As Russia devolves . . .

An outspoken rival of Vladimir Putin was assassinated in the heart of Moscow on Friday evening — just two days before he was scheduled to lead a massive protest against the Russian president.

And from the Dark and Perverse Humor Dept.: Putin says he'll head the investigation into Nemtsov's death.

Justice done

Justice was done in Texas Tuesday night, as Chad Littlefield and Chris Kyle's murderer was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

I am glad that justice was done,

But the verdict offers no real solace. The vast void left by their deaths remains. The verdict does not fill it. There is no way to make up for the loss of those two men - not for the families, not for their friends, not for the many people they would have helped had they lived.

It is up to those of us who remain to fill that void by following the examples set by Chad and Chris: helping our friends, reaching out to strangers. They will endure in our actions; if there is solace, it will be had in the lives we enrich in their names.

Parlez-vous American Sniper?

American Sniper is a worldwide phenomenon. To see what they think in French, check out this link:

Le film a visé juste
(We did the interview English; I can barely find my way around the Paris Metro in French.)

On PTS and Chris Kyle's murderer

With the trial of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield’s killer now winding down, it should be amply clear to all that Post Traumatic Stress was NOT a factor in the murder.

I wonder if everyone who reported that it was will issue an apology to sufferers of PTS.

I won’t hold my breath for that.

PTS is a serious ailment that affects many who have suffered trauma. We know many things about it, but not everything. Like much of medicine, doctors have made major advances in treatment recently thanks to our experiences with war, but PTS is not a condition that comes solely from combat. Its mechanisms have still to be fully understood.

One thing we do know: PTS does NOT turn people into killers. Nor does it relieve them from personal responsibility. If sufferers of PTS are a danger to anyone, it is to themselves – PTS is suspected of being a factor in many suicides.

One of the greatest barriers to its treatment is the stigma still attached to what are commonly believed to be mental conditions. The pre-trial publicity here unfortunately reinforced that stigma; hopefully that will be corrected in its wake.

Now that the case is almost concluded, I also wonder if Chris and his family will receive an apology from those who wrote the ridiculous stories that made far too much of the random parallels between his life and that of the murderer. I can’t conceive of two more different men.

Earlier this week, the Navy released part of Chris’s military record. Anyone who has any doubt about what he accomplished on the battlefield and does not want to take his book as proof, can read it here.

If he were alive, Chris would be angry that I supplied that link; he was a humble man. But he can chew me out when – if – I get to heaven, where I know he surely is. In the meantime, it would be a good idea for people to actually consider the facts before they make facile assessments.

On commas

From the New Yorker:-

The comma as we know it was invented by Aldo Manuzio, a printer working in Venice, circa 1500. It was intended to prevent confusion by separating things. In the Greek, komma means “something cut off,” a segment. (Aldo was printing Greek classics during the High Renaissance. The comma was a Renaissance invention.) As the comma proliferated, it started generating confusion. Basically, there are two schools of thought: One plays by ear, using the comma to mark a pause, like dynamics in music; if you were reading aloud, the comma would suggest when to take a breath. The other uses punctuation to clarify the meaning of a sentence by illuminating its underlying structure. Each school believes that the other gets carried away. It can be tense and kind of silly, like the argument among theologians about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. How many commas can fit into a sentence by Herman Melville? Or, closer to home, into a sentence from The New Yorker?

I'm a 'by-the-ear' guy myself. I've yet to meet a copy editor who isn't a structuralist, which has led to many a battle of STETs.

The excerpt is from an article about the life of a copy editor, or as she puts it, "Confessions of a Comma Queen." It's always interesting to see how the other half lives.