I understand more now…

I have continued to do research into the troubles in Ferguson, MO and found this to be rather disturbing.

First of all, this article: Ferguson’s Shameful Legal Shakedown.

Second, their budget (look at page 72). Their “Fines and Public Safety” compose 21.8% of their projected budget for the year. When you derive that much of your budget from penalizing your citizens, you look to do anything to keep that “revenue stream” going.

The fact of the matter is, I now understand why the citizens revolted. When you have a court system that adjudicates your guilt up to 30 minutes before you are told to be there, and they lock the doors before the court finishes so you can’t get in if you are the tiniest bit behind schedule, I see why the people are frustrated.

The racism stated in the article looks to be pretty rampant.

The immediate explanation is that the bulk of the cases arise from car stops. The ArchCity Defenders report notes: “Whites comprise 29% of the population of Ferguson but just 12.7% of vehicle stops. After being stopped in Ferguson, blacks are almost twice as likely as whites to be searched (12.1% vs. 6.9%) and twice as likely to be arrested (10.4% vs. 5.2%).”

[...]

“Searches of black individuals result in discovery of contraband only 21.7% of the time, while similar searches of whites produce contraband 34.0% of the time.”

So, the disproportion is way against Blacks. They are more likely to be stopped, searched and arrested than Whites. The telling part is the Whites are 50% more likely to be carrying contraband than Blacks, which makes it more disproportionate by a factor of four.

The sad part about it is, most of the people the city is stealing from are ones without the means to pay the fines.

Here you go, if you want to see what a Police State looks like, places like Ferguson are where these mind sets of those in power get started. You legislate laws like you are on a commission basis, making hundreds of piddling little misdemeanors that you strictly enforce on your population. You then create a bureaucracy that is impossible to navigate without stepping on at least one land mine.

The end result is a populace that is in a constant state of terror from the Police. Look at how well the Soviet bloc was run back during the Cold War. The only difference between them and us, we don’t have a “Secret Police.” Yet.

The Love Of and For A Pet

I have a couple of dogs and a bunch of birds. I derive great happiness from all of them.

I found this and I wanted to share:

I Rescued A Human Today by Janine Allen

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.

I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn’t be afraid. As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn’t want her to know that I hadn’t been walked today. Sometimes the overworked shelter keepers get too busy and I didn’t want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn’t feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone’s life.

She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.

Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.

I would promise to keep her safe.
I would promise to always be by her side.
I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.

I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven’t walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

The love from a pet is truly unconditional.If you can, adopt a shelter pet.

A person who willfully and maliciously hurts an animal has earned my total contempt. I have had multiple dogs in my life that I have held while I let them go. I can only hope they are waiting for me at the Rainbow Bridge:

A Refreshing Voice

The Village Voice, an Iconclastic Alternative newspaper out of New York, has been until recently a very Liberal publication. You weren’t “hip” until you were caught reading the Village Voice.

I found this, My Dad Is a Right-Wing Asshole, and I thought the article was awesome. This particular item is a “Dear Abby” thing, and to see the response is very refreshing.

The person writes in:

I’m writing because I just can’t deal with my father anymore. He’s a 65-year-old super right-wing conservative who has basically turned into a total asshole intent on ruining our relationship and our planet with his politics. I’m more or less a liberal democrat with very progressive values and I know that people like my dad are going to destroy us all. I don’t have any good times with him anymore. All we do is argue. When I try to spend time with him without talking politics or discussing any current events, there’s still an underlying tension that makes it really uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I love him no matter what, but how do I explain to him that his politics are turning him into a monster, destroying the environment, and pushing away the people who care about him?

Andrew then proceeds to take the writer apart:

…Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man. There isn’t one. You’ve reduced your father — the person who created you — to a set of beliefs and political views and how it relates to you. And you don’t consider your dad a person of his own standing — he’s just “your dad.” You’ve also reduced yourself to a set of opposing views, and reduced your relationship with him to a fight between the two. The humanity has been reduced to nothingness and all that’s left in its place is an argument that can never really be won.

Andrew gets better from there. He takes apart the fact that there really isn’t a “who’s right” and “who’s wrong.” There is only what is right and good.

My own take on the writer is that they display the classic Liberal symptom of “nothing exists outside of my ears. I’m right, and if you disagree with me you’re wrong and evil.”

I am the first to admit that I lump Liberals into that “big L” pot and I know there is a broad spectrum of people under that banner. In my encounters throughout life, I have found gun-carrying Liberals and anti-gun Republicans and every kind of facet. Human beings are complex creatures. We are formed by two things, our experiences and our choices.

