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Bits and Pieces 4

Bits and Pieces 4

Just a few things that have been rattling around in my mind’s attic…

Oh thank you Supreme Court and Fox News for informing us that racism is dead in this country. I’m sure that all those unarmed African Americans who have been shot by white police officers can take comfort in that their deaths weren’t racially motivated at all. And I’m sure Native Americans were thrilled to discover that “Redskin” is actually a name of honor, meant to convey respect to their people and their culture. We sure don’t need those pesky protections from the Voter Rights Act.

So why is it that African American males are involved in police shootings at an inordinate rate? Me, I think they should exercise their Second Amendment rights and start open carrying. Might as well if they’re going to get shot anyway; at least they have a fighting chance to defend themselves. I’m sure though we won’t hear the NRA supporting their Second Amendment rights because, after all, they’re the criminals right?

And while we’re on the subject of open carry, what are these morons trying to prove? And yes, they ARE morons. There is no intelligence being displayed here; only some sort of primal male ego thing of showing what a badass we are. I found the one open carry guy who was robbed of his gun at gunpoint to be one of the most hysterical things I’ve heard recently. Talk about karma.

But I digress. Why do you need to have a weapon on display when you’re walking around? Are you that afraid to go to your local Wal-Mart? Maybe some homeless guy is going to drag you into an alley and rape you right in the tush? Puh-lease. You might as well drive to work in a tank and carry around a bazooka wherever you go. If you can’t make it from point A to point B without a loaded weapon in your belt you probably shouldn’t leave the house. Maybe you should just kill yourself before the criminal hordes come to get you.

Can we take a deep breath for a moment and try not to panic about Ebola? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very serious disease and it shouldn’t be taken lightly, but for one thing, it’s not coming into this country from Mexico, it’s not a plot from the President and you can’t catch it from breathing the same air as a victim of the disease. It can only be transmitted through things like blood, vomit or feces. If you don’t come into contact with any bodily excretions, secretions or waste, you’re not going to get it. It doesn’t work that way. If you’re still a little shook up, wash your hands regularly. Like more than once a day – I’m talking about after every meal or before and after you go out. Use soap and water or a good sanitizer. You’ll be okay. And don’t travel to West Africa if you’re really concerned. Plenty of people there don’t have the disease and Liberia is claiming it will be eradicated there by Christmas.

Many who know me will tell you that I am not a believer in organized religion. I find there to be too much hypocrisy in the leaderships of various churches. However, listening to Bill Maher’s diatribe against Muslims and then his debate with Ben Affleck made me a little bit uncomfortable. Certainly there are a lot of Muslims who believe in things like honor killings, execution for apostasy and female genital mutilation and those things are indeed barbaric. However, if you look closely at the numbers from the Pew poll where much of this information comes from, you’ll see that the people who believe this are mainly in the Middle East, in places like Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen to name a few; Muslims from Europe and the Americas tend to be against these things. Honor killings predate Islam by the way; Arabs were engaging in that behavior even before Muhammad was even a twinkle in his daddy’s eye. It’s a cultural thing that should not be tolerated but an entire belief system shouldn’t be torn apart because of some regions where the religion is very strong subscribe to it.

Religious fanaticism is a bad thing regardless of what religion it is. Fanaticism is all about intolerance, a desire to feel superior to others. My religion is better than your religion and if you’re not a part of my religion then you deserve to die. It’s one of the reasons I prefer to have faith in a greater power rather than subscribing to any specific religion. That doesn’t mean religious organizations don’t do a lot of good around the world as they have done throughout history, or provide comfort to those who subscribe to them. That’s all well and good and I would never want to see a world without religion. However, they are also responsible for a lot of bad things, like jihads and crusades and inquisitions and wars. I have always believed that true faith is a subscription to peace and tolerance, allowing all to believe as they wish without penalty.

When you say that Islam is about death, intolerance and ignorance you then have to figure out a way to explain the golden years of Islam when the Middle East was a center for learning, architecture and peace. During the Middle Ages caliphs and imams were far more tolerant than their Christian counterparts and welcomed Jewish and Christian scholars to their universities. I can’t explain how things changed and grew so extreme over the centuries but you can’t say how barbaric the religion is without explaining what it has been.

Social media has become a kind of community in and of itself. It is a means of informing the world of who we are, and yet I think we’ve erected walls around ourselves that are even taller and more impenetrable than ever. We share everything about our lives – what we’re eating, what movie we’re seeing, which parties we’re attending – and yet we know less about each other than we ever have. How often do you really open up and post something about how you feel, and I’m not talking about politics here. I’m talking about YOU, who you ARE, what you’re all ABOUT. What makes you tick? What keeps you getting out of bed every morning? What do you dream about, wish for, hope for?

We’re a world of enigmas, everything on the surface is on display but nothing about what’s inside. We can scream and shout about Obama or abortion or whatever the topic of the day is, or get catty about what Beyonce is wearing or who’s playing Batman or what that bitch just said to you. We communicate in memes and soundbites. All style, no substance.

