“Celebrating” Memorial Day

A Pacifist laments Memorial Day

Ravings of a Mad Southerner

Grills will be lit; beer will be iced.  Pool parties will be scheduled.  Many will celebrate a three-day weekend.  Many will not consider, “What cost?”

Memorial Day is a remembrance of horror, the costs of war, in blood and bone, in flesh, in broken bodies and minds.  It is a remembrance of loss.  The day should not be a celebration but too many of us treat it as if it were.

We have fallen in love with the idea of war.  We have been at war for far too long.  I was born during the Korean “Conflict”, came of age during the Cold War and Vietnam.  I have lived through too many wars, lived through what has become almost continuous.

We glorify our military conquests and denigrate anything other than total victory.  Memorial Day should be a sobering recognition of what glorification costs instead of a drunken celebration of war.

View original post 801 more words

Culture of the Gun

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”                 – attributed to Albert Einstein

As a retired teacher I have suffered over the deaths at Uvalde…and Columbine…and Sandy Hook…and…so many more. Late in my career I participated in “active shooter” drills and helped to produce strategies to counter an attack. We locked our doors even though the only thing between us and an active shooter was a five-eighth piece of sheet rock.

Since the brutal deaths of nineteen students and two teachers in a Texas school, barely a week after the shooting of six, one killed, in a California church, and ten killed in a New York grocery store many have opinions on what needs to be done to ensure the safety of our children and ourselves.

Most of the reactions follow a familiar path, “thoughts and prayers”, media outcries for change, pro-gun rights folks debate anti-gun rights folks including deflection, time passes with nothing happening except more guns are bought until the furor dies and we are again shocked with the next mass shooting. The debate begins again and honestly…we don’t seem to be as shocked as we once were.

I’ve seen suggestions from arming teachers, my least favorite out of myriads of least favorites, to we must “harden the targets.” That sounds like something from a war zone or a “sh!th@le” country. All ignore the underlying issue. A culture that embraces violence over diplomacy and access to weapons to execute that violence.

Another suggests “evil exists, and laws will not change that.” The next time a highway patrolman pulls me for speeding I think I’ll try that one out. No, I’m not equating speeding to murder, but the comment has me wondering why we have laws at all. Laws are for honest people?

Let me be fair. It is not just about school, church, or supermarket shootings. It is the drive by in LA, or gang violence in Chicago or Baltimore, or the drunken good ole boy who decides to William Tell a PBR can off his friend’s head and misses a bit low with his hunting rifle.

It’s about four students wounded while walking to their prom. It is about gunfire due to road rage and looking cross eyed at the wrong person. It’s about good old boys strapping AR-15s to their back when they get a coffee at the local coffee shop. It is about a lack of empathy and ignoring the sanctity of life in favor of an amendment.

In 2020, gun violence became the leading cause of youth death’s surpassing automobile accidents. Most were suicides. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2020, 54% of all gun-related deaths in the U.S. were suicides (24,292), while 43% were murders (19,384). The numbers came from the CDC and were backed by other sources. According to CNN, personal safety tops the list of reasons why American gun owners say they own a firearm, yet 63% of US gun-related deaths are self-inflicted.

It is a fact that it took a finger to pull the trigger, the gun didn’t do it on its own, and these Pew and CDC statistics do not reflect accidental gun deaths or where guns were a contributing factor but not the cause of death. It is also true that we live in a gun rich environment. Five percent of the world’s population owns 44-46% of the world’s civilian firearms depending on the study you might be reading. According to a recent CNN study, we own more guns than we have people, one hundred-twenty guns per one hundred people.

According to a Scientific American study in 2015, assaults with a firearm were 6.8 times more common in states that had the most guns, compared to the least. More than a dozen studies have revealed that if you had a gun at home, you were twice as likely to be killed as someone who didn’t.

