terrorist started shooting.) Again: you could outlaw phones and I could just bring a GoPro camera (4" square) to school, and cause the exact same effect. The prankster waits until they get home to copy it to their computer, then posts it to the net... a life ruined in 30 seconds. Nothing to do with a phone, nothing to do with WiFi... everything to do with stupidity and bad behavior. One of our members is a high school teacher, and I'd be curious to see what his feelings are on this if he chooses to weigh in. I can tell you I did research what the modern day rules are in LA County public schools, and they do permit the use of cell phones on campus but not during class. Teachers do routinely confiscate phones used in class, then give them back to the student later on (with a warning). Too many warnings, you get suspended. But again: if somebody really, really wants to ruin somebody else's life, they don't need a phone to do it. There's a thousand ways to accomplish this, as I said in my previous messages. The problem is the behavior, not the technology, and they need to teach kids to understand the consequences for bad behavior. That is what the real issues are here: bad judgement, bad behavior, terrible consequences. We have to make them understand what a bad idea it is to ruin somebody's life in the first place. There's a huge difference between hitting a kid in the back of the head with a spitball, vs. posting an embarrassing video that goes way, way over the line.
  20. I think this is exactly true. Blaming the technology for this crime is insane. Trust me, there's 1000 times more bullying that goes on with laptops, including online torments that have driven people to suicide. Do we ban laptops? The schools just have to teach that it's wrong to torment and hurt somebody by embarrassing them, especially with videos and pictures, especially in a private situation. But kids are just incredibly stupid and have bad judgement. Look at the number of kids who get caught every year by shooting videos while they do illegal activities, like beating up homeless people, breaking windows, or shooting passers-by with paint guns. Tons and tons of arrests have been made just on the evidence of the videos the kids stupidly upload to YouTube. Do we take away their cameras? That's not going to stop them from the crimes. The problem is the way they think, not the technology that lets them do it.
  21. Can't watch it -- too many unavoidable ad pop ups.
  22. In one of the previous links I posted, the parents were able to convince one (and only one!) of their son's former friends to come over and explain to them what happened, because they were totally in the dark. When they specifically asked the friend, "why did the camera kid do this and why would he want to hurt our son?", the reply was, "because your son was so popular." So clearly, he was jealous of the kid's popularity and wanted to take him down a notch, not realizing how devastating this could be. So apparently, the idea was, here's a kid who's good looking, popular, bright, on two school sports teams... I'll just F with him by posting this 6-second video on Vine. (When I told my partner, "it's incredible that your entire life could be ruined in six seconds," he remarked, "hey, John F. Kennedy was shot to death in six seconds," so he had a point.) Like I say, I hope they throw the frigging book at him. But remember what happened to the guy at Rutgers who posted similarly embarrassing videos about Tyler Clementi to the web. His bully's charges: 15 counts of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, tampering with evidence, witness tampering, and hindering apprehension or prosecution. (The main issue there was this was a kid from a very wealthy family who lied in depositions and tried to destroy evidence.) The bully merely got a fine, 30 days in jail, three years of probation, and 300 hours of community service, which I think is totally a tap on the wrist. I continue to mull over whether you could come up with a fictionalized story of this incident, but my problem is, I can't think of a satisfying third act. If you were a young teenager, how could you possibly recover from an incident like this? Is it possible to just shrug it off and let it go? Is the answer to change your name and move? I can't figure it out, because every possible outcome is pretty terrible and extreme.
  23. Des, thank you for the voice of reason. I agree 100% with what you say. Even if cell phones had been banned, incidents like this could happen provided people act badly, and kids don't think for a moment and see the consequences of what they're about to do. BTW, I noted that the San Diego court hearing for the camera kid is coming up in a few days. I'll watch the local news sources and see if any additional information is released. I hope they throw the book at the little shit. From my point of view, he's guilty of three major crimes: 1) cyberbullying, making the Burdette kid's life absolutely miserable; 2) child pornography, because he posted a video of a naked underaged teenager on the web; and 3) wrongful death, because his actions resulted in the suicide of his tormented victim. I could make good arguments on all three. If there's any justice in the world, the camera kid will go away for at least 5-6 years. And I still wish that the Burdette kid's parents file a civil suit against the camera kid's parents. At the worst, maybe they can garnish a few million out of them for their own suffering, and maybe start a charity to help educate kids about the dangers of cyberbullying and why causing someone gross embarrassment could have unimaginable consequences.
  24. Here's the video: I agree, very tragic -- and even in these informed, enlightened times, this crap still happens sometimes.
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