It takes courage to show the world who you are and what you stand for. Not many can. Most of us are too worried about what others think about us to be real. I’ve learned in my years that it’s okay to offend. It’s okay to take offense. Real maturity comes in understanding that we’re not going to agree on everything. Some things about you might rub me the wrong way. Some things about me might drive you nuts. That doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. There folks in my life who think very differently than I do. They are at the opposite end of the political spectrum, have different personal philosophies of life and/or a different way of doing things. That’s all good. It doesn’t make them bad people, nor does it make me a bad person.

We’re all unique and we should be proud of who we are. There’s no shame in supporting Israel, or in voting Democrat, or in wearing Crocs, or subscribing to Maxim, or following Big Brother. I can be friends with just about anyone as long as they respect who I am and what I stand for and allow me to be who I am. I’d much rather be friends though with someone who stands up and says “I believe differently than you” rather than someone who agrees with me just to avoid conflict. My friends Louis and John, both die-hard conservatives, disagree with just about everything that I believe in politically. We often have heated conversations about it, and while I occasionally will see their point and sometimes change my mind on certain matters, most of the time it’s just stating opposing positions. We don’t always talk politics; I appreciate Louis’ humor and his ongoing friendship and John’s faith and service to his students – he teaches and coaches at a Southern California high school. I’m proud to call them friends. They are who they are and I wouldn’t want them any other way and I respect that they have the courage to say who they are. That’s what friendship is about, isn’t it?

So while they’re tickled pink about the mid-term results, I’m obviously less happy about it. I see a country that has become a shadow of itself. It allows a small minority to dictate terms to the rest of us, while we sit back and play Call of Duty. Yet when that duty calls in our real lives, how do we answer? By not voting. About a third of this country’s eligible voters cast their ballots in the recent mid-terms. Many young voters and minority voters stayed away from the polls. I know some have an aversion to voting, feeling like they don’t understand the issues or know the candidates well enough to make intelligent choices. Others feel that no matter who they vote for, it isn’t going to make a difference. Still others just don’t want to take the time and effort to either fill out a ballot and mail it or go to a polling place. The other 364 days of the year they tend to be the loudest bitchers and moaners too.

I don’t agree that this Republican sweep was necessarily the will of the people, as the Republicans seem to think it is. It is the will of a bit more than half of 37% of the people. That’s about 20% of the eligible voters decided that we’re going to be bearing right for the next two years and that they’re perfectly happy with the worst Congress in the history of this country. However, since 63% of the country didn’t vote, the will of the people turns out to not give a crap. Which is essentially the message we send to those who are running the country.

We are responsible for caring. We owe it to ourselves, our family and our posterity. We take advantage of the freedoms that this country provides and yet we choose not to answer that call of duty when it comes in November. WE THE PEOPLE have to get out of the mindset that our vote doesn’t count for anything, that it doesn’t matter whether we vote or not. It matters. Because the government that makes our lives better, worse or indifferent is elected by those who do care. And if you feel “Well, I’m in a Gerrymandered district so there’s no point,” then make it a point to make your voice heard in other ways. Not just as anonymous posts on the Internet but in concrete, positive ways. If you’re satisfied with things the way they are then by all means, do what you’re doing. If you’re not though, take action. Fight for your country – if not in the military but here at home. It deserves your defense.

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Bits and Pieces 3

BBits and Pieces 3

Here are a few things on my mind that I really didn’t feel the need to devote a full blog to…

I don’t understand the whole twerking thing. I mean, what’s the attraction? Simulating sex on the dance floor? I mean, haven’t we been doing that for a long while? So what if Miley Cyrus is out there twerking at the VMAs. What’s the big deal? I swear, I think there are more people fretting over her dance moves than they are over the prospect of sending troops to Syria. And you wonder why this country is in such big trouble? Okay, I think I’ve used up my quota for question marks in a single paragraph…

This country continues to wallow in obesity and yet when the First Lady suggests that it might be a better idea if our children exercised more and ate better, she gets outraged Fox News types excoriating her for telling people how to raise their kids. First of all you jerkwads, it’s a suggestion and as it so happens, a good one. Too many of our kids spend far more time playing videogames, texting their friends and surfing the net than they do getting out there playing. Play stimulates the imagination which is good for the brain but it also allows for physical exertion which is good for the body. And since obesity is at record levels among our kids, may I suggest that people who have an issue with anyone telling them how to raise their precious demonic spawn take the Big Mac out of their pieholes, get off their fat asses and have some fun with their kids. And shut the hell up while you’re at it.

For all of you Internet fanboys who had a coronary when it was announced that Ben Affleck would be the next Batman you can shut the hell up too. And isn’t your mom calling you to take out the trash? Jesus, the guy hasn’t even seen a script yet and you’re already demanding that he be fired. Everyone who’s ever done the role has gotten ripped a new one by pimply-faced keyboard jockeys who labor under the mistaken impression that anybody gives a crap what they think. Me, I’m looking forward to it. I may just buy fifty tickets to see it and pay people to come with me and give Affleck a standing ovation every time he comes onscreen. If you’re so knowledgeable about proper casting for a Batman movie, why don’t you see if you can get Warners to give you $200 million to make your version. Since that’s not going to happen, be quiet and let the adults enjoy the movie. Twerps.

