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My Blog Launch

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

As a newbie to blogging and writing I’m looking forward to any and all guidance, feedback, and mentorship. Reading is my passion and I hope to support other authors in any way I can.

The Sweet Spot

With the mid-term elections now behind us and the presidential election looming within 2 years, I’ve been fixated on finding the political/cultural Sweet Spot where some sense of unity can pull us out of this morass of polarization. When my candidate for state representative came up short on the election tally for the 3rd time against an entrenched incumbent despite a flawless, vigerous campaign, it gave me pause to consider “whats the sweet spot” to achieve change and success.

I’m having flashbacks to math classes when the teacher harped about the importance of the overlapping center of the venn diagrams, that common denominator that included elements of both circles.

To figure out who makes up this all important “swing vote”, sweet spot of the center, I decided to discount those who will never occupy the mid-point.

They are highlighted as the following:

  • The pro-life camp. They will never consider another candidate no matter how immoral or eggregious the behavior of their pro-life candidate.
  • The gun rights, 2nd amendment camp. Likewise, they can’t consider any other candidate no matter what they say or do.
  • A pro-life AND gun rights camper is definitely someone to court for the middle ground.
  • Anybody in the conspratorial, disgruntaled, disgusted, angry, apathetic camp is unlikely to be swayed by logic or arguments.
  • A recent conversation I had demonstrates the futility of conversing and attempting to convert persons from any of the above referenced camps. The person mentioned a couple of times how Bin Ladin and Obama share a strong resemblance implying that they might actually be the same person. I asked this person if he believed it to be true that Bin Ladin and Obama might be the same person. He initially said he did not believe this. However, he mentioned the notion a couple more times and it was obvious he had been influenced by this fantastical, conspiracy thinking. When I asked him what was the source of this info, he was not sure and followed up with a statement that he trusts none of the traditional news outlets. He finally noted that he did not like Obama or Biden and he liked Regan claiming that Democrats are too sympathetic to gays (even though he indicated he has nothing against gays). He topped off the conversation with notation that Democrats are too liberal big spenders who are morally compromised. That’s when I abandoned all hope of common ground.
  • To steal a line from the Soprano’s, I would say, “fogget about em”.

Back to contemplating where to find the holy grail of the swing voter, I reflected back on a conversation I had with a resident while knocking on doors supporting my candidate.

The person noted he voted for Bernie (good start) indicating he was an independent thinker who votes for the person and not just the party. He expressed skepticism about the “powers that be”. He expressed animosity, distrust for career politicians of both parties. Still good because my candiate would have been a first term state representative. However, he seemed bent on the topic of wastful spending. Coming from the private sector with graduate degrees and seeming to be affluent, he focused on R.O.I (Return On Investment with results driven policies). So far still good since we still seemed to be on the same page advocating zero based budgeting and not funding programs “just because we funded them before”. Still good but I sensed that he still was not fully on-board with my candidate who is generally a progressive candidate. Taxes were a hot-button topic for him and he perceved an unfairness to the middle and upper class who he felt pay an inordinate amount of taxes. When the conversation turned to matters of crime and punishment, he took a conservative turn with a focus on consequences (i.e, do the crime, do the time) and the lack of personal responsibility throughout society. I tried to emphasize the importance of severe sentancing for violent criminals while applying restorative justice, rehabilitation for non-violent offenders. We both agreed that the term Defund the Police should not be used since it sends an incorrect message. When I described rethinking how we do policing by deploying cops to scenes with a team of social workers and/or peer counselors, he did not object and he remained polite but I’m not sure if he was fully on board.

So how did he vote? I’ll never know. Maybe he didn’t even vote. He was an interesting guy…well educated, affluent, seemingly concerned/thoughfull. In sum, the suburban voter that’s coveted by both parties.

So how might we best pull this voter into the Democratic camp. I highlight the following suggesstions:

  • Emphasize CONSEQUENCES and COMPASSION (in this order) always starting with consequences in the converstion. If you start by assuring this person that you insist on personal responsibility mandating consequences for your actions, you can then move on to discussing programs/policies that include COMPASSION offering more coprehensive approaches to vexing social issues.
  • Emphasize specific examples of wasteful spending and superfluous, rediculous bureaucratic regulations. Now you have his attention and possibly support.
  • If you can build rapport and trust based upon the aforementioned conversational approaches, you might have a chance of pulling this type voter into your camp.
  • I present this proposal with the following major caveat. If you find yourself “selling your soul” trying to present your case for a balance between CONSEQUENCES and COMPASSION, it might be time to “draw a line in that sand” . If you are agreeing to cutting taxes and removing bureaucracy but at the expense of programs designed for the greater good, then it might be time to “draw the line in that sand”.

