Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Feeling Frustrated, Exhilarated and Conversed

I don't suppose I can write a post here and not make mention of the shooting in Orlando, Florida early Sunday morning that killed 49 people at a nightclub frequented by LGBTQ people while injuring many more. Nobody can say for certain the motives behind the killer's actions but to right-wing media and Donald Trump*, it's clear that there can be no other explanation other than radical Islamic terrorism. More reasonable minds will wait to pass judgment and consider the killer's hatred of gays or his bipolar condition or even his possible unwillingness to come to grips with his own gay tendencies as contributing factors in his actions.

I'm frustrated.

We have a news media outlet here in the US called Fox News which is nothing more than a megaphone for our conservative wing of the government. It goes hand in hand with the many talk-radio stations that push the same conservative ideology along with a heavy dose of propaganda. Many decent people have come under their insidious influence in what amounts to massive brainwashing of anyone who lazily turns over their critical thinking ability to these peddlers of poison and divisiveness.

So when we have a tragedy such as the one that just devastated Orlando, rather than think critically about things we can do as a nation to help prevent a similar incident from happening, the loudmouths on Fox News and talk-radio can do nothing more than criticize the president for not waging a full-out war on ISIS or whatever other terrorist groups are out there that wish us harm while their millions of listeners just nod along in agreement, not really appearing to grasp what a war would look like or how it will ever end. We've recently been down this road with Bush's war in Iraq and it was the biggest foreign policy blunder of my lifetime and one that cost hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars, yet the same people who criticize Obama have only adoration for Bush. It makes no sense whatsoever.

Tammy is frustrated, too.

I think we can begin by recognizing that easy access to guns played a role in the Orlando massacre as it has with all of the other mass shootings we're becoming way too accustomed to. We need to work extra hard to defeat any politician who is owned by the NRA (National Rifle Association). There are many other civilized societies with millions of people and they don't have anything near the problem with guns that we have in the US. We can and have to do better.

I was reading online recently about the requirements of other countries for gun ownership to get an understanding of why it's such a problem here like nowhere else. In most cases, it simply comes down to actual regulation of the kind we lack in the US; regulation that makes it much more difficult to get a firearm. One definite correlation that can be made is that the more guns you have in a society, the more deaths from guns you're going to have. The rest of the world needs to look no further than the US and our cancerous 2nd Amendment for proof.

We should be learning from these other countries but we're not allowed to. We're expected to continue to allow the NRA to purchase our politicians and live with their boughten votes. The NRA has such a stranglehold on our politicians that the CDC isn't even allowed to study gun violence with hopes of gaining a better understanding of how to curb it. And again—you have a huge brainwashed contingency of voters who are fine with upwards of 33,000 lives lost each year due to gun violence, yet they worry about the minuscule amount (in comparison) killed by terrorists. It makes no sense at all. And this warped thinking isn't just confined to guns. Obama has had to fix so much of the mess left behind by the previous Republican administration and all they can do is offer their scorn and ridicule. And hate!

There's so much more I could say on this but I'm done. I just felt a need to go on record here for that day when we as a society can hopefully look back on this time in our lives and hold accountable those deceitful voices for continuing to lie to us and vow to do better for ourselves. In case you didn't know—the rest of the world thinks we're nuts and I agree.

On a brighter note, I had the most fun I've ever had on the trails at Murphy Sunday afternoon. I was faster than I've ever been there and felt like I was flying through the course. I can still think of a few areas where I could've done better and that's a good thing. It gives me something to shoot for—that perfect ride.

It was exhilarating and I had the sweat to prove it!

I met up with a friend for coffee and conversation Monday morning in South Minneapolis. I first met Steven maybe 10 years ago when I was working the midnight shift at work and he'd come through vacuuming the area on his secondary job working for the custodial crew at the Center. He noticed a Cycle Sport magazine I was reading and began a discussion with me about European bike racing and some of the major players and teams. I know more about this than most but it was apparent that Steven knew so much more than even I did.

And so it began.

Once every couple weeks, I'd be in the sector when he'd come through and if we both had time we'd toss out some topics for discussion and hit them quickly before I either had to get back to my traffic or he had to move on. I really looked forward to that. I soon discovered that he was well versed on so much more than bikes as our discussions eventually turned to other areas such as politics, religion and our families. We both had to laugh yesterday because it was nonstop talking between us for 90 minutes before we even got to the news of the day. Just lots to catch up on and I enjoyed that.

I think of the time another controller came up to me and asked if I knew Steven. I told him I did and he commented: "That guy's pretty smart for a janitor!" or some such words (I think he'd recently been in a discussion with him). I had to laugh. I'd say Steven is arguably the smartest guy in that building at any given time—and their best janitor!