Like the Song Says, “Money, Money, Money!”

I’m watching, again tonight, as the chronic pain patients go nuts. Not that I blame them. But I have been monitoring things, and I’ve yet to see any of them identify the actual cause of all the chaos.

Money.

That is the driving problem behind what’s happening with the doctors, and with the government. Money. As yielded by the insurance companies, and the drug makers. Here. This is what I’m trying to say. And this is the tip of the iceberg.

https://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2018/11/14/opioid-state-costs-mtf

Another example?

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5975355/

And, in the ongoing conflict with the chronic pain patients, and the medical community, this topic is somehow completely missing. I find that fascinating in a capitalistic society that follows the rules of supply and demand. Let’s be blunt here. Opioids, right now, cost oceans of money. It’s not that there’s no supply. It’s that there’s oceans of demand. It’s that demand is skyrocketing, far outstripping the ability to make it, and that drives the price up, like a rocket was tied to it.

I’m not against the chronic pain people. I’m not. I support them in their arguments. But, until they target the actual cause of this entire fiasco, nothing will change.

Money, money, money. When the cost becomes as visible as the opioid costs have become, that’s when all hell breaks loose.

Ford and GM are making money right now. The result? If they close down sedan manufacturing, and bump up trucks and SUVs, that makes more money. Yes, people get laid off. Yes, plants get closed. Yes, local economies take it in the shorts. But, none of that matters, because the money shows it’s the right thing to do. The money matters.

Further. Why do GM and Ford not have such a good track record on electric vehicles? Again. The money. The cost to become competitive in a new market is absurd. And. The new market size is a mystery right now. No one knows when the electric cars will take over. No one knows if Uber and Lyft, and others will result in the end of private vehicle ownership on a monstrous scale. No one knows if autonomous vehicles will take off, or when. And you literally can’t afford to invest in all of it, and pray you get your investments back.

That’s the free market thing again.

So, here we are with the “opioid crisis”. And no one’s talking about the driving force that is money. Businesses: Hi, I’m having people call out sick, ’cause they’re in no pain from abusing these drugs. Hospitals: Hi, we’re having people call out sick from abusing these drugs. The list goes on and on. It’s NOT pain patients that are the problem. It’s the money that’s the problem.

And the reason the money is a problem is because humans are not machines. And we live in a society where we have to be machines. And the number of people who find self medication methods to cope with the stress caused by such insanity is what’s driving the problem. And the problem’s grown large enough now that it’s become visible from a money perspective. And that’s where it all goes nuts.

So, the money is now taking actions to regain control of the spending, so the filthy rich can become more filthy rich. Or, as the old saying goes, “Money can be the root of all kinds of evil.” If you dig down to find the cause, sure enough, it’s humans doing what they have to do to preserve, and increase, the money they have.

 

Because. It works for me.

Friday, 31 March 2019

Another Friday night.

I’ve been having some conversations, if you wish to call sharing words in e-mail messages, or direct messages, across the internet, conversations. I call them that, because sharing words in this way is about the only way I can share them.

In person, I don’t talk. In person, I almost can’t talk. Because there is far more to process in person than there is when dealing with black and white text on a computer monitor. Most people don’t even think about that, about the body language, the facial expressions, the movement of eyes, the positions of arms, and hands, the brief pauses and silences, and an endless list of other things.

These are all things I have to process. I have to think about them. I have to try to understand them, and the parts of the conversation that are not being spoken with words. For most people, this is something they do naturally. It’s called social behavior.

For me, and for those of us who are Autistic, the unspoken parts of conversations, the body language, and all the rest, don’t happen. We don’t notice them. Until we learn, through endless mistakes, and endless frustration, that these things exist, and are used by everyone.

That’s when we start a life long study of what those things mean.

As I said, I’ve been having some conversations with friends I have who talk with me through these black and white text exchanges. I speak about an absurd number of topics, I know that. And I use oceans of words, I know that. I do so because I’ve found that’s the best method, and provides the best chance, that what I am speaking of, the ideas I’m trying to express, maybe, might, but probably won’t, be understood by those I’m speaking with.

One topic, today, has been my removal of women from the list of names Twitter recommends I follow, and why I remove them from that list. I have not fully answered, or responded, to the person I’m speaking with on this topic. But I felt I should make some things known.

I don’t hate women. At all. I can talk with them. I can share pictures of flowers with them. I can try to express my thoughts with them.

I can’t do that with men. As best I can figure out, through the decades of effort I’ve made to understand the unspoken language of other people, having such conversations is not what men want, and not what interests them. With the net result being I can’t talk with them. They possess a hidden language I literally can’t understand.