The magical sweet spot seems to be getting smaller and smaller and harder to find in this polarized world of news echo chambers. However, if the Democratic candidate can convince this type of voter that he/she will cut waste, cut bureaucracy, punish violent criminals, slow the expanion of government and stay out of the social/cultural wars , maybe we can draw that voter away from the radical right wing/conservative camps to find their way to the voting booth.

If these “fence sitters” can be convinced and the Democratic base can be motivated to show up, maybe that’s the long term solution. That said, I’m not sure how many “fence sitters” actually exist. I’m also getting an increasing feeling that it’s increasingly difficult to pull support from persons who are a combination of anger, distrust, apathy and affluence. My observation is that they tilt conservative/reactionary from the comfort of suburbia no matter how emphatic and energetic the presentation made to them.

I hate to end on this melancholy note so I’m throwing out the question “What’s your thoughts?”

Is it time for a national college strike?

Pick the college that leaves you debt free and preps you for a job: Name it DFU Debt Free University

I’m referring to current and prospective students going on strike, not the employees of the colleges. Before going on strike, it’s essential that you have a Plan-B in place.

Here is my proposed Plan-B:

Build upon the existing system of open-source data (i.e., You Tube, MOOGS, massive online free data sources, podcasts, Khan Academy, GCF LearnFree.org, tutorials, etc.). The internet can provide the fundamental body of knowledge that’s required for mastery of subjects/topics that prep students to enter the workforce. The phrase “fake it till you make it” comes to mind.

Isn’t this what the whole liberal arts “college thing” is all about? Offering a broad based, well rounded, fundamental understanding of “the world” to prep for that “first job”.

Free (or low cost), self-teaching, self-directed, life-long learning is already underway. Visit any public library and you will observe those “bookworms” who spend their day browsing, researching and soaking up subjects of interest to them or preparing for whatever test may be on their personal horizons.

I propose formalizing this self-learning, self-actualizing process within the following superstructure:

Match those who know with those who want to know.

I envision the concept of “speed dating” where the student gets an introduction to the instructor/mentor but if the chemisty is not good, they are not “stuck” with the instructor/mentor for the rest of the semester. I envision the uber driver format of matching instructional services with marketplace comptetition including a ranking and rating of performance evaluations. Build upon the current format for matching students with tutors. I envision an instructional version of Angie’s List.

The above description may seen crass, shallow, and unprofessional to those wedded to the traditional educational format, However, it has been my experience based upon years of schooling (bachelors and masters degree) and over 40 years of work experience in a variety of careers, that one-on-one, practical problem solving interactions have been the most cost-effective and rewarding break throughs to mastering a subject and solving a problem. Botton line, we can achieve the same goal but at much less expense with campuses without walls and much lower overhead expenses. The phrase “only pay for what you need” used in an insurance compay commercial is an impetus for my proposal of this format.

If employers conduct entry level assessments as part of their hiring process and the applicant demonstrates a grasp of the philosophical and practical underpinnings of the job and the company culture/mission, this might give that employer sufficient confidence to proceed with hiring even if the applicant does not have the “sheep skin” diploma. What’s the origin of that archaic phrase anyway? What I’m proposing is to reverse the current order. Now testing is done in school when there is no particular job on the horizon. Why not have the testing (the “prove it” phase to be more accurate) conducted at the point of entry to the workplace. I’m willing to place a bet that the many of the students churned out of most of America’s colleges will not score well on these “job enrty tests”. The years of taking courses that have nothing to do with the job, the years of parties/beer bashes and sporting events will be of no assistance to them when they are knocking on the employers door.

Match those who have a passion for a subject with those who have a thirst for that subject. Theoretically, this is what colleges were designed to do with brilliant and enthusiastic professors imparting their knowledge and enthusiasm to eager young minds. In reality, all too often the teaching is farmed out to Assistant Professors and Teaching Assistants and Graduate Students (most of whom are underpaid). There are spectacular teachers in all of the aforementioned categories (from professors on down the teaching food chain). However, for the student, it’s more often a crap shoot comparable to buying a lottery ticket hoping that you have the good fortune of being matched with a quality instructor. Under my proposed format, the seeker of knowledge could shop around observing various “experts” in their field of interest and sign up with those that they feel would be most beneficial.

