Saturday, February 10, 2007

Ten Year Anniversary of the Lillelid Murders

It's hard to believe that it's been almost ten years since the 1997 murders of the Lillelid family--the documentary, Six, that me and my fellow filmmakers produced in 2003 and 2004 tells the story of the murders and explores the background of the six teens who took the lives of an innocent family. Today, the one sole survivor, Peter Lillelid, only a toddler at the time of the tragedy, is living with his relatives in Sweden. WBIR, one of our local news stations here in Knoxville sent a reporter to Sweden to find out how Peter was doing. Here is some information and a few pictures on his life there. If you are in the Knoxville area, you can catch the complete report on Peter Lillelid's life in Sweden which will air on 10News at 6 and 11 on Tuesday, February 13. Hopefully, WBIR will put the footage of Peter online so I can link to it next week for those of you who would like to see more about this brave young boy who survived a mass shooting. It is amazing that the human spirit can endure, despite the cruelty of some of our fellow human beings.

Mind over Morality

Forensic psychologist Steven K. Erickson has a fascinating law review article that focuses on the meeting of the law and the mind. Erickson reviews the book, Minds on Trial: Great Cases in Law and Psychology,"an upfront and personal account of twenty of the leading cases in forensic psychology."

Read the whole thing--you will find it worth your time.


New Blogger

I switched to New Blogger this morning and the change was painless. Let's hope the kinks have been worked out and that the change stays smooth!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Child Custody Case from Hell

I realize that most people have probably heard that Anna Nicole Smith just died, but I have to wonder what is to become of her five-month-old daughter who has now lost a brother and a mother. I can only imagine the child custody battle that is about to begin over this poor child. Who is the real father and will he get custody?

Update: What is amazing is how cruel some of the commenters were on the site (the comments seem to be down or gone?) in response to the sad news that Anna Nicole had passed away. Did anyone see the live video at where the sound technicians were joking and saying,"Anna Nicole, making our living from Anna Nicole" or some such nonsense. Good grief, doesn't anyone tell these guys that they are on live video?

Update II: It is amazing that even duped dads are held responsible for child support for children who are not even their own. Yet, Larry Birkheard, the man who is fighting for his right to a paternity test for Dannielynn cannot even get an expedited DNA test and Anna Nicole's lawyer has the audacity to be outraged by the request:

"I think it is despicable," Rale said of the new motion for Smith's DNA. "We don't think it is necessary. You don't need Anna's DNA to find out if Mr. Birkheard is the father or not ... Howard [K.] Stern is the presumed father."

The only thing here that is despicable is that Larry Birkheard is being denied his request to determine if he is this child's father or not. If he is not, what does the opposition have to lose?

Boys Just Want to Have Fun

I came across this book, The Dangerous Book for Boys, and was intrigued by the title. I googled the book and found that it was already a best seller in the UK and is now coming out in the US:

A book of old-fashioned, adventurous pastimes for lads and dads has become a surprise bestseller. Christopher Middleton watched his 11-year-old son transformed into a Middle Earth warrior.

It's amazing that The Dangerous Book For Boys ever got published, really, given the deeply unfashionable connotations surrounding two out of the five words in the title (the ones that aren't "The", "Book" and "For").....

The authors make no secret of their belief in the magically beneficial effects of children making their own fun.

"In this age of video games and mobile phones, there must still be a place for knots, tree-houses and stories of incredible courage," they declare, and as well as serving as a practical manual of Just William-type tasks (training dogs to do tricks, making waterbombs out of paper), their book bristles with stirring tales of Douglas Bader and Horatio Nelson-type heroism - plus an unshakeable faith in the virtues of being active rather than passive.

The authors give a list of what every boy should have on hand:

Swiss Army knife - removes splinters
Compass - your trusty guide
Handkerchief - doubles as a sling
Magnifying glass - look at small things, start a campfire
A marble - big one, for luck
Needle and thread - to sew up wounds, mend torn shirt
Pencil and paper - note down criminals' car numbers
Torch - read secret plans by night
Fish-hook and thread - add stick and worm and you won't starve
Box of matches - dip the tips in wax (it waterproofs them)

I like the emphasis on being active rather than passive and it seems like this book might be good for boys (or girls who might be interested) who spend too much time at the computer and not enough time outdoors. Today's kids are not exposed enough to the nuts and bolts of how the world works--perhaps this book can help.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Blogger Problem

Blogger is acting up and eating comments that I have hit to publish. If you have sent in a comment and do not see it up--I have not banned you. It is just a blogger problem, typical...hopefully, it will clear up soon. If not, I will go to registration so that you can comment if you are registered with blogger. Thanks for your patience!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Just Plain Weird

Okay, this Astronaut story is just plain weird--not just because of the nature of the case but because she was wearing diapers:

A married U.S. astronaut was accused on Tuesday with attempting to kidnap and kill a rival for the affections of a fellow astronaut after a bizarre 950-mile drive wearing diapers to confront the woman.

When a friend just told me about this case and the diapers, I thought the astronaut was just part of this club but apparently she wore them so she would not have to stop to urinate on her long trip. She says she did not mean to harm the woman she went to see and that is certainly possible, but if you are so desperate to get somewhere that you wear diapers so you will not have to pee, something seems awry.

Update: Dr. Sanity who used to do psychological consultation for NASA has more.

Youth Suicides Up

The rate of youth suicides is up and it is possible that the reduction of antidepressant drugs is to blame:

New government figures show a surprising increase in youth suicides after a decade of decline, and some mental health experts think a drop in use of antidepressant drugs may be to blame.