I know a lot of people who express Liberal ideologies. I like and respect many of them. I take great pleasure in debating them. I challenge their positions, and they return the favor. The one line none of us cross is to attack the person. I may think their position on gun control (or whatever) is stupid and uninformed, I do not think the person is stupid. They have their reasons as to why they arrived at that position, just like how I arrived at my position.

Those people who start out a debate by calling me a Nazi, or EVIL, my first inclination is to understand them. If I find out it’s all knee-jerk reactions and no significant thought was involved, I will proceed to take them apart.

As a Navy Chief once said, “You can lead a horse to water, but I’ll be damned if I’ll pull suction on his ass to make him drink.”

I respect your right to have a different belief than mine. I expect a similar respect in return. I give a certain level of respect on the benefit of the doubt. Beyond that, the level of respect I show you, up or down, is based on your words and actions.

I think if more people did this, the world would be a lot better place.

 

Pay It Forward

I have been very frustrated over the past couple of weeks. Multiple issues have prevented me from meeting my families needs. This has made me angry, and that is not the way I want to be remembered.

So, I did what is called “Pay It Forward.” I typed up and printed out the letter below, then handed it to the Assistant Store Manager of my local Lowe’s.

To the Manager and Crew of Lowe’s Store [9999]:

Over the past couple of months, I have had to undertake several complex home projects and plan for even more. Every time I have come to Lowe’s to obtain the necessary tools and materials to perform these projects. I have never been disappointed over choosing Lowe’s.

Every time I asked a crew member about something, they repeatedly demonstrated professionalism, a deep level of knowledge, courtesy and respect to me. They stopped whatever they were doing to assist me in getting what I needed, sometimes enlisting the aid of as many other crew members as necessary.

I want you to know that I greatly appreciate all of the help and assistance that this store has provided for me. Every crew member I have encountered at Lowe’s [9999] has been nothing short of wonderfully pleasant to deal with and has gone above and beyond the bare minimum I see in other businesses.

In a world where all of the negative things a company does gets a lot of publicity, I want all of you to know that I will let your chain of command at Lowe’s and everyone I know what a great job Lowe’s [9999] is doing.

 

We all expect the worst of things in any encounter we have. It’s human nature. I however, choose to ignore this and expect the best of people in every encounter I have. I always try to leave people better than how I found them.

If everybody tried to do this, the world would be a better place. Pay it forward every chance you get.

 

 

Depression Kills

Since the moment it was made public that Robin Williams had died, accolades has come from a lot of people.

99% of them talk about how happy he was, the high-energy and comedic genius he was.

Robin Williams was something else, something that very few people saw. He was a tortured soul.

Robin Williams Masks

I didn’t know Robin personally, so I can’t speak for or about him. What he went through I understand though, because I have experienced something similar.

When someone is that high energy, that level of funny, there is generally something going on behind the mask. Because when you hit highs like Robin did, there are lows just as deep to go with them.

It pains me to write this, because it brings up my own memories of when I was at my lowest. I remember having a loaded gun in my mouth, as I laid in the master bedroom of my emptied house that was days away from foreclosure. I remember walking out into traffic, not caring if I was hit or not (I was. I broke my wrist and leg). Of standing on a chair, noose around my neck in a little outbuilding at the house I was renting that I had barred the door shut. The police and my wife were outside, trying to talk to me.

In each case, I was overwhelmed with physical and emotional pain too great to bear. I didn’t want to die, I just saw no other way to stop the pain. I just wanted to stop the pain. I felt trapped, scared and alone. My mental perception and reasoning had decreased to the point that I saw no other options.

Reading articles about what was going on with him in the days up to his passing, I found that his finances were depleted. Two expensive divorces and a drop in income was forcing him to sell off places that he held dear. He no longer rated to star in big movies, he was down to supporting characters in sequels, and was working on a TV series that was cancelled to provide a basic income. He was also recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

So Robin, at the age of 63, saw his life slipping into twilight. Compared to his earlier finances, he was almost broke, his income was way down and he was having to sell off assets dear to him just to stay afloat. The diagnosis of Parkinson’s and its inevitable decline and result opened the door enough for the depression to whisper in his ear, “It’s time.”

Depression kills. There is no other way to say it.

If you have a friend or family member with depression, don’t say “get over it.” You wouldn’t say something like that if they had cancer. Ask them what they want and need.

Then LISTEN. Listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to respond.

