It’s the Guns

Taking after the rant by Cenk Uygur

The Young Turks, 2/15/2017

Young TurksThere have been 7 school shootings in the USA in the first 45 days of 2018, including the Parkland shooting on February 14.* The USA is averaging a school shooting every week! In the USA there were 270,000,000 guns and 90 mass shooters from 1966-2012 (NY Times) The closest to the US is Yemen, which the USA beats by a country mile.


Americans have 4.4% of global population, but own 42% of the world’s guns (NY Times) In spite of NRA claims, more guns do not make us safer (USA—101 guns per capita)


From 1966-2012, 31% of mass shooters worldwide were American (2015, Lankford, U AL) Adjusted for population, only Yemen has a higher mass shooting rate than the USA (even before war broke out). Is it a coincidence that the two countries with the highest gun ownership per capita also have the highest mass shooting rate?


Gun homicides in the USA (2009) are 33 per million population (NY Times) This far exceeds Canada (5 per million) and Britain (0.7 per million), the next highest among developed countries. This also corresponds with the difference in gun ownership (Canada—30.8 guns per capita; Britain—6.2 guns per capita)


Could racial/cultural diversity/lack of social cohesion lead to gun violence in the USA? In the USA, the overwhelming majority of homicides of whites are committed by whites; the overwhelming majority of homicides of blacks are committed by blacks; etc. “Among European countries, there is little association between immigration or other diversity metrics and the rates of gun murders or mass shootings” (NY Times)


Could it be the violent video games inspiring mass shootings? “Americans are no more likely to play video games than people in any other developed country” (NY Times). This also applies to American movies, which are circulated worldwide.


GunPenisCould it be mental health? “If mental health made the difference, then data would show that Americans had more mental health problems than do people in other countries with fewer mass shootings. But the … rate of severe mental disorders [in the United States] are all in line with those of other wealthy countries.” (NY Times). It should also be pointed out that 98% of mass shootings are carried out by males, yet the mental illness rate of males v. females in the US tilts more toward females than males—but with males tending more to externalize their illness. Gun access makes this lethal. In fact, other countries simply don’t arm the mentally ill.


Could it be a higher US crime rate than other countries? “The United States is not more prone to crime than other developed countries. … Rather, in data that has since been repeatedly confirmed, … American crime is simply more lethal. A New Yorker is just as likely to be robbed as a Londoner, for instance, but the New Yorker is 54 times more likely to be killed in the process” (1999, Zimring, Hawkins, U Cal.). In fact, other countries simply don’t allow so many people to own guns.


“More gun ownership corresponds with more gun murders across virtually every axis: among developed countries, among American states, among American towns and cities and when controlling for crime rates. And gun control legislation tends to reduce gun murders, according to a recent analysis of 130 studies from 10 countries.” (NY Times)


But people will do crime anyway, right? We make things illegal to try to deter them. It doesn’t work every time, but generally, it does. Otherwise, we wouldn’t make murder illegal; we wouldn’t make robbery or rape illegal. Why would we make it so much easier to kill more people, more rapidly, with easy access to guns?


Parkland“In 2013, American gun-related deaths included 21,175 suicides, 11,208 homicides and 505 deaths caused by an accidental discharge. That same year in Japan, a country with one-third America’s population, guns were involved in only 13 deaths.” (NY Times) So, 32,888 gun deaths in the US vs. (adjusted for population) 39 in Japan? “This means that an American is about 300 times more likely to die by gun homicide or accident than a Japanese person. America’s gun ownership rate is 150 times as high as Japan’s.” (NY Times)


Every other country on earth gets it. Do we really have to keep telling people in the USA that 2+2=4? More guns = more gun murders and more mass shootings.

Of course, IT’S THE GUNS!

*Cenk Uygur claimed 14 “school shootings,” a statistic promoted by the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, since the beginning of the year through the middle of February. But that number included suicides and accidental gun discharges. Only seven were intentional shootings that occurred during normal school hours. I might have included the suicides and accidental gun discharges if this piece were deriding the firing of easily obtained weapons on school grounds, but I would prefer to use a stricter definition of “school shooting.” The number is still too high.

Posted in Psychology, Rant

Mis-statement of Beliefs

A few days ago, I discovered a meme calling itself a Statement of Beliefs.

