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Archive for the ‘Domestic Violence’ Category

This may sound heartless, but I have absolutely no sympathy for Tiger Woods or for any of his alleged mistresses. If only half of his suspected sex partners turn out to be real and not a figment of someone’s imagination, then we can safely assume that Tiger rates at the top of the Scummiest People in the History of the World.

Why am I rating Tiger Scum One? After all, he’s just doing what comes naturally or would do it if the opportunity arose. I mean, every one of the women named so far has a superstructure to die for and a bottom structure to boot, not to mention boob structure. Every inch of these women cries out, “Do it to me, baby.” How could any heterosexual male resist? Tiger is only a man.

Well, now, is the entirety of the preceding argument true? Let’s examine, starting with what comes naturally. I think we can all agree that sex is built into the human race. We can argue about whether its purpose is procreation or recreation or a combination of the two, but the act of sexual intercourse is certainly an innate part of the human makeup.

But does it follow that we are biologically programmed to engage in sex 24-hours a day? We might wish for that state of affairs, but in reality, humans need time to take care of other matters. They need to eat, shop, bathe, earn money, get drunker than skunks, and perform a host of other biologically and culturally driven activities.  Moreover, most cultures do not tolerate naked humans fornicating in the street like dogs, although Hollywood comes close.

So, there are constraints on the time and place for fornicating. We are, after all, humans and rank at the apex of the living hierarchy of things with brains. We think; therefore we screw when the time is right and under socially and legally acceptable circumstances. At least, most of us do.

Tiger had the poor judgment to screw the wrong women at the wrong time in the wrong place. He violated one of the more important cultural and moral constraints, the prohibition against sex with a partner other than the one we are legally married to. Although a lot of people violate this principle, more do not than do. Therefore, it is a stretch to maintain that everyone does it.

Okay, we’ve demonstrated that, contrary to one of the most commonly presented and accepted arguments, not everyone does it. What about “To err is human?” That’s pretty much a restatement of the ‘everyone does it” argument. It’s true that “to err is human” is correct because “to err” requires a thinking brain to define err. Lower forms of life lack the essential element of reason necessary to include sex in the category of things classified as errors and thus ripe for atonement and remorse.

But that begs the real question. We all err, but we don’t make that error. Adultery may be on the rise, but, still, only about 24 percent of men and 14 percent of women act out their fantasies. That leaves 76 percent of men and 86 percent of women who don’t. Tiger is thus definitely a member of a minority class when it comes to this particular peccadillo.

If none of the second grade arguments suffice to place Tiger at the top of the World’s Scummiest People Pile, what’s left? Here’s the overlooked reasoning factor.

Tiger allegedly has 14—count ‘em—14 mistresses and a wife. This is greed of the first order. Even in a capitalist economic system where greed is good, this is absolute overkill. Tiger is monopolizing the market. Until he agrees to share his supply of women, he will remain at the top of the scum heap.

In other words, Tiger ranks as the World’s Scumiest Human not for his sexual escapades but for his damned greed.

p.s. I apologize for suggesting that women are commodities on the open market. But somehow, Tiger seems to believe they are.

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This morning I was chatting with a Facebook Friend about finding a suitable blog platform. She’s a professional writer, so she’s a little pickier than me. She’s looking not just for an audience but for the right audience. Professional writers need the exposure that could lead to a paid gig. And, of course, all professional writers write to be read widely. Otherwise, why write.

I’m not a writer myself. I write basically for my family and friends. A blog is a good way to reach them beyond the bounds of E-mails and letters. Oh, sure, it’s nice when others write nice comments about the things I write, and I have met some fine people through my blog. Can’t deny that, and I hope to meet more good folks with interesting things to say.

My own approach to blogging is simple. I am not at all good at writing about myself. My inner feelings are boring even to me, and I am sort of bored right now. That’s why I tend or have tended to write about external events. And since my interests are quite broad, I am inclined to write according to no particular pattern. Today, I might write about a political event, tomorrow a blurb about an article I ran across in GQ magazine. Whatever strikes my interest at the moment will likely be the topic for the day.

I also like to add a humorous touch to most of the topics I am interested in. That doesn’t mean everything is funny. Some topics are absolutely without humor, child abuse, domestic violence, murder, and suicide, for example, are devoid of laughter.

