QUIET RESIGNATION …

You ever get that quiet resignation?

It’s just a peaceful understanding of how things actually are and what is really going on and what types of charades are being performed. And you decide to simply not participate anymore. 

That’s kinda where I am. Let me explain …

I am a topical blogger. That means I write about everything from pop culture to politics, railroads to religion. I’m not shy about my personal beliefs and I usually hold forth. 

I don’t hate anybody and I wish success, abundance and good health to everyone…even those with whom I disagree. 

I’m an unashamed Libertarian, who would rather talk about ideas than people or events. I do not endorse political candidates and I rarely get on anyone’s cult-of-personality train. 

This week marks Joe Biden’s first full year in office. As of the writing of this, he is about to hold his SIXTH (yes, I said 6th) press conference (in 12 months), where he actually takes questions from “journalists”. 

I haven’t written a lot about Mr. Biden, because quite frankly…I’m just tired. 

The pandora’s box that was opened in 2020, revealed so many things and illuminated so many hidden secrets, it feels like a lot of us looked inside and just got that quiet resignation I’m talking about, where your heart sinks and your stomach tightens and you just go, “oh…we were right. Crap!”

Sometimes, someone close to you says or does something that breaks the trust between you. And you realize you can’t move forward with them. It’s not a fight. It’s not dramatic. It’s not even worth spending a lot of time thinking about. 

You just go, “OH…I get it. We can’t be friends anymore. Okay…I see, now.” And you just move on. 

That’s what this quiet resignation feels like. I’m not up for an argument. Not interested in jousting online; going deep into the comments section with a pseudo intellectual, sporting a Bachelor’s degree in applied cultural dynamics and pulling down a cool 28K-a-year at their middle management position. 

I’m not going to post needling memes that rile people up (on either side of whatever argument). I’m not trying to throw red meat to my base audience, in order to get the likes and shares and “spot on!” comments in the ensuing threads. 

No, I’ve pretty much had enough of all of that, now. 

I’ve also had enough catering to those on “the other side of the aisle.” 

My wife has always asked me why I keep so many “friends,” on my friends list, who just pile on unmercifully whenever I post something political that they disagree with. My response was always that I wanted to be open to all sides and all points of view; keep my beliefs agile and guard myself against falling into dogma.    

Yeah…I’m done with that. Tired of nonsense. Fed up with ignorance. Just, done. 

I haven’t watched the news (from ANY source) in a solid year. I don’t really care about it anymore. They’ve all lost credibly with me. We know what they did and what they hid and what they pushed and what they pulled. 

See, we live in a world where it’s hard to keep information squelched, now. Things go viral too quickly. Videos and documents get shared to easily. And we’re onto the gate keepers. 

We know there were fingers placed on the scales to tip the 2020 election. I mean, my God, Time magazine ADMITTED IT! ALL – every single one – of the big tech guys copped to actively hiding the Hunter Biden story – the story I maintained, from the beginning of the 2020 campaign, was the most important story anyone could cover. 

And, no matter what side of the political divide you come down on, THAT is election tampering. Period. 

We all know that Ghislaine Maxwell is harboring some secrets that could shake the foundations of the world. But they won’t be shaken. We know they won’t. 

We all pretty much know that the virus (that shall not be named) probably got out of a lab, where a select few, with access to funds none of the rest of us can get access to, were doing some things they probably shouldn’t have been doing. 

And we know they will never be punished for any of it…because…you know…it didn’t happen (wink, wink). 

It’s been pretty well established that the Russian collusion accusation that caused this country to spend over 50 million dollars and hold countless confessional hearings, was basically created out of whole cloth and run by an untouchable cadre of government-protected individuals who will never answer for any of it. 

These things, along with, like, a half dozen other revelations none of us wanted to know, have caused some us to just go numb and start closing doors.  

And so, as our dear leader gives his SIXTH press conference in, 12 months (did I say 6th?), a lot of us just nod, keep our heads down and walk through life as best we can. 

Personally, I made my life smaller; focussing on things I can control, like my diet and exercise and daily work, rather than the bigger issues. I’m keeping it more micro and less macro around here.

And to be clear, none of this has to do with Donald Trump (for me, anyway). Trump was merely a cautionary tale; a canary in the coal mine of the establishment. 

And the establishment made it very clear: don’t fuck with us. We will destroy you and everything you love.

That’s because all living organisms have a prime directive to survive at all costs. And THAT is why you have to be very careful about how big you build a governmental beast (or ANY kind of beast, for that matter). Because no matter your politics, that beast will find a way to eat. 

Today it might be eating the other side. But given enough time, it will find its way to your side.  

During the Trump years, people were big on the word “resist.”

I honestly had no idea what they were resisting. I guess peace and prosperity just makes some people say “eww.” 

Now is a time, however, when there are actual governmental things trying to be put in place that could make one want to resist. There are serious things to push back on. 

But, if you’re like me, you’re tired of the inflamed debates and heated exchanges. You’re simply not going there anymore. I’m done entertaining the ridiculous. 

The principles we’ve all always known to be true are playing out right in front of us. The shelves are empty. And when they’re not, the prices are too high. People are weary. Whatever this is…isn’t working. And it’s losing support at an almost record pace. 

I don’t do bumper stickers. But if I did, mine wouldn’t say “resist.” It would say, “Resigned.” 

You won’t get an argument out of me. I’m just going to smile at you and wish you well. When I see my president on TV, I’m just going to quietly change the channel and say a silent prayer for his soul and his declining health. But he means almost less than nothing to me. 

We, who favor freedom and checked government, were right. And you, who favor statism and expanding governmental power, were wrong. And it’s playing out in real time, right before your eyes. 

Nothing else needs to be said.      

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RACE TO THE TOP …

The agent couldn’t have been nicer. 

And he accommodated us as best he could. But we’re at the mercy of a system. And that’s okay. We’re used to it. 

But it does get you thinking …

See, my daughter, who was adopted out of China almost 20 years ago, is disabled. They tell us she is eligible for some sort of Federal government assistance. She is missing a piece of a chromosome and is unable to function in society as a “fully abled” person. 

She’s non verbal and requires 24-hour-a-day care. She has to be assisted in the bathroom and bathed and fed and clothed. Imagine how it was caring for your 2-year-old. Now imagine that just being your normal existence for the next two decades or…well…forever. 

In her entire life, we’ve never gotten any government assistance for her, except what the county provides through the school system. We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to cover the costs of her care, for her whole life. 

But my business fluctuates and floats and it would be nice to have something just for her as she progresses into adulthood. 

That’s why we were on the phone with the Social Security agent…who couldn’t have been nicer.    

Unfortunately for us, we have to provide the Social Security administration with a proof of citizenship certificate. This is something we’ve never had to provide for her before. 

It’s about $1200 to get a proof of citizenship certificate, even though she was sworn in a citizen, in Los Angeles, California, the day she set foot on American soil. And even though she was officially re-adopted two years later, in Chancery court of our county, and we have all that paper work, it still doesn’t count.  

We have every document you could ask for, regarding her life…except that one piece of paper they need. 

And you know what? That’s okay. I believe in legal immigration and following the law and going through proper channels. I’m interested in some types of confrontation, but I’m not interested in getting sideways with governments and their agencies. 

If this is what’s required, then it’s what’s required. And the money is incidental. I suppose people need to be paid for pushing paper. So, I get it. 

But here’s where I do get a burr under my saddle …

As I was on my daily walk, processing the morning’s new information, and listening to the news, I heard the president (in a news report) say something that piqued my interest. And the more I thought about it, it kinda made me angry. 

There was a report on the new Federal voting laws that are trying to get passed in the Senate. And the president invoked a few names from history, to send his message to the congressional voters. 

The names were Bull Connor and George Wallace and Abe Lincoln and such. And it was clear that the brush this was going to be painted with was one of civil rights. 

Apparently, minorities need more time to get absentee ballots in than those in the majority. And it seems that it would be a violation of some kind for those in a minority to have to produce an ID in order to vote, than those in a majority. 

This type of rhetoric is so outdated and retreaded it’s almost laughable. 

See, for this to truly be a civil rights issue, you have to start with a basic premise: that white people – particularly white Republicans – are afraid of the numbers of black (or brown) people who will vote against their interests. So, they must find ways to repress those votes and keep them from being counted, in order to maintain power. 

I think that’s about the size of it. 

The problem is, historically those have been tactics used primarily by Democrats. But never mind that. The theory has some other problems as well …

You have to believe that ALL black people vote a certain way and ALL white people vote a certain way. You have to believe that black people and white people are fundamentally opposed when it comes to politics. 

And that, in and of itself, is about the most racist thing I can think of.

