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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

His Master's Voice

The other morning I had the occasion to stumble bedward around 7:00 AM. This is not unusual: I stumble many directions (often at the same time) and find myself creatively productive during normally accepted somnolent hours--less external distraction, higher output. I tend to work to the point of semi-consciousness, which is a fairly efficient stumbling enhancer, so when I hit the welcoming confines of Club Bed, I sleep pretty quickly. Quick sleep.

Well, unless I’m contacted by Riley or any of his vocal cohorts. Riley lives next door and when his master leaves for work, he shares his disdain at being a slave in a most audible manner. Riley barks. Riley is an Australian sheep-herder (heard, er?). As there are no longer any Australians about, nor any evidence of sheep (I’ve checked Ewe Tube – nothing), Riley has nothing to do.

So he barks. Now don’t get me wrong, Riley isn’t the only offender--I’ve got dogs on all three sides of me. And even though they have no idea what their counterparts look like or smell like, they all know the sound of each others' voices. As doggedlies are wont to do, one will get going at some imaginary menace or another and before you know it, all of the crotch-licking little bastards are chiming in.

Which is a treat at 7:00 in the AM, crawling into bed when most people are getting up and crawling back into life. It’s positively uncanny: he knows whenever I’m about to record vocals or the instant I settle into bed. Yap. Yap, yap. As I lay there, head swimming with exhaustion and none too distant yapping I came to understand something: why dogs bark.

Of course, the askance looks and condescending clucks--“Everybody knows why dogs bark – I’m missing America’s Got Talent for this?” And of course you’re not. I feel fairly secure that anyone predisposed to AGT wouldn’t read this in the first place, and that if they did, they would read it in the second place--at best. The pixelated word claims no primacy in the realm of the pixelated image. I’ll wait my turn. Ruff, ruff.

Beyond warning or establishing proximity, dogs in the wild (wolves, coyotes, etc.) have little reason to bark. As they have no known language, they have little to say to each other beyond the tonal inflections they use to express joy, displeasure or distress. Canines are not historically noted for their oratorical prowess, though I’ve known a howler or two that would give Rihanna a run for her money. A deep growl doesn’t necessarily suggest deep thinking.

Hunters function more effectively in silence owing to the reduced probability of scaring prey away. Beyond confounding or driving dinner to a desired location, barking is a screaming give-away, and one imagines a yapper being driven from the pack out of survival necessity. And to diminish annoyance. Us yappy types find ourselves marginalized fairly quickly.

It seemed to me in my doggy fog that canines probably didn’t get into barking until they started hanging around with humans. Barking offers decent menace to interlopers, growling even more so, and was likely encouraged in situations of peril by the tribes which were domesticated by them. Come on, they don’t feed us, or shelter us; just make us feel they appreciate it when we do it for them. Domestication is a two-way street with often faded lines of demarcation.

In order to domesticate something, a level of communication is useful, for if humans couldn’t express their desires or needs to each other, one imagines it doubly difficult to express it to an animal. Or field of wheat. And long before written logos, the grunt of early human became refined into words, then abstract expression of deeper significance as ideas were shared and expanded upon. To build cities, even lesser encampments, ancient human needed fairly precise language to engage in engineering and architecture.

Dogs dig holes. They lay around and lick their butts and genitals. People think it would be ever so exciting to talk to the animals. People get bored talking to people who do interesting things, lead interesting lives. Trust me, I know this. Dogs lick their asses. I’m sure their view on the issues of the day would be fascinating. “You know, my butt kinda tastes like dog food…”

Right. So, these animals that really have nothing to say, no language to speak of and, being domesticated, not much to do, spend hours of their days telling us about it. I listened to Riley that morning, as I have many mornings, and I realized he wasn’t barking to ward off any intruder--hell, most yappers would flee at the sight of one. He was talking the talk of an idiot, a creature with no appreciable intelligence convinced that others revel in their vocalization.

Now before I dig myself in too deep with this dog/human relationship, allow me to express: I have been master to many doggy slaves. As much as we love our little canine buddies (and imagine they love us), they exist as slaves to our dominion. They suppress their free will, or have it suppressed by another, exist in captivity, have identification papers held by their owner and have their movements completely dictated from without. Slaves.

