Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Guest Column: Addiction and Spree Killing

 I regret that I didn't post this earlier; at the time I got it, I was in a schedule crunch, and then I forgot. But I DID remember this morning, WITHOUT being reminded, so: here is a guest column!

First off, hello Padre, thank you for taking the time to read your favorite daughter's discombobulated thoughts!

Second, HELLO, INTERNET WORLD!!!!!! Hello to friends and family, known and unknown, I sincerely pray that this finds you healthy and full of joy! 

If you haven't already read Papa's posts (HERE and HEREon the events in Georgia, you should start there, or at your news outlet of choice, otherwise this may not make much sense. It may not make sense anyway, but I digress. 

I grew up in a little town called Woodstock in the state of Georgia. And when I was growing up, it really WAS a little town. It was SAFE, it was SHELTERED, and bad people didn't live there or ever go there. At least, in my kid brain, that's what I thought. And most of it might have even been true. But then, as is known to happen, the Big City just south of us got bigger and bigger, and Woodstock turned into "north Atlanta." Now, that doesn't really matter, EXCEPT that for my kid brain, BAD THINGS DON'T HAPPEN IN WOODSTOCK, AND NO WOODSTOCK RESIDENT WOULD EVER DO ANYTHING BAD!!!!! My adult brain knows how false that is, because I was a heroin addict in Woodstock, and I did plenty of bad things. Again, I digress.

I heard a snippet of a "news" program the other day, I do apologize, I didn't pay enough attention to know names or stations, but I did see the header "Parlor Shootings in Atlanta" and I was aware that they were interviewing an Asian reporter (the only reason that stuck was I feel like they said something about "thank you for being the voice of your people" and it made me roll my eyes a little bit, again, I didn't really know what happened). 

It's a bad day when a 32 year old woman can see something about a shooting on tv and just think "ah crap, another one. Here come the lobbyists for gun control." I had NO context about it. NO IDEA except for "shooting in Atlanta". And then I read Papa's blog post, and looked into it a bit. And my first thought was "Oh no..... He's from Woodstock." It immediately shattered my "small town feel" of my home town. IS THAT IMPORTANT???? Yes and no, but mostly no. People are dead, lives have been changed forever, in the long run it doesn't matter where the suspect received mail at. Yes, only because it shows me that the whole world is hurting. It's not just the big cities. It's not just minorities. The whole entire world is on fire, but instead of trying to do something about it, we want to micromanage issues that are political hot buttons and "sexy" right now. Namely, gun control. Here's the problem..... There have been changes. There have been issues that have been addressed. This VERY young man (he's only 21, that's a BABY) still somehow got his hands on a firearm, walked into several buildings, and took innocent lives.

This is not a gun issue.

Another hot button that we will choose to talk about? Racism. Most of his victims were of Asian descent, and he is a white man, so OBVIOUSLY he was a racist. Now, I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THAT, so I'm not going to say anything about that, but I will say this: this is not a race issue.

And then we're going to go a little bit old school and rehash some hot buttons of years past: Pornography. Ted Bundy blamed it for his crimes, as did countless other serial killers that I don't feel like naming. I'm going to go ahead and pop this bubble right now: Pornography does not make people murder other people. It just doesn't have that power! It can ruin relationships if it's allowed to, sure, but then we're getting into another issue altogether, which is what the suspect has blamed his abhorrent acts on as of now: Addiction. As an alcoholic and an addict, this is something that I understand, at least to a point. The suspect has said that he blames massage parlors and the people who work at them for fueling his sex addiction. 

During my sickness, I blamed poor Kroger for selling alcohol because I was an alcoholic and I was GOING to buy booze when I went grocery shopping.

I blamed the people I hung out with for having drugs in their pockets that they would share. 


Oh but we are a selfish lot. 

I'm going to bring this up, and I'll put it right back in the box, because it's something I am currently working through so I don't have as much knowledge, wisdom, or understanding as I will, God willing, in the future days, weeks, and months. 