You also have to believe that being a minority in America makes it more difficult for you to procure certain documents. That is, again, an assumption based solely on race…which is essentially a racist mentality. 

Let me tell you what will is difficult…

Needing a bridge loan from your bank, to get through the holidays, but not being able to get it because they haven’t given enough of those types of loans to enough minorities, that year. 

That’s a real oversight regulation put in place by Elizabeth Warren. It’s to ensure that white men don’t get preferential treatment when it comes to lending. And it really happened to me, a few years ago, when three different companies froze all my royalties because they were all being sold at the same time.  

The irony is it didn’t just affect me. It affected my Mexican wife and my Chinese daughter…the same daughter who now has to prove her citizenship to get SSI benefits. And that leads me to this …

Personally, I am getting sick and tired of being called a racist every time I turn around, if I happen to oppose something or support something, politically. I think it’s probably a good thing to show your ID before voting. 

Why is that racist?

I think states should run tight ships when it comes to ballot harvesting at election time. Yes, every vote should count. But every vote shouldn’t count twice. Also, intentions to vote are not votes.

There is a process and it should be fair and transparent. 

Fairness and transparency isn’t something only people of a certain race (or even political party) want. And wanting it doesn’t make you a racist. 

Eventually, this big baseball bat of racism, that some use to bludgeon their opposition into submission, isn’t going to work anymore. See, I have several different races living under my roof and yet I’m told I’m a racist if I don’t support an open southern border. 

Why? 

I am LITERALLY in the process of jumping through immigration hoops, as I type this. That’s the world of bringing someone into this country from another country. 

But I’m supposed to also, simultaneously, support a world where none of that is honored and we all look the other way and just act like it isn’t happening?! Why does my daughter not get the same leniency as those who might just walk across the border from Mexico?

Is it because she’s Asian?  That’s it, isn’t it?!? It’s because she’s Asian. 

Hopefully you can see how ridiculous the above sentences sound. Of course nobody cares that my daughter is Asian. It means nothing to the system. What matters to the system is her legal residence status. 

Nobody cares about my wife’s Mexican blood (except me, when I piss her off). I’ll really be glad when people stop caring about my pasty white skin. Because none of it matters. And none of it should matter. 

The problem is, once race is taken out of the equation, and we start looking at other things, some people are going to go broke or be out of a job…or start losing elections.    

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22 THINGS WE SHOULD RETIRE IN 2022 …

22. ANTHONY FAUCI

There’s a famous story, here in Nashville, about a guy who wandered into a recording session and started making suggestions on a track being recorded. All the musicians thought he was part of the artist’s team. Maybe from the label. Maybe from management. Everybody just listened to him…until the suggestions started making no sense, whatsoever.

Finally, the producer (who had been out of the room) walked in and said, “um…dude…who ARE you? And how did you get in here?” 

I think we’re all to the point, with Dr. Fauci, where we’re saying, “Um…dude…who are you, why do I keep seeing you on TV? And why do you have so much power over my life?” 

You had a good run, doc. But you’ve been too wrong or too confusing, too many times. We can get nuanced information faster from other sources, than you can impart the standard CDC talking points on the evening news. And you’re too closely tied to too much that needs to be investigated, now. Time for you to exit the session. 

And while we’re on the subject of investigations …

21. THE IDEA THAT THE VIRUS DIDN’T COME FROM A LAB 

If you still think the virus that has turned the world upside down for the last two years, came from a cave…you’re living in one. The information that discredits this theory is all pretty readily available and pretty widely accepted…except by those who were involved.

The information is out there. 

And speaking of information being out there …

20. EXCUSES 

Never before in human history, have we had access to more information and more knowledge on how to get our bodies in shape and beat metabolic issues, than right now. If you want to do it, you can do it. It’s 2022 for Pete’s sake. You can figure it out.

And, when it comes to weight loss, one thing has gotten totally figured … 

19. SNACKS

Whether you’re an old school calorie counter or a new school insulin regulator, between-meal snacks basically wreck your New Year’s goal of losing those extra pounds. Adding daily snacks either A) adds unneeded calories to your count, or B) spikes your insulin and shuts down fat burning. 

Either way, snacking isn’t a good idea. 

The 6-small-meals-a-day/keep the metabolic furnace burning/never let yourself get hungry philosophy is as outdated as bell bottoms. If you’re not playing first base on a little league team, you probably don’t need snacks. 

And when it comes to what you don’t need … 

18. FANCY EXERCISE EQUIPMENT

It is now pretty well established that you don’t really need any “equipment” to get your body in shape. Nor do you need expensive diet programs that require you to eat this or that processed energy bar or protein drink. 

If you just exchange everything you drink in a day, for water (or sparkling water), walk an hour a day, and don’t eat after 7 pm, you will be a different person in about a month. 

If you want to build muscle on top of that, body weight work is proving to be what the old folks knew it was – effective. 

Start doing pushups, pull-ups and air squats everyday. If you just do those few things, you won’t recognize yourself by summer. You don’t need that new fangled wheel type thingy or those cool straps or that big machine, that will just be taking up space by March.

Doing some simple things and being consistent, might just get you close to where you want to be. Consistency always beats fancy. And before you know it, you’ll be as hot as that Tik Tok girl. 

Speaking of Tik Tok girls …

17. TIK TOK DANCE VIDEOS TO NEON MOON

Ladies, you all look lovely in those videos. And I’m sure Brooks and Dunn are ecstatic about every video posted. But just about every woman in America has done one, now. It’s basically the Macarena. 

Let’s at least find another song. And, of course, by “song” I mean “thirst trap.” Because those aren’t going away anytime soon.  

When a clip of your booty can get 11 million views, you have found a new career. TV Networks would kill for those kind of numbers. 

And that leads me to this …

16. NETWORK TV

I can’t even remember the last time I watched a show on a major TV network. Streaming services have taken over the entertainment space. And they do TV better than TV ever did it. 

Over the holidays, I saw a major Network actually advertising a couple of its new shows, ON a streaming service. They called one show “the next Superstore,” which I have never seen and didn’t know was something we compared things to. 

The other one was called “this generation’s FRIENDS.” And, of course, the cast was all black (anytime you see the phrase “THIS generation’s” in front of anything, rest assured everybody will be black. Because Hollywood is REALLY trying to make up for lost time). 

This is what Networks think people want. Hey guys, you’re about a decade behind…maybe more. That’s why you are no longer relevant and should be retired. Roll yourselves into the streamers and catch up to the rest of the world. 

We’ve already seen FRIENDS. I’m pretty sure my grandkids will be binging it on Disney Plus, one day. 

And speaking of Disney Plus …

15. THE BEATLES 

Nobody – and I mean NOBODY – loves the Fab Four more than me. Yesterday is my all time favorite song. I own everything they’ve ever put out. They are, without a doubt, the greatest band of all time. 

But we’ve heard the songs. We’ve seen the concerts. We’ve read the books and seen the movies. Now, after Peter Jackson has taken us into the inner sanctum of the musical creativity that shaped the modern world, we’ve actually gotten to watch them write and record classics.  

We totally get it: John was the visionary. Paul was the genius. George was the dark horse. Ringo was the work horse. It’s all out there. Every little detail has been poured over. Every rock has been turned over. We’ve squeezed about as much juice out of Beatle lore as is possible.  

The two remaining Beatles are in their 80’s. Well done, lads. 

Let’s just all enjoy the music, now, and let these guys retire in peace. 

While we’re talking about finding peace …

14. CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM 

I was all in for the first 9 seasons. But we get it, now. You made a hundred million dollars off Seinfeld, so all you do is play golf and twiddle your thumbs. You were the inspiration for George Costansa and say things nobody else will say out loud, and it gets you in uncomfortable situations. Ha. Got it. Okay. 

Seinfeld, being the consummate performer, had the good sense to say goodnight while everybody still wanted more. We’re about two seasons past that on this particular send up. 

In this season, by the time it was spoofing Trump’s “perfect call,” I was yawning and knowing EXACTLY what the next move was going to be. 

Also, that perfect call ended up being pretty damned important, in light of Hunter Biden’s laptop information. 

See, this show is supposed to be about a guy who will say what all of us are actually thinking. And this year missed the mark by a mile. 

If they really wanted to write a scenario that summed up what we’re all thinking, they should’ve created a scenario where Larry becomes president of his HOA and despite his horrible people skills, actually does a pretty great job…because he asks the uncomfortable questions. But then a group of HOA snobs use a flood of impossible-to-substantiate mail-in ballots, to beat him in the next election. 

And every time Larry tries to point out the inconsistencies and the corruption, he gets banned from some social media platform for violating community standards.

