Thursday, September 29, 2016

It's Not Achmed

No, he doesn't actually look like me... 
except for the chromosomes... 
and the pigmentation... 

The Issue At Hand

Again. It's not Achmed I worry about.

And, for the first time, I feel I need to add I'm not worried about Jamaal - I only use that name as it is likely Black/Urban/African-American enough that "not-racist" racists will get the point.

I am worried about the pissed-off white guy who looks like me. The guy who doesn't like the direction the country is headed and worries about "what it's going to be like in 18 years". The mechanic who plans to join a militia and states, in no uncertain terms, there will be a revolution to take the country back when "your patriots overthrow the government" after HRC is elected.

A Faulty Premise

OK, First: Take it from what? Or from whom? No one took anything from you.

You handed it over in a gift-wrapped package when you decided the you wanted to be afraid of a world that didn't look like the one portrayed on Leave It To Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show, Gilligan's Island, or The Brady Bunch.

You tied the bow as soon as you didn't want to acknowledge there was change occurring around you.

The problem with the worlds created for these shows is that they are one-dimensional. I'm not talking about the empty building fronts and thin plots. I am talking about the lack of interaction between people of color and the main characters. Each of these shows creates a false universe from the viewer's perspective. The main characters are all white, straight, and unoffensive.

Few characters smoke or drink and no one has bodily functions beyond eating. Sex is right out. Sexy can be OK, though, but not too much (just ask Ginger). Even those with problematic traits (Otis on Andy Griffith, for example) are seen as lovable comic relief figures and are treated with patience by all.

The Brady Bunch's Peter meets sportsball star Deacon Jones. 
Peter is not frightened because Fox News hasn't begun broadcasting. 
(That and Deacon Jones was forced to wear a cardigan sweater)

This artificial world has the camera looking at a specific view - and it is not the view from the other side of the tracks. You know, the side of the tracks where 'they' know 'they' need to stay - because that is where 'their' churches, schools, stores, restaurants, bars, and homes are located. And that world doesn't leave much room for non-white role models. Well, there are the Harlem Globetrotters... but they fall outside of this made-up world. They are part of the real world. The public world.

So, in this artificially produced world, there are a few speaking roles for people who aren't white. There is one in Leave It To Beaver (a maid), one on The Andy Griffith Show (a football coach), three on Gilligan's Island (a Hawaiian cast as a Pacific Islander, an American Indian cast as a Pacific Islander, and a Japanese/Hawaiian cast as an Asian Indian - not counting any of the later one-offs), and three on The Brady Bunch (sportsball star Deacon Jones and two children - Asian- and African-American adoptees). Even I Dream of Jeannie cast a Burmese actor as an Arab. (if I missed any - please let me know!)
Not the minority you were looking for... 
Italian-American Vito Scotti playing a Japanese Sailor on Gilligan

There are minorities if you look hard enough, but they are cast as set dressing with only a handful of speaking parts. There are no interactions outside of crowd scenes (so long as they stay to the back) and occasional nods of recognition. There are no issues with someone trying to drink from the wrong fountain, go to the wrong movie theater, try to get your hair cut at Floyd's, or sit in at the Five and Dime. There is no friction, no protest, no MLK, much less BLM.

At least those hippies on Scooby Doo and The Partridge Family came into contact with minorities... Scooby and the gang encountered minorities as both good guys and bad guys - and as white guys in costumes. The Partridges were really inclusive. They had people of color AND non-Christians... They even showed up in Detroit to help out Lou Gossett and Richard Pryor (with the help of the Black Panthers).

The Times, They Are a'Changing (Maybe)

There are still issues with how television hasn't changed much. For a long time, the minority roles were often the main family portrayed as "all-Americans" - The Cosby Show, The Jeffersons, etc. Not much room for a modern day Chico and the Man or Sanford and Son. There are some outliers with Modern Family, Glee, and others. Surprisingly (or not), the Disney Channel may be one of the best in this area as they recognize the marketing need to be more inclusive. I won't even touch blackface/whitewashing here as others have covered that far better than I could.
Wizened Elder AND Environmental Activist 

Either way, I can't help but think that this mental creation of a pre-racial America can only come from the segregated world of popular TV. In other words, a world in which minorities are seen and not heard. It was a world with no BLM. A world in which American Indians were seen as a lost people, at worst, or wizened elders and environmental activists, at best. A world in which everyone went to the same church.

