Friday 13th, Myth, Superstition and Mystery

Every year has at least one, Friday 13th.  Somehow, we all survive.

 

Jason

 

I am not a superstitious type, although I suspect a select few of my friends back from my racing days may beg to differ.  Even if I was, a day and date would not be one of them.  But for some, it is.  Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the term.  Gotta love the Greek, especially when paired with Psychiatrists.  BTW, Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words, just so ya know. 

 

There is no clear reason for Friday 13th to be a superstition.  However, there are some places where 13 appears in a bad way, at least in theory.  Two of these are usually credited as the origin of this superstition, but I can challenge both.

 

Last Supper

 

There are 12 apostles who attended the last supper with Jesus as cited in the bible, thus making 13.  This was not on a Friday though and there is no date known or given for the Crucifixion of Jesus; only that it happened on a Friday.  So if we stand back and blur our eyes a bit, we can see 13 and a Friday in the image but not actually together.  It’s a stretch.

 

In Italy, where the Vatican more or less resides and the home of Christianity, Friday 17th is the bad luck day so were kinda lost in the woods if were trying to claim The Last Supper is the origin of the Friday 13th superstition.

 

Another common attribution regards King Philip IV of France.  He was scared of the power of the Knights Templar and at least in theory, wanted to kill them off to diminish their power.  This is a weak myth first of all. There are many tellings of this event but none with credibility offer much of a reign of terror.

 

Theory goes that The king stated on Friday 13th, assassins would kill all the Knights Templar in France.  If this were the case it could easily be the origin of the superstition.  Problem is, the King didn’t want to kill them, but get rid of them so a threat of conflict led to most just moving from France, mostly to Germany.  Others paid off the King and remained in France.  Very few if any were killed.  So the Rein of Terror on Friday 13th was really just a visit from the landlord.

 

Knights-Templar

 

Contrary to popular myth and History Channel fiction, the Knights Templar didn’t end then.  Most simply joined the Hospitaller order in Germany.  Also challenging the idea that this event is the origin of the superstition is that in France, Friday 13th is also seen by many as a good luck day.  I suppose this could be because King Philip secured his power on that date.  There is still one issue …

 

The story about King Philip and Knights Templar coming to blows on Friday 13th, didn’t actually emerge until the 20th Century even though it theoretically happened in 1307.  There is no proof King Philip ever did the deed, no matter the deed.

 

As much as I love to dig deep in these special days and the myths behind them, this is about as deep as the sandbox goes.  There is a book that was published in the early 1900s called Friday 13th, but it was fiction and referred to a stock market crash.  Just so ya know, the 1929 stock market crash happened on a Tuesday; the 29th of October.  Also for historical reference, the 1929 crash isn’t the biggest we have had, that was October 19, 1987.  Maybe we should be scared of October and 9s.

 

 

 

 

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American Graffiti – The Most Influential Movie in History

graffiti

 

It may seem odd but I am going to prove my title.  This also happens to be one of my favorite movies so I know it well and it has sat in my head for decades now.  This one movie funded the most powerful franchise in history, backed two of the most influential directors in history and launched the career of one of the most loved comedians ever.  All of this and more, in the paragraphs to follow.  Photos for effect …

 

In 1973, a cute little movie by an unknown director hit the screens with little hope of making much of a mark.  I didn’t see it then.  I saw it back when they re-released movies, in 1978.  As a kid who already had as many matchbox cars as all my friends combined, I loved it.

 

Paradise Rd

 

The first proof I offer is easily the biggest and most obvious, unless you are unaware of the director.  This was the sophomore movie for a new film director named George Lucas.  His first movie, THX 1138, went unnoticed.  With encouragement and backing from his mentor, Francis Ford Coppola, Lucas wrote another movie and directed it.  This one, rather than going unnoticed, made $140,000,000.  In that age, and now, that is a hell of a lot of money.  He and his backers did well.

 

The down stream effect may seem obvious but it is important to understand several things, that changed everything.  Lucas had a script no one wanted to make and the success of American Graffiti made it possible, as well as a few odd developments.  Lucas of course decided to make Star Wars but could only convince the studio to back him if he put in a lot of his own money.  They didn’t believe in the cowboys in space concept.

 

Not only did he have to put in more and more of his own money, as the special effects chewed up most of the budget, but he also had to work with a little known and relatively inexperienced cast.  This cast however, was not as successful as his previous, as I will discuss later.

 

As he had to add more of his own money to complete the film, two things happened.  At the urging of Coppola as he had done before in American Graffiti, Lucas negotiated to own the merchandising for Star Wars as part of his increased investment.  It had paid off in Graffiti, already.  The second thing is as he put more and more of his money in, it also got him  a greater percentage of the profits.

 

As we know, Star Wars went on to break all box office records of the day and for many years to come.  Special effects and movie making were changed forever.  The movie eventually grossed $775,000,000 world wide against an $11,000,000 budget.  Lucas did well just on that.  But the real measure is that Lucas was already on his way to becoming a Billionaire, from merchandising alone.  He made far more money from merchandising than the movies even before Disney paid $4,000,000,000 for ownership of the Star Wars empire, including merchandising.

 

The very little known side story to the profits includes Steven Spielberg.  While Lucas was making Star Wars, he went to visit Spielberg on the set of his own science fiction movie, Close Encounters.  Lucas was so impressed with Encounters, he hedged his bets and convinced Spielberg to swap 2.5% of profit shares on each of the movies.  This profit alone made Spielberg a millionaire.  If he needed backing for future movies, he had it.

 

So far, the $777,000 budget of American Graffiti yielded over $5,000,000,000 in revenue.  It also backed one of the most successful and prolific directors in history in Spielberg.    But that is just the simple numbers.  We will come back and connect to Spielberg again.

 

Graffiti was not a main stream movie so it didn’t demand any main stream actors.  One actor was mandated by the studio so there was one star on the promo posters, Richard Dreyfuss, who played the love struck Curt.  Who was he in love with?  Suzanne Summers in her first noticed role.  She had no on screen lines.

 

T bird

 

One of the stars of the movie and most experienced actors on set, could have easily gone unknown but for his name.  Ron Howard had previously been one of the most beloved child actors, playing Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith show.  The difference was, he was all grown up by then at 19 years of age.

 

Ron Howard

 

Now this one is a much divergent tree, as we delve into this line of influence.  Ron Howard was already a veteran of many acting credits as a child and teen with credits including MASH, Route 66 and Bonanza.  He had also done a small pilot for Gary Marshall that was ultimately rejected.  After the success of Graffiti, the network re-showed that pilot and bought the series, Happy Days; also starred Ron Howard as a character in the same time frame as Graffiti.

 

Happy Days

 

Now, unless you were a child in that era it is hard to explain the influence of that TV show.  It ran for 170 episodes, evolving over time who it focused on and started several spinoffs.  Also, as often happens when an actor leads in a TV series for a long time, that actor often takes the director’s chair to learn the trade.  This keeps the series more vibrant and also offers the star who may become typecast, an alternate professional direction.  This second example is another branch of this Ron Howard tree.

 

He was on Happy Days most of the 10 years it ran and he was burnt out on acting at age 29.  He wanted to direct, building on his experience directing Happy Days; a series that went out near the top of the ratings.   While Happy Days was leaving the air, Howard directed his first hit, Splash.  He followed this with Cocoon, Gung Ho, Backdraft, Far and Away, Apollo 13 and on, including an Oscar for A Beautiful Mind.  American Graffiti brought us Ron Howard as a director.

 

So American Graffiti gave us all the directing credits of Ron Howard, which I wont list here.  It is EXTENSIVE.  But he was not the only one to take the reins from Happy Days.  Henry Winkler played one of the most iconic actors of the era, on that show; The Fonz.  He was portraying a hoodlum and was not supposed to be a main character.  By Season 2 he was on the opening credits.

 

The Fonz

 

His branch is not extensive but he went on to be the force behind another highly influential TV series of the 80s, MacGyver.  He was executive producer for 139 episodes of one of the most recognizable social forces of the time.  If not for Graffiti giving birth to Happy Days and The Fonz, we would have no clue how to MacGyver anything.

 

MacG

 

I’ll stick on this actor to director/producer theme for a bit and go back to one of the spinoffs of Happy Days.  Laverne and Shirley were first brought to life on Happy Days as dates for The Fonz.

 

LnS

 

Set in the same town and era as Happy Days, this show ran for 8 years and 178 episodes.  This is impressive enough but it gave us something much more.  In the same theme as actor to director, Penny Marshal stared as Laverne and directed as the series got older.  This set her up for her own directing career and as a female director in Hollywood, her influence was pioneering.

 

Her first major directorial debut was Big.  She followed that up with Awakenings and A League of Their Own.  In her first two major movies, she directed Tom Hanks,  Robin Williams and Robert De Niro.  Ironically, Ron Howard directed Tom Hanks in his first big hit, Splash.  Penny Marshal directed him in her first big hit, Big.  Without American Graffiti, we wold not have had Happy Days which would not give us Laverne and Shirley and thus, Penny Marshal.

 

big

 

By the way, if that other face in the picture of Laverne and Shirley looks familiar, there is a reason.  Cindy Williams also played in American Graffiti opposite Ron Howard as his girlfriend.

 

Ron and Cindy

 

We have already touched on likely the least known major connection from American Graffiti.  There was one episode of Happy Days that changed movies forever … comedy and acting would be forever changed.

 

Robin W

 

Although Robin Williams did not get his first credit on Happy Days, this was his break out identity, playing a space alien named Mork.  The second spinoff of Happy Days worth mentioning is Mork and Mindy.  This ran for 94 episodes in 5 years and one revisit to Happy Days in that time.  But Mork and Mindy was not as important as it gave us forever, Robin Williams.

 

GMVN

 

I need not list his film credits but to know that he changed movie making and was part of a generation who did not need parts written for, rather just cast, his influence is still being felt.  He was discovered on Happy Days, which was made possible by American Graffiti.

 

Now lets go back to American Graffiti again.  In that cast was one actress that was heavily influenced by that movie.  Mackenzie Phillips was the youngest star in the movie.  She played opposite Paul Le Mat at the ripe age of 14.  The movie was filmed almost entirely at night which meant that the cast slept during the day.  They also filmed the movie continuously for a month to make sure the cast looked more and more tired as the one night time frame of the movie was shown on their faces.

 

john-milner

 

When filming wrapped each morning, the cast returned to the hotel that was rented out for them and they had a hell of a time.  This is when Mackenzie Phillips was introduced to drugs and alcohol that she would struggle with the rest of her life.

 

There was one other actor that had not yet broken out and this movie would not be his vehicle to stardom.  But a bit role was cast and he had a part in the pivotal scene.  This would help make him a favorite of Lucas.

 

HarrisonFord

 

Harrison Ford was not so impressive that Lucas cast him in his next film.  He was actually hired as a carpenter on set for Star Wars but because he was known by Lucas, he was the casting stand in for Han Solo.  He did it so well, he was cast.

 

Han Solo

 

He of course kept returning as Han in the subsequent films, reprising his most successful role but not likely his best known.  As I mentioned, we would return to Spielberg.  He and Lucas teamed up later for the best combination of these two directors.  While casting the lead in a movie about a pirate-like archeologist, they cast Ford in the iconic role of Indiana Jones.  Not only did he become the most famous Jones of all, but likely the most famous man named after a dog.

 

temple-run-spin-off-3

 

American Graffiti not only gave us Harrison Ford, but it gave us the roles of Han Solo and Indiana Jones.  He also became the lead character in the Tom Clancy series where he played Jack Ryan.  These are three of the most successful series in history.

