R.I.P. Ray Harryhausen

More Has To Happen

Ray Harryhausen died yesterday, the visionary responsible for the animation in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts, among many others.

Even before I knew or much cared to know his name, he inspired and touched me. If it were ever raining on a Saturday afternoon when I was a kid, we would tune in to Chanel 11 hoping that the Yankees were rained out, and the station would show an emergency double feature of films from Hammer Studios, maybe the B-list of Universal’s classic monsters, or the golden fleece itself: those garishly colored stop motion Greek myths.

To this day, I love showing friends the skeleton fight from Jason and the Argonauts, but it’s worth remembering that Harryhausen kept making films into the Star Wars era. This film from 1973 made a huge impression on me, especially Kali wielding swords in all her arms.

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An Internalization of Violence

I like much of what you have to say, but I share a number of different views about some of the issues. I retired from law enforcement in L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept after 36+ years, 30 of them spent mostly in a patrol car, as a deputy for 10 years, and a Sergeant for 26 years; I worked at 6 different stations in L.A. County, each with unique demographics. My Dad was a deputy for 29 years. I’ve read Grossman and I like much of what he has to say and his perspective on many issues. I want to think about and re-read what you’ve written, and perhaps share some of my thoughts at a future time, as well. I commend you for your service to our country, and I have always had high regard for our military, in general, although I never served in the military. I also want to commend you for your very thoughtful, rational thinking and honest open writing in your blog, and your article. It is rare in much of the writing I see elsewhere. May I suggest you look up an author who is a Vietnam Vet, and is also very thoughtful, honest , open, and rational in his writing and thinking. He has some similar and different ideas about these issues. You may have already read or heard of him: Karl Marlantes, his book “What It’s Like To Go To War.” If not, I think you’ll find him at least interesting.

Sticks and Stones, Guns and Knives, and Even Bombs

On January 10, 2011, BOB HERBERT who writes for the New York Times posted an article online entitled “A Flood Tide of Murder.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/11/opinion/11herbert.html?_r=0 ) In the introductory paragraph of the article he talked about the poisonous political rhetoric of politicians and some of the “news” commentators designed to appeal to the popular fears, desires, conventional “wisdom,” and prejudices, rather than employing rational argument and critical thinking skills to seek meaningful solutions to difficult, complex problems like gun violence. This is an endemic problem which significantly impedes finding meaningful, effective solutions to many other problems in this country and American culture, including the homeless problems, the healthcare situation, and the the unrealistic, biased perceptions of what it means to be poor in America.

As Mr. Herbert points out in his article, “crazies” (which includes, in my opinion, the mentally ill and imbalanced, but also the religious and political fanatics) do not come to the decision to kill in a vacuum. Their ideas, frustrations, prejudices, biases, fears and feelings of desperation are gradually, often unconsciously assimilated or absorbed from the opinions, ideas, and the conventional “wisdom” or “facts” expressed by members of their own family, their friends, neighbors, classmates, co-workers, and from the movies, books, television and other forms of media they attend to. When children and young people are developing their minds and discovering who they are as human beings in our society and the world they are like sponges, soaking up the information, attitudes and relationships they observe around them. They see, hear and emotionally feel the complex, subtle nuances of the ways in which people relate, or fail to relate to one another.

These impressionable young humans are keenly aware of a multitude of verbal and non-verbal social cues for behavior: the way people talk to one another, or don’t; the emotional expressions or repressions of feelings directed toward others and themselves; the manner in which some people shun or avoid certain groups or types of people; their facial expressions while regarding individuals, or groups of individuals; the names they call others and the jokes they tell about them; the way some people characterize or denigrate the inherent value of other people; the way people dismiss or write-off certain groups of people, characterizing them as lazy, “takers”, poor, irresponsible, or the 47%, as a whole, without knowledge or regard for the unique stories of the individuals, which might temper their prejudice with compassion and empathy.

