VIOLENCE OF THE SENSIBLE KIND – Marilyn Armstrong

The thing about “senseless violence” is that it implies there’s some other kind. The sensible kind.

Everybody talks about senseless violence … but what about the other kind of violence? How come no one talks about sensible violence?

sensible violence

Sensible Violence: Good reasons to kill


“He needed killing” is still accepted in some American courtrooms as a defense against a charge of murder. If he needed killing and you kill him, you have committed an act of sensible violence.

“No one was supposed to get hurt.” You found yourself short of money, so you held up the bank. Using automatic weapons. You had a perfect plan which went unaccountably wrong. “But your Honor, no one was supposed to get hurt!”

“I had no choice.” You could have gotten a divorce, but you were put off by all the paperwork, lawyers, and courts. Not to mention having to share your stuff. So, you killed your husband and shoved his body in the wood chipper and use his remains as fertilizer. Sensible. tidy, and green.  “Your Honor, he really pissed me off. And it wasn’t easy getting him into the machine. He was being really mean to me, so what choice did I have?”

“Anyone would have done the same thing.” Really, no kidding. Anyone. It was the only sensible response. “Your Honor, she burned the roast. I had to kill her. Anyone would have done the same thing.”

“I lost my temper.” You said I wouldn’t like you when you were angry. You were right.

So you see? Not all violence is senseless. If you didn’t mean it, you had no choice, anyone would have done the same thing, or your plan went awry … it’s sensible violence. The good kind.

YOU MEAN, IT ISN’T CHRISTMAS YET?

They are at it again, the annual group of “Let’s make EVERYONE SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS.” Not that anyone was ever prevented from saying it, mind you. Nor does everyone celebrate Christmas — and those who do not celebrate do not care what you say about it as long as you don’t make them celebrate your holiday.

I’m amazed that anyone takes this nonsense seriously. I’m barely ready for Thanksgiving. Give it a rest.

And guess who are the perps of this mini fiasco? It’s Bill O’Reilly, the sleazy sex-offender previously of Fox news, who is sniveling about Christmas. If he snivels and whines about the holidays, maybe no one will remember that he’s a sex offender. I’m pretty sure that’s what is really going on.

According to O’Reilly (who lied about violating the rights of the women in his workplace) we are being forced — FORCED!!! — to not say “Merry Christmas?” Amazingly, this has never happened to me or anyone else I know. No one has ever prevented me from saying Merry Christmas. Or, for that matter, forced me to say anything at all about the holidays. It has always been a matter of good matters and personal whimsy.

That’s right, world. No one has ever cared what I said about any holiday. Other than responding with a smile and a returned greeting, I’ve never met a anyone who gave a rat’s ass whether I said Merry Christmas, happy holiday, or “have a great time whatever you happen to celebrate” — which I occasionally say when I don’t know what holiday you celebrate or even if you celebrate anything.

Basically, I’m a nice person and I want you to enjoy your holidays, whatever they may be. So, I say Merry Christmas, assuming I’m reasonably sure you really celebrate Christmas. If I’m not sure, I go with “Have a great holiday!” If I know for sure you celebrate something else, I’ll try to remember what and greet you with that … and if I know you don’t celebrate anything, I just shut up and ask you “How’s it going?”

If I happen to say “Happy Holiday” and it turns out, you are gung-ho for Christmas — are you going to spit in my eye because I greeted you incorrectly? Using the wrong words and thereby stepping on your self-righteousness?

The cops aren’t going to pick me up for my accidental failure to greet you the way you want to be greeted.


There are no “political correctness” police.


Anyone can say whatever he or she wants including nothing. At all. So you can be friendly, or you can be a jerk. It’s not about religion or beliefs. It’s about being civil to other people who may or may not share your background. The whole little spiel about how I can leave if I don’t celebrate your customs? Since when did your customs become mine? Talk about offensive … you’ve got a lot of nerve! What’s next, forced conversion?

I am tired of oppressed “Christians” whose idea of oppression is not getting everything exactly the way they want it — and who grouse about oppression because they might have to move their crèche to the church around the corner.