And that’s fine. Humans have always embraced slavery and, with pets, our need to dominate is fulfilled as well our need to feel benevolent. “Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy?” Yeah, benevolent slavers. “Yeah Massa, I’ll get your slippers for ya real good…Cracker asshole…Fucking kibble my ass…”

I’ve loved me a good number of dogs, convinced myself they loved me and buried every one of the little fuckers. (Actually, I think my final dog, Juno, resides in a can with my ex. Well, her ashes anyway.) They aren’t great for long term relationships. 10, 12 years, then weepyville.

As humans, we tend to ascribe human feelings and emotions to the things we covet. That’s why we have such jealousy-- we decide that our feelings are universal and the revelation that they aren’t is often devastating. We attach so much to words, which is funny as we play so fast and loose with them. We become utterly indignant if someone close to us uses words we don’t approve of - say they lie to us.

Then we’ll turn right around and accept the words of people who have revealed themselves as liars if they say something we wish to hear. Is it not odd how a person we know to be mendacious or disingenuous becomes believable when they tell us we’re right, or that we look ‘fabulous’? Or how a person of dubious character who suggests a way to make a bunch of money, quick – no risk – becomes worthy of consideration? (Remember that when someone says "no risk" that you will likely "know" risk.)

We clearly love the sound of the human voice. Talking, singing, humming, shouting, even screaming; we are utterly enamored with the human sound. And no sound/voice more than our own. We talk about anything, we talk about nothing. We talk to ourselves in a room full of people and to a room full of people when we’re by ourselves. We talk to strangers in line, to strangers behind counters, to strangers who bring us things we’ve ordered.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that virtually every human who has a pet, talks to it as well. And not just, “Sit. Shake. Roll over. Shut the fuck up!” I suspect that the vast majority of pet owners talk to their pets as if their pets can somehow understand them. Every one I’ve ever known, including myself, has. Dogs, cats, birds (not fish so much): pet owners talk to their pets like they talk to other people.

Curious how some people talk to them like they are children--in early childhood toddlers and dogs are about equally stupid--and others (my discipline) talk to them as they talk to adults. (I talk to children that way as well.) We talk to our dogs and otherlings about stuff we would talk about with people, if they were there. They become our surrogate, warm-blooded contacts, the only ones we can be sure won’t reveal the secrets we tell them. Our nasty little secrets.*

We are safe in this because dogs don’t speak human. Sure, there are those that bark things that sound like words, but this is equal in significance to saying “Spurlank!” is Martian for something or other. As we have no workable context for a language that doesn’t exist, dogs have no context for language that does, beyond understanding the repercussions and rewards for performing certain actions upon certain commands. Dogs have no corresponding words for “Sit” “Shake” or “Shut the fuck up!”. How could they? They have no verbal language. They respond to tonal inflection and conditioning in captivity or tonal inflection and instinct in the wild.

It seemed to me, lying there trying to sleep, that what we hear from dogs, they hear from us.

Talking is articulated grunting. We force air out our oral blow-hole and shape it with our tongue and lips. Before we as a species spoke, we grunted. After developing languages, based upon regionally approved grunting, we spoke and grunted. Fortunately, we augmented our grunting instead of replacing it. Now we reserve grunting for difficult tasks, expressions of disapproval and sex, all of which we incorporate talking into as well. Sex, often with lots of talking beforehand, considerable grunting during, then not enough talking afterwards, 4 or 5 minutes later.

While humans can understand expressions of affection (“Well, that was terrific,” and the always popular “Whadda ya mean 150 bucks?!?”), dogs presumably just hear little barking, grunting sounds. Again, they are masterful at tonal inflection, but that is not linguistically based as proven by the universality of understanding offered by the subtle nuance of a deep menacing growl or advancing guttural bark.

When we talk to our dogs, I imagine they hear something akin to, “Yarf arf barf parf darf carf larf.” They are very adept at appearing thoroughly engrossed in our dialogue, but just as explaining quantum physics to a three month-old baby is pointless beyond the release that comes of blathering, bitching to Skippy about some loser at work is only cathartic to you, where not amusing to Skippy. He’s frankly more interested in what’s in the bag.

Dogs make so much noise when we’re away because their masters make so much noise when they’re together. Dogs living with humans who talk to them become convinced that talking to one’s self is perfectly rational behavior. And while stupid by human comparison--sadly becoming less so, and dogs ain’t getting smarter--any pet knows that the upright hairless ape that’s chattering at it is just chattering. A dog can’t understand it. A cat? Sorry. They don’t speak human. They are animals. They don’t know what a ‘chair’ is, just that they get screeched at when they get caught on it.