I’ve done some simple math tonight to illustrate the extent to which this is how things work for me. I’ve taken the list of those I follow on Twitter, and broke it into “obviously not a guy” and “a guy, or not not a guy.” This is really simple for me, as the list contains only 45 names (and I’ll discuss why in a bit). 37 names are in the “obviously not a guy” category. That’s 82% of the names on the list. 8 of every 10 names.

When I explain to you that I can’t talk with guys, this is what I mean. I can’t talk with guys. The numbers make that brutally obvious.

And, that’s where things suddenly become exponentially more complex.

#MeToo. #BelieveSurvivors. The patriarchy. Feminism. And a literal ocean of other words. As my friend informed me tonight, there is a great deal of emotional upheaval happening right now in US society.

But, here’s the thing with that emotional upheaval. I’m Autistic.

With respect to women finding their voices, and speaking out, I can honestly say I’m all for it. The stories need to be told. The truth needs to be placed front and center, and removed from being hidden in a closet somewhere, and not spoken of.

I have been told, by she whom I have spoken with today, that I’m not one of the problem guys. That I’m one of the good guys, and shouldn’t react as if this is about me. I understand that, honestly, I do. I know that. She’s one of many who have told me as much. I don’t argue that at all.

But, I’m Autistic. The ability to filter things, to read them and say, “they don’t apply to me.” The ability to blithely ignore them, and let them pass under the bridge on their way out to sea, is not something I have. Again. I’m Autistic. I have very close to 60 years of life spent pushing myself to observe everything. Every detail. Every body movement. Every change in tone of voice. Every eye motion. Every twitch. Every wince. Every brief shake of a hand. Every detail of everything someone does. Including every word they speak, and how they speak it.

It’s how I survive. It’s how I function in the world. It’s how I keep from getting injured by an overwhelming number of mistakes, where I didn’t understand what someone was saying, or doing.

I explain to people, “I see everything.” I usually leave out the words, “Because I have no other choice.” Remember how I mentioned, earlier, that I don’t speak well in person, face to face? Now you know why. Because my brain cells are going insane trying to keep up with all the information I’m having to process, so I don’t get something wrong.

But, with text, all there is are words. I can handle that. I can process that. I can respond to it.

Again. I’m Autistic. I don’t process emotional states well. If you ask me how I am on any given day, I can’t really answer you, because I honestly don’t really know. I know I have emotions. And I know they show up at the most inopportune times, and I don’t seem to be able to prevent that. But I have no idea what I’m feeling. Like what I’m feeling right now, this moment, as I write these words. I don’t really know. I can’t put it into words. I think I’m not angry, or frustrated. But other than that, I can’t really say for sure. It’s Friday night, so I’m likely feeling something. For a while, I thought I felt lonely on Friday nights. But I don’t think that anymore. Perhaps it’s more a feeling of I don’t fit into the social system, so I find it hard to treat Friday nights like most people treat them.

Whatever the heck that means.

Now, I get to explain the small number of people I follow. And this is for those who haven’t figured it out from the ocean of words I’ve already written. I can’t filter anything. I don’t know what I’m feeling, but I know I have emotions, and they do things, and I can’t really stop them, because I don’t understand them at all.

There is a limit to how much I can process. If I breach that limit, I overload. And I can’t process anything. And if I don’t resolve the overload, I end up non-functional. So, I’ve learned. I have no choice but to severely limit how much I have to process. That means, even in the land of black and white text, I have to limit how much I have to process. Because, I become unable to process any of it at all, if I don’t limit the amount.

So, I have an itty-bitty list of names I follow on Twitter. And for now, I’ve shut down Facebook all together. To limit how much I have to process. It’s survival for me. It’s how I can remain functional.

I wish I could follow oodles of people. And yes, like 82% of them would be women. Smart, intelligent, conversational, creative women. But, there’s a limit to how much I can cope with, to how much information I can process, to how many topics I can be exposed to, and maintain the ability to convince myself I’m not the problem.

So, I limit things. To survive.

Perhaps, in the days ahead, I’ll try to explain this in more detail. And to explain the problems that come with this lack of ability to filter, and highly developed ability to see everything, and almost complete inability to process my own emotions. Perhaps.

For now, just know that I’m OK. And that I’ve done the things I’ve done because I can’t find any other way to remain functional in this world.

Mark.

Define Different and Unique.

Tell me which of these is truly unique. Truly different. Not the same as the others. Stands out from the crowd. Whatever you want to call it. Go ahead. Tell me these are not the same car having different decorations as distinguishing characteristics. Is a box a box, no mater what stickers you put on it?

