‘Support the Troops’ can be a rhetorical trap…

October 17, 2017

Note: What follows is a comment I made on a Facebook post that wanted people to like it if they agreed with the message, “support the troops”. It had a photo with one of our soliders. And in a way I kind of wish I had not responded. I am not sure who actually posted it or what the motive was. I think my opinion is more appropriate in my own blog. But this is what I think about the call the “support the troops”.


I will always support the troops — they should have the best in equipment and supplies, and pay for that matter. But at some point we have to look at the policy that puts them in harm’s way. It is not unpatriotic to consider policy alternatives.
And this notion that a president can just order the troops somewhere and then we as citizens have no right to question the policy is a dangerous concept. Using that logic, a president could order troops into Canada and even though on its face that would be wrong, we as citizens would have no right to question it because doing so would be unpatriotic or treasonous. In some cases the restrictions on protest might be a little tighter in a conventionally or constitutionally declared World War II-type war, but even then citizens have a right to petition their government.
Peace lovers like me probably do more to “support the troops” than chicken hawks who have never worn the uniform and who vote against or do not vote in enough funds for the troops. And I should have saved all of this for my blog, but that phrase “support the troops” has been used too much as a rhetorical weapon against anyone who dares question ultra-right wing fascist policies. And I hope those who read this read all of my words because once troops are committed and as long as they are I do believe that they should be supplied with everything they need to handle the mission (meanwhile policy can be considered). And who wants to end up as the last person to die in an unwinnable or unjust war? Decisions are not easy. They require critical thinking not jingoism. And I do support the troops.

p.s.

For the record, the U.S. actually did invade Canada in the early days of this nation and of course Mexico in the 1800s and again in the early 20th Century — but in the post I was using a hypothetical for today’s world where we are friends with Canada and have no serious beefs (Trump notwithstanding).

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Fun and games distracted the working class and then it awoke and the fun was over…

October 15, 2017

Just read a long, long story in the New York Times about a factory worker who lost her job because it was shipped off the Mexico. She had supported Trump in spirit but not vote. You will recall Trump vowed to save American jobs by taxing or otherwise punishing firms that exported jobs but brought their products back into the USA. She did not vote because she believes all politicians are liars.

I would say probably most politicians find themselves either having to lie or be less than candid, or be a little fuzzy with the truth in order to get into office and then in order to stay in office. In some cases you might see their actions as somewhat defensible (I mean we all tell white lies to be polite — yes that is a cute baby– or to keep from being punched in the nose), but in others their actions are reprehensible. But the problem is simply opting out of the system only perpetuates the problem.

I was just talking to some people I have known for years. Good hard-working (and God-fearing — or loving? sounds better to me) and I am fairly certain they never vote. And that is their own stated attitude: “all politicians are liars”.

So when you go with that attitude and opt out of the system you leave it to those who do vote and look what is has gotten us.

I am convinced that if the majority of citizens kept themselves informed, and informed through and objective analysis of available media rather than one-sided media (Fox with its Nazi-like attitude, and yes, to some extent the more traditional mainstream, which at times has seemed to be left leaning, particularly decades ago when it realized the ugly truth about Vietnam and dared question the status quo), they could make better decisions on who to vote for and might force candidates to be more transparent and own up to the truth.

But here is a whirlwind tour of what happened:

Once upon a time labor was downtrodden. But then there were unions, and then there was the boom in the economy sparked strangely and sadly enough by World War II. Laborers (I mean factory workers and skilled and not as skilled people who toil with their hands and backs and even some office or lower-level white-collar workers) moved into the middle class. With their newfound wealth they became complacent. And then came technology which offered fun and games to the populace. They could not be bothered with the affairs of the nation and world — they had work and then the fun and games.

The corporate interests realized no one was paying attention. The politicians realized it was the corporate interests they needed to satisfy more than the public, so much of which was distracted by their bread and circuses or fun and games.

And then one day the factory worker woke up and her job was gone, along with the fun and games she could no longer pay for.

Gee what happened?

Maybe you should have paid attention.

p.s.

Simplistic I know. And real abbreviated. But don’t you see some truth or accuracy there?

Wake up America before it is all gone.


My initiation into trucker e-logs under fire and my acceptance…

October 13, 2017

To truckers who fear electronic logs or e-logs as they are called, I quote President Franklin D. Roosevelt: “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”.