If you have depression, get help and support. I know you don’t want to, do it anyway. I beat it, I believe you can as well.

Robin Williams Happy

My Take on Ferguson

I understand, but I guess I continue to be unable to comprehend.

Looking at what is going on in Ferguson, MO over the past couple of days, I see what is going on. I understand the rage, frustration and anger. What I don’t understand is the self-destruction.

I know for a fact that young Black males (YBM’s) are “disproportionally represented” in our criminal justice and prison system. About 8% of the population is over 40% of those incarcerated. I also know that a lot of YBM’s are “over sentenced,” who receive sentences harsher than a White man with a similar record.

There are many factors that force a majority of YBM’s into the bottom of the economic scale. Lack of education, transportation and jobs they can get to make it very hard for the average YBM to move up in the world. A few do, but not enough. He has a lot of obstacles in his way.

Some, however, he creates himself. I have seen where a YBM has to be macho when confronted with an authority figure, be it a supervisor or law enforcement. They can’t take the tactical loss in order to achieve the strategic win. If he is doing something wrong that is minor, he can either accept it (ticket/warning/admonishment) and go on about his business, or he can get all up in the face of the Supervisor/LE Officer. The latter generally results in a firing from a job, or a felony charge which seriously hinders his life afterwards.

In this instance, from what I see, these two YBM’s were walking in the street, which gained the attention of the police officer. I don’t know what happened after that, other than Michael Brown ended up dead on the street, shot multiple times.

Now here’s where the part I do not comprehend comes in. You are enraged. A young man was shot and killed by a police officer, apparently without sufficient justification. Regular, mature adults gather together and hold vigils, then protest against the government.

Then there are those who do the immature, stupid thing. They riot and loot area businesses.

Let’s think about this for a minute, because the rioters I’m sure didn’t. You are already living in an economically depressed area. There is only independent mom-and-pop shops in your neighborhood because the national chains don’t want to deal with the graffiti, shrinkage (retail store terminology for “theft”) and all of the other myriad problems that you take on in such a neighborhood. You then destroy the mom-and pop shops. You break into them, steal what you can carry, and then run off.

In the wake of the riots, your part of town looks more like Kosovo than America, no businesses reopen and then the Black community wonders why their part of town is so bad.

Imagine if you will, taking a shit in the middle of your living room. Not just one, but every family member, for a couple of weeks. No one disposes of the waste, it sits there and accumulates flies and other insets. You then wonder why your house smells so bad. Yeah, same kind of thing.

Now, some people on Twitter did “helpfully suggest” that the rioters not burn down their own neighborhoods, but rather go into the “White part of town” and riot and loot there. Of course, a lot of White people in the suburbs are probably armed, so an angry mob might start taking some incoming fire.

The bottom line is this: Work within the system. Peaceably protest for a redress of wrongs. Short of overthrowing the whole government, you are not going to win. The police have more resources, weapons and ammunition. If you get into a shootout with law enforcement, they will win.

What you want to do is provide political pressure on elected officials to fire the aggressive bullies on the police force and change the laws to be less onerous.

 

I am very, very angry.

The level of politeness and courteousness in this country has dropped into negative numbers.

Without going into too many details, I am trying to obtain products or services from two different businesses. In both cases, the apathy of the businesses is nothing short of appalling.

In each case, something wasn’t filled out correctly in paperwork I submitted to them. In both cases, they made zero effort to contact me to let me know of the holdup, waiting for me to call them so they could tell me there was a holdup in the processing of my paperwork.

This makes me angry beyond belief. I suppose it’s because they know I don’t have a choice in the matter (I have to interact with them) that contributes to their “I don’t give a f*ck” attitude.

I am making a major effort to keep calm. I am polite with them, however their apathy is seriously affecting the health and well being of my family.

I do not wish for anyone to have violence visited upon them. However, I hope they find themselves in a similar situation 10 times the number of what they cause. Maybe the association will make a connection in their hearts, and they will help, not hinder others.

It Used To Be…

That we had something called common sense. This meant that you looked at a situation or problem and actually engaged in a conscious analysis of the possible benefits, risks and consequences of engaging yourself in that situation or problem before you actually engaged in it.

I will use sex in this case, since I want to talk about California’s SB-967. This bill attempts to define ‘consensual sex.’ Otherwise known as the “Yes Means Yes” bill, this is type of sign is instantly what I thought of:

Overstated SignNotice that this sign uses eighteen adjectives when one would do. This bill, and the associated derivative policies will do just what this sign is doing, oversimplifying and defining to an excruciating degree something that should be common sense. If you let the law define acceptable and unacceptable conduct to the nth degree, you are absolving yourself of the thinking on if this action is a good idea or not.