When you live in a country where you can have a church — have a dozen churches — and attend all of them, any time? That is freedom. What you want is spiritual tyranny. The laws to which you refer do not exist. The police don’t care. Basically, neither do I. I’m just being polite. To you.

I’m going to make a suggestion: No matter what anyone says? Smile and say “thank you.” That’s a win-win for everyone.


Don’t be a jerk. Let everyone enjoy their holidays their own way.


STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES (AGAIN) – TOM CURLEY


Stupid is as stupid does.

It’s an old line, probably used by everybody’s mother. Most memorably, it came from the movie Forrest Gump. It’s what Forest’s mother always told him when people made fun of him for being … well … Forrest Gump.

The thing is, I never really understood what the phrase actually means. It sounds very profound, but what is it actually saying?

I only think of this because stupid has become a word that’s popping up more and more these days. The current “so-called administration”, has been labeled “ignorant,” “immoral” and “inept.” But lately a new word is emerging to describe our “so-called government.”


Stupid.

Also the word “idiot” is cropping up. The headline of a recent NY Post editorial was “Donald Trump Jr. is an idiot.”

Why? When he discovered the New York Times was about to publish a story exposing emails which proved he was meeting with Russian agents to acquire damaging information about Hillary Clinton from high level Russian government sources — because they wanted to help Trump win the election — what did he do?

He released the actual emails. Proving he wanted to collude with Russian agents to get damaging information on Hillary Clinton and didn’t care that the Russian government was involved. He actually wrote back “I love it!”


HOW STUPID WAS THAT?

His defense was that he didn’t get any damaging info, so it didn’t count.


AND HOW STUPID IS THAT?  

It’s like saying “I went to rob a bank but when I got there they were all out of money,” so it doesn’t count.

And we all thought Eric was the dumb one.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Cheesy McCheese head, the actual President of the United States, recently stated — publicly — that the Mexican wall must be transparent.

Why you ask?  Because Mexicans will be throwing large bags of drugs over the wall. He didn’t want unsuspecting Americans on our side to get hit on the head by large bags of drugs.

No, I’m not making that up. Absorb that for a few minutes.

Everybody has role models.  Trumpy’s role models seem to be Governor LePetomaine from Blazing Saddles. “Work, work, work, work. Hello boys!”

And the rebel leader from Woody Allen’s Bananas.

REBEL LEADER: From this point forward, underwear will be changed every half hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside. So we can check. Every child under 16 years old, is now 16 years old.”

Previously, we learned how utterly incompetent this administration is. But now, we are also getting a handle on just how incredibly stupid they are. Although I still don’t know precisely what “Stupid is as stupid does” means, it seems to explain our current administration.

WISDOM, WISE WORDS AND WTF?! – BY TOM CURLEY

Ellin and I were watching something on TV last week, I don’t remember exactly what, when somebody blurted out: “You should live every day of your life as if it were your last.” 

It’s an old platitude. I’ve heard it hundreds of times. But for some reason, I stopped and really thought about it. What if I did live every day of my life as if it were my last? How would that work out? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that living like that would be the dumbest thing ever!

I mean, here’s how every day of the rest my life would go.

Alarm goes off:

ME: (Yawn) Time to get up. What day is it? Tuesday? What do I have to do today? Oh wait, I just remembered. THIS IS THE LAST DAY OF MY LIFE! WTF?? I’VE GOT JUST 24 HOURS TO LIVE!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?? I FELT FINE YESTERDAY!!

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?? ALL THE THINGS I WANTED TO DO BEFORE I DIE??? EVERY THING THAT’S ON MY BUCKET LIST?? HOW THE HELL AM GOING TO DO THAT?? I’VE ONLY GOT 24 FRIGGING HOURS BEFORE I KICK THE GOD DAMNED BUCKET!