We all were good citizens. Authority had a purpose. Order was there for a reason. Alphas were better than Betas. In many ways (and as a parent), I see parallels to the Isle of Sodor, a place where anything other than solid, serious, diligent work and putting order first results in "Chaos and Delay."
And how would Sir like his Topham Hatt? 
This is a world in which everyone could be happy and have little in the way of strife and disagreement. A world in which we didn't have to ask, "Can't we all just get along?" Because we were already getting along.

The Reasoned Response... no, wait... the Opposite of That

But just in case we aren't getting along and it appears that someone is trying to change the camera placement, I can think of no better way to fix it..., er, defend the Constitution... than to have an armed insurrection. It's not like there is a mechanism to modify/throw out the Constitution... Oh, wait... that would be Article V...
And maybe that is the thing. By the clarity of the complaints about how "They" are supposedly destroying the Constitution (in ways that the usual suspects can't actually do things), I can only assume that the militia member, the white supremacist, and the sovereign citizen don't recognize that in order to change things, they have to have a SOLID majority. Nationally. Of course, many sovereign citizens don't believe the current form of government is legitimate.
Either way, maybe this is part of why the Bundy Family, the 3%ers, the Oathkeepers, and others feel the only way to affect change is to haul out their AR and act offended. They act offended because they do not understand the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and History. They act offended because their view of the world is incorrect, based on a one-dimensional view.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Editorial Restraint

Part 1 - In Which I Recognize My Limits

For regular readers of my Facebook feed (Because I know this blog is anything but regular...), you may be wondering why I have recently covered Kaepernick, the Election, LGBTQ issues, Anti-Islamic sentiment, minority rights, and women's rights issues and NOT DAPL (other than the one link related to something totally different but in the same vein), the reason is simple. 
I don't feel qualified to do so. 

Part 2 - In Which I Place Matters Into Context

While an ally of the tribal members attempting to safeguard their heritage and history (two different things) while protecting their (and our) environment, I do not feel comfortable speaking to the issues as a whole. 
Why? because I am a white guy in the West. I have spent most of my adult life within a short drive of various tribal lands - Northern Arizona, El Paso, Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and now Arkansas. I have seen people treat tribal members poorly. A much more ignorant me treated tribal members poorly once upon a time. 
With time has come the knowledge and respect of the various cultures and the importance of giving them the right of refusal regarding corporate work on tribal lands. 

Part 3 - In Which You Find Out The Upshot

I will say I support the collective voice of any tribe when someone attempts to take the tribe somewhere it does not want to go. I support their right to control what occurs on tribal lands. I support the right of activists to prevent damage to their sites of importance - religious, historical, and archaeological. 
I do know that as a white guy in the West, I do have a voice. I also know that I am far enough from tribal politics that I should censor myself for fear of misspeaking and saying something that is culturally insensitive. 

And so I leave it to You, Dear Reader

I have many friends who are tribally-affiliated or have worked with the tribes across this country. I will let their voices speak loudly and clearly as I know that my own voice will not add clarity. 
Now. Go and Speak.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Missing Things

Wow... this has been an intense few weeks... 

After finally allaying the fears of my friends that something was wrong, I started to slowly dip my toe back into the pool of Facebook.  It was a good, albeit weird, few weeks. I stepped back, took a few breaths, and realized that I don't have to do Facebook. Especially at the level I had been Facebooking. Keep in mind that I am someone who - for several years - had been telling friends in the museum field, "You HAVE GOT to be on Facebook!"

What an ass.