The article that I read (from The Patch) stated that the suspect was very active in his church. Keeping in mind that this is a sick individual who needed help BUT I BELIEVE chose not to seek it, bear with me here..... I was brought up in the church and I am unashamed to say that I am a Born Again Christian and I do attend a church that preaches the Word of God. I ALSO have some very deep wounds from "the church" when it comes to sexuality. I believe that we live in a CULTURE where, if you are religious IN ANY CAPACITY, sex is a subject that is off limits. I say in any capacity because THIS IS NOT A CHRISTIAN THING. This is something that is seen in almost EVERY religion around the world, sex is not talked about in a healthy way, and HUMAN SEXUALITY has been DEMONIZED, and as a result, people are going off the deep end because "if I have sexual feelings, then I obviously don't really believe in *enter deity here* and I'm going to *enter bad underworld here* so I might as well be bad because I OBVIOUSLY am hopeless". AND THAT IS A LIE!!!!!!!!!! I'm not going to get into a talk about sex here, but I will say this: SEX IS NOT UNCLEAN. IT DOESN'T DAMN YOU TO HELL. THE CREATOR CREATED YOU AS A SEXUAL BEING, SO STOP THINKING YOU'RE UNLOVEABLE BECAUSE YOU HAVE FEELINGS!!!!!!

Now, that being said. This young man stated he has a sex addiction, and that brings me to my possibly final point: I am curious to know if he sought addiction counseling. I highly doubt he did, and here's why:

1) Counseling is expensive

2) We still hold on to this archaic belief that if we go to a head doctor, there's something wrong with us, people will look down at us, they'll think we're crazy, and they won't want to be around us anymore.

3) Counseling is expensive.

4) Most "regular" people don't even know where to start when it comes to looking for a therapist who is an expert in what we're dealing with, so after a quick webmd check to diagnose ourselves and then getting distracted by other things online, we get frustrated with not being able to find any help and we stop. 

5) I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but COUNSELING IS EXPENSIVE. 

So we self medicate, which makes us more sick, which makes us that much more unlikely to reach out for help.

All of that to say, yeah, I know what PART of the solution is. Quality, affordable, accessible mental health options. I don't know how it'll happen, because that's not what they're paying me for, but I will say this: I'm a recovering addict and alcoholic. I sought out help. When one thing didn't work, I tried something different. I go to my psychiatrist on a regular basis. I'm on a wait list for a talk therapist. And yes, it's expensive. I wish it wasn't. But I will die if I don't get help.

I leave you with this:

Feeling bad, don't mean doing bad.

Be angry, and sin not.

Do the next right thing.

Bess B.

Friday, April 2, 2021

The April Fool of 2021, plus it's Good Friday, and RED Friday

A great good morning to all my friends and neighbors in Internet Land! And to family members who have dropped by, this story will not come as a surprise.


The blog title is “The April Fool of 2021;” but if I were writing this as a 19th century adventure, I would most assuredly add 
How Dr. Joseph Cousin, Senior, 
and I 
Combined Efforts 
To Produce 
Goodness From Goofiness.”

Despite appearances, you ARE getting a massively edited version of the events taking place on April 1, 2021. This is a John 21:25b-type event! (If I wrote it in detail, even the world itself couldn’t contain it…)

So, dispensing with the HIGHLY significant and relevant 1995 events, as well as those from 2001,  2011, and 2020s, even MOST of 2021 events (!), I present to you the story of how The Reverend Doctor Joseph Cousin, pastor of Allen Temple AME Church of Woodstock, and the Forward Focused Thursday broadcast, combined with my own gifts (!!) to play the best April Fool Joke on me EVER!!!

If you wish to know the background, you will find it in the breathtaking true-life story of “The Church Lady and the Motorcycle White Boy, Volume II,” which is still being written. And lived.

For reasons, every Thursday at noon since November, I have made it a priority to listen to Allen Temple AME’s Facebook live stream, “Forward Focused Thursday.” The patriarch, Bishop Philip Cousin, is joined by two of his two sons, Dr. Michael Cousin, Sr, and Dr. Joseph Cousin, Sr, and by grandson Reverend Steven Cousin Jr, with grandson Reverend Timothy Cousin making frequent appearances as well. (All these men are AME pastors, and the godly heritage itself is enough to commend it to listeners.)

I never finish the live stream as the same person I was when it started. Sometimes challenged, sometimes comforted, usually both; it’s an exposure to probably two centuries of combined experience of godly men. (Must I state explicitly that they all, particularly the 89 year old Bishop, bring a perspective that I can only PARTLY comprehend, and that’s my reason for tuning in?)

