Being Wronged By Kathryn Schultz Part I
This article is in response to Kathryn Schultz who just wrote an article published in the New Yorker highly critical of filmmakers’ Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos and Making A Murderer. It’s one thing when Nancy Grace or someone from tabloid land writes or bloviates in an ad captandum vulgus style by borrowing the talking points of man like Ken Kratz, but it has heretofore been my opinion that the New Yorker holds itself to a much higher standard. And given that the New Yorker’s readership consists of some of the most influential people in the world, what is published within its pages delivers an impact that wouldn’t be guessed by its circulation alone.
Public opinion has already begun to crystalize around the notion that Making A Murderer was essentially dishonest and manipulative since it left out what Ken Kratz keeps insisting was crucial evidence. In fact, he’s gone on record saying that eighty to ninety percent of inculpatory evidence was omitted. And like Ken Kratz, Kathryn Schultz brings up the DNA of Steven Avery’s found on the hood latch. But Kathryn fails to mention, perhaps because she did not know, that it was all the more curious that the DNA was found without any accompanying finger prints of Steven Avery’s. She also fails to mention, again, perhaps because she didn’t know, that Teresa Halbach had been at Avery Salvage no fewer than on fifteen prior occasions. Would it be terribly surprising if, on one of those visits, Teresa asked Steven to look at something underneath the hood of her Toyota RAV4? He might not have been the brightest person in the world, but there is an excellent chance that he knew more about automobiles than most people, and that knowledge might have been recognized by a twenty-five year old woman who obviously knew Steven Avery had to be familiar with cars. Leaving out such troubling “evidence” was doing Ken Kratz and the gang a favor, if anything.
I feel it especially urgent to take pains to directly address the many weaknesses in Kathryn Schultz’s article because there is nothing more unfair and inaccurate than the narrative being set at the moment, and at some point in the near future, the public’s mind is going to be made up, and once this happens, it will be impossible to change it even if it happens to be wrong.
In the summer of 2010, when I was living in Honolulu, Hawaii, I was in a bookstore perusing the the inventory when something caught my eye. It was the recently released work, Being Wrong, by Kathryn Schultz. Being Wrong? What an ingenious idea for a book! If we think long enough about how we think we might come to puzzle out the occult phenomenology of this process. But we would likely do no better than Ms Schultz herself who brilliantly explores the topic from what seems like every conceivable angle. So there, in the aisle of that quiet and desolate book store I forthwith began to sample the first few hors d’oeuvres on the book’s jacket, and in the preface of what would turn out to be a magnificent intellectual feast which, in a way that nourishment for our corporeal being cannot, has sustained ever since.
So struck by the originality of this work, I sent her a brief note of gratitude. I believe she was relatively unknown at the time, but this began to quickly change when Bill Clinton profusely and publicly praised her work. She would go on to first be the editor of New York Magazine before moving on to an even more prestigious position as a New Yorker staff writer, the ne plus ultra of every aspiring writer the world over.
And there was even further contact between us, however slight. Several years back I also saw quite to my astonishment that Ms Schultz was on OK Cupid, her profile yclept with the sobriquet HEYPDX, or something very close to that, and that she was living in Portland Oregon where I too resided. My excitement was short-lived, however, because the message I sent her offering to discuss this and that over a single malt scotch, something she listed in her profile as a preferred beverage, wasn’t returned.
At this point I’d pretty much forgotten about Kathryn Schultz except for hoping that she’d write another book someday as good as first one, but one day, as I was reading the New Yorker, I’d seen an article with her name attached. I went to her profile page, and the picture confirmed that it was she. Just on on a lark, I went to OK Cupid once again to see if her profile was still active, and indeed it was.
So began yet another exchange, I being N_Complete, and she being Heypdx. I should note that I’ve had other profiles on OKCupid up before under different names. The one I had the most luck with, comically enough, was Sexual_Messiah. I already know what my detractors are going to say, but I’d conceived of it as a pure joke, and nothing more. Eventually, however, I established a following of many very beautiful, very accomplished women who didn’t seem at all to mind whatever might have been implied by such a moniker. N_Complete was inspired by a famous kind of math problem known a NP Complete, the definition of which, from Wikipedia, is as follows:
In computational complexity theory, a decision problem is NP–complete when it is both in NPand NP–hard. The set of NP–completeproblems is often denoted by NP-C or NPC. The abbreviation NP refers to “nondeterministic polynomial time”.
