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.  

Monday, October 16, 2017

Pub Chatter#118

   It was an exceptional fall day in western Washington; sixty-seven degrees, clear blue sky, and leaves turning red and gold. Walked along Goldsborough Creek in Shelton, and then visited Schafer State Park for some nice fall colors. Titan and Hydee splashed around in the Satsop River. Finished off the day outdoors with a fire on the patio.

     Watched Don’t Breathe when the dark and cold sent us inside for the night. I liked the movie’s premise. It was sort of a Wait Until Dark kind of thing. Lots of action, but it seemed to me the blind man’s hearing got progressively better as the movie wore on. I’m hard of hearing, but I think I would hear someone take a crowbar to a lock on my house. The basement was a super nice twist in the story. If you haven’t seen it yet--do so.

     I’m looking for a beta-reader or two for my new short story. It doesn’t have forever name yet--Homunculus, just won’t do. I hope to get it off to a magazine editor soon so volunteers are appreciated. Email me at crowder98332@gmail.com if you’d like to read and comment.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Pub Chatter #117

   “Oh, go ahead, try it. You won’t die. God is holding out on you because He knows when you eat this you will be like Him.” My paraphrase of the devil’s advice to Adam and Eve. Since that day people have lived with a sense of either being oppressed or on the wrong end of false accusations. Nowhere is that more evident than interpersonal relationships, especially race relations.

     Several years ago I worked as an assistant manager of a retail store. One day the manager and I were wandering through the store selecting items for an upcoming newspaper ad. (Maybe it was a long, long, time ago.) We were just about finished when an angry black man came up to us. He said we could stop watching him. He was leaving the store. Until he addressed us, I had no idea he was in the store. I feel pretty sure he went away thinking whitey was racially profiling blacks as shoplifters. I came away thinking WTF is the matter with him, are all black people that paranoid? Perceived oppression and false accusation; poor race relations grow.

     Race relations are not advanced by a constant questioning of one another’s motives or by accusing the other side of being unable to empathize. I have lived in white neighborhoods, black neighborhoods, red neighborhoods belonging to various tribes and in very racially diverse neighborhoods over the course of sixty years. Roles within the community change in accord with dominance, but behaviors do not. According to tribal members on one Apache reservation. there are Apaches, natives and white people in the world. Apaches, of course, being their own tribe. Natives are other native tribal people and everyone else is white---even if they are black, yellow or brown. Why? I was told because everyone outside acts toward natives like white people.

     Don’t believe me? What was the job of the famous black cavalry know as the Buffalo Soldiers? Keeping natives confined to the reservation and/or killing them. These soldiers were not even a generation away from slavery, but more than willing to oppress innocent people because of the color of their skin. Be the white sheep in a congregation that’s black and brown. you may find Christianity doesn’t transcend race in every heart. It’s not one people or one race that’s to blame. It is every single person. Change people and you change the world. Unfortunately, there’s only one person you can really change--yourself.

     Being alike on the inside goes way deeper than blood and bone. It goes to the very core of our nature. No race has a corner on bad behavior--that’s a purely human trait. The golden rule works for everybody because, given the proper circumstances, we all act alike. That behavior may need fixing, but mistrust and hate will not accomplish the goal.
     “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.”

     To my shame, I am a cynical old man. People, all people, have to prove themselves to get close to me. If you’re black and I don’t trust you---it’s not because you are black. It’s because you are human. Being white doesn’t make the job any easier. If you were an angel, I’d still be wondering whose side you are on because not all of them are what they should be either.

     Here’s the remedy I’m trying. It doesn’t work very fast. I’ve been working at it for forty years and haven’t gotten far. It goes like this:
     “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

Monday, October 9, 2017

Pub Chatter #114

     I hear people say that we need to have an honest, open, discussion about race in America. Comments like that make my gluteus maximus tighten because somebody is about to blow smoke up my ass. As a writer, I have a built-in “what if” mode and it suddenly kicked What if we did have a real, honest, discussion? What would it sound like and how badly would it piss people off? I decided to find out. The Colonel and I sat down today to have that discussion.

