‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

From a reputable source:

BOULDER, CO—In the hours following a violent rampage in Colorado in which a lone attacker killed 10 individuals and injured several others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Monday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place. “This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said Kansas resident Andrew Thompson, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. “It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this individual from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what they really wanted.” At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past eight years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”


Also, I saw a meme this week. A quote attributed to a guy named Lonnie Phillips of Survivors Empowered. Whether he said it or not, it struck me right in the gut.

“If guns aren’t the problem and people are the problem, why would you ever give the problem guns?”

I drive a car. I need insurance and to maintain a particular set of rules, or either my right is removed or I’m fined. I could kill people every time I’m on the road, and if I did, I’d get my ass handed to me.

What the fuck is wrong with people who don’t impose equal or stricter laws on gun buyers?

The party of pro-life proves time and again that they are not.

Elif Batuman: painting the bars.

“I grew up in a very stressed family with a lot of family stress and secrets, and I found novels to be the only mode of description that was talking about the things that I actually thought were interesting, like what goes on inside a house and what are the relationships between the people there. The novels that I was attracted to were often the ones that described the disenfranchisement of women or the bullshit that women and children had to go through. All the unfairness and all the hypocrisy that people sort of metabolize and assimilate and how there are still these moments of beauty and of interpersonal complexity and richness. Novels made life seem worth living to me, they made life seem beautiful. You know there’s that famous quote that Nabokov said about Lolita, that it was about the first painting ever painted by an animal—it was an ape at the Jardine de Plant—the poor animal painted the bars of its cage. I feel like that’s every novel. Maybe not every novel but all my favorite novels. And what they were doing was saying ‘But look at these bars, aren’t they interesting, aren’t they beautiful. Look how the light falls. This wouldn’t happen if there weren’t bars.’ Anyways, I feel like the novel led me to aestheticize my own imprisonment. Which is sort of natural for a child, because you sort of are in prison as a child. But I preserved that mechanism into my adulthood and well into my early 30s and I didn’t really understand to what extent I was free and to what extent I could use my writing [and] how the novel can be an instrument of freedom as well.” 

I had to read the above twice. Alright, maybe three times. Painting the bars of your own cage? My life will not be the same.

I’ve been reading and re-reading David Sedaris books and it’s amazing how he can gently write about his family’s idiosyncrasies and idiocies while somehow not being offensive, at least to me. But I love the idea that Elif Batuman became free by reading the insider info of novels and letting it free her brain of the prison.

via Laura Olin

Franklin Graham calls on Christians to get vaccine. Chaos ensues.

On Franklin Graham’s Facebook page, he writes:

The internet is full of articles, theories, data, and opinions concerning the COVID-19 vaccines—both positive and negative. There’s a lot out there for you to read. I have been asked my opinion about the vaccine by the media and others. I have even been asked if Jesus were physically walking on earth now, would He be an advocate for vaccines. My answer was that based on the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Bible, I would have to say—yes, I think Jesus Christ would advocate for people using vaccines and medicines to treat suffering and save lives. In this Scripture passage, Jesus told about a man beaten and wounded, lying on the roadside as religious leaders passed by and didn’t help. But a Samaritan, considered a social outcast of the day, becomes the hero of the story when he stops and cares for the injured man—pouring oil and wine, which were the top medicines of the day, on the man’s wounds. We also know that Jesus went from town to town healing “every disease and sickness.” He came to save life—to offer us eternal life. Did Jesus need a vaccine Himself? Of course not. He is God.

So, my own personal opinion is that from what we know, a vaccine can help save lives and prevent suffering. Samaritan’s Purse has operated COVID-19 emergency field hospitals, and we have seen the suffering firsthand. I also have staff and their family members who contracted the virus and spent weeks on a ventilator and months hospitalized as a result—I don’t want anyone to have to go through that. Vaccines have worked for polio, smallpox, measles, the flu and so many other deadly illnesses—why not for this virus? Since there are different vaccines available, my recommendation is that people do their research, talk to their doctor, and pray about it to determine which vaccine, if any, is right for them. My wife and I have both had the vaccine; and at 68 years old, I want to get as many more miles out of these old bones as possible!

Usually when I see these posts, there are friends of mine who turn up liking or loving every one of them. But the comments are as disjointed and angry as any political debate one could imagine; and they’re almost all some form of believers.

One popular comment reads:

When Franklin Graham says Jesus would take a vaccine made with aborted fetal tissue, or one designed to hijack the cell function God himself programmed, ….but Franklin forgot that Jesus literally brought cells and immune systems back from decomposition and never once called on a physician to help him do it.

There are responses from RWNJ site “Newsmax” with fingers pointed at George Soros and there’s this whole debate about the vaccine is gene therapy that has the purpose of changing you into a demonlover or something.

