The Joys of Living in the Country

Greetings and Salutations;

For something completely different, let me tell you about a moment we had a few years ago, when we were starting to move into the new house. The cats were not there yet, as we were getting possessions moved. So, of course, the door to the Mud Room was open much of the time.

I had gotten the washer and dryer out of storage so they were set up in the Mud room. I was in the garage getting some boxes stacked out of the way, when I got a ping from Lisa. She was in her room, and in the call, said that she would like me to check the mud room, as she thought there was a dead snake in there! I had just walked through there 10 minutes before, so, this puzzled me a bit. However, I worked my way back out from the boxes, and up to the mud room.

Sure enough, curled up in front of the washer was a very large, very black, and healthy looking Eastern Black Rat Snake! I rather thought that this was something I would have noticed when I walked through a bit ago, but, walked over towards it to see what was happening.

Well! It was hardly dead, because as I approached, it started to slither under the washer! Since this did not seem like a good thing to go along with, I quickly grabbed it by the tail, and dragged it back out. I got my other hand on its neck, just behind its head, and lifted it up. It was NOT a happy camper about this treatment, and, managed to twist around and bite my hand a couple of times! Rat snakes are not venomous, and, being a beekeeper, this was not an effective strategy for the scaly kid! I adjusted my hand a bit, Shook my finger at him, and told him he was a “Bad snake…NO biscuit”. Instead of trying to bite again, he wrapped his body around my arm, and tried to constrict it to make it let go! He was a big boy, and covered my arm up past my elbow.

I just laughed at him, and walked him out into the fields, near one of the groves of trees, then, let him go. Sadly, he did not thank me…just vanished into the grass!

My only regret is that I did not call Lisa out with her camera to record this Nature moment. Since then, I have seen this big, black snake a number of times, around the same area. I suspect he will be around for some years yet, as they tend to live 10-15 years in the wild. He also has a lot of safe places to live, and a lot of pests to help him grow!

So…if you happen to see a large, black snake crossing the road ahead of you, or zipping through your yard…PLEASE, do not hurt it or try to kill it. It is doing its best to keep the rodents out of your way, and is more scared of you than you are of it.

God Help Us All!

Bee Man Dave

Posted in Ethics, General, Humanity, Nuttiness, Questionable decisions, Ruminations, Something Good This Way Comes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Education In America?

Greetings and Salutations;

Well, life is complicated, so I have a fair backlog of items to discuss, which, hopefully, will produce more frequent updates. It will be interesting to see what actually happens!

My topic of interest today is Education, as one might expect from the title! I was on Facebook, and was involved in a somewhat lengthy discussion about learning in America, and what the job of the school is. Also, of course, there were ancillary discussions of segregation, busing, and, Charter Schools. It is a subject which is important to me, perhaps because my father was a University Professor, and, I seem to have inherited his “Teaching Gene” so, I was motivated to spend a bit of time expanding on my reply here.

While I am not going to quote the entire conversation here, the trigger for me was a comment by one of the folks in the thread…who is kind of a Right-Wing Troll, and only at times adds to the conversation…Mostly he just is denigrating, and dismissive. His comment was this:

…the solution is not money. If the child wants to learn, he will learn…Stop blaming things on the schools.. how many kids are there that don’t give a shit… How many parents that put the time and encourage their kids to care? The school can only do so much

My reply to this was a somewhat shorter version of the following: Sir…your elitist attitudes are, basically, blaming the KIDS for not learning. First off…kids are a blank slate when they are born, and it is up to us, the adults, to write on that slate, giving them knowledge, and rules to live by (Which, hopefully include tolerance for other views, kindness, ethics and the like).
Secondly, let us look at the “kids who do not give a shit” that you refer to. Why is that? I submit that there are two major factors. 1) Their parents taught them to have a contempt for education, probably by calling it ‘Elitist”. These are the same parents who say that you do not need an education to make it in the world. As the Poster pointed out, they also are less likely to support their kids education (even a pig with a head cold will find a truffle occasionally). 2) (In My view, a far more important factor is that) the information being presented is not in a form that they can grasp. As for this latter point, let me give you a specific example.

By Lionjack – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Some years ago, my older sister and her husband were working with a group that would pick up inner city youth, and take them to see a performance of one of Shakespeare’s plays. The plays were presented in a park, on a large stage, and were “modernized” in that the actors did not wear contemporary garb; there was a small rock band on stage that provided some interlude music, and such; and much of the scenery was provided by back-projected images on huge screens surrounding the back of the stage. However, the speeches were, word for word, the Bard’s.
On the way to these performances, the kids were all the same, making smart ass remarks about how dull Shakespeare was, and that they would not be doing this if their teacher was not forcing them. To a person, their only exposure to Shakespeare had been from a quavery-voiced, old, teacher reading the censored text of the play to them as they sat in a classroom. So, I suspect they were planning to sleep through the performance!

This did not come to pass, though. Very quickly the play was the thing. It caught their attention, and drew them into it. They reacted to the events of the play as if it was real…so they had connected with, and were a part of that imaginary world for a while.


On the bus back home, the atmosphere was completely different. While A few of the kids had not become engrossed in the play and so were not that excited by it, a vast majority were very excited, interested, and moved by the performance. The experience of seeing the play as it was intended to be seen, on the stage, showed them that these were not the dry, boring facts that they had expected, but, complexity and drama and thought-provoking observations that drew them in, and made them think.
Did all these kids go on to become PhD’s? Probably not. Probably in time, that experience faded for some and they never went to another play. But, many of them were reminded of their love of learning, and thirst for knowledge that had been eroded away…and motivated them to explore knowledge at greater depths. From the surveys taken by the group, many of the students showed a marked improvement in their test scores.

ALL kids when born, are filled with a thirst for knowledge. That is why babies push to start crawling; why they will play with items given them, manipulating them and even taste them. it is why they reach out to grab things! However, the rote learning and the factory assembly line that American schools fell into back in the 50s and 60s, tends to crush that interest in learning. Another failing of that plan is that it expects every child to learn the data presented in exactly the same fashion.

One of the valuable lessons that my parents programmed into me is that for a person to learn something that they will retain, one must give them a concrete handle that they already know well. When I am trying to explain a complicated issue to another person, I will chat with them to find something they are familiar with, and use that as a metaphor for the issue I am explaining. Since much of the time, I seem to be explaining how computers work, and that sort of thing, I do not expect them to become EEs, or Computer Science Wizards. I am more interested in them being comfortable with the overall picture of what is happening to produce a given result.

Even today, many public school systems do not have the resources to customize the lessons to the needs of the individual. Back in the dark ages of the late 1970s, I was working with “Computer Assisted Instruction” programming on the iron we had at hand. It fascinated me, and I saw the huge potential for radically changing the school systems for the better. Even the fledgling and rough tools I had at hand allowed me to easily create a tutoring program that would allow the student to progress at their own speed, and could present the data in any one of several optional ways until they “Got it”. I had really hoped that this would grow, especially with the advent and wide spread usage of the microcomputer that happened in the 1980s. One of the huge advantages that I saw was that it would allow students to not only learn the necessary basics, but, could easily allow them to explore a given topic more deeply.

Alas, this utopian vision did not come to pass. There were several factors involved in the failure of the idea.

  • The cost for equipment and software, at such an early stage of development was prohibitive.
  • Teachers and the NEA were, in most cases, very resistant to putting computers in the classroom. The excuses I heard ranged from “it is too difficult to do” to “This will allow school systems to fire teachers!” For me, “too difficult” is a euphemism for “I do not want to learn anything new”. That is understandable but is short-sighted, as I will touch on in a bit. As for the firing teachers, that is simply nonsense. Good teachers would always be in demand, as adding the computer was, in essence, the same as adding a Teacher’s Aid to the classroom.
  • Far too often, a Principal would get the hots for this, and spend a LOT of money on a crude network of microcomputers. They would set aside a special room for the machines to live in, and would have a strict schedule for their use. However, this really minimized the usefulness of the computer system, as it so limited the time the students had ON the computers, it made no difference. I happen to know of one example where a small school purchased a bunch of networked, microcomputers at high cost, only to leave them locked away in their Shrine for most of the time. The classes only got an hour or two a week each to work on them, and that was optional.
  • In many schools the people setting up the CAI program were simply unqualified. In the above example, which, by the by, was at the K-12 school run by my church, the Principal got an architect that worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority in as the “Resident expert” to decide what computers to buy, how to set them up, and to create a program for their use. This person was a competent architect, but, alas, knew nearly nothing about CAI. I had to shake my head, because, at that point in time, I had been working in the I. T. industry for almost a decade, yet, I only found out about the project when it was announced, with great fanfare, in church one Sunday.
  • There is often very little thought about the more important aspect of the program…which was to set up a program to integrate the computers into the learning plans of the school. Without a comprehensive plan that the teachers were, at least, comfortable with, the project is always doomed to failure.

Oh yes, the system, which the Principal had spent close to $12,000 on consisted of a TRS-80 computer, networked to a dozen or so TRS-80 workstations. It was one step up from inscribing Cuneiform on clay blocks and an abacus, but only JUST. I believe that the system sat, gathering dust, for several years before it was discarded. This, particular program hit most, if not all of the bullet points I listed above.

I want to finish off by touching on the topic of resources for Public Schools. Everywhere I have looked, I see a similar pattern. Some schools in the district have huge amounts of funding. others struggle by, as they are running on a shoe string. The effects of this are obvious, at least to me. The schools with greater resources get the better teachers, retain them longer, can afford to support continuing education for those teachers, and, have more tools for learning available to the students. The poorer schools are, as one might expect, just the opposite. Salaries are often lower, perks are minimal or non-existent, and teachers are either the ones simply holding on for retirement, or, are just out of college, and learning on the job. Very often, these schools are forced to hold bake sales and other fundraisers simply to keep alive. The better funded schools rarely have that need. In the case of the less well funded schools, there is always a huge turnover in staff…which leaves the school in an unsettled state of mind, hurts the “Corporate Memory” of the school, and means that the students are not being educated as well as they should be.

Now then…How to fix this? I, obviously, disagree that “Money is not the answer”. It is not the ONLY answer, but it is an important factor. Most school systems are funded through property taxes, perhaps supplemented by Federal Aid. Most districts apply those property taxes to the schools closest to the households that are being taxed. In the well off neighborhoods, those funds provide great schools, with plenty of resources. In economically challenged areas, there are fewer taxes collected, and so the schools struggle. Many of them are in hardly better shape that the old school image at the top of this entry! I propose to change this allocations of funding, so that all taxes and funds designed to support the school system be put into a single account. That money is then distributed to the schools for salaries and other necessary resources. I propose a modified form of “equal distribution”. Until the point is reached that the metrics for success of a given school are roughly the same for ALL schools throughout the district, I propose that the majority of the funding go to the challenged schools, to focus on building them up, and ensuring that a graduate from them will have an education that matches the quality of the best school in the district. Once that is the case, I would switch to an equal distribution of funds. Of course, in cases of serious issues with a given school arising, I would leave the actual distribution subject to modification by the complications of life! I would also go back to the good, old days of busing, to ensure that the racial mix in all schools is at least reflective of the district, and at best, is closer to equal. This report, from The Century Foundation shows that racially integrated schools produce much better educated citizens.