So with the dumb animal knowing the smart animal couldn’t possibly be talking to it owing to complete lack of understanding, the dumb animal must think that the smart animal is talking (chattering) to itself. (It is.) It just isn't smart enough to understand that language is context-based, and animals operate from a different context from humans. So the dumb animal, beyond responding to commands as any slave would, thinks that smart, masterful animals talk to themselves.

So dogs talk to themselves. And each other. They yap yap yap and ramble away just like humans, blathering just to hear the sound of their own voices. And just like humans, very little they express is really understood. The joy, the disappointment, the menace: this we all understand to a degree. We possess the capacity for empathy, something dogs are masterful at. As they aren’t caught up in words, they immediately understand temperament, emotion, fear.

Our words mess us up. We get so caught up in trying to position ourselves well in conversation (made competitive like everything else in imperial politics) that we lose our capacity to truly care about what each other is feeling, what drives the expression. Competitive conversation makes us cold and aloof, like dogs barking at things they can’t see or at each other: “Stay away. I’m rough! Rough! Ruff, ruff!!

Unfortunately, this is what our discourse has degraded to--our grand language languishing, the price of letting jocks dictate social policy and imbeciles define social discourse. We bark orders, snap at each other and growl under our breath like dogs being stupid, but we never shut up and listen, like dogs we imagine as smart (enough to understand us) do when we talk to them. They understand our feelings because they understand us. Just not our words.

Now when I have my special moments with Riley, I know what he’s really thinking: “I’m Ruff! Bird on Roof! Shut yer Yap!

*Is this phase one of Pussies?

© 2013 simmbiosis 6/8/13

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I Drink To…Uh, I Forget


My name is Craig and I am an alcoholic. I said that once, many years ago at an AA meeting. It wasn’t a particularly revelatory exclamation to myself or others. I knew it as did those around me, in my life and at that meeting. In my life owing to my irresponsible behaviors; in that meeting owing to my admission and presence there.

I came to the meeting reluctantly. I had been drinking pretty steadily since I was about fourteen – by that point I was about 44. Thirty years of drinking had taken a heavy toll; my attendance at that meeting was a coin in the basket. A great personal dissatisfaction, alienation of my loved ones and diminishing returns on my work output/income were the real unhidden costs. And still, with escalating negative physical reaction and all the other negatives howling at me, I kept at it.

It was a family tradition, you see. My father was a lush so my mom decided to become one so they could drink together, apparently the logical choice for someone committing their own and their children’s futures to the delights of substance abuse. When I was older, I became one too. Seemed the logical choice – for a lush. Because to live in a house with substance abuse is to experience substance abuse. Some substances are necessarily more abusive than others. In my parent’s house, alcohol was the choice to beat.

I came of age at a fascinating and very dangerous time for impressionable young idiots. Vietnam was hot and heavy and the opposition was growing and becoming more vocal, more insistent. The counter-culture was in full swing, (the backlash at the oh-so-proper and boring 50s), and sex, drugs and rock and roll were my defining cultural ethos. As my preteens turned to my teens, the 60s turned to the 70s and I got caught up in all the druggishness.

I remember seeking drugs (a lid – I had no idea what that was) in late 1968 at the offering of my friend and neighbor, John. Roaming around in the dark in the fairly bucolic Santa Rosa hinterlands, I remember stumbling in a creek and going down hard, slamming my leg on a rock. It fucking hurt. But there was no pot forthcoming and we stumbled home empty-handed, acquainting me with the reality of my first drug run: pain and failure. I was ready.

Perhaps surprisingly, it wasn’t John who got me interested in drugs. It was the government. In 7th grade, they sequestered the students by gender and had us watch some films. Government propaganda films. While the girls watched films about why they were bleeding in certain areas during certain periods, the boys got to learn about the dangers of drugs. Drugs. (Sorry, I can’t type that to make it nearly ominous enough. You’ll just have to take my word.)

At that point, I was still too much a kid to know about drugs. Sure the Beatles were singing about stuff that had little to do with their girlfriends or dancing all night, but by the release of the White Album, I still didn’t understand. By Abbey Road, I did.

