Father appalled by virtual audience to son’s death

November 24, 2008

– a follow-up from the story I posted the other day about the young man who committed suicide with his webcam running, while many people watched it online…

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MIAMI – The father of a U.S. college student whose suicide was broadcast live over a webcam said Saturday he was appalled by the virtual audience that egged on his son and called for tougher regulation of Internet sites.

Abraham Biggs said those who watched and the website operators share some blame in his 19-year-old son’s death.

“I think they are all equally wrong,” he said.

“It’s a person’s life that we’re talking about. And as a human being, you don’t watch someone in trouble and sit back and just watch.”

Police found Abraham Biggs dead in his father’s bed Wednesday, 12 hours after he first declared on a website for bodybuilders that he planned to take his own life. He took a fatal drug overdose in front of an Internet audience. Although some viewers contacted the website to notify police, authorities did not reach his house in time.

Biggs, who has said he was at work during the episode, said he had not known about his son’s online presence.

“I think after this incident and probably other incidents that have occurred in the past, they all point to some kind of regulation is necessary,” Biggs said.

“I think it is wrong to have this happen for hours without any action being taken from the people in charge. Where were they all the time?”

The younger Biggs posted a link from the website to Justin.tv, which allows users to broadcast live with their webcams.

A computer user who claimed to have watched said after swallowing some pills, Biggs went to sleep and appeared to be breathing for a few hours while others cracked jokes. Some users told investigators they did not take him seriously because he had threatened suicide on the site before.

Biggs father said he believes the webcast was a cry for help.

“But rather than get help, he was ignored,” Biggs said.

“I would not want to see anything like that on the Internet and not try and get help for that young man. I think that’s what the average person would do.”

“Any normal person would do. I’m really appalled.”

Pembroke Pines Police Department Sgt. Bryan Davis said no new information on the case was available Saturday.

Biggs Sr. said funeral arrangements have not yet been set for his son, who he said loved helping others.

“He was a good kid. Good kid,” Biggs Sr. said.

“It’s a shame I wasn’t there to help him. It’s a big loss to me. I wish I was there to help him – since nobody else would.”

Miami lawyer William Hill said there is probably nothing that could be done legally to those who watched and did not act. As for whether the website could be held liable, Hill said there doesn’t seem to be much of a case for negligence.

“There could conceivably be some liability if they knew this was happening and they had some ability to intervene and didn’t take action,” said Hill, who does business litigation and has represented a number of Internet-based clients.

But “I think it would be a stretch.”

An autopsy concluded Biggs died from a combination of opiates and benzodiazepine, which his family said was prescribed for his bipolar disorder.

“Abe, i still wish this was all a joke,” a friend wrote on the teenager’s MySpace page.

In a statement, Justin.tv CEO Michael Seibel said: “We regret that this has occurred and want to respect the privacy of the broadcaster and his family during this time.”

It is unclear how many people watched it happen. The website would not say how many people were watching the broadcast. The site as a whole had 672,000 unique visitors in October, Nielsen said.

Biggs was not the first person to commit suicide with a webcam rolling. But the drawn-out drama – and the reaction of those watching – was seen as an extreme example of young people’s penchant for sharing intimate details about themselves over the Internet.


Chicks tell all…

November 23, 2008

I came across this earlier today and it made me laugh hysterically – enjoy…

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Chicks tell all:

Well, guys, here it is: Everything you always wanted to know about women but were afraid to ask. Compiled from guys who really want to know, for example…

By Josey Vogels

Well, guys, here it is: Everything you always wanted to know about women but were afraid to ask. Compiled from guys who really want to know, for example…

What’s it like to have breasts? Admittedly, the novelty wears off by the time we’re about 15. I think it coincides with our first gym class as a full-breasted young woman. Then they’re mostly a pain in the ass: finding the right bra for them, having guys direct entire conversations at them, having kids (and men) gnaw on them for a few years, then watching them fall victim to gravity. They can be fun to dress up (or down, as the case may be), push up, or let someone run their fingers and lips all over them once in awhile (just remember, they are not toys to be tweaked, squished or poked whenever you feel like it). Why not strap a couple pieces of round fruit (large oranges are about a C-cup, cantaloupe a D-cup) on your chest for a day and see how it feels?

