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Me Too, The Movie…

January 24, 2018

NiceButt [FINAL]

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The Blizzard of 2018…

January 5, 2018

Blizzard [1]_004

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Life on one wheel…

December 11, 2017

OldBiker_Rear [1]_001

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Safety versus Liberty…

November 19, 2017

…and Ben Franklin’s maxim….


It could be said that action on the part of Congress when a problem is evident is certainly preferable to inaction.

Not necessarily.

There are factors to consider other than inertia, such as timing and the definition of the problem to be addressed. When a response is born of emotion rather than reason, the potential for simply changing deck chairs on the Titanic is increased.

This concern has been mentioned by some public officials in the wake of the two recent tragedies in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas. Nevertheless, Congress evidently feels compelled to answer the impassioned calls for that body to prove itself to be a viable life form rather than a petrified relic of one long gone. Whether their Show and Tell demonstration of bipartisanship and measurable vital signs purportedly evidenced in their pending legislation “to improve background checks for gun sales”, called the “Fix NICS Act” (NICS is the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System) is proof of measurable vital signs or not remains to be seen.

I’m not inclined to see more than a basic Show and Tell skit at this point, and my raised eyebrow suggests an element of expectation that the action will merely upgrade and redecorate an existing problem rather than actually resolve it. Furthermore, the phrase “to improve background checks for gun sales” can be interpreted to mean a great number of things…or nothing at all.

The recent shooting incidents generated immediate calls for “gun control”, of course, but also stimulated some with functional frontal lobes to point out that we already have appropriate laws that just aren’t being carried out very well. That would have had no bearing on the Las Vegas massacre but could most likely have prevented the Sutherland Springs, Texas incident. In any event, I am compelled to withhold my trust in Congress taking any substantive action at such an early date with little or no discussion. Besides, the banners they are flying tout the features of bipartisanism, and the nativity of “new” legislation with no effort to examine and fix the existing regulations wherein specific shortcomings have already been readily identified. In their haste to react rather than to intelligently respond, the only apparent “remedy” they seem to have come up with would be the application of leverage (read: “arm twisting”), which might enhance government’s sense of power and control but would be unlikely to impact the underlying problems one whit

My interest in these points stem, at least in part, from my twenty five years with a hospital based behavioral health department prior to retirement. I am familiar with the privacy aspects of the HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability Act) of 1996 and other state and federal regulations enacted to protect the confidentiality of mental health and substance abuse patients.

During my years of direct contact with psychiatric patients, some voluntary, some committed by a judge, and both residential and outpatient substance abuse patients, I saw people from all walks of life, from the most inadequate and broken to most educated and successful. I remember a time when staff members were discussing rumblings at the time of the possible creation of regulations mandating the release of confidential records to government data bases or agencies. It sounded like a bad idea then, and it still does.

There are differences between the chronically ill person with a major psychiatric diagnosis such as paranoid schizophrenia suffering a crisis and the middle age school teacher who experiences a temporary decompensation following a family tragedy. None seek treatment because it seems like a fun thing to do on a Tuesday afternoon. As far as sensitive, personal medical records are concerned, there are procedures already in place by which certain information can be discussed regarding selected patients, with specified referral agencies or individuals, under certain circumstances. Any other exchange or release of information must be ordered through the court process. Confidentiality is important not only from a legal standpoint but even more importantly it can be a significant treatment issue affecting stabilization and recovery.

Such details aren’t the focus of people concerned with complying with regulations about providing pertinent information to the FBI and NICS, but they should be a consideration, and they certainly should be a focus of private citizens, whether they are gun owners or not. Any one of us, or a family member, may someday need some sort of psychotherapy or short term hospitalization, perhaps in response some overwhelming life event or a medically induced condition. The distribution of sensitive personal information should not be taken lightly, especially in this time of the Technological Revolution and Digital Era, when traditional personal boundaries and privacy seem to be disregarded as archaisms, and may on occasion be deemed expendable in the interest of convenience

Governments, by nature, become progressively intrusive if not constrained by law, especially when the people become complacent. It is no surprise then that our own government is more intrusive than it was shortly after its formation. Similarly, people, by nature, will tend to become complacent when their freedom is not under direct threat and life is generally good.

Along those lines, both conditions having been met, our federal government has acquired a disturbing habit of acting in its own interests rather than in those of the people by imposing regulations on the states and on individuals that are either unaffordable or not wanted in the first place, or both. It then lovingly creates subsidies or some other instrument to help pay for compliance for as long as the people and/or states march in step. Any wavering from the prescribed path or failure to appropriately comply with the mandate may threaten loss of the subsidies and whatever other consequences might apply to conditions of noncompliance.