I remember when Da Queen and I first got married. It seemed that every unexpected bill we got was for $60. We used to joke about it that we were being skinned alive, $60 worth of skin at a time. Then, when we bought our home, all those little expenses were $200.. That was just 12 years ago. Of late that number has increased to $900. By the time I hit retirement, I fully expect that number to hit $10,000. When it gets to that point, I advocate eating the rich. Not a new suggestion, I know but a timeless one nonetheless.

The execution of a convicted multiple murderer was postponed – so the Attorney General could attend a re-election fundraiser. And the governor approved it – after the execution had been stayed twice previously. I’m not a big believer in capital punishment but if you’re going to do it, get it done. And get this – the Attorney General ran on a platform pledging fewer delays in carrying out capital punishment. Apparently only when it’s convenient to her. Welcome to Flori-duh.

I see that John Alleman, the unofficial mascot of the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas, has passed away – of a heart attack. For those unfamiliar with the place, it’s a chain of hamburger joints that prides itself on its unhealthy cuisine – the quadruple bypass burger, which includes four 1/2 pound patties, eight slices of American cheese, bacon and a lard-coated bun, is close to 10,000 calories – five times what normal adults are supposed to consume in an entire day. It also allows customers over 350 pounds to eat free. There are those who are snickering that this is poetic justice although there is evidence that Alleman was genetically predisposed to cardiac issues – his parents both passed away of heart attacks in their 50s. Now, I don’t think anybody put a gun to Alleman’s head and said you MUST eat these hamburgers. That was his own choice. Personally, I think the hamburgers are a bit extreme – but if someone wants to sell them and someone want to buy them, that’s perfectly all right by me. On this subject I’m an utter capitalist – if nobody buys the burgers, they’ll stop selling them. As the Checkers hamburger chain says in their ads, You Gotta Eat.

In the last year or so I’ve kind of gotten fed up with the tenor of disagreements on the Internet. People are getting more shrill and nasty when responding to an opinion they disagree with. I’ve always tried to be as polite as possible when responding and tried to use logic and restraint when explaining my contrasting view. I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the people who are responding like they’re having some sort of seizure at the very thought of a conflicting opinion do not deserve my civility. So you’ll see me using terms like “dumbass” and “imbecile” more often. In other words, get the hell off my lawn.

Da Queen and I went to see a movie at our local multiplex on a Sunday morning not long ago and as is our wont, arrived half an hour early in order to get the seats we wanted – the kind with rails in front of them so we could stretch our legs. In the particular theater we were in, there are three sets of seats so arranged – one in the center and one on each side. The theater was empty when we arrived so we sat down with our enormous soft drinks and watched the pre-show (Da Queen playing games on her smart phone) when an older couple came in and sat down in the same row next to the seat where Da Queen had put her purse. We exchanged looks but said nothing  – until the guy stood up and asked if we were saving that seat. When we said no, he picked up her purse and put it in her lap, sitting down in the seat next to her. We of course, objected in the strongest terms possible. He said that he needed to put his feet up because of his bad knees. We pointed out that there were other seats where he could do that but of course none of them were in the center. I’m sure that the rude dumbass imbecile (see, I got ’em all in) in question isn’t reading this but I let him have it after Da Queen left the theater. People like that don’t fool me for a second and their age doesn’t excuse inexcusable behavior. It wasn’t like he didn’t have other options and you never EVER touch a woman’s purse without permission, nor do you just assume that if the theater is empty that you have permission to sit directly next to somebody. What I SHOULD have done was shove his bucket of popcorn up his sphincter one kernel at a time, and then use the entire gigantic bucket as a cardboard butt plug and if anyone ever does that to my wife ever again, that’s exactly what will happen. Either that or I’ll just call the cops and press charges of assault against the mother effers. Either one – take your pick.

Fortunately, there are a lot of good, decent people in the world and just when I’m losing my faith in the human race and figure a chance meteorite strike that wipes all life out on this miserable rock would do the universe a favor I run into one – or two- or many. I think it’s this shrinking pool of goodness that is keeping the meteors away because the bad juju is building up something fierce. Still, those who put themselves out there and send out love into the world, who sacrifice for their kids and put the needs of their families and friends ahead of their own and treat their friends like family – well, they’re the reason that the apocalypse has been staved off for now. So if you should see Mike Trippett, Amy Murray, Tara-Marie Buckley, Eric Lison, Jennifer Gorsuch Akers or Ruthanne Drew, shake their hands and thank them. Without their efforts, no doubt there would be rocks falling out of the sky. These are people who have been through some pretty tough times and have managed to do those things I mentioned despite things that would have turned me into an even worse curmudgeon than I already am. They are people I admire and respect and they are owed some good karma, the lot of them. Be kind and generous to them.  They deserve it.