How To Be Taken Seriously

Serious

PLEASE ENSURE MIND IS IN MOTION BEFORE ENGAGING MOUTH

Whoever you are, whether Christian Apologist, Flat Earther, Immigration Protester, or Climate Change Warrior, to be taken seriously, it really helps if you get your facts straight before you start spouting off.

It does little good for the Pope to insist that the Bible is inerrant and free of contradictions, when one of God’s commandments is, “Thou shalt make no graven images.’ and two chapters later, God instructs, “Thou shalt make two graven silver cherubim, and place them at each end of the Ark of the Covenant.”

I’m all for combating global warming, but a do-gooding tree-hugger recently had this op-ed published; Aircraft exhaust 10 or 11 kilometers above the Earth’s surface is thought to have considerably more polluting effect per person-mile, than automobile exhaust at ground level, per person-mile.

I’m not sure what his point was. Only transcontinental flights go up to 40,000 feet – 10/11 kilometers. The pollution from a few thousand flyers each day is much more than offset by the total of hundreds of millions of cars driving around. He could fight a more down-to-Earth battle. He’s tilting at one little Dutch windmill, when there are thousands of giant wind-turbines ruining people’s lives in the name of ecology.

Your favorite jovial old tundra-dweller recently became aware of ‘Blue Monday,’ the third Monday in January. It’s not something that affects me. A sociologist did a somewhat un-scientific study. He took into account things like the weather – cold and snow, the lack of sunlight for the last month, friends and family visitors who have now left, the shopping hassles of Christmas, back to work after some time off, and now the bills arriving. He felt that Blue Monday would be the day that cumulative depression would be most likely to affect/be noticed/felt by the average North American.

Immediately, the usual suspects began their howling. Psychologists, and counsellors whined that the day somehow belittled people with depression, when it actually raises people’s awareness of the condition and its causes.

One denier objected to the way the day was chosen, complaining that, “It’s like adding the speed of your jogging to the color of an apple.” And yet psychologists and penologists know that certain colors of prison uniforms and cells help calm prisoners down. One Arizona Sheriff makes his inmates wear hot pink overalls, and violence has reduced significantly.

It should be taken seriously, yet it is no more real that the chubby Santa Claus that Coca-Cola invented. Speaking of people who don’t know what they are talking about, a local radio announcer doesn’t get it. He claimed that, “It is the most depressing day of the year.” It is not the day that is depressing. It is merely the point in time when all the previous depressing influences come together in a confluence – like the perfect wave – and people are most likely to feel depressed.

A newspaper story about a truck crash wrote of ‘semi-tractors.’ (Surely, they are semi-trailers?) In another, a 10-year-old boy wrote to every automaker in the world, and requested ‘decals.’ He got back a hub-cap, hood ornaments, trunk logos, and key-fobs…. because, aside from those little generic warnings on your car windows – auto-makers don’t use ‘decals.’  I don’t know what he (or the article writer) thought ‘decals’ were.

First my Dismantling of Faith post, then all of these, in one week. Does nobody pay attention to the details of reality anymore? It helps, if you want to be taken seriously.

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’17 A To Z Challenge

The Oxford English Dictionary just called up to tell me that I’m a distracted old fool. I managed to publish my Challenge post for the letter R, before the one for Q.  Oh well, back to kindergarten….A, B, C, D  😳

Challenge2017

letter-q

Queer as a Nine-Dollar bill….  The world, or at least The United States, has become more and more polarized.  Once, not long ago, the above phrase would merely have indicated an oddity.  Now, the word ‘queer’ is an epithet, an insult, an attack, an accusation.

It was once said that, “The man who does not trust himself – beats his wife.” Now apparently, the men(?) who don’t trust themselves –beat up on faggots – or guys they think are homos – or who might be homosexual.

More and more, the moral absolutists have highjacked the language for their own narrow-minded purposes. The word gay once meant happy, carefree, merry, pleasurable, brilliant, or brightly-colored.  Now, the first 10 definitions in the dictionary are all about homosexuality.  You have to search way down to the bottom, to remember Happy Days.  The singer Marvin Gay got so much nasty harassment from his high school mates, that he legally changed his name to Marvin Gaye.

A Queen (as opposed to the Queen) used to be just a cross-dresser.  He might, or might not, bat (or catch) for the other team.  Nowadays, even if he’s got an understanding wife, and four kids, it’s assumed, and loudly proclaimed, that he must be gay.

Besides the late Freddy Mercury, I don’t know which of the members of the rock group Queen are homosexual.  I don’t care!  I come for the music, not the moral judgement.  I remember the comic/actor David Spade telling a talk-show host about going to his first Queen concert, and watching the boys doing a lot of bum-bumping on stage.  Even the name, QUEEN, hadn’t tipped him off.