Note that this applies to the Public School system only…I will discuss Charter Schools and the like elsewhere.

God Help Us ALL!

Bee Man Dave

Posted in Ethics, General, Humanity, Nuttiness, Observations, Politics, Questionable decisions, Ruminations | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sifting Through The Ashes, Part 18

Greetings and Salutations;

Earlier today, I was reading posts on Park Overall’s page, and found this post she put online:

I would preface this by saying – to all my young people, but I can’t. I have to say it to even my best friends of my whole life—-folks, this country is being stolen from you. But I wouldn’t worry so much about you- as I do your children and now your grand children. Life is not – you live it everyday anymore- it’s about fighting for it. Fighting for your air, and water, fighting for a decent wage, but mainly fighting for human decency. it’s all slipping away folks. And faster than it ever has before. And everyone is asleep. And it’s gonna cost you and the future very dearly.

She speaks the truth and , like Paul Revere, is doing her best to warn us of the coming disasters, both politically and environmentally. I was moved to add a somewhat lengthy comment which I hope adds something positive to her post. I have taken it, and expanded it somewhat here…so enjoy..and worry…

  • Keep up with what your representatives are doing, on the local, state and federal levels . When something bad or underhanded goes on, be SURE to contact them, either with phone, Email or snail mail, and let them know you object to what they are doing.ALSO..when they do something RIGHT…do the same thing and let them know you support them. When you contact them…make sure that you are civil, and discuss only ONE issue. Otherwise, it is likely your contact will go in the round file!
  • When possible, attend local council meetings, find out what is going on there, and let your opinion be known.
  • VOTE in every election that comes up…and, remember…just because YOUR favorite candidate did not get the final nod, that is not an excuse to fail to throw your support behind the Candidate of choice. We, Democrats, are bad about that. We, too often, expect perfection from our candidate, and refuse to accept flaws. NO ONE is perfect…but the alternative is what we have today.
  • Talk to people about coming elections, and, if they are undecided, or, uninterested in voting, find ways to communicate to them why it is vital to vote Democratic, and, perhaps even more importantly why it is absolutely vital to vote. If they are having difficulties in the process, either with registration, or transport to the polls, help find ways to overcome those obstacles.
  • Take an interest in the process, and work to get your representatives to eliminate such issues as gerrymandering, and actions taken to keep a given demographic from registering and voting.
  • For something different…pay attention to the environment. We do not have to be perfectly Green. However, we SHOULD be as Green as possible. This includes cutting back on buying bottled water, and substitute a Travel Cup, filled with water that can be used time and time again. I have written more about this issue HERE Keep the tires on your car inflated to the correct pressure. Make sure the oil level in your engine is good. Find ways to cut down on the trash you discard. Support your representatives when they take actions to improve the environment. Do as Park does, and watch out for the abuses of industry and when you see it…do what you can to fight against it. Plant trees and flowers, not Fescue! If you have the space, compost instead of bagging up yard waste and having it hauled off.

I realize this is a daunting list, and probably most of you are saying “I can’t do all that!” I understand, and agree. Even if I was in charge, I would not expect everyone to follow these guidelines! However, I suggest this…Pick one or two that you CAN do, right now. Work to make those things a part of your life. In six months or so, perhaps pick another one and add it. In a perfect would we would all work to the the Good Stewards of the Earth that we are called to be…but this is not a perfect world, so all we can do is as much as we can. Life is complicated, and chaotic these days, so it can be difficult to be faithful to these tasks… This is not that important, as long as we strive every day to take the actions we are trying to add to our lives.

One of the guidelines I live by is “All that is required for evil to triumph is for people of good will to do nothing” In order to make the world a better place, let us all try to do at least ONE thing off this list.


In closing, I also realize that this is not a comprehensive list. However, if we look at ALL that is wrong, right now, it can seem so overwhelming it may make it impossible for us to do anything, as we fall into despair. Another rule I have is “If I do at least ONE thing to improve my life in a day, it has been a successful day” If I get several things done, that is frosting on the cake. I find this is helpful to me, as I can lay down at night, and tell myself it was a good day because I got this ONE thing done….

God Help Us All!

Bee Man Dave

Posted in Ethics, General, Humanity, Improving Life, Nuttiness, Observations, Political rants, Politics, Ruminations | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Why do some still support this administration?

Greetings and Salutations;

I saw an interesting query on FaceBook today, and thought I would say a few words about it. The poster had this question and comments:

T.M. Trump is a problem. The GOP is a problem. Our fellow Americans who elect these problems are the biggest problem. What is wrong with these people?

My reply to this query was as follows (although I have extended it a bit here)

D.M. That is a complicated question to answer. here is my take.

  • They are people who are frightened of the complexity of today’s society, and by the speed of change in it.
  • They are people who have fear of people of color, those of other faiths, or political leanings, because they have been programmed by the unending firehose of demonization of “the other” that has been going on for 20+ years. Think back…when was the last time that any of us heard a campaign where issues were brought up, and both sides discussed them in a rational and non-emotional way, and simply presented their solutions for those issues, without disrespecting their opponent’s character, beliefs, etc?
  • They are people who are afraid of losing their jobs because of events outside of their control, and not being able to find work elsewhere. So, when their company closes because of their product becoming obsolete (how many buggy whip manufacturers are still in business?) or, due to economic pressures moves to an off-shore location, they, rightly, feel betrayed. However, the problem is that more often than not, they blame a political party for their troubles rather than the greed of the corporations.
  • Too many of them are under-educated, either because of the terrible funding of public school systems, or their fanatical parents programming them to have a particular world view. Both these tend to ensure that the concepts of critical thinking, and rational thought are never a part of their life skills.Because of these factors, they are gullible, and, as 2016 showed, are able to be easily fooled because the candidate seems to support the ONE issue they care about. These factors also allow them to ignore all the other facets of the candidate’s character.Once they have committed to a candidate, they are unable to admit they were wrong, as it would be too big a blow to their somewhat fragile ego. So, instead they dig in and scream their support all the more, accusing those who are pointing out the failures of their boy of being “haters”, “driven by emotion, not facts”, “unwilling to give him a chance”, and the like. And, of course, to hark back to the jobs issue…they often are not able or willing to re-train for a different job…
  • When I was in elementary school, more years ago than many of you on the Net have been alive, I saw a disturbing tendency for many students to have a real contempt for education and intelligence. It was not a goal to strive for, but, rather, was a reason to insult and bully others. There was a widespread tendency to look upon teachers as jokes, people that were unable to get “real” jobs, and so did not deserve respect, compensation, or attention. I am sorry to say that these attitudes have grown and are very prevalent these days. This, of course, is a factor that is the root of several of the issues I have touched on previously in this essay.
  • As I touched on previously, these factors have caused a great divide in this country, and is rotting it from within. The hypocrisy of the demonization by candidates of their opponents, followed up by calls to work together. How, I have often wondered, can one spend months calling one’s opponents demons from Hell, bent on the destruction of all we hold dear, and then turn around the next day after the election and expect to work with them like respected colleagues? This demonization has worked its way down to the rank and file of both parties, however, it is far more virulent on the Republican side. It is not hard to see the difference with even the most casual examination of Social Media. For example, I have over the past 10 years sat through the Obama Administration, when the Right-Wing produced a veritable flood of lies, racist and hateful images and posts, and obstruction. Yet, when the current administration was elected, that same Right-Wing not only claimed that the events of the Obama administration had not happened, but, told the Left-Wing that they needed to pull together, respect the person in the Oval Office, and work to make America Great! This almost cult-like mindset means that they are going to feel put upon still because the majority of Americans are not jumping on the Republican bandwagon.

How do we fix the problem? At this point, there are no easy answers. A GOOD start will be these steps

  • Stop allowing lies to go without being called out. There is no need to be unpleasant about it, but, if an obvious lie is presented…speak up and say WHY it is a lie.
  • Do not accept the specious argument that both parties are the same. The fact is that while the Democrats are not angels, by any means, they are far more supportive of all citizens, and the rule of law in this country than the Republicans.
  • Do VOTE. We Democrats tend to fragment and so lose, for several reasons. We want the “perfect” candidate. When we have decided on a candidate, we are often unwilling to vote for anyone else. Either we do not vote, or we will vote for our candidate, even if it takes votes away from the front-runner.
  • NEVER miss an election. We can get disheartened and fall into the error of thinking our votes do not count. That is exactly what the other side wants us to believe. By NOT voting, we are actually casting a vote for the other party.
  • Take time to search out the contact information for your Federal Representatives, and then use that information. Watch what decisions Congress and the other branches of government are making, and actions they are taking, and give your representatives feedback either positive or negative. Be polite about it, and, only deal with one issue per communication.
  • Advocate for the non-voters and undecided voters around you to vote for your party. Help them get registered, if necessary; arrange rides to the polls; do what you can to ensure that the true majority in America, the Liberal/Progressives, can finally gain the power necessary to stop this train wreck.

God Help Us All

Bee Man Dave

Posted in Ethics, General, Humanity, Politics | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Gun Clubs for People Of Color

 

Greetings and Salutations;

We are seeing more and more news reports of people of color being gunned down by the police.  Common threads in these reports?  There are a few:

  • The victim was unarmed.
  • The lethal force was applied in an appalling short time after the cops showed up.
  • The cops who murder the victims have either escaped prosecution completely, or been found “not guilty”

This post was actually motivated by a video discussion about People Of Color setting up their own Gun Clubs,  by a wise fellow on YouTube.  Beau of the Fifth Column (Click on picture at top to see his YouTube channel)  is well worth subscribing to,  and watching.   His commentaries are insightful,  well put and right on point.

This having been said,   I have some observations about the topic of People of Color and their interactions with cops in America today.

I am an old,  white  guy,  so,  I DO understand that I only have a dim view of the reality of the tense relationship between People of Color and the cops.   I, for example,  have only had three times in my entire life that I have been pulled over for no valid reason.   I have had a few other interactions with the cops,  but,  in those cases,  it was “fair”.   In every one of those  interactions, though,  I have never had a cop pull his or her weapon,  call for backup,  or show any signs that they had a bad attitude towards me.

It was not until I was in College that I interacted on a personal enough basis with People of Color that I learned about things such as “The Talk” which is a standard part of a black child’s growing up.   It was then that I learned that, for People of Color,  it was a normal part of life to be pulled over when driving, and that it often happened on a daily basis;   That it was a normal part of life to be followed by sales associates, or, store security, when they went shopping;   That it was a normal part of their lives  to be wary of being in certain parts of town during the late evening;  That calling the cops was, in almost all cases, a Bad Idea.    This was,  by the by, in the mid-1970s,  and so at the time,  I had this foolish idea that crap like that had been pushed out of our Society.   The Civil Rights movement,  and the Hippie culture of the 1960s  had, I thought,  produced real change in our society.  

Now then,  I hope, y’all took the time to watch Beau’s commentary of the idea of Gun Clubs being set up by People of Color,  FOR People of Color.    My remaining remarks are focused on his discussion of how to interact with the police, and ensure that they are following the same rules everyone is supposed to follow.   One thing that Beau did not speak to, in his discussion of why the cops are so likely to kill a Person of Color these days,   is that this is a basic part of the training they receive as LEOs.  