Then I thought, “This a lot to unpack, but I believe I will give it a shot.” I copied the meme to this page. Here’s my take on it—

Statement of belief“There’s only two genders” (I’ll leave aside the grammatical error) When I was growing up, I (like the grammarian H.W. Fowler, in his 1926 Dictionary of Modern English Usage) used “gender” solely as a grammatical concept, of which there are three: feminine, masculine and neuter. I always thought people used “gender” to substitute for the word “sex” because of their delicate sensibilities (in 1993, the FDA started to use “gender” instead of “sex”). In reality, there are only two bathrooms, but the concept of “gender” has become politically charged of late. Depending on how you define it, there is a distinction in psychology between biological sex and gender as a role in society—and we are social beings, after all. I’m on the fence about there being only two genders: I tend to be more generous because, honestly, it does not affect me.

“The world is not flat” True. We have the pictures.

“Vaccines can’t cause autism” True. We have the science.

“Islam is not a religion of peace” True. But no religion is a religion of peace when it holds the reins of power. It seems odd that anybody would single out one of the many. Could there be another motive here?

“Black people can be racist” Not true, and I will tell you why anon. First, beware the terminology here: “racist” is not the same as “bigoted.” Yes, black people can be bigoted, that is, prejudiced and intolerant. But black people cannot be racist. Racism requires a power structure and control of resources. Historically, at least in the USA, this has not only been jealously guarded by white people to the exclusion of black people (and other races and ethnicities), but racial restrictions on the acquisition of wealth has been a policy of white people over black people as a matter of government policy—and guess which race controls the government? Read The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein for examples and citations. Black Lives Matter and Black Power movements are a reaction to white supremacy and white privilege, not racism in themselves.

“The gender pay gap is false” The World Economic Forum would disagree with this statement; they’ve been tracking this data since 1971. Also, the London School of Economics would disagree. And the Pew Research Center. And pretty much every government agency in every industrialized country would similarly disagree. It might be better to call it the gender “income gap” or “earnings gap” because women and men make different career choices and attributing the income/earnings gap to discrimination is very difficult to quantify: it could be only 94% (as opposed to 78%-82%) if we are comparing apples to apples. But, as with racism perpetrated by white males, there are structural impediments in a male-dominated society to women achieving positions of power and to acquiring wealth.

“The racial pay gap is false” Again, better terms would be “income gap” or “earnings gap.” And structural racism plays into this very stark reality. The Pew Research Center shows that black men in 2015 earned just 75% as much as white men in median hourly income. And Hispanic men were slightly behind black men. The racial pay gap is real and has been a conscious result of a racist social structure for centuries.

“The Russians didn’t hack the election” True. While there may have been some interference—certainly not on the scale at which the USA has interfered with foreign elections—there is not enough evidence to support the assertion that the Russians ‘hacked’ the 2016 election and threw it to Donald Trump. It’s a serviceable talking point for Democrats to avoid blaming a horrible candidate for their election loss, but it comes nearest to the truth.

“Islam is not a race” True. To be anti-Islamic is to be bigoted, not racist. It is also to be an asshole.

“Sharia law would bring more oppression” True, to a point. But “more” compared to what? Furthermore, this is hardly likely to happen in the USA. It’s just a talking point pushed by religious bigots to divide and scare people. And, besides, Christian Dominionist law would be just as bad. We should be scared of the likelier prospect.

“Men aren’t the only ones that rape” True, but not really relevant to the overwhelming statistic for male-on-female rape (only 1 in 7 rapes by males against females are reported) vs. female-on-male rape (vanishingly tiny). Additionally, male rape of females is used as a weapon of war—never the other way around. (And grammar again: Men, being human, are a ‘who’ not a ‘that.’)

“Slavery wasn’t invented by white people” I’ve searched everywhere and I cannot find anybody credible who makes this claim. True, white people invented racism, but saying “Slavery wasn’t invented by white people” qualifies as a straw man fallacy.

“Pepe the frog isn’t a hate symbol, just a meme” I don’t know anything about this one. And I don’t care.

“White privilege isn’t real” This belief could come only from a position of privilege. Maybe Peggy McIntosh can make this clearer than I can. The unearned privileges of white people include: I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented; when I am told about our national heritage or about ‘civilization,’ I am shown that people of my color made it what it is; if a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race; I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time; I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed; whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability; I can swear, or dress in second-hand clothes, or not answer letters without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race; I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial; I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race; I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

“Wealth privilege is real” True. That’s why white males so jealously protect it from people of color. See above.

