Posted by: JDM..... | January 31, 2013

There I go…

…taking myself too seriously again…

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Posted by: JDM..... | December 6, 2016

It is what it is…

unless you want it to be something else….

”It is what it is,” the somewhat hackneyed observation goes.

But, as noted by former President Bill Clinton when his ass was up against the wall, that also might “depend on what the meaning of IS, is…”

I was meandering through the day’s offerings of what now passes for “news” the other day and saw that, in spite of efforts to move on by some, Election Delusional Disorder is still very much a part of the scene. I find that annoying. It’s difficult to do so much as contemplate farting without having the Enforcers of one philosophy or the other (there are only two, you know: “my way” or the “highway”) launching their canned litany of labels, banishment edicts, and other dismissive insults.

I’m as guilty at the next person, of course. That’s not by desire, but by default according to my own complaint about the is being what it is. While I readily admit that I do not align with those pigeon-holed as “liberal, progressive, left, what have you,” I vigorously resist their attempts to shove me like a suppository up the tailpipe of the population similarly but oppositely pigeon-holed as “conservative, right wing, what have you.” Truth be told, I am a composite of my own nature, incorporating elements of each as well as some that might defy labeling.

The vitriol may have slowed down, but the momentum is far from having been spent. I must say in their defense that the political parties themselves have been pretty well behaved; the citizenry has not. But, only the ones the media seem to cluster around like hyenas at a fresh kill. In fact, we see some interesting comparisons between legitimate peaceful protests and the inevitable sociopaths just looking for an excuse to cause damage and/or harm.

I don’t lay responsibility for that kind of behavior on any political party or on any candidate.

Such incidents are the sole responsibility of the individuals who choose to act in such a manner, and they should be prosecuted. I include those hiding behind the “race card” and marching around carrying signs proclaiming “Black Lives Matter” as if that phrase serves as tacit license to do anything they please. Those legitimately concerned about issues in our society are the ones quietly working to facilitate real changes more in the manner of Dr. King. The battle cries of the vandals are stupid, and their behaviors are worse.

Somewhere between the idiots just mentioned and those more inclined to act like civilized human beings even when they are angry or disappointed lies a population of passionate supporters of “anybody but Trump” who seem to be having a difficult time letting go and moving forward. They don’t commit arson and vandalism, but they do behave a bit foolishly, with a focus on demanding satisfaction of their personal druthers rather than on supporting the nation’s wellbeing as a whole. They would argue that point, of course, as would I, I suppose, if the shoe was on my foot.

Those burning flags as a viral middle finger gesture, on the other hand, are simply immature and not making statements of any value. Behavioral graffiti. This is touted as a free country, so I suppose that would include the freedom to act like an ass hole. Carry on, then.

If they are stealing the flags to burn, they are guilty of theft. If they are buying them, they are dumber than I thought.

Whatever. Abusing a symbol of what the country values and stands for has little or no affect on the target of their angst. Kind of like letting the air out of your neighbor’s tires because his dog barked in the middle of the night.

Eventually, of course, the personality disordered and terminally preadolescent will become bored and latch onto some fresh issue to justify whatever it is they want to justify, and the passionate will begin to refocus on their personal missions and causes again. Chicken Little will burn out his supply of listeners, will stop running around in circles predicting political doom and gloom, and probably will put on a new sandwich board to scream authoritatively at people about something else.

Regardless of how long it takes to arrive at the next “is” to redefine, I’m sure it will be a long time before one can stop instinctively doing an eye roll when reminiscing about the “Election of 2016.”

 

~-~* * *~-~

 

Posted by: JDM..... | November 12, 2016

Let’s be FAIR……!

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Posted by: JDM..... | November 11, 2016

The résumé…..

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Posted by: JDM..... | November 10, 2016

Once upon a racetrack…

or, stranger things have happened….


Once upon a time there was a race track just outside of the town where differences and stalemates had been settled for generations. It also became a popular event for miles around, whether any scores were being settled or not.

Not long ago, a stranger showed up at the track and announced that he would like to participate. The Powers that Be glanced at his vehicle, assessed the strangers clothing, shoes, hair, and so forth.

“Phhhht..! This for experienced racers, son. You can’t just walk in off the street and start driving a hundred and twenty five miles per hour! You might hurt yourself…..worse yet, you might hurt someone else…”

He nodded at the stranger’s vehicle again.

“…and that ain’t no race car, I’ll tell ya what…!” He tried unsuccessfully to suppress the smirk he felt behind his words. I mean, the car looked very nice, he thought, but certainly it was more suitable for a Sunday afternoon drive than the noise, smoke, and breakneck speeds the stranger was asking to join.