I COULD GO OUT TO THAT EXPENSIVE RESTAURANT I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO TO. BUT WHAT’S THE POINT!!!? I’LL BE DEAD BEFORE THE MEAL’S DIGESTED!! FUCK THIS! THIS ISN’T FAIR!! SCREW IT! I’LL JUST GET SHIT-FACED DRUNK!

I wake up the next morning:

ME: Ohhhh! My head! Crap. This is the worst hangover I’ve ever had. What was I thinking? Drinking that much? Wait … oh yeah … THIS IS THE LAST DAY OF MY LIFE!! I’M GONNA BE DEAD IN 24 HOURS!!!  OK, 23 HOURS, 57 MINUTES AND 12 SECONDS, 11 SECONDS … WTF??!  WHY ME??!

And so it would go.

I’m sorry, but that’s no way to live.  That’s the Groundhog Day from Hell. I’m quite happy with my life the way it is.

I plan on living the rest of my life going to sleep every night with the firm belief there’s a better than even chance I’m going to live to see the next day. And the day after that.

ANOTHER CATEGORY OF VIOLENCE

The thing about “senseless violence” is that it implies there’s some other kind. The sensible kind. Everybody talks about senseless violence … but what about the other kind of violence? How come no one talks about sensible violence?

sensible violence

Reasonable, well thought-out violence.

  • “He needed killing” is still accepted in some American courtrooms as a defense against a charge of murder. If he needed killing and you kill him, you have committed an act of sensible violence.
  • “No one was supposed to get hurt.” You found yourself short of money, so you held up the bank. Using automatic weapons. You had a perfect plan which went unaccountably wrong. “But your Honor, no one was supposed to get hurt!”
  • “I had no choice.” You could have gotten a divorce, but you were put off by all the paperwork, lawyers, and courts. Not to mention having to share your stuff. So, you killed your husband and shoved his body in the clothes dryer. Sensible and tidy.  “Your Honor, he really pissed me off. And it wasn’t easy getting him into the machine. And, I was selling dope, so I couldn’t call the cops. He was being really mean to me, so what choice did I have?
  • “Anyone would have done the same thing.” Really, no kidding. Anyone. It was the only reasonable response. “Your Honor, she burned the roast. I had to kill her. Anyone would have done the same thing.”
  • “I lost my temper.” You said I wouldn’t like you when you’re angry. You were right.

So you see? Not all violence is senseless. If you didn’t mean it, you had no choice, your plan went awry … it’s all good. Sensible.

EVERYTHING IS TEMPORARY

Bad things happen. People die. War happens. Careers end. What can you say?

“This too shall pass.”

Life is temporary. Our world is temporary. It was my mother’s favorite expression. She said it to comfort me when I was unhappy, if something had gone badly. It never occurred to me the expression was more than common words a mother says to console a child.

It turns out the expression has a long, ancient history. It has been used to comfort a nation at war, a country consumed by unrest. Families, individuals, kingdoms. These are words to use when other words fail you.

king-solomon-cc

This too shall pass” (Persian: این نیز بگذرد‎, Arabic: لا شيء يدوم‎, Hebrew: גם זה יעבור‎) is an adage indicating that all conditions, positive or negative, are temporary.

The phrase seems to have originated in the writings of the medieval Persian Sufi poets. The phrase is often attached to a fable of a great king who is humbled by these simple words. Some versions of the fable, beginning with that of Attar of Nishapur, add the detail that the phrase is inscribed on a ring, which has the ability to make the happy man sad — and the sad man happy.

The legend of the quote finds its roots in the court of a powerful eastern Persian ruler who called his sages (wise men) to him, including the Sufi poet Attar of Nishapur, and asked them for one quote that would be accurate at all times and in all situations. The wise men consulted with one another, and threw themselves into deep contemplation, and finally came up with the answer … “This too, shall pass.”

The ruler was so impressed by the quote that he had it inscribed in a ring.

Jewish folklore often describes Solomon as giving or receiving the phrase. The adage and associated fable were popular in the first half of the 19th century, appearing in a collection of tales by the English poet Edward Fitzgerald and also used by Abraham Lincoln in a speech before he became President.

