Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pub Chatter #126

     Riddle me this cape crusaders, opioids are controlled drugs, right? They are closely monitored in hospitals and pharmacies. I’ve worked in places where they are counted by pairs of nurses at the beginning and end of every twelve-hour shift. Sooooo, how did these drugs escape and create an epidemic all by their little ol’ selves?

     I blame unrepentant capitalism. Wherever there is a demand, some ambitious soul will bust a gut to supply it---for the proper remuneration, of course. Truthfully, the familiar devil of supply and demand that is behind this epidemic is not confined to capitalism. He favors no economic theory. People want narcotics and will go to extraordinary lengths to get them. A reliable system of supply will spring up to meet the demand no matter where you live.

     You’ve heard the old saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” This is never truer that in the procurement of drugs. So, let’s all take a deep breath and admit the opioid epidemic was something we wanted and subsidized--until we got it. Now, it’s a national crisis. You can’t get more American than that?

     Here in Seattle, we are combating the epidemic by opening up safe havens for injection. Public shooting galleries to prevent accidental overdose and disease from dirty needles. Around here we prefer a safe and healthy kind of slow motion suicide. I first thought, “Why not? Over time it would help with the homeless situation on our city streets. My illusion was quickly shattered when someone said that the shooting galleries would make Seattle a “destination” for homeless addicts all over America.

   Here’s a radical idea: try spending money and resources on the demand side of the equation. No demand for a product is its first step to extinction. The government should stop subsidizing opiate use. We can start in medicine chests across the country. Simply order Medicare and Medicaid to stop paying for long term opiate use. Make frequent, unannounced urine drug screens mandatory for everyone receiving any kind of government payments. That means Congress, the courts, government employees and those receiving entitlements. The military already does this and they still believe they live in the land of the free.

     Then, give current users a reason and assistance to quit that is motivated by something other than jail time. Subsidized healthcare should begin with the addicted. However, we must be careful. If hunger, cold, homelessness and no cost rehabilitation can’t motivate a person to seek help, there’s really no help for them. I’m not implying personal worthlessness. I am saying save who we can and admit some cannot be saved no matter what we do or how much we spend. You know, the whole serenity prayer thing.

     Law requires medical professionals to report child, elder, and sexual abuse. Why not drugs? I’m not saying no one needs long term painkillers. I’m saying the government monitors everything else in healthcare why not prescriptions for opioids? Nobody has to stop taking them or prescribing them. But, if Sam wants people to stop, he needs to see who needs it most. In the majority of cases, he holds the purse strings.

     The opioid epidemic, like most crises, is within our power to overcome. The truth is that we are unwilling to do what is necessary to overcome it. After all, we might want a script for Oxycontin when we get old.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Pub Chatter #124

     Every November 11th I have a time when I sit quietly and think about this one particular night.

     It was at the start of my 1900 to 0700 shift at Clark AB in the Philippines. I was watching my first in-bound C141A coming in for a landing. The landing lights cast bright halos against Mt. Pinatubo in the background. The crew greased the landing and taxied up to one of the few spots left on the parking ramp. The flight crew cut the engines and hustled off leaving the plane in my care.
     I checked the oil, filled 'er up and kicked the tires. After a quick walk around, I had a call put in for a couple of shops to send out men for repairs the crew wanted to be done. The GI’s riding this flight home stayed on board even though take-off wasn’t until morning. The shop mechanic avoided the cargo bay when we had passengers staying on board, but sometimes, if nothing else was shaking, I’d go sit with them. They were on the way home from 'Nam.
     I was in and out that night. The guys in the back spent a quiet night. I ended up being there all night as the work took longer than expected. The flight crew was back not long before quitting time. We breezed through the preflight, got the engines cranked up and they were back on their way stateside.
     Like I said, every November 11th I think about those guys who stayed with the plane.  They were going home. The big aluminum boxes they were in got draped with a flag just before they got off in the states. They got a nice escort off and went back to their families and funerals.
     I was one of the lucky ones. Not all the guys I spent time with in the service are celebrating Veterans Day today. But guys, we’re thinking about y’all.

Pub Chatter #123

     On Monday my oldest son turns 43. There was a time in my life when I thought that was old. Now, it keeps getting younger every day. I didn’t plan on getting old, it just sort of happened to me. The only thing that really bothers me these days is taking care of young folks whining about their aches and pains. Why when I was their age, I had aches and pains and had to pay to go to the doctor.

     Old people are required by law to bitch about the younger generation at least once a day. That was my jab at the little wussies. On to the business at hand. This week I want to talk books and movies. I’ve decided to leave the political and moral discussions to the Colonel and the Crusader. Friday is the Colonel’s forum. The Crusader will continue to be here on Sunday. That gives me time to write, read and watch movies.