The stranger stood quietly looking around as the man spoke, making eye contact and nodding acknowledgement periodically. The man finished what he had to say and looked expectantly at the stranger, an eyebrow raised and his lips pursed.

“So, when do we start?” the stranger asked with a pleasant smile.

~-~* * *~-~

On the night of his first race, the stranger joined the pack waiting for the flag. His garage kept sedan looked quite out of its element, silently purring amidst the dozen or so brightly painted machines roaring and belching smoke around him, like stags pawing at the ground with their hooves and snorting in preparation for doing battle.

The flag went down and the crowd roared as rubber turned to smoke and noise, engines bellowed, and the mass of metal rocketed away from the starting line and the stranger.

He wasn’t sitting still, of course, and he seemed to be gliding quite nicely into position with the rest of the racers.

The first few laps were like the first few laps of any similar race. Cars jockeyed for key positions, either vying for the lead or setting up to move on it in another lap or two. Two met unfortunately coming out of corner 3, locked together with hopelessly twisted metal, and that was the end of that for them. Another suddenly sank to the back of the group with whom he had been jousting, silently coasting into the pits spewing smoke of a different color.

Nobody noticed at first, but the stranger had managed to get within one car position of the lead. He had come on strong and without hesitation in spite of challenges.

The rest of the contest was all but neck and neck, and when the stranger sailed past the finish line and came around to pick up the checkered flag for his victory lap, people were standing around dumbfounded, especially the erstwhile leader and veteran favorite who had already purchased party favors and rented a hall for the anticipated celebration that evening.

There were accusations of cheating and other denial mechanisms in play for a number of days to follow. Official mechanics and engineers examined his vehicle and he was ordered by the court to provide various samples at the local clinic, but no foul could be called. By some fluke, the stranger had just ambled in one day and beat the pants off of seasoned veterans and professionals.

The reporter smiled as the light on the camera went on. He held the microphone out toward the stranger and asked how in the world he had wandered onto such a field full of seasoned competitors piloting machines boasting all of the latest gadgets, doohickeys, and secret fuel supplements, and cruised so effortlessly across the finish line ahead of them all in a family sedan, a spit shined luxury car.

The stranger smiled back, leaning slightly into the microphone.

“Better driver,” he noted, cocking his head and pursing his lips.

“Better car,” he added, “a really, really great car. I mean it! Great car! I love that car!”

~-~* * *~-~

Posted by: JDM..... | October 27, 2016

Some basics…

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Posted by: JDM..... | October 13, 2016

Donald, Hillary, and the Tooth Fairy…

starring in: The Pathologies of Politics….


Ah, the ubiquitous “experts”. That’s more of a political designation these days than a measure of qualification. I watched the “Invasion of the Wall-hangers” for over fifty years before retiring. Used to be if you could do something skillfully, you were an expert. Today, in keeping with our veneer culture, if you have the right wall-hanger, you are an expert by default. I used to teach a process to graduate students doing clinicals who might eventually sign off on my work because they would have higher degrees than me. But, back to statistics…..the first thing my Statistics professor told the class was “figures don’t lie but liars can figure”. Depends on how the variables are selected, etcetera. In other words, the conflict isn’t as much over the validity of the numbers as it is about who is lying…Surprise, surprise! This time around, lying isn’t a relevant consideration….The people are supposed to select an alleged “leader” based or his or her performance in some national locker room contest of towel snapping, mother cuts, and other low rent grab-ass interactions in partnership with the media, which is Bobbing for Ratings.

I haven’t heard an ISSUE discussed in six months.

~-~* * *~-~

Somehow, we Americans learn at a young age to differentiate the Land of Lala wherein dwell the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, etcetera, from the Land of Real Life. Magic becomes an amusement rather than an environment. We learn that we have to navigate around life’s little lawn cookies instead of expecting some elf to pop out of the ether to smooth our path like the guy with the broom at a curling match.

…Except when it comes to politics and matters of government. Passion and fervor, of course, are absolutely normal. Anyone who doesn’t get fired up about something once in a while either belongs on some serious medications or is on too many already. It becomes problematic, however, when political fervor starts to take on elements of religious fanaticism or maybe even regresses to a resurrection of the Tooth Fairy, on steroids of course, wherein people believe if they leave their intelligence under the pillow, Captain Perfect will save the day. Anybody considering an opposing Tooth Fairy is automatically deemed a Communist, racist, misogynist, or some other pejorative characterization that is socially degrading but not illegal, yet is politically incorrect at the moment.