Match those who have ‘real world” experience with those who are considering breaking into the field. Example: Veteran cops mentoring to wanna-be cops. Some criminal justice theory and overview is ok (for this example) but tie it with practical, street level reality. Same logic and format could be applied to whatever field of interest the student might have.

Instead of having a nation of over-priced colleges churning out student’s with amorphous degrees, why not establish a nation-wide network of teacher/mentors who impart expertise to students and offer mentorship and career counselling long after the “college days”. Very few college alumni keep in touch with their professors. I’d venture to guss that a few years after graduation, they can’t recall the course they took or the names of the professor. They probably will vividly recall the names of college boyfriends and girlfriends but let’s make that the topic of an entirely different blog!

If the above described structure is implemented, I envision bumper stickers and cars rear windows sporting the following:

“Proud graduate of DFU “Debt Free University”

“Proud debt free parent of graduate of DFU…Debt Free University”

Transitioning to this debt-free, self acutalizing model of higher education with an emphasis on mentoring baked into educating, I propose that this scenario will address the systemic problem of college cost escalation. In light of the temporary (probably pandemic related pause on interest costs of student debt) forgivness of student loans, it’s important to address the longer term systemic problem. Unless this gets fixed, every future generation of students will be saddled with debt. Colleges in their current format have an insatiable appetite (fueled by government cutbacks and forgivness policies) to keep increasing college costs.

Of course, there will always be the traditional bumper stickers proudly announcing traditional colleges. It’s human nature to seek prestige, distinction and a sense of specialness. But I ask, “At what cost?” and “With what result?” “What is the Return On Investment?”. Maybe, just maybe, a national student strike will get colleges to consider making college more affordable since it’s a basic law of economics that as demand decreases, prices will decline. Let’s hear it for “good old American capitalism”.

One last point….

Every college has a masot. Some more fearsome than others. As an NYU graduate, we had “The Violet”, since our school color is violet. Not exactly intimidating in the world of contact sports! Nevertheless, I remain proud of my NYU roots. By the way, I only went to NYU many years ago because of a full scholarship. For this I am extreemly appreciative and it gets back to the importance of debt-free education if there is to be career/life success.

One last question I leave with readers as a homework assignement (since after all this is about education). What would be the MASCOT for my system of Debt Free Universities?

Looking forward to your ideas and feedback. For additional blogs with outside-the-box ideas check out http://www.dunnwriteswell.com

Reflections on Life in general and Partners in particular

As the seasons change and the days get shorter, time marches on. I’m not getting any younger, in fact none of us are. So, on this meloncoly note, I offer the following reflections (to everyone in general and my kids in particular):

Life in general:

  • Consider it a long distance run and not a sprint. Run it at your own pace, enjoy the scenery. Take some breaks when you need them but don’t stray too far off the path that you chose. By the way, make sure you pick a path and change paths as needed. but Have destinations in mind but don’t fear detours (unless they are harmful dead ends).
  • Do whatever you are working on with gusto. This also applies to causes and endeavors that you feel passionate about. Get passionate about something. However, when “the thrill is gone” (to steal a line from blues great BB King), consider moving on to other endeavors. Stay fresh, don’t get stale. Always have a Plan B concerning work/career, life style and even people. BFF’s today may not be forevers. Sadly they pass away physically, others pass away emotionally or just disapear into the mist of life eaking out an existance of eating, sleeping, working, raising kids, making money or following other priorities (some good, some not so good). Hope for the best and prepare for the worst, especially with very ominous storm clouds on the socio-economic-cultural horizon. Don’t be the person that “hunkers down to ride out the storm” when the hurricane is advancing.

With regard to marriage, life partners, soul mates or whatever we are calling long term committments….

