Thursday, January 25, 2018

Where is my slab of pie?

I'm not a fan of sports and I do not watch many games, other than an occasional Astro match-up. Back when my son played for Robert E. Lee, the fam got into the Rocket's play-off frenzy and I knew the players names and reveled with everyone else when they won 2 championships. I remember the big men under the hoop using their elbows to maintain or create their own space and just how brutal that technique could be. Being professionals, they knew exactly what they could get away with and the inherent dangers involved. Unfortunately, modern protestors do not.

Watching the protests, I see this same technique being used verbally and boy, is it ugly. People using vulgar terms as weapons, waving signs with socially taboo writing, and even spitting on anyone who doesn't agree with them is... well, repulsive. They want what they want and they don't care or even tolerate a differing opinion. To be honest, I can't bear to watch the videos of the march for freedom, equality, or whatever it is that is bothering them this week. I do admire their passion, just not their execution.
Watching the videos, I am reminded of the famous question, "You kiss babies with that mouth?" Honest to God, wearing hats resembling a normally private portion of the female anatomy would get their little hiney's spanked by their momma's, but now that they are momma's, it is somehow acceptable. When asked to define their anger, they are cluelessly vague or cookie-cutter acerbic and they simply respond by yelling louder. It is a sickening display of unbridled anger.

My basic instinct whenever I see mass marches is to wonder how many who are involved vote. How many are there only to support a friend, but don't have a horse in the race? How many are there because they want to be part of history? How many because it is hip and cool? How many because their basic nature is rebellion and in this particular case, how many men and women are marching to try and score a quickie after the march?

Watch the videos on youtube and for the most part, you will see people behaving in an embarrassing and disgusting manner. If I were a reporter and someone angrily cursed me and spit in my face, I would not be able to stand there with a microphone in hand, smiling. There is a cloud of strong delusion at work in this country where people abandon logic and reason and get into a berserker frenzy. It is as if they acquired no modus operandi along the way and are looking for someone to follow.

In my opinion only, the #MeToo movement has morphed into the #MeMeMe movement where it is a free for all to use both elbows to knock the teeth out of anyone who even remotely disagrees or has a different opinion. The other movements have welcomed them in with open arms, so now when there is a women's march, it is a hodgepodge of many movements promoting everything from abortion to marijuana for gays. I actually saw one fellow carrying this sign.

The marches have become a freak show circus and a social party, losing all focus and effectiveness. One marcher is spewing non-stop vulgar words against the Republican Party and standing next to them is a woman bashing the very same party with a sign that reads, "Racism and Profanity Don't Make America Great." It would be hilarious if it were not so sad. One Baytown lady summed the march up like this, " The focal point seems to be anti-trump and less pro women... this infuriates me."

Back in the 70's when many smoked pot, one fellow summed it up real well when he said "the worst part of smoking pot is the kind of people you end up associating with." It wasn't even the illegality of it; it was in fact because it was a criminal act, you ended up associating with criminals. The #MeToo movement is now associated with every angry group that marches. A closer examination of the giant crowd would reveal probably 10 movements rolled into this march. Welcome to freedom to protest. It can definitely work against a cause.

One person posted a photo of a woman reading a book and the pages were empty. The caption read, "A complete book of women's rights lost under Donald Trump's administration". In my recollection, Trump is the first President who will fire anyone, male or female, that he believes is not doing their job. No one gets a free ride in his administration and he's proved that many times. He's not anti-female anymore than he's anti-male. You slack and you're out. Like the Capo said, "It isn't personal, it's simply business."

I sincerely believe marches like this last one will not empower anyone. It will simply divide us as a country and that is the last thing any of us want or need.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Sorry, I Didn't Know You Are Unique.

Being unique is a failing art. People wrongly believe to be unique you should get a tattoo or a piercing or a cool car. That doesn't make you anymore peculiar than trying to sound exactly like Beyonce when you sing. Uniqueness is inside you and doesn't need adornment. Being unique is developing your own sense of who you are, even if it doesn't match anyone else's, or is politically correct. Being politically correct should be YOUR choice.

Uniqueness is not bolt-on accessories. Sometimes less is more. Sometimes we should take the freeway; other times the trail, but for sure, you take the path you want to be on. I might add that staying inside the law is a wise choice.

I hate how everyone is supposed to "do the right thing" when it comes to acceptance of things, ideals, or cultures that you don't necessarily agree with. Its better to be called  racist or homophobic, than to be fake. Get educated, make up your own mind, but for god's sake, be real. Freedom of speech is all but dead in this country.