Here’s the thing…..politicians from the bottom rung up are not all that different from the rest of us. But, just like tall people tend to do better at basketball, certain personality profiles contribute to a person’s success as a politician or public figure. Many start off because they are drawn to being helpful to others and go from there. Some continue on that mission for a lifetime, while others move on up to the Eastside. At some point, a limited number of people in public service metamorphose into Career Politicians. Success in this unique strata, oddly enough, is greatly enhanced by certain personality traits which, in other neighborhoods of the society, may be considered “antisocial” or even sociopathic. Let’s face it, if the average Joe picked up the phone and ordered fifty thousand people to march off into a hail of bullets, or made a decision that would have a negative impact on a million jobs in order to beef up a more favored sector of the economy for a few thousand other jobs there, he’d end up in a rubber room or a rubber bag.

The point is, Presidential politics is largely theater. The public consumes a manufactured review of what’s going on, while Santa’s elves hammer away in the background producing pap to keep everybody well behaved and awestruck while Mom & Popo (metaphorically speaking) kick back with a few stiff drinks and go sit in a couple of bathtubs in the middle of a field. Shhhhh.

The sad part is, while I suspect a majority of the voters understand to some degree that what we see ain’t necessarily the real McCoy, most obediently cheer their particular chosen team on with a blood lust.

In 2016 we will rub the magic lamp for the 45th time, blaming everything from negative-A to negative-Z on selected Genies from among the previous two or three administrations. Once His Nibs’ potential for bestowing gifts upon sycophants nears the “EMPTY” mark, the person in the Big Chair begins taking on more of a “Fair Game” aura.

I look at the whole 2016 shenanigan like some kind of an overly enthusiastic Fraternity Bash gone rogue, and I know from whence I speak in that department from back in the day when, as Social Chairman of one of those entities, I would hire the bands and tell the local distributor to keep the kegs coming till we yelled Kyhpskjl,hnsao. or something like that.

Obviously, this election year presents some remarkable differences from previous ones, at least among the more recent contests. How it will all play out is yet to be seen. Hopefully, some of the hackneyed and timeworn stage scenery will be tossed out, but we need to keep in mind that our view of what’s really occurring will be entirely dependent upon our willingness to personally rip back the curtains, tear down the fake backdrops and get eyeball to eyeball with our heretofore unsupervised Narcissists and Sociopaths whom we’ve entrusted with the Keys to the Country. I don’t know about you, but I’m more than a little curious how a man or a woman can walk through the doors as a relatively Average Joe or Jane and emerge a few short years later borne in a gilded litter, set for life with fantasy pensions and privileges.

Granted, most are well off going in, but it tends to go uphill from there, regardless of the circumstances of the country as a whole.

Now, I happen to believe there are real benefits for the country in putting narcissistic sociopaths in the top positions of leadership, but it is incumbent on us to pay attention, to supervise them without trying to micromanage them, and for us to be willing to turn the fire hoses on them once in a while if need be. And, there will be.

 

~-~* * *~-~

 

Posted by: JDM..... | September 5, 2016

Public servants have a choice…

They can lead, or the people will ….

Law enforcement officers have many tools at their disposal for the wide variety of situations they may find themselves in at any given time. Some of those situations may be dangerous or life threatening, some are not, but all must be approached with an awareness of that potential. While keeping in mind that various representatives of the media have their own perspectives and agendas, some incidents that we see on the news clearly show interactions with the public that seem to violate the limits of common sense and necessity. It is difficult to defend pepper spraying an 84 year old woman, or Tasing someone simply because they fail to follow an officer’s orders, which may be yelled in a threatening and traumatizing manner. Certainly, in the science of achieving rapid control of dangerous situations and dangerous people, the “shock and awe” ploy is highly effective and probably saves lives. As a former substance abuse counselor and staff member on a psychiatric unit, I have used the verbal components of the technique myself to distract and gain control. What seems to be missing in those incidents when the behavior of the police tends to raise eyebrows, however, is reasonable restraint on the part of the officers.

I suspect the propensity for the pile on first and assess later approach is due to a combination of culture, training, and the absence of consequences for actions that exceed certain limits that would undoubtedly result in prosecution for a civilian.

Simply reaching for the service weapon or Taser when an addled octogenarian or a non-threatening secondary party fails to “sit-down-turn-around-get-on-the-ground-walk-backwards-show-me-your-hands” in a timely manner is unjustifiable.