Then, after Larry gets replaced, the neighborhood declines into a shit show, because the guy who beats him is merely a figure head and proxy for the group who is out to get Larry ousted, and clearly in the first stages of dementia.

And, for no particular reason whatsoever, that leads me to this …

13. JOE BIDEN

I would like to personally congratulate Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama on no longer being the suckiest presidents of my lifetime. Our president’s latest plan to fight Covid is for us to Google where the closest testing station is. Google. It. 

MMkay. 

I don’t know if presidents can just step aside and say, “Sorry guys…this was a bad idea and it ain’t working. I’m just gonna peace out …”

But..um…bruh…It ain’t working. 

I guess that’s why so many people are constantly chanting, “let’s go Br…”

You know…the thing. 

Speaking of things not working …

12. AWARD SHOWS

In 2021, EVERY award show (from the Oscars to the Grammy’s, to everything in between) registered it’s lowest ratings in the history of itself. 

Yes, we’re all incredibly weary of being lectured to by “the winners” in life. And that probably has a lot to do with nobody watching these shows, anymore. But even the CMA’s got their worst ratings of all time. And those guys are all super nice and non-political. They love mama and trucks and just want to spread love and beer. 

The basic truth is that nobody cares about awards and award shows anymore. Giving out awards is actually turning into kind of an antiquated notion. Kinda like smoking. Sure, we all used to do it at one time. But we learned and grew and got better and realized that it was pretty much nonsense. 

*Full disclaimer: if I’m ever again nominated for nonsense, I will go and hope I win and completely deny that I ever wrote this*

And while we’re talking about nonsense …

11. LATE NIGHT TALK SHOWS

Greg Gutfeld is single-handedly destroying all the Late Night Jimmy’s of the world, because he has rejected the artificial premise of the host being an objective agent who has guests on to “talk” about 

themselves…and everybody is friends and they’re just shooting the breeze and “oh, wow, you’re in a new movie?…I had no idea!!” 

When, in truth, we all know that all the parties involved are basically just doing the business of selling us new music or new movies or new books. Yawn. We get it. And it’s an outdated artifice. 

But now, the hosts have all tipped their political hands. They’re in on trying to get us to think and vote a certain way. They’ve shown us behind the curtain one too many times. So, the jig is basically up. And we 

don’t care to participate in the farce, or the not-so-subtle political game, anymore.

We’d all prefer these beta males to just man up and do straight political shows, like Greg does. Just be what you want to be. But they know they can’t hang in that world. So they keep pretending they are 

comedians just doing political jokes. Even though the jokes ALL seem to run in one direction. 

You guys are all really well liked by the power. Congrats. 

But unfortunately, if your name isn’t Greg Gutfeld, you’re doing late night TV wrong. And we’re all on to your BS. 

While we’re on the subject of BS … 

10. DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME

I don’t know what time it’s actually supposed to be. What is the REAL time? We artificially move it back and forth every six months. 

Can we finally just pick one and stay with it? Is that too much to ask in 2022?

Or are we all going to continue to be victims of someone else’s bright idea from a long time ago? And how long ago? Who actually knows???

And speaking of victims …

9. VICTIM STATUS

Never, in the history of mankind, have more people been available, trained and willing to try and help you get through whatever it is you’re going through, than right now. We are bending over backwards to help 

people of every race, age, gender and national origin, be seen and heard and healed of whatever has been ailing them. 

It’s time to get out of the safe spaces, get on with the healing…and get to the business of life. 

And while we’re at it …

8. FORCED “DIVERSITY” IN TV COMMERCIALS

We get it. Sometimes a completely-against-type black guy marries a sort of masculine Asian girl. Sometimes a pasty white guy, with red hair and a hipster beard marries a black woman older than him. GOT IT. 

Sheesh. 

I’m in a mixed race marriage, myself. I’m all for a society where everybody has a part to play. But for the love, people…it’s just a car commercial. You don’t have to squeeze every “type” into every frame. We can literally see you checking the boxes. 

Can you see us rolling our eyes? 

And that leads me to another thing…

7. RACE

With all the new epigenetics research being done and new breakthroughs in nueroplasticity studies, we are, almost daily, seeing a new study that reads, “everything we know about metabolism is wrong” or “everything we thought we knew about DNA is wrong.” 

Basically, we’re finding out that our genetics doesn’t play the role we always thought it played in everything. It doesn’t lock us into what we thought it locked us into (see #20). 

As these new findings emerge, it makes race (and DNA, in general) less and less of a factor in pretty much everything…except what we decide it’s a factor in

Race is obviously a thing – yes, you are of a certain race. It obviously informs who you are…like your hair color or eye color does. 

But, unless you have a genetic disorder (such as my daughter’s case, where she is actually missing a piece of a chromosome) it doesn’t account for much more than that. 

In a world that is currently actually considering Critical Race Theory – a theory that asserts that literally EVERYTHING in your life is a result of your race (which is a pretty complicated case to make in 2022) – we’re learning, from good old science, that race only means what we want it to mean. 

Has it shaped our history? Of course. Has it left people out? No way to argue against that. Race has a tortured history on this continent (and every continent, if were being honest). And nobody is trying to gloss over horrible things that have happened to people because of their race. Nor should they. But at some point, you have to ask the big question: so, now what?

If we keep making things about race, they will keep being about race. It’s a vicious cycle. And nobody has the market on racism cornered. If race is a part of your daily thought pattern, you’re not yet free of it. 

Maybe it’s time, here in the early 2020’s, to get free of something that means so little in the general scheme of things.    

And maybe – just maybe – race will stop being a factor, when we…well…stop making it one. 

Then, maybe we could get to that little thing one of the world’s greatest visionaries talked about, a long time ago…the content of character.  

And speaking of science …

6. THE PHRASE “FOLLOW THE SCIENCE” 

We all know, now, that the word “science” should just be replaced with the word “money.” 

And speaking of following money …

5. HILLARY CLINTON

“I’m not gonna just bake cookies and just stand by my man like Tammy Wynette,” was the quote I remember the most. 

As a Nashville songwriter, I get my back up when people start making fun of Tammy and her iconic song. Not on my watch, sister. 

But then, after “her man” proved to be not only a philanderer, but possibly (probably) a sexual predator, she kinda stood by him…like Tammy Wynette. 

She overreached in 1993, trying to completely overhaul the American healthcare system, from an UNELECTED position, ushering in the Newt Gingrich revolution. 

She got more delegates than Barack Obama, in 2008, but then LITERALLY handed him the nomination at the convention. She lost to Donald Trump in ’16, blowing a double digit lead in the polls. Then she wrote  a 300 page book about why it happened. It could’ve been one page that simply read, “I didn’t campaign in Wisconsin.”

Anyway …

She completely missed the #metoo movement, mainly because she had put up with all the shenanigans by her husband and possibly by those around him. She misread the room when Trump was running. She’s been wrong more times than Al Gore trying to predict when all the ice will be melted. 

And we thought (and hoped) that maybe she’d have the good grace to simply ride off into the sunset. 

But I recently saw that she now has a “Master Class” available to purchase. Unless it’s on how to destroy a Blackberry with a hammer, I can’t imagine what she’s going to teach us…masterfully.  

Only baby boomer progressives in Hollywood would still think anybody cares what Ms. Clinton has to say. At least her husband – you know, the guy who actually WON twice – knows when to get out of the spotlight for a minute, and not wear out your welcome.  

Speaking of wearing out your welcome …

4. TIGER KING

You couldn’t have come at a better time. You got us through some weirdness, for a hot minute, by exposing us to something weirder. 

But I’m sorry, ya’ll. One season was enough. We can’t do multiple seasons of Tiger King for the same reason we can’t shoot Jaegermeister and eat brownies till we pass out, every single night. It was a one time thing.

Fun? You bet it was…ONCE. 

But the world simply can’t handle that much crazy on a regular basis. 

Speaking of crazy on a regular basis …

3. MASKS 

The Bangladesh study is pretty clear. M-95 masks work pretty well at stopping droplets and maybe curbing a percentage of people from catching a virus. Cloth masks, however, like the ones so many people are required to wear in order to work directly with the general public…are basically worthless. 

In the end, viruses do what they do…they spread. Then, they mutate. Then, they spread again. And they mutate again. And so on and so forth. 

Masks are never going to stop that progression in any long-term, sustainable, meaningful way. And we can’t wear them for the rest of our lives, everywhere we go. 

Although, I’m sure the above comments will be fact checked to death and probably get me banned from one thing or another. 

And that leads me to this …

2. FACT CHECKERS

Two important law suits were recently filed (and won) by John Stossel and Peter Schweitzer (respectively), regarding “fact checkers” taking down their content. 