That’s why the current run of murders in this country is disturbing. Thirteen soldiers murdered at Fort Hood, Texas, one murdered and mayby 15-plus wounded in Orlando, Florida; these are just two of the most egregious examples of recent violence in America today.

Of course, the perpetrators of these crimes will always have an excuse. The guy in Orlando was fired from his job two years ago and he was mad at the company. Oddly, the individuals he murdered are not, “the company.” But somehow in the mind of this deranged individual, the employees who worked for “the company” became “the company.” So, he decided to murder as many human beings as he could.

He may or may not have known or cared that he was shooting individuals rather than “the company.” Is this insanity, or is it a failure of the ability of some people to understand distinctions?  One individual is dead but “the company” lives on. Similarly, thirteen dead but the United States Army survives.

In addition to the damages done to the survivors of these monstrous acts, the perpetrators have harmed the United States in more ways than one. Globally, they’ve added to the perception that this is the most violent country in the world. Say what you wish, but the perceptions of other nations are important within the global system when it comes to the achievement of the vital national interests of the U.S.

Domestically, the current rash of violence has exacerbated the feelings of fear and parnoia among ordinary Americans.  Who among us might be the next mass murder? That guy down the street who looks odd with his little round glasses and close-set eyes? Or a respected Army psychologist?

The most disgusting cipher in the equation is society’s failure to deal with the violence that seems to be a part of our cultural DNA. Why are we as a country so reluctant to tackle the issue? Is it because we feel helpless? Maybe we think its someone else’s job. Or have our leaders failed us? We have a justice system that excuses criminal behavior and a penal system that has become a breeding ground for violence and gang activity.

Whatever the answer may be, it’s a puzzle. As far as solutions go, my own personal impression is that the violence has largely missed the elites of our society. As long as people below the elite level murder each other, as long as the elites do not find themselves the targets of random and mass violence they will continue to largely ignore the issue, appearing on television and uttering meaningless words after a mass shooting or an especially egregious murder.

Somehow, in America, we tend to look at the moment and at the situation. Broader ramifications seem beyond our comprehension.

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Another child murdered. Another family in turmoil. Another mother in pain so excruciating that she collapsed on television. This mother now joins other mothers forever deprived of the pleasure and joy of loving a child and watching it achieve in life and in school, attending proms, graduating, heading for college, and eventually having its own family.

What monster could perpetrate such a crime? What kind of twisted personality could snatch a child walking from the school bus to home in virtual plain sight of the child’s friends? Who in God’s name could murder an innocent young human being and toss it’s body on a garbage dump as if it were a piece of trash?

This is what happened to Somer Thompson and her family in Florida. One day, they were happy and loving, the next day, they were thrown into absolute chaos, forever touched by a vicious murder, lives forever dark and brooding. This family and this mother will never “move on” They will live their lives forever in the grip of depression and a Post Murder Syndrome (PMS), which seems to be a peculiarly American disease.

As much as it tends to trivialize and remove the human element from despicable acts, the statistics of child abuse and murder stagger the imagination. Every year in America, about 3,000,000 incidents of child abuse are reported to various government agencies. Sure, not all of these turn out to be legitimate cases of child abuse, but if even ten percent are valid, 300,000 children are the objects of some sort of abuse. That is staggering and it suggests a society that hasn’t come to grips with its acceptance of cruelty against children.

The numbers on homicides are also mind boggling. From the time that statistics on murder began to be reported to the federal government in the early 1900’s until the present time, more Americans have been murdered in this country than have been killed in all of the wars America has engaged in since the birth of the nation. If you doubt this statistic, do as I did. Visit your local library and take a look at a publication called The Statistical Abstract of the United States. Tabulate the number of murders per year, beginning with the first year on record, 1900. My own tabulation covered the years 1900 through 2000, and the total number of murders was just short of 2,000,000. That’s almost two million dead people in a span of 100 years, an average of about 20,000 murders a year. Of course, the number per year will vary. In some years the figure may be less than 20,000 and more in others. But the total number of almost 2,000,000 is still there.

The number of Americans who died in America’s wars, roughly 1,000,000 (I’m working from memory here), pales in comparison to the number of murders. But at least we can understand and accept death as a result of military conflicts. We cannot understand and we ought not to accept senseless murder and child abuse.