Adrenaline is a powerful force, opening a direct line to our most basic and primitive survival instincts. Much has been said about the need for law enforcement personnel to be extraordinarily aware of this and to develop procedures for preventing the phenomenon from affecting behavior in their interactions with both the offending and non offending public. I seriously doubt if any of these officers would Tase one of their own children for failing to obey with military precision. That example is not as ridiculous as it may sound to some. I recall an educational film from my Behavioral Health days that told the story of a Marine officer that was unable to change roles when he was at home and how his demeanor and conduct affected family members and the family as a unit.

When a police officer gets a call and heads for the scene, he or she references a vast mental library of training and experiential learning to pre-assess the situation, and, when arriving on scene, has to reassess and prioritize responses and intervention options. This is, or should be, a major part of the training they receive, and it should be an unending process of regular retraining to keep it fresh. While there are significant differences between a police officer’s job and the ones I did, my experiences on the psychiatric unit and some of those encountered by police officers do share some things in common. Whenever we entered a new space, we consciously assessed the environment and the people in it. This was even more acute when summoned to an incident. Appropriate interventions needed to be second nature to us. However, If I had thrown an unruly or disruptive patient to the ground and repeatedly beaten him or her into submission, I would still be in prison, and rightly so. Yet we hear of such actions by police officers on a regular basis. Some incidents are even captured on video. Departments invariably jump to the defense of officers involved, almost as a matter of normal procedure, and either deliver an empty “We’re looking into it,” or state that the officers were justified in their actions. Horse manure. If anything, police officers should be held to a higher standard, not given a pass.

How do we change this? By “we” I really mean you, me, and every other concerned person in any given community. We need to be aware, observe, ask questions, participate in local meetings or government, and insist on the establishment of appropriate standards along with review and response procedures for incidents where those standards are not met or are violated. Training often hits the cutting room floor when budget time rolls around. This must be assessed and corrected. When one is dealing with human lives, training is indispensible.

I once was a trainer of intervention techniques at the hospital where I worked, a member of the team who not only were first responders, but who strived to ensure that any staff member who had direct contact with patients or visitors was properly trained in the arts of de-escalation, communication, redirection, and effective but appropriate physical restraint techniques when needed. I dare say I have observed news clips and selected videos on line where subjects I would have tried to deescalate, and probably could have done so, were Tased, beaten, or even shot. No unarmed person who is not clearly presenting a threat of immediate lethality should ever be subjected to lethal force. Ever. Gaining obedience or compliance should never be held as justification for hitting, either with a closed fist or an implement such as a service baton, throwing to the ground, Tasing, pointing a service weapon at, or even shooting, a subject by a police officer. Vigorous, redundant training in making split second differentiation between whether a person is holding a cell phone or a gun should be a matter of course. Perhaps it is already. If so, do it more.

Are there times when a subject wielding a knife can be justifiably shot? Sure. If the subject has physical control of another person and an assault is believed to be imminent, I would be inclined to shoot the knife wielder. If the knife wielder was within reach or striking distance of another person and I believed the person to be in immediate threat of harm, I would be inclined to shoot the knife wielder. The preferred tool for intervening with someone wielding a knife, stick, or some other non-firearm weapon should almost always be a Taser or other non-lethal weapon.

CULTURE

In recent years, especially since the events of September 11, 2001, non-federal law enforcement interests have been progressively militarized. This is a mistake. Even during the violence of the sixties, police forces were generally armed and uniformed like traditional police officers, and when responses of a military nature were deemed necessary, National Guard units were activated in their respective states.

For the past twenty years or so, we have had a constant stream of combat veterans returning home to civilian life, and police work is an easy segue for many of them. They are well trained, experienced in handling dangerous situations, and combat experience today tends to earn a kind of lay beatification. One should not interpret my words as suggesting I don’t support our military. My extended family is full of retired career military personnel, my daughter is a veteran of Desert Shield-Desert Storm, and my son-in-law is on active duty with nearly 25 years in. More than combat readiness is required by a local police officer, however, and in fact should be a secondary skill for when nothing else works. And if the returning soldier carries any unaddressed, lingering effects from being in a combat area, they might not be ready to work in a field where they could easily be “triggered”.

I have an abiding respect for police officers and others in public service who risk their own safety for the well being of others. That doesn’t mean I condone the bad apples, overlook the shortcomings in some departments, or wear one of those “My country Right or Wrong” hats. It is in the best interests of our country and our local communities to deal with problems when they arise, not to cover them up because they are unpleasant or may require “politically incorrect” statements and actions. I’m not afraid to call things as I see them.