2019 Hyundai Kona

2019 Hyundai Kona

2019 Kia Niro

2019 KIA Niro

2019 Nissan Kicks

2019 Nissan Kicks

2019 Honda HR-V

2019 Honda HR-V

2019 Ford Ecosport

2019 Ford Ecosport

2019 Chevy Trax

2019 Chevrolet Trax

2019 Toyota CH-R

2019 Toyota CH-R

2019 Mercedes Benz GLA

2019 Mercedes Benz GLA

2019 BMW X1

2019 BMW X1

2019 VW Tiquan

2019 VW Tiquan

2019 Audi Q3

2019 Audi Q3

2019 Porsche Macan

2019 Porsche Macan

2019 Volvo xc40

2019 Volvo xc40

Hatred Is Alive And Well.

The following are true stories. They are my memories of the events I witnessed, personally. The things people said to me, or to others around me. I share these here for those who claim they are Christian, and who claim they don’t hate anyone, and who claim their faith is being persecuted.

I’ve taken the liberty of removing names and locations from the stories. It’s called defending oneself against lawsuits. And in the USA, at this time, it’s very much needed.


Event 1: On a Sunday morning, during the worship service at a Southern Baptist church, the pastor stood at the podium, preaching (as he should), and declared, “I saw a man wearing a dress, and I thought I was going to puke. To throw up. That was so disgusting. So sick.” And I watched as the congregation nodded, and voices agreed, “Here, here. Sick. Disgusting.”

Event 2: On another Sunday morning, at that same Southern Baptist church, other words, spoken by the pastor, “Depression isn’t real. It’s made up. It doesn’t exist.” And the congregation, once again, agreed.

Event 3: Upon learning of the legal gender change of a member of the workforce employed at a US Naval facility, the base commander ordered all management teams to meet with their workers, and make certain they all knew how to behave properly. The meetings were deemed necessary to place expectations of how to behave like human beings around fellow employees firmly in the minds of all people on the base, with the needed declaration that behaving in any uncivil way would be grounds for review of employment, and possible termination. The commander of the base felt this was necessary in order to maintain proper behavior of individuals in the workforce. Let that sink in for a while, will you? Let that sink in. He had to ORDER proper behavior from fully grown adults, both Civil Service, and US Navy personnel. Because those people were incapable of behaving otherwise.

Event 4: At that same US Naval facility, when two (2) restrooms were converted to unisex restrooms, I was informed by multiple people, they would never set foot in those restrooms again. They would rather piss on the floor.

Event 5: Again, at that same US Naval facility, I was informed by multiple people I worked with, “Mark. You won’t have any problem adjusting. That’s how you are. But me? This will be hard.”

Event 6: At work, just last night. One of the employees I work with, a peer, wore a kilt. Yes, a kilt. And it was a damn good kilt. Have you ever noticed how some people look at men in kilts? And how they suddenly change direction to wander somewhere other than the vicinity of the guy in his kilt? Have you ever noticed how some people actually leave?

Event 7: At a Walmart. I was shopping, with my spouse. She was in another area of the store. And I was there, in my long, stringy hair, with my bald spots, and my scrawny pony-tail, wearing a t-shirt from “The Mountain”. One with a gorgeous pair of roses on it, and a lady bug, and a small fairy. It’s a gorgeous shirt. That’s when a mother, with her son still sitting in the child’s seat of the grocery cart, saw me walking up to the movies to look at them, and proclaimed, “Oh, God!” and hurriedly pushed her cart anywhere I wasn’t.

Event 8: When you visit your family, driving nearly four hours to get there, and you learn, “We don’t go to those places in town. We don’t deal with those businesses in town. Not because they are owned by black  people. But because they aren’t the same. They don’t do the same work. They don’t have the same standards. So, we go to these.”


Christians tell me hatred is not alive. They tell me Christians love everyone. They just hate the sin.

That is a bald-faced lie. They hate everyone who doesn’t live like they believe everyone should live. They want everyone who is not like them to be dead. It’s that simple. It’s that black and white. They don’t want diversity. They don’t want understanding.

They want you to worship their God, their way, and if you don’t. They want you dead. Because. You’re the enemy. Literally. And they believe they are at war for the soul of the human race.

And people ask me why I walked away. Why I turned my back on God’s church. Because. It’s not God’s church. What it has become is the church of mortal men. And God has abandoned it.

The above eight (8) events I report all happened to me. I was there. I remember them. They are burned into my memory forever. There are many more stories I could tell. Many more events I could share. For now, I’ll stop with these. And I’ll say I collect more stories, every week. It never ends.

Do not tell me hatred is gone. Do not tell me Christians don’t hate people. It’s a lie. I know it. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Hatred is alive and it is thriving in God’s Church in the United States.