In the case of “encouraging” states to fork over the required data, the federal government has been stockpiling leverage for decades and has no qualms about using it to twist arms and get what it wants.

The parallels to tactics used by small time drug dealers have not gone unnoticed: create a dependency and then provide relief in exchange for certain conditions being met.

I agree that prohibiting certain individuals from possessing firearms makes sense, but a generic reference to “mental health” patients covers a great deal more territory than the general public understands. Different patients present different strengths, weaknesses, liabilities and potentials. My experience, and common sense, tell me that a “one size fits all” approach here would be like draining the ocean to catch a fish. Properly followed and carried out, there is no reason existing rules would not be adequate. Instead of just throwing new rules on top of ones that aren’t working, at great cost but questionable benefit to the innocent, find out why existing rules aren’t working and fix that.

 

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The Risk of Civil Unrest…

November 15, 2017

is the Price of Liberty….

While it doesn’t always appear as such, when the world is in turmoil with chaos and uncertainty reigning supreme, citizens and government become more attentive to working in their own best interests. That doesn’t necessarily translate to them working in each other’s best interest. We are living in such a time right now.

It’s not the first time. In fact, we have a form of government today that was built from the ashes of civil unrest more than 240 years ago and whose founders intentionally structured it to allow for civil unrest. Considering the context of the day, it made great sense to protect the ability of the people to protest and confront the excesses and missteps of their government, and this was recognized as being in the best interests of both that government and the people alike.

Human nature being what it is, however, whenever civil unrest has occurred between then and now, that very government has responded “in its own best interests” by adding restrictions to limit the potential for civil unrest in the future.

It is no paradox that if our form of government is to survive, it must not only allow for the potential of civil unrest, that potential and all of the risk it entails must be embraced and defended. In any civilized society, of course, there must be certain parameters drawn by the people around their own behaviors in order to strike a balance between the chaos of unrestricted civil unrest and the lifelessness of unrestricted order.

Unfortunately, in part because of the complacency of the people and in part because of the natural tendency of governments to take on lives of their own when permitted to do so, that balance has begun to list precipitously to port, with the government claiming to act in the best interests of the people, while, actually seeing to its own interests instead. Such a claim, by definition, is oxymoronic.

 

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Masculinity Without the Abuse of Women

November 12, 2017

via change without force….


The spike in charges by women against men over the past few years regarding alleged sexual improprieties and acts of aggression doesn’t suggest any discovery of new information, but does indicate that more women are finding that they are being listened to more, which in turn encourages others to come forward.

The only downside might be that, thus far, the process has been like the sound of one hand clapping. To generate anything of substance, this needs to be a two handed effort. The time-worn women in white hats, men in black theme may inject energy and drama into the issue, but real substantive change will require something new and different if we hope to do more than just wrestle over power and control. It’s time to move on from the “who did what to whom?” question and work on “So, what do people want, and what steps need to be taken in order to realize those goals?”

Any such goals should be realistic rather than be rigidly tied to idealism driven by social and political forces. That is not to say that ideals shouldn’t guide us, just that they should not dictate the details.

Human beings, like other animals, have an innate nature that is followed whether they are behaving in positive, constructive ways or are being negative and destructive, and everywhere in between. Sometimes, both qualities are expressed simultaneously. Therein may be the challenge: to figure out how to minimize or redirect behaviors and attitudes that threaten to be negative, destructive, or self-contradictory, while favoring and fostering those that are positive and are likely to help the society achieve its goals.

Certain adversarial aspects of the male-female relationship are as old as humanity itself and are rooted in the human nature referred to above. As with all life forms, we are subject to two primary drives: to survive, and to reproduce. Our generally competitive nature is an expression of both, as is our history of violence and conquest that I refer to as the perpetual game of King of the Mountain. The underlying drives may be unlikely to change, and perhaps that is as it should be, but associated behaviors can be changed, and progress has been made over the civilized millennia, as is demonstrated by the evolution of sports as a partial substitute for warfare and other competitive acts of violence.

With the current focus on the historical prevalence of men perpetrating different kinds of sexual aggression and violence against women, I think we need to be cautious not to set our sights on changing those underlying drives, and instead focus on the behavioral responses to them. More realistic, achievable goals should address the ways those drives are specifically manifested in men and in women, and in human beings as a species.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead discovered certain matrilineal cultures among the South Pacific islanders, and some pre-Norman Conquest British societies were said to have had matrilineal systems of succession, but most societies around the globe have been patrilineal. Whether such relationships are desirable within the existing cultures or whether changes will occur will become evident, but changes or the creation of new adaptations will develop through a deeper understanding of ourselves and momentum, not the application of force.