Conside the following advice if you are getting serious about any of the above situations:

  • Make sure you are on the same page concerning attitudes toward finacial matters. Savers and spenders mix like oil and water. They don’t. Beyond the save vs. spend issue, also think long and hard about financial goals (buy vs. rent, turtle vs. hare, risk tolerance, transparency, etc.) and attitudes about money/wealth/debt and expectations. Do you both want to become “rich and famous” or are you comfortable just surviving, being minimalists happy with “3 hots and a cot”
  • Be on same page concering children and child rearing. It’s obvious that this is important but it still needs to be said. This included natural birth or adoption or opting to not have kids.
  • Be on the same page concerning health and fitness. You don’t have to both be world class athletes but bad habits while young guarantees miseries (physical, financial) when old.
  • Run in the opposite direction if any of the following situations (even the hint of these situations) exists:
  • Addictive/destructive behavior (alcohol, narcotics, gambling, abusiveness be it physical or psychological, hoarding, self centeredness or any mental/emotional health condition for which the other person will not recognize and take appropriate action be that therapy and/or medication). Being aware of the 7 deadly sins (sloth, gluttony, lust, greed, wrath, envy, pride) should be a giant warning light.
  • Growing up it never occurred to me if the other person was liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican or unaffiliated, rich or poor. What seemed to count was good times. Life evolved around movies, dinners and parties. But that doesn’t sustain a lifetime committment. And especially now if you’re rowing in different directions in thought, speech and philosophy, you are destined to drift aimlessly and ultimately sink.
  • If you think you might “change” the other person who exhibits any of the above listed characteristics, do not deceive yourself. Do not “settle”, do not “excuse” behavir unless you want to live your life in a constant state of purgatory.
  • Avoid what I call “the drift” and “the compromise”. I define “the drift” as meandering through lifes decisions, relationships and careers. There should be a healthy amout of spontinaity in life but remember that you are the captain of your ship navigating through the channel of life. I define “the compromise” as settling when it comes to people, jobs, careers. Make your decisions based on what you need on your own timeline not because of external forces and influences based upon what others think you “should do”.

So that’s my advice as the sun sets, the days get short, the temps drop, and winter approaches and storms of all sorts loom on the horizon. These reflections are swirling around in my head as I embark on my memoir entitled “Exit Interview: A memoir of family, friends and acquaintances”. I would love to hear of your reflections and observations so comment on http://www.dunnsriteswell.com. If you have suggestions and insights, let me know. I need help as I formulate my Exit Interview memoir. Stay tuned for more announcements concerning what will be my second book. Maybe this blog will motivate you to start your own memoir. I recommend memoir writing no matter what’s your age. If I can assist with this process, that I would be honored and delighted to help.

MAKER SPACE as Economic Development Tool

Maybe we could have a Made In Trumbull (MIT) branch

Malls are in decline. They decimated downtowns which lost their luster to the suburban lure of convenient parking and the perception of low crime. Now the malls have become victims of changing consumer habits (i.e, e-commerce, Amazon, etc.), changing perceptions (concerns about crime) and lifestyle changes. In sum, the hunter has become the hunted.

Yet municipalities still engage in the rat race hoping that a grand opening of another restaurant and another big box retail store will somehow stem the tide of decline. Pursuit of the silver bullet of economic success resembles the dog chasing its tail. The eateries and the shops open with great fanfare and high expectations. But all too often like commets in the night sky, they burn out. Our local mall includes many such restaurant turn-overs a sample of which include the following: Jonny Rockets became Walburgers which then closed. TGIF Fridays (or was it Applebees?) became The Cheesecake Factory which thankfully is still in business but there basically has been no net expansion of business. The “footprint” has remained the same. So many eateries have come and gone in the food court that it resembles the wack-a-mole game with a gradual increase in vacancies. Among the three anchor retail stores, Target is doing well thanks in large part to the surge of shopping by college students and families affiliated with schools in general and Sacred Heart University in particular at the start and end of the school year. Macys and J.C. Pennys are hanging in there but their long term prognosis is doubtfull both locally and nationally. These retailers boxed themselves into the corner trying to “be all things to all people” loosing the market to boutique/specialty retailers and the discount retailers (i.e, Target, Walmart, Dollar Stores, etc.).

In sum, we will never be able to eat our way and shop our way to ecomonic success despite our best intentions.

And that brings me to propose MAKER SPACE (or comparable business incubators) for our community.

Why:

  • Producing stuff creates NEW jobs, generates NET increase in ecomomy and expands the ecomonic pie.
  • Making stuff, inventing stuff and experimenting broadens our horizons, stimulates ingenuity encouraging us all to be more creative and self-sufficient.
  • Research & Development, skill building, learning and collaborating are more likely to generate income and build a stronger, self sufficient society that simply eating and shopping which create nothing other than adding unwanted pounds and credit card debt.
  • Underutilized commercial space is already in commercially zoned areas so there would be no disturbance of residential areas. The infrastructure is already in place (sewer, water, etc.) and potential Maker Space sites are already on public transit routes. This is important since participation and creativity should not be limited to only those who own a vehicle. The existing site charactristics of these structures with limited windows and load bearing walls would be conducive to the maufacturing orientation of Maker Space endeavors (i.e., woodworking, machining, electronics, crafts, experimentation, etc.). Of course, all health and safety protocols would be required as they would for any commercial/manufacturing endeavor.

