Category Archives: Current Events

The Circle of Life (A Non-Disney Rendition)

Lion KingThe past month has been mind-bogglingly painful for IDROS, as I am sure it has been for many of you. It’s basically been like Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire Part Deux…in thirty friggin’ days. Another horrific mass shooting, nuclear war somehow becoming more likely to invoke Nena-like apocalyptic nightmare scenarios for the first time in 25 years, natural disasters out the yin yang (is that still a saying?), celebrity deaths that leave us shaking our heads (IDROS was particularly saddened by Walter Becker’s passing), the only Vice President IDROS likes these days got diagnosed with Breast Cancer, various examples of racism and homophobia, terrorist attacks, This is Us got the axe (kidding), another oil spill, the best quarterback in the NFL broke his collarbone (and ruined IDROS’ chances of winning his fantasy football championship this season), Kaepernick still doesn’t have a job and the movement he has spawned has caused a caustic environment throughout the nation, our president’s lack of empathy (demonstrated in numerous ways this past month) continues to embarrass and frustrate many Americans…and on, and on, and on.

But the story currently gripping the nation, sending shockwaves through the entertainment industry and beyond, finally motivated IDROS to make time in his busy schedule to hunt and peck for a stretch in an effort to make sense of all of the hopeless and catastrophic BS that haunts us as we enter the fourth quarter of 2017.

You know…the story that ensures you will never look at a potted plant the same way….ever again.

IDROS is not surprised by the news, to say the least. And obviously that is part of the problem…pretty much nobody was. Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg penned a well-written post about his Golden Goose named Harvey and the role the silence of those around him played in the sick and twisted mogul’s twenty-plus-year (likely much more) run harassing hundreds of unsuspecting women (click here if you haven’t read it yet).

While entertaining, IDROS did not find the piece to be enlightening…in fact it served only to reinforce the feeling IDROS already had upon first hearing the news…of course everybody f-ing knew. And to think: Disney owned Miramax during the time Harvey really rose to prominence. Wholesome Disney…meet your sinister underbelly. We shall see if the brass over at Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse knew about the rat they had lurking inside their Magic Kingdom.

Disney inadvertently helped create Harvey Weinstein when they purchased Miramax in 1993. Disney also created The Lion King, a mostly accurate portrait of earth’s animal kingdom and the symbiosis necessary to perpetuate the health of life on our planet. IDROS wants to discuss these themes as they relate to pretty much all of the awful news gripping our planet. Grab a drink and a snack and make yourself comfortable…this could take a while.

Bullying is a topic of concern among most parents in America, and likely the world. It has emerged and jumped to the forefront of national dialogue in recent years in the wake of various school shootings and an increase in suicides among America’s youth. But bullying is not new. We know this because Biff Tannen, pretty much the poster-boy for bullying, was brought to the big screen in 1985, more than three decades ago. But bullying has been around since the dawn of man…in fact since the dawn of LIFE.

Animals of all species have bullies, and always have. Darwin explained the phenomenon using his theory of “Survival of the Fittest.” Alpha males of various species assert themselves in a myriad of behaviors in order to gain access to the best feeding territories, clean water, safe terrain free from enemies, or at least more easy to defend, and most importantly, to suitable mates. Females, for their part, are generally open to this display of male dominance, and often to the point of allowing (or at least accepting that) their mate is also mating with several other females, because mating with an alpha male improves the odds that her offspring will be stronger, faster and more able to survive. Bullying is a trait necessary for survival in the Animal Kingdom.

Humans have evolved. But our base instincts are still derived from our pre-civilized time as animals.

Bullying is a major problem. In fact, IDROS will go so far as to say, as far as the future of society is concerned…bullying is THE problem. It is the singular greatest problem man has…and always has been.

All conflict is a direct result of bullying. All fights are a direct result of bullying. And all wars are a direct result of bullying. Think about that. Let it sink in. Any time a person or group of people attempt to assert themselves over another, for ANY reason…they are acting the bully.

Awful criminal activity is pretty much universally some form of bullying. From blackmail to rape, human trafficking to armed robbery, pedophilia to organized crime.

Furthermore, there are more subtle forms of bullying. Bribery (which unbelievably is legal in the form of LOBBYING), harassment (sexual and otherwise) and racism. While all of these types of bullying can be overt, often they manifest in less public ways…especially in the anonymous age of the internet. But acts such as racism are learned…and so just being racist assholes in the confines of your home, around your children, without directly committing any racist acts to anyone else, can have deleterious effects.

Not only are humans wired genetically to be bullies, but we pass on bullying behavior socially and educationally as well. Children and adults alike witness aggressive or ignorant behavior at home, at school, with their friends and even in the workplace, and become infinitely more likely to act similarly.

Maybe more impactful than all of that is the cyclical nature of experience. People who are bullied, especially as children, are more likely to become bullies themselves. Children whom are molested and/or abused are exponentially more likely to become predators themselves.

Bullying is a true circle of life. Scar was a bully in The Lion King. And when he rose to (read: murderously seized) power, the kingdom became a desert wasteland. Sound eerily like any scenario that seems more and more imminent every day in the actual world?

Power is the drug that fuels pretty much all bullies. And all forms of bullying are an assertion of power over a bully’s prey.

Americans elected a friggin’ bully to be the leader of the free world. If that isn’t a complete nod to the fact that bullying is in our DNA, and that Americans have all been bullied themselves and so are now subconsciously (and unfortunately, in many cases, consciously) becoming bullies themselves by placing the king of all bullies on the proverbial Iron Throne! And our Confederacy of Dunces isn’t the only nation to have a bully in its highest office. Russia, North Korea, Syria, China, and the Philippines among others fit the bill. But our bully-in-chief has displayed a rare aptitude for bullying, demonstrating his prowess in a multitude of ways over the years: Racism, verbal abuse, threats, and of course, sexual harassment/abuse.

Sexual harassment and abuse is rampant around the globe. Vile rapes and sexual mutilations occur with ridiculous frequency…and those are the ones we find out about through the media. 50% of our society is disrespected on a daily basis…and always has been. Even some of the male population gets sexually harassed and abused. And women can be perpetrators as well.