It seems like everyone has tattoos these days. I do not. I don't care one way or the other if they have them. I remember when sailors, bikers, and pirates had tattoos and they actually meant something. These days, at least in my eyes, they mean nothing. They do not make the person unique in my eyes. I forget what their "tat" is one minute after I see it. The same goes for what they are wearing, or what brand of perfume they wear, or their shoes.

What I do remember is their personality and sometimes a casual brush with a person has lasting effects. Sure, some people are visually entertaining and would qualify for a Facebook meme, or a "people of Wal-Mart" youtube video, but that is not the uniqueness I am writing about. I am also not talking about someone everyone necessarily want to be around.

This country was settled by a diversity of colors, customs, nationalities, and people fleeing oppression. It was also settled by renegade extremists who took everything they could. They came to conquer and they didn't care what anyone thought. Years later we have laws which to have peace, we must obey, but that doesn't mean that we all have to think alike. The very fabric of this great country is exemplified by us not being the same. We are not all look alike hamsters or Siamese cats.

However, in our differences, it is imperative that we be tolerant and nonviolent with those who believe differently than us. Civil debate, if we choose to is all but gone and we see evidence of this every day in our government. If there is a difference in opinion, the name calling begins and it doesn't matter one way or the other how trivial the subject. I would rather be in Maine on vacation and a guy tell me he hates all Texans than for him to sarcastically pander. All is well and good between us as long as he doesn't decide to attack me, either physically or verbally. He is welcome to his opinion. I will find someone else to be around.

Frankly, I am sick over the term racist being used for any and every possible use of the word. If it doesn't involve, "prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior," it isn't racism. If I say I don't particularly care for Russians, it is because I am a Cold Warrior and have a certificate of recognition signed by Donald Rumsfeld on my wall. Am I racist? Nope. Being Russian is not a race. Leave me alone. I earned it. By the way, I have a Russian friend. Of course, claiming I have a Russian friend automatically makes me racist.

I knew a man that hated anything Japanese because of what they did in World War Two. He was a veteran and earned his right to think what he did and I can't say I blamed him. Japanese soldiers committed horrendous atrocities. He was a very unique fellow and left an impression on me. Was he out of step with the modern world?  Most likely, but it is what it is.

The bottom line is in this country it should still be okay to think and speak what you want, even if it doesn't fit the mold of someone else. You shouldn't scream what you have to say, or use profanity, but I think you understand my point.

Where's a redneck when you need one?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Culture, Trash, and Crime Connection

I was talking to a retired Indian couple at the gym the other day before spin class started. They are totally pleasant and both have cool Indian names.  His name is Krishna and hers is Geeta. I was explaining to them that I listen to Desi music, which they explained "desi" meant home boy music.  More specifically, Desi is a loose term for the people, cultures, and products of the Indian subcontinent or South Asia and their diaspora, derived from the Ancient Sanskrit meaning Land or Country.

Anything labeled as Desi, basically means you are Indian. I told them my bride finds it peculiar that I listen to this type of music and I've satisfied her curiosity by explaining that I heard it very often during the 2 years I lives in Southeast Asia. To me it is a mystical series of melodies that takes my brain on a magic carpet ride. Krishna is a retired chemist from Bayer and I forget what Geeta did, but their eyes sparkle with intelligence. Over the years I've heard southern Americas declare that the Indian/British accent is confusing, but not so for me. With a few exceptions and those being the British words, I have no trouble.

The two are gentle, cordial, and very humble and on this day, we began to talk about crime here and in the many countries they have visited. On a second note, they declared how clean all these countries have become. I was very surprised at this because my experience 40 years ago was it was almost hopelessly filthy and debris ruled. Trash and litter was a way of life, but not so today. Massive educational campaigns and strict laws have nearly obliterated litter in many countries.

The more we talked, the more I realized that as Americans, some of us just don't get it. Geeta and then Krishna pointed out that crime was almost non-existent in major cities in India and Japan because punishment was so severe. I knew that Singapore was this way and quite surprised. He said you could walk down the darkest alley in India without fear. The United States is almost a criminal's playground in comparison. Our laws and freedoms have all but tied our hands when it comes to criminals taking advantage of us.

For instance, in Singapore, smoking in public, chewing gum, spitting in public, littering, jaywalking have hefty penalties. Its a crime to even sell gum there. Annoying someone with a musical instrument, flying a kite that interferes with public traffic, singing obscene songs in public, selling porn, connecting to someone else's wi-fi without permission, forgetting to flush a public toilet, and feeding pigeons will get you a fine or jail time. Singapore may just be the cleanest and most law-abiding country on earth.