A huge part of the problem is that some years ago, ONE Psychologist developed this idea that, for the police, the best way to handle almost any situation is with the threat of,  and application of,  lethal force. He has traveled all over the country, holding training sessions for departments, based on this theory, and, acted as an “Expert Witness” in the few times that a LEO has been accused of a bad shoot.  End result: Cops are TRAINED to use lethal force as the FIRST option…not the last.

Mr. Lewinski’s theory that “If I see a gun, I am dead” may have a distant echo of truth to it.   However,  his expansion of that echo to a half-baked rule to live by,  puts the lives of ALL citizens at risk.  Adding  to that the well documented fact that much of society adds many years to the apparent age of a Person of Color, and, the racial prejudice that is an undercurrent in our society,  brings us to a state  where we have one or more cops,  looking at a Person of Color,  who they think is 10+ years older than they are,  and is a threat.  So,  tensions rise, and the slightest miss-step is enough to cause the cops to blow many holes in the victim.   It does not help that when backup shows up either. When that happens, we often end up with several cops,  yelling contradictory orders at the victim, and expecting immediate compliance –  ready to kill if the slightest resistance is seen.  Few LEOs have addressed the question “When one of you is telling the victim to   do not move, and one of you is telling the victim to get down on the ground;  WHICH command takes precedent?”

It seems to me that  the training has evolved from “use the threat of lethal force” to ensure compliance, to “Kill the suspect,  claim you feared for your life, and, enjoy the few weeks of paid leave you will get for it”

I find it interesting that in many other industrialized nations,  the police force depends far less on lethal force, and, still manages to deal with citizens who are breaking the law!   Of course,  there are some differences between the United States and other countries on how they train and hire their cops.  

  • In America,  new recruits go to an Academy for training in basic skills for no more than 22 weeks.   Then,  after a short evaluation period,  they are put on the streets, armed and ready.   In the UK, for example…while the Academy work only lasts for 18 weeks,   the new recruit is on a probationary period that requires continual training and evaluation for over 2  YEARS!
  • As mentioned before,  after that 22 week training period, the recruits are on the street,  armed with at least two weapons on them, and significant firepower in the cruiser they drive.   In the UK, for example,  a vast majority of police never carry a gun, and this article discusses why
  • There appears to be a difference in the methods used for prisoners in custody.  I have not researched this deeply,  but, these two reports:  On inmate mortality in the USA And inmate mortality in the UK     show a significant difference.  While the time periods reported do not overlap,  I suspect that the comparison is still apt,  as the numbers show a level of consistency over the respective reporting periods.
  • There have been a worrisome number of cops that have records of criminal behavior (abuse, of spouse/child/power) who have been fired by one department, only to easily get a job with another one.   This seems to be NOT happening in the UK.

What do we do now?

These problems have grown over decades of allowing all the negative forces in society to achieve positions of power and control in the LEOs of the Nation.   I would like to see at least the following changes made to improve the situation.

  1. The recruits for the force need to be scrutinized in more detail.   A trend of reports showing bully type behavior;  racist behavior; misogynistic behavior; etc;  should be a black ball for them.  They should NEVER be on the force.
  2. Training of recruits has got to be changed.  The emphasis should be on deescalation of a situation,  with the use of lethal force being a last resort.  In addition,  there should be objective observation and evaluation of a given LEO’s ability to use both lethal and non-lethal attacks on a suspect.
  3. Policies and procedures must change.  Not only should the use of lethal force be discouraged,  but, alternatives should be at hand.   Tasers,  batons, and the like are very effective tools for slowing anti-social or threatening behavior.   There should be more K9 units available to LEOs.
  4. More LEOs should face the prospect of a trial in ANY shooting death that is questionable.   By questionable…I mean killings that happen when there is less than a few seconds pause between the arrival of the LEOs on scene, and the killing of a suspect.   I mean killings where the suspect is not presenting an immediate threat – say – is cooperating,  or, is running AWAY from the LEO.   There are other scenarios but these are obvious ones.
  5. The whole issue of “Driving While Black/Chicano” should go away.
  6. All LEOs should have body cams that cannot be turned off by them,  only turned on.  There should be clear guidelines as to what footage is automatically tagged private.
  7. We are seeing so many cases where, after a bad shoot,  the magical phrase “I was in fear for my life”  has popped up,  I think it is past time to start doing more psychological evaluations of LEOs,  to determine if their level of fear disqualifies them to carry a weapon, and, if they can, with therapy,  overcome this trembling fear that drives them to insane actions.  This should be an ongoing process, too.
  8.  Perhaps close to the most important is a change in attitude of the LEOs.  They need to look at themselves as a part of the community, and focused on keeping the peace for all.   Today, with the increasing militarization of the LEOs they are more like an occupying force.   In addition, they have grown an attitude OF being an occupying force, not constrained by the Constitution, or laws of the Country.   This militarization and change in attitude has caused a serious destruction of the relationship between LEOs and citizens. 

About that last point…  When I was a very young man,  I learned from cops that they had three rules that they used to determine how to treat a person of interest.

  • Were they a cop?  If so,  cut them as much slack as possible.  Ignore violations,  give them privileges,  etc.
  • Were they immediate Family of a cop?   If so,  go easy on them,  unless you knew they had pissed off the cop.   Then,  No limits.
  • Everyone else was a Perp.   They might have not been caught yet, but, they were guilty of something…so assume that…and treat them accordingly.

Now, alas, that third rule seems to have evolved to “Everyone is a homicidal maniac,  likely to magically produce a gun and start killing everyone in sight.   Going home to your family after shift is more important that public safety,  so, it is better to kill them, and move on, than risk being killed”    This is made even more dangerous by the view that many have of any Person of Color being a giant monster.

I hope, if any of this makes sense to you, and seems like a good idea,  you will take the time to communicate with your local and state governments to let them know of the problems, and that you, as a Citizen, are not willing to allow our society to live like this.

God Help Us All

Bee Man Dave

 

 

Posted in Ethics, Family, Humanity, Improving Life, Nuttiness, Observations, Political rants, Politics, Questionable decisions, Ruminations, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Some Thoughts On Religion

Greetings and Salutations;

As has been true for thousands of years, one of the hot topics for discussion is religion. There are a number of very active groups on Facebook and other Social Media where passionate arguments happen.

I decided, finally, to see if I could codify where my beliefs lie at this point in my life, and, some issues that support, or argue against the value of “Religion” as a force in today’s society. This is a complicated subject, so I will apologize in advance for the length of the post!

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, and thought as a child. When I became a man, I put away childish things.

I grew up in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, which is one of the more Conservative branches of what Luther called “The Church of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession”. I was introduced to the stories of the Bible, and taught that we should respect others; that we should treat others as we would like to be treated; and, that Luther was a great man who had seen the best path to God. In this period, “God” was, in my mind, the more or less architypal image of this huge, Bearded Guy, sitting on an ornate throne, dispensing Wisdom and Justice. As often seems the case, the church, through the Sunday School teachers, passed along the message that anyone that was not Mo-Syn Lutheran was to be pitied, because they were doomed to end up in Hell, suffering Damnation and eternal torment. There was an odd ad-mixture of Law and Gospel in the teachings, too… While the lesson that Christ Died for us, to expiate our sins and allow us to enter Heaven was certainly an important part of that teaching, and, that works would do NOTHING to earn us a spot in Heaven, there was quite a burden of guilt laid upon us in the process. It was pointed out many times that every sin we participated in added to the Suffering of Christ. It was fairly simplistic, which is to be expected, when dealing with children.

Now, then, I do want to take a moment and say that it was not all Guilt, Gloom and Doom! The teachers did their best to make the stories in the Bible interesting, and engaging. They did this through getting us to talk about the challenges of herding ALL those animals onto the Ark; by imagining what it would be like to be stuck in the belly of a whale for days; challenging us to think about how WE would react if we found a guy, beaten up and laying beside the road, and the like. It was not deep, or reflective, examination of religion, but it was a decent introduction to basic concepts of how to treat each other and how to deal with the world.

It was as I approached the end of High School that the discussions started to become deeper and to wrestle with more complex aspects of religion. For example, it was in that time period that the whole issue of “Why do bad things happen to good people” came up. The flip answer, memorized by many charged with teaching us, and aiding our Spiritual Journey, was that “God allows bad things to happen to us because we need to learn a lesson”. It was a challenge to reconcile this with the concept of a God that loved us so much that He Sacrificed his only Son on our behalf. For some, this was the point that they turned away from God, and took another path. For others, it forced them to really wrestle with the concepts, and become stronger in faith. For many, alas, apathy took over, and they decided to ignore the Elephant In The Room.

Going to University was quite an experience for me, in a number of areas. As regards this essay, the important one was the fact that, for the first time, I met and spent time interacting with people who had significantly different faiths. Living in East Tennessee, the biggest issue I had faced up to that time was explaining to the Southern Baptists that “No, Lutheranism is NOT a cult….” The similarities in our belief systems far outweighed the differences. At the University, though, I had an “AH-Ha” moment, when I spoke to a Hindu, who, when I said I prayed regularly, said “Ah yes, I pray to my Gods TOO!” As time progressed, I interacted with and considered, the beliefs of folks ranging from atheists, who held a very strong faith that God did not exist, and anyone who believed in that nonsense was a fool; to Hindus, Followers of Islam, Jews, Buddhists, Mormons and a host of other views. It was that time period that really forced me to start looking, on a deep level, at what I believed, why I believed it, and what the positive and negative aspects of those beliefs were.

This period in University also rooted a strong desire to understand as much as I could, both about my own beliefs, and the philosophies of others. I continue to follow this path, through self-reflection, study, and discussion. One of the very positive aspects of Social Media is that it can provide a forum for people of various points of view and beliefs to meet, in a setting that is less prejudiced by “Social Norms” and engage in discourse about their beliefs and what they struggle with. I find it an interesting, stimulating, frustrating and insightful place to engage.

Now then…let me address the Bible for a moment. When I was a child, I believed that the Bible was a precise and accurate history of the world, and the events that happened in it. Now, though, not so much. After decades of wrestling with the issues, I have come to the conclusion that the Bible is an odd combination of fact and fiction. For examples of “facts”, I have no reason to believe that the Generations of Mankind, listed in the Old Testament, are not fairly accurate recordings of a family tree. I have dabbled in Genealogy, so, I have a fair understanding of both the accuracy of a family tree, and, how errors can creep into it. Since science has shown that in the history of Mankind on Earth, there have been some mighty floods, I accept that, in a general way, the story of Noah has some nuggets of truth in it. However, I have come to the belief that the Bible was not intended to be a collection of historical facts for our edification. Rather, it is mainly a collection of metaphors, allegories, and parables that focus on the important lessons of how we should or should NOT treat our fellow humans. It also provides some important lessons on types of societies that do not work.

Let us look at the last point for a moment. The Old Testament is a book of Laws, without Mercy. It has listing after listing of ways that people will transgress against Society, and details the rather draconian punishments for those transgressions. It was the Old Covenant between Man and God, and only by fulfilling the Laws in the Book would a person be pure enough to enter the Kingdom of God. Alas, since humans are far from pure, it was demonstrated that NO one could fulfill the Law sufficiently. We would ALL fall short of the standard set by God. This reminds me of a point of conflict that I had for decades with my father. I was always fascinated with making things; and taking things apart, to see how they worked. (And, I will say in passing that it was a great relief to my parents when I finally reached the stage where I could put things back together!) Well, this path always requires tools…and so, when I needed to do something, I would go grab a tool off Dad’s tool wall or his workbench in the shed, for the task. Alas, I was not particularly good at getting those tools back to their appointed place…so, until my early 20s, Dad only could see me as that little kid that always lost his tools. His Law was “use the tool, put it back where you got it”. However, at least from my point of view, being sent on a guilt trip for losing the tool was kind of draconian!