   I’m going to start with a tough one--The Dark Tower. If you are a Constant Reader of Stephen King, bear with me. This is not the Dark Tower that you spent years reading as each volume came out. How could it be? A better question might be why would Hollywood even try? Has a sudden phobia I don’t know about developed against movie franchises? Freddy and Jason got God knows how many movies. The Dark Tower couldn’t get at least seven?
     That said, The Dark Tower is a good action movie. The secret is to divorce it from the books. Bad guy out to destroy the universe vs gunslinging hero is a winning movie formula. In that respect, the movie succeeds. To me, that’s entertainment.
      In telling the story, The Dark Tower makes the same mistake as the new It. It relies on the audience to know the characters and why they act as they do without developing them on screen. If you haven’t read the book, there’s no reason to care about the characters. On the other hand, if you did read the book, you are left feeling flat. Whether or not you have read the books, my advice is to wait for a free version.

     Annabelle Creation is a prequel to the original Annabelle. It dodges not only the book problem but the
original script of the first movie. It does this very well. At the heart of the movie is the “be careful what you wish (pray) for” moral. The doll’s creator, Sam Mullins, tragically loses his daughter when she is run over by a passing car in a fantastically well-done scene. He stops production of the handmade dolls. He and his wife pray for Bee’s (their dead daughter) return to their lives. Oops, they get what they asked for--at least it looked like Bee. Of course, it isn’t Bee. The doll is the evil spirit’s conduit. Priests lock it in a closet lined with pages from the Bible.
     Things get better until Sister Charlotte and six orphan girls arrive to live with the Mullins’. The kids innocently let the demon loose and the dying begins. This one is already out there to rent. Go and get it.

     Camino Island is our last stop. I haven’t read everything John Grisham has written, but I have never read anything by him I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. That still stands. I went through the book in about three sittings because I’m too old to sit up reading all night like I used to do.
     The story revolves around the theft of the original, hand-written manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald from Princeton University. The story’s protagonist, Mercer Mann, is recruited to infiltrate the world of the bookstore owner currently in possession of the manuscripts. Mann is a woman. So the point of view is decidedly female. Some Grisham fans say it’s “too girly.” I guess I read too many female points of view books. I liked it.      

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Pub Chatter #122

     Three cheers for the proposed tax bill put out by the President. The prospects for its survival are grim, but it may serve as ammunition against tax and spend politicians later. To effectively change the face of the tax code, it is imperative to change the faces in Congress. I don’t know jack about economics, but even I know that one cannot endlessly spend more than you take in. A nation built on this practice will come crashing down. It’s simply a matter of time.

     America’s thirty-five percent business tax is a cry to export business elsewhere. The proposed cut to twenty percent is still not competitive worldwide, but it is an improvement. Hopefully, it will survive and help bring business back home. This is more than a break for businesses. It is a break for everyone. Businesses do not pay taxes--customers pay taxes. If you are a consumer, this is your tax break. The caveat is that should it pass, customers must demand it be passed on to them in the form of lower prices.

     I am a flat tax advocate. Income tax, if we must have one, should be like Social Security tax. If you make a dollar, you pay a percentage--no ifs, ands or buts. Seeing deductions vanish would be a positive. If you really want to tax the rich, eliminate deductions.
     Folks in the Emerald City are already crying about the potential cut in their mortgage interest deduction. Poor little liberals have an average $750,000 mortgage. Cutting the deduction to $500,000 will cost them. Poor dears, they won’t be able to take off from work to march for higher taxes on the rich. If you can afford three-quarters of a million for a house--shut the fork up. Pay your damn taxes and quit whining.

      Okay, enough of that. It has been an exceptional day. I already had the bit about taxes written and couldn’t bear to toss it out. Spent the day with fellow writers at Tacoma Community College. We were there for Write in the Harbor 2017. Murder-mystery writer J A Jance was the speaker at the Friday night and the first hour today. She shared insights about drawing on life experiences and people watching in writing characters. Breakout sessions the rest of the day today. I think I’m ready to press on with the next draft of Trails of Trouble.  Good stuff.
     Speaking of good stuff, we topped the day off by going to Smoking Mo’s for their tenth anniversary. Smoked pulled pork and chicken with mac and cheese, beans and coleslaw. We added deviled eggs with smoked jalapenos and cinnamon apple cheesecake ice cream. Had to hurry home for stretch waist pants. Feeling stuffed, but extremely happy.
     The crusader is here tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Pub Chatter #121

  “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”
     Yes, that’s from the Bible. No, this is not the Crusader. This is a bit of reflection on the lost art of how to treat people. Tempers flare quickly in our polarized country and, as a result, common courtesy suffers. The most glaring example is the treatment of our current President.