 

In an odd side note to all of this, we get another series and iconic role, only loosely connected but connected none the less.  Harrison Ford was not the only choice for the role of Indiana Jones.  Spielberg had a hard choice to make between two great leading men.  The screen writers strike decided the outcome.  The second actor being considered was not yet known and needed a safer choice than to wait out the strike for a possible paycheck.  So he chose a more stable option, to accept an offer to play a Private Eye.

 

magnum pi

 

Tom Selleck would have made a great Indiana Jones in my opinion, but I’m not sure he would have had the star power to survive Temple of Doom.  But instead, we got him as Magnum PI.  Another one of the most iconic roles of the 80s.  Not to mention great theme music.

 

These are the actors, directors, producers, movies and TV series that are directly downstream of American Graffiti.  We also talked about the fortunes it led to for several people but, mostly Lucas.

 

There are other influences as well, and one reveal.  Lucas set American Graffiti in Modesto, California of his youth.  He wrote from his own experiences on that one and one of the most iconic and exciting parts for him, was the music.  With the music came the outlaw DJ, Wolfman Jack.

 

Believe it or not, in the era of the movie, Rock and Roll was not culturally accepted everywhere.  One of the forces behind it was a scandalous Disc Jockey named Wolfman Jack.  In the movie he is set in a station outside of town but his myth is told several times in the movie.  In reality, in the era when Rock and Roll was born, he was transmitting from a very high power radio station in Tijuana, Mexico.

 

His true identity was not known since many of those who promoted Rock and Roll were outcast and even would be arrested in many more conservative towns.  The movie marked the first time Wolfman Jack was seen by the general public.

 

wolfman

 

The music itself was also an influence from the movie.  By 1973, the songs were out of favor but in the movie, set in 1962, they were the hits.  The soundtrack to American Graffiti was a double album and was very popular.  Lucas, owning the merchandising, owned the rights to this as well.  But that isn’t the influence we need to reference here.  As odd as it may sound, Rock and Roll was just old enough then that there was no concept of a classic or oldies station.

 

The popularity of the movie and the soundtrack started requests at radio stations for these older songs.  In response, stations started offering oldies or classic rock hours, then weekends, then classic rock stations were born.  It would have happened eventually, but American Graffiti created the market force in the industry to make it happen.

 

This force of classic rock stations also started a rebirth of older groups that still tour today, most iconic of all, The Beach Boys.

 

The last is likely the least tangible but is ironically a billion dollar industry today.  The movie came out in 1973 and the states were just coming to terms with the oil ’embargo’ that forced car makers to build higher mileage cars.  This meant the death of the muscle cars.

 

In effect, the factory hotrod era was dead.  But American Graffiti started a rebirth of the traditional hotrod.  The yellow ’32 Ford that John Milner drove is the second most numerous kit car ever sold.  It is THE icon of the modern hotrod era that still goes on today.

 

AmericanGraffiti-Deuce-Coupe-courtesy-of-Universal

 

American Graffiti is a fun movie with great music and hotrods.  Oddly, for all this influence, the main star of the movie, Paul Le Mat, did not cash in on the same down stream success of so many others.  The biggest role for him after this movie, was the movie’s sequel.

 

Now, if I could connect American Graffiti to the movie Titanic ….

Hollywood Reality

hollywood-sign

I mentioned this in my trivia column but there are many fake realities in movies that many people used to or still believe but just aren’t true.  Like my trivia, this will be a living document, added onto when I remember or see more movie BS that many or some or even most people seem to believe.

Generally, Hollywood either perpetuates a stereotype due to ignorance or because it sells and sometimes it just has to.  Hollywood has shown it has little interest in accuracy or educating.  Yet people, rather than learning on their own, assumes what they see on a screen is reality.  This document will attempt to show how wrong that reality is…

 

 

 

Generally, first rule to know is that most processes shown on a TV show or movie take much longer than shown due to the need to fit it into the given time frame.

Perhaps the biggest one that I have seen work against justice, is the CSI effect.  Juries are not convicting people if there is not TV style forensic evidence.  They want over the top or 100% slam dunk evidence they can depend on.

Pentagrams do not signify devil warship.

Most of the technology usually attributed to intelligence agencies in movies, is real and about a generation behind.  Or more.

Setting off one sprinkler does not set all off, only that one, and they are set off with flame or heat representative of a fire, not smoke.  Fire alarms also do not set of sprinklers, only the alarm and notifies 911.

Ventilation shafts generally wont hold a human body and if you crawl through them they are noisy as hell.

Sucking the venom out of a poisonous bite does nothing.  It is already in the blood stream and sucking it out only potentially enters it into yours, if it actually worked.

In the 70s, largely due to martial arts films and Bruce Lee, America became fascinated with Asian culture in movies and most of the cultural story lines, and typical fixtures, are massive exaggerations or lies.  They still perpetuate today.

The Earps were not heroes, they were murderers.  Even if the OK Coral issue was not murder, the running down of others, including but not limited to Stillwell, was murder.  But, they make good copy.

In related news, Holidaying in legal realm is the idea of committing crimes in one state to eventually stand trial to avoid being extradited to another state for a worse crime.  It is named for Doc Holiday who did this in Colorado to avoid being  extradited to Arizona (murder).

Hostage takers don’t ask for a plane, anywhere.    And hostage takers are damn rare.

Chloroform takes time to work, and must be maintained as a balance, you can die from too much or wake up with too little.

There is not any likelihood that an alien species would look anything like us.  Look at our own planet and consider the other life forms in the same setting that look nothing like us.

Cars are very hard to blow up.

In a murder mystery, usually, the first non-primary character introduced is the culprit.  Unless it is Agatha Christie based, she loves to make the murderer one or many of the main characters or, the murderer be new at the time of reveal.

Lasers are often invisible.  And they move at the speed of light so the slow red lines in movies are there for your information, not anything close to reality.

Cars are very hard to flip.

Planes really can’t be flown by non pilots by being talked through it by another pilot.  Although it has been done VERY rarely.

People do not survive gun shots like they do in movies, the concussion shock of the impact often shreds internal organs and the bullets can also bounce around a lot.  The victims sure as hell don’t get up and around in a couple days, the next day or the same day, even if you are Mel Gibson.

Police officers almost never fire their weapons in the line of duty.  Those who do, almost never return to duty.

Pilots who are not trained on helicopters cannot fly them.

Almost everything portrayed in movies and TV regarding psychiatrists/therapists/counselors is wrong.

Psychiatrists/therapists/counselors will not give out information without a court order.  They cannot even acknowledge the person in question is or is not in treatment.

In related news, confidentiality survives death, a court order is still needed.

Doctors don’t say, “WE’RE LOSING THEM!”.  Doctors remain calm and work the issue.

Nurses don’t run anywhere.  They, like paramedics, are trained to walk so they do not injure themselves in the process.

Almost everything done in regards to racing in a TV show is wrong and embarrassing.  There are four, maybe five accurate racing movies, that’s all.  None involve Elvis, Tom Cruise or singing.

Also, same is true for street racers.  It is clear that 99% of shows that choose to portray them have never seen any or known any.

The myth about keeping a caller on the line long enough to be traced was true until the 70s when call switching became electronic.  The myth in TV was continued for decades to help law enforcement.

No one has to be missing 24 or 48 hours before they can be reported or considered missing.  It is a judgement call each time.

True hacking takes months and months, if ever, usually by teams. (remember the I Phone/FBI hate affair?)

Being shot does not send you back through a window or shoot you back 5, 10 or 35 feet like in many movies.  See Newton’s third law.

DNA takes days to run, not hours or overnight like in movies.  There is also always a backlog and most cases are priority, so it usually translates to weeks/months.

Guns were not as common in the west as movies would ave you think.

Gun fights so rarely happened, Hollywood is high. (That’s why the OK Coral was headlines.  It would not have been if it were common).

Most western towns busted, not boomed.

Most Indians were friendly and were not migratory.

Custer was not a hero.

Neither was Columbus.

Wars are rarely fought for righteous reasons.

Morse code takes longer to transmit than read, so seeing it read real time in a movie like a sentence is BS. It takes 14 characters to transmit the word ‘wrong’ … the translation is   .– .-. — -. –.  .

The same sentence in Morse Code:

— — .-. … . / -.-. — -.. . / – .- -.- . … / .-.. — -. –. . .-. / – — / – .-. .- -. … — .. – / – …. .- -. / .-. . .- -.. –..– / … — / … . . .. -. –. / .. – / .-. . .- -.. / .-. . .- .-.. / – .. — . / .. -. / .- / — — …- .. . / .-.. .. -.- . / .- / … . -. – . -. -.-. . / .. … / -… … .-.-.- / .. – / – .- -.- . … / .—- ….- / -.-. …. .- .-. .- -.-. – . .-. … / – — / – .-. .- -. … — .. – / – …. . / .– — .-. -.. / .—-. .– .-. — -. –. .—-. / .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- / – …. . / – .-. .- -. … .-.. .- – .. — -. / .. … / .-.-.- -….- -….- / .-.-.- -….- .-.-.- / -….- -….- -….- / -….- .-.-.- / -….- -….- .-.-.- / .-.-.-

Most of police/EMT/paramedic/Fireman work is benign.

Murders are MUCH harder to clean up than TV makes it look.

Dried blood is usually black.

Driving at great speed in a street car is precarious and without specific experience and training, will end poorly, quickly.

Addiction is not solved by ‘drying out’ or ‘detoxifying’.  Each addict has done this dozens or 100s of times already.  It is usually cured by cleaning up, going to therapy, then changing almost EVERYTHING in your life.  It takes a long time, as in months to years.

As perspective, NYC had less than 1 murder a day in 2017.  Law and Order murder rates would be well over 1,500 a year.

Luminol does detect organic fluids, including human blood, or any blood.  It also breaks it down so they do not spray it like a fire hose.  Blood used in evidence cannot be exposed to luminol.

Similarly, there are not as many serial killers being chased as Criminal Minds would have you think.  There are however many that are known but there is not enough evidence, or meaningful people dying, to warrant an investigation.

In related news, criminals almost never turn on and go after the agents and officers.  Main police/agents being stalked by criminals is a plot device to fill episodes when ratings are lagging or writers is running out of ideas.

Yes, innocent people also ask for, and should ask for a lawyer and is NOT sign of guilt, but intelligence.

Lie detectors are never used in law enforcement.  They are unreliable, can be beaten and cannot be admitted or even mentioned in court.  I have beaten them, twice.

Outside contractors are almost never used in the legal/law enforcement system where evidence is generated.

Psychics have shown less accuracy than random chance.

PIs cannot break laws to perform their jobs.  They are subject to the same laws we are.

Repomen have laws they must follow but not as much as law enforcement or the public.

Bounty Hunters can violate some laws others cannot, in some states.  They can also easily be sued and usually lose in civil court.

Handwriting analysis is not useful in telling you anything about the person writing it.  It is also not repeatable, analyst to analyst.  This is the same as palm reading or phrenology.  There is SOME value in writing comparison for knowing if the same person wrote different samples but even this has low success rate and not usually admissible in court.

Almost anytime you see people driving from the front and fairly close-up in movies or TV, the vehicle is on a trailer.  Look at Booth in the TV show Bones, he almost never looks where he is driving.

Police cannot do almost anything in or on private land without a court order or permission from the owner of the property.  Investigations take a lot of time.