And when words fail me, my mother’s voice echoes in my head.

This too, shall pass. Because everything is temporary. 

MY 8 LEAST FAVORITE PLATITUDES

I am one platitude over my limit. I understand why people say this stuff. In most cases (but not all), I have to assume they mean well and lacking anything original to say, fall back on stuff they’ve heard. Or maybe not.

I sincerely hope no one really believes this stuff. You don’t, do you?

72-cropped-cheshire cat grin


  1. “God never gives you more than you can bear.” Life (or God, if you like) gives us plenty of things we can’t bear. Heart attacks, cancer, unemployment, foreclosure, divorce, sick kids, and lots more. If that’s not enough, you can absolutely count on death. If this is the best you can do in the way of comfort? Say nothing. Please.
  2. “Age is just a number.” No. It isn’t. Age is painful and real. You don’t get old because your head is in the wrong place. This suggests if you tried harder, you would remain young. How does that work? If you really have an answer, I’m pretty sure you can sell it for a lot of money.
  3. “Everything happens for a reason.” In books, everything happens for a reason. On television, everything happens for a reason. In life? Events are random and often completely meaningless.
  4. “Things always work out for the best.” Tell that to the person getting fired, evicted, dying, mourning. Don’t stand too close when you say it. It could be dangerous to your health.
  5. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” What doesn’t kill you, doesn’t kill you. You get to live a while longer. Maybe it will make you stronger, but maybe not. It’s not something you can really count on, you know?
  6. “It’s just mind over matter.” I don’t think so. Try that with cancer. Or congestive heart failure. Get back to me on that.
  7. “For every cloud, there’s a silver lining.” Clouds are clouds. Not lined with silver. The good news? Clouds are okay. Rain is okay. You won’t melt if you get wet.
  8. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. This is an age-old justification for accusing someone based on rumor, hearsay, malice, and innuendo. It really means: “I haven’t a shred of evidence, but I’ve heard stuff about you-know-who. He must be guilty of something, right? Because, y’know, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

If any of these platitudes spring to your tongue and you open your mouth to say them?

Don’t. Please. Don’t.

RAMBLINGS ON CHANGE AND LIFE

SHOULD I CHANGE ME?

This is one of those disorganized, rambling posts that we all write sometimes. Sorry about that. I had a few things to say and this seemed a good place to say them.

No one is perfect, least of all me

I should be more patient. I’m patient with tedious, repetitive work. Kids and animals get a long lead. Adults? Not so much.

DO NOT CONFUSE ME WITH FACTS

Raymond Reddington on “The Blacklist” dropped this pearl the other night:

“They say youth is wasted on the young. I disagree. I say wisdom is wasted on the old. No one wants it. In fact, everyone hates it.

With that in mind, here’s a little list:

characteristics of very important people
  1. They know everything. They have an opinion about everything, but no facts — or as they say in the west, “All hat, no cattle.”
  2. They never admit they are, were, or could be, wrong.
  3. They reject change. They will not revise an opinion or change their way of doing something because “this is the way I am and have always done it.”
  4. They are self-destructive and self-defeating.
  5. They expect sympathy when they do themselves in. Again.
  6. They blame everyone else for their problems. The whole world is out to get them (a sure sign of great importance).
  7. They are proud of being ignorant.
  8. They don’t read books or newspapers.
  9. They believe their opinion is “as good any anyone else’s.” (No, it isn’t.)
  10. They brag about their achievements, but you never see any evidence of these achievements.
CHANGE IS LIFE

All living things change, even if slowly. Only death is unchanging. If I seem to be of a different opinion than I was the other day, it’s probably true. When I learn something new, or see a better way to do something old, I try it.

I’m never sure I’m right, but I know when I’m wrong.

The rumor about old people is that we’re more patient than the young. Not exactly. More tired, yes. More patient? Not really. The older we are, the harder it is to suffer fools — and the better we are at recognizing fools.

Don’t there seem to be more fools than there used to be?