The god-damned Fearless Girl statue on Wall Street…wait for it…Fearless Girlwas commissioned by a hedge fund that was recently outed for unequal pay practices. Hypocrisy emanates from every scandal that is uncovered. We are all guilty.

The Harvey Weinstein scandal is important. It helps pinpoint the focal point of all that is wrong with modern society. If we can identify a problem, we can then work to address and overcome it. But it won’t be easy.

When IDROS was in middle school, a bully was tormenting some peers in the hallway. The bully was pretty much twice the size of the then awkward 11-year-old IDROS. Rather than confront the bully and tell him to stop, IDROS chose to laugh at his classmates. IDROS didn’t even go and report the bullying after the fact, in private…not even anonymously. The guilt still lingers. It is compounded by the fact that IDROS felt good whilst chuckling at his peer’s misfortune. Good because IDROS wasn’t in the crosshairs himself, but also good because IDROS definitely felt better about himself at that moment because for whatever reason, this gargantuan troglodyte decided that IDROS did not deserve his wrath…which in your author’s sophomoric mind…must have meant that the asshole liked IDROS more than the unfortunate souls he was targeting. It meant IDROS was higher on the social hierarchy, in the view of our school bully, than those other “losers”…some of whom, incidentally, were my friends. The bully caught two of my scrawny classmates by their shirt collars as they tried to run away from him. I could hear one of their shirt necks rip and stretch. “You think they’re fags?” the bully asked me. “How would I know?” I answered. He then forced the two boys together face to face, draped their arms over each other’s shoulders and forced them into a hug. “What about now?” he asked, laughing. I laughed nervously. But I laughed. I said nothing. I did nothing.

I’m not saying it was putting a bag of dog-shit on my best friend’s porch, lighting it on fire and ringing the bell type behavior. But the bully wasn’t one of the cool kids, either. I think about that day sometimes. I try to make sense of it. I see the fear in the eyes of my two friends. I hear my nervous laughter. And I think about what I should have done…could have done differently. I also think about scenarios like in the aforementioned Can’t Buy Me Love, about whether if the bully was not merely a giant jock strap, but someone who was cool and revered at my school…what would I have done? What would I have been willing to do to impress them? IDROS was bullied and teased at a young age. And so this instance of not being bullied when I definitely could have been was a game changer. Rather than risk becoming a rat, a tattle tale, and thus give new reasons to Mr. Asshole to turn his charms on me, I did nothing. I said nothing. I laughed. And I even enjoyed it on some incomprehensible level.

And so I come back to Scott Rosenberg’s post. A rising tide lifts all boats…even if said tide happens to be a tsunami. At a certain point though, those boats gets smashed on the rocky shore just like everything else. He knows it. You can feel his shame, his guilt emanate from the screen you are reading. He is trying to get that monkey off his back, as he clamors for others who rose on Weinstein’s coattails to do the same. It’s got to be cathartic. But is it enough?

Look, if anyone has ever watched Beautiful Girls, a vastly underrated film that put Rosenberg on the map back in 1996, there is a scene toward the end where Mo (who was likely a bully in high school), played by Noah Emmerich, is pounding on the rich cuckold Steve’s door. When the door opens, Steve’s friends are pinned into a snowbank, and the target of Mo’s fury begins to cower and beg for mercy, Mo sees his genuine fear and also, through the open door, his young daughter. He sees the lives that hang in the balance from his and his friend’s (Matt Dillon’s) actions. He feels guilt and shame…and he feels EMPATHY, and the audience experiences it with him. Both the writing and acting are stellar.

And if Rosenberg understood this well enough to create that moment, I am going to accept his apology. Heaven knows IDROS hasn’t been perfect. We are all human. We are all bullies. We are all bullied.

But things do need to change.

Hollywood has championed a recent trend to feature television shows and movies that center around flawed anti-heroes…most of whom are BULLIES (think Tony Soprano, Frank Underwood, etc.) Even women are portrayed as bullies…Cersei Lannister, Selina Meyer, Norma Bates, etc. We, as the audience, are demanding this, and consuming it at alarming speeds thanks to on demand streaming services. Americans are living vicariously through our favorite bullies, allowing them to satisfy our subconscious desire…our INNATE desire…to be the bully ourselves.

Who among us, when Dr. Melfi was raped, didn’t secretly or openly yearn for Tony to find that piece of shit rapist and do unspeakable things to him. The writers were actually smart in not satisfying our craving, because truth be told, their closure would never have measured up to the horrors each of us likely unleashed in our own imaginations. We want this. We enjoy this.

So much so that we (and by we, I in no way want any credit for it) as Americans actually elected a head of state that reflects this inner bully.

But still, things need to change.

And it will be an uphill battle to make positive change regarding any aspect of bullying if the leader of the free world is as big a bully as the world has ever seen. I don’t care what side of the political fence you tend to occupy…the man who our countrymen elected to sit in the Oval Office is so lacking in empathy it is terrifying. So perhaps we should start there. I mean if Big Harv was fired from his own company, unceremoniously removed from its board and banished from all things Hollywood, I believe Agent Orange has earned a similar fate. Who’s starting the “Your Fired” campaign on Change.org?

Second, we need to adopt the same credo for all bullying that we do for terrorism (which is, itself, a form of bullying). See Something, Say Something. Especially for those of us who witness acts of aggression but aren’t victims ourselves. Victims often remain silent because they were traumatized, and don’t want to be traumatized a second time by reporting their awful experiences…especially given there is a chance their account will fall on deaf, or unsupportive ears. It is up to the rest of us to create an environment where bullies cannot operate, where the silence of victims and witnesses alike actually aids and abets the perpetrators.

And finally, we need to LISTEN. We need to value and respect the women (and men and children) who are victimized. We need to really hear them, and comfort them and offer to help. Sometimes we need to make hard choices, and help even when we are told not to do or say anything. IDROS is not a trained therapist, so would recommend consulting one before going rogue. But we all need to listen.

We’re all in this together…and overcoming our genetic predisposition for bullying, our psychological and physical damage from bullying as well as our awful behaviors that were taught to us by our parents, friends, peers, colleagues, siblings, teachers and other “role models” from the time we were born will be hard.

But in the incredible words of JFK, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

Slow clap finale as the screen fades to black.

