Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Baltimore Riots Happen Every Day

... we just don't see them because they happen in neighborhoods we don't visit.

Here are some odds and ends that have occurred to me on the topic.

These folks live somewhere, just not near us. Image source.

  • The people you see on your TV or on YouTube vandalizing and looting in Baltimore are not vampires. They do not emerge from coffins in a faraway castle whenever there's a shooting of a black man by a white cop and then return to their coffins to sleep for months once the looting is done. They are all someone's neighbors every day. Just as we only sling #blacklivesmatter around on Twitter if there's a white guy involved in a shooting, we only worry about these looters when there's a riot. It doesn't seem to occur to us that they're always out there, stealing, smashing and hurting.
  • Things the rioters probably never hear: "You were out doing what?!? You just wait until your father gets home! He's going to tan your hide!" See also: tweet embedded below.
  • What's it like to live amidst these people? What's it like to grow up among them? When I was, say, 8, I used to think that teenagers were demigods. Everything they did was cool and I wanted to be just like them, even more than I wanted to be an astronaut, cowboy, train engineer or French existentialist. How can we expect kids to grow up with any moral sense at all when their idols come home laughing and joking, arms full of booty? How about when their idols come home with the goodies and there are no responsible, adult men who beat some respect for property into them?
  • This reminds me of the Geronimo book I blogged about yesterday. Geronimo spent years murdering and looting and then whined about how the white man didn't keep his word. I dunno, Geronimo, I'm not sure that anyone was really all that interested in keeping a treaty with a unpredictable, amoral thug. In the end, US troopers tracked him and his tribe down and mopped the floor with them. The outnumbered and outgunned Apaches did their best to make everyone mad and then were shocked when they were wiped out. There's a lesson for the Baltimore rioters here somewhere, I'm sure.
  • Expecting the parents to take responsibility for their vandal-children seems to me to be the act of pure optimism and / or cultural ignorance:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Geronimo Was A Parochial Bonehead

At a friend's house for dinner this wekend, I spent some time talking to a retired Navy SEAL. During a wide-ranging discussion, he recommended I read Geronimo: His Own Story. I found it on Audible and have been devouring it greedily. There's lots to be pulled from it and no doubt it will engender several blog posts, but a couple of key points are worth mentioning here.

First off, Geronimo was a menace to everyone around him. Everyone associated with him ends up dead except him. After his tribe suffered a massacre at the hands of the Mexican army, no doubt in retaliation for something of which Geronimo was unaware, he dedicates his life to fighting and killing Mexicans. His first several forays were disasters. Almost everyone in his command is killed and they brought back nothing. His tribe was nonplussed, but he kept at it, albeit with fewer and fewer volunteers for his raids each time.

After a while, he had some success, mostly against mule trains and villagers. Here's one such described in his own words.
Early the next summer (1866) I took thirty mounted warriors and invaded Mexican territory. We went south through Chihuahua as far as Santa Cruz, Sonora, then crossed over the Sierra Madre Mountains, following the river course at the south end of the range. We kept on westward from the Sierra Madre Mountains to the Sierra de Sahuripa Mountains, and followed that range northward. We collected all the horses, mules, and cattle we wanted, and drove them northward through Sonora into Arizona. Mexicans saw us at many times and in many places, but they did not attack us at any time, nor did any troops attempt to follow us. When we arrived at our homes we gave presents to all, and the tribe feasted and danced. During this raid we had killed about fifty Mexicans.
Along with the booty came Mexican troops. Several times they followed him back to his camp and attacked, but the Apaches were too much for the Mexican army and managed to drive them off each time. At no time did Geronimo figure out that by constantly raiding Mexico, he was getting everyone ticked off at him. He had no comprehension of a larger Mexican government or the size of the Mexican population. He saw each town as its own tribe and the concept of Mexico as a nation that went from the border to the Yucatan was beyond him.

His soldiers fought with bows and arrows and spears. The Mexicans had guns, which the Apaches captured and used until the ammunition would run out. Superior technology and improving technology didn't seem to register with the Apaches. Year after year, they kept hitting the Mexican hornet's nest as hard as they could.