Mark.

What if…

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

I have no idea if what I’m about to write is correct, or incorrect, or partially correct and partially incorrect, or totally fiction. So, you can ignore me if you wish.

During my six years (yes, six years) of therapy, my doctor informed me, more than once, “Mark. You are very intelligent. More than intelligent enough to take a problem apart, and put it back together, to see how it works. You can turn the problem over. Turn it on its ear, look at it sideways, and take it apart in a totally different way, and put it back together. And learn more about it.”

Well. Since the events of November 8th, 2016, in the United States, I’ve been doing that. I’ve been taking apart the problem, and analyzing it, and putting everything back, to see if that’s how it makes sense to me. It’s been a harsh two years. I’ve lost a lot of people I once could speak with. I’ve had many parting of the ways, caused by ideologies that didn’t like each other. But, I kept at it. And I’m still keeping at it. But, now? Now, I have the beginnings of an understanding that’s grown enough I can put some of it into words. This may sound like a lot of what if questions. But, this is not me asking questions.

I don’t want any answers.

This is me, thinking perhaps, things are not what they seem.

What if. What if there are people who believe it’s not the job of government, the United States Federal Government, the State Government, the County or City government, or any other government, to write laws that dictate how people behave.

What if. What if there are people who believe it’s not the job of any government to take care of people. Not the job of the government to feed the hungry, to make certain the sick get the medical care they need, to make certain the population is educated.

What if. What if there are people who believe it is the responsibility of people, human beings, neighbors, and friends, people of the churches, to feed those who are hungry, care for those who are sick, and need medical care, and keep themselves, and each other, educated, and learning, through life.

What if. What if there are people who believe crowd funding is a great thing, because it makes it easier for people to help each other. Because they can send $5 to help someone they don’t know, and will never meet, get the cancer treatment they need to stay alive. Because they can send $1 to help someone who got let go when the company closed, and now can’t pay the electricity bill to keep the heat and the lights on in their house.

What if. What if there are people believe neighbors, and neighborhood churches, should carry bag lunches to people living on the street, using their own money, or money they get from other neighbors, or from church members.

Somehow, I don’t think people who believe such things would view government mandated health care the same way as people who believe the government should guarantee everyone healthcare? Rather, I think they would have a totally different view of health care, one that’s almost incomprehensible, and makes no sense at all, to those who think it’s the government’s place to make sure we all have health care.

What if. What if there are people who believe gender is a private, personal thing, and not something to be shared publicly, or advertised. What if there are people who believe it is natural for some men to love men, and some women to love women, and they don’t have a problem with such love until they are told they have to publicly embrace such love as normal. What if they believe it’s normal for men to marry the men they love, and women to marry the women they love, and that they should follow the same path to marriage everyone else does, and find someone who feels it is OK to perform gay marriages. What if there are people who feel about this the same way they feel about marriages between people with different religions, such as Conservative Christian, and Muslim?

Somehow, I don’t think people who believe such things would view government laws declaring who can marry who, and which clergy is to be required to perform such marriages, the same way as those who believe government legislation is the only means of securing the right of marriage for all people, and not just for standard heterosexual marriages. I think they would have a totally different view of marriage, and again, it may well be incomprehensible to those who think it’s the governments place to guarantee everyone the equal opportunity to get married.

What if. What if there are people who believe sexual harassment isn’t placing your hand on a woman’s shoulder without asking, as you try to help them fix their computer, and are standing behind them, but is, rather, making an effort to observe the screen, and the actions the individual is taking, in order to better identify the problems?

What if. What if there are people who believe men are the victims of millions of years of biological processes, perhaps even evolution, where their biology pushes them to mate with women, and it’s not that they are predators, as portrayed in the press, but rather, they are biological beings, with body chemistries, and survival instincts, that some are better at controlling than others. What if there are people who believe that weaker men, men less likely to be selected by women as mates, are more likely to perform sexual assaults, because of the biological urge to survive, as a species.

Would those people who believe the laws of the government can mandate how people behave view sexual harassment, or even sexual assault, the same way as the people who believe such things as these biological processes?

If you have wondered what I am trying to say, trying to explain, when I tell you there is no right or wrong, no up or down, no left or right, no good or evil, no just or unjust, you should know, this is an example of what I’m trying to say. That I’m trying to ask, “What if?”

What if. What if there are people who believe there should be more churches like the one the entrance to the home development I live in. A church where, every Tuesday, from 1000 hours until 1400 hours, has a food service. They provide food for those who need it, as best they can. And they collect canned goods, and non-perishables from their congregation, and from anyone who wishes to contribute, as they can. And they’ve been doing this for over eight years now.