You don't have to be on Facebook. You don't have to be on any social media if you don't want to. Yes, these things can help to get certain things done. But they are tools. Tools have purposes. They vary from platform to platform. They vary from user to user. Figure out what you want and then use it.

Once I got over that, I relaxed a bit. I now log in, look around, like, comment, maybe post, and then log out. I can get more done of other things now. Yet I get to stay in contact with those who are important to me (Sometimes that contact takes the shape of simply lurking your posts).

That doesn't sound so intense!

Only because it's not.

It was/is everything else. I would say nothing much, and then I stand back and look at the whole. I am feeling that the big exhale is coming up but that is just because I feel like I have been holding my breath for the last few weeks.

Something that has been a spectre during this time of year is the anniversary of my mom's passing. We lost her to ALS four years ago (until recently, my most-viewed blog). As close as I was to her, I felt that I was dealing well. Until this year. There have been a few moments these past few months when I caught myself finally realizing I miss my mom. So with the anniversary coming up, there are thoughts. Time does not heal all wounds. Good huevos rancheros help. That or magnums of Berenger while eating taco chips...

Compounding this was the passing of our cat, Merley (мурлыкать). We had this little guy for most of 20 years. He was the youngest of our '50 pounds of cat'. Merley allowed us to live in his house for the last six years, having lost his buddies Caramel and Tigger to diabetes and cancer.

As much as they were all our cats, Merley was mine. I was the one who brought him into the house the first time. I named him, I was the one whose lap he went to. When I moved to the new job in November, he came with me as my roommate (well, he and the fish). He was the only thing that got me through living alone for two months. He was my little buddy. He flopped on my chest. He groomed my beard. He woke us at all hours with what one friend referred to as "The Cry of the Demon Cat." And he was my furry little buddy.

The last couple of weeks saw age catch up with him. One night last week, Merley passed away in his sleep. He is now somewhere annoying Caramel and Tigger with his pouncing and cuddling. But I can still hear him messing around in the house. That or we think of the doors we no longer have to close, the litter box that is no longer in the way, or the food and water we no longer have to refill. It's the small things, but that still fails to lessen the hurt.

While this was going on, my soccer fandom expanded by one team. Through watching John Green's FIFA 16 series playing the Wimbly Womblys, I was introduced to the story of AFC Wimbledon. With all of the attention on Leicester's rise from near relegation to champion of the Premiership, AFC Wimbledon's tale has received short shrift.

Fourteen years ago, the local community created AFC Wimbledon in response to the previous home club being moved to the town of Milton Keynes (46 miles as the crow flies). Starting with tryouts in the city park, the locals took pride in their 'phoenix' club. Starting in the 9th tier of the English Football League System, the Dons were promoted 5 times in 9 seasons. Finally arriving in League Two of the Football League, they saw a few rough seasons, near relegation, and a brilliant run of great play this past season.

Two weeks ago, AFC Wimbledon finished their regular season in 7th place on the table. This qualified them for a four-team playoff to determine the final club to be promoted to League One. After a win and a draw against Accrington Stanley, they received a date with Plymouth Argyle at Wembley Stadium. FREAKING Wembley Stadium. A club with a home grounds capacity of 4,850 (half standing) playing on a pitch surrounded by 90,000 seats...

This week, the club formed in 2002 beat Plymouth Argyle 2-0 and earned their promotion to the same league with the MK Dons - the team that used to be the team from Wimbledon. Being in the States, I had no easy way to watch the match. Twitter and several news feeds gave me the lowdown - but I still yelled out when Lyle Taylor scored - eliciting a "Daaaaaaad!!!" from TheGirl - and sang John Green's "Akenfenwa" song after the PK in 90'+10', laughing and crying as I did so.  John Green - the guy who piqued my interest in the club was at the match and shared his experience in his vlog. At the end, I again started laughing and crying.

The Upshot

With the downs come a few ups.

I guess that is the point here. Nothing about guns. Nothing about being a liberal. Nothing about history - well except that bit about the Dons and their phoenix-like rise from the ashes.

