Saturday, May 18, 2013

English Cops Carry Guns into the neighborhood, because ....

The Smallest Minority:

Where they now have some cops foot-patrolling carrying honest-to-jeebus assault rifles: Playground gun law: 

In a grim portrait of modern Britain, rifle-toting police mix with children on estate plagued by gang shootings / Bedfordshire town suffers nine shootings in four month crime wave 

Police say armed patrols in place for 'foreseeable future' to deter violence / Officers with guns and dogs will also be increasing searches to find weapons / With a heavily-armed policeman guarding the playground, assault rifle at the ready, it could be the scene of a terror alert. /  In fact, this is a routine patrol just yards from a suburban primary school. 

The show of force is designed to calm residents of an estate plagued by gang shootings. In the past four months there have been nine gun-related incidents in Luton linked to the Marsh Farm and Lewsey Farm estates. In the latest, a 16-year-old boy was shot in the back early on Saturday morning. He may never walk again. The violence has left law-abiding families so terrified they welcome the patrols, even if they risk scaring children.
Oh dear, this sounds terribly familiar somehow.  Where have I heard it before?

hmmm  could it be that people in America have been saying for YEARS that ... when you guns are illegal, only criminals will have guns?

As usual, Kevin Baker is on the cusp of "What Crap Is Happening Now", and he has presented more content in less words than a team of monkeys could produce in a year of random keyboard-pounding ...... which sounds a lot like Obama's "ObamaCare" bill.

Just our luck; in America, when societal breakdown becomes a fact of life Our President is right there with a sledge hammer to pound his constituency into the Mud and the Blood and the Beer.

Fortunately, we have Great Britain to serve as a horrid example of what we can expect if "The Great One" is allowed to have his way with us.  (Can you say "bend over and smile", children?  I thought you could.)

In the meantime, it seems as if my great purpose in life is to take the example which the estimable Mr. Baker profers via hard work and dedicated research .... and push our collective faces into it until we make soap bubbles in the shit.

Yes, it's a nasty job; but somebody had to do it. And nothing says loving like saying "I Told You So".

What are YOU going to do about it?

BTW .. after I completed this (atypically  SHORT blog article) I noticed that I had attached the following laels:
  • Second Amendment
  • Gun Control
  • Brits
  • Terrorism
  • Bad Things
Upon reflection, this all seems terribly ... redundant.  Once you've assigned 'almost' any two of the five categories, the rest follow logically.

Which doesn't say much good for "The Brits", does it?

Notice that I have, in a momentarily admirable show of restraint, I DID manage to avoiding the temptation to add "Obama" to the list of categories.  (I'm just a little proud of this.)  A moment of silence, please, in memory of the LAST time when I resist the quite understandable urge to automatically add "OBAMA" to almost anything which includes any of the other five categories.

After all, he IS The President!  He has shown little restraint when yielding to the temptation to point this out upon the slightest provocation .. as if we could forget!

Friday, May 17, 2013


I'm going to.. actually, I just returned from the first event of ,,my last High School Reunion.

Fifty years. FIFTY!

I remember when my mother was planning to attend her 50 year High School Reunion. I thought: "Why? They're all so old, they probably don't ever remember anybody!"

That was several decades ago. Today, I have a somewhat different perspective.

I'm old.

Damn! That's a hard one to get past.

I can do this.  I was a little excited,  a little dubious.  And  a lot apprehensive.  I was, in high-school, not a popular boy.  Got good grades, scored high in my Scholastic Achievement Tests.  (They now call them "SAT" and I suspect they're a lot different.)   But I've always been lazy, and I sure was in high school.

Reunions are a SOCIAL event, and SATs don't do a good job of measuring that.  I was so skinny that my friends use to call me "Zipper".  As in:  "Hey, Zipper!  You're standing sideways to the sun; turn around so I can see you!"  I was never popular with the girls, even though I liked them just fine.

The last time I went to a high school reunion, many of my contemporaries were fat;  I wasn't.  Not revenge, but it was sweet when the ex-cheerleaders came up to ask me how many miles I ran a day.  Yes, I did run regularly, but my body type was protecting me from criticism, not my work-out regimine.

I weighed 170# then; now I weigh over 200#.  Life happens, as well as retirement, age, change in life style.  Some of us, it just takes longer to catch up with us.

Not that I'm worried any more about what people think about me.  You've been reading this blog before?  You may have noticed that I Have An Opinion.  It's a double-bladed sword, Opinion.  When my own matters more than others, does it become "An Issue"?

I don't think so, I'm no longer concerned if my opinion doesn't agree with that of others; but I've had a lot of decades to evaluate myself based on experience ... a factor which was sorely lacking in high school.

Today, I'm not really worried about economic level, body fat index, or other "image" issues.

