Saturday, January 26, 2013

The best part about having Mexican coworkers is trading homemade Pasta Sauce for homemade Menudo and Tamales.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Keeping It Real In Oregon

Bill proposed in Oregon would make cigarettes prescription-only drugs
I've said it for years: if cigarettes and those who smoke them are as bad and evil as their detractors treat them, then there should be an outright, total ban.

Of course it will never happen. The tax revenue from cigarettes is too great for any governmental body to pass up. Even more so for Oregon, which taxes the hell out of them.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Least Among Us Are The Most Used As Props

Shortly after 10am, outside the local bahn mi shop, a block from the mill, where I phoned in my lunch order:
"Any spare change?"
" Hey, Gino."
You asked me for shit this morning. Enough already, yeah?
We 'fist bump'.
What you doing now? shouldn't you getting some sleep?
"Where ever I can."
Dude, grab a spot and close yer eyes.
"Where ever I can."
Do that.
"Why are you here again?"
"They got good sandwhiches."
Want one?
That's it, though. Rest of the week, no more, yeah?
Tween you and me, OK? It's Our Thing.
"I won't tell"
Better not.
Cross yer heart?
"I promise."

A person under the age of 18yrs cannot do a lot of things within the law, the assumption being that until one is a legal adult, they lack the right mind to make certain decisions: like vote, join the Army, enter into contracts, get a tattoo, sign a lease, buy a beer... a whole list of varied things.

I'm not complaining about any of this. For lack of understanding a better way, we set an arbitrary age limit. It's all good.

In recent years, and most recently Sandy Hook and some tragedy that occurred in New Mexico over the weekend, we have seen terrible mass shootings, usually involving a certain class of semi-automatic firearm.

Now, we got this rush to 'buy all the guns you can' before Obama 'takes them all', because, face it, President Obama and some other politicians (who're really smarter than the rest of us) remain focused on the means of massacre instead of the cause of massacre.

Every one of these shooters, and you can walk it back to every single case, was suffering from a previously diagnosed psychiatric disorder. So, after talking big about restricting gun freedoms for all, the next move is to mention something like..."Oh yeah, and we'll promise more money to care for nut cases, too."

Strange... that money never seems to show up in the form of fewer derelicts standing outside 7-11 at 3am, or sleeping behind in the ally...
Every one of whom is afflicted with a psychiatric disorder.

I personally know a few of them by name.
I give them dollar coins and quarters fairly regularly, other times one might follow me in and I tell the clerk to ring up an extra coffee for 'my friend' over there....
Chat with them a bit without getting too involved.
Bradly is a favorite: always sporting a seemingly just-pressed tie with goldish tack, that matches his button down shirt and freshly shaved mug. It all clashes with the shock-purple back back (price tag dangling from the zipper), filthy trousers, holey shoes, and body stench.
Seen from the waist up, Bradly is ready for the boardroom. Yet, the only board he sees is the wooden bench of the bus stop.
And there's Linda, Jimmy and Robert as well.

(Through them I am reminded of Christ's admonition per "the least of my Brother's...".
Sure, I might totally suck at the 'Christian thing' most of the time, but it has taught me a thing or two (if not more than that.)
Maybe I find it rewarding when outcasts and walkpasts know my name, but not yours?
I don't know. Not important...
What I see in them is not much different than the mug that stares back from the mirror: just another stupid clown in the circus that we call Life.
They might get a cup of coffee/maybe a donut, and I get on to work feeling better than I did when I left the house.
I guess that when I do arrive in Hell for a deservedly large list of things, it won't be because Bradly put in a bad word for me.)

What seems to escape us all is that...
Every one of these people, derelicts and nutcases they may be, is somebody's child or parent.
Those Somebody's love them.
Love them dearly...
Worry about about them hourly...
And yet are powerless to do anything to help them.

It's not about how much money a politician may promise (usually under his breath, as an after thought on his way to take away your guns.)
It's not about money.
Not at all.
And it's not about guns, either. (Well, it is about guns for many politicians, none of whom really want to save schoolkids as much as they want to criminalize a hobby that they disapprove of.)
It's about people... and another set of rights that have nothing to do with guns, but everything to do with being in the 'right mind' to make decisions for oneself.

Collectively, we have failed these people just as the politicians have failed them and us.

Guns don't kill people.
Crazy people kill people, using guns, because they have the right to be that way.
This has got to stop.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Who You Gonna Call?

Seems everybody is talking about guns nowadays. I guess it was only  a matter of time before I felt the need to offer a word or two of my own. I've resisted so far because there is nothing that I would say that isn't already being said on another blog somewhere else, and my point of view on gun rights is already well known to anybody who knows me.

That said, there are a few things that still annoy me about this debate that center mostly around what are being called 'Assault Rifles'.

First off, Assault Rifles do have an official government definition: They are military rifles with select-fire or full-automatic capability.
Anything that fits this criteria has been effectively outlawed since the 1920's for private use.

What is being called an Assault Rifle in the media coverage are civilian versions of the military rifles. The do not fire automatically. The do not have select-fire, either. These are semi-automatic rifles, only firing a single round with every trigger squeeze; mechanically not different than many hunting and sporting rifles. They do happen to carry large-capacity, detachable magazines, though.

Another annoyance of mine: adding the descriptor 'High Powered' to the misnomer 'Assault Rifle'.
Military-grade rifles are not high powered. They are medium powered. A high-powered assault rifle would be too heavy to be of much practical use anywhere, difficult to carry, it's recoil  physically punishing to the shooter, and accuracy would be unreliable if used in a rapid fire manner.