I write this but must admit I was apprehensive, to put it mildly, myself until maybe just a little less than 24 hours ago. And I do not yet have the thing mastered, but I did use an e-log for a run up to Portland, Or. and back to my home base in Redding, Ca.

(My pre-trip training into e-logs was little more than here it is, go for it. But along the way I got a lot of help.)

Upon my return the shop foreman asked me how I like the new system (he has to deal with them at least as far as installation and upkeep and when they move the trucks around the yard).

My response was something like this: at first I hated it, then I began to like it, then I hated it again, and finally I liked it again and accepted it. If you want to drive the big truck nowadays you have to accept reality and do the best you can — that is all anyone can do (despite tight restrictions on movement enforced by law enforcement officers that can run counter to the demands you get from dispatch and shippers and receivers and your own need to make a living).

But in going back over my initial experience, which was something akin to a baptism under fire, I realize that it was no different from several I, a baby boomer, have had in my lifetime — and I survived.

My first experience with new technology was when I was still in the newspaper trade and we moved from typewriters to video display terminals (actually computers — forerunners of the desktops and laptops, and tablets, and let’s add the now do-everything cell phone of today — even if I am still using the flip phone — I am planning to upgrade as soon as I can, though).

I remember it well. I had quit one job in disgust and took another one, and the new place was on these new video display terminals — no more copy paper, no more ink-stained hands from changing your ribbon, no more pencil marks on all your copy to correct your typos (I made a lot of them), spell check (gosh could it get any better?), search and replace, and much more.

The new boss gave me quick verbal instructions on how to operate this new-fangled electronic typewriter that was far more than a typewriter. There was no instructional manual I was shocked to learn (or if there was there was none for me).

So, using old-fashioned terminology I know, I typed in a story (should I say keyboarded?). I loved the way I could correct my errors or rewrite and see what I was doing right on that TV screen (well it looked like a TV). The story was long. I was proud of it. And then it disappeared before my eyes never to be seen again, at least in its original draft. I did not know how to save it on the computer (there was no save icon or button then).

I sat in front of that thing for a day or more not able to get anywhere while my computer-experienced co-workers keyboarded away, seemingly oblivious to my plight. I finally told my boss I did not think this was going to work for me. But he asked one of the reporters to help me. The guy suggested I keep a notebook and jot down everything as I learned it. You have to realize that back then we had to input something called formats, which were unintelligible letter and number codes. But anyway before long I was keyboarding my stories in just like the rest of them.

Then years later came the cell phone. Actually at that time they were easy, and my favorite true story about the cell phone (I know I began talking about e-logs for trucks, but this all ties in) goes like this:

I made a career change from journalism to trucking in my mid 40s. I was brand new and team driving. I and another driver, both of us based on the West Coast, were on the East Coast wanting to get a new dispatch to head back home. But we were always in competition for loads with our fellow drivers in the same company. One or the other of us would need to get out of the truck and go over to the pay phone and make a call to dispatch. But we saw one of our fellow company drivers already headed that way. Drat! he’ll get the next load and we will be left sitting. I looked at my co-driver and said: “watch this”.

I had one of the original bag phones (you know in a canvas case, looking like an old army field phone without the spool of wire).

I placed a call to dispatch and beat the other driver who had not yet reached the pay phone. Technology was our friend.

In the interest of space and time I will leave out some of the other technological breakthroughs I overcame (well there was the shift — play on words here — from manual shift trucks to automatics — best move ever!).

Now as I said, I have not yet bought a smart phone. I am one of the few (I know, though, I am not alone) on the planet to still be using a flip phone). But learning how to do the e-log is no more complicated that using that new smart phone I am sure — maybe less so from what I have heard. Or probably about the same.

So now the concern is will I as a driver (and I am talking about everyone’s concern not me personally) be able to do my job and make enough miles (long-haul is paid by the mile) with that darned e-log tracking every second (no more “adjusting” your paper log to make it all fit)?

The answer: either I don’t know or something has to give. There is already a driver shortage and drivers are not going to accept a pay decrease (not for long anyway).