I have no idea what any of that means except that it sounds like for problems to be described as NP_Complete they have to be so hard that the word “hard” is inadequate to describe how completely hard they are. But there is always an obscure vocabulary used by professionals. People in the insurance business can’t speak of money as money (probably from guilt), so they resort to double speak, and use “premium” instead. In the same way an exalted mathematician is unlikely to throw up his hands and say, “Boy that problem is “h-a-r-d, hard!”, but instead simply describe it as being NP_Complete, which has the same meaning. I had a lot of what seemed like good reasons at the time for going with N_Complete, but for those not versed in somewhat obscure mathematics, it just sends the wrong message, and any attempt to explain why I chose it only makes matters worse. I should have just stuck with Sexual_Messiah even though I eventually found it difficult to live up to that title.
In the opening salvo, I write to Kathryn about her most recent New Yorker article, (April 7th, 2015)…
N_Complete: Interesting article in the NewYorker. I thought this insight gets it right: “The phrase “No, totally!” seemed to suggest, instead, genuine engagement: a startled, joyful discovery of common ground…” One question if I may…how many people on this dating site recognize you as Kathryn Schultz the writer?
At this point Ms Schultz gives no indication whatsoever that she has any idea who I am or that I’ve written to her before.
Heypdx: Ha. So far, precisely one, and it’s earned you a reply. (There haven’t been a lot of those, either.) Although that bit of induction on your part might just as easily have nixed a reply, since I don’t aim to be recognized; quite the contrary, actually. I divide my time between New York and Oregon (I know, I know; I should probably include that detail in my profile, but it is, like so many things, a long story), and I don’t use a NY address here because I suspect the recognition rate would be considerably higher on the East Coast. (Possibly also the interesting-response rate — but who knows.)
Out of curiosity, how did you put two and two together?
I was pretty exhilarated that she responded though. I could already tell, however, that reeling her in was going to take a level of social adroitness that I hadn’t then mastered.
N_Complete: First, you have nothing to worry about as far as I knowing that you keep a profile here. I’m good at keeping things hugger mugger. To answer your question, after I read the article, What Part of “No, Totally” Don’t You Understand?, I noticed that your New Yorker bio photo is also one of the photos in your profile album on OKC. As an aside, it’s funny to think that a writer manque might spend his entire life trying to get noticed.
Now that you know all about the induction and what to do [to] make any future ones all the more challenging, there is something in your response, I’m afraid that prompts yet another question: Why do you respond so infrequently? Is it owing to a paucity of suitable suitors, perhaps?
In retrospect, it’s a good rule of thumb to never bring up the word “mugger” especially when you’ve already been convicted of burglary in any response you send on OKC, but to me, at least, it’s just such a funny word that I wasn’t able to resist.
Heypdx: > Is it owing to a paucity of suitable suitors, perhaps?
Yep. No doubt there are many lovely people on here — but I’m picky, and whatever else can be said about it, it turns out that OKC is excellent at making incompatibilities obvious.
It was at this point that I began to make elaborate plans with Kathryn’s brother to bump into her as she was alone, leaving a salvage yard in Wisconsin. Kidding, kidding. Calm down. Truth is, I thought it was funny at the time because if OKC could make incompatibilities obvious, that’s the same thins as saying that it makes compatibilities obvious, and it does no such thing. I wanted to remind her of what she herself had taught me about Being Wrong, but I thought there was no way of doing that without seeming to be super annoying, not that I didn’t find other ways…
N_Complete: With so much choice, and so much info provided on matters specifically relevant to compatibility, I’m sure there’s every reason to think that eventually finding the right one is all but failsafe
Here I am mocking her. It didn’t cause her to come rushing back, alas.
N_Complete:Tell Gopnik I said hello. There is a quality of kindness in his writing that shines through. Yet, no writer for the New Yorker has ever written anything as profound as Being Wrong. I think about Being Right and how that would introduce the ultimate incompatibility to existence itself. Not knowing, being wrong and finding out are as important as water and oxygen.
I imagine that Adam Gopnik can’t be seen in public, so great is his stature, so I thought maybe Kathryn could relay a message for me.
N_Complete: Your smile in this picture http://www.newyorker.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Kathryn-Schulz.jpg
Reminds me of the smile in this picture
I’m sure that a lot of people will think that I was being mean to Kathryn, but that isn’t so. I just thought she had chosen, I would suppose deliberately, a strange picture for her New Yorker profile. I find her reasonably attractive enough to propose going out, I was saying nothing at all about her overall appearance which I actually find pleasing enough. It’s just that, as I was looking at that picture long enough, it finally hit me that Edgar Allen Poe wore a very similar expression on his face in more than one famous photograph.
I was trying to say something to Kathryn, but I don’t think she got the message. I was trying to vouch for my own powers of observation which should already have been established since I was the only one of all the people who’d read her profile that recognized her as a staff writer for the New Yorker. It is she who asked how I put it together. So I wanted to show her what else I’d put together. And I was also paying her a compliment by comparing her to Edgar Allen Poe by implying that maybe such an expression could only have been caused by similar powers of observation, and similar strains of thought.
Part II tomorrow