People wonder why the police in troublesome areas have such negative relationships with the local citizens. They shouldn’t. They need only observe the equipment readily available and often used in some areas. They need only observe and understand the culture and battlefield mentality that dominates so many men and women whose job description is a bit of an Orwellian “Newspeak” version of “Peace Officer”. The iconic “Officer Clancey” is a myth of questionable validity from the distant past.

This needs to change. It won’t change by increasing the violence and “Storm Trooper” methodology. It will begin to change when law enforcement blinks first and opens the door to reestablishing a civilian relationship with local populations. The police must lead, and it is up to the rest of us to lead them in turn.

This will be no easy task as the entire nation has taken on a decidedly military demeanor since 911. Government has become more centralized, more warlike, and more prescriptive in its dealings with the citizenry. We have a President who prefers to “rule” by Executive Order rather than “lead” through traditional statesmanship. We have a do-nothing Congress more interested in maintaining their seats for life and, apparently, extending their power, than in taking the risk to do what they were elected to do.

We have work to do, you and I. The year 1776 came and went a very long time ago, but I hope the spirit that drove it is alive and preparing to come out of hibernation, view its surroundings, inhale and assess the air, and………

 

~-~* * *~-~

 

Posted by: JDM..... | August 7, 2016

Legacy to choose…

…and, this would be very sad.

It can change, and there’s a lot of talk about that going around these days, from both sides of the issue. So, right now it looks like the question seems to be, who’s going to blink first? Who should blink first?

If you think the street folks need to clean up their act before the police can ease up, you’re wrong.

That’s expecting an awful lot from a group that is, by definition, incapable of, or unwilling to play by the rules. These are angry, powerless people. The “good guys” have been unable to get them under control for decades, in spite of ramping up procedures and equipment so it’s hard to distinguish your friendly neighborhood Officer Toohey from a grunt getting ready to go plink a few Taliban. And some people expect a jaded public to trust these guys and feel safe?

These are not safe times. I want my local police to be trained to handle violence if it occurs, but I don’t want them to look or act like they’re trolling for it.

My critical rhetoric does not mean I’m anti-law enforcement. I’m not. I am ant-unnecessary violence and peacekeepers with chips on their shoulders operating in a culture of superiority, power, and unquestionable authority. That has to change, and it has to change yesterday. The onus is on the ones with the power and pseudo-control to blink first. Only then can they achieve real control to any extent.

I was never a police officer, but I worked with a difficult population myself. I worked at a local medical center where they had residential and outpatient substance abuse treatment programs, as well as a detox unit, and a locked, inpatient psychiatric facility. I worked in all aspects of the substance abuse modality…the detox, the residential treatment program, and the outpatient department. I worked with what we then called “dual diagnosis” patients, those with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse issues. I also did educational lectures, spoke at some local colleges, and was a “trainer” in de-escalation and non-violent restraint and control methods for a time. For the last seven or eight years before I retired, I worked on the psychiatric floor. Have I looked down the barrel of a gun? Yes. Have I had to defend myself? Yes. How many of those who discount me or my opinion have sat with a phone in each hand, one connected to the local police and the other connected to some guy sitting in a motel room with a fifth of whiskey and a loaded .357 magnum trying to decide which to stick in his mouth? He lived. He got treatment. I don’t know what happened after that.

I didn’t have any weapon but my brain. While I am sure law enforcement personnel would vigorously state that they also have a brain and that it is their first line of defense. I’m sure it is. I don’t dispute that. I worked with some excellent police and probation officers. But the news has far too many stories about incidents where the responders drew their weapons first and then decided what to do. An awful lot of the suspects killed or seriously wounded by gunshots turn out to be unarmed. It is a culture problem, not an individual problem.

If you live in an environment where the norm is to say “Gimme the f—— potatoes” at the dinner table, you’re most likely to say the same thing at the church supper. If police shootings were prosecuted and investigated without bias, the culture would change.

When I entered a new room or area at the hospital, I “assessed” continuously, looking for body language, facial expressions, and movement that signaled potential trouble. When it occurred, I tried to de-escalate the situation first. I tried verbal interventions, some of them bizarre. I once distracted an out of control man by walking up and asking him if he had change for a dollar, which enabled a coworker to restrain him. As a next-to-last response, I might use physical restraint, or call a “code” to summon security and trained staff from around the hospital. As a last resort, we’d call the police if the subject was especially large and/or dangerous.