A driver shortage works in our favor. The industry it seems to me will have to get more efficient and cut down on those waiting times and make more sensible dispatch decisions. And I do not mean to criticize dispatchers (cardinal rule for truckers — don’t make your dispatcher unhappy). I even sympathize (to some extent) with shippers and receivers (some of them). I know the complexities of logistics (after 22 years being involved in it). There is lots of traffic on the road, a drastic shortage of parking spaces to take our rest breaks, bad weather, and ever-tightening hours of service regulations in the name of safety. And with all of that is the demand for “just-in-time” delivery. No one wants to or can afford to keep huge inventories, so it is like next-day delivery or as-soon-as-you-can-possibly-get-there delivery. Also I haul a lot of produce. Shelf life is short on most of it, so it is a rush to get it there while it is still good.

But something has to give.

As drivers paper logs were our best friend and our enemy at the same time. They forced us to fudge (cheat some people call it) because our bosses knew we could and expected it but took no responsibility for it, and we wanted to (had to) make money (who doesn’t?). Also, writing (and rewriting) paper logs is time-consuming and risky (two-thousand dollar and more fines — possible loss or suspension of driver’s license). Not to mention making one feel he or she is a criminal.

Even though I am a newby on e-logs (and I am not ashamed to say I am sometimes technology shy) I realize it is a new day. At 68 years old I just have to go with the flow or get out of the stream. I’m going to give it a go.

There is the conundrum of what do I do when I am at a shipper or receiver and my time runs out and my unforgiving e-log won’t let me “adjust things”. I’ve already had that happen and I won’t go into detail — a kind of Fifth Amendment thing.

Until there is some workable provision in the law to deal with getting caught over hours and no place to park (some think there is but in my reading there is not) all I can figure is I have to cut back on dispatches I will accept. If it even looks like it will run me over time I might have to decline — and that hurts because it means less money and maybe I don’t start heading for home as soon as I would like or maybe I get caught in that approaching storm over the mountains because of the delay. And besides I feel like I am not helping the company who is the source of my livelihood.

Even though I am on a more flexible schedule (fewer miles), voluntarily (I asked for it), due to my age and the fact I am on Social Security, I do not intend to work for less money for what I do. Something has to give. And I am sure that drivers out there who have families to support do not intend to work for less, regardless of hours of service restrictions and electronic surveillance (what it really is).

Something has to give.

p.s.

Make no mistake about it, all of this is just an intermediary step to driverless trucks, which will replace probably not all but a vast amount of the national fleet. But this is today and we have to live with today’s challenges. But for young people: I’d look for a different career — unless you want to train in computers and logistics or repair of the systems used. I’m sure we will always need what we today refer to as “mechanics” or “technicians” — but they will need more and different skills than required in previous times, plus some of those old skills.

 

 

 

 

 


Electronic logs for truckers will force shippers and receivers to be more efficient (it would seem)

October 8, 2017


My fellow truckers caused me a headache the other day in advance of my planned return to the road after taking a two-month hiatus. They snarled traffic with a kind of rolling blockade or slow-moving convoy. I was on my way to have dinner with my younger daughter and her partner, and it was a long drive that took me through Sacramento. As it happens these protesting truckers were on that route. Actually I did not get caught up in it directly but I think I felt some of the effects of the aftermath with traffic that was still backed up in the Sacramento area. But the other problem was the usual accidents on the highway — there had been several of them, and this was past the truck convoy route (so not the truckers’ fault). As far as I could see they were likely caused by people driving too fast. The weather was perfect. Really no excuse. There is a tie in here to what I want to say below.

If you are not in long-haul trucking or not somehow connected to it or don’t know anyone in it you may not give a hang. But then you could still be curious as to what is the beef.

Mostly independent owner-operators are protesting the new law and regulation that will force them to install electronic logging devices in their trucks to replace the quite cheatable paper logs. No more fudging on the hours to rack up the miles (or to get where you need to be). Long-haul works at a piece rate (miles x so many cents per).

The e-log mandate’s official purpose is to promote safety by forcing the truckers to abide by hours of service rules, thus avoiding accidents caused by tired drivers.

But here’s the deal from my perspective as someone who has worked at long-haul for two decades and counting: there are two basic reasons to fudge (the law calls it “falsification”, even if it is simple human error in calculation — by the way, and the fines are heavy):

  1. You simply want to go the extra miles to make more money.
  2. You want to get to a safe and comfortable and legal place to park — and that is not easy a lot of times.
  3. Okay, I have to add a third reason: you simply want to go home — like you’re 20 minutes away but you are out of hours.

So, truckers fudge or as the law calls it, “falsify”, their logs for a combination of those reasons.

