Fifteen Years Later

My US flag flies today in front of my house.

In the early morning fifteen years ago today, I was sleeping peacefully in my bed when, suddenly, one of my sons shook me awake and delivered a most bewildering bit of news: “One of the twin towers has collapsed!”  Twin towers?  What twin towers?  I remember thinking.

It took me a number of seconds to get into my head what he was talking about, but despite the dead urgency in his voice I still couldn’t credit the information with any comprehension until I had thrown on some clothes and gone downstairs to watch what was happening on live television.  Yes, one of the towers had collapsed alright, and while I watched they showed a replay of that event.

And then, while I stood there dumbfounded, I watched the other one fall.

By this point you might be wondering why I was sleeping so late, but no, we lived on the West Coast, and it was just turning into time for breakfast.  When I went to work that day everyone was trying to do things that needed done, but all of us were operating in a kind of bubble — yes, let’s do what we’re being paid to do, but oh, my gosh, what is happening? Someone had gotten out a television set and tuned it to the news so we could follow along with what was going on.  Many of us also resorted frequently to internet news sites to stay abreast of events.

One of my coworkers, a young woman I frequently worked with, seemed a lot more distraught than anyone else.  Since she was normally quite sunny in outlook, I asked her how she was feeling.  Her answer stunned me, and brought home the immediacy of this event.

“My brother works for a company headquartered in one of those towers, and even though he normally works in San Diego, California, he’s in New York for a conference!”  She said.

And no, she hadn’t heard anything from him, or about him, yet.

Being much too rattled myself to give her much comfort, I located our section supervisor, Dennis, and told him about her situation.  Dennis was able to do what I wasn’t prepared to do, and she thanked me later for telling him about it.  Later it turned out that he had been in one of the towers at the time an airliner hit it, but even though their conference had been on a floor above the ones that were directly affected by the strike, he had volunteered to go down to the level where they had shops, to buy some pastries for the meeting.  He was there when the airplane hit, and he was able to get out before his tower fell.

A few thousand others weren’t so lucky, including a large number of firefighters and police who had rushed in to help evacuate people and fight the fire.

A few weeks later, after at least some of the dust had settled, one of the members of my LDS congregation was asked to give a talk at church, and to touch upon 9-11 in his message.  Given that he is a firefighter himself, he would have identified with his fellow firefighters who lost their lives trying to save others, and so one might have expected a bit of anger to show through.  But no, this brother’s message was of love and caring, and of joining together in compassion for those who had lost friends and loved ones.

Which is what all of us should remember each year on this day.

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Kaepernick & Rapinoe: Behind the Times

This week we are treated to another Johnny-come-lately, or in this case, Jane-come-lately, in the person of Megan Rapinoe, giving the nod to Colin Kaepernick’s “protest” , “displaying discontent with the current state of affairs in the U.S.”  What state of affairs is this now, you might ask?  Well, I shall tell you:

“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it.”

Yes, it was something small, all right.  Downright miniscule.  Pointless in fact.

Allow me to be blunt about this.  Both of these individuals are full of it.  Both of these individuals are cowardly.  Why are they cowardly?  Why are they full of it?  I shall tell you.

They are full of it because there used to be laws in this country that criminalized certain of her behaviors, and downright oppressed anyone of his race.  No more.  Not only is the President of the United States someone who, 100 years ago, couldn’t have been elected dogcatcher anywhere in the country, it is now the law of the land that any two people at all can get married, regardless of sex or sexual orientation.  Hey, Colin!  Hey, Megan!  Wake up, wouldja?  The battle has been fought and the war is OVER!  All that’s left is the mopping up, and what you’re doing doesn’t help.

You know what this reminds me of?  Those Japanese soldiers from World War II who hid out in the jungles and forests for decades after the war was over, fighting a war that, in their case at least, had long been won — by the other side.