So that’s my proposal. It might work in my hometown of Trumbull CT but it should be considered wherever there is under-utlized commercial space. When it comes to economic development, let’s look forward through the windshield and not continue to view the future through the rear view mirror. Let’s consider Maker Space type endeavors and continue the tradition of Yankee ingenuity here in New England, the birthplace of the America’s Industrial Revolution.

If you like this proposal or have other innovative ideas, I’d love to hear of them. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog concerning hydroponic urban/vertical farming as another way to go-green, become more self-sufficient and revitalize commercial areas by making stuff rather than just feeding the consumer economy and going deeper into debt. These outside-the-box concepts of self-sufficiency are also baked into my upcoming novel entitled Mall Child so stay tuned for that release.

Strangers in our midst

Times may change but looks can be deceiving and trust only those you can trust

We grew up the same

Eating and shopping in the same places

Supporting the same teams (mostly, despite some friendly rivalries)

Saluting the same flag

So when did we change?

When did we divide?

What makes us so angry?

Do you have enough food, clothing, shelter?

Are you living in the woods and eating out of a dumpster?

So why the angst?

What would it take to be on the same page, united in a common goal?

911 didn’t unite

Covid didn’t unite

Global warming/climate change doesn’t unite.

Do we need an alien invasion to pull us together?

And I’m not speaking of refugee aliens around which we certainly do not unite.

If outer space aliens invaded, would we blame it on the democrats, the liberals, the republicans, the conservatives?

Maybe aliens would see our dissension as an opportunity to divide and conquer. Then again, maybe they would just pass us over letting our animosities dissolve us without their intervention. Maybe they would assume we’re too divided and insignificant to conquer, exclaiming “there’s no intelligent life down there”. 

Sadly, the way we are behaving and thinking, they may be right.

So what’s been your experience?

Who is now a stranger who used to be your friend? What socio-political-cultural influences precipitated the transition?

I’m looking for feedback to make sense of the current societal, dysfunctiona climate and I’m researching for my upcoming menoir entitled EXIT INTERVIEW: Reflections on family, friends and acquaintances.

Sound Bites…Bumper Stickers…Food For Thought

As I reviewed my note pad observations of bumper stickers after working as a Mall Cop patrolling parking lots for 15 years, I present the following “gems” and observations. Note that they are presented in no particular order of priority . In some cases, they do not reflect my own beliefs/views. Note also that this notion that bumper stickers can reflect socio-cultural, political trends is baked into one of the chapters of my upcoming novel entitled Mall Child: Raised By Wolves (so stay tuned for details and announcements). If any of these bumper stickers trigger conversation on your behalf, I would love to hear from you and dialogue further.

That said, here we go on a bumper sticker/reflection oddessy:

  • Life begins at the end of your comfort zone
  • 3 people can keep a secret if 2 are dead
  • Give peace a chance
  • Think kindly, act boldly
  • Science is not a conspiracy theory
  • Eco vs. Ego: There is no planet B
  • Retros vs. Futuros (this is one I made up and it ties in with some of the themes of my novel and it reflects my distain for those whose politics/policies live in the rear view mirror. Reminds me of an old Kentucky expression “you can’t plow straight when your looking backward”)
  • Trump makes me a mad scientist
  • If you don’t believe in science, its all fiction
  • Obedient women are never remembered in history
  • If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun
  • You can follow me, but it’s gonna hurt
  • If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention
  • What are the most clear and present dangers….taking a knee during the national anthem or preventing the next mass shooting. Worrying about whether someone identifies as a male or a female or preventing the rape of a woman by a mysoginistic pig. Worrying about the mother with a child who are refugees escaping from a hellish, violence filled contry or the local criminal born-in-the-USA who goes on a crime spree terrorizing your community
  • Proud of my country, appaled by my government.
  • Patriotism is fully supporting your country and your government when it deserves it.
  • America; esigned by geniuses, run by idiots
  • What will happen to these folks when armageddon strikes?
  • How do you annoy a bigot? Start thinking
  • Say “sleeveless T” and not “wife beater T”

Common Denominators

The phrase sends chills down my back with memories of math classes and phrases like “solve for X”

However, in the world of politics and current events, the viability of our democracy is at stake if we do not learn the value of Common Denominators. What follows is a lesson not in math but rather common denominators in politics with a healthy dose of pragmatism.