Yesterday, I go to the live cast as usual. Almost immediately, the team reminds me that this is Holy Week, when we remember the arrest, torture, and crucifixion of Jesus; yet, knowing the RESURRECTION is coming. Deep thoughts, not only of first century events, but what we can do TODAY. And I’m thinking those thoughts, when…

...a little past the six minute mark, Pastor Joseph says this is pre-recorded, because he has been asked to attend a “rally/press conference/event” to protest some legislation placing restrictions on the voting processes.

Since I am under a self-imposed ban on news, I wasn’t aware of this issue, so I paused the stream, and googled “Atlanta Voting Protest.” And THIS  is the result I found. The article states that a protest to Bill 531, to restrict some voting rights, was being held at the Capitol, starting at 5:31 AM, and going to 5:31 PM. 


O Best Beloved, if you have clicked on that link, and seen the article, did YOU catch the TWO alerts that I missed? Yes? No? I’ll tell you later, in case you missed them, as I did.

"That's a good cause," I thought. "I need to go to that, and take Kenneth." He's my 16 year old son, and was home yesterday. 

"Come on, Kenneth, put on your shoes and socks. I'm going to take you to your first protest demonstration!"

(SQUAWK SQUAWK!! “Protest? Protest WHAT?” SQUAWK! SQUAWK!!!)

But, he’s a good and cooperative young man, and in a moment or two, he does appear, wearing shoes and socks. 

I want to get there, participate, and get back home before the traffic gets bad. It’s about 12:30, I figure it will take us an hour to get to the Capitol, find a place to park, and walk to the event. So, minutes count; which is why I don't even finish listening to the rest of Forward Focused Thursday. They are around 10 minutes in, at this point, and talking about football, about which I know little and care less, so I just hit the PAUSE button, and down the road Kenneth and I go. 

I will spare you from hearing the chants I told Kenneth he would have to learn before we got there. 

“It’s a protest, Kenneth! Of COURSE you have to chant.”
“I don’t want to chant,” he replies. “It bothers people.”
“That’s the POINT!” I said.
At the Capitol, we do find a protest, and some of the protesters are wearing "VOTE" facemasks, but they are there for something else. 
I eventually discover NO ONE is there for protest against 531, and that the 531 protest was: 
last month. 

This rally was in support of the family and cause of Justice for Jamarion (Robinson), who would have been 31 years old today. I wept, hearing his story; could have been my Kenneth. Could easily have been me, at that age.

When we get back home, I discover that the Channel 11 news item I had seen was dated MARCH 1, not APRIL 1. And that the protest took place on a MONDAY, not a Thursday. (Didn't notice that.)
Then, I listen to the rest of the Forward Focused Thursday cast, and at around 33:00 hear Pastor Joseph say that he is headed to the World of Coke for the protest event.

Wrong cause.
Wrong place.
Wrong month.

Other than that, everything went GREAT! 

I had a great time with Kenneth, and was deeply moved by Jamarion's story. 
I got to take Kenneth to his first protest event:
One of the organizers and Kenneth, 
because I needed a pic to send to Vanessa,
who had no idea what I was doing

And I learned another lesson in the sweetness of willingly accepting a drink from the Cup of Humiliation! It burns horribly if you resist, but it goes down like cool balm for the soul if you accept the correction. 
Habakkuk21b: “I will keep watch to see what He will say to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved.” 
If my reply is “Yes, Lord,” then I can laugh at my foolishness, and not be ashamed.
So, laugh with me!    

Peace be on your household.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

The Violet Mouse, by Cedar Sanderson

 A great good afternoon to all my friends and neighbors in Internet Land! And to family members who have dropped by, my foot feels better.

"It’s just that there’s not much hope for me right now." 

(Sanderson, Cedar. The Violet Mouse, p. 13. Sanderley Studios. Kindle Edition)

Among the good writers, there are writers of great beauty. Not EVERY good author writes great beauty, and that’s okay; desirable, even. I’m not sure we could take it if EVERY writer stamped great beauty on every page.

Why? Because when you encounter great beauty in a passage, you have to put the work down, and whisper in a very small voice, “wow.” Or, perhaps you have to grab the book, and run to find your beloved, and read the passage to them. Or maybe you just sit, flummoxed in your chair, at the personal insight you have been given.