#MeToo

IDROS

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Kilroy

mr-roboto

The problem’s plain to see

Too much technology

Machines to save our lives

Machines de-humanize

I apologize to the loyal readers of IDROS for my long radio silence.

I do not want to get political, and have tried to refrain from joining, and invariably contributing to, the awful vitriol that has engulfed our nation and all media and social media outlets over the past year.

IDROS has basically sat stupefied, mouth agape, head in hands, alternating between muttering and outright screaming streams of four letter words since the election cycle got into full swing last year…the histrionics picked up after the primaries, and the past month has been a giant shitstorm of head-scratching, visceral pain, recurring nightmares and abject horror.

The dystopia that has enveloped what I once believed to be the greatest nation on the planet is NOT the fault of the Orange Twitter Troll. He is merely a symptom (think diarrhea, or migraines, or vomiting, etc.) of an amalgam of problems that all came to a head over the past decade…but how anyone in this once proud nation of ours with a true second grade education or higher can look me in the eye and honestly tell me they are 100% confident in having a male Kardashian, a narcissistic man-child with thinner skin than refrigerated pudding, a lying, misogynistic, shallow, science-denying troglodyte at the helm, influencing global and national policy on a daily basis…is beyond my comprehension.

But still, trying to avoid politicizing this post, it is not the doofus played by Alec Baldwin’s fault that we are in this position. DT did not create the rampant pay-to-play, corporate controlled political system mired in a “no-win,” corrupt, two-party system that ensures whomever escapes the gauntlet with the presidential crown will be beholden to many rich and powerful people and companies and other nations, but never to the actual people who vote en masse. And DT is not responsible for the racism that flows effortlessly from sea to polluted sea (even if he has become its champion), nor the firmly entrenched institutional racism that continues to divide our nation long after the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln and the fall of John Crow.

The Donald, toupee wearing ass clown that he is, and his band of unqualified, upper-crust, out-of-touch, swamp-dwelling-extraordinaire, racist losers that comprise his cabinet, has become a scapegoat and the ultimate target for the leftists in our nation. They will spend the next year, or two or four, or god forbid, even eight years fighting these f-wits’ every move…and with good reason. But what really needs fighting…and their full attention…are the reasons he “won.” The underlying cancer(s) that have thrust our nation into this mess, that made it possible that a self-conscious 12-year-old in a 70-year-old’s body could ascend from the celebrity C-list circus to the highest office on earth.

Or so I thought…

We have a bigger problem than Trump, his mostly unqualified and undeserving cabinet, and the reasons most research and media outlets point to as why Trump won…a much bigger problem, one that threatens all of humanity, frankly.

Maybe you are wondering why I titled this post “Kilroy,” and led with a song lyric that seemingly has nothing to do with anything I have written to this point.

Maybe IDROS simply really loves Styx, and fondly remembers roller skating at Young’s Regency to songs like Mr. Roboto. Maybe IDROS was hearkening back to a simpler time, in the early 80s, when IDROS was 10 and hadn’t a true care in the world…when the man-sized Oompa Loompa was still married to his first wife and had not yet opened any casinos in Atlantic City.

Or perhaps IDROS speaks Japanese, spent some time living in Japan and appreciates the references to the Land of the Rising Sun, and the Japanese language in the lyrics.

Or…the band’s name really seemed apt today. The mythical river, after all, was as divisive as our current Halloween Marshmallow Peep-led administration, and I suppose many would be pretty satisfied with the analogy of POTUS Chump to Hades. Even Cerberus, the mythical 3-headed beast guarding Hades, is well-represented by Bannon-Spicer-Pence. Hades himself is described throughout the mythical canon as being cold, stern and wrathful, with a childish stubbornness, rage and poor self-image (which derived from him basically drawing the short stick, which banished him to lord over the underworld, while his two brothers inherited the air and sea).

While A, B and C are all solid guesses, and pretty spot on in their own right, the truth is IDROS recently read the scariest article ever and realized humanity, especially for those in the 99%, is in greater peril than imagined. Even by great thinkers like Carl Sagan, who in 1990, warned: “We live in a society absolutely dependent on science and technology and yet have cleverly arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. That’s a clear prescription for disaster.”

The article in question: Click here

Please find a quiet spot, take a deep breath, click on the hyperlink and try to make it through this piece without flying off the handle.

I am sorry for sharing that with you. But here’s the thing. I reiterate…it’s still not Trump’s fault. He harnessed [read: purchased] the power and used it for his own brand of evil, sure. But this technology is up for grabs. If it wasn’t him, it would have been someone else…and it will be seized upon by people and entities far worse than the giant Cheeto. And used in ways far more sinister. Think about it. And by the way, this is only the beginning. This technology will improve, and become even more accurate. The data it uses will only become more accurate and more pervasive. And I hate to say it, but just as Sagan (and Orwell, and a litany of others) warned, the majority of the world population will become more and more ignorant to the increasingly advanced technologies that drive this Orwellian nightmare.

After a rough stretch, I sat down and pondered the situation. I believe we can make a concerted effort to combat those who might seek to exploit us through technology. My thoughts are below. As always, IDROS welcomes and encourages all of you to comment and add to this list:

  1. We really have become way too dependent on technology in general. Whatever you can do to ween yourself off the teat of Silicon Valley, even just a little bit, will be helpful. I realize this is a platitude, so find a way to unplug every now and then…put down the smart phone, read an actual book or magazine, write an actual letter…learn or embrace a non-tech-related hobby…exercise more…go acoustic…find your beach;
  2. Make yourself difficult or even impossible to map by these BIG BROTHER wannabees. This is where it gets interesting, and even fun. Don’t be so predictable when using technology. Visit sites that have content opposite or vastly different from your own beliefs. When shopping, hit up online stores that go against all of your fashion sensibilities, your musical taste, and your general preferences. Go to dating sites where you never in a million years would think to go. Same with porn. Same with news, sports, blogs and anything else. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, don’t buy shit online if you can help it…(I realize that organic baby food your baby loves isn’t sold in stores, and you need your anonymity to buy those Civil War and Third Reich relics…and I know the convenience is pulling you like gravity, but think of it as saving the retail real estate industry. I know. That is going to be tough. But if you want your freedom, think of IDROS as Morpheus, and this advice is the red pill (and the removal of the tracking device);
    • ***On a related topic, we are already way past the point of no return with how we buy things…because of credit cards, debit cards and all sorts of electronic payment options, tracking our spending habits gets easier every day. I am not sure how we reverse this, or ensure complete privacy, but how we consume is and will continue to be a leading driver in how tech companies and those that control them can map us, our personalities and ultimately anticipate how we behave and thus influence our vote (if we even have a vote anymore);
  3. Turn your devices off whenever you can, and be sure to disable any cameras unless you are using them – who knows who might be watching, or hacking;
  4. Know that whatever you post, email or blog will be permanently inscribed for eternity, and will be searchable and likely used against you either directly or indirectly. Be careful, and teach your children to use caution as well;
  5. Stop taking those ridiculous tests (IQ, Which Facts of Life Character Are You? How well do you know the movie Sixteen Candles? What Color Is Your Personality? ETC…) This goes double for those social network games, by the way…you know who you are, and to what I am referring…just stop;
  6. We need to find out which tech leaders are with us [read: good people], and empower them to assist us in preventing a 1984/Matrix/Terminator tech-driven dystopia. People were very quick to #deleteUBER, and screamed bloody murder when Elon Musk joined Trump’s advisory team…but if any of these tech leaders (Gates, Zuckerberg, Ellison, Brin, et al) truly have humanity’s best interests at heart…we need to figure that out, and we need those men and women to join ranks with the likes of Trump and Theresa May, and to ensure that harmful technology does not end up in the wrong hands; and,
  7. If I am missing anything, and I am sure I am, because this is complicated and mostly above my paygrade, please add to these ideas in the comment section below.

IDROS is frightened by recent events. There is a lot going on, and much of it, unfortunately, is awful. While the media is in many ways as bad as it is good (and in, fact, is largely responsible for an ego like POTUS rising from Reality Star to his current perch), what is happening vis-à-vis Cap’n Hell-Toupee and multiple media outlets is unacceptable.

F-it. I tried to avoid getting political, but I can’t do it.

IDROS promises not to ramble on too much more, but here is my general take, if you couldn’t crack my code already:

Trump is bad….and embarrassing. But none of this is his fault. The system was clearly broken before his ascent from the bowels of the underworld. With a great deal of assistance from technology, which is pretty much terrifying, and a little more from Russia, which is scary too, especially since they seem to employ technological warfare quite well, here we are, on the precipice with all that is sacred, watching as the foundation supporting us is eaten away and compromised more quickly than a sand castle in a rising tide…during a hurricane.

IDROS is generally optimistic, however. All of what was broken before Brexit and Trump still threatens us… more so even than Trump and his Fourth Reich. Had anyone else won the 2016 US election, nothing would have changed. None of our systemic failures would have been fixed. And we would continue to plod along in a broken world, becoming more and more marginalized. IDROS believes that our current assclown-in-chief is so loathed, and so bad for humanity in general that he will serve to actually unite enough people to not only remove him and his cronies from office, but also to fix much of what created the perfect storm that led to his election in the first place.

Anyway…keepin’ it light pre-Oscars. Enjoy the show tonight. RIP Bill Paxton. And if I am wrong/misguided regarding my optimism above, in one of his great character’s immortal words (using a bit of poetic license), “we’re stewed buttwads.”

Thanks as always for reading,

IDROS

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Game of Thrones

As much as I enjoy that show, I apologize for the misleading title of my first post in quite some time. Wrapped up in those child rearing years, I haven’t been afforded the time to sleep much, let alone formulate some [rational/cohesive/non-incriminating] thoughts, type them and inscribe them in the book of life that is the internet.

In returning to my long-neglected blog, I wanted to make a splash. And so I chose a subject that is near and dear to my heart…and one on which I am a bit of an expert, if you get right down to it. That subject is none other than bathrooms. These idyllic sanctuaries of thought, chambers of solitude in which I escape my yelling children and the stresses of life…blessed houses of the unholy; day and night spas, where we all cleanse ourselves in myriad ways, by purging ourselves of the wretched and putrescent filth within us as well as by rinsing away and sanitizing ourselves from the accumulation of unpleasantness and detritus that clings to our exteriors, and mats itself in our plumage…oddly, these havens have taken center stage in our national political scene, just in time to add another layer of excrement to what is already a giant compost pile of an election cycle.

Ok…I realize the lavatories that have the Bible Belt’s collective panties in a bunch are not the wonderful and relatively clean oases depicted above, but rather the terrifying, rancid, god-awful bowels of society better known as public restrooms, the necessary evils that demonstrate to all of us that we humans truly are still wild animals, barely removed from primates who fling feces at one another; and we continually remind one another of that fact by doing unspeakable things in public facilities, and just leaving it there, in all of its glory for those that follow…one after another until some poor, unfortunate soul paid what I can only imagine is minimum wage, summons their dignity and courage, dons some industrial gloves and heads on in with enough ammonia to kill all living things in a small country.

Not sure public bathrooms have received so much attention since George Michael was arrested…or perhaps that congressional game of footsie. That said, I have had some time to reflect on this hot button issue, and can say that while it is complex, and does not and will never have a clear-cut and satisfying solution for everyone on the planet, I believe I am close enough to an expert on private residence bathrooms (and half baths too) to effectively weigh in and provide my faithful readers some insight into the hysteria that is boiling over in North Carolina and many other areas of our nation where the average constituent believes the earth is younger than my grandmother, evolution is a myth, the second amendment is the single greatest edit to a document in the history of the world, even though said document governs a nation his or her great grandpappy and mee-maw tried to secede from (they still believe their family was right in doing so and that the South will rise again), and no, they are not so fond of Jews, Muslims, Immigrants, Blacks and most other minorities, including homosexuals…certainly not trans-gender people.

Most of the people clamoring for the status quo are the same homophobes and ignoramuses that willingly send their children to church related activities, the Boy Scouts, duck hunts and clan rallies…and even subject them to long and uncomfortable family dinners with their estranged, drunk uncle two-first-names.

But when I say most, I am afraid that is misleading, as I see far too many people who do not fit those redneck characteristics all over social media, and even on my own feeds…people in my network…who believe Caitlin Jenner and her ilk should continue to hike up their skirts at urinals in men’s rooms rather than use the ladies’ rooms where they would be most comfortable.