Research from the Harvard School of Public Health tells us that states with higher gun ownership levels have higher rates of homicide. Data even tells us that where gun shops or gun dealers open for business, killings go up. There are always exceptions to the rule, but some politicians would have you ignore the overall data and quote the exceptions rather than the rule.

In an article by Fortune Magazine published by Yahoo, Gun rights groups spent $15.8 million on lobbying last year, compared to just $2.9 million in lobbying from gun control groups. Beyond lobbying, gun groups have contributed $50.5 million to federal candidates and party committees between 1989 and 2022, with the vast majority going to Republicans. They spent especially heavily in the 2020 election, with $16.6 million in outside spending.

Oh, but the Second Amendment…. I’m not going to debate it except to say that one side always ignores two words, “well regulated.”

Will there be a change after Buffalo and Uvalde? If history repeats, why would I expect there would be change. I don’t believe I am an overly cynical person but why would I expect change? Guns are as much a part of our culture as mom, apple pie, and Chevrolet. Other than exchanging duck and cover drills for active shooter drills little has changed.

Our history is rife with violence, mostly involving a gun. Our country was born from violence and expanded using violence. Do we have a greater propensity for violence than other countries? I don’t know but other countries have done a better job of curbing theirs.

We have violent games, violent movies glorifying the gun and the heroic figure welding it. I’m just as guilty. Several of my novels include violence…gun violence but the good guy with the gun always saved the day…unlike real life. 

When I read my comic books, Zane Grey, or Louis Lamoure, I knew it was fiction. James Arness or John Wayne wasn’t really gunning them down in the streets. After I became a history student, I found out their fiction was…based on fiction. There were few gunfights in the streets and the Gunfight at the OK Corral lasted about thirty seconds. My novels are no different.

Other cultures have violent games, movies, and literature, but they don’t have real-life violence like we do here. Maybe we should work to keep guns out of the hands of the violent. Maybe we should look at the underlying issues that lead to violence and attempt to correct them.

It is mental illness. I believe someone who goes out and kills nineteen children is mentally ill…but that doesn’t give him a free pass. Other countries with much lower murder rates have mental illnesses too. Could it have something to do with our health system? Maybe we should work to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

It is parenting. Probably but why? Single parent homes? Parents having to work multiple jobs leaving their children to their own devices. Cycles of poverty? We don’t seem to care much once a child is born.

Criminals will always find a way…yes probably. Why are we not cutting off access at the source? Gunmakers and smugglers? Everything is done after the murder instead of trying to prevent it. Could it be gunmakers and politicians are making too much money off the sale of legal and illegal firearms?

Maryland was one of the outliers in the Pew study. Strict gun laws but a higher number of gun deaths. Sixty-five percent of the guns used in violence in Maryland that could be traced came from other states with laxer gun laws. I don’t know the numbers but the same can be said about Chicago, I’m sure. Just something to ponder.

Cain killed Abel with a rock. Yep, if the Bible is to be believed. I would rather confront a killer walking around with a bag of rocks than a bag of thirty round magazines and a rifle or pistol to put them in.

Along the same lines, “We’ve taken God out of … fill in the blank.” There are many countries who aren’t considered “Christian Countries” who have much lower gun homicide rates. Research Shinto Japan and while you are at it research their gun laws. Japan has a very violent history at times. Somehow, they decided to overcome it as did other less Christian countries.

It does seem we have lost our appreciation for the sanctity of life…all life. Our hatred for others leads us to violence. Disagreement has become life threatening. Some Christians will say it is because we have become Godless, I will say that some Christians have driven me from organized religion because they are Jesus-less. If you can’t appreciate the Earth and the people who live on it I want no part of you.

I don’t expect any of this will change anyone’s mind about guns…or violence…or mental illness and I don’t believe any effective change will occur. Gun violence is too engrained in our culture, and we pass it on to our children. I fear it is who we are.

***

For clarification, Albert Einstein had many thoughtful quotes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” was not one of them. The quote, or a similar quote, first appeared in an Al-Anon article in 1981. There is no evidence Einstein ever said it.