Now simply to make more money is indefensible. I don’t see that they, or we (since I am a driver), have a right to jeopardize the safety of the motoring public because we want to make more money. On the other hand, since the practice of fudging has been so widespread and ingrained in the business there has been built up an expectation among the drivers and the companies who hire them that they can cover x number of miles in a day, regardless of the law. Both the companies and the drivers have built their economies around the practice.

Within a company drivers get mixed messages: obey the law/get there on time. One official, who will remain nameless, once told me: “there are two types of logs, legal ones and ones that ‘look’ legal. I’ll take looks legal every time.” Now if my current employer is reading this, I note that I did not say which company — I have worked for three.

But this is a new day. My hope is that if everyone is on the same page, that is if everyone is using e-logs, this fact may force some efficiencies into the whole business.

The main problems in it all right now are the shippers and receivers (not all) who do not give a hoot how long they hold a truck for loading and unloading, thus eating up the drivers’ hours, and the fact that maybe there are far too many trucks on the road and not enough parking spots. Also at times (it goes back and forth) there are too many trucks chasing too few loads, allowing shippers and receivers to abuse truckers by holding them too long, thus robbing them of their ability to make miles in a day and forcing them to eat up their hours sitting and waiting. Of course traffic delays are a major problem as well.

But if truckers could no longer fudge on their hours the truckers simply could not sit around so long and the shippers and receivers would have to be more efficient.

And it can be done, even though some would say it can’t.

Costco is a prime example. Back in the older times I hated to go to a Costco distribution center. Too much waiting. But then they came up with a new paperless system. You drive up to a window and they hand you one of those discs like they use in some restaurants to tell you when your table is ready, and then they actually assign you a dock number right then — and no standing in line with your paper work , they just scan it. You go to the dock and usually within a fairly short time you are unloaded but your product still needs to be counted but that does not usually take long and then the disc starts making noise and the lights go off and you are probably in your sleeper and are startled but happy you can get out of there and hit the road to make more money or go home.

If all shippers and receivers handled it that way it would nearly solve the whole problem of staying within safe driving hours.

My hope is that the e-log will force this.

Simply put, when the truckers can no longer fudge or cheat or falsify their logs, they won’t be able to play the shipper and receiver waiting game (at least it would seem that way).

As I understand it, the big trucking companies are all for the e-log for two main reasons:

It may well force many smaller companies and owner-operators out of the business and they can keep better track of their own drivers.

Now I am all for safety out on the road.

So what are we going to do about all these unsafe car drivers? Maybe they need e-logs too.

I think I have written all this to psyche myself out for using e-logs. Up till now I have not. But upon my planned return to work (set for this week as of now), I will be forced to use the e-log system.

At the moment, my concern is more about how I can get the job done than the potential loss of money — however a loss of earning power could put me out of business too. I am not an owner-operator, though. I simply work for a small company as a driver employee. When the truck breaks down (all mechanical things do) or when it needs tires or brakes it does not come out of my pocket. When you break down out on the road you are vulnerable. The repair places know this. The sky is the limit for work. For that matter, the sky is the limit for food out there. That’s why so many truckers pack their own and forgo the restaurants, most of which have shut down. A lot of them do use fast food (not my favorite).

But can I do this e-log thing?

Here is a real-life case in point:

There is a load I often have to do. I usually get it after I have gotten up early in the morning to make a delivery in perhaps the San Francisco Bay area. I might be unloaded by, say, 11 a.m. or even earlier. Now I get this load. I have to drive an hour or more to it. Problem is, I cannot check in for it until maybe 8 p.m. and then the problem is that I usually am not done there till after midnight. By this time I am out of legal hours. Also I have not necessarily been able to sleep all the waiting time due to various reasons, such as having to move¬† the truck and checking on the loading process. And another problem is the shipper, due to lack of room if nothing else, does not allow me to stay there. So I am forced by circumstances to drive at least an hour to a truck stop that may be full with no place to park. Some truckers simply pull over to the side of the road, even though it is not legal, and go to bed. My company tells me that is a no, no. Our late safety director (poor man passed away too young from some malady) called it one of his “unforgivable five”. But, God rest his soul, when I would ask him what I should do in such a circumstance, he simply either shrugged his shoulders or said: plan out your day. How can I plan when I do not know in advance where I will be or how long? Safety directors and dispatchers never have an answer for that except: “do the best you can (which to me is code for break the law but don’t get caught).