It’s almost always a personal insight; I don’t know that a writer of beauty ever cares about trivia such as international relations. I’ve got six lines from more-or-less obscure-ish works (not on the NY Times Best-Seller’s List) that I could probably quote to you verbatim. Half of those are from three different authors; the other half come from the eclectic genius we know as Cedar Sanderson.

To the best of my knowledge, I have cherished most of these in my heart, at least in the beginning. They have been too intimate for me to record them in a review, at least as first. There was one exception, where I referred to a passage I’d found in a preview of her work in progress 

 as “A Diamond The Size Of Your Fist.”

Now, you may be eagerly awaiting the revelation of what beauty-writing I have found in THIS short work; get used to disappointment. I may not tell you. Not WILL not; MAY not. That’s because it would be an unconscionable spoiler. It’s the fourth line from the end of the story, though. DON’T go there first! What are you, eight years old?

Sanderson, to whom I once awarded three Nobel Prizes (Literature, Physiology, and Peace) after a long period of sleep deprivation 

has acquired multiple skill sets over the years, but for the recent past, has been employed in a laboratory where Science happens. As she has done in previous works, she uses her experience to bring out a richness of characterization, while constructing a solid plot. 

In this story, three laboratory workers proceed with an ethically and legally risky next step, after discovering that the covert work of one of them has  permitted a complete color change on two select rats.

And that’s VIOLET, as in purple, lilac, etc. Although, I first read it as including an ‘N,’ making it a VIOLENT mouse. 

I wonder if the story had an origin with a mouse that beat up the other mice, and bit fingers?

Peace be on your household. 


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Todd, Hannah, Beach Access #01: A Divine Appointment

 A great good morning to all my friends and neighbors in Internet Land! And to family members who have dropped by, help yourself to some pinto beans. I’m having mine over Ritz crackers, but there is brown rice as well.

This is the story of Todd, Hannah, and Beach Access #01. It takes place in Jacksonville, Florida,  a lovely city, with just a few drivers intent on vehicular mayhem; none of them feature in this story.

My gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, and I were in Jacksonville this past weekend to say good-bye to our dear Jan Patterson-McIvor, my step-mom, who had crossed over earlier this month.

It was a very positive, albeit sometimes weepy, weekend.

Sunday morning, Vanessa and I checked out of the hotel, emerging into wind-driven rain and 50 degree temps. Still, we wanted to visit the beach.

I had promised Alicia Ann that if we DID go to the beach, I’d bring her some back.  Besides that, an  ocean beach can be impressive in rotten weather. 

Waze directed us to Beach Access #01, just a few miles from the hotel.  Not being made out of sugar, we stepped bravely into the drizzling wind, made our way across the wooden bridge, and followed the short path to the water, where I scooped up a small bottle of sand and ocean for Alicia. Both of us took pictures with our phones, and I took a couple of short videos.

A 7-second video of Vanessa at Beach Access # 01
Caution: WIND NOISE!

The wind was behind us, as we strolled down the beach to the nearest lifeguard post, but when we turned around to head back, WHAM!!! Driven sand, cold rain, fierce cold breeze, BRRRR.

Walking back. See the wind-whipped jacket?

Vanessa had her hoodie up, but the sand-filled wind was still chewing on her. I don’t mind the cold so much, so I took off my jacket, and tried to wrap her up in it. I think that was when it happened: 

Her phone fell out of her pocket.

Of course, we didn’t realize it until we were back at the car. We chatted for a bit:

No, you stay here, I’ll go find it. 
The ringer is off, you say? 
No problem, your phone is pink.

On my way back out to the beach, I greeted the Beach Stranger, a tall & handsome younger-ish man (a tiny bit of gray in his well-groomed beard) who was wearing some sort of ocean-guy suit, covering torso and shorts. (I’m sure it has a name.) We exchanged howdy, and that was it, until I fell down on the stairs to the bridge. Then, I had to assure him that I was okay, just old and clumsy, and thanked him for his concern and encouragement.

I headed toward the lifeguard chair, to look for Vanessa’s phone, while Beach Stranger went straight to the ocean (barefoot, which is wise) and took some pictures. 
I could find nothing, but I could pray:
“Lord, help me find Vanessa’s phone. Please don’t let this sour her memory of the weekend. Please, Father, let me find her phone.”
(By the way, you CAN pray with cold rain and sand being driven into your beard.)