Research cited


https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-science-is-clear-gun-control-saves-lives/

https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/26/world/us-gun-culture-world-comparison-intl-cmd/index.html?fbclid=IwAR2vEhlMbsPbVhwBEXTyXtC6iUkx2VAkGf37uCdLzyMABlHEDSPSANOacV0

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/lobbying-gun-rights-groups-hit-152634408.html

Thoughts and Prayers….

Updated from five years ago. Little has changed

Ravings of a Mad Southerner

PESSIMISM WARNING! I hate to pee in your Cheerios, but nothing will change. Another mass shooting, another school shooting.  It is just who we are. We are a toxic brew of violent nature, toxic masculinity, with a gun and target rich environment.

We are first in mass shootings, first in gun deaths, nearly half in suicides, and domestic abuse. More than any county of the “civilized” world, not at war. But nothing will change. We make it about anything other than intelligent gun control or an in-depth study of our violent culture and how we perpetuate it.

We don’t want to spend money on education to lift up people, we would rather spend it on prisons or shift school money to private schools. We would rather erect a wall than take a serious look at our own culture and its motivations and the dangers from within.

It must be about…

View original post 485 more words

Old Screen Doors, Friends, and Mayonnaise Sandwiches

“How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it. How many slices in a [loaf of] bread? Depends how thin you cut it. How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ’em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ’em.” ― Shel Silverstein

Shel’s words put me to thinking of old screen doors, flapping in the breeze. I like quotes…other people’s quotes because I’m not bright enough to create my own. I’m a lot like an old screen door. How many slams do I have left?

The old door’s paint is an silver gray that was once white. In places bare wood shows, the paint worn away from the many hands pressing against it. I remember the slam it makes as it shuts behind you. A shout from one of the grownups, “Quit slammin’ the door!!!!”

A portion of the screen shows rust, ready to crumble if touched. The spring that pulls the door shut is sprung, not doing its job as well as it did when it was first hung.

My hinges are still intact but operate with a rusty squeak. Like the old door, with a little help, I’m able to do the job of filling the space I was first hung to fill. Just push the door closed gently and don’t make me move too quickly.

I don’t know how many slices of bread I have left in my loaf. I’m sure those that I have are dry like toast, and a bit moldy. Looking in a mirror, I’m thinkin’ moldy hardtack. Is it an age thing to contemplate your future as you look back on your past?

As the size of the loaf decreases, I wonder, “Is it better to slice them thin or cut the slices thick?” I do love my carbohydrates but to carry the metaphor further, “Isn’t it what is on the inside of the sandwich that makes the sandwich?” A fresh tomato sandwich is just a mayonnaise sandwich if you hold the tomato. Isn’t the bread there to soak up the sweet juices of the tomato and the tartness of the Dukes Mayonnaise? There may be a metaphor there too. Doesn’t our outward glow come from the juices within?

The rest of Shel’s quote deals with what is on the inside and I’m not sure about that either. “How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ’em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ’em.”

I’m not doing a tremendous job of “living” my days well. If living them good requires productivity, I’m empty. I have plenty to do…I’m just not doing it. I choose instead to frolic with my new puppy or author essays that you people don’t read. Well, I must do some grass mowing and weed eating…tomorrow.

I have two close friends, my bride, and the legend Hawk. I’m lucky to know two people I can count on…outside of my family…maybe. Granted, they may grumble a bit…especially my bride. I feel inadequate when I compare their friendship to my friendship toward them. Is it enough to just be there? I feel I should do more. Are they investing more than I?

I need to be less contemplative. I feel inadequate when it comes to my family too.

Elbert Hubbard is quoted, saying, “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” I do agree. It’s good to have someone to talk to who won’t judge you and holds on to my secrets like a miser pinching a penny. Thoughts I would never tell my wife I tell Hawk, and vice versa.