Let’s say two (or sometimes more) people want to have an intimate encounter that will result in pleasurable sensations and orgasms for all involved. All well and good. This kind of stuff happens every day. It is what makes the world go ’round.

However, there are many times that this happens and it’s not all fun and games. When one does not agree to the encounter, or changes their mind in the middle and the other party continues, that’s rape. The sex of the raper and rapee does not matter.

Now, when I was growing up, young males were taught by their male role models (notably fathers and uncles), that you shouldn’t have sex until you were married. If you did and she became “with child,” You were expected to take on the obligation of supporting your child and its mother. If you play, you pay. You also most assuredly did not take “undue advantage” of her, which means have sex while either one of you were impaired by alcohol or drugs. A man does not have his way with those who do not (or should not) consent.

Likewise, young women were taught (by mothers and aunts) not to put themselves into situations where they could be taken advantage of. That meant double dating with a blind date, and for the next 2-3 dates after that. No alcohol or drugs that would impair your ability to say “no” and mean it. The ladies also had an obligation as well. That was, if they did willingly engage in sex, if they regretted it later they did not make a false accusation of rape.

Let’s make this perfectly clear: There is ZERO justification to rape another person. There is also ZERO justification to make false accusations. There are responsibilities on both sides here.

Guys, if she’s been drinking/drugging, jumps in your lap and starts squeezing your Johnson, tell her, “Yes, when you’re sober” and don’t let it get any farther. If you get “the urge,” and she’s passed out/asleep, put something for her to drink when she wakes up on the table next to her and pull a blanket over her.

Ladies, if you want to have sex, that’s fine. Just don’t let the alcohol/drugs say “yes” when you want to say “no.” Don’t do the “revenge sex” thing either. That’s where you get mad at your boyfriend, and to “get even” with him you go have sex with somebody else. Except a day or two later you feel guilty about it, so to save your own hide you start accusing the other poor guy of rape, not realizing that you are ruining the rest of his life. Even if he beats the accusation, that event will haunt him for the rest of his life.

Everyone needs to own up to their mistakes in life. You also need to do your best to avoid situations that will most likely have life-long repercussions for everyone involved. Screwing up is a part of life. We learn by our mistakes. Try to learn from the mistakes of others, and take responsibility for your actions.

 

Beginning The Journey

A good friend and brother posted this to his FB feed this morning. I wanted to share it because it struck a chord so deep in me that I got chills.

This is what I want to instill into every brother and petitioner that walks into my lodge. If you are a Mason, I suggest you try and do the same.

OCTOBER 1947 – Grand Lodge of Manitoba, by Carl H. Claudy

No man has a mind big enough, quick enough, open enough, to absorb and understand in an evening, even the introduction to what Freemasonry knows; not in a month of evenings. No degree, no matter how impressively delivered, can possibly take him far along this road. All that the E.A. degree can do is to point the way, and give the seeker sustenance by which he may travel.

And equally true it is that while men do receive the degrees of Freemasonry at the hands of their brethren, there is no Freemasonry in a man’s heart if he is not willing to sacrifice some time, give some effort, some study, ask some questions, digest some philosophy, to make it truly his own.

The candidate is designated an Entered Apprentice because we have conferred the initiatory degree, in which he took a central part. No man however, can in reality be “Entered” unless he is willing to enter.

In the character of a candidate you were brought into a large place – a very large place – a universal brotherhood. Henceforth a pathway lies before you, and whether you will travel blindly or not, depends only and wholly upon you.

As a newly initiated craftsman you should ask yourself this question, “Have I become a real Freemason, or merely joined the Lodge as another member?”

An Entered Apprentice is barely born, Masonically. He must learn and learn well, if he is to enter into his heritage. That which is worth having is worth working for. Experience in life teaches that what comes without labor turns soon to ashes in the mouth. Without labor there can be no rest; without work there can be no vacation: without pain there can be no pleasure; without sorrow there is no joy.

You have crossed the threshold of a very old and very ancient craft. What you do in the future, and how well you learn the lessons taught you as an Entered Apprentice, will be the yardstick by which your craftsmanship is measured.

In your Lodge you will find faithful brethren ready and willing to help you, on your journey. In your Masonic Library you will find a literature replete with the story of Freemasonry, and these books may be borrowed simply by asking for them.