I often wonder if some of the techniques we used wouldn’t work for law enforcement. If you can de-escalate, you have control. If you jump right to physical intervention in order to gain control, de-escalation is a moot point.

Why do police officers draw their weapons as a matter of course? At point-blank range, facing a single subject, why not start with a Taser? How about when facing a man approaching with a knife, without knowing if he is deranged rather than a felon? Is it acceptable to shoot and kill him? Wouldn’t it be better to disable him with a non-fatal tool first? If someone was shooting at me or appeared ready to do so, I would shoot back, or even first. I really don’t think firearms are necessary or justified most times when they are drawn. They are drawn to intimidate in, order to gain control. It may or may not work. There are other ways to get control, without firearms. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

But they should be used first.

The secondary gain from this change in culture and thinking on the part of the police very well could be the improved community relations and diminishing violence that is being talked about so much.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | August 4, 2016

ONE category of human being…

with 7 billion unique versions….

One Bill of Rights, 324 million equally qualified beneficiaries………..I’m neither the first one to say it nor is this the first time I have said it myself, language is one of our greatest barriers to peace and harmony. It isn’t guns, Liberals, Democrats, conservatives, Republicans, spics, niggers, kikes, chinks, the rich, the welfare community, or any of those that are the only things to get more index finger time than the average human nostril.

First of all, language is an imprecise tool for communicating, even between individuals who know each other quite well. My wife and I have been married for twenty five years, we are “best friends,” and hardly a week goes by when one of us doesn’t wear that blank look and say “What do you mean?”

What am building up to is saying without reservation that one of the most misunderstood and miscommunicated words in the English language today is “equal” and its several cognates such as equality, equity, equalization, and so forth. We are not equal. People, even identical twins, are not, and cannot be equal. Different individuals interpret and understand “equal” differently, and in the political arena, it goes downhill from there.

Politics dominates the air like low tide in July, generating many exchanges regarding preferred interpretations of “equality”. I saw a comment on line the other day that inspired my thinking about this topic. A young woman was angrily insinuating that females, people of color, and several other prime qualifiers were treated unequally because of their unique claims of identity. Think about that for a moment. Not quite O’Henry, but delightfully ironic. We see this often; someone roars about their unique qualities which they believe entitle them to special consideration, yet in the same sentence will rail against being treated differently than the average non-affiliated person. She had demands about “equality”, yet was immovably adamant that white males did not, and cannot, get it. What does she want? What do the other people with similar views want? Of equal importance, potential pun acknowledged, how do other people interpret and respond to what they are verbalizing?

Since this is my rant, that is probably about as much leeway as I am going to grant those who fit the profile to which I will be alluding here. Essentially subjective comments ensue.

No See-Saw stays level for long

We are not equal. On some as yet unknown sub-atomic level, perhaps there is a state of pure “equality”, but we’re not talking about physics or even philosophy. Ask Stephen Hawking about such things. We’re debating the meaning of “equality” in the context of a society, a culture, personal experience, and dozens of other factors that may affect an individual’s concept of self and how he or she compares or relates to others. Trying to select and sort the factors in some meaningful arrangement and of standardized measurement and valuation is like trying to pick the winning lottery number, except with a lottery there is a genuine possibility of picking the right number. In the drama of humanity: whenever someone comes up with “the” answer, the question changes.

Demands for equality are unrealistic and misguided, not necessarily because they are unreasonable but because of the difficulties inherent to the process of whittling away the material that doesn’t belong and arriving at a finished product that represents the nearest common denominator of our maximum concessions. Imagine a dozen people given one block of wood, some tools, and tasked with creating a sculpture that is satisfactory to each. That sculpture is entitled:

EQUAL

One concession that has not yet been seriously considered, apparently, is simply accepting that we are different, We do have unique qualities. We simultaneously admire the exotic and covet the qualities therein that we believe give the exotic an edge. I think most understand that, but the ones in the media give the impression that they might have confused equal with identical, need with merit, want with deserve. Revisiting Stephen Hawking for a moment, I think some believe they live in a quantum universe, wherein if they say they want to be somewhere, then they are, if they want to be something, then they are.

The human species has survived for a rather long time, in spite of our penchant for not playing well with others and recreational homicide, so it is clear that concession is an actively practiced social skill. It is, however, quite rudimentary in that we clearly still prefer killing each other, literally or symbolically.

Perhaps we, as a species, are maxed out in our ability to simultaneously compromise and play King of the Mountain.