Friends are comfortable with each other. Comfortable to sit and listen and reframe from commenting. No opinion, no commentary, no judgement. Just a simple nod of the head. Comfortable to tell the truth when asked without fear of someone getting their nose out of joint.

Comfortable like your favorite jeans…or a worn-out screen door. They don’t even seem to mind when it slams behind you. Okay, maybe I’m a better friend than I supposed. I listen and nod my head a lot.

Now if I can answer the question, “Cut the bread thin or thick?” I think thick…go for the gusto and make sure the tomato is thick too…add a grilled hamburger with lettuce and onions. You get from life what you put into it. My grandmother would have said, “You reap what you sow.” I would say, “If you don’t take the time to plant them, there won’t be a tomato slice in your sandwich.”

Don Miller writes on various subjects in various genres. His author’s page may be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR2Tt2GKJxfLHrqnRj07OkDGGWGHSd2QDPwTSQgohR3DMnLhAvDoeDL8nGY

My Aftersun Delights

Reflections Of A Gasbag

I really enjoy my back porch. Rebecca and I sit out here on most summer nights. We talk about the days activities, play with Arlo the monster, listen to some music but lots of evenings we sit in the dark and just listen.

It got me to thinking about summer nights in the south and how fortunate I am to live here in this part of the country. My southern roots run deep and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What is the best things about summer nights in the South? Sitting on the porch during a evening thunderstorm watching the fireworks show the Lord has provided plus the sound of the rain falling on my porch roof and the unmistakable aroma of rain.

The evening concerts that we get to enjoy free of charge of frogs, crickets and for the first time in 13 years we will be…

View original post 319 more words

Of Blind Hogs and Acorns with a Hoochie Coochie Thrown in For Good Measure

“For all those men who say, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”, here’s an update for you. Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage. Why? Because women realize it’s not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage!” ― Frank Kaiser

I’m really distracted. Too much is going on. A new puppy dog, “Doing well, thanks for asking.” Still trying to synchronize our schedules. He is winning.

Trying to get the garden in, I still got beans to plant. A mower with two flat tires has slowed my attempt to retake my yard…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So, what am I doing? Nothing productive I assure you. I’m listening to Keb’ Mo’ and following a pig trail in hopes of falling into a rabbit hole that leads me to a bit of traction and clarity. Morning rain showers give me a valid reason to procrastinate and I’m having no more luck finding an acorn than a hog swimming in the ocean.

See the source image
Old Southern Sayings by Granny. https://saintstevensthingery.com/

Kevin Roosevelt Moore’s smooth baritone is singing about a “whole ‘nutha thang”, a tune about an addiction…to women.

“I don’t care much about cocaine
And you’ll never see me jumpin’ out no airplane
Wine and whisky don’t give me no thrill
And I don’t care nothin’ about them nasty little pills
But women, now that’s a whole nutha thang”

I have great appreciation for women…not addicted mind you, just appreciation. As I’ve said before, “My mother was a woman.”

Keb’ Mo’ Live “Whole Nutha Thang”

Down on the right side of my computer screen are more YouTube selections. I spy Muddy Water’s “Hoochie Coochie Man.” Great, now my distractions are having distractions. Another pig trail. I feel like a blood hound whose nose has sucked up a hand full of black pepper.  A memory of a county fair during my college days comes to mind. I won’t say which county or college.

Inside the fair, A barker in front of a tent screamed, “Girls, Girls, Girls.” There were two “Girls, Girls, Girls” on either side of him dressed in ‘harem clothes.’ Even as a less than sober frat boy I knew he lied. The youngest was a heavily made up “Autumn Belle.” They were exotic dancers doing the hoochie coochie dance. That was a lie too. None looked like Rita Hayworth doing Salome’s “Dance of the Seven Veils.”

From Pinterest

In traditional terms, the hoochie coochie was a sexually provocative belly dance-like dance that dates from the mid-to late 1800s. If Wikipedia is to be believed, it was a hit at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, the World’s Fairs in Paris in 1889 and Chicago in 1893. It is also called the coochie coochie dance which gave rise to calling a woman’s…no, not going there.