     America is a unique place. The starting point for this kind of discussion in our country is self-identification. Unlike the Irish, Japanese, Ethiopians or Israelis, we are not simply Americans. We are African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asia-Americans, Native-Americans...etc ad nauseum. I’m going to call myself a Franco-American.

     Now, the idea that we must qualify our identity with a hyphen says a great deal about us. It tells me race is more to us than nationality, religion, or the common bond of country. It also signals an inherent resistance to unity. We like our separate designations. That is a huge barrier to destroying stereotypes and old behaviors.

     The assumption underlying this idea of micro-identification is that people not like us are incapable of understanding us. I’ve already been told a white guy has no clue about racism. Bang your head on that wall for a while and it’s easy to quit trying altogether. Except it’s a lie perpetrated by those who don’t want to understand that someone can have a different point of view and still have worth as a human being. St Paul wrote: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man...” Most of our problems are of our own making and stem from one temptation or another, we have experience and God’s word on it that we all act and think pretty much alike.

     We can talk about diversity all day long, but it’s just that---talk. For all our different colors, languages, cultures and religions we are more alike than most of us are willing to admit. From a scientific or anatomic point of view, most of what you see when you look at a person is dead. The outer layer of skin, hair, and nails is for all intents and purposes dead tissue. It has no circulation, no enervation, and no ability to reproduce itself---dead. So, why is it the dead part of us dominates how we see ourselves and others?

     I only speak for myself. For my part, exposure to the subject of race relations has always been about “fixing” white people. No honest discussion takes place. </a>Rather, grievances are aired and we are handed the government’s list acceptable fixes for our thoughts and practices. We say, “Good talk," and everyone agrees to comply and it’s all a big lie. Nothing really changes because it was an exercise in paper that had nothing to do with shared ideas or values, to begin with. You don’t get anywhere with people that way. It’s like putting a band-aid on an infected wound.

     I have preconceived notions and assumptions about people racially different from me. I am not the least ashamed to say so if for no other reason than that I have never met anyone, of any color, who does not. In trying to sort these out for this blog, it soon became clear to me that the same assumptions that hinder my thinking rosy thoughts about black people, red people, yellow people, and brown people are the same things that keep me from a positive outlook on white people.

     I find my prejudices are more about culture, attitudes, and values than skin pigmentation. Which is not to say race doesn’t play a role in my thought processes. Race is tied to all of these things. However, so is the knowledge that “always” and “never” have little to do with real people. There are common threads, but people defy labels.

     We are out of space for this edition. Be back soon.



Pub Chatter #115

     I just finished reading Ransom Rigg’s Library of Souls. This is volume three in the story of Jacob’s adventures with the residents of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Jacob, Emma and a peculiar dog named Addington are pursuing Miss Peregrine, her fellow ymbrymes, and the peculiars who have been taken captive by an army of wights. The captives are carried away to Devil’s Acre; a punishment time loop controlled by Miss Peregrine’s brothers who are plotting to take over all of Peculiardom.
     Jacob has gained the ability to control hollowgasts and use them against the wights. However, that is not his most valuable asset. He is heir to his grandfather’s ability to see and handle the soul jars that are hidden away in the Library of Souls. The action is fast with many twists and turns. Peace is Jacob’s greatest challenge. Does he stay with Emma, his true love, or return to his family. You’ll have to read it to find out. Believe me, it’s worth it.

     Saturday morning’s Gig Harbor Writer’s Meetup was fruitful for me. Pushed my new short story forward and hope to complete it soon. We discussed the prospect of competing in NaNoWriMo, that’s National Novel Writing Month. The competition is only with oneself. The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel in the thirty-one days of November. My assignment, should I decide to accept it, will be to write the next Tettias novel---Roads of Battle. I’ve competed in the past, but it’s been a few years.

