You managed to waste an afternoon of my time. You trashed my blog. What did I do to you? We restored it. Everything is fine. All you are is a waste of time. Your life is so pathetic, so empty, so pointless that all you can think to do with yourself is to damage websites of people you don’t even know. How does it feel to know you are so meaningless? How does it feel to know that you are just a parasitic infection on the people who are actually creating something meaningful? How does it feel to know that you are nothing more than an annoyance, an impediment to those who are working to make the world a more interesting place?
Help me understand this. Are you envious? Are you jealous of me because I create content that people actually care about and you can’t? Do you have nothing better to do with your life?
Today the Senate pulled the “Assault Weapons Ban” out of its gun control bill because Harry Reid determined that the AWB would stop the rest of the bill from being passed. I caught a bit of the Piers Morgan Show and Piers asked rhetorically, “Why does the NRA continue to win?” The answer is really pretty simple: the NRA and its allies are focused like a laser, 24/7 365.25 days a year on gun rights. They are single-minded. The have no other hobbies. Those who oppose them are diffused and scattered. Gun control is one of their issues. Today it’s gun control. Tomorrow it’s rhino poaching, and the day after that it’s HIV in South Africa.
Gun rights people know their subject. They know the difference between a magazine and clip. They know the difference between a silencer and a flash suppressor. They know the difference between automatic, selective fire and semiautomatic. They know that “assault weapon” has no definition and cannot be codified into law. They watch every bill that comes before every legislature, and they know how to derail them.
Gun control people deal in sweeping generalizations and heart-rending anecdotes. They appeal to our outrage, our sense of justice, and “the better angels of our nature.” They put grieving parents on camera and make impassioned pleas to “do the right thing” from distant TV studios. The emotion and outrage, however intense, does not make law. Law is specific. A barrel on a shotgun can be 18” long but not 17” without a special license. A silencer has a specific definition based on what it does; looks do not matter. Do you know how many rounds your gun can hold when you are duck hunting? Do you know which states ban hollowpoint ammunition? Do you know which states permit open carry of firearms? Do you know what powers the federal government has to regulate firearms and which powers belong exclusively to the states? Gun rights people know these things; gun control people tend not to know them.
The NRA is the ultimate paper tiger. If you listen to the “mainstream media” you would think that the NRA controls the minds of millions of gun-crazed Second Amendment zealots. The fact is that the NRA has perhaps 4 million members, and really active members probably are in the range of tens of thousands. There are between 80 and 100 million gun owners in the United States. No one really knows. Many gun owners feel that the NRA is way too conciliatory and willing to deal away their rights when the chips are down. Many other gun owners think the NRA has gone off the deep end and doesn’t represent their concerns or opinions. The NRA doesn’t represent the majority of gun owners or speak for them. As long as people continue to promote the fiction that the NRA is some kind of secret all-powerful empire holding sway over the minds of our legislators, gun control advocates will continue to miss the mark and fail to speak to the majority of gun owners. Gun control advocates have an interest in minimizing the support for 2nd Amendment rights. Mythologizing the NRA is one way of doing that.
You cannot defeat an adversary you do not understand.
Tomorrow morning, when you are on your way to your yoga class, the “gun nuts” will be reading the latest legislative filings, writing down numbers and e-mail addresses, and making phone calls. And, that’s why the NRA keeps on winning.
Step through the door
between two worlds,
one to be departed
and one to be explored,
and one is unknown.
Fall asleep and awaken.
Waking and sleeping
are different worlds.
I flee from troubling vision,
sweating, out of breath,
flying not as well as before.
Awake, escaped, relieved.
Sex. Orgasm, “La petite mort,”
the little death, release that comes.
Dissolve into the universe,
indistinguishable for the moment.
Go from particular to oceanic,
a self to non-identity.
Surrender and then return.
Old guitars lean on chairs.
Sound boxes curve
like bodies of women.
Blank music paper scatters
to catch notes which fall
from long fingers
with blue knuckles.
of guitar chord spin
for a moment in the air.
Cigarette smoke settles in waves
around un-barbered heads–
islands in a phantom sea.
Music played urgently
pushes back the void.
The world shaped by it
can be photographed
but not the sound itself.
Fort Pulaski National Monument is located between Savannah and Tybee Island, Georgia. It preserves Fort Pulaski, where in 1862 during the American Civil War the Union Army successfully tested a rifled cannon, the success of which rendered brick fortifications obsolete. The fort was also used as a prisoner-of-war camp. The National Monument includes most of Cockspur Island (containing the fort) and all of adjacent McQueens Island.
These are not happy places. This place saw destruction, suffering and defeat. Blood was spilled on these floorboards. It is all very distant to us now, 151 years ago. This was not a place you wanted to be with a war going on.
Click on photos for larger view.
Patriots Point is a naval museum, and especially naval aviation. Patriots Point is the home of the USS Yorktown, CV-10, a legendary aircraft carrier. The hangar deck is packed with WWII war birds and carrier warfare displays, and the Apollo 8 space capsule which the Yorktown recovered. This is a place worth seeing. You walk these decks with reverence. Patriots Point is also home to the submarine USS Clamagore (SS-343) and the destroyer USS Laffey (DD-724). I could have stayed there for a week. Click on photos for larger view.
I would not have heard you,
lost as I was in myself.
I may have wondered about you,
but I would not have heard.
I would not have heard you
above the whispered storm
of doubt and imagination,
of thoughts that would not leave.
I would not have heard you,
though you cried for me to do so.
It was not my choice, nor plan.
Forgive me if you must.
I would not have heard you,
lost as I was in this dream.
I awakened too late to hear you,
too late to take your call.
My old buddy, Dewey, died this morning at 6:40 AM EST. He was 82 and in a lot of pain. I saw him last night at the hospital and I knew it wouldn’t be long. He was a brilliant chess player. We played every Monday afternoon, usually two games, unless I had to be somewhere else. He always bought me lunch because he loved to play me. I have been playing chess since I was a kid and I am utterly ferocious on the chess board, but even old and sick and loaded with pain meds, he could beat me about half the time. I never threw a game just to make him feel good. A few times, I would question moves he made because I knew he wasn’t seeing the pieces well, but that was the only break I ever gave him. He could surprise me with a gambit I didn’t think he would take. Old as he was, he would learn the way I played the diversionary game and turn it around on me to win. After two games, I would leave his house sweating and exhausted.
Dewey was not an ordinary man. He hired on with IBM in the 1950’s and learned system design. He built the mainframes for U.S. Steel and Humana, among others. I never once saw his memory falter, no matter how sick or medicated he was. A native of Pennsylvania, he was devoted to Penn State. At one point a dispute arose with a rehab facility about the day he was released. He said it was a particular day in September and the rehab was trying to add another week to his stay. He said that, no, he had come home that day and watched the Penn State game. He was asked, “Who did Penn State play that day?” Without missing a beat, he said, “Indiana State.” We got on the web and checked, and sure enough, he was right. His mind never faltered.
This morning his wife called and told me he had died during the night. I wasn’t awake that early and she left the message on my iPhone. I listened to the recorded message and it was like sitting in an electric chair, even though I knew it was imminent, and I knew that, given the pain he was in, it was a blessing, it still hit me like a thunderbolt. He had acute arthritis, congestive heart failure and Type 1 diabetes. I went to the hospital and prayed with him every day, but I knew he would never get out. I knew we had played our last game, but I still taunted him, “I’m not going to let you weasel out. We have a game to play.” He would answer, “OK, you’re on,” but I suppose we both knew that it was brave talk, and the game was not going to happen.
Tonight, I set up the chess board and played both sides, trying to remember what he would do if he were playing me.