How come it takes you so long to come? Most sex books clock the male orgasm at about 3 to 5 minutes from time of erection, while women need at least 7 to10 minutes. Other factors to consider: women usually get a later start on this as young’uns, and we get easily distracted by things – like you being concerned about how long it’s taking us to come. And it’s just not as obvious with us. Sometimes you gotta prop up the hood and spend some time getting to know the engine, if you know what I mean.

Do you really fake it sometimes? And if so, why? Yes, we’ve all faked it. But most of us eventually realize it’s a waste of time and energy. Sorry, but even your ego isn’t worth it. Besides, it inevitably backfires when we realize we have to make the real thing live up to prior performances so we don’t get caught. A trained professional will know the difference. If your partner gets up after and starts cleaning the windows or organizing her closet, she probably faked it. If she lies there limply with a stupid look on her face, drooling slightly, give yourself a pat on the back. As for why we fake it, well… the aforementioned ego, boredom and, once again, our concern that you are concerned that we are taking too long.

What does sperm taste like? Melted overripe brie – salted.

What does a female orgasm feel like? Good. Not unlike that full body rush you get when you’re a kid on a swing and you drop your head back on the way down and then pull it up real fast when you swing forward. Though sometimes it’s more subtle – more like a case of bad gas.

What does it feel like to have a period? Not good. Imagine feeling like someone has injected air in your abdomen and accidentally slipped some shards of glass in there while they were at it. Add a steady, dull ache and the occasional warm gush that feels like you just wet yourself, and that pretty much covers it. Oh yeah, sometimes it smells bad, too.

How come we can’t blame your manic behaviour and inexplicable tears on PMS but you can? See, just because our manic behaviour might be explained by PMS, it might not be. That’s our call. If you make the call, any legitimate bad feelings are undermined thus making us want to slug you. Besides, since we have to suffer most of our life with our period (see above), we get to make all the rules about it.

Why is intuition a female thing? It just is, I can feel it. One guy told me he suspected female intuition was a secret weapon to make men feel guilty and ‘fess up to any crimes, since “she’ll know anyway.”

What’s our big beef with testosterone? “It’s like garlic to a vampire,” one guy complained. “Women are always blaming shit on testosterone.” Men have more testosterone and display proportionately more obnoxious, aggressive behaviour. You do the math. Admittedly, the too-much-testosterone explanation is becoming a bit clichŽ, and I’ve been told, in fact, that the hormone is sometimes used to subdue overly aggressive behaviour. Perhaps we should let this one go and just blame stupid macho behaviour on men.

Who made you the experts on relationships? Why, we did, of course. Pretty smart, eh? Chalk it up to female intuition, but, quite simply, you guys just don’t get it. If you would only see things our way, it really would make it all a lot easier.

Why can you objectify a man’s body but get upset when we comment on how hot some chick is? Thousands of years of history.

Why do you ask if you look fat in an outfit when you don’t really want to know? Yeah, that one’s pretty much a no-win situation. If you say no, we think you’re lying. If you say yes, you’re dead. The best way to avoid this is to tell us we look great at all times.

Why do you love makeup? Recently, as I was dancing around the room after finding out that my TV work gets me 30-per-cent off MAC products, my boyfriend had visions of hard drives and screen savers. What can I say. Everyone knows women wear makeup for each other. In ancient matriarchal tribes, women painted their faces even when there were no men around. There you go, it’s war paint. Plus, it’s fun. And a great way to fake it when you look like shit.

How can you love shopping that much? As a full-fledged shopaholic, I like to think of shopping as more of an ongoing daily quest for the ultimate deal on the ultimate outfit. Each discovery is an achievement, each major score a skilled accomplishment. And yes, we really do need another pair of shoes.

Why do you go to the bathroom in pairs? So your friend can hand you some toilet paper under the stall because you have, once again picked the one with no paper. That, and because we must find out who each other wants to sleep with outside the bathroom and sort out any overlap so things don’t get ugly later.