There are, it’s true, evil people in this world. There are, it’s true, hate filled, prejudiced, supremacists. But, not everyone who sides with the Republican Party, and with Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Ted Cruz is hate filled, prejudiced, or a supremacist.

What they are is different. What they believe is different. How they think, and react, to the same events, is different. They aren’t evil. They’re different. Strikingly different. With a different view of what government is, and how it should work. And what society is, and how it should work.

It may be that there are more hungry people than churches, friends, neighborhoods, and families can feed. It may be that medical treatments, and housing needs may be more than neighbors, and churches, and crowd funding, are able to support. But, does that really mean the government needs to take over? Or perhaps, the government would make a better supplement, when it’s needed, when churches, friends, neighbors, and families, aren’t sufficient.

As I said when I started these words. This is not me asking questions. This is me, finally figuring out how to put some of what I have been learning these past two years into words.

Will my words have any meaning to anyone? I don’t know. But, I do find, at times, to be able to sleep at night, I have to write them down, and put them where they can be found.

Mark.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/06/13

At work, everyone thinks I’m great. I’m the talented one. The one that fixes all the problems. It’s what Tommy said when they brought in the new system. “I could play around with it for 3 days, and get nowhere, and have no idea what was wrong, or how to get it to work. Or, I can short-circuit the whole process, be smart, and call Freddy for help right now.”

Yep. That sums up work. If it’s a mystery, call Freddy. Call me. And I’ll come figure it out. In a matter of minutes. The guy from the research lab said that too, just in a different way, “How did you find that problem in half an hour while we were a lunch, in something you’ve never seen before?”

It’s what I do. And there’s oceans about what I do that you don’t know. No one knows. Except my wife. And for some reason, she hasn’t left me. I’ll never figure out why, ‘cause I’m a frickin’ disaster. But she sticks around. Some things are best left as mysteries, aren’t they.

See. I can do magic at work, ‘cause I crash and burn at home. All the time. The headset they use, the augmented reality one that they couldn’t get working for three weeks, before they said, “Let’s see what Freddy can do to help.” Yeah. That afternoon, the headset was working normally, and everyone was going, “Ooo,” and having a blast trying to follow instructions written in thin air next to circuits they were trying to fix.

Yes, I fixed things. But only because I spent over a year figuring out how those damn headsets work. Got an entire system at home that I use just for that. Hook up the headset, and see what I can do. Had to do clean reloads of the operating system every other day for a month before I got anywhere. Have three of the damn headsets, well, three cheap copies of them, sitting on my desk at home, where I’ve torn them apart to figure them out. Traced the circuits, monitored the timing between components. Have you ever spent months tracking down where electrons move in something? And why they move where they do? Months staring at sheets of hexadecimal numbers, searching for patterns in them that tell you when events happen, how the headset responds to those events, and how it’s all translated into pixels displayed on a plastic lens in front of a human’s eyeball?

Before you can figure it out, you have to crash and burn, and make every frickin’ mistake there is to make. Hell, people forget that. They get lazy. They learn to walk by crawling, then trying to stand up. And they fall over 80 zillion times, and bang their heads on the floor, or the table, or the chair. They land so hard on their butts it bruises them. But, they keep getting back up, and trying to walk again. Until they figure it out. Until they learn to balance themselves. Learn to maintain their balance on one foot at a time. Learn to move that balance point around, and keep their body parts positioned to maintain that balance.

But, you get them past learning to walk, and they stop learning. ‘Cause. Making mistakes sucks.

Damn, I hate lazy people. Lazy, scared people. Want to scream at them, “If you aren’t making mistakes, if you aren’t falling face first onto the floor, and crying about a broken nose. If you aren’t bruising your ass where you landed on it, ‘cause you did something stupid trying to get better. Then you might as well be dead!’”

Same people will take out a gun, and spend $50 an hour to shoot at little bits of paper hung from a chord that’s 50 feet away from them. And will keep shooting at it, spending money on box after box of bullets, until they learn how to hit the target every time. And then, they’ll keep shooting at the damn sheet of paper so they keep in practice.

But, hand them a remote control to the TV and they go totally stupid. “Where’s the frickin’ ON button on this crazy thing!” ‘Cause. They don’t want to learn anything new. They don’t want to make the mistakes needed to learn anything new. “I just spent $3000 on this damn TV, I ain’t reading no users guide!”

Hell, they don’t even look at the pictures that show you how to do things step-by-step. ‘Cause it hurts their brain cells to figure out the pictures.