What in God’s name can we do to prevent the violence against innocent beings in our society? At the moment, solutions seem elusive. When a murder is sensationalized in the media, we get on a roll and the air and cable waves are loaded with talking heads and experts of all sorts who raise our righteousness to a new level the way a balloon with a (rumored) six year old boy in it rises and soars across the Colorado prairie. Then, as soon as the current murder or sensational event loses its immediate emotional impact and hence its revenue potential, those same media twerps file the story in the bin of yesterday’s news. Remember Elian Gonzales?

Concurrent with the loss of media interest, our righteousness subsides and the victim loses its identity, relegated to the obscure and forgotten pages of The Statistical Abstract of the United States. Unfortunately, there are no solutions in this obscure government publication.

As individuals, we may be powerless to effect change, but as a society, we ought to be ashamed.  Shame, however, is un-American. Murder is the price we pay for freedom.

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I’ll be moving on in a couple of days, leaving Maryland for Little Rock and from there to Oakland CA. I’ll miss MD and all of its tourist attractions, places like many Civil War battlefields, state and national wild horse preserves along the Atlantic, and, of course, Washington, D.C., a quick drive away with all of its past and present political signs and symbols that draw millions of visitors from around the world.

What will I do in Little Rock? Well, I won’t be staying in the city. I’ll land there on a Southwest Airlines flight out of Baltimore and immediately head for Hot Springs for a few days with a cousin. I expect to see a few sights, and I expect to tour a rice growing area on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River Delta where the rice harvest will be underway. Arkansas is one of the nation’s leading rice growing states, ranking right up there with Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and California.

I may also visit my cousin’s fifth-grade class. Kids at that age are still, as we used to say, bright eyed and bushy tailed. They are inquisitive creatures with eyes not yet worldly wise and jaded, eager for information and still somewhat respectful of their teachers and other adults. What will I tell those kids if they ask me questions? One thing I will not say is a negative word about anything. Some of them are probably the products of dysfunctional families and the last thing they will need is more negativity. I’ll probably restrict my classroom visit to covering topics about Maryland and Hawaii, accompanied by pictures, which illustrate the beauty of the Aloha State and the wild horses in Maryland. Such beautiful creatures! Every child ought to have an opportunity to see those magnificent animals up close.

My visit to AR will be short, and I’ll be off to Oakland in a few days. Once in the Bay Area, I’ll see my two sisters and a host of nieces and nephews. Will I set foot in San Francisco? I can’t say at this moment. True, I’d like to take a walk through City Hall and scope out the pols. I’d also like to prowl the area around Union Square, hoping to catch sight of a local celebrity or two. But my itinerary depends on my sisters. We will undoubtedly drive around some of the neighborhoods we lived in as kids and reminisce. There is a time for reminiscing and a time for politicians. I’ll think about the latter later.

From Oakland, I’ll return to Hawaii where I will settle some affairs remaining after the loss of my beloved. One of my major decisions will be the question of selling the house and living elsewhere. Should I or should I not? That is the question I’ve been thinking about on my trip. Texas? Maybe. Maryland? Maybe. Arkansas? No. California? Maybe. I know the state inside out and have relatives in both Northern and Southern Cal. Plus, I have a good buddy living in San Francisco who has invited me to share his pad. Tempting, but still, there’s an element of uncertainty in my mind, as if I’m missing something but can’t put my finger on it. I have a hunch I’ll resolve the issue soon. ‘Til then, as the Mills Brothers used to croon in perfect harmony, I’ll just hang around.

Ending with a pathetic imitation of author Alexandra Jones

The earth is old they say,
which no one denies.
They merely murder
one another
over the numbers.

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Today is the first day of another year in our system of calculating the passage of time from the death of Jesus Christ until, well, now. By that reckoning, humans have been actively engaged in counting days, weeks, months, and years for 2008 years. And at the stroke of midnight last night, they began counting again. Humans are, if nothing else, prone to redundancies.

When I say “from the death of Jesus Christ,” I guess that’s what A.D. signifies. I don’t really know for sure since I wasn’t born then and, like all humans, I rely on the selective memories of those who preceded me. I often wonder if the memories of the ancients were as sharp as ours today.

One thing we have today that they lacked in the Stone Age is statistics. Modern humans like to count and index everything under the sun. But more, modern humans like to manipulate their statistics from here to breakfast and back, they like to interpret statistics, they like to explain statistics to other people just in case someone is too dumb to figure things out for themselves.