The movie, to my recollection, warned a bunch of silly little kids (and some seriously fucked up ones too) that certain drugs would lead to all manner of anti-social decay. Then they showed someone smoking a joint and seeing themselves in the mirror with the face of a gorilla. I kid you not – the makers of that movie suggested that smoking cannabis would hasten de-evolution. Spontaneous de-evolution. Pretty fucking impressive if you ask me. Then they showed how taking LSD would turn the flame of an oven range into a beautiful flower, which the crazed acid-head would presumably attempt to pluck and sniff, leading to all manner of hilarity when officials recounted the story over cocktails. Stupid hippies.

I was sold. I mean, if the authorities went out of their way to tell us that drugs were that cool, who was I to argue? Perceptional de-evolution? Come on! I was a kid so the racist undertones completely escaped me, but with my folks smoking and drinking and taking Big Pharma’s finest, clearly druggishness was the course laid out before me. I followed the path, however hazy, poorly lit, raucous, or downright terrifying – it has led me thus.

In retrospect, it appears that this was deliberate: offer enticements through compulsory media and then categorize people by which ones they respond to. Makes accounting much easier – and social engineering. I don’t know of anyone that kind of film would dissuade from trying drugs; most thought it hysterical. By my way of thinking, the adventurous spirit isn’t hastened in the meek or dissuaded in the predisposed by poorly realized propaganda. We who would drug do so readily. Those who would not, do not out of fear. But not fear of monkeyface or hotnose: fear of social stigma, fear of lack of personal control, fear of self-realization.

Euphoriants and psychedelia are a different breed of drugs from the socially sanctioned ones as they tend to enhance, not deaden. Where alcohol and pharmaceuticals make things fuzzy or even blurry, soften the sharp edges, make hideous fuckable, euphoriants and especially psychedelics tend to sharpen the focus, on occasion making the fuckable hideous where not downright hilarious. Socially demonized drugs (euphoriants and psychedelia) sharpen focus and come with no appreciable body count; socially sanctioned ones deaden focus and rack up huge numbers. Considering the drugs used by the majority, this can’t be emphasized enough.

Seriously. Cannabis, designated a Schedule 1 Drug, is categorized with heroin, a deadly narcotic. How many people does heroin kill every year? According to the CDC, heroin kills about 2,000 citizens of the USA each year. Marijuana? There are no numbers available. The CDC, the USA, the UN Convention on Narcotics, FBI, DEA, AMA: none of them can point to a single death caused by ingestion of marijuana. Ever. And not for want of trying.

The legal drugs? According to drugwarfacts.org, the AMA stated that in the year 2000, tobacco was responsible for 435,000 deaths while alcohol provided for 85,000 funerals. Pharmaceuticals take out a minimum of 100,000 of us a year and, according to the DEA, are the biggest drug problem facing the nation. One wonders if the fact that since the Reagan 80s Big Pharma has been advertising on TV has any correlation.

Don’t get me wrong, cannabis has many sedative properties and when used by lazy minds, produces lazy thinking. Just like most drugs. But as one who has used both drugs in conjunction, and each separately, I’ve made some personal observations, and they seem worthy of consideration in a nation with 100 million + people loaded up on one compound or another. Or a bunch.

After about 13 years of combined use – pretty much every drug available combined with booze and pot – I went clean. And by clean I mean that I stopped taking drugs. Well, except for alcohol, caffeine, the occasional pharmaceutical… I’m a dirty, dirty man.

Anyway, I did the family thing, cut my hair, got jobs no smart man would ever take, struggled to sell my work in a place that had no interest, and I drank. And drank.

Now, owing to what I do, I have a fairly decent memory. Reading and writing both place demands upon the memory, pump it up. In order to be a decent writer, one must read. In order to retain as much as one can from their reading, it behooves one to write. Writing is very good for the memory because the building materials of literature are uniquely interchangeable, and one must constantly seek the precise combination in order to effectively express themselves. Writing is good for the memory because we have to remember how to spell the words we use to do it.

The times of my life I found to be the foggiest were those during which I drank and watched TV. Watching is a passive activity, drinking a numbing one. Combined, I found they impacted my memory as well as my social and professional life, impacted them negatively. The more I drank, and I drank a lot, the less I worked my mind, the worse my memory became. The worse my memory became, the worse my outlook on life. It became hard to remember the good parts and easy to focus on the bad ones. Without knowing what I was trying to forget, I found that I was drinking to forget all the same. And it worked. A bit.