How come you can reject our sexual advances, yet when we say we’re tired you sulk? This is your fault. You are the ones who perpetuate the idea that men want sex anytime, anywhere. Besides, most of us are still new at this taking-initiative thing. We’re a little insecure still.

Do you really enjoy giving oral sex? As long as you let us control the rhythm and speed and don’t start thrusting it down our throat, fellatio is fun. It helps if you don’t smell like an old sock too.

Why do you get annoyed when we do nice things for you after you’ve asked why we don’t do nice things for you more? Because we know you’re only doing it because we told you. The trick is to not have to be asked; but if you must be asked, then the trick is to wait till we forget we asked and surprise us.

Why is it that when you want to talk about something we don’t want to talk about you bug us until we talk about it, but when you don’t want to talk about something we’re supposed to respect that?

I don’t want to talk about it.


Officials: Teen commits suicide on webcam as others watch

November 22, 2008

– a very sad story that I read today…
MIAMI, Florida (CNN) — With his webcam trained on him, a Florida teenager died in his bed of a drug overdose while others watched over the Internet, officials said Friday.

Some of those watching urged him to take more drugs while others debated whether he had taken enough to kill himself. Hours passed before someone finally notified authorities that he appeared lifeless, officials said.

The teenager was pronounced dead Wednesday afternoon in Pembroke Pines, Florida, said Wendy Crane, investigator for the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The cause of death was found to be an overdose of benzodiazepine, an antidepressant, as well as other opiate drugs used to treat depression, Crane said. CNN is not reporting the teenager’s name.

The youth’s body was found in his apartment behind a locked door, which police broke down. Police turned off the webcam and computer, Crane said.

She said he did not take anything on camera, according to footage she reviewed, but he blogged between 3 and 4 a.m. Wednesday that he had taken an overdose of drugs. He also posted a suicide note.

He was seen lying on his bed on the streaming video, posted on the Web site Justin.tv. On the site, a person can stream video from a Web camera while “viewers” chat with each other in a box next to the video, Crane said. The comments and video have since been removed from the Web site.

Crane read the comments posted during the 10 hours the youth could be seen lying on his bed.

As the teenager was lying on his bed, she said, people were typing things like, “Oh, that’s not enough to kill you.” Others, she said, were egging him on, saying things like “Go ahead and do it.” Still others thought it wasn’t real, Crane said.

About 11 a.m. Wednesday, Crane said, some viewers began to get concerned, writing things like, “He’s not moving” and “He’s not breathing.”

One contacted the site’s moderator to get the youth’s contact information, she said, and the police were notified.

The teen “has made threats in the past regarding suicide and possibly had previous attempts,” she said.

Justin.tv CEO Michael Seibel said in a statement, “we regret that this has occurred and want to respect the privacy of the broadcaster and his family during this time.”

Pembroke Pines police Sgt. John Gazzano said the case is under investigation.

Broward County Chief Medical Examiner Joshua Perper said the teen may have stood a chance of surviving had someone notified authorities right away.

“If somebody had come immediately after he took tablets, then probably not all the tablets would have been absorbed. Then, therefore, they could wash his stomach and get rid of the additional tablets. Certainly, he would have had a much better chance.”

The youth’s father said he is “appalled” that people watched and did nothing.

“I wish they would have given him the assistance that he was crying out for,” the father said. “They did not respond to him. They only did long after the fact.”

He said his son, who attended Broward Community College and wanted to be a paramedic, he had bipolar disorder and was being treated for depression.

The father dismissed the suggestion that people thought the video was fake. “It was not fake, was it? You don’t assume. You have to find out if it was true or false.”

Perper said the existence of a note left no doubt that the young man committed suicide.

“He left a note, which is very clear. And our examination did not reveal any evidence of trauma or any evidence of natural disease on internal examination. And we did a screen of the urine, which revealed the presence of medication, mostly antidepressant drugs,” Perper said.

The father said he had no reason to believe his son was having problems.

“He was a good son,” he said. “I’m sorry that no one could help him when I was not around to help him myself.”