I headed back toward Beach Access #01, looking for the path we had taken. The wind had obscured our footprints. 
As I drew closer to the Beach Stranger, I asked him if he was leaving right away, or if he would be here for a while. I told him of the lost phone, and said if he didn’t mind looking around, I’d give him $5 just for that, and real money if he found it. 
He laughed at that, and told me he wasn’t concerned about money, that he was doing well. He said he was out here to go for a swim, but he seemed happy to help. 

I showed him where we had walked, to the lifeguard chair, and how I had tried to repeat our path, but found nothing. He pointed out that the tide was coming in. I realize now that if I was basing my search on distance from the ocean, I could be off by several feet.

He continued down the beach toward the lifeguard chair, while I stomped through the possibly phone-obscuring foam accumulated at the edge of the waves, to no avail. 
I turned back, just in time to see him bend over and pick something up, and wave at me.

You know what it was.

At age 27,  I would have run toward him. At 67, I just trudged. When I got to him, he was still wiping the sand off Vanessa’s phone, and it was still working.

We headed back to Beach Access #01. I said

“I know money isn’t important to you, but would it make you mad if I prayed to the Most High God, to give thanks for you, and for finding that which was lost?”

He looked at me strangely. Oh, so very strangely. It was one of those moments that stretches out, and then he said:

“That’s what I was going to ask you to do. I’ve just lost the love of my life. I believe she is my soul mate, but she is younger than I am, and she wants to learn more about life before settling down.”

He said a few more things, but they were private, between the two of us. And I said a few more things to him, mostly a bit of my own story, and broken hearts healed; also private, between the two of us.

He told me his name was Todd, and her name was Hannah.

We had arrived back at Beach Access #01, and we walked over to the Suburban, where my Sweet One waited. 

The mighty prayers my wife can pray! She prayed for blessings, and healing of the heart, and comfort, and reconciliation, and God’s purposes made evident, and the desires of the heart fulfilled, and thanksgiving for this stranger who had helped us without thought for himself. And she prayed that Hannah would find what she was looking for. 

We do not know all of the things that Todd the Beach Stranger brought to his meeting with the Redneck Biker and the Church Lady. We know almost nothing about Hannah. 

But we do know our Father, and we know about Divine Appointments.

Peace be on your household.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Mass Murder: An Oblique Approach

The solemn nature of this post, along with yesterday's, prompts me to abandon my typical whimsical opening. Be sure, though, that I do care for those who read this, and ALL my posts. 

Yesterday, I called for a return to federal and state support of mental health services. I referenced a WORKABLE solution to the specific problem of school shootings, which I had personally been involved in establishing in my home county, about 30 years ago. 

My gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, had some mild concern that my linking the shooting with mental health would serve to further stigmatize that problem. This was troubling to her. As is the case with many, if not most, of you, there are people we know, and love, who are struggling with some mental health issues. I hope NEVER to add to the burden these must bear already.

As I said, Vanessa had some mild concern. This she expressed in both digital and analogue form. The digital manifestations were comments that she added to yesterday's post, as well  as on my BootFace posting. These were written in brief, in passion, and on her scant lunch break.

However, when she got home, she expressed those same concerns in analogue fashion; although, her approach COULD be termed as analogue digital, as she used her DIGITS (fingers, get it?) to get my attention. After grasping my mat off chest hair and drawing me close, and driving her knee into an area I'll not be using for much of anything for a while, she whispered gently, directly into my ear, at about 120 decibels: 

"It's not mental health, dear. It's sin."

I disagree not at all with my wife, for her scintillating exposition gently brushed away any objections I might have. In addition, even before she explained her position to me in a way I could understand, I, too, believe the root problem is one of sin. In fact, I'm inclined to say the sin runs far deeper than what my Sweet One was suggesting.

Vanessa, despite my jokes about her affirmative approach, is above all a nurturing mother (and grandmother and great-grandmother). When she heard of the shootings, her heart  turned first to the families of the eight dead, and the wounded, and almost simultaneously to the family of the shooter. (My policy is NEVER to mention the name of shooters, thus I can't identify them here.) Vanessa is appalled and horrified that the innocents are paying a terrible price for something they bear no responsibility for. 

And thus, not ONLY does she wish to protect the people suffering from mental illness from being compared to a murderer, she also can NOT tolerate the idea of the bringer of so much suffering and grief being excused by a casual classification as "he is mentally ill." Who could NOT appreciate her perspective?

