Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Reflections On Death

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Photo poster of David Bowie
courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
We're all going to die.  There's no denying it.  There's no escaping it.  Yet, most of the time we can push death to the back of our mind; we have to.  If we thought about the inevitable end to our mortal existence, on a daily basis, we couldn't function.  Recently, I've been having a harder time ignoring death though.

We've lost four legends in the last month.
  • David Bowie, singer of Life On Mars and numerous other hits, died on January 10th.
  • Harry Potter's Snape and Die Hard's Hans Gruber, Alan Rickman, died on January 14th.
  • Dan Haggerty, star of Grizzly Adams, died on January 15th.
  • Glenn Frey, founder of The Eagles and solo singer of Smuggler's Blues, died on January 18th.
Of course, all four of these entertainment icons have done much more than what I've listed.  The roles and songs listed above are simply the works I remember most when I think of these men.

Them dying back to back, as they have, has brought the concepts of death and time to the forefront of my mind.  Bowie had just released a hit album when we lost him, reminding us that, despite our plans, things can change in an instant.

While such a thought can be viewed as a depressing excuse to hit the bottle, it can also be seen as a reminder to cherish life now.  Tomorrow, a ten year cat or an eighty year old uncle may die.  Embrace today, for this day, this moment, will never come again.

"Sailors fighting in the dance hall, Oh man! Look at those cavemen go. It's the freakiest show. Take a look at the Lawman beating up the wrong guy. Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know he's in the best selling show. Is there life on Mars?"

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Explain This To Me As If I'm A Two Year Old

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In the movie Philadelphia, Denzel Washington played a lawyer named Joe Miller.  When someone began to explain a case to him, he'd hold up his hand and say, "Wait, explain this to me as if I'm a two year old," in order to make the speaker state their position in simplest term.  Right now I need someone to explain the Bundy occupation to me as if I'm a two year old.

 photo refuge.jpg
Subject: This USGS satellite image of the MNWR headquarters complex is 
labeled to show key locations referenced in news reports of the militia 
occupation: (1) fire lookout used by militants as watch tower, (2) MNWR 
offices used as headquarters building, (3) residential buildings used by 
militants as barracks and canteen. | Date: 01/11/2016 | This work is in the 
public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States 
Federal Government under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of 
the US Code.
Last week I rushed to post my thoughts about it, thinking the whole thing would be over a day or two later.  A week later it's still going on.  On advice from the FBI, occupiers are allowed to receive shipments of food and supplies, they can come & go from building to building within the hijacked federal facility, and water & power have been left on.  Now, a self proclaimed "judge" is being allowed in to hold a makeshift trial accusing the Sheriff of treason.

None of this makes sense to me.  By my way of thinking, law enforcement could accelerate an end to the situation by turning power and water off, blocking outside deliveries and supporters from coming in, and generally making things uncomfortable for the criminals.

OK, I understand wanting to avoid blood shed.  Yet, law enforcement needs to not only be thinking about this incident, but future incidents as well.  Once a precedent of cooperation with such criminals is set, it's going to be harder to dissuade future incidents from occurring.  

On Friday, Ammon Bundy is scheduled to propose an "exit strategy."  The only exit strategy which should even be considered, is for the militia members to come out with their hands up.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Criminals Take Refuge In Burns

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Photo postcard of Malheur Wildlife Refuge courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
In a nutshell, Dwight & Steve Hammond burned federal land, once to conceal poaching, and again to protect their own ranch from wild fires.  The two men were convicted of arson, but were sentenced below minimum guidelines.  After they served their time, the courts corrected the error and resentenced the Hammonds.

In response to the new sentence, members of the Bundy family lead a militant takeover of a federal wildlife refuge.  During the resulting standoff, the Hammonds distanced themselves from the Bundy's actions and surrendered to authorities to accept their sentence.  Now the Bundy militia is refusing to leave the refuge building until the government turns thousands of acres of federal land over to private ranchers.

I get the whole double jeopardy thing.  It's actually not double jeopardy.  Since the first judge made a legal error, jeopardy never attached, but I get why it looks like double jeopardy to some people. Yet, I think the Bundies pounced on the situation to push their own agenda.

The whole thing reminds me of the "Occupy [your city here] Movement" of a few years ago.  A protest over student debt became a movement about adopting a four day work week, erasing ALL consumer debt, and campaign finance reform.  The same thing's happened in Burns.  What began as a protest over a perceived judicial snafu has turned into a land grab by criminals.

Whether, or not, the Hammonds serve additional prison time has nothing to do with who owns refuge land.   If it ever truly was about helping the Hammonds, the occupation ceased to be about that the moment other demands were levied.  There's nothing heroic or noble in the militia's actions.  These are simply criminals who are putting their agenda above the law,

Governor Kate Brown released the following public statement Thursday afternoon, "To members of the Burns-Paiute Tribe and residents of Harney County who seek a return to normal life: I hear you, and I agree that what started as a peaceful and legal protest has become unlawful. It was instigated by outsiders whose tactics we Oregonians don't agree with. Those individuals illegally occupying the Malheur Wildlife Refuge need to decamp immediately and be held accountable."

Ammon Bundy responded by telling the press his militia will only leave the refuge as "free men."  He has to know that's impossible.  He has to know they'll be arrested the moment they come out.  If the government meets even one of their demands and/or fails to prosecute them, the government will be encouraging future criminal acts by those with an ax to grind.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016

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Vacation's over, and I'm back in the blogging saddle.

The stage has been set for what promises to be an interesting year.  Brazil is preparing to host the Summer Olympics.  Yet, concerns over water quality, air conditioning for athletes' quarters, and construction budgets threaten the games' preparations.

Meanwhile, here at home, Americans are preparing to elect a new leader.  Typically, I'd be pumped to begin writing about the latter.  Yet, I'm finding it hard to become jazzed about this year's election.

Like it, or not, election news has, so far, been dominated by tales of Donald Trump's antics.  A man who, "told Yahoo News that he would consider requiring Muslim-Americans to register with a government database, or worse, mandating that they carry special identification cards that note their faith," then proposed, "a 'total and complete shutdown' of Muslims entering the U.S.,", is gaining popularity in the poles.

America seems to be dividing into pro-Trump and anti-Trump camps, and camp members seem to be firmly entrenched.  I strongly suspect I could write about the election every day, from now until November, and not sway a single Trump supporter.

Thus, this year, unless something dramatic changes, I will use this blog to write about issues and events not directly related to the election.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!