I want to trust people, so I assume they’re well-meaning, even if wrong-headed. I’ve been mistaken many times. You’d think I’d learn, but I don’t.

Even if it works out badly, I’d rather get hurt than give up.

CRAZY OR HAPPY

Back from a brief foray over to Facebook, the social media site I love to hate, I was whacked with this witty bit of philosophical twaddle.

crazy but happy

I looked at it and realized I’ve seen a lot of similar “memes” lately. All of them seem to be saying that your choice is to be nuts, off the rails, mad as a hatter … or miserable, bitter. Living a life of quiet (or not-so-quiet) desperation.

Apparently the latest popular “wisdom” — surely promoted by the same geniuses who want Donald Trump or Ben Carson as president — is it’s impossible to be sane while happy.

In other words … if you are in your right mind, you’re miserable? You haven’t had a single laugh in your entire life?

I’ve been through a lot. Sick, poor, bankrupt, and homeless — I’ve been there. But I’ve also been happy, joyous, hopeful, determined, and successful. Sane and simultaneously content. I’ve lost. I’ve won. In and out of love and marriages. Life isn’t always happy, nor is it only pain and agony. It’s not only anything.

Even when I was homeless, life wasn’t a vale of tears. I figured I was temporarily un-housed, between residences and after a while, it got resolved. Life went on — up, down, and sideways.

72-dry-leaves-foliage-1026_034

Life isn’t this or that. Happy or sad. Bitter or crazy. Life just is. You get the good times, the bad times, and plenty of in-between times. It’s a package deal. Money or lack thereof is not the key that unlocks happiness, though it can provide a very comfortable version of misery. Happiness is what you provide. You own the key.

Some of the most bitter rants I’ve heard come from young people. At the advanced age of 19 or 20, they have concluded that life has cheated them. They didn’t get “the good stuff” they deserved.

At 19 or 20, if you have yet to achieve The Good Life, it’s because you’re still on the starting line. You have not been cheated. If you decide it’s over, it means you’ve given up without a fight. Haven’t entered the fray. At the risk of sounding like a cliché, no one said it was going to be easy.

72-V1-Painted-Flowers_07

Most of us need a few years to figure out what comprises a good life, then a few decades to achieve it. Get an education. Work at this and that until we find where we belong, until we discover the satisfaction of a job well done. Figure out what “well done” means. For me, for you.

Work isn’t punishment. Properly done, it’s a reward. Challenges and difficulties are not necessarily punishment either. Sometimes (not always), they’re part of growing up, of discovering who you are and what you were born to do. Sometimes, they turn out to be the best of times.

THE OTHER KIND OF VIOLENCE

Everybody talks about senseless violence … but what about the other kind of violence? How come no one talks about sensible violence?

You hear about senseless violence even more often than the ubiquitous “stay in the car.” We know no one stays in the car. Ever. “Senseless violence” implies there’s another kind. The sensible kind.

 

sensible violence

Reasonable, well thought-out violence.

1. “He needed killing” is still accepted in some American courtrooms as a defense against a charge of murder. If he needed killing and you kill him, you have committed an act of sensible violence.

2. “No one was supposed to get hurt.” You found yourself short of money, so you held up the bank. Using automatic weapons. You had a perfect plan which went unaccountably wrong. “But your Honor, no one was supposed to get hurt!”

3. “I had no choice.” You could have gotten a divorce, but you were put off by all the paperwork, lawyers, and courts. Not to mention having to share your stuff. So, you killed your husband and shoved his body in the clothes dryer. Sensible and tidy.  “Your Honor, he really pissed me off. And it wasn’t easy getting him into the machine. What other choice did I have?”

4. “Anyone would have done the same thing.” Really, no kidding. Anyone. It was the only reasonable response. “Your Honor, she burned the roast. I had to kill her. Anyone would have done the same thing.”

5. “I lost my temper.” You said I wouldn’t like you when you are angry. You were right.

So you see? Not all violence is senseless. If you didn’t mean it, you had no choice, your plan went awry … it’s all good. Sensible.

WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE WORDS …

Her son died. Her husband died. Their father died. His brother died, then his father.

It was. Cancer. Heart attack. A minor infection turned virulent. A holdup gone wrong, a bullet gone astray. Senseless because death, disease, disaster are always senseless.

What to say? “This too shall pass.”

My mother said it all the time. It was her favorite expression. I never thought about it. She said it to comfort me when I was unhappy, when something had gone badly. It never occurred to me the expression was more than something a mother says when consoling a child.

It turns out the expression has a long, ancient history. It has been used to comfort a nation at war, a country consumed by unrest. Families, individuals, kingdoms. They are words you use when you run out of words.

king-solomon-cc

This too shall pass” (Persianاین نیز بگذرد‎, Arabicلا شيء يدوم‎, Hebrewגם זה יעבור‎) is an adage indicating that all conditions, positive or negative, are temporary.

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WAITING ISN’T

Waiting Room – “Good things come to those who wait.” Do you agree? How long is it reasonable to wait for something you really want?


96-Waiting-Worcester

In “Stranger In A Strange Land,” Michael Valentine Smith typically said “Waiting is.” It was one of those zen-like inscrutable comments. Kind of goes well with Bill Belichick’s “It is what it is.”

Both translate loosely to “The moment contains what it contains. Since we can’t do much about it, we might as well shut up and go with the flow.”

Waiting doesn’t get you anything but a seat on the bus or an opportunity to explain something to a bureaucrat when that little numbered slip of paper is finally called.

Nor, in my opinion, do the meek inherit the earth, unless you count a grave as an inheritance. Waiting — a lack of activity or withdrawal from events in progress — may keep you out of trouble, but it won’t get you noticed. The doctor won’t come out and see you on the bench. It won’t make anyone pick up your manuscript and decide to publish it. It won’t get your job done — any job, anywhere. It won’t get you a job.

It’s an expression which sounds good on paper, but what does it mean? If it means “the baby won’t come until it’s fully developed” … okay. If it means you need to let the bread rise and bake before you can eat it? Fine. Both these are active attempts to create something which coincidentally requires some waiting. Not like being put on hold while someone on the other side of the world finally gets around to taking your call … then promptly disconnects you.

The baby didn’t self-create nor did the bread. Nothing gets started by waiting. Waiting is stasis. What you do after you’ve acted, implemented, and are passing through an interval necessary for fruition.

Hey, anyone been up for jury duty, sat in a big room with a lot of other people who don’t want to be there … and then be told you aren’t allowed to talk, read, or leave the room until someone says you can?

75-WaitingHPCR-7

That is waiting at it’s finest. 90% of the time, someone will eventually come to tell you to go home.

I won’t wait on lines in restaurants or at movies. If the grocery is very crowded? I leave. I’ll shop tomorrow.

I wait only for things to bloom, finish developing, be delivered, cool, bake, dry, or land at the airport. Otherwise, there are lots of things to do. I’ll always prefer to do than wait.

Tis a gift to be simple … or is it?

If you love it, set it free … Really?

The whole quote is:

If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t, then it was never meant to be. – Unknown

We yearn for simple answer to complex questions. But honestly, do you genuinely believe it’s what your spouse, lover or friend wants? To be set free? To be let go? Doesn’t this sound like a bogus excuse for dumping someone you wanted to get rid of anyway, but couldn’t find an excuse beyond “Wow, I’m really up for something new. See you around, okay? … I’m outta here!”

Sayings … platitudes … are a cheesy way to over-simplify the complexities of life. Especially when you can’t think of a good exit line. Kind of like using “My dear, I don’t give a damn.” and pretending to be Rhett Butler on your way out the door … or mumbling “No, no, no it ain’t me babe … ” thus attempting (and failing) to make someone think you’re Bob Dylan incarnate. Dylan was personally a social loser despite enormous talent as a poet — but lord, he could NOT sing worth a plugged nickel and still can’t …

Which is why his songs always sound so much better when his ex girlfriend, Joan Baez, sings them. I’m just saying …