It’s wild supernatural bickering that is a treasure trove of comic scariness.

The challenge when reading this kind of infighting is: where are these people? I know plenty of Christians who aren’t battling the vaccine as a political issue or one steeped in controversy.

I saw this growing up. Science was a sticky point with evangelical teachings. And those seeds planted then are sprung up full on monster trees bearing not fruit, but junk food from its branches.

It’s time to remove politics AND religion from politics.

I say this like anyone gives a shit.

So that’s why there is a rising number of religious “nones” … 🙄

From the Christian Post:

Mixing religion and politics leading to rise of the ‘nones,’ scholars say

The marrying of religion and politics among conservatives to create the well-known and powerful religious right that forms a voting bloc for the Republican Party has led some Americans to abandon their ties to the Christian faith and join the ranks of secularists, scholars argue in a new book. 

The researchers present evidence suggesting that many Americans have an “allergic reaction” to the mixture of religion and conservative politics, and many Democrats have been shown to drop their religious affiliation — if being religious means being Republican.

They contend that as the religious right grows, so does the secular population since the rise of the secular left follows the emergence of the religious right a generation ago. They argue that today, the religious right is the base of the Republican Party, and time will tell if the agenda of the secular left will become equally incorporated into the priorities of the Democratic Party. 

With the religious imagery on display during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the researchers believe even more Americans could drop their religious affiliation.

Read the whole thing.

Religion ain’t going anywhere. And secularism is intertwined in Christian culture. It’s just a matter of time for some to wake up and lave that shit behind.

I a woke

I awoke and saw the sleepers
rows of them lying on lumps of
raised dirt.
Their dreams were shoots
springing through ocular sockets
toward clouds then stars.

I blew a bullhorn.
To wake the the snoozers.
The dreamers.
to disturb nightmares.

The sleepers kept snoring.
No noise stirred them.
They dreamed of
flying, dying, not crying
of teeth falling out.
They dreamed of healed sick,
Of fire falling from the sky,
Of boats full of animals.

Awake, we don’t see
tridents held by red men with horns
and yellow eyes
tails and fire for hands
The sleepers see these men

Awake, we do not see
invisible Herculean men
or women. We do not make phone calls
to the artists who lived
now dreaming in Hamlet’s head,

Awake, we see hands extended,
tears in eyes.
We hear screams for help.
We hear calls from lips.

Awake we love a returned smile.
Awoke we reach into the open hand,
Squeeze torsos to lift the withered body
Onto the bed so the doctor can heal
And the nurse can feel the pulse.

Sleepers dream of magicians
who confuse the snorers
with card tricks and rabbits
from hats.

“Suggested Donation” —Heather Christie,

In the morning I drink
coffee until I can see
a way to love life
again. It’s ok, there’s
no difference between
flying and thinking
you’re flying until
you land. Somehow
I own like six nail clippers
and I honestly can’t
remember ever buying
even one. My sister
came to visit and
saw them in a small
wooden bowl. I
heard her laughing in
the bathroom. I hope
she never dies. There’s
no harm in hoping
until you land.
The deer are awake.
Is one pregnant?
If they kept diaries
the first entry would
read: Was born
Was licked
Tried walking

Then they’d walk
away and no second
entry would ever exist.
I run the deer’s
archive. It’s very
light work. Visitors
must surrender
their belongings.
Surrender to me
your beautiful shirt.

“Suggested Donation” —Heather Christie,

“If I can’t find an enemy, I just change the criteria,” Leon Thoughtsky

A few weeks ago, I saw this plastered on the side of an ice cream joint around the corner from our place in Chicago:

“If I can’t find an enemy, I just change the criteria,”

I took the picture and I thought I would share it on Facebook. But I stopped, because it’s easily considered a meme, and I go out of my way to not share bumpersticker style quips and adages on my wall.

But I keep thinking about the statement.

My knee-jerk is to associate it with any number of my active so-called radical friends on the social medias. The ones that perpetually point out the errors in their perceived opponents’ perspectives.

Both my liberal friends and conservative friends do it.

One meme will say, “We must protect children from being in the same bathroom as a transgender person, but not from school shootings, or poverty, or hunger, or cuts to education, or lack of healthcare or climate change.”

Or, contrast that with, “If you are for peace and unity, and you consider abortion a “right,” I implore you to check your heart on this issue.”

Or, “If you’re pro-life, why are you against universal healthcare?”

Or, “There are three useless things in the world: an unloaded gun, tits on a bull and liberals.”

Or, “Republican Logic: War? Yes! Torture? Absolutely! Execute People? You bet! Abortion? No…. I’m pro life.”

It is rare that these types of things are posted following an explanation by the poster what they think about these things in a more detailed sense.