As both reporters were able to prove, their content was NOT non-factual. And in Stossel’s case, the fact checkers had to admit that their problem with his factual content was based on opinion. Not established 

fact. 

This should be the end of “fact checking” on anything calling itself a “platform” from here on out.  

What we’ve learned is that sometimes fact checkers simply want certain facts to be facts…even if the facts they want upheld are not even established facts…yet. And that has led to more confusion than if they would’ve just left everybody alone and allowed them to share whatever they wanted to share. 

We get to the truth only by allowing more information to come to light – not by curating information like parents trying to keep their tweeners from seeing an R rated movie. 

Just because you’re wearing skinny jeans, an ironic sweater (buttoned all the way to the top), drinking an expensive latte and driving a hybrid, doesn’t mean you can’t still unknowingly be a staunch fascist. 

Fascists always think as long as THEY are controlling the right people, then THEY are not really fascists. They always think they’re part of the solution…until one day they wake up to find it has descended into a “final” one.

I recently saw some commercial where a young social media exec (dressed much like the person in the sentence above) was talking about how they are trying to handle this issue. He was so earnest and kind in his demeanor. He said something to the effect of, “without regulation, we’re just trying to find a good place to land on all of this.”

I yelled back at the TV, “There already IS a good place to land! It’s called freedom of speech!”

And, speaking of getting banned, if nothing else dos it, in this piece, it’ll probably be this ONE word …

1. COVID 19

Now, let me start by saying that I’ve had this virus. And it almost killed me. It almost killed my daughter. And it DID kill several of my dear friends. 

I have never taken this lightly or been flippant about any of it. I cancelled my career, stayed home, socially distanced, washed my hands like I had OCD, wore the masks, took the vitamin D…and got it anyway. 

Because…well…see #3. That’s what viruses do. 

And then, after I recovered, I started the most radical life shift imaginable (dropping 60 pounds in the process) to make sure I didn’t end up in the hospital again, over an unforced error. 

Then, when the vaccines came out, I got the most potent one on the market, even though that action actually alienated some of my friends. But, I took an “all of the above” approach to the whole issue. And I didn’t make any of my decisions without doing extensive research and talking with medical professionals about all of it. 

I did almost nothing but health research for all of 2021. I have read more studies and looked at more graphs than I ever wanted to, in my lifetime. I have talked to doctors and nurses on a regular basis. I’m in a text group completely devoted to finding and sharing new information on this very subject. 

So, I don’t say this lightly …

As of the typing of this, there are more confirmed cases of Covid in America than at any other time since the pandemic started. And those numbers are probably going to double, very soon. But we are now to a weaker – albeit more infectious – variant. And that’s actually a good thing. 

By the time they get the “O”s, in the variant rolodex, that usually means the organism has weakened and adapted to the type of host it wants to live in. 

See, that’s how it works.  

Every living thing – even a virus – has the prime directive to live. So viruses would rather not kill their hosts. By the time they adapt and mutate and figure out where the sweet spot is, they’re easier to get and give, but they also don’t make you as sick. 

This is when “pandemic” becomes “endemic.” I remembered it from science class by just remembering the root word, “END.”  

That’s when we basically reach what they call “herd immunity.”  

It doesn’t mean you can’t still get it. It doesn’t mean you might not still get pretty sick. It just means the worst is behind us, and now it’s going to be a seasonal annoyance we have to factor into our day-to-day lives…like a cold or the flu. 

Most of the news we’re getting about the Omicron variant, is good news. It seems to be milder and easier to kick. It also seems to provide immunity from the other variants – which is amazingly good news! 

***This is not medical advice or expertise*** but it seems like we’re about to turn the corner on this thing. And good f#8king riddance! 

C-19 has had its 15 minutes…and then some. 

It has turned the world upside down and inside out. It has crashed economies and created new fortunes. It has shifted power and changed the dynamic of almost everything about human existence. 

We will forever see the world through the prism of “before Covid” and “after Covid.” 

If we can live with what it has now become…it’s time for the “after.” 

If I’m not right about any of these other things, I pray I’m right about this one. 

Either way, here’s to a great – and healthy – new year …

R   

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WHY I UNFRIENDED YOU …

“If you believe (insert belief here) unfriend me right now!” was the post that caught me in just the wrong mood, at just at the wrong time. 

Never, since the “let’s see who actually reads my posts and will re-post this” post, has there been a more passive/aggressive way to communicate with people on social media.  

So…I unfriended them.

I don’t usually throw away relationships so casually. I cherish all the friendships I’ve cultivated in my life. At least, I used to. But something about that statement that was so terse and intractable and downright narrow-minded, made me realize that maybe I didn’t really know that person at all. Maybe I never knew them. 

What followed that initial “unfriending” was a flurry of unfriending. Suddenly I felt freer than I ever have. I was tired of dancing around beliefs and the wrong words and the wrong jokes and the possibility of offending someone for thinking the wrong thing or even just considering the wrong thing. 

By the end of the month, I had unfriended several hundred people. And even blocked a few. And it was one of the most liberating moments my online avatar has ever experienced. 

Most of my real, honest-to-goodness friends, have been my friends for more than 10 or 20 or even 30 (and some, over 40) years. 

I don’t have to explain myself to them. They know me. They know what I believe. They know my heart. They know what I stand for and what I don’t stand for. I don’t have to recite my bio to them or prove a negative. 

They all know I’m not a racist or a homophobe or a transphobe or whatever the “phobe” of the moment is. They know I will always be honest with them. They know where I am on politics and faith. They know where I am on family and friendship. 

I don’t have to post links to prove anything to them. 

And so they don’t judge me by my political choices or non-choices. And I don’t judge them by those things either. 

You can’t lose real friends. 

But, for so long, we have all been divided up based on our political views and how we might process certain beliefs. 

Unfortunately, in the heat of last year’s election, I found (as we all found) that some people I thought I knew, I didn’t actually know. And that is a difficult realization. 

So, now here we are – almost a half year later. 

Those who wanted to see Donald Trump out of office at any cost, got exactly what they wanted. Those who wanted me to unfriend them if I still thought the election was questionable or mask effectiveness was questionable or if Covid numbers were questionable or if this or that was questionable…also got what they wanted. 

If you are still living in a world you refuse to question, then yeah…we can’t really be friends. Not, like, real friends. 

I heard a leading epidemiologist from Yale (yes, I said a YALE) on the radio, yesterday, say that studies are proving that having had Covid 19 is just as effective against not getting it again as getting the vaccine. 

I’ve had Covid 19. And yet there are still those out there who will still shame me for not getting the vaccine. Prepare the comments thread to be pasted with links in 3…2…

I went on YouTube to find a stretch that would help my lower back. I found hundreds. One told me to use a tennis ball under my sciatic area. Literally the next one told me to not do that under any circumstances and gave a different stretch to use. 

THAT stretch, as it turns out, was the one that got me up off the floor – immediately. 

How can both of those videos live on a platform so dedicated to medical truth? How can I watch one video telling me that pork rinds are healthier than corn chips, then instantly flip to a video telling me that those pork rinds are probably killing me and I should just eat corn chips, on the same platform? 

But then I can’t access the governor of Florida’s Covid protocol because that platform took it down, citing “misinformation?” Who’s kidding who, here? 

If you can’t see the agenda behind this, or at least raise an eyebrow, how can we ever have a real conversation? 

Our sitting president may have not gotten that job without Facebook and Twitter squelching a story about his son’s recovered laptop, that had some pretty incriminating information on it (at least the appearance of impropriety) regarding how the Biden family turned elected influence to money. 

Turning power into money isn’t a crime. It’s when you trade elected power for it, that it becomes at least investigate-able.

The son in question still hasn’t denied it’s his laptop. The best he could do on national TV was say, “It might be. We’ll see.” 

WE’LL SEE?! Really? We’ll see if I committed international crimes for my (now) president father? 

If you can just watch that and not feel at least a little weird, not that it happened – powerful people get themselves in predicaments like this all the time, it’s not a surprise that it happened – but that the most powerful news outlets on the planet didn’t want you to know about it – then no…we’re not speaking the same language I’m afraid. 

I just saw a news report that cited 20% percent of the signatures in the California recall petition don’t match. And yet we’re told time and again that ALL the signatures matched during the 2020 election. 

Stop asking questions. You will get taken down off this site if you ask those questions. 

Okay, boss. You win. 

I’m at a point where I’m just tired of the arguments. I have no more energy for the debates. When things are self-evident, but not recognized as such, where do you go from there? How do you walk forward with someone who doesn’t even see the forest…much less the trees?

The powers that be are now just that – POWERS. 

Those who got what they wanted politically should now sit back and bask in whatever happens next. You own it.