To what end? Hasn’t mankind progressed through the manipulation of statistics to a higher stage? Apparently not. Statistics paint rosy pictures at the expense of reality. And modern humans love to avoid, ignore, or deny reality. Stats make it possible for leaders, elected officials, apparatchiks, and academics to ramble on forever, making seven hour MySpace presentations and figuring out ways to squeeze another Missouri Mill out of the sale of a tomato.

Sure, some statistics can unearth the other side of life. But you have to dig for them. You have to really dig to find out the number of humans killed in wars in the “modern” era (over a billion at last count since the year of our Lord 1700), or for the number of murders per year in America (20,000 give or take a few), or the extent of suicides (another 29 to 30,000), the ungodly numbers of child abuse cases annually in America (3,000,000 plus and growing), and God know how many deaths in alcohol related driving accidents.

We might surmise that the collection of information such as this is a positive thing leading to solutions. But, no, these data are merely used to justify additional manpower and budget monies. The numbers never recede because our attention is focused on numbers rather than on solutions.

I am not saying that everyone on Earth is determined to ignore reality. Many care about the lives of children, about lives wasted in a state of inebriation, about the survivors of murder and suicide, about many things. But the number of these people is few compared to many among us who simply do not care, who blame misery on the victims and hail the rich and powerful for “making it” in our hardball world, which roughly translates into “screw those suckers.”

Of course, many care but are helpless to effect real change. Only the movers and shakers have the power to change attitudes. Sadly, for 2008 years, they have spent their time collecting and using statistics to justify the “every human for him/herself” approach to the process of governing, which we have raised to its highest art form in America.

Will things change with the flip of a calendar page? Maybe. Who knows? Maybe not. Who knows? Every year, I begin the New Year with a strong belief that we can change attitudes. We can save the world one attitude at a time.

Our first step ought to be the abolition of our slavery to numbers. Let’s see people as people instead of as case numbers, as social security digits, and as an increasingly long series of telephone numbers in various combinations.

People are, after all, people, real people. People are not a number in an obscure collection of data maintained by the Census Bureau or the Bureau of Commerce and filed in a National Archive and Records Service repository in San Bruno or in one of several other repositories nationwide.

Let’s call Joe Joe instead of Joe4769.

“Hello, my name is Robert.”

“Enter your number now, please.”

Happy New Year!!!!!

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This is the center of three piers at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Here is where I was introduced to the pleasures of troopship travel.

Prior to arriving, we had spent four hours on a ferry from Camp Stoneman in Pittsburg. When the ferry reached Mason, the tugs parked it on one side of the pier, and we debarked (a new term learned then) and assembled in the shed where we waited until the ferry had been emptied.

Then we were lined up by number and marched aboard a troopship parked on the other side of the pier. The entire process from Stoneman to our bunks in Compartment C and then a walk up a couple of gangways (‘nother new term) for an idle stroll around the main deck took about seven hours.

In mid-afternoon, I felt the ship move almost imperceptibly, and then I noticed the gap of water between the side of the ship and the pier widen. Shortly, the tugs began to slide the ship backwards until it cleared the end of the pier. Then just as slowly, the tugs swung the bow of the ship around until it pointed at the Golden Gate Bridge. Soon, the tugs dropped away and the ship was on its own, heading toward the open sea beyond the orange span.

As the ship moved toward the Bridge, I walked along the deck so that I could look up at it as we slid below. And then I walked aft and leaned on the rail, watching the Bridge grow smaller and smaller until at least it disappeared.

I remember clearly at that moment the tears in my eyes and the terrible thought that I would never again see my family. The brains of 18-year old males are at one and the same time adventurous, amorous, and loaded with trepidation and high emotion.

Call it luck or the hand of God as you choose, but two years later I sailed under the bridge, into the bay, and joked over the rail with the tug sailors who shouted up at us that San Francisco women would take our money. “Stay out of the bars,” they said.

Fortunately, I was on my way to a discharge at Parks in Pleasanton and freedom at last. I had no time for an interlude with the San Francisco ladies. The feeling of euphoria is difficult to resurrect now, but suffice to say, I could have walked on water at the thought of relaxing for a few months before deciding on my future.

Mason is still there, much in its original form. It’s been turned over to the city and serves some interesting purposes such as an arena for fashion shows, which are nice if you are into that sort of thing but which serve no useful purpose unless you consider skeletal women in grotesque clothes disjointedly walking to the end of a runway, whirling around, and returning, a valuable purpose.