Silencers do not do what Hollywood would like to have you think.  They do not silence, they do reduce the sound but not make it anywhere near silent, differing based on caliber.  They also slow the round and thus change it’s trajectory.

The same caliber and brand of ammunition have different characteristics due to many factors including grains, packing, lead density, humidity during packing, conditions where stored and how long, gun powder differences …

I’d bet there are more characters in Hollywood that used to be in special forces every year than there are former special forces members still alive.  Or at least, statistically impossible.

Although most guns used in crimes are obtained illegally, there was in most cases, an illegal gun sale that put that formerly legally owned gun into criminal hands.

The view through binoculars is one circle, not two overlapping circles.

‘Half Life’ is a nifty term that Hollywood likes to throw around but most people have no clue what it means and 99% of the time it is used in Hollywood, it is used incompletely.  It references how long it takes for something to decay 50%, that is not virulence.

If SWAT is called in, the FBI doesn’t lead through the door with SWAT behind them.  SWAT is called in for a reason.  Same for crime scenes where there are CDC people in sealed suits and yet FBI agents are walking around in suits and ties.  No.

NCIS agents, FBI agents, CIA agents … they have zero knowledge on how to defuse bombs and would never touch one.

No agent would rub presumed cocaine on their gums to test it cause 1, they have no idea it is cocaine or instead poison or lord knows what and 2, there is no admissible test for purity or even presence that involves your gums.  Would you put random powder in your mouth?  No, cause if ya would you would be dead and I don’t have enough bandwidth for you to be reading this.

Tires don’t squeal on wet pavement, sand, snow, dirt or gravel.  Tires rarely squeal anyhow, especially on stock vehicles.

Yes you can get a tire brand and model from a tire tread but you cannot get a specific vehicle model from a tire brand a model.  Tire models are used on numerous cars and many do not come as stock on any car so they could be on anything.  Tires that do come as stock, are not exclusive.

 

Why We Conspire

 

Conspiracy:  A secret plan to do something unlawful or harmful.

 

I have written extensively about conspiracy theories.  I love them, or more specifically, I love the idea of them.  I have considered doing a dissertation on why we need them and why they are present in our culture.  To that purpose, I have researched almost every major conspiracy theory and wondered and applied what I know from the field of clinical counseling to what I see as a modern phenomenon and, a disproportionately modern American one.

 

Why we do what we do, says alot about who we are as a person and a culture.  When I make choices, and choices are the only thing we fully control, they reflect my needs or wants.  I wont do something unless it serves my interests.  I wont do anything, unless I benefit.  That is also true of you.  And of Mother Theresa.  And everyone.  We serve ourselves.  Thats ok.  Who else will, if not us.  So we do.

 

When we make a choice we reflect our own service.  We reflect what we want and need.  When people choose to believe in a conspiracy theory, or don’t, they are serving their own interests.  We can say no, this conspiracy theory makes no sense and use our own logic, but logic is not universal.  If logic were universal, I believe so would belief be.  And belief is not universal; not by a long shot.

 

I believe what I believe for my own reasons based on my own experience and what I feel comfortable with or serves me.  So what I am saying is, what we choose to believe is not as important as why we choose to believe it.

 

I’ll start with my favorite myth.  Anyone who knows me well knows where I am going.  In 1967 Roger Patterson understood the power of myth.  It could be said he understood little in his odd life but he did understand the power of myth and it’s potential sales.  He wanted to leave a nest egg for his wife as he was dying so he formed a business around the film he planned to shoot.  This is not a conviction.  If he knew he got on film, something momentous, much like knowing you have the winning lottery ticket, you set up your business first.  Smart move.

 

bigfoot-patterson-gimlin-footage-stabilized

 

But it is obvious today that he set up the filming.  He didn’t catch a view of Bigfoot, he cast it.  From that one film came an entire industry and belief system.  One that is based on a hoax, built on a myth.  Yet people believe in Bigfoot.

 

I mentioned Mother Theresa before.  She is the only person I know of that has been canonized in my lifetime.  She did great works, spent her life seemingly in service of others.  I say ‘seemingly’ only because she likely didn’t do exactly what ya think and she did those things, to serve her own interests.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Her interests being, she enjoyed the work or liked the person it made her into, either in hers or other’s eyes.

 

Odd example I know, but we first have to understand why we do things.  Why we do things that others may from the outside see as illogical.  Logic is not the only source for our decision making.  I, would theorize that we actually make most decisions emotionally, even us men who have either claimed or been accused of using logic only.  Were not Sherlock.  He is pure fiction.

 

The basis of a conspiracy is that a group of people are holding the truth and not letting others know that truth.  They obfuscate or completely hide the truth with either lies or incomplete truths or complete denial.  This can be a small or large lie and small or large issues.  But, it seems odd to put a lot of work into obfuscating a minor issue.

 

There are many reasons why we cover up.  People lie everyday.  Yes I know this is a rude thing to say but not all lies are about deceit or offense.  Most are about courtesy or privacy.  We compliment someone we first meet, even if we don’t really feel that way, to make a courteous conversation or initiate one.

 

The most common is to tell someone you feel fine, when you don’t.  Why we don’t feel fine is likely not what we want to discuss so we lie.  Truth be told, pun intended, the person asking how you are likely doesn’t want to hear about your issues either.  So lies are a common part of life and part of our social contract.  So where do we set a criteria that a lie is wrong.

 

Usually, we feel offended when we feel a lie takes something from us that we deserve.  Or more specifically, have a right to know.  What we do deserve to know is subjective.  Any relationship is built on trust but every successful one is also based on the idea that not all truths are told.  When one or the other feels that needed info was held back, or worse yet, actively lied about, then trust has deteriorated.  This is true in romance, friendship and power.

 

Some may feel the government must not hide anything from the public.  Others feel that only some things should be kept secret.  Still others feel that the government should be trusted to tell us what we need to know.  There is no one set rule and there is no way to know the right balance.  No matter what the government does, there is one group at least, that will assume they are obfuscating.

 

Another common trait of a conspiracy theory is that those who are keeping the secret, are withholding power from others.  With this trait is it unlikely that conspiracies are perceived to be held by those without power.  So the persons who are often accused of conspiracies are those in power, keeping power from those with less or none.

 

Those in our culture who are perceived to be holding power are those with wealth, influence or are literally, those in power such as government.  So these are the people we tend to charge with conspiracy.  Also, they have usually been the ones at the core of proven conspiracies.

 

There is another required element of a conspiracy; perceived truth.  When we form a theory that has no basis in accepted facts there is little ground for people to stand on when trying to connect theory to perceived truth.  The only one I know of that seems to have no basis in fact is Reptilians, who are supposedly snake/human like aliens who take on human form and influence or become our leaders.  This is all based on fiction work by Robert E Howard in 1929.  Other than a feeling that leaders are smarmy, not much basis in reality I know of.

 

When there are holes or lies in major claims, people tend to fill them with conspiracy.  Sometimes there is a cover up.  There is often more information than is being offered.  Sometimes, the claim is real and well documented but people don’t want to believe it such as the moon landing.

 

The lead up to the moon landing is very well documented.  The missions that led the technological progression were easy to see and all did.  We were also in a race with the Russians who were trying to accomplish the same.  We were ahead only near the end and the Russians did land a probe on the moon first.

 

Much of the conspiracy that people apply to the moon landing is photos that don’t look typical and things they don’t understand or accept.  The flag is not flying, there is a rod in top of it to keep it look as if it is flying.  The photos look different cause, well, they were taken on another celestial body!  There is room for interpretation of fact when the facts have little context.

 

The greater element of this push for conspiracy is the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey was released the year before the moon landing, making people believe it would be possible to fake the moon landings and it look believable.  Many have said and it is easy to see, the movie was much higher quality than the footage from the moon.  There is good reason, the movie wasn’t photographed on the moon and transmitted back.

 

I can understand the perspective.  For us to apply that movie to a theory that the moon landing was faked also requires disbelief in the events themselves.  Although it seems like there is little room for doubt to me and many others, emotionally it may have been to big a leap for many who do not either want to understand or want to distrust our government.  For those, conspiracy is a passionate lover.

 

Why is it not believed that Kennedy was shot by Oswald alone?  It has been proven that the shots widely accepted to have been fired could have been fired by the rifle in the time in question.  Oswald is seen with the rifle prior to the attack.  His alibi is weak.  Maybe he is too perfect? Maybe it is unacceptable that a president could be killed by one man?  But there is little doubt that Lincoln was killed by one man.  Or Garfield.  Or McKinley.  Maybe it is Ruby that offers the room for doubt.  That there was no joy of a trial; understanding of motive and method.  Booth was not tried either.

 

I think the moon landing and Kennedy share something not yet mentioned.  An environment of deceit.  The war in Vietnam changed this nation forever and it had not set in for the Kennedy assassination but politics had turned.  The 50s were clearly a thing of the past and popular music was already reflecting a change in tone of the nation.  An undercurrent of distrust and thus rebellion had been born.

 

The Blacklist and McCarthyism had run through the nation like MSG and showed what the government could do when truly scared of it’s own shadow.  There was the specter of the looming war and there was the draft.  I believe that part of the distrust of the truth, or close to it, is that there was already a pattern of deceit from the government.

 

McCarthyism and the red scare did so much to this nation to not trust what you saw unless it fit the cookie cutter form you are told to be.  My generation remembers Happy Days.  In this 30 minute sitcom we had one man who didn’t fit.  He was distrusted and disliked and it took the apple pie all American Cunninghams to turn other’s opinions.  The basis was, fear the different.  We did before, then, and now more than ever.

 

Lets assume Oswald fired that gun.  Did he fit the type of man we assume all people who could do this looked like?  Yes.  He was married to a foreigner and this country has always feared foreigners.  Was he a radical?  Yes.  He tried to defect to Russia and they didn’t even want him.  Was he an angry man, many said yes.  But all this is only seen as a concerning person and a ripe one for the act he is credited with, after the fact.  We all know someone who is ‘off’.  But none of us know an assassin.  I wonder in the short time between the killing of Kennedy and the killing of Oswald, how many doubted he acted alone.

 

Simultaneously I have heard that he was a perfect patsy and also that he could not have done it alone.  I suppose if we say he was dumb it could fit both bills but I have no knowledge of his intellect.  People blame him and also say he could not have done it alone.  Some say he could not have done it at all.  No common logic.

 

In McCarthyism we were taught to not trust our neighbor.  The government on the other hand showed in the Vietnam era, they were not to be trusted.  They lied, deceived and let American soldiers die as a result.  They lied and destroyed American citizens in the Black List era.  In McCarthyism we were told to turn in our neighbor if they showed signs of being ‘Un-American’.  But were are ridiculed for blowing the whistle on the government.  Conspiracy theories have fertile soil for growth.

 

This was also the time of the moon landings.  As pointed out, there is some room for interpretation although I find no evidence of falsehood.  But the government was showing us we should not trust them in that era.  Is it not natural to distrust one of the most amazing human accomplishments in the same era when the government is lying to the world to perpetuate a war?

 

So it was natural to not trust such an amazing accomplishment if the government is ready to lie about how many enemy soldiers we have killed or that your neighbor is not to be trusted since he does not like the government.  Why should people trust the moon landings?  I can get that.

 

The 70s brought us two unrelated people which furthered both sides of the cause of conspiracies.  Charles Berlitz who I doubt you have heard of and Richard Nixon who I hope you have.  Berlitz brought us myths such as The Bermuda Triangle and the Philadelphia Experiment and the ever present, Roswell. Berlitz invented mythical cover-ups around real events and revised history for profit.  He fed a distrusting public and they ate it up like cake.