From the YouTube videos I watch to getting a shot to wearing a mask to whatever avatar I post on social media after any given event, have all been politicized. And it’s hard for us to find common ground when all the ground keeps getting seized and appropriated toward one way of thinking. 

I used to have friends on all sides of the spectrum. I would still love that to be the case. I’m generally prone toward liking people. I think when we sit and talk one-on-one, we usually recognize common struggles and common hopes and dreams; common humanity. 

But somehow humanity is now being squeezed into a set of acceptable-only beliefs. And that’s not usually good in the long run. 

At the very least, it will get you unfriended on Facebook.   

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MAKE ME …

Columbo is my favorite cop show of all time. 

He really proves the need for smart, tenacious law enforcement. Without a guy like that on the force, an awful lot of ingenious criminals would’ve gotten away with some incredibly complicated murders, in L.A., in the early-to-mid 70’s. 

I would imagine there aren’t a lot of minds like his on the force in real life. 

But one of the things that made Columbo so endearing to viewers was the fact that he constantly had traffic tickets on his car and he was constantly letting his license expire and petty things like that. He would occasionally have to face law enforcement himself, and it always gave us (me, anyway) a sense of contrast as to which laws were absolutely necessary (murder) and which laws were just kind of annoying (parking tickets). 

Still, the law is the law and someone has to enforce it. 

So, this genius crime solver; modern day Sherlock Holmes, had his own experiences with the long arm of the law. This guy washout there keeping Dick Van Dyke from killing again. But even he couldn’t evade the grasp of bureaucracy and legal precedents. 

And even when Columbo would finally nab his man (or woman), some extra in a uniform (with no lines and no SAG card) carrying a side arm (Columbo didn’t carry a gun – he had people take his firing range tests for him), would have to put them in the police car…by force.  

Without that person, with the threat of ending their life if they ran, there’s a real chance some of them would’ve made a break for it. I’m certain Johnny Cash or William Shatner would’ve. And Columbo could never have caught them. He couldn’t pass his yearly physical fitness tests. I mean, the man pretty much lived on cigars and diner chili. 

Anyway …

The nation (and the world, really) just breathed a sigh of relief after the Derek Chauvin verdict was handed down. 

We’ve all been through a lot over the last 18 months. None of us were looking forward to more riots and more unrest and more calls for this or that, from bull horns on the streets of every American city. 

I believe justice was served in this case. I’m sorry for George Floyd and his family. And I couldn’t care less if Derek Chauvin lives another day. But let’s all be honest – we selfishly needed this episode to fade into history and we needed it to end as well as possible. 

But this case kicked open the door to beliefs and mantras we couldn’t always quite get our heads around. “De-fund the police” being the main one. 

We’ve seen and heard actual government officials get on this bandwagon of de-funding law enforcement. Even our own current, sitting president said he was open to this idea during his campaign (the single greatest campaign ever run, by the way. Never left his house and got the most votes of anyone in American history. Pretty amazing. But I digress). 

In that same Q&A session, he said he’d also be open to a mask mandate. And that’s when I yelled at the TV – “who’s going to enforce it?!?!” 

See, when you come to the “de-fund the police” conclusion, you’re almost there. Where, you ask? You’re almost a Libertarian, you just don’t know it. You just haven’t thought your way far enough up the food chain yet. 

See, the police are just the extras in uniforms, carrying the sidearms. They don’t make the laws. They just enforce them. 

This whole national conversation about police and minorities and shootings and this and that, is definitely one that should be had. But it is also a distraction from a bigger conversation we should be having: it starts with law makers – not law enforcers.  

Rashida Talib and Maxine Waters and A.O.C and yes, even our own Madam Vice President, can all call, for de-funding police departments (and they all have). They can actually make strong cases and cite all sorts of incidents. 

But right after they get finished doing that, they then go back to work and create…wait for it…more laws. 

It is often said that between all the Federal and state laws on the books, you can find a law being every moment of every day, by any average American. All you have to do is look hard enough. 

We pay politicians salaries that are well above the national average. We turn them into celebrities. We hang on their decisions and put hope in their judgements. And what are their full time jobs? To make more laws. 

Well, guess what? Someone has to go out there and make sure everyone is in compliance with those laws. If you don’t like run-ins with the police, remember that that is an interaction with government. 

The cops are just there to carry out what somebody else told them to. And they’re doing it for half the pay of those who told them what to enforce.

Maybe we should reverse those pay structures for a few years and see what the results might be.

On one side, you have people who favor smaller government; less red tape, fewer regulations. And those people are often vilified by the same people who favor fewer police and less law enforcement. 

The truth is, both people want less government. One just knows where the message starts. The other is just angry at the messenger.  

Madonna recently tweeted that police who shoot suspects shouldn’t even have trials. They should just be sent right to prison. Okay – well despite the abject ignorance of basic human rights and jurisprudence that have been in place since the Magna Carta, the big question still remains: who’s going to take them?    

If you are in favor of de-funding the police, but want this or that new law put on the books, think it all the way through – who’s gonna make people do it? 

And that is when you stop thinking so much about the people in uniforms, and more about the people in hallowed halls, sitting around coming up with new things we all have to comply with. 

And when you realize the person who’s going to make you comply will be someone who earns half of what the law maker earns, but who has a Glock on their hip and has to possibly wade into danger to carry it out, you start changing how you look at all parties involved.

Whenever a new law is proposed we should always ask this simple question: “who’s gonna make us?” 

Then, we should re-think the law itself – not the one out there trying to enforce it. 

De-fund the police? 

How ‘bout we start by de-funding congress?    

It doesn’t take a Columbo to figure it out. 

R

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F.R.O.’S, P.R.O.’S AND B.R.O.’S (The Three Stages of Race Relations)

It was an old clip on Youtube. But when I heard Larry King say to Tom Jones, “You sound like you might have some in you,” I knew he was still in the P.R.O. phase.

They were having a discussion about Tom Jones (the famous singer) possibly getting a DNA test to determine if he has African blood. It has been speculated about for decades, with him. Surely, a garden-variety white dude from Wales couldn’t have cords like that. Clearly he must have “some in him” – meaning, black DNA. 

But Tom Jones has a sister. Does she have that same kind of voice? I mean, if he has black DNA (which, apparently is the recipe for a great vocal instrument), then she would have to have as well. It gets complicated when you start lumping people into groups. 

The point is, until you shake off the ridiculous notion that Tom Jones can only sing like he can because of his ancestry or blood, you are still kind of in a phase of racism. I call it the P.R.O. phase. 

There are essentially three phases of race relations. 

The first phase is something I call the F.R.O. phase: Fearing Relative Others (“Relative others,” being other humans relative to you, but who are opposite in color or culture). 

Different parts of the world are still in varying aspects of this type of racial view. But the best examples of it are the most stark examples. 

You can’t do any sort of piece on race without dragging out Hitler. But he’s a good example of being locked in the F.R.O. stage. See, hatred is sparked by anger and anger is sparked by fear. Hitler hated Jews because he was essentially afraid of them. He admired and coveted the abilities they had cultivated through the centuries. 

But he was tribal. So, he wanted what the Jews had for his own race, instead of realizing that integrating another successful cultures into your society makes everybody stronger – not one side weaker. 

Any sort of anger toward (or hatred of) another race, because of the race itself, is basically a fear of it. And it can run in all directions. 

The F.R.O. phase is what white supremacy is based on but it’s not exclusive to white supremacists. Black people and brown people and Asian people Indian people and Polynesian people and pretty much all people can languish in that phase of race relations for their entire lives; remaining afraid of others relative to them, but who don’t look like them. 

Sometimes those fears are well founded. Sometimes those fears are based on half truths. Sometimes those fears are simply fairly tales handed down from generation to generation. 

And sometimes those fears are still only a thing because there are entire industries out there where millions (and sometimes billions) of dollars change hands because of them. 

Beware of the person getting rich off your fear. They’re keeping you in the F.R.O. phase. 

But for those who fancy themselves more evolved than the F.R.O. phase, there is what I call the P.R.O. phase of race relations: “Praising Relative Others.”  

This phase is the most subtle form of racism. But it is still racism, nonetheless. 

In this form of racism, you graduate from fear of your relative other to believing they are superior in some way. You constantly give them the benefit of the doubt for everything. You revere their culture and contribution. And you are convinced that you and people like you are the problem. 

You gaze on your relative others with the same envy as those who fear them, only you turn your fear and anger inward, toward yourself, instead of lashing out. 

In this phase, you believe that soulful singers must have black blood – because, you know…black people can sing. You believe that all the Native American tribes were peaceful and harmonious and the only reason they became violent was because of white men (even though that’s not even close to what the fossil record shows). 