When I think about inane activities like this, which aren’t restricted to San Francisco, by the way, I am often confounded by the utter self-absorption that has given rise to a culture and an entire economic industry based on a transitory act of physical indulgence. Foreplay by any other name is still foreplay.

But I have more unsettling thoughts. I wonder if my brief time in uniform contributed in any way to the vital national defense of the United States. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t regret my service.

But the nearest I ever came to combat and either heroism or cowardice was sitting in the passenger seat of a car across the street from a bus station in Oakland watching two United States Marines do their level best to beat the living hell out of a single sailor who more than held his own.

Despite my constant calls then for fairness and equity, I Cheneyed out. I deferred to the sailor. I remained in the safety of the car. I rationalized my failure by convincing myself that the sailor could more than take care of himself, and then suddenly, before I could think further, the fight ended and the combatants faded into the darkness.

Someone had called the police, and the fighters hadn’t yet sunk into a state of absolute, unmerciful degradation. They heard the siren. They were after all United States servicemen. They didn’t want to kill each other. Did they?

Today, I still hide the cowardice of that time and place by blathering about fairness and equity. Two on one is patently unfair, I proudly proclaim, as if I would never be a disinterested bystander when someone is in need. Deep inside, though, I know my own reluctance.

I am your classic, patriotic All American, a man without an American flag lapel pin, a condition I justify neatly with a classic degree of political cowardice by pointing out that I do not wear shirts or coats with lapels, and I have no intention of having an American flag tattooed on my forehead.

Besides–and we all know this, right?–a symbol isn’t a gauge of reality. Or, as someone wrote once upon a time, “The map is not the territory.” For those who say they will not vote for Barack because he doesn’t wear an American flag lapel pin, I say fine and dandy. Don’t vote for him. I would hazard a guess that he prefers only intelligent people in the booths on election day anyway.

I wonder if the 4,000 plus American men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan would be wearing lapel pins if they were alive. My guess is that some would and some would not.

I also wonder if those men and women once believed in fairness and equity. Did they think it unfair for two to pick on one? Did they believe they had an obligation to help those in need?

Would they come to the aid of an abused child or an abused spouse? Or would they, in their sheer elation and euphoria at the joy of life, choose to look another way? To create justifications? To attend fashion shows at Fort Mason where men once sailed off to give their lives so that those very inanities could thrive?

Barack Obama is at this moment like the sailor I witnessed withstanding an almost overwhelming attack by two United States Marines. I have no doubt that he will not fade into the night. He will remain in the arena. He doesn’t need a lapel pin.

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The word is out that 4,000 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the war began. In case you’re interested, that’s equivalent to 133 and a third super-sized airliners each with a capacity of 300 passengers crashing.

Here is a little historical context:

  • Civil War. Roughly 618,000 dead Americans
  • World War I. Close to 117,000 casualties
  • World War II. Another 417,000
  • Korea. A paltry 36,000 dead
  • Vietnam. Roughly 58,000 combat deaths

Fade to modern era

  • Murders. 20-30,000 a year in America
  • Suicides. About 20-25,000 a year
  • Drunken Driving Deaths. 10-20,000 a year
  • Child Abuse Cases. 3,000,000 a year

You know, when you think about it, 4,000 isn’t that bad after all. Think of the odds. You’re safer in a mall in Iraq than you are driving to and from a mall in San Jose.

In fact, Iraq seems like the safest place in the universe. Heck, Hillary sauntered across the tarmac at a Baghdad airport as casually as she would saunter through the Oval Office.

What the hell is everyone bitching about the war for? Let’s all leave on a jet plane for Baghdad.

Hell, let’s send a Real World crew to a villa on the Tigris River.

Or better, film a new reality TV series–Seven Amazing Drunken Blubbering 50-year Old Bobby Soxers with Cellulite Asses Vie for a Sheik’s Love Under Desert Stars. The Bachelor on an Arabian steed.

Or how about Spring Break on the Euphrates? I mean, our kids would be safer there than on South Padre Island.

When you stop to think about it, 4,000 dead Americans doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

I wonder if the survivors of those dead Americans feel as blasé as Dick Cheney?

Cindy Sheehan might have a few words about blasé.

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