Supposedly, the craze died out by World War Two…that’s not true or no one told the county fair, and, in the South, we tend to be fifty years behind the rest of the world.

Exotic dancer Mata Hari who was executed as a spy during WW I.

There was nothing traditional about these dancers.  They had plenty of belly to dance with although they seemed more content taking off their clothes and doing amazing things with certain parts of their anatomy…with ping pong balls and a kazoo no less. Their tassels…well, let’s just say their tassels dusted the floor as they twirled. Well, counter rotating tassels are pretty amazing.

This was not one of my proudest moments.

While the dance or the woman dancing is mentioned several times in Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochee“, where “it gets hotter than a hoochie coochie” it is only mentioned once in the Coaster’s hit, “Little Egypt”.

“She had a ruby on her tummy and
A diamond big as Texas on her toe
She let her hair down and she did
The hoochie coochie real slow
When she did her special
number on a zebra skin
I thought she’d stop the show”

I don’t know where I’m heading with this. If I were a blind pig, I certainly would not have found an acorn. I’m just gonna let the devil take me.

Historically, Little Egypt was the stage name for at least three popular belly dancers from the late 1800s through the early 1900s. There were so many imitators the name became synonymous with belly dancers generally and hoochie coochie dancers specifically.

Fahreda Mazar Spyropoulos is thought to be the original Little Egypt from the Chicago Fair. Several women dancers adopted the name of Little Egypt and toured the United States performing some variation of this dance, sans ping pong balls. It is associated with the Dance of the Seven Veils, Salome’s dance performed before King Herod in the New Testament. I understand John the Baptist, the main attraction at the feast, might have lost his head over it.

The original Little Egypt circa 1893. Fahreda wasn’t Egyptian. She was Syrian. http://www.reddit.com Notice she has no belly button.

Well, I haven’t gained any traction or clarity and there are no acorns to be found. I will leave you with….

“Step right up, folks
And see Little Egypt do her
Famous dance of the Pyramids
She walks, she talks
She crawls on her belly
Like a reptile
Just one thin dime
One tenth of a dollar
Step right up, folks”

For more coherent writing try Don’s author’s site https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR0S5wz5QbGlMVI7ccMLoIgV5s-ylU8uhnt25UCyqU_pFnRIsLuOJUi9GoQ

Booger!

“Boogerrrrr!” – Dr. Johnny Fever, WKRP in Cincinatti

“Bet he’s a booger, ain’t he!” I don’t think the older man at the garbage dump meant it the same way Dr. Johnny Fever did…a dried up, nasal mucus discharge everyone suffers from, yet saying it on air got the good Doctor of Discology fired, landing him at WKRP.

The older man was eyeing my new addition, Sir Quigley Apples…okay Apples for short…for now. Strange name for a puppy dog. Blame whomever rescued him for the name Apples and my bride for adding Sir Quigley…okay, I might have been at fault. I wanted to change his name to Quigley.

To complicate his issues, Quigley is the first male puppy we’ve had in over thirty years, and we call him “she” more than we call him, “he.” We have decided he will identify as gender neutral…he has been “fixed” anyway. Think about that, men. To be “fixed”, men must undergo a certain procedure.

The elder gentleman in the beat-up black pickup turned to the other elder gentleman in a black beat-up pickup truck and exclaimed, “What an interesting looking puppy. What is he, bet he’s a booger, ain’t he?”

Quigley is interesting…and a booger. A blue Merle, “mostly” Australian Cattle Dog, who is a tripaw.  A rescue, he was found on the side of the road with a crushed front paw. With a crease on his head and the other scars on his one-year-old body, I’m sure poor Quigley was hit by a car and left to die.