The New Testament is a book of Redemption, of understanding that Mercy is, in many cases, more important than Law. It was a New Covenant between God and mankind. It focuses not on the failure of people to live up to the Law, but, the Redemption, through Forgiveness, that helps us pick ourselves up, and with new understanding, move on to be better people.

Between these two types of Society…which seems the more productive and positive…and perhaps more importantly, which one would YOU like to live in?

In my view, much of the Old Testament is devoted to examples of how we should NOT treat our fellow humans…and the New Testament is a goal for us to aspire towards, and to work as hard as we can to achieve. The lessons in the Old Testament are important, but, should not be considered to be the controlling factor in the world of the Christian.


There are a fair number of folks who decry religion, saying that it is obsolete, or simply a tool to program the masses and control them. Sadly enough, there is some truth to this. I look at some of the groups that claim to be “Christian”, and I see a group of people who are perverting Religion and the Bible, to push their own agenda. They cherry-pick verses out of the Bible to support their point of view. They misinterpret or add meanings to the verses they extract, to ensure the words support their agenda. In doing so, they destroy the good that Religion can do, and amplify the Evil…causing more people to look upon the concept of Religion with suspicion. I often see their claims, and find them without merit, because one cannot base a valid argument on invalid premises…and that is exactly what they are doing.

There are far too many folks who firmly believe that their particular belief is the only “True Belief” and so they have a lock on God. Alas, this is extreme hubris. I came to the conclusion quite some decades ago that God was so far beyond our understanding that it was quite likely that there was more than one path to It. I have, in the past, compared the difference in understand between man and God with the comprehension that an ant would have of a human… I also rather enjoy pointing people at the old fable of the blind men, trying to understand what an Elephant looks like. Each of the men in this story is accurate in his observation, yet, totally out in left field about the whole. That having been said….do I believe that “All paths lead to God”? No, I do not. It is more like driving through hilly countryside, attempting to reach a mountain we can see in the distance. We cannot see the entire path, and, more often than not, without guidance, the road we are on may take us further away from our goal!

I am going to take a moment to talk about the issue of “Free Will” that mankind has. I alluded to it in the previous paragraph, and it is an important part of one’s spiritual journey, I believe. Wherever it came from, mankind as the right to choose one of two paths. We can choose a path of Life, and positive action, where we give and receive good things as we journey along. Alternatively, we can choose a path of Darkness…being greedy, unethical, and taking from others while never giving back anything. Either life choice has consequences, and, (assuming a Christian Point of view), neither will ensure our return to, and welcome by God. However, our choices DO reflect our character. In the book of James, it says “Faith, without works, is dead”. Some people interpret this to mean that by works we prove we have faith, and so get brownie points with God. We, Lutherans, in general, look at it differently. Luther made the point that it was our Faith that created a flow of energy that would demonstrate itself in the actions we involved ourselves in. If, for example, we were in a positive place, we would help others, take on tasks without complaint, etc. If we were in a negative place, as mentioned before, our actions would be darker.

In my spiritual journey and maturing, I have spent some time studying various religions and philosophies. I have yet to find one that does not, to some extent fit well into my world view. In general, they are a tool for humans to deal with reality in a more positive fashion; or, to come to a deeper understanding of their minds and beliefs. We are an imperfect creation, and so many of our paths are rather winding, and often end up in the weeds. Yet, the end goal – to be a “Better Person” is still there. I believe that is an important point that is sometimes buried in the complications and chaos of life these days. I, for one, would like to see a broader, and more inclusive view of all people, based on the NEW Testament principles, become the rule of thumb for Christians. As for other religions, who include similar beliefs, focus on the positive and inclusive lessons of YOUR belief system. Let us all strive to become more insightful about ourselves, and more mindful of others.

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Sifting through the Ashes, Part 17

Greetings and Salutations;

The debacle that is the current administration continues to sink into the cesspool. The POOO is continuing to get more and more frantic in his attempts to divert attention away from his malfeasance. Counsel Mueller continues to ignore him, and issue indictments, and convict members of his administration.

The FB group, “Balance of Power” had a very well written discussion of the British view of our country and why they do not care for the POOO…..I quote it here, as it deserves further views.

“A few things spring to mind.

Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.

For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace – all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.

So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing – not once, ever.

I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility – for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.

But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is – his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.

And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults – he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.

Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront.

Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.

And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist.

Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that.

He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat.

He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully.

That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead.

There are unspoken rules to this stuff – the Queensberry rules of basic decency – and he breaks them all. He punches downwards – which a gentleman should, would, could never do – and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless – and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority – perhaps a third – of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think ‘Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:
* Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.
* You don’t need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.

This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.

After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shiat. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.

In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish:

‘My God… what… have… I… created?

If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set.”

-Nate White

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Sifting through the ashes, Part 16

Greetings and Salutations;

An interesting conversation arose on FaceBook today,  and motivated me to write this entry.    A person I was discussing politics with (yes,  I know that is a tightrope),  had this to say to explain how he felt about Hillary Clinton:

Many reasons. She’s unlikable, dishonest, covered for her rapist husband, filthy rich on a politicians wage, can’t relate, never accomplished anything, has ties to multitudes of unsavory friends, her and Bill are probably the unluckiest couple in the world to be friends or business associates with, she felt entitled to the office, she has flip-flopped on all the important issues, she constantly passed out on the campaign trail, she’s a bitch to her security detail, she ripped off the Haitians, her non-profit is a huge scam, her fake laugh, I could go on and on and finally, she couldn’t beat trump.

I thought I would address these points directly..

1) “She’s unlikable…her fake laugh” – Why, I wonder, should this be a factor? My focus is on other things that I consider more important. For example, her qualifications. We all know her long list of offices she has worked in during her career. When she was in Congress, she was very respected as a policy wonk, showing up to meetings and hearings with a stack of paperwork, and having a deep understanding of the issues at hand. An aspect of this, too, is the question of “does she have the strength to control the government and deal with foreign leaders” As for that, she was the ONLY candidate in the 2016 election that actually scared Putin. It is no wonder he fought her election as hard as he could. Now then, to get back to the original objection. It is often true that great leaders are not likable people. They are called on to make difficult decisions, and often the path they chose is not a happy one for many folks. It may be best for the country, but, it is optically bad. Also, there is the fact that we rarely see the real personality of a politician. Secretary Clinton wears a strong game face, yet reports from people who meet her off the arena report that that she is a warm, caring and fun person.

2) “Dishonest”. Now one is honest, so why should or could we expect more from our politicians. Now, according to objective fact checkers during the 2016 election campaign, she was at or near the top of the list at producing truthful, and evidence based statements. As I recall, at least 55% of her pronouncements were absolutely true. In comparison the POOO was down in the teens – a place that he has stayed even after two years of sitting in the Oval Office.

3) “Covered for her rapist husband”. That is certainly claimed, but, on further explorations, it seems that the hard shell tactics people claimed she used were exaggerated at best, and a lie at worst. Speaking of family values, In spite of a terrible betrayal by Bill, she and he found a way to work through it, and remain a family. That is far better than many politicians do these days.

4) “filthy rich on a politicians wage” Hardly a valid argument, since politicians make more per year than many Americans. Also, she and Bill get premium payments for their speeches. That, to me, is capitalism succeeding – she is making a lot of money by using the reputation and knowledge she has gained through the years.

5) ‘can’t relate, never accomplished anything, has ties to multitudes of unsavory friends” These, alas, are simply without merit. There is no truth the first two, and, as to her friends…again, are all YOUR friends Angels? I would bet that if I looked in detail at anyone’s life, I could find some pretty unsavory friends….

6) “her and Bill are probably the unluckiest couple in the world to be friends or business associates with” This appears to be based on debunked stories about mysterious deaths. Not the DEBUNKED part of the comment.

7) “she felt entitled to the office” Show me a politician who does not feel this way. This is akin to saying that she is a bad person for being just like everyone else in the game!

8) ‘she has flip-flopped on all the important issues” This argument lacks merit for a couple of reasons. First off, “All” makes it meaningless. Secondly, yes, she has changed her position on a number of important issues. However, unlike many politicians, she has owned the fact that she was wrong before, and, had changed her mind after receiving more and better data on the issue. Would we, as a country, want a politician in charge who simply changes their minds randomly, with no data or thought? Well, perhaps we would, since the POOO is exactly that. I, though, for one, would prefer a person in charge who can recognize when they are wrong, and are willing to change their position.

9) “she constantly passed out on the campaign trail” This is simply a lie. There was ONE episode where she got wobbly, because she was ill and had gotten dehydrated.

10) “she’s a bitch to her security detail” She is a strong-willed person, and, frankly, no different from any other politician in the game. I am sure that EVERY president and presidential candidate has blown up at their security detail while they had them. However, on than one report from one person, I never saw a vast flood of objections to her way of treating the security folks. Also, I wonder…afterwards, did she do something to apologize to them for being testy? That sort of news does not sell papers, so it is unlikely to be reported.

11) “she ripped off the Haitians” This is simply a lie. https://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37826098

12) “her non-profit is a huge scam” Another lie. The Clinton foundation is highly rated by Charity Navigator and other independent monitoring organizations. It is also a fact that while the Clintons have poured millions of their money into the Foundation, they have not taken a penny out for their own use. This, by the way, is a notable contrast with the current administration and the Trump Foundation.

13) “she couldn’t beat trump” this is without merit. The fact is that she DID beat the POOO, gathering 3 million more popular votes than him. However, he took the office because the Right-Wing has manipulated the system so as to give them an advantage in the Electoral College. They have done this with two major tools – the “Winner take all” laws, and the “unfaithful Elector” laws. The former artificially boosts the votes to a candidate, and the latter threatens the Electors with fines and prison time if they do not vote for the people’s choice. As for these two factors, I point you to Hamilton’s exposition in Federalist Papers #68, where he lays out very clearly the job of the Electoral College. Comparing what Hamilton wrote with the 2016 election shows a clear example of how the College has been broken.    Here is a link to Federalist Papers #68

So, after looking at these objections, I see nothing more than a series of invalid, Right-Wing talking points, and spew from the Russian Bots that influenced Social Media in the 2016 election.

God help our Country
Bee Man Dave

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What it means to be “Liberal”

The following post showed up on my Face Book thread today,  and, Mr. Allen (The author)  makes just good points that I thought I would repost it here.

The current political climate is so extreme it means that the Right-Wing folks demonize everyone who is not in their camp.   It is more examples of the concept of “The Other”   which I have written about before on this blog.

This demonization is making it impossible to function as a society, and can, in the long run,  destroy us.   We MUST fight against this.   How do we do this? I suggest  we take the comments below to heart,  and remember that WE are fighting for all citizens,  not just the 1%  at the top of the economic scale.   Do not allow opinions based on lies, or prejudice,  stand without challenging them.    Let your elected officials know what they are doing right, and doing wrong.   Do it politely, and with courtesy.    Finally, perhaps most importantly….VOTE!   Make sure you vote in every election.   Urge those around you to vote.   If you can,  help people bypass the barriers built against voting, and get them to the polls.