But in Colin’s and Megan’s case, the war was WON!  Yet still they protest.  The only thing left to do, and it’s quite important, is to help with the task of smoothing over the raw spots caused by the process of achieving the ends that now benefit both of them.  There are bigots yet to be won over, but the biggest problem of all has been overcome: the laws which have oppressed for so long have been repealed or overturned.

Why did I say they were cowardly?  And note carefully that I didn’t say they were cowards. It takes genuine courage to go physically up against opponents, even in a game, because the potential for injury is not trivial.  You can get really hurt in both American football and soccer!

The cowardliness is in this: long after the war is won, now suddenly it’s SAFE to protest. They are both standing up to be counted after everyone else has put their lives on the line and achieved the long-sought-after goal.  When the only calumny they can trigger is laughter at being fashionably late, or anger at protesting the country that has finally given up its official oppressions, this is the time to help heal the wounds caused by the conflict of reaching the state the country now finds itself in.  Not the time to open those wounds further in a pathetic attempt to gain some last-minute fame and ride the coat-tails of those who really put themselves on the firing line.

What Kaepernick and Rapinoe should be doing now is to provide an example of respect and gratitude so that everyone, even those who opposed the reforms that benefit these two, can say of the oppressed: they fought a valiant fight against oppression, but now that that fight is won, they have united behind the country.

Instead, they spit in all of our faces, including all those who fought and sometimes bled and died to achieve the benefits they now thoughtlessly enjoy.

I was going to let that last sentence conclude this message, but just in time I thought of another person who exemplifies the attitude that Kaepernick and Rapinoe ought to have expressed but have not: that person is George Takei, who is most famous for portraying Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the starship USS Enterprise in the original Star Trek television series.

George Takei is a gay Asian man, who as an American citizen of Japanese descent spent World War II locked up in what amounted to a concentration camp.  He was oppressed both for his race and later for his sexual orientation, and like Kaepernick and Rapinoe he achieved fame and fortune in show business (yes, I know K&R are athletes, but at its heart, athletics is a spectator sport, or in other words, a form of show business).  Yet Mr. Takei has a different take on the United States.  I’ve posted this video before, but it seems appropriate to post it again.  I shall let this video be the coda for this post.

The title of the video is: “Why I love a country that once betrayed me.

A relevant point made by George Takei is what his father told him, when young George complained about the treatment his people had experienced:

“Our democracy is a people’s democracy, and it can be as great as the people can be, but it is also as fallible as people are.” He told me that “American democracy is vitally dependent on good people who cherish the ideals of our system and actively engage in the process of making our democracy work.”

Would that Kaepernick and Rapinoe have chosen that path, instead of the disrespectful path they have chosen.


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Well, It’s No Trump For Me

NoTrumpDonald J. Trump is officially persona non grata for me. I will not be voting for him come November. And I absolutely cannot vote for Hillary Clinton either.

Don’t talk to me about the Greens.

Why won’t I support Trump? First of all, he is an egocentric blowhard and buffoon. He doesn’t know when he is wrong, has no idea of what the hell he is going to do to accomplish the grandiose goals he keeps talking about. Walls, Muslim bans, Lyin’ Ted, Loser McCain, and a seemingly never-ending list of insults, provocations, and self-promotion. And there’s no second of all.

The closest any candidate comes to my ideals is the Libertarian Party candidate for President of the United States, Gary Johnson, and his running mate William Weld, and they are both former Republican state governors.  Successful ones.

I am convinced that the only way to save the country from Trump and Hillary is to vote for Gary Johnson. Someone is going to tell me that Gary can’t win enough Electoral College votes to win the race, but all he needs to do is take enough votes from Trump and Hillary to prevent either one from winning the 270 votes required to win, throwing the election into the US House of Representatives. All he needs is one Electoral College vote to be eligible for consideration by the House. I am reasonably certain the Republican-dominated House would not select either Trump, Hillary or Jill Stein (Greens) for President.

I do not agree with every position that Johnson/Weld are in favor of. But I agree with most of them.

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Royals (Lorde): an a capella cover by Alaa Wardi

Alaa Wardi is an excellent musician, especially when he uses his body as the musical instruments!  Check out his channel.