All of these, and the almost infinite, subtle nuances of human communication transmit a large quantity of erroneous, distorted and emotionally-charged perceptions of other people in our own society, as well as those in other countries. Some of this subtle and nuanced information is transmitted without the conscious awareness of the individual. It is similar to the process of dehumanization in the case of nations, where the people are perceived as the “enemy,” and therefore sub-human, and unworthy of the same basic respect, value and dignity every human being deserves – suddenly, its extremely easy and expedient to make exceptions to the American value that “All men are created equal.” Wars with some countries seems to be an inevitable possibility, at least in the short term, but mankind has made some amazing strides in knowledge, philosophy, and scientific, technological achievements. Perhaps it’s time to allow ourselves to evolve to a point where we don’t default too easily to dehumanizing people who are different from ourselves, simply because of cultural, religious or political views.

Today, within our society, we are faced with polarized political and cultural factions, with many Americans on the continuum in between. American citizens holding positions of power, authority, and celebrity, who possess the public trust, use vile, morally bereft, and vacuous rhetoric to create fear, anxiety, and deeply rooted distrust of our government. They demonize, accuse and blame the other side of evil, un-American agendas, and subversive, destructive intent to destroy everything from religion to the American military, and the Second Amendment. They create fear among good people who don’t know who to believe, and think about the issues and the “enemy” other side from an emotional, fear-based perspective. They even create distrust of the major news organizations so many people do not trust any “news” program except Fox “News” and Rush Limbaugh.

This type of “common wisdom” about other people, and classes of people is, unfortunately, ALL too common, and it can spread like a virus through human minds, facilitated by ignorance, fear, lack of critical thinking, and a failure to question the perceived authority of leaders and their “conventional” or “common wisdom.” And by leaders, I mean parents, older family members, neighbors, teachers, religious leaders, politicians, law enforcement, military, and other citizens who are influential in our communities and society. Each of us has a serious and sacred responsibility to carefully measure our words and our values, and endeavor to keep our biases, prejudices, and conventional “wisdom” to ourselves, if we unable to overcome them.

Continue reading Sticks and Stones, Guns and Knives, and Even Bombs

Try A Little Kindness Today – Be A Symbolic Valentine To Everyone

Today, of course, is Valentine’s Day, which is thought by many cynical people to be nothing more than a manufactured holiday; a clever conspiracy by the Card, Candy, Chocolate, Teddy Bear, and Miscellaneous Gift Industries to get US to part with more of our money. And frankly, the part of me that harbors a healthy portion of cynicism, that part has to agree, to a certain extent.

But the larger portion of this phenomenon called me; that part thinks Valentine’s Day is a special opportunity to express your love, kindness, thoughtfulness and humanity to that special someone (or someone’s) in your life; but also to express that love, kindness, thoughtfulness and humanity to everyone you meet today, on the street, at the supermarket, on the job, at the post office, on the subway, train, plane, or in your car.

Think about how much it “costs” to be kind or thoughtful to a complete stranger today. Express your love and humanity to others and feel what that “feels like” today. How much kindness, love, thoughtfulness, and humanity do you have to “spend” today? The American Economy surely has problems, but each of us has the infinite capacity and resources to spend or give away the currency of kindness, love, thoughtfulness and humanity we possess. It takes courage, mindfulness and putting others before oneself – but it costs nothing. And the “interest” you earn on the “currency” or “capital” of your love, kindness, thoughtfulness, and humanity will return dividends beyond your imaginings; many you may not experience directly, but like a “virus” that spreads and infects others.
Continue reading Try A Little Kindness Today – Be A Symbolic Valentine To Everyone

What Happens When The Macho Movies Actually Meet the Reality of An Active Shooter?

Actor Steven Seagal trains Arizona volunteer posse on school security techniques

Arpaio said volunteers would receive 100 hours of training, drive marked vehicles and, in some cases, be armed with automatic weapons. They would not enter the school unless they observed an immediate threat.

About a dozen people protested the anti-school gun violence training. “No gun should ever be in a school,” said Fountain Hills resident Cynthia Wharton.

“We are paying him to have certified deputies here, not to bring a circus and not to use our town as a political platform,” Guadalupe town councilmember Andrew Sanchez said to the Associated Press.