This has been a weird Spring. Some house cleaning - mental and otherwise. Some drama - at home, online, in the world.

But there is good. Good for all of us. We just have to look for it. It doesn't just show up. Don't be lazy. Be active in seeking it out. Huevos rancheros, kitty hugs, or Cinderella stories. Be welcome to shed tears.

Just make sure to look for and embrace the happy.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Schrödinger's Social Media

Leaving Facebook (without actually leaving...)


A few weeks ago, I left Facebook. Well, I didn't. But I did. 

After many, many years of being on Facebook (July 2, 2008), I think I am good with stepping away.

And, yes, I know some of my friends and family have called it ‘Davebook’ in the past - and for good reason. I am a chronic Facebook poster, sharer, over-sharer, linker, liker, etc. I have maintained a few pages related to my personal interests and politics. I created and managed a group related to Military Music. I connected and reconnected with people I have worked with, grew up with, and played with (music, games, whatever). And now I think I am good.

Now. What's all this about NOT actually leaving...

Well, several things came up as I was thinking about getting away from Facebook. Part of this is tied to Facebook's insane hold over EVERYTHING on the internet. Whether it is UPS or gaming sites, signing in via Facebook will get you in the door. So there is that.

The main reason is I don't want to lose contact with my people. Yes, I said 'My People'. Most of the people on my page are people who want to come into contact with me - or at least are willing to put up with my nonsense. And by nonsense, I mean anything from Star Wars to video games to K-Pop to politics.

There are some people I have only known through Facebook. I am closer to some of these people than people I have known since childhood. One of these close friends recently posted the following:
So do you all have "sacred" people?
I know. That sounds weird. 
But what I mean is, there's family. There are friends. But beyond those levels of intimacy, there are a select few people who could do no wrong you would find unforgivable. People you're intensely protective of and loyal to. Yes? No? 
Is there a term for that? Love is insufficient. I've thought a lot about this, over the years. Despite my lack of religious leanings, the best word I've come up with is sacred.
A number of these folks have become my sacred people. Several of them know who they are. That said, yes, I am Terry. You can be Wayne or you can be Garth. I won't judge.

So, why are you leaving then? 

There are a few reasons.

Primarily, Facebook itself, and my inability to not browse, comment, link, browse, link some more... wash, rinse, repeat. I will be the first to admit I have a bad case of FOMO. But then I also have the insufferable need to tell everyone what I have learned. That and I have limited self control. Basically, I am a monkey with clothes and no tree to live in. I am working on that. I put a down payment on a tree.

A second reason is that it is getting mean. Not just run-of-the-mill mean. This is getting to be a full-bore, GIFT-esque assault on anyone who even slightly disagrees with you. I have seen otherwise sane people turn into complete asshats for the simplest reasons. I used to be one of those people. A friend called me on it. I thought I was being funny but I realized I was being a dick. I am tired of calling people on it. I'm not a cop and I am done thinking I need to be a referee (online, anyway).

Finally, I am looking for a change. I am getting rid of the comfort. As I was thinking about why I wanted to get away from FB, I came across this video from Linn/Darbin Orvar, one of my fave YouTubers. She states it much better than I feel I could.

There are other reasons - Not wanting to filter yet not wanting to offend; Disappointment with humanity; Election malaise...  But nothing I need to go in to here (at least right now). In general, I feel I can't be who I want to be online. 

So what HAVE  you been doing?

Work, mostly. Coaching soccer. Playing a variety of games. Getting to know western Arkansas.

My online socialising has seen me getting more into Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tumblr (links below). My online education has seen me going to YouTube, picking one topic, and letting it roll from one video to the next. Ted Talks one day, Video Game Design another. Soccer Laws of the Game; K-Pop; Prop Modeling; Carpentry; Gaming...

It is amazing what you can get done while listening to people who know more than you about a subject.

The Upshot:

Less stress. I feel like I have time for other things. It's not interfering with other aspects of my life. I don't feel like I have to check my phone every five minutes to see what is going on. I take more of an active role in what is going on around me. I get to realize that there are other things I can do other than scrolling interminably through a newsfeed of what Facebook wants me to see - not the newsfeed I want.