I GET IT. I understand and empathize with the argument that this law would potentially endanger women and children as it opens the [bathroom] door to perverts, pedophiles, sexual deviants and rapists, who are willing to throw on a skirt and some make-up to gain access to public ladies’ rooms, then thus use this new loophole to prey on their newly vulnerable targets. And frankly, I don’t put it past some sickos in our society to do just that – peeping toms will ogle, perverts will cop feels, pedophiles will endanger our children and perhaps take photos or videos and share them in their disgusting online circles, and rapists…well you get this sordid picture.

But we are not a society who limits or withholds rights from people, no matter the size of that group, because doing so would possibly endanger others. Sure, our history books are littered with examples of the opposite of what I just typed…but that is not the ideal America we seek. Freedom, liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness are FOR ALL in this country, despite what prejudices and fears and built-in hatred and ignorance many in our populace might have…and certainly despite our own history, which is despicable on so many levels.

Furthermore, it is not the trans community that we have to fear. The miscreants and dregs of society many fear will take advantage of this new legislation to perpetrate evil will unfortunately continue to exist, whether these laws are enacted or not. We, as a society, will have to fear them either way. We cannot withhold rights and freedom from some in order to make evil people less able to enact evil. We cannot let the minority who truly don’t matter in our society – the criminals and perpetrators of evil – limit and effect the rights of upstanding citizens in any way…no matter who those upstanding citizens may be and what they may believe.

I see and hear and read a lot of rationalizations by those opposed to this new legislation based on the comparatively small size and therefore insignificance of the trans community. People fail to realize that allowing minorities equal rights, no matter how small a minority may be and no matter how uncomfortable said minority may make you due to your own belief system and narrow mindedness, means that anything you are able to do, buy, experience and enjoy in your life should be available to all…even if it creates discomfort, and yes, even if it might put some in danger from time to time. The trans community has been teased, bullied and tortured since the dawn of man. What they endure within their own psyches is unfathomable. Their entire lives, they deal with not only their own struggles and demons, but the very worst society has to offer. Anything we can do to make things better, easier and more human for the persecuted in our nation and the entire world should always be done. It is up to the rest of us to deal with the ramifications the best we can…for the instances we all fear are few and far between. The persecution and societal exile minorities like the trans community are subjected to are constant…every second of every minute of every hour of every day.

Hypocrisy reigns supreme in our country. People believe only what is in their own personal best interest. We cannot be a nation where the company line includes sentiments like “we can’t stop living our lives and visiting popular places and traveling, etc. because if we do, the terrorists win,” and also deprive our own citizens of rights because it might endanger our wives and daughters. Seriously…how can we allow people to have guns in their homes for protection, when it is clear as day that doing so is extremely dangerous to children who live in that home? How can we allow people to swim or surf in our oceans when some will inevitably be attacked by sharks, or drown? And how can we allow white men to become police officers when we all know some will abuse their power and profile and even kill innocent minorities?

Public restrooms are already awful, scary places. Allowing all people to use the appropriate restroom really doesn’t change that fact. It just makes us a little less of a society of assholes and hypocrites. It makes America better. Girls and women already tend to use the loo in pairs. Men and women bring their small children into public restrooms with them, whether those children are boys or girls. So TEACH your children the importance of vigilance and safety should they ever need to use a public restroom when you or another adult is not with your child. Teach them to always go in at least pairs…especially the girls, but the boys too. (And while you’re at it, teach your children to be more tolerant…the fewer assholes we raise, the better our country will be in the long run). And now even adult women need to be more alert and sensible when using public restrooms. There is always a price for freedom. Not just our own freedom, but our neighbors’ as well. If you haven’t served our great nation in combat, then please ask someone who has (or someone who lost a son, daughter, husband, wife or other loved one on the battlefield) what the true cost of freedom really is…and then thank them.

Tywin DiesSPOILER ALERT for GoT fans late to the party – To come full circle, George R.R. Martin made a humorous nod to his own first book title (which became the HBO series title) by having one of its most competent, strategically gifted and sinister characters meet his untimely demise on the proverbial throne, the can. Because just as with the Iron Throne, the porcelain throne is a place where men and women are quite vulnerable (go ask Elvis, or Lenny Bruce, or Top Gun Producer Don Simpson, or the others on this list). And now, that will be even more true. But this legislation must pass.

Thanks as always for reading.

Two weeks till Memorial Day…

IDROS

 

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Gunning for Changes

Gun Sight

Let me begin by saying, and then reiterating, that I am not seeking legislation that would take everyone’s guns away, or render gun ownership unconstitutional…

I believe guns are here to stay and like it or not (I don’t), they are part of our society.

But I also believe guns play a role in far too many catastrophes in our nation, and that some changes would probably prevent some of the tragedies, the senseless loss of lives, wrought by the mind-numbing, head-scratching proliferation of mass shootings, Darwin Award nominations and unacceptable “accidents.” I write “probably” not because I don’t 100% believe the right changes would make a difference, but because I, for my part, am willing to concede that until my proposal is enacted and given a proper sample size of time to take hold of our society (which has pretty much devolved into the Wild West of Spaghetti Western fame), I honestly don’t know whether things will measurably improve. But if one life is saved per year, changes are warranted. I believe many more will be spared…I am not alone…we have done things “their” way for too long already and have plenty of “ammunition” (pun intended) to push for change…now let’s enact that change, give it some time, and then compare.

Because the gun lobby has become stronger than the BO of a longshoreman after a two day shift, stronger than the active ingredient in SNL’s Colon Blow (Phil Hartman RIP…another tragic victim of a senseless shooting), stronger than Obi Wan threatens Darth Vader he would become should old Ani strike him down, stronger than the Mountain, stronger than a tech stock circa 1999, stronger than death itself (and death, we all know, is undefeated since the dawn of time)…those of us who believe the 2nd Amendment as imagined by the NRA and staunch gun supporters today is a complete fraud, and is interpreted as loosely (and falsely) as that geography textbook that was recently found to have referred to slaves as “workers” need to get creative.

Here is my plan:

You know who gets totally screwed in today’s campus/school shooting every day hum-drum, Groundhog Day if it was directed by Eli Roth world we live in? I mean, besides all of us, especially those of us with children in school who fear every day and night that the horrible story interrupting the crawl on every television, the nightly news story du jour will feature our own children’s institution…because that’s a given, right? RIGHT?