Yeah, my desk is a wreck. Yeah, I have to keep multiple backup copies of everything I save on my computers. Yeah, I have to slick my computers over and over again. If I don’t have to slick my computer endlessly, I’m not trying! I’m not learning! I’m not making progress!

And because I do, the idiots at work can say, “Let’s just call Freddy. He knows.”

I hate humans. So fucking lazy. And so afraid to try anything. So they don’t try. And they end up stupid. And helpless.

Oh, look. Smoke. From the headset attached to the computer. I’ve let the smoke out of it again. Another headset cooked. The wife’s gonna be pissed. Have to see what parts I can scavenge from it, and if I can get one headset working from the parts of the others. Sounds like a challenge to me. Always wanted to know how that works.

It’s just another part of the learning process. Right? I don’t screw things up, I’m not learning anything, am I.

931 words (Yes, WAY over the 750 word limit. So what.)
@mysoulstears


This is written for Week 59 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. I needed time to fix things inside me. Now, I’m starting to wander back to writing. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.

 

Questions With No Answers (2)…

Continuing my series of questions with no answers, let’s move to the problem of gun violence in the United States. Let me start with a link to what is, likely, the true cause of the rise of mass shootings in this country.

“The Best Explanation for Our Spate of Mass Shootings Is the Least Comforting”
By David French
For National Review
May 18, 2018.
Link : https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/why-do-mass-shootings-happen-best-explanation/

Quote : “At the risk of oversimplifying a complex argument, essentially he [Malcolm Gladwell] argues that each mass shooting lowers the threshold for the next. He argues, we are in the midst of a slow-motion “riot” of mass shootings, with the Columbine shooting in many ways the key triggering event. Relying on the work of Stanford sociologist Mark Granovetter, Gladwell notes that it’s a mistake to look at each incident independently”

For those interested, here is the link to Malcolm Gladwell’s article from the October 19, 2015 issue of The New Yorker.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/19/thresholds-of-violence

In short, the problem is not guns. The problem is a social problem within US Society. To fix the problem, we have to correct it at the social level.

Note the following, before you get all stupid on me.

1. I do not own any guns, and I never will.
2. I do not see any reason anyone needs guns.
3. I grew up around people who owned guns, and never considered the possibility of using them out of anger, or frustration. And certainly never considered using them against other human beings.

As I have said above, the rising gun violence in the US is indicative of a social problem within the US. Saying “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” while technically accurate, denies the cause of the problem. Saying, “if no one has guns, we have no problem,” while somewhat accurate, also denies the cause of the problem.

Now, let me express my understanding of the problem. As I’ve said, it’s a social problem.

Look at the recent string of mass murders performed with the use of firearms. All of them center around someone gun supporters, and anti-gun groups, have declared were mentally unstable, deranged, unhealthy. To put it bluntly, mentally ill. Let’s review, shall we.

1. Santa Fe High School, Texas. We have the father’s declaration the shooting was caused by bullying. We also have the ongoing tale of the girl who refused to date the shooter.

2. Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida. Where the shooter was an expelled student, with behavioral issues.

3. A list of the shootings. Here.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2017/oct/02/america-mass-shootings-gun-violence

These are not random acts. These are acts of individuals who believe in what they are doing, and are using gun violence out of desperation, to strike back at what, and who, has injured them. Even if the injury is only emotional, and not physical.

Will removing guns solve this problem? No, it will not. It will force those who perform these acts to find other methods of performing such acts. Using motor vehicles. Using improvised explosive devices. Using toxic chemical blends.

But, in the short term, for a decade or two, it will look as if gun control has solved the problem. Further, an increase in traffic fatalities may not even be observed as a growth in attempted mass murder methods. It may be brushed off as, “Boys will be boys, and drive stupidly.” It may be written off as “toxic masculinity run amok.” It may be ascribed to “gang violence”. Because, we can’t afford for gun control to not work, and not be successful.

Gun control cannot, and will not stop events like the Boston Marathon bombing. Or the Charlottesville automobile incident. Or the Oklahoma City bombing incident. I could continue to cite incidents where guns were not used to commit mass murder.

What I’m trying to say is, even if we implement stringent gun controls in the United States, we do not solve the problem at the root of the violent acts we have come to observe almost daily. All we really do is throw a band-aid on an open wound in our society, and pretend everything is all better, while the causes of the problem remain as part of our society, and continue to grow, and fester, and infect more and more people. Resulting in more people finding alternative methods to guns that accomplish their objectives of vengeance and retribution against those they perceive as having injured and attacked them.

Gun controls won’t change that. All they’ll do is cover it up, and make everyone feel good. At least until the problem become apparent once again.

