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Explosive Misery

 

It is only by the grace of God that we don’t have more kids in the news tripping offline and killing people. The insanity starts in middle school. Their physiology and psychology start changing, and the entire world turns upside down. Transitioning from childhood to adulthood isn’t for the faint of heart; but it is required of everyone, whatever their mettle or character. Last week we saw just how badly someone can fail at it and we witnessed the mayhem caused when such a time bomb is not diffused properly.

An article in Psychology Today titled The Negative Voices In Your Teenager’s Head states plainly some very important facts about this maturation process. It describes (softly, though accurately) the chaotic mess that is the adolescent mind. It’s been decades since I endured the trauma of being a teenager, but memories of the irrational rage, universally unchecked emotions, and feelings of abject powerlessness coupled with excruciating misery remain fresh even now. As my daughters have traversed this minefield there have been some near misses, but we’ve come out relatively whole. Many families aren’t so lucky, as we just saw in Florida.

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Proposed Speech for the Next FBI Director

 

“OK, so here is my message to our entire FBI: Without exception, you are all on probation. That doesn’t mean I don’t think you’re professional or do a good job. It simply means that I cannot and will not assume it. The burden is on you to be professional, non-partisan, and do your job without fear or favor. If you have a political opinion or preference – great! Just don’t let me smell it on you. It is your private political preference, to be kept between God, yourself, and the voting booth – but never in your reports, your conclusions or your assumptions in carrying out your professional duties.

“We are all human and in need of forgiveness. But as professional law enforcement officers you know better than anyone that being in need of forgiveness does not entitle you to forgiveness. So don’t count on it. Do your job in a way that does not require forgiveness and it will be a non-issue. And, oh by the way, if none of this suits you – Human Resources is that-a-way and I encourage you to put in your papers.

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Summer Memories

 

When I was a kid, the local pool had specific blocks of time in which it was open to the public. A single quarter would get you into one of the two-hour sessions. Despite my extremely sunburn-prone skin, my sister and I often got our mother to let us go for both sessions. There was a 20- to 30-minute break between the two sessions in which we had plenty of time to run two blocks over to the little grocery store and grab some snacks, charging them to Mom’s account. We usually got a Yoo-Hoo and a Moon Pie apiece, snarfed them down as quickly as possible, then ran back to the pool to camp out in the much cooler ladies’ locker room while waiting for the second session to start.

My sister and I lived in the pool as much as possible during the summer. We especially got excited for family reunion time every other June. We got to have three full days in the pool with our distant cousins while the adults visited. Occasionally, I’d be so sunburnt halfway through Day Two that my mother and grandmother would ban me from the pool, so I’d stay indoors with the adults and play cards.

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What Are the Odds?

 

A bookie from Perth Amboy, New Jersey, ends up in Heaven. It’s nice and all, he thinks, but the slots pay off on every single pull of the handle, and the Amboy Oddsmaker, as he was known down below, dreadfully misses real action. One day while idly looking down onto the Earth, where it’s 1957, he spots an 18-year-old boy shooting pool in a bowling alley in Compton, California. Then he sees a 13-year-old girl milking her cow on a small farm near Bellingham, Washington, up near the Canadian border. He suddenly gets an idea that may get him back in the game.

So he approaches God with a deal. “Uh, Supreme Being, creator of all that is and ever was, wanna make some easy money?”

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What Was Putin Up To in 2016?

 

My speculation is that he had a win-win strategy. Unless his folks were a lot better than most US pundits, I don’t think he was anticipating or planning for a Trump victory. Instead, his goal was to weaken the US as an adversary and whomever won I believe he thought he would come out stronger. [Note: I am not judging whether the strategy was effective in influencing the election outcome.]

The win-win in 2016

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Add Drugs and Keep Away from Sharp Objects: Institutionalizing Child Rearing

 

Parkland is just a few miles away from where I live. I have friends whose children went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The shootings at this school, and for that matter every other school is tragic. Our instinct, of course, at such senseless violence against the most innocent of us brings up rage and a desire to make sense of it all. Some of us will point fingers at the tools of the massacre, and many of us will demonize those we already disagree with. This tragedy is big enough for us relive our worst nightmares. And the easy fix is to look to blame our favorite villains.

I recently spoke to a friend who is having trouble with her own son. Not Parkland-variety trouble, but trouble nevertheless. She is a single mother and a good person. She works hard to provide a loving environment to her only son, who is the center of her universe. For as long as I have known them, however, she has had challenges with her son. My own two kids, a few years older than hers, seem to never have the kinds of problems she has had. It would be easy to attribute this to one or two facts such as that mine grew-up in a two parent home and hers did not, but we all know that reality is not ever that simple.