What I'm worried about is my classmates.

One of whom (JO)  has been doing a terrific job keeping track of her classmates.  She sent group notices (it's something of an "E-List") when something significant happens to a classmate, or their family.  This has been going on for about the past five years, so we kind of are still getting caught up.  She posted a list of classmates who have died .. I was appalled at the decimation of our class!  In the past six months, there have been another half dozen fatalities, mostly due to debilitating disease (heart disease, cancer .. you know the litany of "old people" diseases.  Mostly, the friends and acquaintances who are dying now are the victims of chronic illness.    Very few die due to accident, or violence.  Are we becoming more sedentary, more cautious in our lifestyle?  Or are we just becoming more mundane?

I guess the thing which pulls me back to my high-school classmates is, more than anything, curiosity.  We have been exchanging emails via the E-List for a couple of years.  One of the more creative suggestions was that we contribute a thumb-nail digest of our life . That happened a couple of years ago, and when I posted my bio I was surprised at the way my life had turned.

War, devastating illnesses lost of family and close friends and other loved ones.  Marriage, divorce, jobs won and lost, you name it.  My high school class is a window into the American Experience.

People who wouldn't talk to me in school, are now so mature that our status differences (then) have nothing to do  with today.  Old girl friends, people who were leaders and are now "just people" .. time is the great leveler.   Everybody knew who we were "then"; today, we have no idea, except .. we are survivors.

I have to say, I have a lot more respect for the people we are NOW, than I did when we were "THEN".   Myself included.  The things which were important, seem to be "not so much" now.

Physical Attraction (we're all a lot older, perhaps wiser?)  Who we associate with.  What we do?  

 Our priorities are different.  We're no longer concerned so much about status, as we are about family.  Actually, even being able to participate in this artificial group activity confers an amount of status.   To my great surprise, everyone who met everyone (even though we usually had to consult our name tags to be sure who w e are/were) were delighted to see each other again!  Funny ... the characteristics we demonstrated in high school were a reasonable indicator of who we are today.  Maybe we can talk about "The Formative Years" with a little more authority now, but we are far to polite to say so.

No, that's not quite it.  Subject to future reconsideration, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that --- we were freakin' KIDS then!  Now we still feel like kids, but everyone i met tonite had obviously Learned Something.

Yesterday and Today: two different things!
For the first few reunions, it was all about what college we attended.  Then it was .. what job we were doing, and how much money we earned.  Then we quit bragging about jobs, and money, and the cars we drove.  We started bragging about our kids.  That's when I quit going to reunions, because my children were more important to me than my friends ... my "so-called" friends.

No, I'm understating it.  Simple longevity counts more than we would ever have expected, "THEN".

Interestingly, of the people I use to hang out with in high-school, very few of them have 'publicly' suggested that they will be attending the reunion.  But the information I have is based on this select set of people who have made their email address known, so maybe it's meaningless data.

That's why I was looking forward to the reunion.  I want to see who shows up.  My college roomie .. yeah, I thought he'd be there.  He wasn't tonite  One of my other roomies didn't attend the same school.  One of them was married to a classmate .. he's dead now.

Yesterday I went out to the garage and pulled the box with my high-school and college yearbooks.  I don't have them all, but I wanted to put the names together with the faces.  Curiously, I didn't open a single yearbook;  I just packed them into a cardboard box from a liquor store and set it aside to take with me.  In case anyone is interested in matching faces "THEN" with faces now.   When I packed my car this morning, I didn't put that box in there.  It's not really about "THEN".

It's probably not important to me who the were "THEN".  I'm more interested in who they are "NOW".  It's not that I didn't like them, in high school.  It's that .. I suspect we are not the same people.  Photos are only interesting in retrospect;  they don't even begin to meter "potential".

There are a scant half-dozen people I'm really anxious to meet again (for the first time).  The rest are total strangers who shared only a small number of important experiences.  I met most of them tonite, and I was absolutely delighted to find them warm and welcoming. Some of them even actually knew me!  Well, not until they read the name tag.  In these events, it's a disadvantage to be TALL:  Short People can read the names without being obvious about it;  they don't have to stoop to identify.


Oh, well.    This is pretty much a trip down memory lane, so far.  I'm looking forward to going back.  (Even though according to Thomas Wolfe we "can never go home" .. because home isn't there, any more.)

TOMORROW, the first event is a mile walk down main street, followed by a general meeting at "The Rainbow" (apparently a cafe ... I haven't spent an hour in this town for the past 20 years and it has changed considerably!).  Most of the people at the First-Night Get-Together ( I certainly didn't get my $15 worth of wine .. but it wasn't what I was there for) generally agreed, in whispered private conversations, that "Eight AM and I've got to walk for a mile down Main Street?  No way!  I'll see you for breakfast."