I found it easier to give up TV than, well, pretty much anything else. I turned it off at around 13 and have had a very tepid relationship with it since. It seemed to me that in being the good viewer, I was sacrificing my real life to watch people get paid to portray fictional ones. I had better things to do. So I drank and wrote. My memory improved. A little.

Finally the bottle took its toll and the last real doctor I had told me I had a choice: I could stay alive or I could continue drinking and die. Fairly horribly. He said my liver tests indicated that it was about halfway wasted. He suggested AA.

I drank. After diminishing myself a little while longer, I went to AA. I heard a fellow say that he woke up one morning, pulled himself together and went out. The first guy he met was an asshole. Then the next person he met was an asshole, too. He finally realized that the asshole was traveling with him, that he was the asshole. That’s when he went to AA.

AA is much lauded but doesn’t really have that great a success rate. I suspect this is owing to their approach to substance abuse. In order to get with the AA program, one has to admit they are totally helpless and require the help of an imaginary friend to overcome this. Then they call real drunks. This strikes me as utterly untenable: addiction is that very mindset – I am helpless.

Isn’t that the real problem with substance abuse: looking to an external source to contend with issues we have created for ourselves? Is not alcohol that more powerful force that we’re surrendering to? Drugs? Isn’t supplicating one’s self to a notion almost guaranteed to fail in the face of the tangible? I can pray to divinity all night and come up empty, or walk down to the corner store and fill myself with spirits in the immediate. Helpless?

Bullshit. I’m not helpless, I’m lazy, I’m weak, I’m a boy in a man’s body. To embrace their ethos I must supplicate as that boy, beg Daddy for forgiveness and admit that I have no will of my own. I must then seek out those I’ve embarrassed myself around and beg their forgiveness. Huh? For being a drunken jerk? If everybody in the USA who got drunk and acted idiotically were to do that, we would grind to a halt nationally in a weepy cluster of pathetic recriminations and self-pity. To drink is to act stupid. Considering what we know about drinking, to drink is to be stupid. If my drinking has harmed you or yours, I offer my deepest apologies. Hopefully we can leave it at that.

But owing to its unique properties, particularly its effect on memory, it is not a surprise we do it or that our world suffers for it. Drinking to forget is a very real phenomenon. Numerous studies show that alcohol consumption lowers the individual IQ as well as lowers the IQ of one’s progeny. If you’re stupid enough to drink when you’re pregnant, don’t be surprised to find your offspring even stupider still. IQ and recall are inextricably linked.

People drink when bad things happen, to help them through it. If it does in any way, and I can’t say that it has ever helped me, it seems it would be in the dimming of the memories. Why does civilization continue repeating the same imbecilic behaviors over and over and over? It’s as if we can’t recall what came before, and worse, that we don’t care about what comes after. That is alcoholic thinking, alcoholic on a downward spiral.

Alcohol is a principal cause of automobile accidents, workplace accidents, domestic accidents, domestic abuse, incest, rape, egregious assault and murder. Cops drink it. Soldiers drink it. Jocks and their sycophants drink it. Our political leaders drink it. Our religious leaders drink it. Our economists drink it and we, the people, drink it.

Consider our world: the physical USA is a shambles, regions made wastelands, seething toxins, our infrastructure collapsing – like the body of a wino; our economy is a complete disaster, unemployment and escalating and irreducible debt plague us – just like the finances of a drunk; our authorities are angry and violent, prone to crazed outbursts and remarkable cruelty for even the tiniest perceived slight or challenge – like the besotted asshole in the bar; our nation at war with the world, trying to impress everyone with how tough and cool we are as we stumble all over ourselves swinging wildly at everyone who even looks at us funny – like a teenaged boozehound on a snort. Our citizens, afflicted with diminishing memory and personal resources, find themselves lost and confounded by a world spinning out of control around them. We live for the moment waiting for our next drink to wash our horrid daze away: the lush life.

How insidious a drug that makes you feel terrible, makes you behave embarrassingly, makes you pick fights and argue over trifles, makes you harm your friends and loved ones, makes you look stupid, makes you feel depressed and then makes you forget all of it as you prepare for the next sip. Cool and refreshing, ah, that’s nice.

What are you looking at? Jerk!