 

Nixon proved the Government could not be trusted and that they did cover things up.  People may deny today he did what he did but simple research will show anyone, he did much more than he is credited with and the public has to do a little reading to really comprehend it.  The earth was fertile for distrust and assumption.

 

This era is when conspiracies took root in this country.  Not the first appearance of them, not the first time, but this is when so many conspiracies started to have support groups and books and entire industries profiting from fringe ideas with almost no evidence to support them because they fed the need to justify distrust in a system we must depend upon.  And there is the key to a conspiracy, distrust in a system or person or event, we depend upon; Disproportionate power.

 

So then, what does a conspiracy theory give the believer?  Knowing what were not supposed to, seeing behind the curtain is the basis of so many stories in culture, long before the conspiracy era.  Knowing what were not supposed to, brings back some of the imbalance of power.

 

In a global culture and economy, a government’s first job is to protect itself and it’s allies.  This makes a nations people feel disenfranchised.  There is and should be a natural distrust of government.  We know, even if we don’t want to accept, that our government only sees it’s citizens as a resource.  This means it does not have its citizens best interests in mind, only sustainability.

 

Not trusting the Government, is natural and even … logical.

 

Conspiracies come in many topics and styles.  Some are very accusatory such as the Moon Landing theories.  The government faked it all and is lying entirely.  Then there are more passive ones like the Bermuda Triangle where it is assumed there is an unknown cause for a fictional disproportionate loss of shipping and planes in that area and the government knows and not telling.  In reality, if this is a conspiracy it is harmless.

 

Myth is often the basis of conspiracies.  Myth can try to be validated by conspiracy.  Some may say that the myth of the Loch Ness monster is a conspiracy against creationism.  Some could say the same thing about Bigfoot.  Some say the moon landing is a myth because it was a lie created in an attempt to win the cold war.  Although we did win the race but the cold war didn’t end so not much proof there.

 

As mentioned, I have studied most conspiracy theories and most major myths.  I did this to learn for myself, if there is a basic simple reason people believe in conspiracies; that they are true.  I found very little truth in most.  There is some truth in any, as mentioned.  But most theories have to ignore many facts or rearrange them or outright lie to make a bed of truth to lie down in.

 

There is also a fine line between incomplete truths and conspiracy theories.  For instance, there was likely a second man in the Lindbergh kidnapping, but he got away.  He is known if you look into it but for many, it is not enough so some are convinced that the gaps in the events must be filled in with a conspiracy, such as Lindbergh killed his own son since he did not live up to the image of the American male Lindbergh was, himself.

 

There is a strong parallel between this and the Kennedy theory.  Hauptmann was considered to be too dim witted to have done the Lindbergh kidnapping alone.  Same holds true for many in regard to Oswald.  Lindbergh was a MASSIVE star at the time, likely bigger than most modern people can appreciate.  Kennedy was … Kennedy.  It is tough for us to accept that a lesser man can so easily impact a greater one. Each crime, differing greatly, offer the same fertile ground for conspiracy.

 

When there is a rich fertile ground available for a conspiracy theory to grow, we get more.  Some of the fertilizer is that there have been true conspiracies.  So can we honestly believe that the ones we know are true, are the only one that are true?  No.

 

Which ones have been true?

 

That is a long list depending how far ya wanna go but here are some: The Tuskegee Experiment, MK Ultra, poisoning of alcohol in prohibition, the collection of personal data by cell carriers for the US Govt. (still going on BTW and google is now in the game), Gulf of Tonkin attack was faked, the claim of WMDs was a lie, big tobacco and cancer, Dow Chemical and Monsanto on numerous occasions …  There are many times the government or big industry conspired to lie, deceive or cover up.

 

For me, I do happen to believe in conspiracies, but not the mainstream ones, for the most part.  I do believe that there was a second shooter but I have only read one book that had the same specific theory.

 

I believe that Bin laden was not killed in 2011.  That is a complex one that I can go into in another posting but that is a whopper of a theory of mine.

 

I believe in Bigfoot.

 

These serve no purpose to you, other than to show that I too am a believer in some, even with my skeptical and curious nature.  Why?  I am just as much a part of human nature as you.

 

Some are flights of fancy.  Some are a need to believe so we feel more in control or secure.  All of us crave one thing, even if you feel you don’t, power.  Power offers security and control.  Even if you go far in being submissive, the submissive holds the ultimate power.  They granted the power to another, and can can deny it again.  Ultimately, they are in control.  So, even those who appear to not want power, still have it.

 

Conspiracy theories serve three purposes.  They allow us our flights of fancy that we can set our mind free to form a world that better meets our needs.  We can see what we want to see, and that serves us.  They allow us to make more sense in a world that seems to make less and less.  Believing in them also grants us the ultimate gift when we believe we are one of the few that can see behind the curtain …

power.

Why do I believe in Bigfoot?  Because it serves me.

JEEP Buyers are Often Wrong

Jeep is a long time brand name.  I wont get into where, when and how the name came about but anyone who knows the story generally knows that the original civilian Jeep, the CJ, was a barely street softened WWII military version.  Then, it was the swiss army knife of vehicles.  They were used as farm implements, for hunting, for back country business operations and was a favorite in oil field exploration.  Essentially, it was a no frills purpose driven vehicle.

 

Jeep has changed hands many times and is now a division of Fiat-Chrysler.  Jeep accounts for about 20% of Fiat’s world wide sales. But the Jeep was an oddity until the CJ5 and 7.  They then started to become more mainstream.  At that time they were owned by AMC who also expanded the Jeep line to include a Cherokee and Wagoneer and the Comanche Pick-up.  They even tried to bleed off the Jeep reputation with the AMC Eagle.  A 4-wheel drive vaguely off roadable station wagon type thing.  The Cherokee eventually returned in a successful model in the 80s executing the off road wagon idea beautifully until 2001.

 

The CJ became the YJ became the TJ, to the JK to now the JL.  This is the Brand model.  This is the direct decedent line to the crown.  There were sub models that started to define different packages such as Laredo, Golden Eagle and others and eventually the model became known as the Wrangler.  Then there was a distinction in the line and the Rubicon was born in the early 2000s.  This raised the off road game for the brand and it has become a heritage.  Many can argue if it is better than non Rubicons but you are wasting your breath.

 

When the name Jeep is used in areas where the name is known, which is just about anywhere, it evokes images of off road rigs with dirt and dust and likely even some body damage and modifications.  What comes to mind, it the Wrangler line.

 

THAT is the image that the name evokes.  Until the Grand Cherokee, all the models were aimed at a utilitarian purpose.  Most were designed to be off road capable.  There are many arguments from many groups about the various abilities of each off road vehicle but if you notice, they compare the ability to the Wrangler, or more specifically, the Rubicon.  That is called being the “Industry Standard”.

 

The following models have one thing in common: The Grand Cherokee starting in 1993,  the 02-12 Liberty, the 07-17 Patriot, the 06-10 Commander, the 07 to present Compass, the 14 to present Cherokee, and the 15 to present Renegade.  None of them are off road capable cars.  Notice I said cars.  They are NOT off road vehicles.  Some of them have low range cases and that’s nice but essentially useless on these vehicles.  Some of these are only front wheel drive.  Most of the modern ones mentioned are based on Fiat car tubs.  They are not off road capable but they are being sold using the off road image.

 

I’m sorry, you are wrong if you feel that any of these models, including the Trailhawk editions, are really off road capable.  They are the groupie standing next to the MMA fighter.  You are fooling yourself if you date them.

 

There is s small percentage of Jeep drivers who actually live and make the image the name evokes.  Even most Wranglers and Rubicons never really go off roading: Not the kind of off roading they are capable of anyhow.  To drive to a river and go fishing may be fun in a Jeep, but you could likely do it in a two wheel drive Toyota Pick up.

 

When I see these cars driving around with the Jeep name on them it makes me cringe.  It is like a cobbled up Ferrari kit car.  Fiat-Chryser just needs to name these things Fiat and be done with it.  There is nothing Jeep about a modern Renegade or Commander.

 

This is no more a Jeep ….

FnF Jeep

Than this is a Ferrari ….

vette kit

That’s a Kit car by the way, based on a Pontiac Fiero.  Drives like one too …

 

The Real Tokyo Rose

Tokyo Rose

 

Tokyo Rose of WWII radio fame was not a real person.  For the most part.  The Tokyo Broadcasting company employed around 20 English speaking women who did shows on the radio aimed at the allied soldiers in the Pacific theater of war.  Most were propaganda and all were tilted to make life less comfortable for allied solders in the Pacific.  But there was no actual woman named Tokyo Rose, in fact it was a generic term referencing all of the women on the various shows.

 

There is one complication to this though from an interview with Hurst Broadcasting after the war.  Iva Toguri answered questions for almost 4 hours compiling 17 pages of notes about her role as the voice of “Zero Hour”, one of the shows on Tokyo Broadcasting.  The issue is, when she signed the notes of the interview, she signed it ‘Tokyo Rose’.

 

In this one act, she consigned herself to a future she had no idea could land on her.  ‘Zero Hour’ was written by an Australian POW Major Charles Cousins and American POW Capt. Wallace Ince.  Both were forced to work on the show under threat of violence.  They wrote the script, Iva Toguri read it.  She was reportedly told by Capt. Ince that she was acting under his orders.  With that foundation, Iva Toguri never saw herself as anything negative for the allied soldiers so she never distanced herself from the label of ‘Tokyo Rose’.

 

Most GIs enjoyed the various shows and considered them entertainment.  Only 10% considered any of the 20 broadcasters and shows to be harmful.  She was envisioned by most GIs as a Geisha girl who was sexy and sultry and the broadcasts fed fantasy that helped fill the distance they felt from their homes.  The voice of ‘Zero Hour’ was among the most popular among the soldiers so it is natural for Iva Toguri to see herself as a positive rather than a negative to the American soldiers.

 

This was an important distinction for her for since those American GIs didn’t know that Iva Toguri was an American Citizen.  She was born in Los Angeles on the 4th of July and graduated from UCLA.  She was sent back to Japan prior to the war to look after her ailing Aunt.  She was almost out of Japan when the war started.  She couldn’t go home and was deemed an Enemy Alien since when offered, she refused to renounce her US citizenship.

 

Later in the war when she met and married a Portuguese citizen also stranded in Japan, she had the opportunity to become a Portuguese citizen. She again refused to lose her US citizenship.

 

Iva Toguri never went by the name ‘Tokyo Rose’ on the air and no one else did either.  She was first known as Ann on her shows, eventually adopting the name Orphan Ann to reflect her status as an alien in Japan.  Her shows would play American music popular in the US at the time and read fake news reports of fictitious ships having been sunk.  Some accounts of her shows reported more ships having been sunk in the show than the US Navy had.

 

Eventually, largely due to her embracing the label Tokyo Rose after the war, she attracted the attention of Walter Winchell, American journalist and broadcaster who took it upon himself in that era to be the conscious of America. Toguri had already been arrested and detained under the suspicion of treason but she was released due to lack of evidence.  When she attempted to return to the US after her release, this is when Winchell stepped in.

 

He took this story and manufactured his own case.  He used his power and audience to make up information leading to the re-arrest of Toguri.  By the time the arrest took place, it was more in response to the American people following the creative non-fiction Winchell was planting on his radio shows.  A witch hunt followed.