Our cultures have traditionally groomed boys to assume certain roles just as they have groomed girls to assume paths of their own. Those roles weren’t dictated, they developed by way of several influences, including biology, adaptation to circumstances, King of the Mountain, and more. Those roles can change, of course, and most likely will over time, but attempting to effect such changes by force would be self-defeating.

It would be helpful to look at the challenges to be faced by males if they are to foster younger generations that retain the positive aspects of their masculinity, yet are not defined by abuse and dominance over women. We would presently hope for future women to retain their femininity without being sexualized in ways that set them up to be predated upon. The idea is not to do away with sexuality, but to try to develop cultural mores around it that are mutually acceptable and fulfilling for both genders

How does one raise a boy to do the things boys do, develop a positive, nonviolent sense of his sexuality while discouraging a disrespectful or exploitative understanding of women and how he should relate to them?

How does one raise a girl to enjoy the activities of her gender-peers, develop a positive, non-submissive knowledge of her self as a person, with a fulfilling sense of her sexuality, and healthy expectations for herself and any mate or mates with whom she establishes a relationship?

We need to discover what the modern male and modern female desires, need, and expects from different kinds of relationships with members of the opposite sex. Men and women need to think about these things and to come up with new, previously unasked questions that can help them begin the process of creating a culture wherein the concepts of rank, power, and value depend upon factors such as ability and achievement rather than simply as a function of biological gender.

Western cultures currently appear to be experimenting with how we view men and women, maleness and femininity. The processes involved and the eventual outcomes may or may not gibe with the current generations of political correctness, but the undertaking will have to look at prevailing historical gender idealizations, understand the genesis and function of those presentations, and make changes where mutually desirable and possible.

This kind of culture would have the potential for a version of “equality” I think people, especially women, have been seeking. We have been attempting to establish concepts of equity by force, and it seems we have not yet recognized that to be a self-defeating process. If humanity is to successfully create new cultural mores, we must facilitate their evolution, not just try to enforce a prescriptive idea of how things should be according to some committee or temporary political majority.

I think we should try.

 

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C’mon, Mr. President…

September 25, 2017

it’s time to earn your keep….

One thing is for certain: President Donald Trump doesn’t give a northbound rat’s south end whether you and I approve of what he says or does, though I have to note that he hasn’t done anything except trade mother cuts out by the swing sets with his North Korean counterpart, and he hasn’t said anything of substance since he unpacked his toy box at the White House.

Today, I am taking aim at our bombastic head of state regarding his rather Narcissistic attempt at defining the who, when, what, why, where, and how of addressing the American Flag, and more importantly, his suggesting that those who do otherwise should be fired, et cetera.

First of all, the responsibility of the President is to carry out the laws of the land, not to supercede Congress and the Supreme Court to redefine or interpret them to suit his own purposes. He has alleged that the actions of some professional football players who were making a statement by declining to join in some patriotic rituals were inappropriate and against the rules.

I beg to differ, Mr. President. There are no “rules”, as such, nor are there prescribed consequences for failing to act as though there were. In fact, that flag that you so dramatically, yet I suspect insincerely, deify symbolizes the right to kneel, stand, sit, or whatever one chooses. In general, Americans have long established traditions and rituals regarding how our national icons should be respected, but they are not laws. Certain behaviors are considered rude in most circles, but in this day of everybody waxing indignant about one thing or another, being “rude” is the norm, a skill you aren’t shy about practicing yourself.

Our flag has meant many things down through the years, but regardless of the details, the greatest thing it symbolizes is that Americans don’t have to fear annoying the sensibilities of some power drunk monarch, pope, or duly elected CIC.

I respect the office of the President of the United States, whether it is occupied by an affable genius or a drooling mad-man, but my respect for that individual must be earned. The election of 2016 was a “no-win” showdown in my view, but frankly, I think it would have been worse had your opponent won, Mr. President. The downside is that, thus far, you have clearly demonstrated the symptoms of an emerging dictator rather than those of a leader of free people.

I keep hoping you will undergo some spontaneous metamorphosis and start working with your Cabinet Members and Congress to redirect the nation away from the collectivist precipice the Progressives and Neo-Liberals seem so enamored of. I can’t help but wonder if you intend to drain the swamp or develop it. In any event, I for one would like to see you take your job seriously instead of like some Reality Show or a pathetic sit-com.

 

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