I agree with her. One of the FEW things we know about the shooter, is that he stated that he was driven to eliminate sources of sexual temptation, stating that he was a sex addict. Clearly, treating other humans as an object, only useful as a means of gratifying lust, is sin. If you are willing to admit that such a thing as 'sin' exists, then treating other humans as things has to qualify. 

In fact, I regard a core element of most, if not EVERY vile action to be regarding humans as things. Genocide: get rid of those things; they aren't us, therefore they aren't worth anything. Looting pension plans: the people who invested their life savings aren't real; they are barely significant as entries in a ledger somewhere. Slavery; Rape; Pedophilia; all have at the core the concept that these are not humans to be considered, but objects to exploit. Even trivial, misdemeanor crimes likely have some element of objectifying humans. Would you speed in traffic, if you were thinking about the people in the other cars as people, not barriers to your progress?

Four dead; one wounded.

I do NOT know what transpired inside the three businesses that were attacked on Tuesday. I know the names of the businesses; I know that seven of the eight people killed were women, and six of those were Korean; and, I know that the shooter regraded them as temptations. I have ZERO evidence that they did anything unethical, immoral, or illegal. And Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms quickly, and correctly stated that there was NEVER going to be any blaming of the victims. She is right, she is right. SHE IS RIGHT.

But, let us return to the concept of sin, and to the idea of victims.

Even without the assumption that the employees of these businesses were performing lewd acts, I maintain that they were already victims, before the shooter entered the building.

About five years ago, my family lost a close friend, a smart, charming, beautiful young single mom who had grown up eating meals and hanging out at Vanessa's house, classmates of our (now adult) daughters. Struggling to make it on her own, while earning a degree in psychology, she took a job as an "exotic dancer." In other words, a stripper. 

She was a victim. Men paid outrageous sums of money to see her take her clothes off, and that is all they valued her for. She was a victim, in part because there was NO WAY that she could make the money she needed to support herself and her little girl, and pay for school, without being a stripper. 

Look, I GET it. Consenting adults. Freedom of speech. And so on. ALL of those are good ideas, and I will not speak against them. 

It's just that I happen to know, via private sources, that the women in the clubs are paid as independent contractors, and thus are denied ALL fringe benefits, INCLUDING employer payments into Social Security, any health insurance; AND!!!! they are not truly in the status of independent contractors.

So, let us NOT blame the victims, but let us DO consider the sins against them. 

Mayor Bottoms: you had four women killed in your city. Were these women essentially forced into working in these environments because there was NO OTHER WAY they could support themselves and their families? I think that's systematic, institutional sin. Were they ALSO being paid as independent contractors, without really qualifying? Also institutional sin. 

Also: two of those killed in Cherokee County, and all four killed in Atlanta, were Korean women. I don't know; perhaps those six consisted of ALL the Korean women working in massage parlors. Maybe the shooter went after them specifically, although the cops are saying that doesn't seem to be the case. But if we were to investigate, and find that Korean women are vastly over-represented in employees of massage parlors, then I think that is evidence of a systematic sin. 

I'm sick about this. I'm sick thinking about the way things were before the shooting, and I'm sick thinking about the fact that unless the institutional sin is addressed, victims will still suffer.

SO: I'm going to start by writing my congressman, to address the mental health issues I discussed yesterday, and I'm going to contact the IRS to see if they will investigate the employment status of the women in the shadowy industry. And, I'm gonna pray, too.

Peace be on your household. 


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

When Will We Pay The Price To Stop Random Mass Murder?

I had written something else for today, but then I discovered that a 21-year-old Woodstock man had murdered eight people in three separate shootings last night.

Police identified the shooter, and somehow discovered he was heading south. He was arrested in Crisp County (county seat = Cordele)  in a combined Georgia State Patrol and Crisp County Sheriff's Office pursuit. The location is a little more than halfway to Florida from the Atlanta area. 

I'm a little confused about the locations where he committed the murders. The one a few miles from me had the word "Massage" in the business name; the other two , "Spa;" some of the articles have identified all three as massage parlors. We do know that most of the victims were female, and reportedly at least four were Korean. (And so far, Newsweek has the best information.)

I believe that it is inevitable that the same tired old arguments are going to be dragged out again. 