It’s as if pointing out the plank in your enemy’s eyes are the only ways to feed one’s insecurities.

I believe that abortion should be eliminated. However, I think we need to work together to eliminate it. Death in childbearing, either the woman or the child, continues to be a thing. And I have confidence that if we concentrated science on finding ways to drag those numbers down via study and execution of ideas that work, we could bury that possible need to either let the mother die or the child in some circumstances.

Sex education and universal health care for female reproduction is the other HUGE way to eliminate abortion. But we have people and corporations who refuse to acknowledge that birth control is a modern way to avoid it. Instead, Hobby Lobby and others refuse to provide its employees with that kind of coverage. Opting out purely on religious grounds hoping for abstinence only education to miraculously take hold.

Fear-based approaches like, “Don’t do it, it’s in the Bible,” and modern day approaches like, “If you want to have sex and don’t want to get pregnant, we have these simple methods to do so.”

Or, shoot, abstinence didn’t work. The consequences are “reap what you so, dears. I love you. Now have that baby and SHUT UP.”

Homosexuality is a huge sticking point for people, too. And that’s just sad.

People issues. People issues are what we argue over? Really?

What the hell harm has a homosexual person done to you?

Offensive people have to be on the offensive.

It’s seemingly so simple to let people be people. Adult consent in the bedroom. As if that’s arguable. Children aren’t being hurt. Gay men aren’t producing babies and aborting them. If anything, when they want a child, they really want a child. And they find a surrogate and work hard with the mother to make their dreams come true.

At least that baby is wanted.

The whole reason behind this babbling brook post is: why are we making enemies out of each other? What good is it? I don’t want to fight with you over your beliefs. I want you to have them. And I would love to be free to have mine. We can exist in the same world where each of us can express our feelings and even do those things that you designated not right. And we’ll live to see another day.

Let’s try to make this life better for each other.

But hate sells. Controversy is more lucrative. Charged emotions are more intriguing.

I wish more energy would be put into memes that reached out with an open helpful hand. And maybe that’s on me, since it was my idea. But surely there are ways to mend the broken divide.


two women at a bus stop

A poem. By me.

“two women at a bus stop”

Strangers. One, to the other. 
“I love the guy who paid my debt.” 
“You wha?” 
“I love the guy who paid my debt.” 
“You love the guy who paid your debt?” 
Cars whoosh. Tires tread. Engines combust. 
“I want to introduce you to the guy who paid my debt.” 
“You what?” 
“I want to introduce you go the guy who paid my debt.” 
“He’s right here.” 
The woman held out her open palm. 
The other looked at her empty hand.
“He lives here.” Her eyes pointing to her hand. “He’s my friend. I want him to be your friend.” 
Cars whoosh. Tires tread. Engines Combust. 
“You have debt, too, you know?” 
“You have debt, too. I have the bill right here.” 
In her other hand, she holds a line-itemed bill with a number in the billions. 
It’s addressed to “everyone, anywhere, at any time.” 
“I don’t owe anything.” 
“Yes you do.” 
“No I don’t.” 
“It says it right here.” 
“What is the bill for?” 
“Our ancestors ate a meal. They didn’t pay. With interest, inflation and tax, you must pay this bill.” 
“No. No, I don’t.”
“Yes, you do. It says right here. You must pay, too.” 
“Who is billing for this debt?” 
“My friend who paid the debt.” 
Cars whoosh. Tires tread. Engines combust. 

True story. I swear.

My great, great grandfather Luis on my biological mom’s side was a great man. He was born in 1810 in a small village in Puerto Rico. At 16 years old, he stood shirtless in a field. His beautiful brown skin and black hair seemed to gleam in the morning sun. He was plowing a field when he saw a group of young girls walking by. He stopped and wiped his brow when he caught one of the girl’s eyes. The age-old lightning bolt struck. It was love at first sight.

She had curly black hair, the cutest figure he’d ever seen and the most infectious voice and laugh he’d ever heard.

A month later, they married in the town’s Catholic Church with the whole village in attendance.

The couple had three sons and as they got older, they dirtied their hands together and worked the fields growing citrus and mangoes.

The sons eventually married, and the one that would become my great grandfather was the strongest and tallest. I swear.

Thing is, for the next 100 years, my great grandfather and his two brothers didn’t have any children. My great, great grandfather reached the age of 129 years and he had a revelation. Some say it came from God himself.

That day, Luis put down his hoe and he picked up a hammer. For the next three years, he built a huge tubular structure out of palm, mango, orange and lemon trees that he cut down from around his farm. He built large structures made almost entirely from palm branches. They resembled bird wings.