Sir Quigley Apples was found too late to save the paw or the leg it was attached to. Being “mostly” an Australian Blue Heeler, it seemed appropriate to add Quigley to his name. Quigley was the title character in the movie “Quigley Down Under” set in Australia. The character played by Tom Selleck was stalwart and tough…a bit of a booger, so is Quigley Apples. Now if I can find a female to go with him, I’ll name her “Crazy Cora.”

See the source image
Matthew Quigley and “Crazy Cora”- Pinterest

I’d say “my” Quigley is adjusting well. He is laying in his chair with three feet in the air mocking a dead cockroach and snoring contentedly. That would be the chair that used to be mine. Learning to “sit boy, sit” and chase squirrels can be exhausting. I’m thinking about taking a nap myself. We have a little work to do on our schedules but I’m sure I’ll be trained soon. As I write this, he has been in our care less than four days.

Don’t mind me, I’m chillin’ in my forever home

It has been a long time since I heard the word “Booger” used in the old gentleman’s context. I used to hear it all the time back home. Now I rarely hear it unless Booger McFarland, the football player turned analyst is reporting on TV. Booger was certainly a booger on the playing field.

Up here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge there was Booger Pruitt…from my limited time around him I’d say he got his nickname honestly. “He was sho nuf a booger, God rest his soul.” You wouldn’t know him probably and he was one of those good ole boys who ended his life right after saying the immortal words, “Hey Y’all, watch this.” Guaranteed, it had something to do with unaged and illegal libations.

No, the context was booger as in bogyman, devil, monster, haint, or goblin. I was introduced to “booger” at an early age, “Boy, you better stay in that bed. If’fin you don’t a booger might git ya.” During those days I don’t think I knew exactly what a booger was. I knew I didn’t want to git got and was quick to look down and search before I got out of bed.

Moooooom! Come quick! It’s a dust bunny!

I’m guessing the word comes from my forefathers. At least part of my DNA comes from the Scot Irish that came to Pennsylvania in the mid-1700s and then trekked through the Appalachians. Booger has an Appalachian ring to it like haint has a Geechee-Gullah ring.

Maybe not. As I look for its origins it seems more English and a derivative of Bugger or Boogie and kissin’ cousins to a bugbear or bugaboo. All are sorta defined as imaginary beings invoked to frighten children, typically a sort of hobgoblin supposed to devour them. “Don’t get out of that bed, that bugaboo gonna eat cha!” Actually, Booger sounds better.

I researched the origin of the other booger. I didn’t dig deeply enough and failed to extract its origin.

Facts you didn’t want to know. Forty-Four percent of people questioned admitted to dining on their own boogers. I believe fifty-six percent lied. Dried mucus could be beneficial for the immune system according to some booger-eating lung specialists.

“The Booger under the bed” or its close cousin, “The Boogieman under the bed,” makes me wonder. As scarry as the world is in real life, why do we terrify our children with make believe. Hummmm…I reckon booger is better than, “You better stay in that bed. If you don’t the serial killing pedophile in the closet will get you.”

As I think about it, we’ve created a new class of boogers to scare our children with. Those we see as “others”. Those who don’t act, talk, worship, love, or look the way our opinion dictates they should. Again, don’t we have enough real Boogers? Do we need to create more?

I grew up in a time when it was safe to leave your doors unlocked and a quarter mile walk down Highway 521 to Pettus’ Store was a daily affair for an eight- or nine-year-old with no thoughts of “Boogers” to beware of. Those would come later. It seems as one reaches adulthood the “Boogers” multiply and aren’t found under your bed.

I’ll stick with my little wide-open Booger. A loss of a leg does not slow him down. I’ll just have to work on our schedules…I’m more likely to change. I’m also determined to teach a three-legged puppy to shake without falling on his nose causing a mucus discharge, “Booger!”

Doctor Johnny Fever says Booger

To peruse other choices by Don Miller, go to https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR37yN-pI3qP_wTywID-wjTYgGazQNc2W10OrrXURozxPBImd8LQ_8vzhyU