Every politician needs to list policy goals. What’s your plan, vision, proposal?

However, for every proposal to do something and spend something, there needs to be a countervailing proposal to cut waste, increase efficiency and eliminate unnecessary and cumbersome regulations. Unfortunately, many persons ears only perk up when discussing what you will NOT do, what you will cut and what in their opinion is an over-reach of government. Their eyes glaze over when you discuss policies. They act like a deer in the headlights when you proposewhat what could be done and what should be done. Any position AGAINST something shouts louder than a position FOR something. So identify true cases of waste, over-regulation, ineptitude and inefficiency and lead with that so your ultimately positive policies can be implemented. Example: Make it clear that for employees who are not doing their job, sleeping on the job and expenditures on any boondogles (aka financial sink holes) will not be tolerated.

Concerning matters such as criminal justice, social justice, restorative justice and holistic solutions to vexing problems of crime and juvenile delinquency (all noble goals), there needs to be examples of consequences for misbehavior, social disorder and chaos. Make it clear that the political and policy equation includes equal parts compassion and consequences. What resonates with many persons is that justice has been served and there are consequences for the scoundrels. There’s a reason why the phrase “crime doesn’t pay” is so popular. Lead off with rational, reasonable consequences and compasionate solutions will follow. Prime example is allowing repeat offender car theft juveniles to be detained for longer timeframes by the police in one jurisdiction until it can be determined that they are not wanted in other jurisdictions for the same or other sorts of crimes.

Make it clear that you are not advocating solitary confinement but you are advocating intensive, theraputic confinement over an extended timeframe for all persons in the criminal justice system so we can get to the root causes of their anti-social behavior. Don’t just say for any violent offender or threatening offender “lock em up and throw away the key” but make it clear that they will be removed from society for an extended timeframe receiving intensive counselling until such time that they are deemed ready to return safely to society. Again, tough-love, compassion and consequences.

For every lofty goal expressed concerning the social safety net (making sure nobody freeses or starves, for example) there needs to be specific examples of accountability so the root causes of distress are addressed. Unfortunately, many persons are more concerned about the revolving door syndrome (aka, good money after bad) than the pervasiveness of hunger, homelessness, poverty, and economic inequity. Focus on mitigating the “frequent flier syndrome and revolving door scenario” of users of public services so their basic needs are met (primarilly food and shelter) while root causes of their circumstances are addressed. In sum, deploy tough-love tactics providing assistance while insisting upon participants active role in addressing circumstances that necessitated assistance in the first place.

Following the “common denominator” formula we can get the attention and build the trust of persons before we can get them on board the “train of progress” to address some of the more esoteric and long term solutions.

An exit ramp for mass shootings and gun violence

Take the exit ramp to get off of the road to hell

The following is my proposed roadmap of actions which are reasonable and might bring together seemingly opposing viewpoints:

Universal background checks required nation wide for all persons seeking to purchase a gun. Seems reasonable so persons with history of violence and/or mental illness/emotionally disturbed persons do not get to buy a gun. If you commit felonies (which by definition are crimes of a serious nature) in my opinion you have given up your right to own a gun. Non-violent misdomener offenses should not preclude you from purchasing a gun. With regard to restricting gun ownership for persons with mental health issues, their medical records privacy should be protected by HHPA. However, if there is a criminal record (particularly with respect to violent or felony offences) this should be the factor that precludes them from obtaining a gun. Reasonable?