So, how do we fix the problem of gun violence in the US? Wouldn’t it be wiser of us to admit the causes of that violence are the problem, and work together, as a people, to correct the problem, instead of burying it, and pretending it doesn’t exist?

Questions With No Answers (1)…

Having observed Facebook and Twitter going insane yet again about something called toxic masculinity, I find it’s time I started asking the questions I find no one answers. So, this is the first in a set of questions.

I’ll start with a question I asked someone last night. A question I don’t expect an answer too.

I’m a guy. A white guy. And an older one at that. By the definition of everything I see lately on Twitter, and Facebook, I am the problem. OK. I can accept that. I, being a 59 year old white guy, can make women feel uncomfortable, unsafe, worried about the actions I am capable of taking.

I’m a documented autistic. By definition, I don’t pick up on unspoken signals. I don’t observe and respond appropriately to body language. I don’t react appropriately to facial expressions, and spoken comments and remarks. Because, I’m socially deaf. It’s like I speak sign language in a room full of people who have never seen sign language. That’s how autism works.

I’m human. By definition, I’m imperfect. I make mistakes. I sometimes make embarrassingly huge mistakes. Like running my car into the back of the car in front of me. Of driving over a curb in a parking lot. How do you hit a stationary object you’re trying not to hit? Welcome to humanity. Welcome to mistakes. They happen.

Given these three items, I now ask my question.

How do I never make mistakes in the presence of women? How do I not scare them at times? How do I not do things that make them ponder their safety in my presence? How do I not say things that make them wonder if they should be in the same building I’m in?

The answer, of course, is I can’t. I will make mistakes. There is no way around that. No way to avoid that. No way to prevent that.

Guys know this. All of us know this. We scare each other all the time. Because. Mistakes. We say things we shouldn’t have said. We break pencils. We take walks. We make up song lyrics. We drink soda, or beer, or whiskey. We go to gun ranges and shoot hundreds of holes in sheets of paper that are a hundred feet away. We put our right foot down while driving.

In short. We express our emotions. It’s not toxic masculinity. It’s frustration. It’s anger. It’s disappointment. It’s grief. It’s anxiety. It’s terror. It’s emotions. And the very best of us still make the mistake of expressing them.

We sometimes scare each other. That’s right, women. Guys scare guys. We know how you feel. “Is that big idiot going to start throwing things?” We scare each other. “As long as all he hits is the wall, I’m good.” We scare each other. “Get out of his way, he’s driving like an idiot right now.”

We scare each other. We don’t just scare women.

A man with a kitchen machete, cutting up an onion. Especially if he’s talking about a bad day at work. A man with a beer, working on a car motor on a Saturday. One stuck bolt or nut, and bloody knuckles. And I wouldn’t want to be near him either.

But, that’s my question, isn’t it.

How do we, as men, as human beings, not be human, and not make mistakes. Because it’s those mistakes that scare you, isn’t it. How do I, as an old white guy, not say something, not do something, not feel something, not write something, not drive, not wash dishes, not mow the lawn, not run the vacuum cleaner on the carpet, not gather up laundry and sort it, and wash it in the washing machine and dryer, without sometimes scaring another human being, especially a woman?

There’s only one way, and everyone knows that.

By not existing.

Wednesday, 06 December 2017

How do I change? How do I move me forward? In any direction? Can I do something, for once, that is not destructive? That’s what it comes down to, isn’t it? Me. Figuring out who I am, and who I want to be.

I do NOT want to be a typical success. Success as defined by the social system I’m stuck living within is soul destroying. So, I don’t want that.

I want to write, but I don’t want to write. I want writing to be something I choose to do. Not a job. Because. When something becomes a job it becomes corrupt with money, and society, and expectations. I don’t want any of that to happen to my writing. There’s a very fine line here. Very fine.

“You never finish anything!” I need to kill that voice. Those words. I finish lots of things. Because I learn what I set out to learn. I don’t have to publish a story to finish it. That’s the words of this world. That’s not the truth.

See. I know this truth about life, and what our society has done to life, and how it has warped the truth. How it has tied success to money. To material possessions.

I write to find me. I write to gain understanding of me and how I see the world. I write to learn what I feel, what I think, what I believe. What I am.

I don’t write to sell a story, or a book. I don’t write to have others read. I don’t write to “be a writer”. I don’t write to make a product that I get paid for, and that makes other people money.

I write to answer the simple, obvious questions. Who am I? What do I believe? What do I feel? How do I learn, and grow, and make me better than I am?

I have much to think on. And much to learn.

On Thursday, 20 July 2017

On Thursday, 20 July 2017, Chester Bennington, lead singer for Linkin Park, hanged himself. And once again, I’ve witnessed, in all forms of life, people speak of how sad it is, and how selfish his actions were, and how people should just get the help they need.