 

She did return to the US, as a prisoner under arrest rather than a citizen coming home.  In the public eye, she was convicted long before she arrived in the US.  The trial would not stand up to scrutiny in any valid legal view but it did happen.  The jury was split and was out for a week but was not permitted to come back hung.  The only way the jury would go home was to come back with a verdict.

 

The environment in the US at the time as the Red Scare was being born, led to a guilty verdict.  No evidence of treason was ever presented.  The only witnesses to her spoken words of treason were men from Japan who were coerced into testifying.  Her radio shows were all recorded but showed no evidence of treason.  Those tapes were never played for the jury.  Most of the witnesses against her in trial recanted their testimony soon after saying they were threatened by the government to falsely testify.   She was sentenced to ten years.  She served seven.

 

Upon release, she was not a citizen.  She lived in the US for 20 years with no citizenship of any nation.

 

In 1976, President Ford pardoned her and reinstated her citizenship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ann, then later Orphan Ann

Harry Brundage of cosmo

Clark Lee of international news service

 

 

She eventually married during the war and again had the opportunity to renounce her citizenship and become a citizen of Portugal like her husband.  She refused.

 

Labor Memories

 

As a child, Labor Day was a sad time.  The end of summer.  The start of school.  The end of time of locusts, lightning bugs and late night adventuring in the woods.  Basically, summer was ideal as a child and all things were possible.  BTW, we never watched TV.  No time for it.

 

As I got older, that pattern ended when school ended but Labor Day was still a tough time.  Slight stomach pains, a little anxiety.  Some melancholy.  Even as a young adult, those set in patterns of Labor Day blues remained.

 

Then later still, a new pattern stepped into my summer traditions.  Labor Day became a time of great anticipation.  I would schedule my summer around it.  I never missed it once the pattern was set.

Summit Point small bore

 

For 6 years running, Labor Day meant the Labor Day Double road races at Summit Point Raceway.  One event, twice the races.  In that level of racing you had to take part to keep your license and that meant two races.  Some people would show up just for that event to keep their license current.  But it was also usually the last points paying event of the year for the Middle Atlantic Road Racing Series Championship, MARRS.

 

It brought the best amateur road racers in the region and over that time, the fields grew and the intensity was palpable.  In the beginning of that time, 200 cars would show up for a multi class end of season shoot out.  By the end of my time, the number swelled to 350 cars spread out over 9 races.  The track would literally be busting at the fences.  It was the closest thing I knew to pro racing to that point.

Summit Point SPO incar

 

I would invite all I knew and I would feed anyone who showed up.  This was also usually the hottest time of the year in that region with 100 deg. temperatures and 100% humidity.  My black car, and a three layer suit and the car being open all made for a physically challenging race.  I didn’t care.

 

What I cared about was the huge fields, usually nearing 50 cars and in the later years, I was always in it for a win.

 

The heat would rise off the pavement like a desert and the sun was often unabated.  Each race would rotate in turn giving the pavement little rest.  Often times the asphalt was near 150 deg.  My black car, in the later years of my amateur years in the east, was a fixture at the front and the metaphorical target was on my back.  I loved it that way.  I even took the mid august race off one year to make improvements for the Labor Day event.

 

There was nothing like that event.  If I qualified well I would be near or at the front of the grid, placed in the order we had qualified.  50 cars behind me in my mirror.  I’d be seated in my car, uniform on, gloves, balaclava and helmet on the cowl of my car, and trying to relax in the shade of the umbrella my team held to keep me somewhat cooler.

 

The 5 minutes to go whistle would blow signifying 5 minutes until the field would roll onto the track for the pace lap.  Heart beat up.  Breathing up.  Anticipation high.  I’d take my time, put in my earbuds, balaclava on, helmet on with visor up, gloves on and belts tighter.

 

Watch for Shirley to walk to the other wooden yellow board with the 1 on it.  A whistle blows.  One minute to roll off and Gayle walks out to the entrance to the track to split the field.  I tighten my belts again, harder this time.  Uncomfortable and right.  My crewchief Dicky leans down and says, “GO FAST, TAKE CHANCES” and slaps my visor closed.  I would start my engine and my race tape.

 

The car vibrates, it heats up.  It drowns out the 50 other vehicles doing the same.  After Shirley set down the yellow 1 board she would return and circle her finger and blow a whistle.  the official sign to start engine.  This is a mere formality as all are running.

 

As the field rolls off on the the track past Gayle indicating the side of the track your car will be on for the two by two start, you warm up the car, most importantly the brakes and tires.  The engine will warm on its own.  The facility for this event would be as full as it ever is.  People at the sides of the track, in the stands and camping out.  The field slows to a crawl as it nears turn 10 onto the front straight.

 

The pace car drops off onto pit lane, the field is mine.  50 cars follow me to the front straight.  50 cars wanting to be where I was.  Where it took me years and thousands of hours of work to get to.  The field pulses as we round turn 10 and stare only at the starter, standing stoic, still and expressionless.

 

Only two options.  A waving green flag or a back and forth head indicating no start due to an untidy field where racers were out of position.  The second song of the race tape comes on.  Just before the green flag waves, Motley Crue kicks in.  The race is on and there is no greater moment in life.  No greater moment of anticipation and risk.

 

Full throttle.  Give no inch.  Take any position needed to defend your position.  The field all collapses into turn one in one mass, take the turn, own it, lead the field out … throttle down and give no foot.  Give no inch.  Give nothing.  Take all …  Prove them right.

 

Labor day was my anticipation of the entire season.  The moment the flag would drop would be the pinnacle of my season.  My moment I lived for. All else took second.  Everyone took seconds.  The cost was all.  The reward was a moment no one understood … but me.

runoffs 98

 

This day, 20 years ago I dominated the 1997 season and the event.  It marked my undefeated season.  In the previous two years I had lost my best racing friend Chris Kogan and my mentor and father figure, Tim Mountjoy.  I had just won previously, Mountjoy’s memorial race.  The most demanding race of my life.  This day 20 years ago marked my last official regional amateur race.  The next year started my National career.

 

labor day mt joy

 

Stop, please ….

I am going to be fairly strait on this one.  I am speaking as your neighbor, your friend, the guy in the Jeep in the woods and the one ahead of you in the line at the Supermarket.  NOT as the other side.

 

For too long and now, too deeply we are dividing.  We are dividing on only a few issues but they run deep and these are growing pains.  I get it.  But it pains me not to see division, but division based on lies, miss information and willing lack of understanding.

 

I know no cure and I often feel I am fighting the wind.  A hot wind.  An evil wind at times.  Not your evil, not my evil … hatred.  Know why people get angry over some hot button issues?  Fear.  Fear is the root of anger.  This topic angers me as much as racism and elitism.  But I keep trying.  Not trying to change anything, I am but one man against the wind.  I will be happy to get someone to listen.

 

I have listened my whole life on the gun issue.  I have listened and tried to understand and I cannot.  Or at least, not yet.  I understand all I can right now but I don’t honestly feel the other side is listening at all.  Or even trying.

 

Here is a song I just discovered in this version … It reflects how I feel this issue has become.  Dark.  Heavy.  Painful.  Divisions are running deep.  And dividing.  I ask you … just read what I am writing.  You don’t have to like it, or even believe it, or like me.  I’ll take the hatred if it means you listened, not just heard.  But this is my side.  I speak the same words as many others on my side but I speak for me.  ME.  Not the other side.

Me …

Listen please.

 

 

 

 

We have a strong, proud and vibrant gun culture in this nation.  (The US, as if I needed to say that)  The culture is all based on the second amendment.  “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  I put that there because it is miss-quoted more than Mark Twain.

 

I get it, it is there in calligraphy on parchment, (not hemp, sorry miss guided 420 revisionists), that makes it all very official.  I agree.  I am also a gun owner.  I get it.  The gun culture in this country is full of many very proud and hard working men and women.  This is not an anti-gun blog nor one seeking gun laws.  I expect no new gun laws in my lifetime.  And within 15 years I expect to have no laws governing them at all.

 

Much of the point I will be making is about the culture around guns that has been built by gun owners and one special interest group called the NRA.  They don’t speak for who you think, but we’ll get to that.  I wont pretend to know it all since I am not really part of this culture.  Much like someone telling me why people race cars or Jeep or write when they do not, I wont speak for a culture and proud people I am not part of.  I will talk about what I have seen and what I have been told.  This is from my perspective and information I can quote and trust.

 

First, I will point out this culture seems to be rife with myths and ubiquitous facts often claimed as unique to support the culture.  The first is very direct.  I have heard much of my life that this nation was forged from war and thus the need to be armed is necessary for a “free state”.  Almost every nation was forged in war so this is not validation alone when so many nations who have a strong history in war have very restrictive gun laws as well so that argument is not well armed, nor does it make sense.

 

Most nations in Europe were forged in war and they have fought more wars and actually been invaded in most cases yet they have fewer guns.  They have been invaded, we have not really.  Only by the Brits, twice.  And those were long before this gun culture arose.  And no, they were not invaded BECAUSE they have fewer guns.  We’ll get to that.

 

Secondly, the military serves the role of national defense, or as the Second Amendment states, the “Militia”.  The people are not expected to and would not be able to defend this nation from any other nations military, or militia.  Even if every man and woman in America had guns, it would be damn hard to stave off a true Army with your invisible one.  It is NOT about national defense, get over that idea.  It sounds silly.

 

Third, the Switzerland example. Please, get the information right.  Every time I hear this nation come up in the gun debate I am told they have 100% gun ownership.  That isn’t even close.  The estimates are between 20% and 40%.  Not close to 100% so PLEASE, stop lying to yourself.  At one point they did have much higher % as part of national defense.  They dropped it.  They are also between two nations that fought on opposing sides in two world wars in 30 years.  We are not, nor ever been, or ever will be.  They do have compulsory conscription though, if you’d like that and no one can own a machine gun which would make at least three of my friends felons.  Also, conceal and carry permits which are a joke here are almost impossible to get there.  They also have to have their medical records reviewed for EVERY gun purchase permit and EVERY GUN is registered.  Up to 3.  Three.  Tre.  Not unlimited, three … you would have to get rid of more than half your guns on average.  Wanna keep siting the Swiss example?  I’d love the Swiss example applied here.  It would be welcome by many.

 

Getting back to the idea that citizens will defend the nation from foreign aggression as the “Invisible Army”.  That is an embarrassing statement.  Please stop saying it.  First off, there is a sub culture in this nation that often refers to itself as “The Invisible Empire”.  As the invisible army you sound like the army for the invisible empire.  If you don’t know, the invisible empire is the KKK.  If that is your intent, so be it, First Amendment baby, but you sound silly calling yourself the invisible army.

 

There are about 100 million gun owners in the country.  The average person who owns a gun, owns 7.  This is from the NRA before someone claims I am using liberal propaganda.  Now I admit, this is a lot of guns.

 

But the idea that gun owners believe they are invisible, or an army, is mythical and immature.  #1, gun owners are anything but invisible.  Many of the ones I know wear their guns with pride.  They love to talk about them.  They wear them often and talk about how many they own.  The NRA and 2nd Amendment bumper sticker or in my region, RMGO and armed Calvins for God’s sake are far from invisible.  This is a declaration, not invisibility.  If you are referring to unofficial, not in uniform army as invisible, then ok, makes a little more sense but please see #2.