OK, now that you understand that, you need to understand what these weapons are best suited for: Tactical situations.
In military combat, the vast, vast majority of bullets fired with an M-16 or AK-47 are not aimed at anybody.
The tactic is to throw a hail of lead in the direction of the enemy, known as 'cover fire', holding him back or causing him to hunker down and not poke his head up while you maneuver troops into position to launch the real attack.
(I've read somewhere that the US armed forces have fired 250,000 rounds in the Afghanistan conflict for every enemy that was actually killed. I do not know how accurate this is, but it would not surprise me.)
Also, these bullets do kill if they hit the target in the right place, but the lighter caliber, non-expanding bullets have a greater tendency to wound and maim (instead of kill) than previous generations of combat arms that relied on heavier loads like the 30-06.
There are reasons for that, too: killing the enemy combatant take him out of the fight. Wounding him takes him, and two of his buddies out of the fight because they have to drag him out of the way, treat him, etc... not to mention it's more difficult to keep your head in the battle when your wounded comrade is screaming out in pain right next to you.

But nobody needs one of these rifles, right? They are not practical for civilian use, they are just killing machines, right?
Guess again.
Forget that scenario of warrior patriots standing up to defend their freedom from military forces. I'm not going there here.

Instead, I can tell you what happened in Los Angeles during the riots 20 years ago. The rioting quickly spread, so fast, so far, so violent, so out of control, that vast swaths of a very large city were abandoned by all forces who's job was to provide law, order and protection to the citizens.
No police would help you.
There were not any.
This was the real life situation for days.
My neighborhood where I grew up, where my mom, brother and sister were still living was going up in flames. Many of the stores that I used to walk to as a kid were being looted and torched.
Citizens were exchanging gunfire with thugs.
It was crazy ass shit where there was no law, no protection, no cops to defend you.

>>> This photo was taken just three miles down the road from where I grew up just off of Vermont Ave., about two blocks from my best friend's house where I spent large portions of my junior high years.

The livelihood of every shop owner or businessman was absolutely at stake. Those that had civilian version military rifles had an edge against the hordes of thugs.
A shop owner could stand before his business (usually on the roof) and when the looters arrived let loose with a quick flurry of shots. BangBangBangBangBangBang into the air was an intimidating way of saying: You do NOT want to fuck around here!
The looters would move on to another target of safer opportunity.

Now, try that with a bolt-action hunting rifle: You can't do it. Two seconds in between 'bangs' does not have the same effect. That, and the gangs know that you don't have as much juice to spread around, they can take you, and they will try...
In response, the bolt-action guy has two choices:
Run, and abandon his livelihood, maybe the business he spent decades growing.

Or get real, and fight for what is his by right. This would require careful aim and dead bodies in the street, further pissing off the gang. Before the battle ended, the blood would be flowing, the honest citizen dead, and one more city block lost to lawlessness.

<<< Korean store owners taking a stand during the riots.

Many shop owners died defending their shops during the riots. All of them that I am aware of were outgunned, being armed with pistols, shotguns or hunting rifles. I did not read one report where a man armed with a modern military-style rifle lost his life.

Military-style semi-automatic rifles do have a real and legitimate place in a civilized, law abiding society.
Even more so when that society becomes less civilized, as it sometimes does, and those sworn to protect and serve are no where to be found.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hey, It's Been A Week!

I have thoughts, but no words.
Pick a topic, I'll try to fake it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Without sorting through the whole story, I'm just going to go on record that I find it a hypocrisy that sports writers who spent years reporting and cheering for the Home Runs and expanded stats of The Roid Era (even when it was not-too-unclear that there was some steroid abuse or something... going on) and now it appears they can't seem to find anybody worthy from The Roid Era for the Hall Of Fame.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Yes. No. Maybe.

Sometimes I get to wondering if media effects culture,  if culture effects media, or maybe they work in tandem... where one encourages the fantasy of the other wherein they feed off of each other.

Certainly, one can never expect a 1950's episode of "I Love Lucy", where Lil Ricky comes out of the closet unless he was actually getting his coat or something...

Closer to home for most of us: You do remember that 'The Brady's' and 'The Partridge's' were  products of widowhood, as was "Nanny And The Professor."
Most kids that I knew growing up who were missing a parent  were missing it for social reasons (divorce, illegitimacy, etc.). A few widows, but very few.

Safe to say, in my early time, media wasn't presenting the norm as I knew it, just the fantasy that we wished was the reality. *

Media folks ( screen writers, news reporters... and all those in between who work in that field) are as human as the rest of us.
They have their fantasies and their realities, just like we do.
They see the world through their lense-of-the-moment, yet will find value in the ideal when the money says to, or not to.
It's about the money, after all.

As media types, they eventually have to market to the audience if they hope to keep cashing paychecks.
Being 'cutting edge' is part of that.
Societal norms, the acceptance by people of what most people see happening in their own lives, is a larger part of that... the envelope can only be pushed so far before a career is ended, or... riding a once edgy trend that becomes the norm of acceptance.

The question of how complicit the media (in all of it's forms) is in spreading the more negative aspects of our culture (like gun violence, sexual promiscuity, casual disregard for others) can best be answered with 'Yes, No, Maybe.'

Go ahead and weigh in.

* I still remember when my best friend from grade school learned, after her death, that his maternal grandmother never had that 'grandfather' for him who 'passed' before his mother was born. But he was  passing through, a fighter in The Spanish Civil War who never returned to claim the bride who waited for him, who's pregnancy he had yet to learn of. (Maybe because he couldn't? It was a bloody affair... he will never know. But when the subject came up, she spoke lovingly of him as if he was her husband, and remained unmarried through life.)
That was a shock!
It wasn't acceptable in her culture to have sex before marriage. She was too embarrassed to allow her grandson to know the truth.