The Maricopa County’s volunteer posse is one of the largest in the nation and boasts nearly 3,500 members. Arpaio announced this week he wants to add 1,000 more people to his posse. In the past, they have been asked to patrol shopping malls, scope out illegal immigrants and track down dead-beat dads behind on alimony, according to ABC News.

Seagal was already a posse member prior to Saturday’s simulation and his A&E TV reality show “Steven Seagal: Lawman” followed his adventures as a deputy sheriff for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. The action film actor has also been deputized with the sheriff’s offices in New Mexico and Texas.

Other famous Maricopa County volunteer posse members include television actors Lou Ferrigno (“The Incredible Hulk”) and Peter Lupus (“Mission: Impossible”).

From an online article on NYDailyNews.com / U.S

I enjoy the thrills and cathartic release, and the fantasy sense-of-vindication most anyone derives from watching violent action movies, involving fantastic car chases; spectacular feats of physical agility; punishing, prolonged fight scenes of superhuman endurance and resilience; and equally fantastic shoot-outs between the GOOD Guys and Girls and those on the Dark Side But I am a stark realist when it comes to the actual practices and establishment of policies relating to the defense and protection of REAL PEOPLE and REAL CHILDREN, at school or anywhere else

While I have enjoyed watching the movies of Steven Segal, and other actors who portray heroes from law enforcement and the military, in the plentiful number of American-made action films, I believe too many Americans have become deluded about what is real, and what is fantasy. Delusion does not only inhabit the purview of the mentally ill. There is no dearth of delusion among the sane members of society who choose to believe things based solely on their emotions and beliefs, not on facts or empirical knowledge. Many people base their beliefs on what they have heard or accepted as common knowledge from other people who have repeated things they believe to be factual or empirical truths, couched in authoritative tones of credibility. Many people in positions of authority and public trust are assumed to possess the expertise and credibility of their position and background. Yet how many of them have actual training, empirical knowledge or first-hand experience with what they talk about with authority? How many have sought the counsel of multiple actual experts? How many have seriously considered even a few of the blind spots of their individual perceptions, or engaged in critical analysis of the strengths, risks, pitfalls and actual effectiveness of what they support, or propose, as a course of action? Continue reading What Happens When The Macho Movies Actually Meet the Reality of An Active Shooter?

A slight digression, or some of my backstory, pre-law enforcement

“He [the student of politics] must also be on his guard against the old words, for the words persist when the reality that lay behind them has changed. It is inherent in our intellectual activity that we seek to imprison reality in our description of it. Soon, long before we realize it , it is we who become the prisoners of the description. From that point on, our ideas degenerate into a kind of folklore which we pass to each other, fondly thinking we are still talking of the reality around us.

Thus we talk of free enterprise, of capitalist society, of the rights of free association, of parliamentary government, as though all of these words stand for the same things they formerly did. Social institutions are what they do, not necessarily what we say they do. It is the verb that matters, not the noun.

If this is not understood, we become symbol worshipers. The categories we once evolved and which were the tools we used in our intercourse with reality become hopelessly blunted. In these circumstances the social and political realities we are supposed to be grappling with change and reshape themselves independently of the collective impact of our ideas. We become the creature and no longer the partner of social realities. As we fumble with outworn categories our political vitality is sucked away and we stumble from one situation to another, without chart, without compass, and with the steering wheel lashed to a course we are no longer following.

This is the real point of danger for a political party and for the leaders and thinkers who inspire it. For if they are out of touch with reality, the masses are not.”

Aneurin Bevan from “In Place of Fear

Notes fromLanguage In Thought and Action
By S.I. Hayakawa and Alan R. Hayakawa, 5th Edition

Continue reading A slight digression, or some of my backstory, pre-law enforcement

Retirement: Exploring Old Paths – Seeking and Pursuing New Ones

I retired from one of the largest Law enforcement organizations in the United States of America on April 15th 2011. I began this life journey over thirty six years before, on September 9th, 1974.

Through this blog I hope to share some of the life lessons I’ve learned, the experiences I’ve had, and the unique perspective which I believe I developed and brought to my former career.