 

#2 To claim yourselves as an army is an immature power fantasy of childhood and Hollywood.  Lets consider the Army, the real one.  The one with months, years and generations of training based on centuries of refined principles for both individual skills and military planning.  To think 100 million men and women with Glocks and HnKs are an army cause they go shoot in the forest illegally 3 times a year and leave a mess behind like it is their urine on a tree is not training.  I suspect you know that too.  A large well armed group of people acting without regulation is not called an army, it is called a mob.  Mobs usually don’t end well for the citizens.  Look up Reginald Denny and get back to me.  Please explain this as an army.

 

One of the other common myths in my part of the country is the idea that the west was settled with guns and they were responsible for the calming of the west.  This is so wrong it is embarrassing.  I wrote about it in “How the West Was Won …”

https://5280nup.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/how-the-west-was-won/

The west was not like the movies love to portray.  The west as we know it was largely made up by penny novels sold in the east about the west where no one was there to offer the truth.  The myth was further perpetuated by Buffalo Bill’s Wild West.  Both, were fiction for profit.  Neither were wrong because neither were trying to be factual.  They were and are fiction and so is the myth the west was won because each settler carried guns and used them to kill Indians.  If you get your accepted history to support the gun culture from Hollywood, I am starting to understand.

 

Colt Frontier

 

The west was tamed from cold hard steel.  The plow.  Few people in the American West owned guns.  They were damn expensive to own, much more so than now as a percentage of income, and bullets were also very expensive.  The price of one quality gun could feed a family for half a year.

 

The old west as many see it is 100% the product of Hollywood and fantasy.  There is no record  known of any middle of the street mano-a-mano gun fights that seem to happen in every western.  Shootings and some shoot outs did happen.  But that was lawlessness, not civilization.

 

The most common claim I hear in this country regarding guns is the gun people carry under their shirt for protection.  Ok, I get it.  You are scared.  You carry a gun that is heavy and uncomfortable and not easy to sit while wearing so you must be scared.  I ask you this, what are you so scared of?  I have never carried a gun and never been a victim of a crime a gun would have prevented.  Neither has most Americans.  Neither have most of you.  And it is not likely because you carry one, it is concealed, remember?

 

Gun owners seem to me to be the most scared of all.  They seem to arm themselves with one of on average 7 guns because they are scared.  But what I hear is, “I’m not scared, because I carry a gun.”  Fair enough.  But you seem very scared.  Seven guns and you wear one to the woods where you know most people with you and the odds of being attacked by a human is statistically impossible to measure and not likely by an animal since you rarely go alone and animals usually avoid humans.  There is a slight statistical chance you will be attacked or robbed or killed in the big bad scary city that the Road Warrior lives in but pay attention to the realities of guns when fired later in this piece.

 

Here is the irony.  Many gun owners claim they want lax gun laws so they can protect themselves from those who have such free access to guns …. say that aloud to yourself and see how you sound.  Do you also feel that the best way to put out a fire is with fire?  (yes I know forest fires can work that way)  And the best solution to a flood is more water.  I assume you turn on the heat when you are too hot. When your child gets the flu, do you have other kids with the flu come over and play with them in hopes of a cure?  Do you pay bills with other bills?  The answer to gun violence is more guns?  Really?

 

Since 2014 a gentleman in Kentucky, Mark Bryant, who is an avid gun owner has been tracking gun violence in America.  Of the 100,000 or so violent acts committed with gun in that time, according to the national statistics he tracks, 3% were in self defense.  3% …. Three ….  That is the same as saying that if Gary Johnson won 3% of the vote, he should be president.  That sounds stupid doesn’t it.  Especially to many gun owners.

http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/

gun violence archive

 

Are the other 97% of gun violence acts justified or simply “acceptable losses” or collateral damage so we can have the 3%?  Would you mind if 97% of your family was killed so 3% could live?  Even if there is no proof or even strong evidence the other 3% would die?  This is how you sound to me.  “I’ll be part of the 3% so I don’t care about the other 97%.”  Very neighborly.  Very friendly.  You sound very patriotic.

 

Mr. Bryant developed his site for one purpose, keep in mind he is a happy and proud gun owner.  He wants a real discussion about guns, not one based on myth, lies and manipulation.  Truth is hard to find on this topic, not because it does not exist, not because it is hard to track, because it is a deadly issue killing thousands every year, and millions of people trying to convince everyone else the answer to gun violence is more guns.  And they are angry.  Very angry.  That is obvious.

 

Do you know that the leading cause of death for black males in America ages 16 to 35 is homicide?  Maybe you will care about this, the third most likely cause of death for white males 16-25 is homicide.  Is the solution more guns?  Bigger guns?  Is the solution your illegal machine guns you proudly post videos of firing on Facebook and assume we wont mind if YOU break the law?  Or capture that video and turn you in to the local LEO and FBI?  What is a law abiding patriot to do ….

 

Proving a false positive is the simple principle that if I carry a gun and never been robbed or killed then I was not robbed or killed because I carry a gun.  The same could be said for shoes.  You wear shoes more often so that could be the reason.  Or maybe it is the simple idea that few people are are victims of a crime a gun could prevent.  Ever.  Crime is pretty much statistically spread among guns owners and non-gun owners equally, and rare.  So far the guns are not preventing many crimes.  Hardly any in fact.  3% according to gun loving and proud American Mark Bryant.

 

Most of my gun owning friends are very careful and responsible gun owners.  They use trigger locks and gun safes and lock boxes.  Many also do not store the ammunition with the gun.  That is also very responsible.  But this means it is not about protection.  In the time it would take me to sneak into your house (part of my past) and you finally hear me or see me if at all cause I am not there to interact with you at all, I can be out of your house and down the street before you can get to any of your 7 safely locked away guns.

 

I could have also beat you with your shoe as you opened your gun safe.  Or are you expecting me to wait as you open your gun locker?  I’m quite confused about this safety and home defense claim.

 

… Many gun owners claim they want lax gun laws so they can protect themselves from those who have such free access to guns …

 

Or … do you in reality have several of your 7 or more guns in your home hidden in ultra safe and sneaky places around the house, like by the front door behind the coat rack or in the drawer of your night stand where no one would ever think to look when they sneak into your house at night.  Or the one hidden in the corner of your closet, behind something so it is not obvious or found by your children. Or clipped to your steering column or under your seat or in the glove box or ….

 

Maybe they aren’t all as safe as you claim.

 

I referenced the number of times I have seen Facebook posts of people I know firing a machine gun in the woods, and I am certain most if not all do not have the tax stamp to permit a machine gun.  Makes me wonder who the lawless people are.  Makes me wonder alot about your honorable claims… Who is lawless and who should we be scared of.  Many of us wonder who is the preacher and who is the choir.  We know who is singing …

 

Those in defense of free gun purchases often have said to me, “well, gun statistics and deaths from them are so hard to track so most information out there is inaccurate.”  Yet, they will tell me millions of people use guns in self defense every year.  So THAT is the only valid and track-able gun statistic?  In reality, gun violence is one of the most tracked statistics in law.  The truth is not a lie just cause you don’t like it.  It is easily tracked, as evidenced by gun owning Republican Mr. Bryant who is tracking them for you.

 

“It’s clear from Bryant’s data that there aren’t anywhere near the 1-2.5m instances of defensive gun use per year that gun rights advocates claim. Those figures, unlike Bryant’s, are based largely on the results of a survey [not actual legal tracking] taken more than 20 years ago. Because it’s an estimate, there’s no way to verify the incidents, something advocates attribute to the nature of crime reporting.”  That stats are very available if you like them or not.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/23/kentucky-gun-owner-gun-violence-archive-mark-bryant

 

Lets be clear on one thing, other than target shooting guns, guns have one purpose.  Guns are designed and intend to kill.  They are designed to as efficiently as possible, end life.  They are very efficient at it.  The machine gun is the deadliest invention in history.  Guns are only invented to end life.  Responsible gun owners will also say, you do not draw a gun unless you intend to use it.  A gun’s only use is to kill.  Unless you plan on and intend to end another life do not un-holster your gun.  I agree.

 

I say this to be clear that every person carrying a gun around you, around your kids, is carrying one of the very few items in the world an individual can carry that is solely intended to terminate life.  It is not often said, that that .32 pistol in the holster under the person’s jacket in the line behind you at the store was designed to be efficient at killing another human.

 

This doesn’t mean the owner is wanting to kill, or hoping to kill or needing to kill.  But it is also reality that the person carrying that .32 semi automatic in the line behind you at the store has likely never been trained how to fire it in close quarters at a moving target.  Do you know that there is a common culture among the concealed carry crowd that if the gun you carry is under .40 cal. you are a pipsqueak?  They seem to be obsessed about size …

 

Most people killed by those firing in self defense were unarmed.  But you have convinced yourself you,  with no training in this kind of weapon use, will defend yourself in a King Supers.  Who is the most likely to die in this scenario?  How many innocent’s deaths are the acceptable loss for your right to carry?  That is the scenario I often hear … ‘I am behind you at the supermarket, I am armed, you are not.  If a criminal comes into the store to steal hoho’s and is armed, I am willing to and armed to protect myself, and you… ‘  Bullshit.  That’s not likely why you carry it.

 

https://5280nup.wordpress.com/2016/06/16/dont-use-me/

 

  • I offer a simple observations:
  • Those most adamant about responsible gun ownership have not passed any laws governing ownership.
  • The Brady Bill has been dismantled in most states due to NRA funding.
  • Most who oppose gun laws blame liberals.  James Brady was a Republican and it would not have passed if not for the 16 Republican Senators who voted for it.
  • Those who criticize gun laws as ineffective, don’t seem to be doing anything at all to propose effective ones.
  • Those trying to stop grade schooler’s from being killed, are very confused by those who only propose more guns as a solution to gun violence.
  • Most of the nation is waiting for those who claim to be responsible gun owners to propose responsible gun regulation.
  • The only logical conclusion we can come to is, those who believe in gun ownership believe in unrestricted and un-tracked gun ownership for all.  Because that is the only termination of the path we are one with these laws.

 

Also, for those who are not gun enthusiasts, it is important to know that buying or owning a gun does not require any guidance in using a lethal device that can be carried in public.  NoneNo training in loading it or its safety features.  For a conceal and carry permit I am told there is a written test.  The written test is not about safety as much as how to not get into legal trouble.  Only some testers require you to demonstrate the ability to fire a gun down range.  “Down Range” does not assume skill or marksmanship in a crowded space like that supermarket.  It tests to see if you know which way to aim it and how to fire it down range.   That is essentially it.  BTW, if you believe hitting the tree in the woods, where you leave your shells for other patriots to clean it up like poop in a parking lot, is skill enough to fire in a King Supers, you are a fool.  An armed one.

 

Those of you with conceal and carry permits … have you had holster training by someone who knows?  Do you know that most self inflicted wounds and deaths come when un-holstering your sidearm?  Do you know that it is harder to get a Ham radio license than a conceal and carry permit?  How many people have ever been killed with a ham radio?

 

I have been told, “Any responsible gun owner will know more than just how to fire a gun down range”.  I agree.  Most of my friends have gone into the woods with their friends and fired guns with one another.   We know this from the crap you leave behind, everywhere.  Yet the papers are full of stories demonstrating that this is not enough of a skill set.  I have also been in the woods with friends when an accidental discharges has occurred.  More than once.  NO JEEPS WERE KILLED IN THE MAKING OF THIS ARTICLE.

 

Most gun owners have never been formally trained on use and almost none have been trained on how to use one in a public area.  This has always made me wonder who that person behind me will kill if hey pull it out only with the intent to use it which means they intend to kill.