They're not only older , but they're smarter too!

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Sheriff: Ex-NASCAR driver Dick Trickle dead at 71 | Comcast:
CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — There is that lasting image of Dick Trickle in the Winston 500 lighting up a cigarette while driving his stock car with his knees during a caution lap. He places the cigarette through a hole he carved in his helmet for a quick toke and exhales. The green flag hits and out the window goes the cigarette butt and back to racing goes Trickle. ``Dick always had a cigarette lighter in his car,'' said fellow NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine. 

Trickle was a unique driver with a unique name who found cult-like status before his death Thursday. 

Trickle, whose larger-than-life personality and penchant for fun won him legions of fans despite a lack of success beyond the nation's small tracks, died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said. He was 71. 

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office said authorities received a call believed to be from Trickle, who said ``there would be a dead body and it would be his.'' Authorities tried to call the number back, but no one answered. 

Trickle's body was found near his pickup truck at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Boger City, N.C., about 40 miles northwest of Charlotte. Sheriff's Lieutenant Tim Johnson said foul play was not suspected.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  I hate suicides!

Not just the act: the people who commit it.

Suicide is the most selfish, uncaring act one person can commit.  It goes directly against the people who care about the person.  In a way, it's worst than rape, treason, murder --- because the suicide cannot be punished more than he punishes himself .. and his victims.

Suicide. "Self Murder", to be precise, supposes that the suicide is the only victim.  That's not true.  Anyone who cared, even tangentially,  is affected.  I've known people who killed themselves, and I've see the effect on family and friends, and friends of family, and families of friends ... oh, it's too much like the "six degrees of separation" to define.

It's complicated.

I do understand that sometimes a suicide is a person who has learned that they have contracted an inoperable disease leading to a painful and ignominious end.  I get that.  And I also know what it's like to watch a loved one die slowly; that person, at the end, has nothing left at all, not even dignity.

Nothing, except integrity.

The family understands, the family eventually accepts, and the family has this last slender thread to help them eventually accept:  "He went down fighting, right to the end."  Or "... he never gave up."   Or "... anyone can live, anyone can die when it's easy; he showed us what courage is all about".

I had an uncle, the meanest man in the world, who never gave a damn for anyone else.  He was a bully, a brute, an abusive husband and father.  A drunkard, a liar, and a cheat.  He would say anything to anyone, and laugh loudest when his crude remarks hurt his victim the most.

But when he was diagnosed with Cancer, he went through the thirty months without a complain.  No, he was not cheerful; he was no less abusive, or unkind, or cruel.  But he never whined. He could have ended his life easily, but he refused to take the "easy out".

I won't call him a man, but I will give him credit for having the backbone to die as he lived; he fought often, he didn't win all or even most of his fights, but he never gave up.

I watched my father die.  I watched my lover die.  Often confused, usually in pain, and it hurt like hell when they died.  We all, family and friends, breathed a private sigh when they finally died.  Nobody said anything of the sort, but we knew that it was a blessing that they didn't have to suffer any more.

And we had respect for them. Our love for them remains untarnished by any last minute of ignominy.

You  can live a life of perfect harmony, and blow it in the last second.

I'm no a Catholic, and I do not agree with many of the tenets of that religion.  But I understand that the Catholic church does not countenance suicide, to the point that they will not allow a suicide to be buried on sacred ground.  I think I understand that. (Am I wrong?  Has the Catholic church changed its policy?  If so, I think it was/would have been a wrong move.  Suicide is Murder.)

There's  also another version of  "suicide".   When, for example, a soldier gives up his life to save his companions.  (I said it was complicated!)  Selfless actions may be 'suicidal', but noble at the same time.   We all recognize this, and know the difference.

One is noble, one is craven.  Even a suicidal person knows the difference.  The difference is in caring more for others than for oneself.

Animals don't suicide; they fight for life unto the very end   Suicides are less than animals.

Lotto Mania in "The State of Fruits and Nuts"

California fuels $550 million Powerball jackpot | General Headlines | Comcast:

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The numbers sum up the frenzy that has taken over the Golden State since it became the newest in the nation to join the madness over Powerball, which saw its jackpot soar Thursday to $550 million.
California has sold $83 million worth of Powerball tickets since it started selling them in April and overall has accounted for 11 percent of the game's sales in the country, fueling such fast-growing mega-jackpots like the latest one that has the potential to be a record-breaker.
The state expects to generate well above the originally estimated $50 million for public education, California lottery director Robert O'Neill told The Associated Press.
 There are only two things one can say about this:
  1. This is what happens when too many people consider the State Lottery as "My Pension Play";
  2. Note the odds of winning are approximately the same if you don't play.
... and that's all I have need to say about it.