REPOST TO YOUR FAMILY BEFORE ELECTION DAY:

“An open letter to friends and family who are shocked to discover I’m a liberal… I’ve always been a liberal, but that doesn’t mean what a lot of you apparently think it does.
Let’s break it down, shall we? Because quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of being told what I believe and what I stand for. Spoiler alert: Not every liberal is the same, though the majority of liberals I know think along roughly these same lines:
1. I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected. Period.
2. I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Somehow that’s interpreted as “I believe Obamacare is the end-all, be-all.” This is not the case. I’m fully aware that the ACA has problems, that a national healthcare system would require everyone to chip in, and that it’s impossible to create one that is devoid of flaws, but I have yet to hear an argument against it that makes “let people die because they can’t afford healthcare” a better alternative. I believe healthcare should be far cheaper than it is, and that everyone should have access to it. And no, I’m not opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen.
3. I believe education should be affordable and accessible to everyone. It doesn’t necessarily have to be free (though it works in other countries so I’m mystified as to why it can’t work in the US), but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt.
4. I don’t believe your money should be taken from you and given to people who don’t want to work. I have literally never encountered anyone who believes this. Ever. I just have a massive moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while there are people literally starving to death, freezing to death, or dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Fair wages, lower housing costs, universal healthcare, affordable education, and the wealthy actually paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating this. Somehow believing that makes me a communist.
5. I don’t throw around “I’m willing to pay higher taxes” lightly. If I’m suggesting something that involves paying more, well, it’s because I’m fine with paying my share as long as it’s actually going to something besides lining corporate pockets or bombing other countries while Americans die without healthcare.
6. I believe companies should be required to pay their employees a decent, livable wage. Somehow this is always interpreted as me wanting burger flippers to be able to afford a penthouse apartment and a Mercedes. What it actually means is that no one should have to work three full-time jobs just to keep their head above water. Restaurant servers should not have to rely on tips, multibillion-dollar companies should not have employees on food stamps, workers shouldn’t have to work themselves into the ground just to barely make ends meet, and minimum wage should be enough for someone to work 40 hours and live.
7. I am not anti-Christian. I have no desire to stop Christians from being Christians, to close churches, to ban the Bible, to forbid prayer in school, etc. (BTW, prayer in school is NOT illegal; *compulsory* prayer in school is – and should be – illegal). All I ask is that Christians recognize *my* right to live according to *my* beliefs. When I get pissed off that a politician is trying to legislate Scripture into law, I’m not “offended by Christianity” — I’m offended that you’re trying to force me to live by your religion’s rules. You know how you get really upset at the thought of Muslims imposing Sharia law on you? That’s how I feel about Christians trying to impose biblical law on me. Be a Christian. Do your thing. Just don’t force it on me or mine.
8. I don’t believe LGBT people should have more rights than you. I just believe they should have the *same* rights as you.
9. I don’t believe illegal immigrants should come to America and have the world at their feet, especially since THIS ISN’T WHAT THEY DO (spoiler: undocumented immigrants are ineligible for all those programs they’re supposed to be abusing, and if they’re “stealing” your job it’s because your employer is hiring illegally). I’m not opposed to deporting people who are here illegally, but I believe there are far more humane ways to handle undocumented immigration than our current practices (i.e., detaining children, splitting up families, ending DACA, etc).
10. I don’t believe the government should regulate everything, but since greed is such a driving force in our country, we NEED regulations to prevent cut corners, environmental destruction, tainted food/water, unsafe materials in consumable goods or medical equipment, etc. It’s not that I want the government’s hands in everything — I just don’t trust people trying to make money to ensure that their products/practices/etc. are actually SAFE. Is the government devoid of shadiness? Of course not. But with those regulations in place, consumers have recourse if they’re harmed and companies are liable for medical bills, environmental cleanup, etc. Just kind of seems like common sense when the alternative to government regulation is letting companies bring their bottom line into the equation.
11. I believe our current administration is fascist. Not because I dislike them or because I can’t get over an election, but because I’ve spent too many years reading and learning about the Third Reich to miss the similarities. Not because any administration I dislike must be Nazis, but because things are actually mirroring authoritarian and fascist regimes of the past.
12. I believe the systemic racism and misogyny in our society is much worse than many people think, and desperately needs to be addressed. Which means those with privilege — white, straight, male, economic, etc. — need to start listening, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, so we can start dismantling everything that’s causing people to be marginalized.
13. I am not interested in coming after your blessed guns, nor is anyone serving in government. What I am interested in is sensible policies, including background checks, that just MIGHT save one person’s, perhaps a toddler’s, life by the hand of someone who should not have a gun. (Got another opinion? Put it on your page, not mine).
14. I believe in so-called political correctness. I prefer to think it’s social politeness. If I call you Chuck and you say you prefer to be called Charles I’ll call you Charles. It’s the polite thing to do. Not because everyone is a delicate snowflake, but because as Maya Angelou put it, when we know better, we do better. When someone tells you that a term or phrase is more accurate/less hurtful than the one you’re using, you now know better. So why not do better? How does it hurt you to NOT hurt another person?
15. I believe in funding sustainable energy, including offering education to people currently working in coal or oil so they can change jobs. There are too many sustainable options available for us to continue with coal and oil. Sorry, billionaires. Maybe try investing in something else.
16. I believe that women should not be treated as a separate class of human. They should be paid the same as men who do the same work, should have the same rights as men and should be free from abuse. Why on earth shouldn’t they be?
I think that about covers it. Bottom line is that I’m a liberal because I think we should take care of each other. That doesn’t mean you should work 80 hours a week so your lazy neighbor can get all your money. It just means I don’t believe there is any scenario in which preventable suffering is an acceptable outcome as long as money is saved.
So, I’m a liberal.” – Written by Larry Allen

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America….a LAND of Immigrants!

Greetings and Salutations;

I was poking around on FaceBook earlier,  and ran across this post.    It should be required reading for ALL Americans,  I think.   It is by John Blumenthal  Thank you Mr. Blumental for a brief  but insightful analysis of the mindset of America these days.

Dear Immigrant-hating Assholes.

By now maybe one of you, the one who isn’t illiterate, has read Stephen Miller’s uncle’s op-ed about his nephew’s immigration hypocrisy. There’s more where that came from. Laura Ingraham’s grandparents fled from Poland; Fox News was started by an Aussie. Sean Hannity’s grandparents were Irish. Jonas Salk, who is the reason you don’t have polio, was raised by parents who escaped from Eastern Europe; Afraid of the “War on Christmas”? Russian immigrant Irving Berlin, a Jew, wrote the appropriately named “White Christmas,” not to mention “God Bless America”.

Can’t live without your smartphone—Steve Jobs’ father was a Syrian refugee; Enjoy the convenience of ATMs? Offer your gratitude to Luther George Simjan, a refugee from Armenian genocide. Google? Invented by Russian Sergey Brin; Can’t live without blue jeans—Levi Strauss, German immigrant. Hot dog on a roll—James Feltman, German. Glad you don’t have to live in the dark—give a pat on the back to Thomas Edison, from Nova Scotia. Grateful that the Nazis didn’t win WW II—say hello in 3 languages to Enrico Fermi (Italian), Albert Einstein (German), Niels Bohr (Danish), to name a few.

One of your kids born prematurely? He or she may be alive because of Peruvian Claudio Castillón Lévano who invented the Neonatal Artificial Bubble that improves the intensive care of high-risk newborns. Glad you have color TV? Say hello to Hispanic immigrant Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena who invented the color television system. And you can all thank the many American scientists of foreign lineage who have either won Nobel Prizes or contributed to scientific discovery that may save or have saved your life.

Got money in the bank? Thank Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the Caribbean who invented our banking system, and might have been, at least partially, a person of color. Most African Americans were not technically immigrants because the vast majority didn’t come here on purpose. Nevertheless, they deserve our tribute too: Alice Ball discovered a cure for leprosy; Ophthalmologist Patricia Bath invented ultrasound; Otis Boykin, heart pacemaker; Samuel Kountz, pioneer in kidney transplantation, Garrett Morgan, the gas mask.

And I’m not even going mention the contributions made by immigrants and their descendants in American sports, entertainment, the arts and politics or we’ll be here all night.

Oh, and in case you misguided racist yahoos don’t know, your idiot president’s grandparents emigrated from Germany; Pence’s grandparents were Irish.

And what have you invented lately, you bigoted morons, other than the Ku Klux Klan costume, a real work of genius.

If you’re four.

God Help Us All!
Bee Man Dave
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Are All white people racist?

Greetings and Salutations.

I just read an interesting article on Slate,  with the thesis that “Yes,  ALL White people are racist”.    I thought it interesting enough to discuss the article a bit…

Here is the article

 

While this article is not totally without merit, it seems pretty shaky to me. Here is why.

1) I checked the PRRI website, and, as of yet, have not found the study the author is referencing. The closest I could approach it is this poll and analysis:  Which comes to some rather different conclusions.

2) the article, as presented, reminds me of the old aphorism “There are none so fanatical as a reformed sinner”. Assuming that the study he references exists, then, he has lept from “about half” to “ALL white people” are racist and privileged. This is one of the quickest ways to lose a rational debate that I know of!

I did search out this analysis that still does not support his thesis…but looks at how prejudice affected Pres. Obama’s election

I am not saying that humans do not harbor prejudice. That is as old as the hills in the psyche of humans. I wrote an essay about the concept of “The Other” here and have some additional essays dealing with this  in the Blog too.

I am reminded of the story from the 70s, of the assistant director of the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation. In an interview, he said he used to be heavily into the White Supremacy movement…Skin Head, Combat Boots….violently racist attitudes…the whole package. Then, one day, at a pause in the activities at a Supremacist rally, as the chants calling for killing people of color, or shipping them back to Africa died down, he had a disconcerting thought. What would they do if they got their way, and America was Lily White? He looked at his buddy, and asked the question…and said “What do we do then?” His buddy, with the fire of racism and hate still a bonfire behind his eyes, said “Don’t worry about it…there is always someone to hate!”


The young man looked around, and realized that he was one of the few dark haired people in the rally…and the revelation came to him…”It could be ME that is the next target!”

In fairly short order he had severed ties with the White Supremacist groups, and had moved on to join the Nazi hunters at the Foundation.

He made a point in this interview that changed my view of reality, too…and is with me today. He said…”We ALL have prejudice in our heart. The important thing is to understand this, and not let it control our actions.”

 

God help us all!

Bee Man Dave

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The Shining City On the Hill

Greetings and Salutations;

I ran across a very sad post on Facebook a bit ago,  and was moved to reply to it.   Perhaps I am too optimistic…but in these days of political madness and Evil,  I think that Optimism may be our only hope.

Preston Wigfall Calvin Kirk on this and this alone I agree with you. As you so adroitly illustrate.. absent social media… Americans would be no smarter. They would be no better informed and they would be just as racist and xenophobic. The Russians exploited American weaknesses that the entire world is aware of… QUERY: When EXACTLY was America GREAT? Name the time period that you and your ilk wish to return… I’ll wait..