When I was young, the word sissy merely indicated a guy who preferred to stay at home and read, or, Heaven forbid, study.  Now, if you’re not out on the playing field, getting your ass handed to you by the bully-boy jocks, sissy must mean gay.  I chuckle, because more often than is realized, that sensitive, understanding (gay) sissy is screwing the jock’s girlfriend while he tutors her in calculus.

I think I’m quite finished for now, but don’t you quit on me.  I’ll see you here again soon.  😀

Flash Fiction #109

∇∇Riots

PHOTO PROMPT -© Vijaya Sundaram

STONED

What’s all that noise? What’s going on out there?

I heard on the news that a cop shot another black guy! Black Lives Matter’s got the ‘hood’ worked up.  There’s rioting and protests.

Cool! Let’s go up on the roof to watch.

***

Look at them all down there! They just broke into Louie’s deli.  Oh, they set that cop car on fire

Don’t go too near the edge. Those guys are throwing things.

I don’t see or hear any guns, and with rocks, they couldn’t hit an elephant at this distan….

***

Oooohh, look at all the pretty birdies.  ∅∀∗≅

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

More Thoughts On Gun Control

Colt 1911

GUN CONTROL?? WHAT ABOUT ABSENT FATHERS?

Do we want to solve gun violence, or do we just want to engage in useless bluster?

Whenever a terrible shooting takes place, in Toronto, or an American city, the gun control enthusiasts rush to the podium to bang their fist and display their anger.

Recently, US President, Barack Obama reacting to the mass shooting in Oregon that left nine people dead, said: “I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save lives, and to let young people grow up.

He meant gun laws.

But another display of emotion won’t make gun control work.

The guns are not the problem, but they are an easy target, and politicians, like water, seek the easy course.

If gun control worked, Chicago would not experience the violence that it does. If gun control worked, the Toronto Sun would not have reported, in mid-July, that “The 227 shooting victims so far this year are 31 more than the total for all of 2014.””

Toronto and Chicago have gun control. Murder is also ‘controlled’.  It is illegal!  The problem is deeper and more complicated than the tool that is used.  But it is politically correct to blame the gun.  It is less so, and therefore fraught with political danger, to talk about family breakdown.

An article in The Federalist by Peter Hasson notes: “Violence?  There’s a direct correlation between fatherless children and teen violence.  Suicide?  Fatherless children are more than twice as likely to commit suicide.  Dropping out of school?  71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless families.  Drug use?  According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse.”

How about guns? Two of the strongest correlations with gun homicides are, growing up in a fatherless household and dropping out of school, which is itself directly related to lack of an active or present father.

So what can we do to encourage young people to avoid single parenthood and to encourage responsible fatherhood? How do we keep young men from having to search for belonging and acceptance from other young men in a gang?

We should be as critical of the choices that lead to kids having babies as we are of guns, but politicians mostly recoil in horror when anyone suggests that they try this approach.

What about mental health? Are we willing to address that issue?  In theory the people are, but are politicians willing to make the necessary choices in priorities, and are we willing to stop putting money into parties like the Pan Am Games, and instead, adequately fund mental health programs?

Apparently not!

Too many things have already gone wrong before a young man picks up a gun and attacks his fellow human beings with the intent to kill. It’s a good thing to talk about fathers, mental health, conflict resolution, employment, mentoring, or whatever anyone can come up with towards achieving the common goal of ending gun violence.

The people whose first, and often only ‘solution’, is more gun control, when it clearly doesn’t work, are not to be taken seriously. Murder is illegal, and most guns used in shootings are illegally held under present gun laws.  We want young people to grow up, so let’s be grown-up about real solutions.

***

With many thanks to Gerry Agar, a Toronto Sun columnist and radio talk-show host, for some interesting and lucid thoughts about guns and social violence.

Flash Fiction #20

 

Salt Flats

 

 

 

 

Take It With A Grain Of Salt

For almost a century, the self-righteous British Raj ran the sub-continent for the financial benefit of The British East India Company. Each year, the rules became stricter, and more numerous.

Now they were told that they could not go to their ocean, and use their sunshine to evaporate the water.  They could no longer “make salt.”

Their leader, the Mahatma, told them that they must non-violently insist on their centuries-old rights. Men were beaten and imprisoned.  Bones were broken, and people died. Still the people quietly rose, like the tide itself.

And so, the great Gandhi gave birth to India.

 

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site, and use her Wednesday picture as a prompt to write a complete story.