In black culture, they used to say, “the white man’s ice is colder.” That’s a reference to back in the day, when people purchased big blocks of ice, they would prefer to get ice from a white vendor because they believed that because the person was white, his ice was better…or colder. 

That’s a real reference. 

And it illustrates a culture that has learned to hate itself and revere another race. 

It was a warped sense of the world – oh, and it wasn’t true. ALL water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Ice is ice. But only when you are in a cycle of praising your relative other, can you believe in something so non-scientific. 

Many people these days, are locked into the P.R.O. phase of their race journey. If you still “admire this race for” blah, blah, blah, you’re still there. Or if you assign certain attributes to a race (rather than a culture), you’re still there. 

There were some Asian doctors at Princeton (yes, I said Princeton) who didn’t believe my daughter had Angelman Syndrome, because they didn’t believe Asians could get it. 

Guess what? She does. And they can. 

P.R.O. phase. 

The final leg of any racial odyssey is what I call the B.R.O. phase: “Beyond Relative Other.” 

And until you can get to this phase, you’re still languishing in some form of racism. This phase is seeing people as individuals. 

Once we realized that any male from any race could make a baby with any female of any other race, we knew that we were indeed the same species – the EXACT same species. 

See, unless you’re the same species, you can’t reproduce. Spider monkeys don’t breed with Gorillas. Even though they appear to be at least close to the same species.

Humans are all humans. We migrated from Africa to all parts of the world, creating different cultures and ways of life and diets and customs and we developed different physical characteristics. 

To continually focus on those differences is a myopic view of the story. 

The real story is what the individuals have done and still do. This is where we get to the real frontier of human nature and the real fragility of the human condition. Because as long as someone can hide behind their “racial experience” we still don’t know them. Not really. 

It’s only when we can step beyond our perception of tribes – our own and others – can we get to the good stuff; the real stuff. 

It’s there that we find real community. It’s there that we actually learn. It’s there that where we can get to the truth. 

Until we get to the B.R.O. phase of race relations, we’re still going to be in some form of bondage to our differences. Until we start taking people one at a time, we’re still going to see our relative others as either a threat we must protect ourselves from, or a god we cannot live up to. 

We are all, at one time or another, in and out of all three of those phases of race relations. Life is complicated. And it seems to be getting more complicated by the day. 

But if you spend any amount of time with enough of your relative others, you will find fewer differences than you might believe. You will find (inside that shell that you’re either worried about or admiring), a person.  

Then, you can either celebrate them or condemn them; admire them or dismiss them, based on their character. 

And you don’t have to virtue signal or bend over backwards to show your support (the P.R.O. phase) OR constantly make your case and prove your point (the F.R.O. phase). 

You just be you and let everyone else be them, and allow history to write the self-evident story of what that looked like in the world. 

The B.R.O. phase. 

And you can know that Tom Jones just has a uniquely great voice, no matter where his ancestors are from. 

R

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FEAR ITSELF …

“What’s the worst that can happen?”

This is the question we are continually asking ourselves, millions of times a day, in all of life’s endeavors. 

The human struggle itself is a series of cost/benefit analyses. Can this hurt me? Will it kill me? Will it hurt my family? What’s the possible damage? 

From getting in a car, to deciding what to eat for dinner; from choosing a mate, to choosing a place to live, we are always weighing the consequences of every decision we make. 

In the balance of those scales is actual life and death. 

And so we put safety measures in place for humanity, to make some decisions easier than others. We put warning labels on toxic products, to ensure that people won’t ingest them. 

We build seat belts into cars and airplanes. We put up gates and fences and build our homes as sturdy as possible. We wear helmets when we ride bicycles and skateboards. 

We go see doctors and get tests run. We go on diets and go to the gym, in hopes of squeezing out as many extra moments of life as possible. 

But why? 

Are we simply reacting to some ancient, primal directive to survive? Is it that simple? Or do we have, hard-wired into all of us, some sense that life is important? And maybe that buried knowledge only flashes above the surface when we’re in eminent danger? 

Or maybe it’s a combination of both. Either way, all living things are oriented toward not dying. 

If you’ve ever tried to swat a fly, you know they aren’t going down without a fight. They have the same instinct we have. Survive. 

But here’s the thing …

Even though the fly has an instinct toward survival, it doesn’t let the fear of your fly swatter keep it from being a fly. 

It does what it does. Because if the fly stops doing what it does, it will actually die from not being a fly. Its inner cost/benefit analysis tells it that stopping being a fly is worse than braving the fly swatter. 

As I sit in quarantine yet again, because someone in my family has supposedly been “exposed to Covid,” I think about the flies. I’ve had Covid, as has my daughter. My wife and son, however, have been as exposed to it as humans can get, and have yet to test positive or show a single symptom. 

A friend of mine is on his second round of having it. That’s the first time I’ve heard of that happening. He says the second round is tougher than the first. 

Weaving its way through all of the stories and anecdotes and questions and mandates and anger over masks or no masks; the CDC recommendations and the arguments over vaccine passports and social distancing and Covid this and variant that, is the prevailing pulse of fear.  

As humans, we’ve stopped doing what we do out of fear. Basically, we’ve stopped being flies for fear of the swatter. 

Fear is healthy. It keeps us out of dangerous situations. It keeps us alive…until it doesn’t. 

Another friend of mine recently told me about his uncle who had been gripped by the fear of Covid, so he literally didn’t leave his house for a year, until the vaccine was ready. 

He was one of the first in line to get it. Less than 24-hours after receiving the vaccine, he fell dead with a heart attack. 

So, while he was keeping himself safe as a human, he wasn’t being a human. He lost a year of his life…trying not to die. 

If there has been a winner in the Covid era, it has been fear. Fear has kept us at each other’s throats. Fear has kept us home. It has kept us apart. It has driven us to do illogical things. 

But of all the things fear has done to us, the most sinister thing it has done has been to cause us to stop being the best versions of what humans can actually be. 

There are some medications out there that seem to work in fighting this thing. But some medical professionals refused to try them. Why? Out of political fear.   

And when all of this is said and done, who knows how many lives may have been saved by treatments in the arsenal – treatments actually banned by certain powers that be, in certain places – that may have possibly worked for certain patients? 

We’re afraid to go anywhere without a mask. Why? Is there any real evidence that they’re keeping the virus from spreading? None. But we wear them. Because we’re afraid. Mainly we’re afraid of what will happen to us if we don’t. We will be shamed and possibly even physically harmed (I’ve seen some videos) by people who are…wait for it…afraid. 

We’re afraid talk or disagree or challenge or reframe. And we’re really afraid of being wrong. 

This isn’t what we do as humans. At our best, we walk boldly into problems and work them from every angle. At our worst, we cower and avoid and disengage and comply. 

Eventually, as a human, you have to work through your own death. You have to answer that first question of “what’s the worst that can happen,” with…die. 

Once you come to terms with death, life is sweeter, more precious and easier to live. Once you settle your own fear of dying, you can finally stop shuttering over every possible outcome. 

Because, yes – all roads lead to death. ALL of them. So now, live. 

When I was driving to the ER on Christmas night, unable to breathe, I kept repeating the words “I will fear no evil,” over and over in my head. 

I thought my daughter might be dead. I thought my own life was about to end. And suddenly those words made more sense to me than they ever had. I. Will. Fear. No. Evil. 

Only when you know who truly holds life, can you be at peace with death. Knowing that you did everything you possibly could to say what you came here to say and do what you came here to do, takes death’s power away. 

And that takes away the fear. 

Danger is everywhere but we cannot let that stop us from being us. 

There are more swatters out there than you could ever imagine.

But it’s time we start being flies again.     

R  

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THE TROUBLE WITH EASTER …

It’s easy to believe in Christmas. 

Even if you’re an atheist, and opposed to all things religious or spiritual or “faith-friendly,” you can still get behind the idea of a baby being born. New beginnings. Redemption. A star. Shepherds. Peace on Earth. Good will toward men. Stuff like that. 

Christmas doesn’t ask all that much of us. We know Jesus was a historical figure. So we know he had to be born somewhere, sometime. The “virgin birth” thing can be sidestepped and danced around and avoided at office holiday parties. 

We’ve still got Santa and angels and Grinches and reindeer and presents and trees and songs and lights and all the other touchtones we can agree upon. It’s easy to blend into the crowd on Christmas. 

It’s the warm, fuzzy part of the Jesus story. 

Then…there’s the crucifixion. 

It’s a lot darker than the baby in the manger, but it’s another historical thing easy to believe. We know the Romans did crucifixions. We have the evidence. So it’s not a stretch to believe that a 33-year-old radical dissident might get put to death that way. 