But if I decide to return to work (and that is up in their air at this time) I’ll just have to see how it goes.

I do know that even with e-logs there is some fudging going on. Computers can obviously be manipulated. However, I suspect the authorities will be better able to catch that with the electronic systems.

In some ways drivers such as I should be better off with e-logs. No longer should I have to worry that by simple miscalculation of my paper log I could be fined two thousand dollars or more (I mean I would never knowingly cheat…).

Also, I have talked to drivers who claim they actually get more miles because the e-log measures time up to the minute. On a paper log you have to round up in 15-minute increments. Often you rob yourself of time because of that — you spent eight minutes but have to round up to 15 — that all adds up rather quickly.

My problem is efficiency. While I consider myself a hard and responsible worker, stuff happens. You go to slide your trailer tandems to adjust to legal weight and they are stuck. All that time on an e-log would be subtracted from your available hours for drive time. On a paper, log, well that delay just did not happen or goes down as break time.

But this is a new day. I have to get used to it or get out of the game.

As far as the money goes, as far as the recalcitrant shippers and receivers go, if everyone is on the same playing field I would think something has to give.

Back in 2005 the hours of service rules were amended to add a 14-hour window in which you had to get everything done — previous to that the 18 or even 24-hour day was common. And I noticed some move to efficiency then (not enough, though).

Oh, and we need more, much more truck parking.

All forms of freight transportation are important (trucking, rail, air, shipping on water), but our system depends upon trucks — you just could not get the bulk of the goods to where they are needed without trucks, at least in some segment of the trip. So even if you are not into the business you are affected by it.

p.s.

The hours of service rules for long-haul trucks are basically this: 11 hours per day driving limit to be done within a 14-hour window, with a 30-minute break required after 8 hours of driving, and a 10-hour rest period after 11 hours of driving and a total of 70 hours allowed per week if it is for a seven-day operating company. Sounds like a lot of time. It is, but all the built-in delays, including traffic, subtract from that.


Some of all this does not directly apply to all trucking. I was talking long-haul. But there are other types in which drivers are paid by the hour and in which loads are relayed from one driver to another, thus overcoming the hours of service restrictions. But since the great de-regulation of the trucking industry a few decades ago we have developed this crazy long-haul system — a crazy system that came to my rescue 22 years ago when I was out of work and has sustained me for all that time.

From time to time you will hear talk about going to an hourly rate for long-haul. But that is problematic due to the fact of the unpredictability of it all — almost no set schedules for loading and unloading, making it nearly impossible to calculate pay versus production. But then again, with e-logs, why not? I don’t know. I am not in management.

 

 

 

 


Sacrificing school children did not move congress, but it seems killing country music fans might have — strange…

October 5, 2017

The headlines today indicate that congress might be willing to at least ban something called bump stocks that make semi-automatic rifles fire more like automatic rifles because that is what the Las Vegas shooter was using apparently.

That is encouraging if a little puzzling.

I mean there was no movement when those school children were mowed down in Connecticut several years ago.

But shoot up a crowd full of country music fans and something has to be done.

Ironically, the killer reportedly complained about people playing country music too loudly in the room below him sometime before the massacre. I’m not trying to make a sick joke, but maybe he was not a country music fan — or maybe he just wanted to catch some sleep.

Die-hard gun righters like to criticize gun control advocates for being ignorant about the nomenclature of weapons, such as referring to semi-automatic weapons as automatic. One tweet or comment on an article in favor of gun control I read claimed the writer lost his credibility in the first sentence by claiming the Las Vegas shooter fired “automatic” weapons — when in fact, I guess, he fired semi-automatic weapons modified with that bump stock to enhance the rapid fire capability.

You know what? I don’t give a hang for all the technicalities or nomenclatures. I know everything and nothing about weapons at the same time. I served in the army and fired several different kinds — not in combat but in practice. Although I am not a hunter, I have fired a hunting rifle a time or two. Who cares about distinctions, except the collectors and arms dealers, and murderers? The point is fully automatic or bump stock modified these things are made to kill human beings on a mass scale (I mean the technology was developed for war, not for hunting deer or repelling an intruder in your home). The laws or lack of laws that make it easy for people to obtain these war weapons, these instruments of mass murder, are obviously endangering us all. If it took the mass murder of country music fans to make some recalcitrant congressmen who thus far have been lackeys for the NRA, well that is sad indeed and still puzzling to me — I mean it is okay to sacrifice the lives of school children in Connecticut — but when you shoot up country music fans that is going too far.