The suicide rate climbed 18 percent from 2003 to 2004 for Americans under age 20, from 1,737 deaths to 1,985. Most suicides occurred in older teens, according to the data — the most current to date from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What I find disturbing is that suicide statistics don't become available to the public often for two or three years. Is suicide that unimportant?

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Sagan Diaries

John Scalzi's new book, The Sagan Diary, comes out next week. He asked me and some other women to read an audio version of the book and now has it up on his blog, Whatever:

I have something special for you today, and something I am extraordinarily proud of. To celebrate the release of "The Sagan Diary," (which you can get through Subterranean's Web site and through Amazon) I and Subterranean Press have arranged for a reading of the book -- the entire novelette -- here on the Whatever. But it's not me who will be reading the book. "The Sagan Diary" is meant to be the thoughts of Jane Sagan, as she looks over her life after the events of The Ghost Brigades and prepares for the life which will be detailed in The Last Colony. I wanted voices closer to hers than my own.

So I asked some friends if they would speak for Jane Sagan: I asked Elizabeth Bear, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ellen Kushner, Karen Meisner, Cherie Priest and Helen Smith. Happily for me (and for you) they said yes. Each of them recorded a chapter (or more, in the case of Mary Robinette Kowal), and took the words I wrote for Jane and gave them extra dimensions — made more of them than I would be able to make of them myself. If you’ve wondered what Jane Sagan sounds like, she sounds like this. I was delighted to hear her voice coming through these readings, and deeply humbled by the efforts these women provided in letting Jane speak with them and through them. Without prejudicing your own hearing, let me say that I found myself getting emotional listening to these words given voice. Listen to it; you’ll figure out where.

I read Chapter Five--it was fun--you can go to listen here.

Blog Comments

Please note that blog moderation has been turned on here for the time being. Unfortunately, like most blogs, mine has gotten a fair number of trolls as of late that has put a damper on conversation and other commenter's willingness to participate. I apologize to those commenters who are simply trying to voice their opinion on various posts in ways that are constructive, straightforward and without malice. However, as is typical of open comments, there will always be those who try to dominate the conversation by being rude, counterproductive and just plain cowardly. I will try to approve comments as quickly as possible so that we can continue to talk more or less in real time. Of course, the troll comments will now no longer be allowed. Those persons or cowards in this case, can go start a blog of their own to discuss the injustice.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Freak Show or Miracle?

Today, I read an opinion piece over at Pajamas Media by Cathy Seipp, who argued against older mothers having children. Seipp points to the 67 year old mother who recently had twins and asks how anyone reading about this birth could not relexively think: Freak show? Well, not me.

When I read about the birth, I thought, "What a miracle, to push the bounds of human achievement, kind of like climbing Mount Everest, (without walking past your dying fellow climbers, of course) walking on the moon, or breaking the sound barrier." Are these activities dangerous--kind of like having a kid at 67? You bet, but there are people who are willing to push the limits, despite these dangers and it seems that Carmela Bousada was one of those people. Are there some legitimate concerns in having kids at such an advanced age? Yes, Seipp points out that not being around is one of them:

Leaving aside all the increased health risks to these older mothers and their babies, the cold, hard reason your life and health insurance premiums rise each year is that the longer you live, the more likely it is that the passage of time means you will, in the near future, sicken and die.

Sure, older men can still marry younger women and father children. We all know about Tony Randall et al. But why spend tens of thousands of dollars to raise the odds that a child will grow up motherless?

But if you want to look at the odds, Ms. Bousada is already playing them and perhaps will win--the older a person is, the more likely they will make it to the next age. For a 65 year old woman, there is a good chance she will make it to 85 or beyond. And her mother lived to be 101 -- at that rate, her twins would be 34, an age where many people have already lost their parents. And younger parents die frequently or get sick, when I had a heart attack at 37, my daughter was just three and a half. I wondered at the time whether I would live to see another day with her, but I never wondered if I should have had her in the first place because she might be motherless. One of my colleagues died last year at 36 after having a stroke following childbirth. Should she never have tried to have children at all? The point is, life is uncertain, when we love is uncertain, and all that we can do is the best that we can with what we have at the moment--even if that moment comes to us later than we hoped.

Recently, I saw a website chat board discussing how old Bousada was and how the twins shouldn't have to look at her wrinkled breasts when they nurse. Others on the board castigated her, talking about her selfishness in having the twins because their classmates would be laughing at them for having an old mom. "What kind of life would that be" lamented one cheerful commenter. Well, my question is, what kind of life will these twins have if people continue to make hostile comments about their mother vs. what kind of life will these twins have if people accept their situation as a miracle, instead of a freak show?

Live from Baghdad with Michael Yon

yonpic3.jpgWe talk with independent journalist Michael Yon who is in Baghdad today about what is going on with the war, what the troops and the generals think about the surge, Iranian involvement in the terror attacks in Iraq and about media coverage of the war. If you want to read more from Michael Yon, take a look at his book, Danger Close that tells the story of his life in the army and other adventures or take a look at his website.

You can listen directly -- no downloading needed -- by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. Or you can download the file directly by clicking right here. And there's a lo-fi version, suitable for dialup, etc., available by going here and selecting lo-fi. Or, of course, you can always subscribe via iTunes. We like that. And our show archives are online at -- check up on past episodes there.

This podcast is sponsored by Volvo automobiles at
The Carnival of the Insanities is up at Dr. Sanity's place.