And once again, I’ve watched tears fall from the eyes of my soul. For I know things I wish I did not know. I feel things I wish I did not feel. I see things I wish I did not see.

I have tried, many times, to explain to others, those around me, friends, people who read what I write, family, doctors. I’ve tried to explain to them what is wrong. Why people do this. Why people become enclosed in such darkness, such misery, they have to end their presence in this world.

Sometimes, I wonder if anyone has understood.

I have spoken of boxes, and how people live in them, and can’t see beyond the edges, the walls of the boxes. I’ve written of domes, within domes, inside still more domes. I’ve told stories of perspectives, where I’ve wished I could get others to look at the world they live in differently. Where I’ve tried, and likely been unable, to share what I see when I look at the same world. This world. This place in which we all live.

I’ve spoken of tribes. Of how mankind is tribal, and each of us is expected to belong to a specific tribe. Politics? You must be Republican or Democrat in the US, as nothing else is significant. You must be conservative or liberal, Christian or evil, pro-defense or weak, the list goes on and on.

I’ve tried to say, you’re either in tribes, or you’re the victim of tribes. You either belong to a church, and behave as appropriate for that church body, or you are a victim of that church body. You belong to a political party, and you vote along party lines, or you are a victim of that party.

I’ve also stated those inside a given box, inside a given dome, within a given tribe, are unable to conceive of any concept that does not agree with the rules of that box, dome, or tribe.

In my life, I have been told countless times, “You can’t be that way.”

It’s a lie. You can be that way. You are that way.

I do not belong to a church. Any church. I don’t attend any church. I tried. More than once. It was not that I failed, or that the churches failed. It was because I refused to fit into the box, dome, tribe of a church body, so I left. It was because I refused to conform, and become identical to all the other people there, so I left.

I’ve tried to explain social behavior to others. It’s not that I’ve failed. I’ve found all the words needed to explain social behavior. It’s the boxes, domes, tribes, that get in the way, and limit or prevent such understanding.

Is it socially acceptable for your neighbor to stand in his backyard each night the moon is full and howl? Is it socially acceptable for the 53 year old white guy who lives down the street to have shoulder length hair, and not shave?

Don’t answer yes or no. Don’t answer black and white. Don’t answer a programmed answer. Programmed answers are part of the boxes, domes, and tribes.

When you go to purchase a car from a car dealer, the person you’re buying it from has to be clean cut, coat and tie, nice shoes, shaved. They must look professional, after all, who wants to buy a new car from a dealership where everyone looks like they don’t care about anything.

When you go to Walmart, to purchase a movie to watch on your home entertainment system, you expect to be able to find what you want, in a relatively neat display, arranged alphabetically, and categorically. With the new releases in one place, so they are easy to find.

When you go to a restaurant to eat, you expect the service person to be dressed neatly, or in agreement with the theme of the restaurant. You would not expect the service person to need to comb their hair, or wash it. Nor would you expect them to have holes in the knees of their pants.

By god, we have standards, people!

By god, we must be professional, people!

On Thursday, 20 July 2017, Chester Bennington, lead singer for Linkin Park, hanged himself. And once again, I’ve witnessed, in all forms of life, people speak of how sad it is, and how selfish his actions were, and how people should just get the help they need.

And I wonder, as I do each time such news makes headlines, will anyone in any of the boxes, domes, or tribes, ever figure out what really happened, and how much they contributed to the choice a living, breathing, feeling, emotional soul made to abandon a world which would not let them, and others like them, live in peace. A world where they faced the daily choice of having to conform to the rules of a box, dome, tribe, and become a member of a group, and be like everyone else, or live with the words, “You can’t be that way!” spoken, and unspoken, by everyone around them, echoing in their minds endlessly. A world of black and white, right and wrong, good and evil, just and unjust, in which every color, and every shade, and every blend, has been erased, and does not belong.

A world in which only the boxes, domes, and tribes are left.

On Thursday, 20 July 2017, Chester Bennington, lead singer for Linkin Park, hanged himself.

And my soul shed tears once more.

This world needs too many like him. Even if no one living in its tribes, domes, and boxes, will never admit it.

So I write these words, and I wonder. Which box, which dome, which tribe am I in? How do I escape its confines, and become more human?

And I ask, which tribe, dome, or box are you in, and do you even know that’s where you are?

Rest in the peace you so much deserve, Chester Bennington. May your heart and soul finally find your place in a world that does not punish you for being as you were made. May Robin Williams, and too many others to name, share many stories with you beyond the veil of this deliberately limited life.

Mark.