(Shooting up a bunch of homosexuals in Florida did not move congress either. But to be fair in my criticism, I must note that there has been a plethora of mass shootings in recent years and maybe finally something is sinking in among some of our more timid congressmen who are afraid that if the gun lobby got them ousted they would not be able to find another job. (I’d hate to live like that. And that may be the flaw of the practice of having career politicians — they often are scared of doing the right thing.)

In my next post I am going to try to tackle the Second Amendment. I have nominally supported it or have been neutral towards it. But I think it is important for all of us to understand what it really says or what its intent was. I have read some things on it, but it is hard to grasp sometimes because the world was so different back in the 18th Century and the framers of our Constitution and its Bill of Rights could have in no way envisioned the conditions of today.

I am not yet against the Second Amendment; I just want to understand it and wish others did too. We certainly don’t want to be too hasty when it comes to our rights. What if people began to question the First Amendment and its liberal views on speech and freedom of religion (or freedom from religion as I sometimes put it)?

p.s.

I would not want anyone to think that I don’t like country music. But my concept or appreciation of country music is stuck in the time period from the mid 1960s back. Much of what has come after (not all) is mostly unrecognizable as country music to me.¬†And that has nothing whatsoever to do with mass murder and the security of our society. I just wanted to clear that up.

 

 

 

 

 


If the press is lying to me why do I have to assume that you have the truth?

October 4, 2017

I don’t have much more useful to say about the Las Vegas massacre at this time other than the usual conspiracy theories are out there along with the notion that any reporting by the mainstream media is some kind of propaganda from the new world order.

I scanned some of the conspiracy theories but could not make much sense of them or figure out what would be the point, other than any that claim it just did not happen.

(As in the Holocaust never happened. We never landed a man on the moon, just the New Mexico desert.)

The people who were there, the survivors, the police, and the families of the victims know it did.

Sure, we do not yet know all the facts and we may never know all the facts.

So I am not going to go into all the nutty conspiracy theories but I have often wondered why they are always out there.

I think one reason is that it’s kind of like the Cliff Clavin guy at the bar, or the loudmouth truck driver at the coffee shop counter who has an answer for everything — these people want attention and want people to look up to them.

And before I go further on that, yes, sometimes things are not as they seem, but eventually the truth usually comes out and the errors in reporting are not necessarily part of any plot but simply initial confusion and the competition to be first in reporting.

But this the-government-is-lying-to-us-along-with-the-mainstream-media thing has to do with the fact that, well, yes, sometimes the forces in power in our government do lie to us or reshape the truth. We are winning. There is light at the end of the tunnel in Vietnam, when the government’s own secret assessment showed the opposite.

In that case, right-wing war hawks wanted to keep pursuing an unwinnable war if for no other reason than to preserve our honor rather than quitting a fight we could not win.

But right-wing yahoos think what they call “the media” (as if there was just one all-powerful conspiratorial organization) wants to ruin everything they claim to hold dear: motherhood, apple pie, the right to amass military-style arsenals on a personal basis, the proclaiming of Christianity as the official faith of the U.S. (ignoring the First Amendment), and the practice of blaming rape on female victims, and most importantly of all, making it a crime on the order of treason to question policy made by right-wing politicians.

But then the question is for all of those, right and left, who don’t believe anything that is reported in the so-called mainstream media: who do you trust? and why?

Personally I do my best to keep an open mind and check as many sources as possible or practical. And I have to admit time and cost can limit some of that checking, but still I do try to scan the various sources available, even the ever-present conspiracy theorists.

I mean the most convoluted murder story I can recall might be the JFK assassination that occurred when I was a freshman in high school. Even though the official story is that a lone gunman fired the shots from the window of a tall building, there were immediate reports of a suspicious person or persons on a “grassy knoll”. And then, in one of the most bizarre moments ever caught live on national television, a man walks up and shoots the suspect dead as he was being led to a vehicle to change cell locations in what amounted to a police-staged perp walk for “the media”. Things like that do unfortunately give some credence to conspiracy buffs.

There have been numerous books written and a plethora of dark and evil conspiracy theories posited on who supposedly was behind the assassination of JFK, including the CIA, Fidel Castro, and even vice president Lyndon Johnson, who got the promotion of his life when the president died.