 

Do those people carrying a gun in the line at Walmart “for your protection” know what ammunition to use for close quarters firing?  Do you know that the ammunition most people own, which is great for shooting trees in the woods and penetrate well is NOT the ammunition you want for protection in Walmart?  Gun owners I know LOVE to talk about penetration.

 

… Many gun owners claim they want lax gun laws so they can protect themselves from those who have such free access to guns …

 

If you have a gun in your home and you have kids, IF that gun ever kills anyone, which is rare, the most likely person to be killed according to national fire arm statistics is your child.  The second most likely is your child’s friend.  The third most likely person to be killed with your gun in your home is your significant other.  The fourth most likely to be killed with your gun in your home, is you.  That robber you seem terrified of and itching to kill doesn’t even make the top four.  Are those the acceptable losses for your ‘protection’?  Outside of your home, the most likely person to be killed with your gun, is you.  Again, most guns never kill anyone.  But that is what they are best at and the only thing they are intended to do.

 

I understand that people who are scared of the unlikely event of home invasion or being present at a robbery or if the Cubans invade Colorado via Mexico they want a gun for self protection.  But we know these are very rare.  Hell, Colorado has only been invaded by Cuba via Mexico once in history and only occurred in Hollywood.  Some will say the news is full of evidence to the contrary.  Agreed, gun violence is a common occurrence.  100,000 acts since 2014.  But according to your own Mr. Bryant most of that gun violence is not in defense.  Where is this self defense you speak of?

 

Every day we hear people shooting guns in public.  But how often do you hear of people defending themselves with a personal firearm? It does happen.  I will never deny that so please don’t quote me the little old lady who defended herself from 8 rapists in her home with an AR15.  Heard it many times and it seems to happen every year and the number of rapists grows along with her age and the profile of the gun.  This doesn’t mean the story, in some version is not true.  I am sure it is.  I can easily picture it.

 

Again, this is not about gun laws or an anti gun stance, I am working towards something.  Bear with me. (pun intended)

 

Do you know that you can be sued for discharging a firearm in public?  Even if you hit Bin Laden and kill him and prevent him from stealing all the kittens from the internet?  (yes I know he is dead, work with me here)  Civil suits do not require legal conviction or even arrest, even though discharging a firearm in public is illegal.  Do you know that each person endangered can sue you?  Do you know that the average settlement is about $4,000,000 per person suing you? Do you know that on average the court cases last for 12 years for one discharge?  Do you have a good lawyer with that gun?  Food for thought.

 

… Many gun owners claim they want lax gun laws so they can protect themselves from those who have such free access to guns …

 

I am also a counselor.  I can tell you from first hand accounts from clients that the killing of another human, even in combat but this is very not about combat, is devastating.  It is something we approach from the holstered side of this argument like Bruce Willis in Die Hard.  Yippie Ki Yay mother … lover.  We think of this hero idea and think we will defend our family and all in the supermarket from the dude who is trying to steal the Hohos.  If you think this is why you should carry a gun do all responsible gun owners a favor and STAY HOME.

 

Go back to my statistic about the most likely one to be killed by your gun … imagine your child being killed by YOUR gun.  Imagine any child being killed by YOUR gun.  It is unlikely.  But from the un-holstered side of that argument, the stats are clear.  You better be ready to be a killer.  If you pull it out, you intend to kill, right?  That’s what I have heard all my life.  You are carrying the gun in-case you need to kill another human being.  Lets be simple and clear on that.  To review so far:

 

  • Your solution to gun violence is more guns.
  • It is harder to get a Ham radio operators license than a conceal and carry permit.
  • There has not been any significant gun laws passed in decades yet you are NRA and you vote … against what?
  • Did you know that the NRA works on behalf of the gun makers, not the gun owners?
  • Those who claim to be responsible gun owners are proposing no laws for gun ownership.

Just some perspectives ….

 

As I said, the way that most people quote the 2nd Amendment removes the first half.  “The right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed.” is not complete.  If it were that direct and simple that is all it would say.  “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  This from a nation that had no national army:  That did not spend 16% of its annual budget and 56% of discretionary budget every year on the military, that had no means to draft or much ability to even arm men for service.  That era is antiquated and long past.  Militias no longer exist.  Unless you count some small well armed factions in some remote areas of the west … I’m craving potatoes.

 

Here is the issue I have with all of this.  Yes, I think guns are silly.  To me they are a symbol of fear, not force.  They project and advertise fear to me.  They project fear of the unlikely much like walking around in hip waders in fear of a flood does.

 

I have no issue with gun owners other than some rationalizations being offered for why they own on average 7 guns.  This is about two of the rationalizations.  The first is do not try to justify your gun ownership as national defense.  You sound silly.  Consider armored vehicles and your .38, or the less pipsqueak like .45.  You and those of us with guns could not defend this nation from any reasonable army.  Look up ‘tank’ and get back to me.  Also, my disagreement with you does not mean I am leaving the country or even liberal.  I’m not.  The often heard attitude that I must agree with you to live here goes back to that invisible empire argument.  Oh yeah, and first amendment baby.  I’m not leaving no matter how many guns you own or carry.  I am protecting my nation right now … without a gun.

 

Second is that I know that gun laws would decrease gun deaths and reduce crime.  I know this because 17 industrialized, educated, intelligent nations have restrictive gun laws and they all have lower crime and murder rates than us.  Studies have been done and done and done and those not done by the NRA or paid by gun makers all show that gun laws work.  They also worked here when they have been enacted and before they were dismantled by one party and largely one gun selling advocacy group.  I noticed as have most on the other side that gun owners seem to want no gun laws so they can have a lawful nation…

 

But I am not proposing any gun law.  I am hoping for something far more simple…

 

… instead of claiming you are carrying that gun hidden under your jacket for mine or national protection, just say you like guns, or that you are very scared.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Stop lying that it is about my protection or national protection.  If you are scared, then maybe carrying a gun will help.  Maybe the most scared of us carry the biggest guns.  If you tell me over and over as I have heard that you are not scared, but you own 7 guns on average and am carrying one to the King Supers then I am confused.

Very confused.

 

Just say you like guns or they are beautiful or the craftsmanship or the RIGHT history … there is nothing wrong with that.

 

Just say the truth, not this lie about protecting me in a line at the store … you would kill me or most likely you or your kid or your wife.  And be sued.  And lose on average 4 million dollars, per settlement.  But I’m not sure the money would matter after killing your kid, or anyone else for that matter.  I’ll take my chances with the criminal. At least they aren’t lying about why they have a gun, if they do …most crimes do not involve a gun.

 

I have given up on the fear some gun owner ‘do gooder’ will kill me.  If it happens I will be dead, so what.  But I hope my estate sues the future out of you and takes your house, your pension, kids college fund and that lovely gun collection.  If  you shoot me, you better kill me or I will use the rest of the laws and our rights you claim to be defending to take everything I can from you… The same flesh you shoot off me I will take from you.  I can recommend good therapists and one hell of a defense lawyer though if you want to have them ready.

 

You only carry in case you have to use it.  You would not un-holser it unless you intend to kill.  That’s all that killing machine you are hiding on your hip is designed to do.  Kill.

 

… Many gun owners claim they want lax gun laws so they can protect themselves from those who have such free access to guns …

 

Why are you so scared?

 

The simple observations I recall when you tell me how you carry a gun for yours, mine or our nation’s protection are these:

  • I wonder why you are so scared when most people including my mother who is a 5 foot tall woman with gray hair who worked in South East DC for 8 years never carried a gun nor felt the need to.  Are you more scared than her?
  • The time when the word militia was used, it had a very different and clear meaning that has never been challenged at the Supreme Court.
  • You sound silly telling me you will protect the nation from invasion or terrorists with your untrained and obviously fearful skill set.
  • A concealed gun is not a deterrent.
  • You very likely have no training in close quarters use of a firearm.
  • The trees don’t shoot back and half the time you miss anyhow.
  • There are valid and normal reasons for owning guns, yet I almost never hear them stated by anyone.
  • Your reasons so often given sound like excuses, not reasons.
  • You sound scared.
  • 7 guns on average.
  • When you say you are wearing a gun for anyone-else’s protection, all I hear is that you desperately wish you were a super hero and really want to wear a mask and cape and kill someone.
  • Maybe you will…

I shall not be silent.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

Divine …

 

 

To love someone is the most divine human expression.

 

This is a world where we pay a lot of attention to the superficial.  We care more about breasts than courage.  More about income than character.  More about what others think than what we think of ourselves.  Crap.

 

I have loved.

My God have I loved.

I have poured my heart and soul out as tears and elation, on paper with pen, in books and in song and in time and travel.  I have loved with passion, determination and sometimes frustration.  I have been first kisses, first mores, first loves and have been the last of each of those for two.

 

It has been said when we look back on our lives, we will regret the things we didn’t do, more than the things we did.  I agree.  I hope, when my memory fades and I move on, I don’t forget the times I have loved completely, deeply, passionately …

Those are life to me.

Those are life to me.

Those are life.

 

There have been times I have barely been able to make ends meet.  And there have been times I was unable to love.  There have been few of either but the second are the ones that I feel ashamed of.

 

I will never put down the work it takes to love a single person and maintain a marriage for half a century.  It is a dying art.  But I also respect the ability to love more than once, one person, one relationship.

 

I have never been married, not for lack of trying or desire.  I have never had children, since I felt the first should come first, being a child of divorce and partially raised myself.  But I have loved more than many marriages have seen.  And I have amazing god-children I could not be more proud of.

 

I have known some amazing women and men.  I have dated some of those amazing women.  I have been friends with or stood up for some of those amazing men.  I have been blessed.  I have witnessed a birth and officiated a wedding.   How could I ask for more.

 

I do.

 

I want more.

 

I want to fall in love again.

 

Cause to do so…

Is the greatest of gifts and the most divine of expressions…

 

 

 

 

 

Not My Baby

BOB

I have become amused and confused by my generation’s need to seek others to manage their issues.  Appropriately what I consider to be the symbol of this generations issue is the “Baby On Board” sign adorning the back windows of vehicles owned by people either so amazed they did what many do by mistake, or making a declaration for others to abide by their expectations.

The signs started in 1984 when a parent and an uncle were more conscious of how people drove near their car when their precious cargo was on-board.  Since then, about 10 million of the little suckers (pun intended) have been sold.

I get the idea … be careful, precious cargo.  In some ways I can see added value of first responders knowing a child or infant is in the vehicle.  I can also see value in someone acting differently due to a car carrying an infant, but I doubt the second occurs and the first isn’t likely only because in most cases it would be obvious.

These are not the traits I am interested in however.  My generation has become excellent at blaming and casting responsibility even before the fact.  We see this in tort lawsuits.  Tort law is supposed to be about those who act deliberately to harm another.  It has become a money maker when anyone can cast any blame in anyone direction that leads to money, normally those with the deepest pockets involved, which precludes them really being the negligent party.  But we now see the flip side of that when we assume biggest business is the biggest offender based on them having the most money.

The sucker signs are a reflection of the village philosophy.  One I agree with but not in the 80s generation way.  I do believe we need to look out for one another.  I do believe that a neighborhood has a role in the raising of a child.  But that neighborhood, or village, does not have the responsibility of raising that child.  YOUR child.  I am willing to bet your neighbors did not ask if you were ready to help them raise a child before they had children.

Should I drive responsibly, yes.  Should I follow the laws, yes.  Should I consider factors beyond the law that may impact myself or others, yes.  However … the signs themselves are breaking the law in most jurisdictions by making a blind spot.  A blind spot where the driver may not see the vehicle in the near lane before they change into that lane thus cutting them off and causing the other to either brake dramatically or avoid.  This could cause a chain reaction 72 car pile up BEHIND the baby and the oblivious, in many ways, driver never knew.