It makes perfect sense. 

And so we can bookend the story of Jesus with a humble birth and a dramatic death. It makes for an epic tale. One worth sharing through the centuries. 

And that story requires nothing of intellectuals. It requires little, to no faith whatsoever, to believe Jesus Christ was born in a cave, and died on a cross, somewhere in the Middle East, two thousand and some odd years ago. 

But then comes a twist …Easter. 

The celebration of Easter is where the faith comes in. And it really wrecks any attempt at just putting Jesus in the category of “good man” with “good ideas” or “visionary” or something like that. 

The celebration of Easter is the celebration of something supernatural. It’s the celebration and acknowledgement of someone who was more than a mere mortal, coming back from the dead. 

Believing that sparks a different conversation.  

The celebration of Easter forces you to grapple with all of it; all the mythology and scripture and prophecy and all the meaning behind it. Easter doesn’t allow you to stand on the sidelines. It makes you stand up and be counted. 

If you put on that new suit or dress or hat and go to that church building in celebration, you are admitting that you buy in to the story. And it’s a big buy-in. 

Because once you say to the world, “yes, I believe that dude rose from the dead and never died again,” you are now admitting that you are willing to disregard all the laws of physics and biology and science, to accept a fact you cannot prove. 

That’s a huge thing to say to the world. 

And it means you are open to the idea of mystery and wonder and unanswerable questions. It means you are a candidate for believing – really believing – in something beyond yourself. It means the smartest minds and most plausible theories in all the world do not deter you from placing your trust in something completely and totally implausible

Easter is the only holiday that requires, in its very DNA, actual faith.

And that faith makes you bound to the story of a madman, from another time, who didn’t just declare himself as someone to be listened to. He didn’t just preach to people and tell them to do good things. He didn’t just do tricks and makeup great, quotable memes. 

This guy said to the world that he was the very son of God; that HE was the way and the truth and the life. He placed a marker that said you could not even get to God any other way but through him.  

Celebrating Easter means believing in all of that. 

And if you believe all of that, then the rest of Jesus’ call will weigh heavy on your heart all of the time. 

For this reason, Easter should be our least favorite holiday. Because we can’t just celebrate it mindlessly, without thinking about what it actually means. it should be celebrated cautiously and with some trepidation.

It should be celebrated with the knowledge that those of us doing the celebrating are thumbing our noses at conventional wisdom. We are turning our backs on evidence and proof and casting our lots with insanity and the highly unlikely. 

But if that insanity is true, then it is world changing and life changing and it makes sense of all the madness on this planet. If the unlikely just so happens to be fact, then we are spiritually reconciled creatures with hope. If the conventional wisdom happens to be wrong this time, then we have found – and can continue to find – a state of absolute and untarnished grace. 

That is worth the faith. 

For those still undecided, who cannot bring themselves to believe in such nonsense, I say I totally understand and still wish you a peaceful weekend of rest.  

But for those of us lunatic believers, I wish us all a happy, yet completely unsettling, Easter. 

May we find our faith all over again. 

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OWNERSHIP BY ASSOCIATION …

Gasoline, in my town, is now $3.00 a gallon (well, actually, $2.99 point 9 – I guess they can’t bring themselves to actually use the 3). 

I go back and forth on how much I should blame Joe Biden voters for the extra $15 bucks a tank I have to spend on a fill-up. It’s not like he sprung some weird policy on us that he didn’t talk about during the campaign. 

We all knew this was coming. At least those of us who are paying attention to such things, knew. Look, a few bucks extra at the pump is not the end of the world. Nobody’s saying it is. But do the Biden voters owe me some money?

How much do you blame a voter for the consequences of their vote?

When a bunch of half-cocked zealots stormed the Capitol building, on January 6th, I was actually personally attacked and personally blamed for the action, by some people on social media. Why? Because I had written about agreeing with several of Donald Trump’s policies and calling his comparisons to Hitler, nonsensical. 

I still stand by both things. 

If Trump was actually like Hitler, the Capitol wouldn’t have been stormed by the lunatic fringe. It would’ve been systematically taken over by a private, armed force not connected with the United States military. And the number of people killed would’ve been as many as it took to achieve the goal. 

But I digress …  

The point is, I want no part of whatever that was on January 6th. Period. I don’t know anybody else who does (or did) either. 

But I can still believe the election was funky (and I still do). I can still favor oil pipelines over tankers. I can still believe in lower taxes and incentivizing the making of products in the U.S.A. I can still believe Communism is bad. I can still believe China shouldn’t be allowed to manipulate their currency. I can still believe the Middle East peace deal was a pretty good idea. I can still believe the ACA should be overturned and re-tooled.  

I can believe all those things without owning the Trump tweets or the January 6th attack. Can’t I? Or am I on the hook for all of it, if I’m good with some of it? “In for a penny, in for a pound,” as they used to say. 

Is that true of politics? What about race?  

Now, in the third month of the new year, we have had two mass shootings in this country. One in Atlanta and one in Colorado. 

Every time I see some alert on the news, with the heading, “Mass shooter …” my stomach tightens up. I’ll bet yours does too. 

And as much as I wish my first thought was for the victims and their families, my involuntary, knee-jerk, inner-voice reaction is always the same: “I hope it’s not a conservative white guy.” 

Why do I wish that? Because if (and when) it is, we always have to have “a national conversation” for the next several months, on “race in America.” And all of us, who have nothing whatsoever to do with whoever that insane man was, get to be told all over again about our inherent, personal racism and our country’s national racism and all the racism everywhere that will only end once we have another national conversation on race and all the racism…like the last one…and the one before that. 

Meanwhile, the actual act that occurred may have nothing whatsoever to do with race or racism. It might. Don’t get me wrong. It definitely happens. But it might not. 

Either way, those of us who just want to live in peace with all races, keep our heads down, raise our kids and die old, don’t want anybody to be killed in a mass shooting…by anyone, with any kind of a gun. But for those of us with white skin, we always – and I mean ALWAYS – know when the shooter is not white. If there is any sort of “secret handshake” among white people or “coded language,” it is this …

We always know a shooter is NOT white when the news doesn’t immediately announce his race. 

This has become an eye-rolling cliche among white people and, so far, the only thing I have found that we all seem to agree on. 

Meanwhile, if (and when) a shooter is of some other race or national origin, we have to have the “protect against backlash” national conversation. Because, again…white people bad. Always bad. 

And don’t get me wrong. I got a lot of problems with a lot of white people. And they don’t get a pass from me if they are racists or murderers or rapists or anything of the sort. They barely get a pass if they clap on 1 and 3. 

But we all sometimes wonder, no matter what color our skin is, how much we have to own of the others of us with the same skin. That gets deeper than just voting. That gets into our culture and our actual personal interactions. 

And I would wager that every other race and religion and national origin other than mine, has some form of this same reaction, when they see someone who looks like them doing something horrible, that doesn’t represent them in any way.  

In the press conference, given by Atlanta’s Police Chief, following the shooting there, the motive of the shooter was said to be something to do with sex addiction. Who knows if that’s actually true. But this is what the shooter said. 

But that motive was soon turned to White-on-Asian crime, that then triggered the obligatory “national conversation” we always dread. And I, the father of an Asian daughter, was asked to sit and examine my motives yet again, with my eyes rolling so far back in my head I could actually see my brain rolling its eyes back in its head.  

Then, a Muslim man did a mass shooting in Colorado. And I’m still not sure where we are on that national conversation yet. But I’ll guarantee you there are some Muslim Americans right now, wishing that shooter had been a Russian or from India or anything other than the stereotype they are undoubtedly so tired of seeing. 

Because they probably feel like they are forced to own these things too. 

The only cure for all of these vicious cycles is one thing: individualism. 

Once you decide to see every single person on Earth as an individual, and not the group they may or may not be a part of, you get set free. You can be black and have a white friend, and know they are not out to hurt you. Or you can be white, and have a black friend, and know that they wish you well. And you can see images on TV of whites clashing with blacks and know that that is aboutthose fools on TV and it doesn’t represent your personal friendships.

If we start having to own everything in our history or every vote we’ve ever cast, we will be crushed beneath the weight of it.

I promise you my ancestors did some horrible things. Yours did too. I promise you there is somebody out there who looks like you or me, who is certifiably insane and means to do a lot of harm to the world. 

I promise you, you’re going to vote for someone who is going to take your breath away in stunned horror with their inexplicable actions. Then we all have to decide how much mercy we have inside us. 

My favorite quote regarding binding up those kinds of wounds, is from Abe Lincoln’s second inaugural address, after the Civil War. Instead of forcing the Confederacy to own it and take more of a beating than they already had, he simply said, “with malice toward none and charity for all …” 

That’s downright spiritual. 