One group will shriek "No more thoughts and prayers! Time to pass sensible gun control legislation!" and then move to ban, or restrict...something. Or, all things related to firearms.

One group will shriek "The only solution to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun!" and then decry any attempt to take action as un-American, wicked, and dictatorial.

And they will BOTH have missed the point. 

I know this, because EVERY time there has been violence, they have missed the point. Actually, I don't think most of the Big Mouths on either side REALLY are invested in solving the problem. That's because it will require them to advocate for something that will IMMEDIATELY cost money.

The problem is mental health, and it's a problem because:

  1. Our country, and individual states, made the decision to get out of the mental health business
  2. A few private hospital groups discovered they could charge insurance companies $900/day to provide mental health beds (including addiction issues), and keep people in the hospital for a year or more
  3. Insurance companies finally got fed up at the ABUSE of the system, and cracked down under the umbrella of  'managed care.'
It was GREAT for taxpayers! At first. And the ability of insurance companies to limit just how many days they would pay for helped their bottom line. But it was AWFUL for the general public.
First, it tossed a LOT of people with poor social skill out on the street, and we had an immediate homeless problem.
Second, as mental hospitals and treatment centers had their income slashed, the budgets for services got slashed as well, and what USED to be a pretty good safety net vanished. I addressed some of that in my post about solving school shootings 

Here's what we have now:
  • You have reason to believe that someone is a danger to themselves or others.
  • You report that to your doc, or the cops, or county mental health
  • A designated professional person evaluates them, and makes a recommendation
  • Pretty much, nothing happens.
You see, there are only a tiny number of mental health beds. The evaluators KNOW this. So, if there are not beds to place a person for treatment, then something OTHER than hospitalization is recommended. Sometime after I wrote my post on school shootings, I discovered that at least ONE time, the Parkland shooter had been referred for an evaluation, and: nothing happened. So, 17 people DIED, more were wounded. And nothing of significance has changed.

Nor will it this time, if we leave it up to the shriekers. Oh, some legislation might get passed; in fact, there is already some ineffective (legislation) which the House passed, now in the Senate. And some of the shriekers on the other side will protest.

PLEASE HEAR THIS: if they had WANTED to solve a problem, it would have been solved! None of those who shriek WANT the problem to go away, because it makes for a GREAT fund-raiser topic. Yes, I am a life member of the NRA, and they don't want the problem solved. Not saying that's true of all members, nor of other groups, but the Big Mouth doesn't want to throw this football away.

This will ONLY get fixed when We, The People, make a demand on those in state and local government to 

and re-implement a public mental health safety net. 
We can choose: pay for it in money, or pay for it in blood. 
There are no other solutions.

Peace be on your household; and mine; and theirs, as well.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Rogue Magic, by Amanda S Green writing as Ellie Ferguson

 A great good morning to all my friends and neighbors out there in Internet Land! And to family members who have dropped by, I'll be seeing some of you soon, and some on the Other Side. Meanwhile, Power Llama coffee is G-o-o-d for morning Go Power.

It seems that because the house is recently paid off, therefore we need braces, dentures, a newer car, and other medical things not covered by insurance. Kenneth is a sophomore, Alicia Ann a freshman, and so, for the first time since 1992, it might be possible, or even desirable, to consider a move in a few years after they finish high school. 

Selling the Patterson Domicile would bring in stupid amounts of dough, but: where would we move? We have 15 grandchildren (with one on the way), 1 great-grandchild (with one on the way), and we have a deeply felt need to babysit. At the time of the contemplated relocation, four of the grands will be adults, and the balance are in clusters: West Virginia, north Georgia, central Georgia, and who knows? One cluster of three might move to Colorado or East McKeesport. 

What can my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, and I do? Where ever shall we go?

Since Tara is right out, I'm thinking Mossy Creek, Texas.

Cover Image: Biker Girl by Andrey Armyagov. 
Is it not lovely?
Cover design by Amanda S. Green.
Is it not lucid?

Now, don't get your panties in a wad! Sure, there are some things about Mossy Creek that are a bit bizarre, even for Texas. I've lived in San Antonio twice (1959-60, Sunset Hill ES;  1972-73, C-2, Medical AIT & BAMC, Fort Sam Houston), and while the dirt was the wrong color (not a speck of red clay anywhere!), I never saw anything more bizarre than an ancient Green Beret Master Sergeant.