The good and generous part of me wants to think the sign is about protection of those unable to speak for themselves.  But there is too much evidence to the contrary or at least the intent is poorly carried through.

The blind spot that can be generated by the sign is not small.  The blind spot installed in a car where the rear view mirror is often turned to some degree to keep tabs on the precious cargo the sign is there to protect starts adding to the issues.  This is two steps in the wrong direction.

Usually when I see the sign it is in the rear window of a vehicle passing me.  Now anyone who knows me knows I don’t dally.  Nor do I dilly.  So that means those asking me to be extra careful because they managed to breed, are passing me while i neither dilly nor dally which makes them at least hustling.  (The terms are flying almost as fast as many of those signs)

The number one cause of car accidents is driver error.  Now I know that can mean someone else error and not that of the driver where the child is riding but consider that the child spends all of it’s time riding with the driver and not always around others then the biggest risk to the driver is the driver of the vehicle the child is in.

I have two ideas for those who own these signs.  First, stick it to the windshield facing in, not on your rear widow facing out. YOU are the biggest risk.  I see these signs on poorly modified cars, usually small imports where bumper covers and side skirts have been modified for style and implied speed.  These choices compromise the integrity of the safety that you paid for in these cars.

Even when not, these signs are often in cars speeding by me in a car being driven by someone texting.  Texting is a bad idea anytime one is moving, but to think I am supposed to be extra careful cause you were able to breed and secured the rights to have that child for some portion of time in the custody hearing does not mean I need to be more careful than you, as you swipe left and right.

text baby drive

Also, the many things inside the car that come with the care and maintenance of a growing offspring, are numerous.  They are also usually not secured inside a car. I assume the sign is about preventing an accident.  So if said accident, negligent tort inspiring type or otherwise happens, the most dangerous aspects of the impending accident may be the cargo inside, namely all the stuff that is unsecured in the car.

I also know from asking several (4) people in law enforcement, and numerous parents, that child seats are rarely mounted as designed.  Therefore, how many issues could your own child sue YOU for that you are in the power to prevent yet you invest in a small blind spot generator to ask others to look out for you?

Which brings us to the second issue, stop looking for others to change their lives for you.  If this sign is to brag about being a parent, I’m glad you are proud, you should be but you are part of the problem.  I respect your desire to do all you can to protect your child but don’t expect others to do it for you.  Do all YOU can to protect the precious cargo first.  Do all YOU can and drive defensively.  I’m not saying that you must defend from us, anymore than we must defend from you, but looking outside for the responsibility for the liability that lies within is a losing idea.  It is also my generation’s theme.

That is where I chose to start my perspective on my generation’s obsession with itself.  We grew up privileged and told that the world is our oyster.  To some degree this is good.  To some degree this is how it should feel when you are 22.  But the Yuppie and ‘ME’ generation grew up to become really selfish.  We didn’t invent selfishness but in my lifetime, I have seen it emerge in a way I don’t think it has before.

The second example, a pet peeve of mine…

You sit at a traffic light and look at the bumper or tail of the vehicle in front of you.  A bumper sticker reads, “Look Twice, Save a Life”.  Good idea.  Motorcycles are smaller than cars.  They can be missed in the optical noise of a busy road.  They are also more nimble and thus move differently.

Here are other realities.  Most of the motorcycle riders I see wear no helmets.  Usually these are on Harleys but not exclusive.  I cannot tell you the number of times this year alone I have been passed on the shoulder at speed on an interstate or in a traffic jam by one of these motorcycles who’s rider is too cool for a helmet.  I have been passed down the lane divider stripe at speed and I have watched as, usually a crotch rocket, is weaving in and out of traffic well in excess of the speed limit.  Not too long ago I even saw one slow and go at a red light with three lanes of traffic each way.

I’ll make you a deal.  I’ll look twice if you think even once.  If you ride like a moron I cannot care to look for you anymore than I look for the Semi truck you cross in front of.  I wont and cannot be expected to even once look down my left shoulder for you coming as if it isn’t a lane.  I wont look for you crossing six lanes of traffic when I have a green light.  We will collide and you will likely be crippled or killed.  I’ll also sue you or your insurance.  And win.

I am a good driver.  I have avoided many accidents others would have caused by being more aware then they.  I have also been the issue on occasion.  I also look for motorcycles, by looking in general but not anything special cause you aren’t special.  If you are riding a motorcycle, the best way to stay safe it be where you can be seen, don’t be an idiot and ride the edge of your lane and simply be predictable.

Here is mine and many others perspectives, I will care for your safety as much as you do.  When you are in shorts and sneakers and a t-shirt and glasses and no helmet.  You obviously don’t care for your own safety.  When the woman I assume you care about is on the  un-reinforced seat on the back wearing a skirt and heels and is holding onto the fool in glasses, I care as much for your safety as you do for her safety and she does for her own.

squid

At east the back seat is safe …

I know there is no law saying you must wear a helmet ( I wonder if former Senator Campbell knows how many people he helped kill). If I were in the state legislature, I would propose a law.  No, not requiring you to wear a helmet, but if you don’t, no insurance has to cover your health bill.  There is no law saying you must wear a helmet, there is also no law saying i have to treat you any different than any other vehicle, much less look twice for YOU.

If you cannot be bothered to take the best and biggest step for your own protection on a motorcycle, why should anyone pay for your smashed gourd when you wreck.  We’ll hose off the blood ( or not) and open the lane for more traffic moving onto the rest of their life as your loved one is informed of your decision to die stupidly.

I feel the same way about seat belts so don’t think I am biased against motorcycles, I hate idiots, no mater how many tires they ride on.  So again, I’ll look once you start thinking and not expect others to change for YOUR risky choice.  I don’t care if you wear a helmet, that’s your right, but I wont pay for your stupidity.

WINNING

I’ll say this, the pipes look quiet.

There is another issue I have with our two wheeled friends.  Briefly, there was a trend of motorcycles having a flashing headlight to better be seen on the road.  Now, in most if not all states impersonating a cop is illegal.  But for some reason, motorcycle riders seemed to think they were extra special and could do so under the guise of safety … This trend disappeared here luckily.  But this elitism of my ‘Me’ generation is impressive.

I researched it a little and it was solved by the state patrol, with sizable fines for the headlight and a second citation earned an impersonating a law officer charge.  It turns out the law can help help manage but not solve stupidity.  It took the law for these arrogant riders to realize they are not so special they get to break the law.  YOU chose to get on a motorcycle with MUCH higher risks than cars.  Own it.

Stop thinking only about yourself and stop expecting others to pay for your choices.  Motorcycles are very dangerous. You are more than six times more likely to die on one than in a car.  This is NOT because you are being hit by car drivers looking only once for you.  It is because you are around the vehicle rather than in it.  YOU are the bumper.  Your cool do-rag is your roof.  Your 7-11 sunglasses are your windshield.  And the only equivalent to a seat belt for you is that helmet you refuse to wear cause you think you look cooler without one.  Your choice is not my burden.

Oh and for your info, your loud pipes did nothing but make you deaf.  Oh wait, sorry, YOUR LOUD PIPES DID NOTHING TO HELP YOU BUT DID MAKE YOU DEAF!  You aren’t nearly as cool as you think and your pipes are only for thinking you are cool and you know it.  Stop lying.  (if you think I am lying look up Doppler effect or ask anyone who paid attention in high school physics)

Here is my next rant example of the ‘ME’ generation’s attitude towards all others.  Recently, I put several things on craigslist for free to move them onto someone else.  Two things happened that surprised me.

One of them was a wood filing cabinet that a woman wanted and would come by for after work.  I was not going to be home so we agreed that she would pick it up after I left and I would leave it under the breezeway behind the house.  She texted me to tell me when she had arrived.  She then texted me to notify me it was too heavy for her to lift into her trunk so she would return in the AM with her husband.  Ok.

What she didn’t tell me is that she pushed it across the driveway and broke the corner off, and broke the drawer front and somehow knocked a hole in it.  She also left it on the side of the uncovered driveway.  When I arrived the next day, mid day.  It was sitting there in the driveway for me to hit in the rain.  She couldn’t be bothered to return and collect it, or move it, or even own the fact that she destroyed my property because it was on a free list.  Put simply, she was a selfish ass.

After i almost backed into it in the driveway and pouring rain, I texted her and was direct and nice.  “I will be keeping your number and please don’t ever respond to any of my ads ever again.  I now have destroyed property based on doing the right thing and you exploiting something free at my cost.”  She didn’t have the guts to respond.  Typical.  I was FAR too nice.

I did however post the new ad on craigslist with photos of the newly damaged filing cabinet and describing the situation.  She didn’t respond to that ad.

The second thing I have seen is that people, even though they are picking up a free item, cannot be bothered to work to your schedule.  They expect delivery and to arrange a time and then not show up and you be ok with it.  This is SO DAMN INDICATIVE of my generation.  I could not believe when I gave away a dresser and 3 out of 11 responses asked me to deliver it.

This was my favorite one.  “I would love the dresser but I cannot carry it in my car, I know in your ad you say you cannot deliver, but would I suspect it is because you don’t want to and can, so could you deliver it to (address deleted to protect the off spring of this pillar of our society).  Please text me when near, I wont be home till after 6:30.”  That was the FIRST contact I had from that person.

It took me three scheduled pick ups to have someone actually show up to pick up something free.

I also gave away a lawn mower.  The ad said, it will go to donation tomorrow but if you want it and can pick it up today, it is yours.  The first response I got asked if he could pick it up tomorrow night.  No.  Then he said he would pick it up MAYBE tonight.  No.  Again, it goes to donation the next day so I wont wait for a maybe.  It is free, so either commit or get out.  I told him it might be here or not.  He didn’t seem to think that was professional.

The other AMAZING trait I have learned about people via craigslist is this … NO ONE READS A FREAKIN MAP!  90% of the people responding ask where it is located.  If you are not familiar with craigslist it has a MAP on it for where the item is located.  Apparently that is just too much work to either look right or click on location.  But they do have time to ask you.

When asked where I was located, I told two of them, “it is in the ad”.  One said, “that is too difficult”, the other said “I forgot to look, so tell me.”  To the first I said “If reading a map is too difficult, you will never find my house, good luck in life.”  To the second I said go look and let me know if you want to come get it.  He answered, “Just tell me, its easier.”  I waited about 30 minutes and replied, “I used the GPS information on your text packet to determine your location, I then loaded it in my car and put it very close to your current location behind a bush. I then put this new location information in the ad you responded to.  If you  can learn to read the map in an ad it is yours!  Otherwise, someone else will find it instead.”  His answer? “Just tell me and I will walk down and get it, what bush?”

I had no idea how to answer so I didn’t.  I like to think he spent a little time looking through bushes near his home.  But we both know he was too lazy to do that.

Our culture and my generation especially is lazy.  We expect the village to raise our children instead of help and support.  We seem to think any accident is a path to financial liability and responsibility.  We want it our way but seem pissed and confused when somewhere wants it their way.

I know there are MANY great people in the world.  The people I work with prove it.  But the number of lazy people is just amazing.  My generation needs to get it’s heads out of our phones and our children off theirs (they are mimicking you) and go do things where we remember that we are our own responsibility.  WE are accountable for us.  How about this, as many in one of my jobs do, try doing something significant for others and see how good it feels.

Carry a fire extinguisher, you may have to be the one to put out your own fire …