     Blog readership is up and I want to send special thanks to everyone. Welcome new readers, bless you faithful long timers. Col. Saulteen and I are beginning an online exploration of race relations. Nobody asked for our cracker input, but we never let that stop us. I expect to piss people off. My turn to do the talking because, to tell the truth, I’m sick of listening to the BS floating around. The first of these posts come sometime Monday. You’ve been warned.

     I hope people continue to boycott the NFL and its sponsors. This is a real opportunity for law-abiding citizens to effectively protest the demonization of the police and law enforcement.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Pub Chatter #113

   As surely as the cry for gun control arises from a shooting like that in Las Vegas, there follow tales of acts of selfless heroism and personal sacrifice. If you’ve watched the news today, you’ve seen those stories. I noticed that as hard as the reporters try to make heroes of these people, none of them feels heroic or pretends to be anything but a “regular” person.

     This refusal to accept hero status is not fake humility or false modesty. It is humanity. Mankind has a well documented history of inflicting unspeakable pain and sorrow upon itself. The worst criminals are sometimes those who believe themselves righteous and use the name of God as a mask for their inhumanity. They too are only human.

     There is a war raging within people; a battle between the divine nature of our creation and the corrupt nature that resulted from our fall. These dual natures vie for dominance in our every action, every word, and every thought. That is why we see a man shoot into a crowd and a new groom throw himself between his bride and the shooter side by side.

     That is not to excuse evil. It is only to acknowledge its existence in every man. For those who cry, “Not me,” hear God’s warning to Cain. “...If  thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. Evil is not far below the surface. If you are lucky enough to easily keep it there, good for you. However, control is not easy for everyone or in every circumstance.

     We all like to think good is our “normal” nature. That’s why we blame flipping some guy off in traffic on stress or a headache, while we claim returning a lost wallet our “real” self. The evil we do (small as it may be) we excuse. The good we do, we claim.

     “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Pub Chatter #112

     In the wake of tragedy there comes again the cry to ban private ownership of firearms. There are many evils in America. However, owning firearms is the only sin worthy of banishment. Muslim terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center, no ban on Muslims or restrictions their travel. Prescription drug overdoses kill thousands. Medicare and Medicaid still pay for opioids by the truckload. Truck bombs are used to terrorize America. No ban on either fertilizer or trucks. Cars slam into crowds. Silence on nuts with cars.

     I’ve seen alcohol kill and maim more people than cigarettes ever did. Yet, one is acceptable and the other is banned in public places. How many children have died from second-hand alcohol? I don’t smoke however, I am opposed to the principle of government knows best.

      A woman has control over her body when it comes to a beating heart in pregnancy (no argument there). I take issue when the government that guarantees her right to stop that heartbeat poops down both legs if she chooses to exercise the same power over her own heartbeat. Then, it’s mobilize the forces to stop her and everybody cheers.

     Our inconsistency has the appearance of herding cats. Looks can be deceiving, but that takes talent. There’s no talent at work behind steering America along its present course. Conservative, white and Christian are wrong, everything else is right. The problem is those damned white, conservatives are armed.

     Armed resistance is a powerful preservative of freedom. There is no restraint on a tyrannical government like an armed population of patriots. The Second Amendment to the Constitution was included for the protection of our hard won freedom. That some evil people use this freedom to commit horrible crimes is inevitable. There are people who corrupt every freedom and turn it for the destruction of others.

    We cannot stop every criminal. In fact, we are hard pressed to stop them until they do something criminal. Even then, whole communities turn a blind eye. Muslim terrorists, illegal aliens, white supremacists, black power militants, gangs of every color, pedophiles, rapists, murderers, they all trouble us because we are a free country. A society without crime and violence sounds great. To mold real people into that society is to destroy every freedom we love. Absolute safety requires absolute control; neither is desirable.