And, as strange as that might be, Mossy Creek has houses that will lock the doors to intruders, and people that shape-shift (in retrospect, the Master Sergeant might be a shape-shifter).

On the other hand, Vanessa is a legal parapro, and Mossy Creek has some BODACIOUS attorneys who would hire her in a moment. AND! They now have a new veterinarian, who I expect would do WONDERS for our cats, and we could finally get those puppies I've been wanting for ages.

AND! They have BIKER CHICKS! Admittedly, they ride classier bikes than I do, but they don't have an attitude about it. (SEARCH COMPLETED : no snootiness found.)

I could go on and on about why I'd like to move to Mossy Creek, but I'll sum it up this way: If I can't be a superhero, I'd at least like to live in a superhero-friendly environment. Also, NONE of the people with non-standard abilities are primarily that. Every character HAS a character, including those who are not primaries. Green (or Ferguson, if you prefer) writes real people. 

Depending on whether you count prequels or not, this is #5 or #3 in the Mossy Creek/Eerie Side of the Tracks saga. At least, that's by my count; AND more has been published. 

It seems that there is a yearning for the otherwise, no matter what your origin is. If what I have read of some some pre-Industrial Age societies is correct, a regular part of growing up included a vision quest. It's my understanding that snooty rich people took a year-long tour of some parts of the world, before settling down to run an empire, eat bon-bons and persecute the working class; some clusters of peoples have what is referred to as a wanderjahr, and I wonder if the mission year done by some high-commitment churches might fill this role; for my cluster, it was either a term or so of military service, and/or a hitch in the pen. Whatever the reason, there are a LOT of Mossy Creek folk who have gone away, or been driven away, and are now drawn to return.

Keep that in your mind; it cannot POSSIBLY be a spoiler, if it is a major plot line: folks are drawn to return.

The lady on the bike is the hard-working veterinarian Dr. Jacqueline Powell, known as Jax by people who care about her. She is one who was driven away, mostly by her parents. What kind of parents were they? Well, if Jax had been a dog, the veterinarian would have reported them for abuse, neglect, exploitation, and refusal to be nice (that's not really a thing. btw). And what draws her back is a 911-type call from her goddaughter Ali. 

Here's how important the call is: Jax KNOWS she is dumping her job in responding by immediately booking a flight. At the precise time of the call, she doesn't care for some aspects of Mossy Creek AT ALL; that matters not at all. She is DEEPLY bonded to Ali, to Ali's mother Quinn, and to Ali's aunt Annie.

I had to make a spreadsheet to diagram all the relationships. They aren't COMPLICATED, but there are four generations (at least) involved, and I've been reading this series for some small number of years.

So, what's the emergency? NOT TELLING YOU! HA HA HA HA HA!

I will say this, and it's a clue, and not a spoiler: NOTHING is more toxic than a toxic family, and nothing brings that toxicity to a boil than fights over money. (I actually think, courtesy of Bunker Hunt, that the play is not for money, it's for power, and money is just how we keep score.)

So, how do the superpowers enter?  NOT TELLING YOU! HA HA HA HA HA!

However, it's FAR more important to have a rested, resolute heart, than it is to be able to leap tall buildings at a single bound.

There is a brief, mildly explicit sex scene between two consenting adults forming a permanent pair bond. It's my understanding that this is essential for literature in this genre; it certainly isn't enough to attract porn addicts. If you don't like that, it will be easy enough to skip those two or three pages. I am strongly biased toward sexual activity as a participatory rather than spectator sport, and I didn't find it problematic; YMMV, but don't get all bluenose on us, okay?
As an exercise, I searched for the terms "love" and "lust." Of the three appearances of "lust," one of them was a biker expressing admiration for a motorcycle. That leaves the ration at 44:1, in favor of love; hardly an X rating. If there is adult language or drug use, I didn't see it. (I can't remember if there are any other things I'm supposed to notice/warn/wail about.)

"Rogue Magic" was a delightful book for me to read. I found it to be upbeat, even though there was the potential for tragedy at MULTIPLE points. Those situations are treated seriously, but the character defects of the Good Guys never tend toward betrayal of those beloved, for personal benefit. There is also a great reveal that has implications for the entire series, not just this installment.  

Peace be on your household.