Here is my reply

Preston Wigfall

America has always been a complicated and contradictory place. We are, as a country, still mewling infants, and some of us realize that.

We are a population ranging from the people who hate education so much that they cling to their ignorance as if it were a comforting teddy bear, to some of the best and most highly educated minds in the world.

We range from a homophobia so great that it moves people to violence at the very hint of it, to some of the most accepting and tolerant people one could wish to deal with.

America was unique in that it was founded on the principles of many cultures coming together, and becoming greater than the sum of its parts. The fact that a person who was the poorest of the poor, or, the most oppressed in their home country could come here, and become rich, or become a respected leader, has puzzled the rest of the world for most of our history. It is nearly unique in the world.

Overall, I would agree..America has never been truly “Great”…but over the years, American has done some truly great things. We struggle with becoming that “Shining city on the Hill” which is the Utopian Ideal we were founded on. In the past, we have made great strides towards that goal. Today, we are reminded how fragile that progress can be. We are building a spun-glass bridge here, and, the efforts of one, malicious vandal can smash much of its beauty.

There are many Citizens here who are horrified that the tiny percentage of Barbarians who have managed to manipulate themselves into power, are destroying decades of progress. If we were a different place, there would have already been a palace coup, and the military would be running the country… However, we are struggling to follow the root of our society, The Constitution, and stick to being a society of Law, not Man.

I do not know what the future will bring, but, I pray that we will, very soon, wake up, and realize the road of madness and destruction we are on, take action, and change our path. It will take decades to rebuild that which has been lost. It is very unlikely that I will live long enough to see America get close to where it was a few years ago. But, I pray that I will see that momentum start, and I work to encourage the Citizens who have lost hope, to stand up and vote, and do what they can to stop the madness.

God Help Us All!
Bee Man Dave
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Cat Trees – Did the Earth Move for you TOO?

Greetings and Salutations;

Just to talk about something more positive than the debacle that is the political world in America these days, I have decided to offer a suggestion on how to make a good thing, even better.

A popular product for folks that are Guardians of Companion Animals is the “Cat Tree”. These range from a fairly simple base, with one or two scratching posts attached to it, to tall,and complicated structures.

 

They are almost ALL built of platforms of press-wood, and verticals of 4″ diameter, very heavy,  cardboard tubes. usually the tubes have plastic inserts at the ends, with threaded fittings, which allows the structure to screw together easily and without the need for many tools.

 

I have ALSO found that many of these inserts are held in place with nothing more than a few staples through the tube wall into the plastic. This is, simply, not good enough. It barely works for the small units, and leaves the larger units a swaying and wobbly disaster in the making.   The cats, as they climb and jump around on these structures, will wiggle the staples loose, causing early failure of the uprights.

Luckily, both for the security of the cats, and to prolong the life of the investment it takes to GET one of these units, there is a simple and inexpensive  way to re-enforce the uprights and make it a far better unit. Here is what I do….

I get a box of #6 by 1″ long coarse thread drywall screws, and a #2 Phillips Head bit for the drill.

For each insert, I use a hammer to carefully tap the insert down about 1/8th inch into the tube. This leaves a nice shoulder to anchor the upright in place. I recommend that if one does not have experience as a blacksmith, perhaps it would be best NOT to do this.

I move on, to drive at least four screws in to each insert, spacing them evenly around the outside of the tube. This is not difficult, although it does take a little time. Also, of course, one should NOT be ham-fisted in running the screws in. Too fast and they simply strip out the plastic, and remain loose! I found that by letting go of the trigger when the screw bites into the plastic works great. As the drill coasts to a halt, it drives the screw just the right amount into the insert.

When I am finished, I have a far less wobbly stand, and I am fairly sure that a 15 lb cat jumping onto it is NOT going to destroy it! I do not know if the cats care that much, but it makes ME happier!

God Help Us All!

Bee Man Dave

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Declawing Cats, Part 2

Greetings and Salutations.

I ran across this post to FaceBook  a little while ago, and wanted to add it to the topics available.   It is not comfortable…or easy to look at…but it should not be, and it is important

 

 

Andrea Ward
May 7 at 11:09pm

I took two kitties to Dr. Hammerele at The Pet Doctor today in O’Fallon to have their poor declawed feet examined. The first cat (where both paws are in the radiograph) has tendons so severely contracted, her toes have curled over. No wonder she is obese – it hurts so badly to walk! The next photos show bone fragments in most of her toes. This is like if we had a piece of glass in our shoe and it stabbed us every time we walked. Both kitties have surgery scheduled and are on pain medication and anti-inflammatory meds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Declawing does not save cats’ lives – it only makes their lives painful! Declawing does not keep cats in homes – one of the cats I took today is from a rescue!

Also, good to note that neither of these cats had any outward signs of pain or typical issues. No biting or aggression or litter box aversion. One cat is just painfully shy and withdrawn while the other is morbidly obese. Pass this along and spread the word about The Paw Project.

What Ms. Ward says is terribly accurate. Touching on her comment about declawing keeping the cat in the home….Over the past week or two, I have seen at least a dozen postings from several rescue groups in the area, where, an older cat has been dumped at the pound, after being declawed. This Evil causes me to see red, and I fear I am going to have to go do some Tai Chi after putting this entry up, to regain some calm and balance.

Her point about cats being spookily good at hiding disability is right on the nose too. I have had cats in the past that seemed healthy and hale, and were running around like kittens, then, either died in their sleep that night, or simply keeled over dead. I have had cats that had painful joints, and hid it from me for weeks to months. They are predators, after all, and in the world where they are not protected, any sign of weakness or disability is license for them to become the prey.

In the Bible, which contains much wisdom about ethical behavior, in Mark 25:40 it is written “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” If you are considering having a cat declawed, then think long and hard on doing this…and read the quoted verse a number of times!

Here, by the by, is an excellent study that looked at the operation, and evaluated it. Read it through… http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1098612X17705044?journalCode=jfma

As I have mentioned before, there are several viable alternatives to deal with scratching.

  • Do not have a cat as a companion animal. Get a dog. Get a fish. Get a plush toy. Just do not get a cat.
  • Trimming the tips off the cat’s nails will eliminate many of the problems. It is easy to do, and painless.
  • Take your cat to a professional groomer and have nail covers applied. It is possible to do it yourself, but initially, let the pro do it. They will likely have better product at hand, and will be less likely to screw up this somewhat fiddly job.

 

God Help Us All!

Bee Man Dave

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Why not declaw cats?

Greetings and Salutations.

The following post came to my attention today, and if there is ANY question in your mind as to what the answer to the question in the title is…Read the article, and look at the pictures…then tell me you would be OK with this still being legal.

Blue Boots.

In 2013 Blue Boots was surrendered for behavioral issues including litter box avoidance and extreme aggression. Fortunately, someone stepped in and Blue Boots went to a Specialty Purebred CAT Rescue foster. The vet through SPCR found the cause that explained everything, though most people would not have connected the dots, as Blue Boots’ original owner did not. See, years earlier, Blue Boots had undergone a 4-paw declaw procedure. It’s quite routine and widely accepted in the US and even vehemently defended. What you see in these photos are the deformed claws that were growing WITHIN and THROUGH Blue Boots’ paw pads.


In one study of declawed cats in a particular shelter, one vet found that 66% had left over P3 fragments from the declaw being performed improperly. 33% of them had more than 5 fragments. Of those with fragments, 45% had at least one fragment larger than 5 mm. 28% had a 100% fully BOTCHED declaw procedure, meaning they had bone fragments larger than 5 mm left in each declawed toe.

In the case of Blue Boots, he was 100% botched, meaning those bone fragments left behind in each toe also included a part of each nail bed. Over the space of time after his declaw, the ingrown claws caused constant pain and resulted in his litter box issues and his aggression. Again, his owners weren’t able to connected the behavior with the cause and he would have been killed.

If an individual MUST have a declawed cat, either due to the potential health risks of a possible scratch or due to the rules of their living arrangement, please consider adopting an adult feline from a rescue or shelter that has already been declawed. If a child colors on a wall, you do not cut off their fingers. You teach them not to. The same applies to kittens and training them to use an appropriate scratching surface. There are so many alternatives and humane solutions. This is not merely my opinion, but a truth based upon the research of countless veterinary professionals, proven statistics and studies done throughout the world. Declawing is now banned in 28 countries.

Carla Lynch


While I agree with most of the article,  I take a firmer stand on declawing.   There is NO reason to declaw a cat.   It is an abusive and barbaric custom that has no place in today’s society.    I have also found,  from some research,  that too many Vets push this procedure for cats because it is a high profit option, requiring almost no effort on their part,  and allowing them to charge a large fee.

If the issues mentioned above are a factor,  I suggest one of these courses of action:

  • Do not get a cat.   Get a dog.   Get a large, stuffed,  plush toy.   Cats are not accessories to one’s life, they are members of the family, and so to treat them as anything else is simply wrong.
  • Get a set of nail clippers and learn to snip the sharp tips of the claws off.   This eliminates the issues of a cat scratching a person or damaging the surroundings.
  • Make sure that the cat has plenty of scratching posts and boxes to do the deed on.
  • Take the cat to the groomer’s and get caps put on the claws.   It is possible to do this oneself,  but,  it takes some practice and,  is really something that is worth letting the professionals do.

I hope,  if you have read this far,  that you will contact your state government  and your Federal representatives to push them to implement legislation that will make this terrible act illegal in the entire country.

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Mass Killings – How can we prevent them?

Greetings and Salutations;

The recent uptick in violence in America, some of which is real, and some of which is amplified because of the gluttonous need for a story by the several, 24/7 News Networks, has grabbed my attention. It is a terrible result of the changes in society over the past couple of decades. In this article, I am going to look at what we, as a society, could do to short-circuit these mass killings. This is hardly comprehensive, and I welcome useful insights into areas I have missed, of course!

I have mentioned, in other posts about mass shootings and such, that a common factor in all of them is that the killer who does this evil thing has left a trail of “Red Flags” behind that show he/she is an increasing danger to themselves or society. Here are a few of the Flags I have seen, in no particular order.

 

  1. The person has shown an increasing interest in weapons, usually of “assault-style” guns, and has made comments about their ability to inflict large amounts of damage in the shortest time.
  2. They show an increasing isolation from society. Either they are bullied, and so being “pushed away” by society, or, simply are developing a dislike for others, they become isolated. This, I believe, makes it easier for them to move to actual violence, as it enables them to turn other humans into sub-human enemies…which are OK to kill or hurt.
  3. They show an increasing interest in violence as a solution for problems. I am sure we all know or have known, at least one person whose world is so focused on violent video games that they seem to like them WAY too much, and enjoy the destruction of them more than is comfortable.
  4. Their parents are often too disconnected to them. For whatever reason, the parents are “too busy” to be an integral part of the person’s life, or, are not interested in teaching them good values. They often are so disconnected they are wearing blinders and ignoring the person’s behavior.
  5. In some cases, they are living in a very violent, abusive household, so, not only have been the target of violence there, but, have been programmed from birth that violence is the way ALL issues are resolved.
  6. They start to show more and more hatred for a given group of people. Be it cheerleaders and jocks, who they see as being more popular than they are, to people of color because they believe these people to be an enemy that is going to destroy their lifestyle, to a general anger because they feel invisible and a failure, and so believe that everyone else is more important in the world’s eyes, or more successful, these negative feelings and attitudes take root and grow, pushing a person to Evil.
  7. They start making comments on Social Media (these days), talking about their feelings and desires.
  8. They will often join with extremest groups, like Militias, the KKK or other white supremist groups, or fanatically religious groups.