© 2013 simmbiosis 4/30/13

(Leading Causes of Death 2000) "The leading causes of death in 2000 were tobacco (435,000 deaths; 18.1% of total US deaths), poor diet and physical inactivity (400,000 deaths; 16.6%), and alcohol consumption (85,000 deaths; 3.5%). Other actual causes of death were microbial agents (75,000), toxic agents (55,000), motor vehicle crashes (43,000), incidents involving firearms (29,000), sexual behaviors (20,000), and illicit use of drugs (17,000)."

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Concord Hero

I have looked down the barrel of many a gun and not because I was cleaning them or suicidal. Many people over the course of my life have felt the necessity to point fully loaded and cocked guns at me, to my good fortune none have had the occasion to shoot them – so far. Having grown up around guns with a full operational knowledge of them, I have always had the wisdom to do what those pointing them at me instructed.

I know how dangerous guns are – I have killed with them. I have seen the detached simplicity with which they can be used to dispatch that targeted, well understand the righteous glee with which we promote them and moral indignation with which we repudiate them. The USA is a nation conquered with guns (and lots of germs). Our Constitution was amended to include them as a fundamental right of citizenship. There are hundreds of millions of them on the North American continent.

Like it or not, they are here to stay.

I learned early about gun use in a defensive capacity. At the dawning of the glorious Reagan era, much vaunted by those with memories not dissimilar to his at the end, I had the occasion to attend a birthday party for my brother in lovely Concord, California. In attendance along with several adults and children was a woman with man troubles. She attended the festivities with a paramour not her boyfriend who apparently felt very protective of her. (This I found out after the fact.)

As the party progressed, there came a tapping, officers there came a rapping, partiers fairly crapping, rapping on my brother’s door. They came forth, two of them, to alert us that the now departed woman’s thoroughly deranged boyfriend had called the police and warned them that he was headed our way, drunk and armed with mayhem in mind. We thanked the police for offering their protection.

They explained that in this case they were only messengers; that they did not function in a protective capacity. But they did say that if he showed up to give them a call and they’d come back around. Then they left.

Let this sink in: the police, a uniformed armed contingent tasked with the enforcement of the law, are informed in advance that a crime is to be committed – not a robbery or vandalization but a capital homicide. They dedicate two officers to warn an apartment full of men, women and children that a drunken, rage-fueled predator is headed their way, but don’t have them stick around to protect or defend. What were we to do? Use the phone.

About a half an hour after the police left, the crazed fellow showed up. We used the phone. He started kicking on the front door of the apartment, shouting insanely. The police assured us they were on the way. He kicked the door again, bellowing loudly. The door was steel plated and had to hurt like hell as he battered it, howling in anger.

The women and children were herded into the back bedroom, out of any direct line of fire. My brother took position directly facing the door, I off to his side. The door shuddered as the intruder kicked and kicked it. My brother pointed his cocked Smith & Wesson Model 19, 357 magnum at the door and our breathing became halted, senses tense and ready.

Bam! The door burst open and the crazed jerk stormed right at my brother, one hand in his pocket. No gun visible, my brother pulled his pistol back and pointed it toward the ceiling. Shouting, menacing, threatening, then the hand comes out of his pocket and he grabs for my brother’s gun. My brother shoots him in the gut. He stands there, no flying across the room in a hail of slo mo blood, no violent twisting and wrenching to the floor – he just stood there.

Stunned, his rage now shock, he stumbled toward the door. We knew better than that and sat him down. If he was found shot outside of the residence, then my brother could be charged. The first rounds in my brother’s revolver were loaded with 38 shot loads, which are like little mini shotguns for one’s pistol. More projectiles with less penetration, the single shot cost anger-boy about 15 feet of his intestines when all was said and done.

Within five minutes of the end of the confrontation the police arrived. Ready to kill, 8 to 10 of them swarmed the tiny apartment pointing their pistols in each of our faces. My brother was handcuffed and taken in; jerko was taken to the hospital to enjoy the true costs of his drinking problem. The remainder of our evening was spent working to extricate my brother from police custody for defending his home from an invader they had warned him about, which we finally accomplished by morning.

In the 10 minutes it took for the police to return, had jerko come armed and had we no defensive capacity, he would have had sufficient time to kill us all. The phone would not have thwarted his anger. All because he got drunk and jealous. The police confirmed for me again in that instance the vital importance each of us faces in defending ourselves and our loved ones. There is no external force (unless you can afford one) that will care for you or me, so we must do it ourselves.