 

My Weekend Weak-End

The daughter wanted to attend the Non-Violence Festival in Victoria Park on Saturday, so it was up to me to haul her stuff over and set her up.  It is a short festival, from noon till five.  Set-up was from 10 AM to 11:30, which meant I had to pick up her friend at 9:45, which meant I had to be up at 9 AM, which is still the crack of dawn for me.

On the way home, I stopped to pick up one item at my supermarket, and headed for the express checkout.  Busty Black Betty cut me off, and pushed her cart in front of me, not full, but the bottom was covered.  I pointedly stared at the cart, and then the “8 Items or less” sign.  You know, she could read, and count.

The daughter had a good day.  Her friend had a good day, and the wife sold a few candles and a pair of knitted baby socks, in absentia.  The usual religious suspects were there, as well as the Free Thinkers, to prove you can be Good Without God.  This year she got a spot which wasn’t in the sun all day.  I helped a lady about the daughter’s age move her my-aged father in a wheelchair, up and over the arched footbridge, then I hauled the daughter’s stuff, and her friend home after 5, and made an appointment for the next day.  We were going to visit the Crazy Cat Lady.

The son suggested I take along the GPS unit.  We can’t set a trip endpoint with a rural address, but if we take it along, we can get it to set, once we’ve arrived, and it knows where it is.  The grandson and fiancé came along, so I gave it to him to play with in the backseat.  To exit town in that direction, there are two main roads.  With the usual DNA twists, one arcs out to the left, then curves back.  The other arcs out to the right, then curves back, both meeting three miles away, at the edge of town.

There was an LPGA tournament here on the weekend.  Since I have less than no interest in golf, I didn’t pay much attention.  I thought the course they were using was on the west side of town, and I was going east.  We usually use that road.  Let’s do something different, and take this one today.  I couldn’t figure where all the traffic was coming from.  Did church just let out?  Is Shoney’s having a buffet special??  Then I started seeing signs, Competitor Parking, Caddy Parking, Observer Parking.  Could you idiots move along and just Park already??!  Even Mrs. Recalculating in the back seat said, “Turn around and go home in ten yards.  You’ll never get through this mess.”

We eventually got out of the city without resorting to gunfire, or atomic-powered profanity and let the bucolic countryside calm my frazzled nerves.  Llamas, Archon!  See the llamas!  Beautiful weather meant lots of motorcycles out to covet.  Passed a small clutch of wind turbines again, reached Cat Lady’s place, and set the GPS.

Summertime means many of her cats and dogs have been sold and delivered.  She had four female breeders downstairs, but only 13 juvenile Bengals in her living room.  This is a large step down from 40/50 mothers and kittens of various ages.  Previous visits have given me an understanding of the tornados which sweep though Kansas and Oklahoma.  Still, anyone who doesn’t believe in perpetual motion has never been in a room with 13 six-month-old cats.

She also had two short-haired Chihuahuas, one, a young male which had been returned and had separation anxiety.  The other was a female, coming up to her first breeding season, which had lost her right rear foot to a snappish female, as a newborn.  Because of an upcoming business trip, the daughter had agreed to foster it till the late fall.

After several hours of cat petting, food and drink, storytelling and gossip spreading, it was time to head home.  The daughter settled into the car with the little dog supported across her ample bosom, with its head on her shoulder below her left ear.  The grandson turned the GPS back on as we headed down the concession road towards the highway.  “In 3.2 Kilometers, turn right on road 19.”  Okay, that’s the way we always come.  I guess I can find my way back.

Suddenly, “Recalculating.  In 2.1 Kilometers, turn left on road 19, then right on county road 37.”  Mrs. GPS has found me a shortcut which cuts off two sides of a triangle, and saves five miles.  Five years ago, it was just a gravel road, but now it’s paved, and lightly travelled, so I took it.

Humming along at 95 Km/h in an 80 zone, halfway across, I saw a car approach a tee-intersection from my right.  This is just a county road, not a highway, but it’s a police car.  I eased off the gas and rolled past him at the speed limit.  He pulled out and headed in my direction.  Sure enough, within a quarter-mile the lights and siren come on.  I’ve been good!  What’s this all about??!

I pulled over onto the shoulder, turned the car off, took off my sunglasses and rolled my window down.  Attitude In Blue Serge exits his cruiser and struts up to my car.  No matter what I’ve done, or not done, I am at a disadvantage if I allow him to speak first.  As he neared my window I said, “Good-day Sir.  Do you have a problem?”  “No, I don’t have a problem.”  “Do I have a problem?”  By this time he is leaning in my window, looking across at the daughter….and the dog she’s cuddling to her chest.