This discussion makes me wonder if there isn't a connection between culture, crime, and litter. Are people who litter criminally minded? Maybe not, but it is certainly a crime to litter and some folks do it daily. They have a culturally anti-social attitude about it too. For most of us reasoning humans, the act of unrolling a car window and throwing trash out is about as likely to happen as winning the Powerball. Is it possible that in 2018 some person doesn't litter intentionally? I don't think so. They may throw that beer can out alongside the road to keep from having an open container in their car or truck, but that just makes them a double criminal. They don't care that society likes a clean appearance over piles of garbage strewn everywhere.

As a unpaid litter abatement specialist, I subject myself to the same punishment as those who are serving community service when I pick up someone else's litter. Believe me when I say I do this almost every day and I am just one of many who carry a trash bag when I walk. A trip into the grocery store from the parking lot allows me to drop in what I pick up after leaving my vehicle. How is it Third World countries can educate their masses to make their country crime and litter free and yet we are almost losing the battle here?

We have educational material available and everyone must attend school of some sort, so how is it some just do not get right from wrong. For instance, take the college basketball players in China who stole. One of them said he just didn't think about it until they were caught. Ten to one the man litters also. Maybe its a stretch on that, but if you can't see that stealing is wrong, what else did you miss?

Thursday, January 04, 2018

The Casual Fun of Trash-Talking in Media

No one should have the right to force anyone to mute moral or social implications of what they say or write in the media, or we defeat freedom of speech, plain and simple. Criticize, yes, but to forcibly stop them from writing or speaking their mind, however misguided you may believe them to be, is crossing the line. Freedom of speech is disappearing and it is a foundational right. However, this is exactly what is happening every single day not only in the free US, but around the world as we become more globalized.

Vitriolic social pressure is stifling free speech. If someone doesn't like something, they just get louder and sometimes physical. In this environment, people not only get confrontational, they feel assaulted and want to press charges. Civil debate is lost. The worst of the worse is the comments section on almost anything on the Internet. Reading peoples juvenile and vicious attacks on what someone wrote, sang, performed, or spoke is akin to a visit to a cesspool for a meal. This is one reason I have all but stopped making a comment on YouTube. It doesn't matter if it is Mother Teresa or Stephen Hawking.  658 people dislike the video and then in the comments section call the sainted woman a tramp and the brilliant Astrophysicist, a &^%$ idiot. 

It would be very easy to exclude ourselves from these folks, but the truth is many of us are guilty on some level. Pick out a popular female pop singer, famous for bawdy performances and then deliberately say something good about her to a friend. Listen to their response. Now what would be your reaction if they did this to you? Your defense is you have higher morals or ethics and you don't associate with "people of her culture." Your intolerance is showing, but you haven't crossed the line and wished her dead, or have you? Never mind that Jesus the Christ regularly rubbed shoulders with sinners and harlots with her same perceived values.

Remember the phrase, "Them's fightin' words!"? There is such a thing as inner service rivalry in the military and it is common among "friends" who have served or are serving, but its important to understand it is amongst friends, or "them's fightin' words" comes into play. This is when a person feels the threat is actually a verbal assault and it gets physical. The person who attacks your branch of service is deliberately provoking a verbal exchange with the implication of backing up what they are asserting.

At my advanced age, this is very rare, but happened to me in the grocery store the other day. I had been to the VA for a physical and was standing in line with my Vietnam Veteran USAF black hat on, when a stranger walked up to me and said, "Air Force, huh? Only the Navy counts." I turned and looked at him in a non-confrontation stare and then turned my back on him. I did 2 tours. This fellow appeared to be maybe 40. I didn't need to justify anything to this man.

He replied to my back, "You aren't going to respond to that?" I turned slowly and said, "No." and turned away. He walked off and the man behind me asked what he said. I told him, "the guy insulted me." and let it go. I posted this on Facebook to gauge reaction and most people saw it as an insult and I acknowledged that the guy was maybe joking. The bottom line was, I think I handled it well. A few years ago, maybe I would have kicked it back at him.

People are losing the ability to civilly debate almost anything and I blame technology for this. They can sit safely away and hammer anyone with anonymity and crude talk and there is no repercussion. They do it in their car too by driving without consideration for those around them. I've often wondered how long they would get away with what they do, if they were standing face to face with those they choose to slander, curse, or wish dead.

I can't change the world, but I can police myself and work on being kinder and more considerate. I can learn to accept that other drivers simply don't get it that their driving puts me and them in danger, but I may have to work extra hard on that one.

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