Quantum of Solace – Trailer

November 20, 2008

So I saw the newest James Bond movie over the weekend, “Quantum of Solace” and my review of it was…meh, it was underwhelming and kind of cliched – check it out if you want, but don’t expect to be wowed 😦

Woman posed as teen online in suicide case: attorney

November 20, 2008

– a very sad story that happened back in 2006 is finally coming to trial in the US…

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A Missouri woman established a fake identity online to torment a vulnerable teenage girl who later committed suicide, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday in a trial that is being closely watched by the burgeoning social networking industry.

Prosecutors say Lori Drew, 49, posed as a teenage boy named Josh Evans on the social networking website MySpace.com and exchanged messages with 13-year-old Megan Meier. Drew’s daughter and Meier had been friends but had a falling out, attorneys said.

U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien said Drew, her daughter and an employee of Drew’s “hatched a plot to prey on the psyche” of a girl she knew was “vulnerable, suicidal and boy crazy.”

“Her purpose was to tease Megan Meier, to tease her, to humiliate her and to hurt her,” O’Brien said in Wednesday’s opening statements. “One of her plans was to print out the conversations and take it to Megan’s school and let people make fun of this depressed 13-year-old girl.”

Drew, 49, is charged with conspiracy and accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information for the purpose of inflicting emotional distress on Megan Meier. The four charges each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Although Missouri authorities declined to charge Drew, federal prosecutors in California claimed jurisdiction because MySpace has operations in Los Angeles County.

In late 2006, Megan Meier’s mother, Tina, found her daughter “sitting at the computer crying” after getting into an online dispute with “Josh Evans” and a couple of girls.

“She said, ‘they’re saying mean, horrible things about me,'” Tina Meier testified. “I told her to get off (MySpace).”

Less than an hour later, Tina Meier found her daughter, who struggled for years with depression and school bullying, hanging from a belt in her closet.

An attorney for Drew agreed with prosecutors that the case was “deeply tragic,” but blamed the fight that may have driven Megan Meier to suicide on Ashley Grills, a then 18-year-old employee of Drew’s who sent the final messages.

“This is a computer fraud and abuse case. This is not a homicide case,” defense attorney H. Dean Steward told the six-woman, six-man jury in Los Angeles federal court. “The message that (prosecutors) talked about was sent when Lori Drew was on the road and not at home.”

Steward said testimony from computer experts will show that “most of the messages that the government insists were sent are missing,” and that the MySpace profile for Josh Evans was not set up on Drew’s household computer.

Drew was not involved with plans hatched by her 13-year-old daughter and Grills to set up the fake profile and harass Meier, who was spreading “mean” rumors about Drew’s daughter and others, Steward said.

Drew insisted her daughter and Grills shut down the profile when she learned that Meier was becoming romantically interested and hinting that she wanted to meet Josh Evans, the attorney said.

In a final message, Grills, posing as Josh Evans, told Megan: “The world would be a better place without you. Have a shitty rest of your life,” O’Brien said.


Duck Amuck – Geocache project for DIVA 200

November 20, 2008

I am only now getting around to posting shots from the geocache project that I did for my DIVA 200 class 2 weeks ago – I ended up using the theme of ducks due to the beautiful pond that is located here on Granville Island where many ducks and geese go and congregate and raise their little ones. I wanted my classmates to walk around and find the multicache stages along the waypoints that would lead them around to some cool locales that I frequent all the time.

I printed out game cards for everyone in my class to start the game and lead them along the breadcrumbs:

At each of the waypoints, I placed a small tupperware container with a plastic duck fridge magnet as a prize for the first person to find each waypoint (although my classmate Diana Wu had a BIT too much fun with hers lol) and the clue to lead them to the next waypoint in the game:

The final waypoint was inside the classroom itself and had a USB flash drive inside, with the following image file that the class would have to open in order to “win” the game:

Overall, I was happy with the way the geocache turned out and my classmates all agreed that it was fun to walk around Granville Island and search for the waypoints. My process that I used as I dvelopped the game was to look at it as a mini-ARG (alternate Reality Game) and to use it as a blueprint for how I would develop the full blown ARG that I am working on right now in a group.