And I’m personally going to think about that the next time someone loses their minds and decides to shoot up something, for whatever reason, and the news tries to tell me who to blame and what conversation must be had. 

While I’m at it, I’ll try to think about it the next time I’m buying overpriced gasoline.          

R

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A YEAR AFTER LOCKDOWN …

It was a year ago, this week, when my casual trip to the grocery store made me wonder what the hell was going on. 

Toilet paper was on the list my wife handed me before leaving. 

She had (and always has) very specific instructions on the toilet paper purchase. There are certain brands we use. There are certain brands we never use. There are often coupons or “deals” I’m supposed to be on the lookout for. And then there’s some weird form of math that must be done: in this pack, one roll = three rolls, or in this pack, two rolls = 48 rolls…or some kind of equation I can never seem to understand. 

But as I stepped into the toilet paper aisle to commence the hunt, I was stunned to see that all the shelves were empty. That was weird. 

Oh well, I took it off the list. We’d pick it up another time. Less toilet paper math for me. 

I turned my focus to picking up the food items on the list. But at every stop, the store was out of what I was sent to get. What?

Finally, I think I did eventually get home with some potatoes and lettuce and something else I can’t remember. But what was happening in that grocery store was a clear panic. 

Back home in the kitchen, unloading the sparse haul and trying to explain all of this to my wife, I casually checked Facebook and saw that my brother, who was over the live events and convention department of the Nashville City Center (the largest convention spot in Nashville) posted that he and everyone under him, had just been laid off due to the fact that every live event scheduled for that year had been cancelled. EVERY. ONE. OF. THEM.

Then, later in the day, my April and May dates got cancelled. Then, later that week, the rest of my year got cancelled. 

The week after that, my wife was exposed to someone at her work who had tested positive for the new Covid virus, and we were locked in our house for fourteen days. 

At first, we decided to just roll with it. Maybe this would be a great time to catch up on all those TV shows we wanted to watch. Ozark had just dropped. This would work out perfectly. 

But that only lasted for about a week and left us craving a bigger high. So we found ourselves mainlining Tiger King without even blinking. It’s true what they say, kids. It only leaves you wanting more. 

And suddenly, while we were all on Facebook, discussing that bitch Carol Baskin, live studio audiences on daytime and night time TV shows stopped being a thing. And we got to see every late-night talk show host’s den, bad hair and unpainted face. 

Not long after that, my son’s seventh grade year was basically scrapped and my daughter’s high school graduation was postponed. 

By the time my wife and I checked our bank balance and found that the government had just put $1200 in there (how did they know where to find us or our bank account?) we knew were living in some weird new world.

In the months that would follow, we would learn things about ourselves, our country and humanity in general, that maybe we didn’t want to know. And what started as a stern rebuke by those who fancied themselves the arbiters of truth and science, to “flatten the curve for God’s sake!” (I added the “for God’s sake,” because it was certainly implied by all of my smarter-than-everyone-in-the-room friends), became a strange, year-long minefield of hyper-politicized science, strained race relations, plausible conspiracy theories, governmental overreaches, oddly imbalanced mandates, culminating in a straight-up weird election, followed by an actual attack on the United States Capitol building. 

Did the curve ever get flattened? I forget.       

Some friends of mine got the virus early on, in South Korea. According to my friend, she and her husband were in the hospital (back in Texas), on death’s door, on a Wednesday. They were started on Hydroxychloraquine, zinc and a Z-pack on Thursday, and walked out of the hospital feeling great on Friday. 

But when the President mentioned something about that particular cocktail showing promise, suddenly HQC, a medicine nobody had anything to say about for 50 years, became some weird pawn in a political chess match and some places around the country weren’t even allowed to fill a prescription for it. 

Why? Can’t doctors prescribe whatever they see fit to prescribe? 

Then a report was released stating that this drug was harmful and dangerous to the general population. THEN we found out that that report was falsified and fake. 

Dear lord! What kind of world was I living in when medicine  – actual MEDICINE – was being withheld and/or having propaganda written about it? Who in God’s name cared if a medicine worked? Wouldn’t that have been a good thing? 

This was officially weirder than the toilet paper day. 

Then came the guy we all watched on TV, to tell us what to do and what not to do, who had just told us not to wear masks – they were not going to help us in any way – do a one-eighty and tell us to absolutely wear masks everywhere we went. 

Then George Floyd was killed. 

And while we ALL – literally EVERY PERSON IN AMERICA – stood in solidarity behind the fact that we agreed his death was unjust, we watched riot after riot after riot happen, in protest of the fact that apparently nobody heard about everybody agreeing on the fact that his death was unjust. 

Then, the same mayors and governors who were locking us down and putting us out of business and telling us not to gather with more than ten people, invited tens of thousands of us to these riots…you know…as long as everybody wore a mask. 

Tiger King was getting dangerously close to dropping out of the top five weirdest things of 2020.

Then our family members and friends started getting sick. Some of them died. But most of them didn’t. And some people simply got the sniffles for a couple of days, while others’ lungs turned to concrete. 

Suddenly, we know we couldn’t trust the information anymore. Because it was either incomplete or it was being politicized. And that created its own new brand of terror. 

Were the death numbers correct? Were the testing numbers correct? Were there false positives? Were there false negatives? Which test was accurate and which test was unreliable? And why was that Youtube video, by those doctors, being removed from the internet?

Was it because they were wrong? Or was it because they were right? 

Ozark was starting to look less and less like fiction. 

We had to socially distance…unless we were attending a Trump rally or a protest. We couldn’t gather to worship…unless we did it in a Wal Mart or a liquor store.  

Governors started winning Emmy awards for holding daily press conferences. Then the president got the virus. Then he got better. 

Then, we held the weirdest election in our lifetimes. 

Then, we got banned from Facebook and Twitter for saying we had just held the weirdest election in our lifetimes. 

Then we weren’t allowed to question anything. 

Questioning literally EVERYTHING is supposed to come complete with every Social Security card issued. Being allowed to say, “man, that election sure seemed funky to me” is supposed to be the birthright of all Americans. 

But not anymore. Not since the toilet paper ran out.

Then, a bunch of people actually believed they were going to overturn said funky election by storming into the Capitol building and doing…I actually have no idea what…to the people inside. 

And that seemed to seal the door to the next room and set the tone for the new weirdness. Next stop – razor wire around the White House.  

I got Covid a week before Christmas. 

My doctor refused (very sternly) to prescribe me ANY medication. Not even a cough syrup. Finally, into day 5 of fever delirium, I contacted a doctor with a different political viewpoint and got some meds. Meds that may have actually saved my life. 

And I came out of that experience angry and confused. Angry that I not only had to navigate a virus nobody seemed to have all the information on, but also navigate every person’s damn personal political belief, in every circumstance I was placed in, to simply survive in this world. And confused by what world I was now going to have to teach my daughter and son to operate in (I started to use the phrase “thrive in” but I’m not even sure they are allowed that kind of privilege anymore).  

So, here we all are. A year after the run on the toilet paper. 

A half million Americans are allegedly dead from this virus. I say “allegedly” only because all of the numbers are still kind of being sorted out. 

The Virus originated in China, and even now that it is pretty well agreed upon (in much of the scientific community) that the thing didn’t come from a wet market after all, but probably leaked from the Wuhan lab, China’s General Secretary STILL hasn’t done a single press conference. NOT. ONE. 

The Emmy winner turned out to be a liar and responsible for a lot of death. But so were a lot of other governors who seemed to not pay as much attention to the elderly among us.    

We’re still not sure if we should’ve been wearing a mask or wearing two. 

The government just put more money in my account. I have no idea what that means at tax time. Did I earn that income? Was it a gift? I’m sure some masked tax preparer will tell me at the appropriate time. 

My brother went on to a different job. I learned how to do Zoom calls and perform pretty much exclusively in front of a phone. 

I can’t get like 6 Doctor Seuss books, now, because apparently they were pretty inappropriate. But at least I can still listen to songs about Cardi B’s vagina. 

Anyway …

A new season of Ozark is coming out soon. Instead of being excited, I’m almost nervous. The last time that thing dropped, a lot of weirdness followed it. 

I wish I could say the future is bright and things are going to be great. But we all know a little too much about each other, now. We all know a little too much about what people will do to prove themselves right or to prove their enemies wrong. We know a little too much about the lengths to which people will go, to re-set the way things get done. 

And honestly, I don’t seem to know my country anymore. Maybe I never did. Thats the saddest revelation of all, over this past year.  

At least now, we always keep extra toilet paper in the storage closet. 

I guess that’s something.                    

R    

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