In the field, the Mexicans were no match for the Apaches. However, because Geronimo couldn't comprehend the notion of a larger government, he suffered a major defeat when he made a treaty with a Mexican village, thinking that would protect him from Mexican soldiers. The villagers gave the Indians tequila, got them drunk, whereupon the Mexican army showed up and shot his band of raiders to pieces.

Geronimo had no concept of morality outside of his own. It was perfectly honorable to raid and steal and murder as long as it was done the right way. He had no problem wiping out whole farmsteads if they resisted when he and his goons showed up to rob the place. When it happened to him under different circumstances, he was aghast and complained of treachery.

The reader has a major advantage over the author when reading this book. The Apache's world was tiny in all respects. They had no idea how big the United States and Mexico were in geography or population. They never understood anyone else's motivations nor did it occur to them that there could be other motivations. Technology was a given, not something developed by Man, continually advancing. Rather than understand it, they made use of simple things they could steal like guns, but left everything else.

Geronimo's end and the Apaches' end, for that matter, were utterly predictable. American and Mexican settlers finally had enough of the attacks and rather than engage in Indian-style warfare with endless tit-for-tat raids and pillaging, they decided to simply wipe them out.

Much like How I Found Livingstone In Africa, Geronimo's book leaves you with a much deeper sense of history than what our kids are learning in school these days with their perpetual repetitions of White Man Bad, Everyone Else Victim. There's a lot to be said for reading books by the people who lived at the time instead of distillations of them by people who want you to think a certain way.

This one is definitely going in the kids' reading pile.

To Geronimo, Mexico was a couple of villages near the border.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sanguine, Velvet Ocean Waves

At least that's what I thought when I saw this lovely rose in my mother's garden. I left it quite large, so it might be worth a click. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

It's Not Theology But Biology That Dooms Marriage Equality

... with Christians and Catholics in particular.

Since the time of St. Thomas Aquinas, Catholicism has reconciled science and theology. That reconciliation is based upon a few simple precepts.

First, God does not create contradictions. Second, God has created a rational world, one that we can work out for ourselves through logical thought. This leads to the third - if established science conflicts with theology, then our understanding of theology must be revised.

In the case of marriage, not only do science and theology agree, they thoroughly reinforce each other. Biology is pretty clear on how babies are made. They come from one man and one woman. Since people are paramount in the faith, that relationship must be a special one. To say that two men or two women or two men, three women and eight parakeets are equal to one man and one woman, you have to dismiss God-given biology. In essence, you have to say that God was mistaken when He decided that all human life would come from that one relationship.

As far as I'm concerned, if the populace votes to redefine marriage, then that's the way it goes. If Bob and John in San Francisco get hitched and are recognized by the government as married, that's their issue. However, if the government somehow forces me to recognize all marriages and all relationships as equal, it's violating my first amendment rights to freedom of religion. It is forcing me to deny the biological facts given to us by God. There's no squaring that circle at all.

Just something to ponder as the weeks go by and more and more Christians end up in the tumbrel, carted off to the guillotine for not being sufficiently enlightened.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Your Roman Numeral Joke For The Day

A Roman walks into a bar, holds up two fingers, and says “Five beers please!”

You're welcome.

Bonus joke:

A Buddhist monk approaches a burger foodtruck and says, “Make me one with everything.”

The monk pays with a $20 bill, which the vendor takes, puts in his cash box, and closes the lid. “Where’s my change?” the monk asks.

The vendor replies, “Change comes from within.”

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Moral Choices

President Obama's criticism of Christians who still mistakenly cling to a definition of marriage based on that discredited superstition known as biology was a bit of a turning point for me. I see the world in a different way now.

Driving over to Mike Hess Brewing in North Park to hook up with @deanriehm yesterday, I passed a hookah lounge / smoke shop / adult book store. I also passed a protestant church. I thought, as I do these days, that the adult book store was above reproach while the church undoubtedly was a gathering place of people who required severe re-education.

We want more people in adult book stores and fewer people in church. Amazing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Taking a walk at lunch the other day, I came across this little fellow sunning himself on the sidewalk. He let me walk right past him and he barely moved. I got out my phone, turned on the camera and went back to take a photo. I don't know why I like it, but I do.

Odd thought: I can't recall seeing a resting lizard with its tail straight out. They're always curved. I wonder if lizards are right-tailed and left-tailed with the dominant side being the direction of curve they most often choose.