How do we address these issues? That can be a difficult thing to do, alas, as people are complicated and since the Constitution rightly makes it difficult to deprive citizens of freedom and such, that adds a secondary barrier to changes. That having been said, I suggest some of the following actions.

Do not simply dismiss their speech as “blowing off steam”, or “just being a kid”. That may have been true, 50 years ago, but, these days, as we have seen too many times, what used to be venting to relieve pressure and stay on a more positive path, has become a way to feed the anger and stoke it up to the point that action happens. This is especially true if the shooter has joined with a group that supports a twisted agenda of violence and death for those who are different from them.

Intervention can help. Just being a positive force in a person’s life can do some good. However, that DOES mean that we will need to find a way to confront and disagree with their radical views without it being a personal attack. I have talked with many supporters of the current administration, and, while I do not think that all of them are dangers to themselves or others, it can be VERY challenging to present them with facts and discuss their views without being called names and insulted in a manner more suited to the elementary school playground than a discussion between adults.

Speaking of Intervention, I think we should start pressuring our Representatives to change how Society deals with mental health. Reagan, with his massive undercutting of the Mental Health Care system in America did no favors to the country. Subsequent administrations have continued that sad process, making mental health care even more difficult and challenging. I am not one of those folks that dismiss the actions of a mass shooter as being the acts of a person who is mentally ill. Classical mental illnesses – Clinical Depression, Schizophrenia, etc, do not tend to generate the sort of madness that creates mass shooters. I do believe, though, that anyone who engages in this Evil Act, is in a very bad place, and would benefit from some therapy. If we had easier, less expensive, access to therapists that could help these folks work through the Anger and Fear issues that have driven them to the point of picking up a weapon, I am quite sure that many mass shootings would be nipped in the bud. Having these resources available for help and evaluation would also make interventions a far more positive event.

Another issue is the response of the Law Enforcement Community. Quite rightly, I suppose, they are useless to notify if one is concerned about the path a shooter is on. They, at best, will have a short interview with the person, and, in most cases will say “We cannot do anything until a crime has been committed”. Then, of course, when there is an active shooter situation, they are glad to go in with guns blazing! This might not be an issue that should be handled by local LEOs, but rather by the FBI. In that case, I would like to see changes instituted to ensure that reports of worrisome behavior get sent upstream to the Feds in a timely fashion. As an example of what I am talking about, I am going to touch on the young man who killed too many students at Parkland’s High School. Already, it has come to light that the local police had reports of anti-social behavior and many signs that he was becoming increasingly violent, starting at least 5 years ago. Yet, because “no crime was committed”, nothing was done.

Dealing with these issues is a challenging situation, as we have to balance the protections of the First Amendment, against the need to keep people who are on the path of Violence from successfully committing mass murder. For example, the POOO* has just come out and said that he supports the idea of the cops going in, and confiscating the guns of anyone who shows signs of being a mass shooter, leaving the whole thing of “Due Process” for later. Not even a majority of his most fanatical followers think THIS is a good idea… What I would like to see is enough resources allocated, so that when a person is reported as being a danger to himself or others, a judge can evaluate the information, and decide if an investigation of the person’s social network postings, and police records should be done. Once the investigation is ordered and completed, the judge looks at the results of that investigation, and decides that further action is necessary, If it seems that this person presents a credible threat, it would be appropriate for the judge to order a psyche hold/evaluation and a temporary removal of weapons from the person. During that psyche hold, a trained psychiatrist should interview the subject, and, determine if therapy or other treatment is necessary. This examination by a trained professional needs to be more than a half hour visit, and some paper shuffling, too! It should involve several, lengthy sessions, and some serious talk during the sessions. At the end of the hold period, a judge should take the recommendations of the psychiatrist, and other evidence and determine the next step. Either the person should be released, and their weapons returned in due time, or, they should be run through the system and set up for mandatory therapy for a period of time, probably determined by their progress as evaluated by an objective board. While the person should, likely, have their freedom, subject to making their appointments, during that time, they should either not be allowed weapons, or, only under supervised and limited settings (say, at a gun range).

One of the issues I struggle with while writing this is the idea of “freedom”. How “Free” are we in America, and, by implementing a change like this, are we having freedom taken away? My general answer is…”well, yes and no”. The fact is that “freedom” does not mean life unfettered by rules. We, as a society, have millions of laws that limit our behavior. We have limits on how fast we can drive on public streets, and if we break those limits, we are punished. We have laws about our responsibilities and rights as landlords and penalties if those laws are broken; We have laws dealing with selling foods to other citizens; we have laws that limit how we can interact with each other – with violence or theft being punished quite strongly. While it might be possible for the above suggestions to be perverted and turned into a tool of oppression, it is not built into them to be that… I believe that with sufficient oversight, the perversion of the goals of such laws could be blocked.

That having been said, I believe there are other things that Society can do to help deal with these issues. For example, an intervention does not have to go as far as involving Law enforcement, as with the above example (which is the most extreme case). It could be as simple as an increased number of therapists in schools, whose job is to interact with students that are acting out, or showing other negative signs in their lives. These therapists could evaluate the stresses in the student’s life that are causing these issues, and, perhaps find ways to help the student deal with them. If it is a result of abuse at home, or in the school, there are appropriate ways to handle that and make it stop. Today, alas, Child Protective Services tends to be so overwhelmed and under-funded, it is nearly impossible to provide the level of service needed to deal with violence in the home. Schools have shown a poor track record of adequately dealing with bullying and hate speech by other students, leaving the targets of this evil feeling very unsupported, and very vulnerable. In both cases, changing funding levels and policies would make a huge difference. If it is a matter of anger management issues, perhaps a series of counseling sessions in school would help the students build the tools to deal with the issue.

Another thing that Society could support is having the schools teach tolerance for others, and critical thinking skills. I am NOT advocating religious instruction in schools, as I am in full agreement with the Constitution here, that the government must not allow support of any religion over any other one. However, by showing students the realities of the lives of others, it can help them to be more tolerant and make it more difficult for them to treat them as sub-human, or enemies.

Some years ago, there was a social experiments called “The Third Wave”

                                         http://www.thewavehome.com/faq.htm
Now, while this proved to be a kind of scary moment in education for several reasons, it was valuable in that it demonstrated to all the students, in a very clear way, the dangers of discrimination, and how necessary it is to be alert to it, and combat it when it rears its ugly head. It also demonstrated how thin the veneer of Civilization is and that we must, as part of our evolution of society, work to thicken that to a point that it is far more difficult to rip away. Would participating in such an experiment mean that the possible mass shooter would see the error of their ways, and turn from violence? I do not know…as people are complicated. However, it likely would rattle the cages of those who are abusing others, and perhaps ensure that they would change their ways, and that could well remove a stresser that pushes a shooter to action.

Alas, unhappily, the greatest burden and responsibility for these mass shooters falls, in my opinion, on the shoulders of the parents. Over the decades since the social revolution of the 1960s, I have seen an increasingly “Hands Off” attitude by parents. As I have said elsewhere, too many parents seem to want to be their kid’s “Best Buddy” and want them to be the same to the parent. They do not want to be the bad guy who says “no” to the kid, as they take the resulting “I hate you” response personally. Kids, when they are born, are like an empty vessel as regards their rules for life. All they have are the basic, instinctive rules required to survive from day to day. If a parent does not take the time and effort necessary to fill that vessel with good rules for life, including such things as respect for other people, including their elders, tolerance of differing views, a willingness to debate in a rational and less emotional fashion, an understanding that they do not know everything, but, that education is important, and makes their life better, and the idea that discussion is always best, and violence should be the absolute, last resort for dealing with a problem, then, that vessel WILL be filled by rules from other sources. Think about the media these days…Look at the video games available to kids of all ages. Look at the movies that they are exposed to. Sadly, look at the example that the Administration presents. These sources are, to a greater extent, filled with violence, hate, misogyny, racism, and a plethora of other pretty terrible ways to deal with society. In “Grand Theft, Auto” for example, one gets point for running down and killing game characters that are prostitutes. That, along with the whole concept of stealing cars and treating the authorities as the enemy.

This is a complicated issue, of course, and I am sure there are other issues and facets of it that I have not touched on. However, unless we address these basic issues with society, we will continue to see these explosions of violence and death. I have, in this article, focused more on youth, being involved in school and church shootings, and have not looked at the issue of ideologically motivated shootings, or, like the guy in Las Vegas a few months ago, who apparently got into such a dark place that he believed that suicide was the only answer, and he wanted to take a large honor guard with him. This is a whole other topic… However, to a certain extent, many of the Red Flags I listed at the start of this article apply to these mass killings too.

* POOO stands for “Person Occupying the Oval Office”…

God Help Us All

Bee Man Dave

 

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Thoughts on Gun Violence In America

Greetings and Salutations;
This thought was generated by a FB article, about the Parkland shooting. Of course this is the topic of focus just now, as it seems to have generated a LOT of discussion. This reference was posted in the thread, and seemed to get a lot of agreement.

I agree with the fact that the article, as far as it goes, has merit. However, as many such articles do, it ignores the human element. While I agree that classical mental illness is not a cause for mass shootings, I maintain that the people that fall into this madness have a history that has warped their minds to the point where this action seems to be the best alternative.

For example, bullying; After enough bullying, a person may get to a point that they choose violence as an answer. Sometimes, that violence is expressed as suicide or self-harm. Sometimes, it is expressed by showing up at school, and shooting folks.

Then, there is the Evil of Racism and White Supremacy. People who have years of indoctrination in this twisted idea tend to both denigrate others as being “not human”, and, have a great fear that these “Animals” are taking over and destroying their world. I have come to the conclusion that some of this fear is exacerbated by the fact that the Supremacist fears that the people of color will treat HIM as he has treated them in the past. This same issue often drives religious fanatics and other groups who are intolerant of differences, and fearful that their reality will change.

A common factor with all these people is that, as they get closer and closer to actual violence, they start leaving red flags, warning of their coming actions scattered all over the place. Very often, these warnings are ignored by the friends and family around them. There are many reasons for this, ranging from apathy, to a delusion that “he is not really like that”, to “I don’t want to get involved” this allows the violence to fester until it erupts.

I suggest that, if some things were changed in Society, we would see a significant change in the frequency of these shootings.
I would like to see significant changes in the Mental Health Care system in America. The erosion of this service started with Reagan, who stated defunding the programs. I would like to see the system rebuilt, the number of therapists increased, and facilities for long-term care re-created. I would also like to see a large increase in the accessibility of such health care. services,

As of right now, the only way for a person to get long-term help, is for it to become a criminal matter. I would like to see this change, so that it remains a civil matter.
I would like to see society as a whole become more willing to intervene. When we see a person planting red flags, we should be willing to take action to warn the system that there is trouble here. As a part of that, per #1, we need to have a a point where dangerous behavior can be reported and dealt with.