Athletic competition is as old as conflict, perhaps initially born as a natural animal process of determining pecking order and so forth. Perhaps it grew out early methods of training for organized fighting among groups. Eventually, it came to actually replace battlefield “combat”, an interesting development of “concession” and “compromise” that allowed our predecessors to retain the requisite violence, while reducing the level of mortality involved in conflict resolution. Well, this occurred in some circles, but not all, and the “give me your stuff and your obedience or I’ll kill you” gene is still looking for an acceptable mutation to try on.

Mankind saw birds and wanted to fly, and the species decorated many an escarpment with its physical essence before someone invented aeroplanes, a reasonable and universally accepted substitute for the unachievable Real McCoy, and significantly less fatal.

Similar adjustments need to be made in the way people are learning to coexist in a world that has metaphorically “shrunk” while the population has grown without sacrificing our individuality, and without enslaving or killing each other. There have been estimates offered that 8,000 years ago, there were about 5 million people on the earth. Wow! Everyone had his or her own 7,360 acres! By the time the North American continent was being infested with Narcissistic colonists, it had jumped to anywhere from about 500 million to about 578 million. “America” had about 4,700 people in 1630, but, of course, “people” referred to Europeans. Depending on where one looks, estimates of aboriginal peoples would be an additional one million to 18 million.

I researched the following for my grandson back in 2010 and still find it interesting:

When my grandfather was born, the population of the United States was 50,189,209. There were only 38 states in the Union then, and the US Cavalry was still fighting with the Apache, Sioux, Nez Pierce, Cheyenne, and other native peoples of the far west.

There were no automobiles, airplanes, radios, or televisions. Goods were transported by horse drawn wagons, rail, or by sea. Although steam was coming into use on the ocean, sailing ships were still the primary vessels of commerce until after my grandfather finished school and began his first job. I recall one of my grandmothers remarking how she found it amazing that she had gone to school in a horse drawn cart and did her homework by the light of a whale oil lamp, yet lived to see the television broadcast of a man walking on the moon. A lifetime can seem rather short when we look at it from a different perspective.

Try looking at it this way:

  • When my grandfather was born, the population of the country was 50,189,209.

  • When my father was born, the population of the country was 100,546,000.

  • When I was born, the population of the country was 138,397,345.

  • When my daughter was born, the population of the country was 205,052,174.

  • When my grandson was born, the population of the country was 303,202,683.
    The population of the USA this morning was about 309,620,000 (2010 figure. The current 2016 figure is 324, 158,869).

Or, how about this?

  • The World population when my grandfather was born was about 1.4 billion.

  • The World population when my father was born was about 1.8 billion.

  • The World population when I was born was about 2.4 billion.

  • The World population when my daughter was born was about 3.7 billion.

  • The World population when my grandson was born was about 6.65 billion.

  • The World population today is about 6,854,834,551 (6.85 billion).

Remember the estimate of 5 million for a world population ten thousand years ago? We’ve gone from that to 7 billion in 10 thousand years

The world population was still less than a billion when the Colonists said sayonara, and few other things, I’m sure, to the British back in 1776. It has grown more than 614% since then. No wonder things get noisy!

How about population density? Using the present day 7 billion population figure and the 197 million square mile estimate of the earth’s surface, there is a “mathematical” density of 35.53 people per square mile. Start subtracting uninhabited places like Antarctica and the middle of the ocean and that figure quickly jumps to 130 and more. The numbers aren’t really important, though. What is important is that even when there was only .03 of a person per square mile (odd, I shouldn’t think .03 of a person would be much more than a smirk before the fact), they’d find something to disagree on, so it is no wonder we have problems today.

Not that everybody is running around in loincloths carrying bludgeons and looking for somebody to talk to about Jesus, or oil, or anything else like that. An awfully large number of people are really basically OK. The fact that John may annoy his neighbor Bob doesn’t mean diddly squat, unless, of course, Bob happens to be one of the rest of the population who I haven’t talked about yet.

Again, I’m not trying to suggest that anybody is defective just because I find it in my heart to critique their lifestyles and favorite vegetables (more O’Henry), but they could be. They also could just be deeply concerned about personal space and personal safety in this bumper to bumper universe. Methodology is everything. Some people measure the integrity of their personal space by measuring the integrity of their personal space, and assess their personal safety by assessing what everyone else is doing. Some measure the integrity of their personal space by checking the “infrastructure”, though I haven’t a clue what that metaphor refers to. Basically, I guess, they assess their own well being by assessing their own well being. Safety, of course, requires awareness of one’s surroundings and those who pose a threat, but there are 7 billion other people on this rock and that’s a lot of other people’s business to keep track of. Various counselors and other mental health professionals are afforded a lucrative market by those who assess their own wealth by checking to see how much the other guy has in his pocket. Nothing new. I’m sure the Shamen, et al, of yore were similarly engaged.