To top it off, I get to do all of this without feeling like I am missing out on the latest 'big thing'.

The downside is that I don't feel as if I am involved in the lives of my friends out there in the big blue world. From Atlanta to Portland - with side trips to Canada and Europe - many of my favorite people are only accessible through FaceBook. I now miss their lives. And I am sad.

So. If you want to contact me but you are not currently a friend on Facebook (I won't be accepting friend requests for the foreseeable future), You can reach me at the following:
And for all of you - be good to each other. It's a short life. Don't piss it away. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Liberal Gun Stores

I just responded to someone who had a question for me: 

"Are there any Liberal Gun Shops you know of?"

The short answer: No.
The long answer: Yes, but you will never find them.

As with a number of the folks - People on the Political Left who like our guns - I learned a long time ago that there are times it is better just to bite my lip, nod, and say, "Yep, you got that right." or similar when someone refers to how "Libtards", "Hillary and all of those other lesbians in government", and "Obummer" are ruining America. Why did I suck it up? Well, a wife and two kids... and a job that was GREATLY tied to the firearms world (Lots of gun show trips - including to the Shot Show). I lost track of the number of conversations I was party to in which I had to hear comments suggesting armed insurrection, assassination of government officials, guns buried in back yards, etc., ad nauseum. About as far as I went was to reply to chain emails with, "You know, that story doesn't sound totally accurate... You might want to doublecheck that..." As a case in point of what can happen, I offer Dan Cooper of Montana. Mr. Cooper started his company in Stevensville, Montana, building custom bolt-action firearms that most shooters can't afford. If you read the history of the company, you will notice a change in ownership in 2009. This change in ownership came as a result of Cooper making the conscious decision to support a political campaign. The kicker is that he donated to the presidential campaign of then-Senator Barack Obama. When this became public knowledge, the company was inundated with phone calls, faxes, emails, and letters demanding that Cooper be separated from the company he started (and that most of these people had never heard of and would not buy from in the first place). There is also the case of Jim Zumbo, but I will let you research that one yourself. So. What does this have to do with the question? Only everything. As a result of the gun community's willingness to eat their own, Liberal-leaning folks in the gun business have to keep it on the down-low. If you come out of the closet, so-to-speak, you threaten your own success. After leaving the gun position I had, I mentioned my thinking to a few friends who were still in the business. They agreed with me that if the secret had gotten out, I would likely have lost my job. From one friend: "No doubt. You would have been gone in a heartbeat." So as for Liberal Gun Shops? They are there. You just don't know it. And they won't tell you. You can make a good guess, though. Go visit some places and look around. 

Warning Signs:
  • Do you see any pictures of the President with a Hitler mustache?
  • How about a target reticle on his head?
  • or in some sort of Middle-Eastern costume?
  • How about targets with non-descript Middle-Eastern men on them?
  • Targets with Democratic politicians on them (including the sitting President)?
  • Confederate Flags?
  • Tea Party ("Don't Tread on Me") flags
  • Racist jokes about the president taped to the counter or posted on the bulletin board?
  • Misogynist jokes about Hillary Clinton taped to the counter or posted on the bulletin board?
Now. If there is a lack of these, it may infer a lack of Conservative leaning. However, a store with a lot of this may be attempting to overcompensate. You will have to be the judge. Just keep in mind that regardless of the owner's politics, most of the staff and most of the clientele will not be voting a straight-ticket for the Democrats. So if you drive up in a Prius with a Hope sticker on the bumper while wearing a 'Feel the Bern' shirt and making comments deriding the Stars-and-Bars behind the counter, prepare to be given a hard time, refused service and told to leave, or even escorted off for trespassing. You are the enemy to a lot of these folks and part of why their country is having problems. Or you can just go to Cabela's or Bass Pro and avoid all of the overt politics (while having to endure walking past the Southern Kitsch decorations).