     Those who know me are well aware of my dislike for the former President. Obama was an abysmal President. That is my estimation of his job performance, not of his worth as a man; that is between him and God. Despite the fact that I totally disagree with everything the man did and tried to do--he was always the President of my country and for that, if for no other reason, he was due all the honor of the office he held.
     That is how America has worked since 1800 when Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams and an opposition party came to power for the first time in the United States. Jefferson and Adams did not like each other--that’s putting it mildly. However, they respected the office and the occupant as the leader of this country.
     Donald Trump was elected by the people of the United States. I know that’s hard for liberals and career politicians to accept. Nevertheless, it is the truth. No one is required to agree with his politics. Everyone is required to honor the office, the country, and the election process. Criticism is fine. Yet, some have chosen the low road of overt threats, wishes of death, and vilification of his sincere efforts on behalf of his supporters.

      The same honor and tribute are due to our flag, our national anthem, our laws and law enforcement officers. Those who cannot muster respect declare themselves unworthy of the same. As a nation, we are deep in debt. We cannot afford to withhold love, honor, and respect for our country or our countrymen.  

Friday, October 20, 2017

Pub Chatter #120

     I found out the other day that I’ll never be a big time movie critic. It’s not really a big disappointment since it wasn’t a life goal to start with. Actually, it isn’t a goal at all. However, I have taken it upon myself to review movies, books, and places so it’s a bit of a downer to see I lack talent and insight.
   I watched The Book of Henry last week. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. There was a line in the film about apathy that deserved an “Amen.” I couldn’t remember the context so I went online to see if I could find it. What I found was that everybody who is anybody totally hated the movie.
     You know what? I still like it. Henry is the smart kid who doesn’t really fit and is too adult for most of the adults in the movie. Henry has a bad habit of standing up for people even those who don’t ask him to do so. Henry is not beyond vigilantism in the face of apathy and legal impotence, but that might be because Henry is dying. He leaves behind a book--a manual for murder. Forget the critics. See the movie.
     For those who prefer a good book, I recommend Echo Park, by Michael Connelly. It goes back to 2006, but that’s yesterday as books go. Besides, Harry Bosch and murder are timeless. Bosch is working cold cases. A chance to solve one of his own from thirteen years earlier comes his way. The killer confesses, but can he be believed? Harry must find out. It moves fast. I burned through the book in a couple of sittings. A must read for those who like crime novels.

     We have Gerald’s Game on tonight. It’s pretty good so far. Nice dodge around a woman alone with her thoughts. “Some people call me the space cowboy...” 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pub Chatter #119

   My liberal friends say conservatives are difficult to work with because conservatives are narrow-minded and lack vision. Once again, my liberals friends are wrong but are too sure of themselves to see their error. Conservatives are hard to work with. They have that right. The reasons for this are manifold.

     Conservatives have a natural tendency to resist group efforts. They are private people. They don’t wave a rainbow flag or wear a pink vagina in order to be comfortable with who they are. Private lives, private solutions, and private property are preferred over government action so media coverage is not essential to frighten timid legislators onto their bandwagon.

     There is also the legal aspect of conservative protest. Conservatives need to join hands and sing, “We Shall Overcome,” doesn’t usually manifest itself until well into the second six-pack. By that time the police have already arrived and shut down the festivities.

     Conservative attendance at planned protests is hindered by the fact they have to work. Add to that the fact that they don’t just work nine to five, Monday through Friday and you have problems right away. Besides the everyday demands of family, owning a home and operating a business, conservatives tend to do their own home and auto repairs, fish, hunt and watch sports which cuts into the valuable time available to march in protests.

     Capitalism is a constant barrier for conservative organizers. Conservatives believe in paying for the goods and services they receive as well as those they provide. This makes it difficult to find conservatives angry over losing the “freebies” they get from the government. They are often angry enough to protest the existence of “freebies”, but are too busy and too tired from trying to earn money the government can tax to turn that anger into action. Besides, who is going to buy the gas?

     Conservatives are not as skilled as their liberal counterparts with electronic devices. Their cameras are still in their pockets when some libtard says or does stupid shit worthy of posting on Facebook making it hard to get their message to go viral.

     Above all, conservatives value peace. They don’t want to change the world--they just want to live in it. They don’t want to be troubled about where the city is going to provide safe places for addicts to shoot drugs. They don’t want to be troubled---period. That’s why they own guns. The conservative effort to “love they neighbor” begins with everyone minding their own business and leaving each other the @#@$@ alone to live in peace.

     Conservatives are not apathetic. All you have to do is watch CNN with one to know apoplectic is closer to the truth than apathetic. Conservatives are proactive. They still revere the old saying that, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That’s why they are against electing leaders who talk about changing things and giving away free shit in the first place. Better to do that than making Uncle Sam stop the car and come back there.