The police as the military are offensive forces, not defensive. It is simple reason which dictates this: a thousand people cannot protect a hundred thousand people; ten thousand cannot protect ten million. Our protection and defense must come from ourselves as must the protection and defense of others. The police have no legal mandate to protect us nor does the government.

Most people behave responsibly with guns – as there are over a hundred million gun toting citizens of the USA, this is borne out by the very lack of bloodbath we are supposedly basking in. Police officers kill people for taking drugs, kill them for mouthing off, kill them for running away.

Most gun violence is alcohol or drug related as most drug crimes are prohibition related. Eliminate prohibition and drug crimes will decrease, meaning less gun violence. Prosecute anyone who uses a weapon egregiously, especially those under color of authority, and violent offenses will diminish.

Outlaw guns and create one more unenforceable prohibition that will only further entrench the police state and further widen the division between law enforcement and those subject to its excesses. Defend yourself or remain defenseless.

The conquered here, owe.

Peace.

© 2013 simmbiosis 3/30/13

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Weirdo

I am a weirdo. By my own definition as well as by any societal measure, I am weird. This is neither a brag nor lament so much as a simple statement of my place in all this, at least as I perceive it. I am able to view my weirdness dispassionately. Which is, I suppose, weird.

While many I suspect have come to this conclusion in my regard, it may come as a surprise to some of them to realize that I understand this. The crazy that knows he is crazy as opposed to the crazy that thinks he’s sane. Not that I seek it or go out of my way to perpetuate it, but much like being, say, black, or short, the acceptance of it as a fundamental personal reality goes a long way toward finding a level of social harmony, where being weird is just, well, weird.

And while a level of blackiosity or even shortitude is socially and culturally, if not desirable, at least tolerated, weirdness is its own civic division, like goat’s ass breath or awful hair. It is to draw attention for all the wrong reasons, like a loud noisome fart during a wedding or funeral, at that perfect moment when silence has descended and the audience is rapt with sentiment and reflection. A Prozac moment, which defines you for generations to come among family and friends – he’s the one who ruined Mama’s eulogy and cleared the first three rows on the groom’s side of the chapel for BooBoo’s nuptials. It is infamy as opposed to fame.

I suspect my weirdness is the result of several factors: genetically, as both my parents had lots of weird tendencies which appear to have accumulated and imprinted onto me. This isn’t to say I didn’t get an abundance of their good qualities as well, more to acknowledge that they had more weird tendencies than good ones, and in my case the good ones only serve to spotlight the weird ones. Most weird people at least have the courtesy to be quiet about it.

But displaying weirdness, as the interweb has proven repeatedly, is very popular presently and often weirdness popularized becomes the new standard for normal. Which makes people who don’t go for such contrivances weird, perpetuating the cycle of weirdishness ad odballium.

Some might point to drugs as the culprit, but clearly such tastes aren’t by any social standard weird as half the nation is on one drug or another at any given time. Ah, but the kind of drugs: not the good, safe (deadly), legal, socially acceptable drugs, like cigarettes or booze or pharmaceuticals or even over-the-counter pain relief and medicinals (which combined kill about a million of us a year), but the awful, socially demonized, un-governmentally-sanctioned ones – the mind altering kind. The kind that (combined) kill closer to 20,000 people in the USA a year. And to be honest, I, weird as I am, never trucked much with the ones that came with a body count. At least the illegal ones.

Don’t get me wrong – I have known well panoply of legal drugs and they didn’t abate my weirdness one bit. Frankly, by any real measure they only made me weirder. Weirder still. Alcohol and prescription pharmaceuticals were the worst – they made me at times unrecognizably weird, like still being weird but being someone else who is weird. A different weird guy in the same old weird me. I might be a weirdo and all but even I know that if one is resigned (inclined) to druggish proclivity, then it behooves one to choose the drug best suited for one’s idiosyncrasies.

I’m fairly certain that had I never taken a drug, legal or weird, my mind would be far more sharp; I would be more intelligent. I might have even attained smartness over time. But my weird tendencies drew me unto druggishness young and my effective function – intellectually, mentally, emotionally – has been compromised. Smart as aspiration, not achievement.