“Oh!  No!  I just thought she had a baby.  I hope you’ve enjoyed your weekend.  You’re free to go.”  I enjoyed my weekend right up until I got pulled over.  Despite the aggravation, he was observant and safety-conscious.  I just wish I’d been wearing Depends.  Oh well, the wife should be able to get the stain out.

Well, that was my weekend.  Did you all survive yours?

Book Review – #1

I don’t know if my lazy, forgetful ass will get around to doing the occasional book review, but if it does, I’ve started off correctly numbered.  Actually, this blogging thing is cutting into my reading time.  Here it is, the first week of March, and I’ve only read ten books so far this year.  Sparklebumps did a post about some of the books she read last year.  I didn’t keep a list, but I’ve started one for this year.  If the blog and I are still around after New Years, I’ll give you a glimpse of the drivel I read.

With the release of a Jack Reacher movie, I became aware of the series of books.  I decided that I’d like to start with book number one, and work my way up through the character development.  The good Scottish lad could buy one at a bookstore – or just check to see what’s free at the library.  There are several copies available, including a large-print version at the nearest branch.  I put in a reservation for it.  The large print is easier for the old eyes, and there are only 5 people ahead of me in line, instead of 27 for the paperback version.

After a bit over a month, I got notified that I could pick it up.  I waited a day, till I finished a book the son took out, in a different series.  I got the Reacher novel home and flipped to the end.  This thing is a tome, 700 pages!  Then I flipped to the front.  Oh yeah, LARGE PRINT.  Forgot that.  There’s about four words to the page, no wonder I knocked off 165 pages the first evening.  After two days of reading, it occurred to me that I should be thinking about reserving the next in the series.  Another large-print version, but this one has 8 people waiting.  I have a shelf of other books to keep me busy till it shows up.

The Author – Lee Child

The Book – Killing Floor

The Review

This is Child’s first book.  I anticipate the quality will improve as the series develops.  It’s an action/adventure story, mostly for men, quite similar to a couple of other series I’m reading.

The protagonist, Jack Reacher, is the accepted type of anti-hero currently popular.  He’s been in the American Army for 13 years and lists almost that many base postings around the world.  Perhaps he hasn’t fit in.  He has received extra training, and been assigned as Army Policeman, bringing in the drunks and AWOLs and other bad guys.

Financial cuts have redundancy-ed him out of the Army with a severance package large enough to wander the U.S. for six months, seeing the sights and wondering what to do with the rest of his life.

The number of Maguffin coincidences Child uses to get him to the start of the story is considerable.  He travelled down the Midwest, from Chicago to New Orleans.  On a whim he decided to explore some of Florida.  On another whim, he decided to visit Atlanta.  A last-second, spur-of-the-moment decision had him persuade an Express-bus driver to let him out at an interstate exchange, so that he can research some Negro jazz-man, 60 years dead.  He walked 14 miles to the small town, passing within 50 feet of two dead bodies, one of which he is immediately accused of killing, because he’s the stranger in town.

The Deus Ex Machina arrives a little early, when he finds that the stiff is his only brother, who he hasn’t seen or talked to in 7 years.

There’s an immediate love-interest, or is it just sex-interest?  He won’t be staying.  He’s in town two days, and already sleeping with the only female police officer, who gets him an illegal gun and access to restricted files.

Child describes the psychology of violence well, hit early, hit hard, live to hit another day.  The fights are well presented, both physically, and within the social structure inside a prison.

While now emigrated, and safely ensconced in New York City, the author was born and raised in England, a country not known for its experience with, or exposure to firearms.  He sadly fails the gun-nuts among his readers, by having a victim killed by being shot twice in the head by a .22 caliber handgun.  He describes the slugs penetrating the skull, something these underpowered little shells often fail to do, and then graphically but incorrectly describes them “bursting from the other side, in an eruption of bone and brain.”  I wait to see how much he learns about guns in future books.

While no Sherlock Holmes, Jack Reacher is shown to have the deductive ability be able to think through the alternatives, sometimes a little after the fact, but able to regain the initiative.

This is not War And Peace, or A Tale Of Two Cities, but it is a good solid story, capable of holding your interest.  The plot is predictable, but with enough little quirks to lead you forward.  The characters are well described, with their strengths and foibles. Suspension of disbelief is not difficult.  Word usage is good, with very little vernacular.  A few eight-dollar words are thrown in, but easily deciphered from context.

I would recommend this book for anyone with the time and interest in this genre.  I hope that the second, and subsequent books, tighten up and flesh out a bit.  This one is good entertainment without requiring too much deep thinking.  If you put a bit in, and get a little extra out, it’s a bonus.