  • Red flag laws and procedures that track and treat all persons who indicate intention to do bodily harm to themselves or others. This could apply to any sort of threat particularly if it includes intention or capability to use a firearm. The tracking could be generated by any source (i.e, verbal intention, altercations, social media, etc.) My focus on the “trace and treat” proposal was spawned by the focus on “tracing and treating” deployed during the pandemic. Since we have a pandemic of violence, why not deploy the same methodology. I further propose this idea of tracking and treating as a means of violence mitigation having been on a mall cop on the secne of many a fight. Instead of just breaking them up, issuing Promises To Appear in court, why not deploy an intensive series of treatment sessions with the combattants and their respective families to get to the source of violence.
  • Maybe we could develop a computer analysis matrix where the following ingredients of speech/writing/communication could trigger (no pun intended) follow up to appropriately track and treat. The following “perfect storm” of intentions could be….hate speech…..specific plans/intentions…..purchases (stockpiling of weapons and ammo). Only if a clearly identified toxic mix is documented, would the red flag be raised necessitating tracking and treating. For example, just researching about guns/ammo would not generate concern but when taken in the aggregate this would necessitate follow up.
  • Consider a recent suggestion which I think was offered by Elon Musk in which a special permit would be required for the purchase of any assault rifle. The special permit would require more intensive background checking and vetting. This might be preferable (and more realistically doable) that trying to implement a ban. I got to thinking, maybe we could even go further in this direction and create specially designated enterprises where people could try out and practice with all sorts of weaponry and tactics. I might sign up for this endeavor where I could experience the thrill of firing an assault weapon, tossing a grenade, firing a bazooka, tossing a molotov coctail, firing an RPG, and maybe even get to blow something up (all of the aforementined activities with training and supervision of course). I consider this endeavor akin to going to a race track and getting to drive a formula one racer in a safe environment. As with a race track where you do not get to drive the race car home with you, the weaponry would have to remain on-site but you would get to experience the thrill of using it on site while the rest of society remans safe. My thinking is that this scenario might address the demand that people have the right to access weaponry. Like I said, I would sign up for this experience and I’m sure I’m not alone.
  • The military have the mantra that “we leave no one behind” , religions make frequent reference to “being each others brothers keeper” and signs in subways and public places always implore us to “see something, say something”. Got me to thinking, what if as a society we all took it upon ourselves to more closely monitor each other for signs of impending mass shooter and violent outbursts. Without becoming a “big brother” society, maybe we could become a more compassionate (and curious) society that’s more alert to the tell tale signs of trouble (i.e., isolation, hatred, depression, etc.). Take this a step farther and specifincaly create a “buddy system” so everybody pledges to make sure that at least one other person does not “fall off the radar screen” and decend into a hell for themselves and the rest of us.
  • If we were to implement all of the above referenced ideas this could coincide with the reimagining of our police. Instead of the cops riding around being on the lookout for unknown threats and criminals, maybe their time would be better spent teaming up with therapists, outreach workers, social workersl youth counselors, probation officers, parole officers, peer mentors/violence mitigators. If done correctly, it might even make the role of being a cop more satisfying and meaningful.
  • Of course, there is always the option of hardening the targets. This includes bullet resistant windows/doors, controled access systems, check points with screening, I.D. verifications, pat-downs, video surveillance and facial recognition. All of these measures have their value, espeially in public, high-target settings such as schools, public facilities, malls, etc. but target harding can only go so far. Remember how the castles and moats in the middle ages were effective for a while but ultimately were penetrated from both inside and outside their walls.
  • As always, I’m always keen to hear feedback. In closing, if we continue on this course I fear that we will devolve into a very dark anarchistic place that will resemble the scene from The Kingsman movie where violent mayhem overtakes a church revival while the song “Free Bird” plays in the background. Check this video clip out if you get chance, let’s hope it’s not a window into the future.
Let’s do something now or continue on the road to perdition

The Narrows and the Shallows

Don’t be narrow, Don’t be shallow. Think big, Think Long Term. Don’t be distracted by mundane events and small talk

The NARROWS

Their line of sight is narrow

They can only think in one direction

They can never back up. They can not Re-chart. Re-tool.

They only talk to each other.

They only listen to each other.

They only listen on rare occasions, always keen to positions that match their stance.

They only know what they know.

At best, they ignore others. At worst, they berate them.

Life is simple but lonely when your a narrow.

The SHALLOWS

Their channel used to run deep. in some cases.

But they stopped thinking, stopped questioning.

In other cases, they never thought deep. Beyond soap operas, talent shows, pop culture trivia. Their world is Americas Favorite Videos, Americas Got Talent, Access Hollywood.

They gossip at work and parties while innocents are killed by drive -byes, nations attack each other and the planet surges toward extinction. But they are up-to-date on the latest trends in pop culture be that shopping, music, dance and retail discounts.

They are the shallows. They don’t vote, they don’t support causes but they do plenty of talking on the phone, watching tv, binge watching, internet surfing.

The SHALLOWS bring to mind the phrase “rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic”

My call to action…..Don’t be a NARROW. Don’t be a SHALLOW.