And then today there are just plain malicious people who like to play around with tragedy or maybe gain hits on websites to draw paid advertising.

There is always an element of the public who will go for the conspiracy theory every time over the more plausible mainstream media story.

But if you are telling me “they” are lying to me, why is it that I am supposed to assume you have the truth?

p.s.

And I always forget something. These days we have Russians trying to mess with our minds and thus weaken our nation via fake news.

 

 

 

 


Increased gun control not likely, so always keep an eye out and if you see something, say something

October 3, 2017

Since gun control or limitations on gun ownership seem problematic in the United States, I would suppose improved security measures, especially for public events, is the only answer to the dangers of mass shootings such as the one in Las Vegas that now stands at 59 dead and 527 wounded after the Sunday night massacre at a concert there.

You have people congregated not far from a very tall building. Well that could be anywhere, but this was near the Mandalay Bay Hotel. I have driven past there many times.

Easy access in a society where we rightfully prize our freedom of movement is always a security risk. And if you belong in a place but have evil in mind, that even leads to a larger potential for danger.

Lee Harvey Oswald worked at the Texas School Book Depository in a tall building. So no one questioned him being there. He of course assassinated president Kennedy. Kennedy had been advised by security officials to use the protective bubble on his limousine but he was in campaign mode and preferred to be in full display of the people. That was in 1963.

In 1966, a man climbed a tall tower at the University of Texas and shot 16 people dead and 31 were wounded. I don’t know what the security situation was then and there.

The Las Vegas shooter belonged where he was because he simply rented a room.

Kind of hard to get away from tall buildings in Las Vegas. What was nothing more than a wide main drag with not-so-tall buildings but much neon lighting the night when I was a teenager has turned into a huge collection of palatial skyscrapers with an adult Disneyland atmosphere.

I don’t know. We put up with long lines at security check points to board airliners, especially for international flights, but not likely people would go through all that for a concert. Or would they put up with it just to check into a hotel?

(You’ll pardon me. I don’t know what security one goes though for concerts. I don’t attend them.)

But I guess people figure that the chances of getting killed attending a concert, even with the recent shootings at such events, are less likely than simply driving your car on the freeway, statistically speaking.

And I keep saying it, but if a class full of school children can be mowed down in Connecticut and no action is taken on gun control, I don’t think there is much hope any will ever be taken. All politics is local and your local congressman does not want to face the wrath of hunters and the National Rifle Association (NRA), which by the way I consider more a lobby for the arms trade than for gun owners. I had an uncle who was a World War II veteran and an avid hunter, but at some point he decided he had no use for the NRA and its brand of politics.

Ironically I think polling shows that the majority of Americans support increased gun control but at the same time the uniquely American gun culture is ingrained in our society and has a stranglehold on politicians hungry for votes and campaign donations and fearful of being branded as the enemy by the NRA.

And I have to admit, even I have sympathy to the notion that a citizen should have the right to defend himself. But am I going to go out and buy military-style weapons to do so? I don’t see that as safe nor practical. We have police and the military for that and through our demoratic system we have a mechanism to keep them in check. And if worse came to worse we would rebel against authority gone awry, no matter the law — we did in 1776.

(There is more to the story of 1776 than that, that is a more complicated interpretation, but that is a different subject.)

So I suppose strengthened security measures for public events is the only practical answer. But you just cannot protect against every contingency.

I’ve probably written this several times before but as a truck driver I have witnessed how easy it is to wander around a place with no one ever questioning you. I have done this simply trying to find out where my truck is supposed to be or where the unloading personnel are.

The murderer at Las Vegas rented a room at the hotel. He reportedly hauled in — not all at once maybe — ten suitcases. The police found a huge arsenal in his room — after the fact of course. No one thought all those suitcases were suspicious? I guess since he did not bring them in all at once there was no outright sign of anything out of the ordinary.

So, it’s a dangerous world. In the United States we have collectively decided that preserving our right to amass arsenals of weapons on an individual basis is worth the risk of mentally disturbed people (and terrorists would be included — they are not right-minded) taking advantage of the freedom.

You just always need to pay attention to your surroundings and look for an escape route and if you see something say something.

p.s.

Islamic terrorists have tried to take credit for the latest massacre but from what I have read so far any chances that could be true are remote.