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Summer: The Worst Season

 

I haven’t liked summer for ages. Sorry, folks. I’m the guy who is stomping on everyone’s good time. I mean, let’s face it, ever since about high school I’ve hated it. Summer has always been hot and uncomfortable with the guarantee that there’s always a limit to how much of your clothes you can take off and be socially accepted. Not that I’ve tried. That anyone can prove. I’ve experienced dry heat and high humidity and just about all between and I can safely say it’s all bad. All of it.

I hated walking in Minnesota summers that felt like you were swimming in the air, hot and muggy and uncomfortable. I don’t like the high desert summers where the air sucks out every single ounce of moisture in you and brings the temperature in your car up to three digits. It makes people crazy, too. Just ask my totally existing detective friend who notes that all the crazy and stupid crimes go up in the summer. He’s an autumn/winter guy too.

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Mueller Indictment of Russians for Illegal Political Activities

 

It appears the Ruskies began a general plan to sow discord long before Trump was a candidate. In the primaries, that meant going after the establishment candidates on both sides, in favor of Bernie and Trump. Consider Section 10 e:

By in or around May 2014, the ORGANIZATION’s strategy included interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with the stated goal of “spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.”

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David Laufman: Another One Bites the Dust

 

Did anyone else hear about David Laufman quitting a week ago? I heard about him from a Hugh Hewitt podcast from Hewitt’s Friday show with a representative of Hillsdale College.

Who is David Laufman? He’s the Dept. of Justice, National Security Division, Deputy Asst. General in charge of counterintelligence, cyber security, counterespionage and export controls. And why does that matter? As The Conservative Treehouse explained, Laufman was involved with most aspects of the current controversy surrounding Robert Mueller’s investigation:

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JROTC in Parkland: A Hero’s Tale

 

In the aftermath of the shooting in Florida, like I do after tragedy in general I prefer to focus on the positive, the uplifting. One of those stories came across my newsfeed tonight:

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A Quiet Dinner with a Side of Despair

 

“Mother!! I told you. Not now!” 

He was a toothache of a man. His greasy unkempt hair, which looked like a shovelful of wet pine straw dumped unceremoniously on his head, framed a face whose signature expression was a resentful scowl. Grey eyes pierced from under his furrowed and bushy eyebrows, his weatherworn face had more lines than a map of L.A., though one would search in vain for “laugh lines.”

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ACF#26: Blade

 

Let’s talk about black heroes at the movies. Wesley Snipes was one of the last action heroes–remember when American heroes could be working class and villains tech millionaires?–and he reached his peak with Blade, the best Marxist story of a generation, as Pete says. Here’s how Marxist “wake up and smell the exploitation” stories work: Remember The Matrix? Well, we have lots to say in praise of Blade and we continuously connect it to the shocks in American politics now, especially the Bernie-Hillary class conflict.

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Behold the Gold

 

I was in such a bad mood today.

We attended a very lovely Valentine evening yesterday, in the city. A bit of glamour! A chance to dress up! I’ve lived here in the mountains (again) for so long now that I marveled especially at the gents, with their low, polished, slip-on shoes, the delicate sheen of the fabric of their suits. (We favor thick-soled boots and canvas up here in these parts.)

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The Violence Stem

 

After the horror in Parkland, FL, there are the usual calls from the usual suspects to ban “assault rifles” and shut down the NRA; as if the NRA itself trained the murderer in how to kill innocents. Blaming the NRA for this mass murder is roughly equivalent to blaming the number of traffic deaths in the United States on the American Automobile Association: Both of them are membership organization built around the enjoyable and safe use of a particular piece of technology. No more, no less.

The problem happens when that particular piece of technology is used for evil and violent purposes, and this is true of gun and automobile alike. The technology is not the issue, the way it’s used to harm other people is the issue. To borrow from Bill Clinton: it’s the violence, stupid.

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FBI Ignored Specific Warning That Parkland Killer Could Attack School

 

The FBI admitted today that it didn’t investigate a specific tip that Nikolas Cruz might conduct a school shooting.

On January 5, a person close to the 19-year-old shooter provided information about “Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social-media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.” The FBI ignored the warning.

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The Shooters: They Think They’re the Victims

 

As usual, the cries for getting to the root of these terrible mass shootings are dominating the media landscape. It’s guns! It’s mental illness! It’s the lone wolf syndrome! I’m not against trying to understand the perpetrators of these horrifying events. In fact, this post is an effort to look at one other possible source of the problem—although if there’s any truth to my proposition, dealing with it may be more complex than we can imagine.

The problem? The mentality of the shooter: his victimization and our indulgence of it.

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