Get involved. Do something significant. To borrow the motto of the Air Force…Aim High

50 Shades of Patriotism

Patriotism is not a one size fits all formula
Just another example of how we cut some slack for the rich

So if you’re looking for some steamy story in this blog, you will be disappointed.

The inspiration for this blog was the following observaton:

An oversized pick up (mint condition without a speck of dust having never done a day of gritty manual labor) came roaring by (wasting gas using up what remains of our fossil fuels) and sporting 2 massive flags. One of Old Glory and one of the Confederacy (the guys who severed ties to the Union and essentially gave their their finger to the USA). Anyways, this guys truck was plastered with stickers proclaiming to be a true patriot, god-fearing, supporter of all that is righteous. Maybe it’s just me, but whenever I see this display of patriotism, I get the feeling that this guy thinks he’s a true American and I’m somehow a wimpy, less patriotic American.

He’s entitled to his opinions and his right to display them. Thankfully, we would agree that we live in a country where such freedom of expression is allowed.

What irritated me was the feeling I get from him and many others is that he is somehow more patriotic, more religious, more morally grounded, more hard working than the rest of us peasants.

Got me to thinking, what about me? Am I not a patriot? Here’s the contribution that I and my ancestors have made to this country.

  • I’ve worked 2 & 3 jobs for the last 30+ years. That’s no weekends free, no vacations for 30 years. Why? I’ve been supporting America. Paying mortgages, car payments, putting kids thru college. Now that’s patriotic.
  • I’ve worked 30+ years in non-profits and governments in fields that include the following: affordable housing, community development, redevelopment, economic development and mental health. I’ve done the best I can with the resources available to me (just like patriots have been doing since the origins of our republic). In the course of my working in a wide variety of fields this has afforded me opportunities to meet an amazing array of persons of various socio-economic, racial, ethnic, cultural backgrounds. Having a first hand view of the strength and diversity of America, it makes me both proud and optimistic about America. Now that’s patriotic!
  • I’ve worked over 15 years on weekends as a mall cop. This has exposed me to a combination of the good, the odd, the bad and the ugly (which is the title of one of the chapters of my novel entitled Mall Child. A fictionalized recap of the life of a mall cop).Instead of turning me negative on America, I have come to understand it and appreciate it with all its blemishes. Being a mall cop has forced me to confront my own prejudices and contemplate the challenges and opportunities of reimagining the criminal justice system (from cops to prosecutors to judges and jails and restorative justice). Being patriotic is more than waving a big flag, slapping a bumper sticker on your car, shouting a sound bite, living in the past and thinking linear in your own sound chamber. Being patriotic is questioning authority, thinking more deeply, building upon what’s good and tossing what’s bad.
  • As for my ancestors, they were patriotic in an understated manor. They served in WW2. They didn’t march around in camo outfits on Main Street or in the Mall. They didn’t talk much about what they did. They got busy. They came back to raise families, attend school and got busy working/contributing. Being Irish-American, most of them were cops. They carried revolvers on their service belts like a carpenter carries a hammer on his work belt. Like carpenters, their gun was a tool of the trade to be used as necessary. Growing up in this environment, I never experienced the culture of gun fetishes’ that permeates the wanna-be cops, wanna-be soldiers who never seemed to grow out of childhood fantasies of playing army and cops/robbers games.

So what’s the call to action for us “Silent Majority” Patriots

  • Be proud of the contribution that you and your ancestors have made, just as I have outlined above concerning me and my ancestors. Don’t be ashamed of being an understated patriot quietly going about your life, your work and supporting your causes.
  • Don’t shrink from reminding (tactfully) the boastful patriot’s that you are also a patriot in your unique way. Maybe you will broaden their perspective. If they remain hell bent on claiming to be uber-patriots, know that it’s time to cut your losses and focus on uniting the Silent Majority Patriots (the SMP’s)
  • Be creative and determined to network with fellow SMP’s so that on election day the loud mouth patriots and the sideliners (persons who can not decide, can not take stands) will be shocked by overwhelming turn out by the Silent Majority Patriots (SMP’s).
  • Utilize the tactics and techniques of an underground resistance force supporting each other when threatened. Act like volunteer firemen who responding to the fire bell. Act like the original American patriots (aka, the Minutemen of New England) who jumped to action upon hearing that “The British Are Coming”. Constantly be in communication with each other while constantly recruiting like minded members.
  • The following quote (one of my favorites) sums up the message of this blog and it’s call to action:
  • Patriotism is fully supporting your country and your government, when it deserves it.
  • Dissent is Patriotic