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Hayao Miyazaki is a Genius

“Who’s that?” you say?  Well, let’s see.  He’s a Japanese animator whose most popular (in Japan) film is called in English, Spirited Away, and it won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2003.  Here is an interesting video about Mr. Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.


Miyazaki’s animated features are my favorites!  I like Spirited Away even more than I like The Incredibles, and that’s saying a lot.  You MUST see this film.  It is fantastic!

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Medical Student “Let it Go” Parody

Dropping Politics for the Moment

I got things to say about Donald Trump.  Seriously.  But not now.  Although apparently he came in second in the Iowa state caucuses yesterday.  Excellent.  Nevermind.

The brilliant medical students of the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine have produced a funny parody of the song “Let it Go” from the animated film “Frozen”.  They call it “I Don’t Know”, as in, “I don’t know what disease you got!”

I Don’t Know


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Let’s Blame the NRA for San Bernardino

Yesterday, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik, shot up his workplace’s holiday party, killing 14 and wounding 21.  They did it in the name of Allah.

And of course this is the fault of the National Rifle Association.

But why?  Because the NRA opposes “common sense gun control”?  Okay, then, since the NRA opposes “common sense gun control”, the NRA must be evil, and in the pay of the firearms manufacturers.  And it goes from there: politicians whom the NRA approves of must be in the pay of the NRA.  Never mind the fact that Federal election financing forbids the NRA from contributing to political candidates’ campaigns.  Facts are of no importance when there is political hay to be harvested.  Just read Saul Alinksky’s “Rules for Radicals”.  He explains it all very clearly.

The fact of the matter is this: “common sense gun control” is a moveable feast.  If the NRA were to cave in to this year’s “common sense gun control”, in the next year it would suddenly be discovered that “common sense” had moved a couple of Sigmas to the left.  And the next year the same.  The NRA is right to halt things right where they are.

So, instead of “common sense”, let’s use logic, and experimentation!  Wouldn’t that be a sight?

Consider that California has very strict gun control.  And reflect upon the fact that California’s gun control is the strictest in the nation!  And as we have seen, it didn’t make a bit of difference.  It turns out that all of the firearms used by these terrorists were purchased legally. in accordance with California’s strict gun control laws.  So, you want to make them even more strict?  These people were squeaky clean — a traffic ticket or two at most — and no matter how tight California’s gun laws got screwed down, Farook would still have qualified to buy the guns he wanted to buy!

This clearly show us the results of the experiment.  And the results are that California’s strict gun control laws don’t stop people who really want to kill people, from killing people.  What use are they, then?

Syed Farook went to a good deal of trouble and made extensive preparation to perform the acts of murder he and his wife committed.  Farook, at least, was apparently in communication with terrorist recruiters and instigators.  He was going to kill people for Allah, that’s the bottom line.  California’s strict gun laws couldn’t stop him from doing so, and didn’t.  California also has strict laws against the construction of pipe bombs, too, but Farook and Malik had apparently dozens of them.  So what is there to do about this?

I have bad news for those of you suffering from the “Do Something Disease”.  PASSING LAWS DOESN’T FIX A THING!  Especially if the laws don’t address reality.  Making yourself feel good by “doing something” is worse than useless.

If two nutjob terrorists shoot up a crowd of peaceful celebrants, what could the NRA have to do with it!  But notice the knee-jerk reactions of brainless liberals.  They are champing at the bit to disarm law-abiding citizens because a few nutcases or terrorists did horrible things.  If you were to propose the abolition of private automobiles because of the 30,000+ traffic deaths every year — taking away the travel rights of 300 million people — this would be just as logical.  There are more privately owned firearms in this country than there are people.  Millions of those firearms are of the same type that Farook and his wife used in their crime.  The fact is simply this: almost all gun owners in the country are peaceful, responsible, and safe.  Guns don’t turn peaceful people into monsters.

The problem isn’t guns, it’s people.

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