Things are decidedly different in some respects, though. Being afraid the nut-ball in the adjoining cave might make spaghetti out of your head with a rock is a little different than worrying that some schmuck in a knock-off Giorgio Armani suit made out of C-4 might decide to shop at your favorite mall.

***

Okay, Tipperary and my original point about communication and the word “equal” are both a long way off, so perhaps I should return to the business at hand, though I believe my meanderings do serve to set the table, so to speak.

So, equality as we know it is the flattened quiche of good intentions. This much misunderstood quality refers, in the Constitution, to the equal RIGHTS of all people to the benefits laid out in that document, and equal ACCESS to justice and to the freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Constitution of the United States of America doesn’t say pfffft about hurt feelings, insults, No Child Left Behind, or any of that home made horse puckey. Besides, what if some Child didn’t want to go in the first place? Offering a leg up to someone in need is an admirable quality; turning it into a career can be indistinguishable from exploitation. It is opportunity that is promised, not achievement, not a shortcut, not a free pass. Achievement, like eating, is a first-person activity.

Along those lines, we have a sub-population of people who really believe they have the right and an obligation to micromanage my life, and everyone else’s, for the “common good” or some other such Neolithic rationalization for taking control of the galaxy, usually for a lucrative fee and generous retirement benefits. Sometimes just because of some compulsion to “count coup” or act out some other pathology on friends, family, and anyone else who fits the need of the moment.

Humanity is not likely to play nice with others as a species characteristic any time soon, and certainly not if self-anointed Play-Nice Police grab those who don’t know their Company Song by the throat to “teach” them. We may evolve into it some eon down the road, but I really would prefer that the peers among whom my descendants dwell carry a gene that thinks it’s a dandy idea to help out the neighbor in need of some help as well as the gene that tells them that nothing else about that neighbor’s life is any of their goddamned business.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | August 3, 2016

Open letter to SCOTUS

….Imploring Justices to do their jobs…..

I’m not sure what the correct procedure is, so I will proceed in the manner which I sense is appropriate. After 72 years, I suspect I’ve waded through enough nonsense to find the high ground when I need to.

I implore the Court to review the appearance of the “hate crime” on the American judicial doorstep in recent years. I’ll be blunt. This is among the deepest examples of nonsense to which I referred above. It violates the First Amendment in so many ways. It is entirely constructed as one of those “add-ons” to provide extra leverage and with which to apply our fundamental laws of person and property differently at will.

I’m no lawyer, but I’m reasonably bright and “hate-law” doesn’t sound very American or very constitutional to me.

If I am pummeled into pudding, or worse, the resume and mood ring results of my assailant is irrelevant. Whether an assailant abuses me because he wants my stuff, because I beat him to the last parking space, or because he despises everything about me including my genealogy matters not one whit. A man murdered in 2016 is no more or less dead than one who suffered the same fate was long before the concept of using the presumed thoughts and feelings of a defendant to elevate the significance of a spitball to that of .357 magnum came into fashion.

If I had been prosecuted for every antisocial, rude, nasty, terrible thought that I have harbored over my lifetime, even Hell would turn me away when my time comes. Most of us would. The rest are lying. I was taught that behavior was what one had to manage. If my sister and I became embroiled in a name calling melee, which was known to happen from time to time, we were apprised of what was appropriate and what was not. Foul language taught me the taste of Ivory soap. The government taught me nothing, nor should it have

I knew the traditional profanities by first grade, and I learned the broad lexicon of nicknames and put-downs for every nationality and ethnicity by the time I reached high school, and I continued to learn of new ones as I moved around the country over the years. I am not unique.

Despite my internal shortcomings, I have managed to avoid legal entanglements, except for a few adolescent missteps, earned a commission in the USNR, graduated from college, and retired from my eventual career as a counselor at the local medical center. I have fully supported the idea of changing how our social and cultural differences are handled, and we have come a long way. The problem is, we have gone too far and some of the methodology has had paradoxical effects.

The “hate crime” idea has unsavory parallels on many fronts, past and present

Review the “hate crime” trick. It is wrong. It breeds resentment and division rather than tolerance and unity. Condemn it. It’s bad law. Please.

Respectfully,

J. Marsh

 

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