No, I am referring to the teachers, principals, team coaches, school nurses, admins, professors, and other college campus employees who seem to be thrust onto the battlefield daily in the scariest war imaginable by virtue of their profession. I am guessing none of them, even the rent-a-cops and public safety officers at most schools, signed up for this new fine print inserted into their job descriptions. Sure, there is probably a Sergeant Tackleberry type at some schools…a wanna-be hero, an ex-military type trained to kill by our government’s finest, a gun nut or two and a few other vigilantes and loose cannons, but by and large, the majority of those who dedicate their lives to educating and bettering our children are not looking to be charged with protecting our children from mass murderers and terrorists, with performing daily and weekly drills hiding the kids from danger “just in case,” and with potentially being shot and even dying in one of the historically safest professions out there.

Because of this, I propose all of these school employees, public and private, from elementary school all the way up to graduate school, across the USA, go on simultaneous strike. And I propose they continue to do so until changes are made. And I guarantee changes will be made. (Just imagine…)

I am not trying to insert myself into other people’s livelihoods…to force people already grappling with awful fears and potential scenarios unimaginable to most of us…to take up a selfless cause that could have difficult, unacceptable side effects, economic ramifications and even outcomes. But I am trying to get some of the people closest to the current trends, who have everything to lose, who already must struggle with “what ifs” and nightmares regularly because of the increasing prevalence of these tragedies, to help put an end to the madness, or at least to mitigate it…to act…to do something that might…just might reduce the number of these awful crimes from occurring.

The changes we should enact:

All guns must be registered like cars, with VIN numbers. Those who have guns registered already, need to do nothing else for registration purposes.

All guns not currently registered need to become registered (there will be those who do not comply here…primarily criminals).

To buy and register guns, a licensing and testing period must be passed, just like becoming licensed for a car. All gun owners and gun USERS (even if you are just using your dad’s or brother’s gun at the range), must get licensed, and keep their licensure up to date.

Anyone with a registered gun (see above) must become licensed, or the registration is forfeited.

To qualify for a license, there must be age limits (I propose 18), eye sight minimums (like with driving), and mental health examinations. These last two must be re-affirmed every two years for mental health, and six years for eyes.

All guns must be insured, and all licensed people must also be insured.

Gun Shows will be outlawed.

A hefty tax will be placed on ammunition which will pay for all the services and labor required to enact these new requirements – which will be overseen by the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

This will be Federal legislation, and apply to all states in the union (sorry Texas…and those who wish they were Texas).

New protocols will be implemented to allow for police and ATF personnel to make sure guns and their owners are in compliance with all of this – including but not limited to having random gun checks, not unlike sobriety checkpoints on the road.

Those caught with unregistered guns, uninsured guns, etc. will be jailed.

And the kicker: To qualify for a license, applicants must have already served two+ years in the US military in some capacity. Those who have not, must enroll. It’s part of the 2nd Amendment (trust me…it is…and all the friggin’ NRA supporters deserve to live the actual words of our Constitution, rather than the falsified Fantasy Land interpretation they forced upon us for the past thirty years). Plus, the training prospective gun owners will receive is vital.

And to all of you psychopaths who think we need to arm our teachers and school personnel:

I just keep getting images in my head of what it is, exactly, that you ignoramuses are calling for…schools filled with teachers and rent-a-cops and principals and sports team coaches, armed to the gills – and by the way…if these unfortunate, underpaid and underappreciated but generally noble people pack heat on their person, how many of them, when push comes to shove, would actually shoot one of their students? How many would/could get overrun by high school/college bullies and miscreants (I had a middle school teacher get beat up by a 7th grade student in front of an entire homeroom class…no joke…and fortunately, no guns). And if these teachers, et al, kept the arsenal locked away, as they should, for safe keeping, then what good would it really do anyway in the instant it was needed? And how many good teachers would be dissuaded from pursuing that career out of fear of having to pack heat and possibly use a gun one day…on one of his or her students? The idea of a veritable weapons bazaar at an institution of learning, at any level, is in fact, the most disturbing and preposterous idea of all I have heard.

I would love to hear some of your ideas…mine might not be the best, but it is something, and I believe it would work.

Thanks for reading.

IDROS

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THREE FOR THOUGHT

1) Yet another horrific week in the Israeli-People who live on the outskirts of Israel saga. Deafening silence from the likes of Celebrity Asswipe Central (including Russell “I’m not an Anti-Semite…I just choose to bash Israel for defending itself over all the other causes in the world” Brand, Roger “I wrote The Wall so I am entitled to use my celebrity to comment on any situation in the world where an actual nation builds a wall as self-defense against a fictitious people” Waters, the Spanish Brainless triumvirate, Selena “If my taste in men is any indication, I am clueless” Gomez, Emma “you are so lucky you can act, honey” Thompson, Rihanna (she of the Twitter deletion contingent that apparently doesn’t realize the permanence of the internet), Danny “you apparently actually are too old for this shit” Glover, and even Jon “et tu Brute” Stewart). I guess they all hold civilized people to a different standard. Incredibly, I have more respect for Mel Gibson than these naïve cowards. They hide their anti-Semitism behind the idea that they are rallying around a “just cause” while Mel just hates Jews just like daddy did…loud and proud.

But enough on celebrities that aren’t worth my time or money (ironically, both songs penned by Roger Goebbels Waters). And don’t get me started on the media…I have no idea when CNN, the BBC, the AP and CBS became affiliates of al Jazeera, but the reporting on everything involving Israel and its neighbors has devolved into something out of George Orwell’s worst dystopian nightmare (click here and here for some examples).

3 for thought pic (Way to equate the innocent victims with the brutal terrorists CNN – I wish I was making this up)

I remember thinking to myself a few years ago, when Israel heroically decided to free a thousand terrorists in exchange for one of its own (Gilad Shalit), that unfortunately, many innocent people are going to die because of this decision. Of course every precious life in Israel is valuable, and I applauded the exchange at the time despite the uneasiness it made me feel. And it is, in my opinion, no coincidence that the aftermath of that bold, life-affirming move by Israel has led to a giant step backward in the stability of the region. It reminds me of the scene just after “dickless” turns off the power grid in Ghostbusters, releasing hundreds of ghosts the eponymous quartet had spent the better part of the movie capturing, back into New York City society…they wreaked such havoc.