As the Parkland shooting has demonstrated, the authorities need to be quite a bit better at responding to reports of troubled individuals. The reports coming now now indicate that there had been increasingly worrisome reports over an 8 year period, yet nothing had been done.

the previous points are what Society as whole could do. However, there is more there that will help. Within the family, I wish parents would do a better job of teaching tolerance, patience and respect for all life. However, the best that Society can do is to change the school system a bit. this change would add classes teaching these values.

One of my issues with today’s society is that too many parents want to be their child’s “Buddy”…their best friend.   So,  they not only walk away from being the “Bad Guy” who has to tell the kid “no”,  or force them to be disciplined,  but,   they often say that they do not want to inflict their values on their kids…so they are going to let them make up their OWN minds,  when they grow up.   My problem with this approach is that children are like a dry sponge when they are born.   They have NO rules for life,  except those instinctive ones that hopefully will help them survive to be adults.    It is the parent’s job to give that sponge values to absorb and become part of that child’s basic rules for living.    So,  as I mentioned before,  parents should teach their kids about ethics,  respect for others,  polite behavior,  tolerance and to abhor violence as an answer to problems.   IF the parents do not do this…that sponge will absorb values on its own.   Where will those values come from?   The media – Movies,   Television,  Video games and the like.    One of the common themes in all these sources is that violence is a great way to deal with a situation,  and,  life is cheap.   So,  urging parents to really look at the lessons they are teaching their children,  and reminding them that kids learn more from our actions than our words,  would be a helpful thing in this world.

I realize this is a skeleton of a plan, and likely has problems, but, it is a starting point.

God Help Us All

Bee Man Dave

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December 7, 2017

Greetings and Salutations;

Today is Pearl Harbor Day.
It is not a holiday for Celebration,  as was the Thanksgiving holdiay just a few days ago.   However,  it is a holiday that is at least as Important as Thanksgiving.   It gives us an opportunity to meditate on the human condition,  and to look at where we are at,  as a society.
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This evening,   Lisa and I went to see Allegiance, the Musical.   It is a memory of the events of World War 2,  where 120,000   Japanaese Americans,   many of whom had been born and raised here,  were swept up,  allowed only to take what they could carry,  and moved by train like cattle to internment camps in inhospitable parts of the country.  There,  they were treated like enemies,  denied basic human comforts,  and expected to thank America for giving them a safe place to live during the war.   In spite of this,  a larger number of the young men enlisted in the Army,  and particiapted in some of the deadliest missions of the war.  Many of them died.    When they were arrested and taken away,  these citizens lost millions of dollars of property and assets.   What did they get when they were finally released?   $25 and a bus ticket.
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The only real disappointment I had with the showing was that in this large theatre,  there were only 14 peaple in the seats.   It is a crying shame that there was so little interest in this movie,  as it is a strong,  well done,  examination of the dangers of prejudice and unbridled fear.    After the Credits,  there was an extensive discussion by George Takei  and others involved in the production,   discussing the musical and how it relates to today’s world.   It, too,  made some excellent points,  and was worth every second of viewing time.
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I hope that next year,  on this date,  YOU will take a few hours out of your busy life.   Get tickets to the showing of this film.  Watch it and think about it,  and with luck take some friends along to watch it with you.   Afterwards,  go out for a late dinner and talk about the film   Learn something and use that knowledge to become a more spiritually aware and better person.]
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Why should we care about this?   We are seeing the same rumblings happening today,  70+ years later.   The current administration has such a hate for people who are not WASPs,  that they have proposed doing just the same thing to Muslims.    ICE  is already doing this to long-time residents…ripping them away from their families,  and improsoning them in For-Profit failities,  not because they are dangerous criminals,  but because they have broken Administrative laws.   These people are not the enemy,  rather adding a great deal to the quality of America.  Rather than destroying their lives,  perhaps we should honor the memory of those thousands of soldiers who died at Pearl Harbor and other Theatres of war – fighting for the freedoms defined by the Constitution –  and create an easier path to citizenship for not only them,  but ALL good people who want to come to America.   God knows why ANYONE would want to be a part of this society now,  alas,  as we are on a very dark path right now.
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RESIST!
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PERSIST!
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God help us all
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Bee Man Dave
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The Annual Whine about names

Greetings and Salutations;
Well,   Thanksgiving is coming up on us like a turkey-shaped train!   This should be a pleasant time of year for us…with good feelings and thankfulness that we have made it through the challenges of the year,  are still alive and have some provisions for the Winter.
Alas,  this is an ideal that is harder to achieve every year.   However,  delving into that topic is perhaps more appropriate for a different time.    No.   Right now,   I want to mock the annual whines that show up at this time of year from the people who are so self-centered and intolerant that they cannot stand for ANYONE to have a tradition or thought that differs from their reality.    In this specific case,   I was presented with THIS image on Social Media  today:
This is so bloody silly it boggles the mind that it is still showing up. When I saw it,  my first reaction was this:   What world does this poor soul live in? I have folks that, when they are talking about the Pagan Celebration Saturnalia, refer to it as Christmas. I have had people who are talking about the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s period say “Happy Holidays”.
Really…how many times in our lives has ANYONE said to us “Oh, no, you cannot say that…you have to say “Happy Holidays”?”   I suggest that, unless you are dealing with a governmentally funded organization,  you have NEVER heard it,  nor will you ever hear it.
I suggest that life would be much better if we simply enjoy the positive aspects of these special days, do something nice for someone else, and not decide to be insulted because someone else may call the day something DIFFERENT from what YOU call it.
I realize that in the hidebound, limited reality that too many Christians In Name Only live in,  this is blasphemy.  However,  We ALL need to remember, at this time of year, that we are a very diverse country,  with more traditions than we can shake a stick at.   That is why our Founding Fathers  included in the Constitution,  the “Establishment Clause”, that ensures that the government shall never give one religious tradition precedence over another.    These days, alas,  with the flood of religious fanatics that seem to be trying to take positions of power,   that clause is being stretched to the breaking point.
If we all want a better America…to “Make America Great Again”…we each need to remember that every citizen has the right to believe as they choose.   We may not agree with those beliefs,  but,  we should,  because of the Constitution,  respect their right to believe this.  Just because someone prefers to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”  is no reason to whine that they need to be expelled from the Country!   I am reminded of the old saying “Be careful what you pray for…you might get it”.    Think for a moment when disrespecting others and remember that it is quite possible that there are a LOT of people who think YOU are wrong..and should be deported.
Happy Holidays!
Merry Christmas!
Joyous Saturnalia!
God help us all!
Bee Man Dave

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Art for Art’s Sake (and I am not talking about Garfunkel, here…)

Greetings and Salutations;
 
Just as a diversion from the ugliness of the day,   I want to tell y’all a short story that is at least 40 years in the making.
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When I was in my 20s,   one of the pleasant activities I engaged in was to spend a day going through flea markets and Antiques shops.   I really enjoyed finding some hole in the wall that was a bit off the beaten path.   THOSE were the places where I would meet the most eccentric, unique people,  and find some amazing,  buried treasures.   I ended up getting some fine tools for nearly nothing,  and exchanging some amusing stories with folks on these expeditions.

Wooden Bow Saw

On one of these outings,  I ran across one of the stranger things I have seen.   Hanging on the back wall of a little shop (as usual, packed to the gills with a variety of oddities),  was a very nice Bow Saw.    That was good,  as I needed a bow saw,  to deal with a bunch of branch trimming around the homestead.   However,   someone had used this saw as the  frame for a piece of woven art.   Now,  at the time,  that was just an annoyance to me,  as I was focused on the utilitarian aspects of the saw.   However,  since the price was right,  I acquired this odd mixture of the functional and the aesthetic.
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Because life is always complicated,  I put it aside for a bit.   Finally, though,  the work of using the saw came up on the list and bubbled to the top,   I pulled out the saw,  with the plan of simply cutting the woven thing off it, and discarding it.   However,  when I looked at it again,  it spoke to me,  and convinced me that destruction was NOT what should happen!   So,  instead of trimming back the branches that Saturday, so I could mow without having to do the Limbo under them,  I carefully disassembled the saw,  and removed the woven art from it – intact.   It was  rather fiddly work,  so it is probably a good thing that I am a tad Obsessive/Compulsive!
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Once the art was free of its frame,  I  got it rolled up, and tucked it away in storage.   As for the saw…I spent a couple more hours putting it back together,  sharpening the blade, and then, was ready to saw.   It worked great,  by the by…  Just at the moment,  I do not know where it is,  but, I am fairly sure I still have it tucked away in a box someplace,  awaiting the end of the chaotic moves that the last 5-6 years have been filled with.
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As for the art…It stayed in storage, quietly sleeping in the dark  until last week.   I was down in the barn,  feeding the barn cats (who I am gradually getting closer to being able to pet),  and moving some boxes around to try and evaluate what I have lost during the moves,  what has been stolen from the barn,  what has been destroyed by the storage, and what I still have left of the large collection of useful and useless things I started out with a decade ago when leaving the house in North Knoxville became necessary.   The good news is that, so far,  my packing was good enough that,  in spite of less than ideal storage,  most of the things I managed to move are intact.   As for the rest..well…no matter.   The important thing is that I opened one box,  and found,  rolled up inside,  the woven art I had acquired all those years ago.
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I took it up to the Octagon with me,  and,  as you can see,  above, after some thought and construction of a shadow box frame,  have finally gotten it back to a state where it can be hung on the wall,  and enjoyed again.   Since I am older, and, I hope,  wiser,   I find that I am looking at it with different eyes.   I see more in it than I did when I first got it, and,  I am rather glad that I hung onto it, and kept it intact.
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However,  Now,  I  have another problem.   I would like to know more about it.   Of course, the antique shop where I got it knew NOTHING about it, nor,  were there any notes attached to it.   So…Here is what I know.
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  • It was created sometime before 1970.
  • It is of all natural materials.
  • I purchased it in the East Tennessee area,  probably in the Sevierville/Gatlinburg area.
  • When I contemplate it,  I see a strong,  Native American influence.   Since the Cherokee are still around this area (in spite of the efforts of that Scummy Bastard,  Andrew Jackson),  It could be their work.  However,  it seems to have a far more “South Western” look to me.  <UPDATE>   after several years of pestering folks about the art,  the ONLY thing I am fairly sure is that it may have Native American influences,  but, the general opinion is that it is NOT the work of a Native American Artisan. </UPDATE>
  • There is a leather tab woven into it,  with a logo on it that might help identify the artist…but no luck so far!  <UPDATE>  This image by the way,  is “sideways”.  The leather signature tag actually hangs vertically,  with the left side of the picture here,  up.   </UPDATE>
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So…I present this for your interest and pleasure (I hope),  and I ask…if ANYONE out there looks at this and says to themselves…”WOW,  that looks like what my Great Grandmother/Grandfather  used to do”,  or “I have a bit of art with that same logo signature on it!”,  please leave a comment on this blog entry.   (If you are an Ethnologist or  art historian,  specializing in Woven Art,  DEFINITELY get in touch with me! (*smile*).
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Whether or not I find out anything about this art, or who created it…I have to say that I thank the Artist  for creating a lovely  piece of Cloth Art.   It certainly brings a bright spot of pleasure to MY  world, at least!   We need more of these moments right now,  because it is, alas, a rather dark time in our history.
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God Help Us All!
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Bee Man Dave
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