The townspeople walked by wondering what the hell happened to Luis. “He’s lost his mind,” they thought. My great, great grandmother stood by her man, but often wondered if this was the dementia that had taken her father at the young age of 35, which was old back then. But over 100, they both seemed strong, coherent and intelligent.

Some townspeople mocked him. “You’re a fool, old man! We’re hungry for mangoes!” Others stood by and yelled, “This is great, old man. What is it?”

“You’ll see,” he responded wielding his hammer over his head ready to plunge another nail into his grand idea. “You’ll see.”

Once in a while, my great grandfather and his brothers would help Luis. The thing eventually was finished.

It looked like a ship. There were benches across the back of the ship. There was no ceiling to the structure. Large wing-like sails stuck out from the sides of the ship. The thing was impressive. No one in Puerto Rico had ever seen anything like it.

Luis marched to the town’s square and stood on the church’s steps. A group gathered around him and Luis said, “I have an announcement! My work is done on a gift I want love to give to you. Please join me at my house at 7 p.m. I want to give you the experience of a life time.”

Excited murmurs and whispers swept over the crowd. At 6:45, groups of town folk walked toward Luis’s home. He invited them up a plank and onto the large wooden bird. “Please find a seat,” he called out.

When everyone was seated, he moved into the front of the bird and he pulled levers with his old arms. Wheels turned, and the faster he pulled and pushed the levers, the faster the wings of the wooden bird flapped.

My great grandfather sat beside him and pulled a lever the the wooden bird lurched forward. They moved over the old farm fields on creaky wagon wheels. The fields were empty of produce-producing trees from years of no farming.

The wooden bird left the ground and the crowd screamed with fear then with glee. That day, one hundred and twenty two people from my great, great grandfather’s town glided through the air looking down over their town from 150 feet in the air. The sun was setting in the west and they all smiled the biggest smiles they ever smiled.

The sound of a crack pierced the air. The back of the wooden bird lurched downward. Terrified screams broke out.

“Don’t worry! Everything is under control!” My great, great grandfather called out.

The wooden bird was over the ocean at that point. Everyone stared at their little village from the air with awe.

Despite Luis’s confidence, the bird broke into four pieces and fell from the sky plummeting toward the teal water below. My great grandfather leaped from the front of the wooden bird and formed his body into a perfect dive position. At 110 years old he plunged into the water, splashed through the surface and descended over 30 feet before he stopped his trajectory and swam to the surface.

At the surface, almost every single person who enjoyed the sunset from the large wooden bird floating in the water face down. My great grandfather swam frantically from person to person, checking for signs of life. He spotted his wife who was floating on a piece of floating palm tree. He swam as fast as he could to her. She was unconscious. He squeezed her nose and blew into her mouth. He laid his ear against her chest. He blew into her mouth again. Vomit burst from her throat and she coughed and choked back to life. She was 107 years old, but strong and agile. Maybe the years of infertility kept her young. Maybe it was their diet. Maybe it was the Puerto Rican climate.

No other survivors were found. My great grandfather and my great grandmother mourned the loss of their fellow townsfolk for a month. After the second month, my great grandmother started throwing up in the mornings. Her stomach developed a lump. And in nine months, my grandfather made his way through her birth canal and appeared before my great grandfather’s proud, shocked eyes and into his warm, wrinkled hands.

They say it was a miracle. Never before had an over 100 year old man and his over 100 year old wife had a baby, let alone got pregnant, let alone were having sex or had the strength to stand without help.

My grandfather was born to these old survivors of one of the first air flights in history.

The couple produced ten more children over the next fifteen years. The town grew to over 150 within fifty years. The stories of Luis and his flying bird were repeated at bars, at church, in living rooms ever since.

My grandfather grew up. After seeing an article in a newspaper about lucrative work in the U.S.A, he packed his bags, kissed my great grandparents on the cheeks, hugged them tight and he stepped on a boat to headed to New York City. He married an American woman with a Puerto Rican heritage and had a daughter.

She moved around the United States with her mother who remarried an active Marine general. They settled in North Carolina. Her mother and stepdad produced four boys and a girl. My birth mother longed for the love of her stepdad, but never got it.

She met a guy in her community, and while the guy’s girlfriend slept in a nearby bedroom, she had sex with him and became pregnant with me.

The guy’s mother rejected any news that the baby was her son’s.

I was born. My mother was 17 years old and couldn’t care for me. Her stepdad disowned her. Through tears and agonizing worry and despair, she signed paperwork for my adopted parents to take me as their own.

I first heard the story of my great great grandfather when I was 20 years old. I was meeting my birthmother for the first time in 18 years. I stayed at her house for three days.

She told me the story while holding newspaper clippings that were published after the miraculous flight piloted by my amazing great, great grandfather and the sole survivor, my 110 year old great grandfather.

This story is true. I have first person eye witness testimony. I swear.