Most of the world is blaming the person for having the unmitigated temerity to swat at the mosquito, who has left welt after welt upon his or her body…and god forbid the swat connects, and the pesky parasite is hurt or even killed…

And every time these troglodytes cheer the death of innocent Israelis like their home-town just won the Super Bowl or World Cup – and I know this happens far more frequently and in greater numbers than the already far-too-abundant video we see in the West – I try to imagine Israelis, or Jews anywhere in the world, really, celebrating in the streets over the death of even Hitler himself…and alas, I can’t even picture it. That level of infantile hatred, of abject putrescence, is reserved for only the lowest of the low.

And yet we hear nothing from the throngs who condemned Israel just months ago…

2) Florida State: While there is much to say about the football team led by a shady character with a growing litany of crimes ranging from grand theft crustacean to rape and sexual assault (and if the rape allegations are true, he should burn in hell)…alas, I am referring to the shooting on campus. Perhaps the nation is so immersed in the deep freeze, digging out of yet another polar vortex, that the shock of yet another mass shooting seems muted in relation to past events…or perhaps it is because none of the innocent victims were killed…or maybe we are becoming numb as a society to all of this nonsense. Whatever the case, the mass-shooting epidemic in our nation is not going away. Feel free to revisit my two-part novella on senseless gun violence I wrote in the aftermath of Sandy Hook…in the words of the great Led Zeppelin, the song remains the same.

3) AP – Not the AP that blames Israel for every wrong in the world these days…but Adrian Peterson. Yesterday, the NFLPA appealed Roger Goodell’s ruling to suspend AP for the remainder of the season without pay. Just once, I would like to see that stupid union do the right thing and say “you know what, we agree with the NFL here. AP was wrong and if any of you other players think it’s ok to get medieval on your own or anyone else’s children, you will not have our support. We are donating the full amount of what AP was set to earn for the remainder of the 2014 season to charitable organizations that champion the causes of abused children and encourage the Minnesota Vikings and the NFL to match our donation dollar for dollar.” Wouldn’t that be great? Why doesn’t that kind of thing happen in our world – especially when it’s teed up like that?

And Rusty Hardin, AP’s defense attorney….are you friggin’ kidding me? This dirt bag had the audacity to ask “who in the hell does he [Roger Goodell] think he is?” Who do you think YOU are Rusty? You defend assholes, criminals and the occasionally wrongly accused for a living…Goodell runs the league in which your client plays. Look, I will be the first to admit Goodell handled the Ray Rice situation about as poorly as someone could, and has not been the best commissioner the NFL has ever seen on many levels, but he is the commissioner. And the real irony in the whole thing is that AP believes, as the father of the child, he should be allowed to mete out discipline any damn way he pleases (he shouldn’t)…and yet is somehow taken aback when the head of his league does the exact same thing, except, you know, without the unconscionable physical abuse.

Anyway…I wish you all a wonderful, happy and healthy turkey day.

Gobble Gobble,

IDROS

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And With Freedom Comes Responsibility

flag-day-fireworks

There are a great many options when it comes to spending (I prefer investing) our free time in today’s world.

We can take ridiculous “tests” that determine which Kardashian we would be, or which character in Silver Spoons we would be, or which nursery rhyme villain, Disney World ride, Lady Gaga outfit, extinct animal, Spielberg film, Shel Silverstein poem, Chinese Food menu item, etc…

We can crush Netflix original programs four episodes at a clip;

We can pore over, troll and contribute to various social media platforms;

We can have sex (alone or with others), pamper ourselves, shop, exercise, eat, travel, play sports or games, read, nap, Prancercise, meditate, go to the movies, do a crossword, enjoy time with friends or family, volunteer…

We have choices…lots of them. And for that, we are fortunate. God bless America.

I urge all of you to take an hour or so and read The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates, an intriguing and very well written piece recently featured in The Atlantic.

I have no idea how you will feel while and after reading the article. I read it a few weeks ago and still haven’t fully determined how I feel, what I think, and what, if anything, I should do now that I read it, given that it definitely affected me in profound ways.

A few of my personal takeaways:

Reading this piece made me feel ashamed and embarrassed to call myself an American in much the same way most of the W Bush presidency did (especially in the aftermath of Katrina – “Heck of a job, Brownie,” the invasion of Iraq and failure to find WMDs and his continual buffoonery that made him a global laughing stock) – and a great deal of the current Obama presidency is doing (Obamacare, the IRS scandal, his hypocrisy in solving the financial crisis – thank god we bailed out GM so they could continue to be so poorly run that their shoddily built cars have killed hundreds – and aren’t we all equally proud that our tax-dollar bailouts were used to bestow giant bonuses on Wall Street’s wolves just days after they fleeced us and the Federal Government out of billions. And don’t get me started on Obama’s consistently shameful treatment of Israel, arguably America’s most loyal and important ally, but alas that is for another article and another time.

My own black history education is shameful…and I know I am at least partly to blame for this. Worse still, I believe I received a top 1% education in our country, and still feel this is true, so I can’t imagine what is taught (and more importantly, what isn’t) in classrooms and curricula that unfortunately fall in the lower tiers of the American education system. I expect the world, and most importantly all Americans, to be educated on the Holocaust as I believe this will at least help to preclude something that awful from ever happing again…and I know there is a complete systemic failure right now in our country in making Holocaust education mandatory and in ensuring it is carried out professionally and effectively (watch this video if you don’t believe me). I similarly believe black history and race relations need to be taught at every level of education in our country. Ignorance nurtures racism…education combats ignorance.

Random thought: show me an important article on race that doesn’t feature an embarrassing nugget about a Philadelphia mayor…

Unfortunate thought: I am once again sickened by Donald Sterling, and he wasn’t even mentioned once in this article. (And Dan Snyder is no prize either).