I, in all my weirdness, understand that being smart, while holding a level of personal appeal, has a severely limiting aspect socially. Most people aren’t really that smart (I mean other than my readers, you geniuses!), so being smart demands that communication can only function based upon the intelligence of the dumbest person in the conversation. Where there is no understanding, there is no communication.

I realize then that had I forsaken the pleasure, fun, elation, ecstasy, awareness or experience that can only be achieved through the ingestion of certain emollients, I could have been so smart as to have nobody to talk to because no one would understand me, nor would I want to talk to most people because they wouldn’t interest me. Being too smart is weird too.

But that isn’t my problem. Not to suggest that I have a problem. But if I did, being too smart wouldn’t be it. Frankly, most people don’t want to talk to me that much anyway (I suspect because they think I think I’m too smart) nor do they interest me all that much – unless I’m properly intoxicated. Then the conversation takes precedence over the individual participants and becomes interesting because of engagement, not individual capacity.

Hell, even I think that’s weird. But more than my independently minded hair or apparently uninspired sartorial inclination, my perception expressed defines my weirditude more than any other factor. I say weird things because I see the world quite differently than the average fellow. Most people adhere to some religious persuasion or another, follow some messianic type or another and many of those who don’t still represent themselves as ‘spiritual’. I’m not ‘spiritual’ and I don’t believe in any human notion of divinity. Not a fucking one.

Weird.

Most of my fellow voting age Americans express a preference for the republican or democratic parties politically, others prefer the independent or even green parties. I don’t party with those types; did when I was younger but grew out of it by about 30 when I realized they were just different faces of the same coin. A coin that we’re in the pocket of.

Weird.

I never accept the official narrative at face value in the case of any momentous event. I operate from a perspective that if one is inclined to lie to me about things, as our leadership is openly wont to do, then I should bear that in mind when they tell me things and weigh what they say against appreciable reality. Not taking admitted liars at their word strikes me as reasonable thinking. Hence I don’t believe JFK was killed by two random gunmen, or that RFK was shot in the back by a guy in front of him, or that JFK Jr.’s plane just happened to suddenly fall from the sky, or that those massive steel buildings just miraculously collapsed into the course of most resistance (their own footprints) on 9/11.

Weird.

I don’t accept that money is real. The evidence supports the creation of money as a way for some people to have huge amounts of it and all the power that is accorded it (its inventors) while it is used to stratify and demoralize those with only enough to subsist upon (its slaves). As money is created by fiat or design, by merely typing figures into a computer somewhere, all those starving so that some people can have more of those invented numbers than others are the victims of capital. I feel capitalism is the worst thing to happen to humanity. Capitalism is what makes companies like Dow and Monsanto produce known toxic substances that enter the food chain and contaminate all of us – poison for profit.

Capitalism is what makes companies like Pfizer and Merck flood the market with pharmaceuticals, with horrific side-effects, one of which is hundreds of thousands of deaths annually. Capitalism is what makes companies like Boeing and General Dynamics and Halliburton demand a perpetual state of warfare so they can continue producing things which destroy us – for profit. For figures on a piece of paper or computer monitor, the world is consumed and devoured, raped and desolate. This is what I think, based upon the hundreds of thousands of pages I have read over the course of my life.

Weird.

I don’t believe. I understand reality as it exists, accept that it changes and adapt as best I can when those changes occur. Of course the odd challenge will exist: can I know for certain say, the sun will ‘rise’ or do I not operate under the belief that such will occur?

In the context of existence, if the sun doesn’t ‘rise’ I won’t be around to debate the issue, nor will anyone else, so such distinctions make little point. Cosmological events or global evolution can and will continue to make things we feel certain of unsure. But clearly certain realities are absolutely necessary for human perception to occur – the sun goes super-nova or a close passing comet wreaks havoc, all bets are off.

In the framework of human enterprise, I operate based upon trust: I trust an honorable person will live up to their word, I trust a dishonorable person will not. Both people can be trusted entirely to behave in accordance with their natures. All peoples’ natures can change (adapt) in intense or extreme circumstances: this we can trust as well.

But to tell me that a stranger in a suit is concerned about my well-being, a stranger in a uniform will protect me from harm or that a man in religious apparel can pave my path to some ill-defined after-life blissatorium, and for money no less, then I must state that I do not believe.

This above all other things makes me a weirdo.

I’m good with that. Upon reflection, normal seems kinda terrifying.

© 2013 simmbiosis 1/22/13