History is littered with examples of man’s mind-bogglingly evil inhumanity towards his fellow man. Vonnegut built an incredible career upon that fact. Kubrick’s 2001 showcases man’s inhumanity as a core theme. Women (i.e., 50% of the world population) have been mistreated since the dawn of time, and unfortunately continue to suffer in many parts of the world. Same for homosexuals, mentally and physically challenged, vertically challenged, Native Americans and countless others. Bottom line, I am not sure reparations can ever fully repay everyone…or anyone, frankly, who has been egregiously wronged throughout history.

As a Jew and a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, I kept waiting for the author to relate his argument to a situation in which reparations have been paid in the recent past. I know Germany paid reparations to Israel and to survivors of the Holocaust. I was glad to see the parallel drawn, but was also upset that important lessons, themes and facts regarding Germany’s reparations were omitted. While Germany and some other groups did pay approximately $7 billion in today’s dollars to Israel and direct survivors of the Shoah, Jewish and otherwise, the payments were quite small (a few hundred dollars a month)…let’s say 500,000 people were paid, that total would amount to $14,000 per person. Furthermore, families of those who died received little or nothing. And payments typically only endured for the lifespan of the survivor, so once my grandfather passed away, his payments ceased…same with my grandmother. But what of their children? What of their parents, brothers, sisters and children that perished? The reparations contemplated by Coates are quite different to those paid by Germany in that money would only be paid to descendants of victims (obviously there is no choice at this point). And Coates fails to explain who actually footed the bill Germany paid, how it was funded, how news of it was received in Germany, who received payments, who didn’t, and who was responsible for determining all of this. At least for me, some if not all of that information would have been interesting if not essential for a true thought-provoking comparison to be made.

Among the issues not discussed are the feelings of resentment many Germans felt when these payments were announced – particularly Germans who believed they were innocent and whose families did not participate in the horror show. Also not discussed is the rampant Anti-Semitism raging through Germany and the rest of Europe today…so perhaps the cathartic act of reparations helped quash some racism in the immediate sense (though I doubt that), but the deep-seeded fear, hatred and ignorance always lingered just below the surface and were just waiting for time to pass, memories to fade and hard times to fall in order to resurface. Sure, Germany is not the most blatantly anti-Semitic country in Europe right now…so whoop-dee-doo…I guess the nation deserves a prize for that…but as a Jew, would I dare to live there right now? Would I be comfortable walking alone anywhere in Germany wearing a yarmulke, or a visible Star of David?

That said, I believe it was a good thing that Germany did anything at all even though you could never put a price-tag on the horror of the experience endured nor on the lives and livelihoods lost. But I am not sure I can ever forgive Germany despite the act of contrition. The problem is, it could never be enough, and the powerful and unimaginable anti-Semitism that it took to allow the Holocaust to be perpetrated had been ingrained into the fabric of German and Eastern European life over hundreds of years. Paying money most Germans never authorized or actually supported in reparations did not extinguish that ignorance and hatred.

And then there is this…I am honestly not sure how I feel about the premise of paying reparations given my ancestors were not in America during the time of slavery. My suspicion is there are many people who would feel similarly. Furthermore, my grandparents were treated just as horrifically in Germany and Poland and Russia, if not more so, were left with nothing, and faced awful racism themselves, even in America.

But when the time came to start over, even with nothing, in America…let’s just say that I concede it was fortunate my grandparents were white. Being white is a blessing in many ways for most Jews. If Jews were blue, or green or any color other than white, I am not entirely sure there would be any Jews left on our planet. Hell, we flirted with extinction more than a few times even with our light skin. But being white allowed many Jews to blend in with non-Semitic whites in many parts of the Western world and rise to some modicum of wealth and status. And for American Jews, it can be argued that many direct and indirect benefits we experienced as a result of being lucky enough to have light skin came, at least in some part, from the same exploitation of black people Coates argues quite convincingly benefitted (and continue to benefit) all white people in America. So we reaped and continue to reap the benefits, even if we aren’t culpable for the gruesome and unconscionable acts that enabled the benefits to exist.

Given the above sentiment, I am reminded of the seminal moment in Soul Man, when Darth Vader asks Pony Boy what he learned from his experience as a “black” man, and CTH replied, “if I didn’t like it, I could always get out…” I heard JEJ saying, “you’ve learned a great deal more than I thought” quite a few times as I read the piece.

Other pop-culture references I recalled during and after reading the article:

Dazed and Confused teacher, Ms. Ginny Stroud, to her class after the bell rings: “Okay guys, one more thing, this summer when you’re being inundated with all this American bicentennial Fourth Of July brouhaha, don’t forget what you’re celebrating, and that’s the fact that a bunch of slave-owning, aristocratic, white males didn’t want to pay their taxes.”

The Wire, when Prez quoted the first few lines of The Rolling Stones’ Brown Sugar, and nobody had any idea what he was saying…the opening lyrics of that song are haunting.

Coates’ piece accomplished exactly what the author set out to do, in my opinion. He frustrated me. He made me feel guilt. But most importantly, he made me think. This is an important topic, and if nothing else, my hope is that the education requirements and curriculum for black history and race relations education are expanded as a result of this article.

Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend. I am interested in hearing/reading your thoughts on Coates’ piece. Feel free to comment below.

Best regards,

 

IDROS

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I Thought Virginia Was For Lovers…

In increasing frequency, I am unfortunately reminded that our world is populated with an element of society that represents everything that is wrong with humanity.

The latest was this clip I happened upon when I was looking for Jimmy Kimmel’s classic bit where parents tell their kids that they ate all of the Halloween candy.

OOOPS. My bad. I suppose I need to pay closer attention when clicking a link. I can never un-watch that clip, and I am now more unsettled about having an infant daughter who will inevitably reap the bitter and unjust rewards of inheriting a planet rife with miscreants like the Black family in Craigsville, Virginia.

(Note to self…check with Alanis Morissette whether the family surname “Black” is, in fact, ironic in the context of that horrific story).

This year has certainly been a bonanza for this type of behavior and ignorance. Among the carnage of far too many (and even one of these is too many) school and public massacres, the hopelessness created by extremist factions and monetary influence in politics, and pretty much everything Kardashian…I came across these other gems (gem #1    gem #2). You just can’t make this stuff up, and unfortunately, these people procreate.

Sorry to cast a negative pall over your otherwise beautiful November Hump Day.

Hope you all are doing well.

As always, thanks for reading.

IDROS

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