“Racial preference is not racist” As it applies to dating and friendship? I don’t know. Have you asked yourself why you prefer one race over another? If you can think of a non-bigoted reason, I am for you.

“A gender studies degree won’t even get you in a McDonald’s” My understanding is that college degrees are evidence that you have developed certain skills: how to think, how to do research, how to weigh facts, how to communicate conclusions based on all of the above. Oh, and also how to open your mind. Are you sure our society has trained enough people in those skills? Or do some of the beliefs in this meme betray a lack of scholarship and open-mindedness?

“Protesting a democratic election will get tiring after a while” Well, protesting anything is tiring. But if it is worth doing… Also, if we are talking about the 2016 election, perhaps the protest is misdirected? I was waiting for the Democratic candidate and her party, who garnered over 3 million more votes than the Republican winner, to go after the entity that caused her loss: not the Russians, but the Electoral College. Yet I hear not a sound. Weird.

“Misandry and Misogyny are the same thing” Well, technically, no. Misandry is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against men or boys. Misogyny is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls. One is way more common than the other because society is ruled more by one sex than by the other.

“Reverse racism isn’t real, that’s because it’s just racism” Are we talking about the perceived denial of rights and privileges to members of a dominant group in order to benefit racial and/or ethnic minorities? That ignores disparities in the exercise of power and authority, which are an essential component of racism. And I think I covered that one above.

So… there you have my response to this Statement of Beliefs. It won’t fit on a bumper sticker. But I hope it reflects more insight into the nature of things. One of these days, I may share my statement of beliefs!

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Posted in Rant

About that Russian hacking…


“Beware lest in your anxiety
to avoid war you obtain a master”
—Demosthenes (BCE 384-382), writing a
perfect epitaph for the Democratic Party

The Democrats want you distracted with tales of Russian election interference so they don’t have to answer for losing the 2016 election to a con-man reality TV star. The mainstream media want you distracted with tales of Russian election interference so they don’t have to cover the home-grown theft of our democracy and the defunding of the Commons by other Americans: Republicans and feckless Democrat enablers.

Can we take a breath here?

Was it Russian interference that cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 election? If so, did Russia write the emails showing the DNC’s thumb on the scale against Bernie Sanders? Or blow off Mr. Sanders and his voters? Did Russia make Hillary Clinton the most unpopular Democratic candidate in history? Did Russia make Clinton ignore her working class base in favor of her corporate masters? Did Russia force Clinton to make speeches to her banker buddies? Did Russia persuade Clinton not to campaign in three “swing states” she desperately needed to win the 2016 election?

As the Bible says (Matt. 7:3), “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own?” Why look to foreign actors for the 2016 election loss and not to ourselves?

FirstSOTU-smCould the Russian government have thrown the 2016 election to Trump. It’s possible. But it was not necessary—for the reasons I just gave. But what about…?

OK, what about the “fake news” on Facebook? I never saw any of it myself. Or, if I did, it did not cause me (or 65,853,516 other people) to vote for Trump. And half of this “subversive” news—which Facebook is now using as an excuse to censor your news feed—came out after the election. It’s a tough case to make that Hillary Clinton would have won in 2016 where it not for that dastardly Russian interference on Facebook!

OK, what about the joint US intelligence review? US intelligence agencies stated with high confidence that, “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Hillary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.” Further, the US intelligence community stated “Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

But look closer: in a footnote in that report, the same agencies admitted that their “high confidence” that the Russians hacked the US election wasn’t so high after all. On the bottom of page 13 there is a caveat about the word “judgment.” “Judgment,” it says, “is not intended to mean that we have evidence to prove something to be a fact.” So, US intelligence agencies denied their entire report! At the very end, they say, “this is not necessarily factual.” Never mind.

OK, were voting machines hacked? Perhaps. But (Occam’s Razor) that doesn’t require Russian hackers when we have Republicans. Were votes for Clinton otherwise suppressed in key states? Perhaps. But that still doesn’t require Russian hackers when the domestic variety—with voter roll purges, voter ID laws, restricted voting times, closed polling places, nonfunctional voting machines and, of course, partisan gerrymandering—works quite well.

So, what might this “Russia Investigation” find? Sorry, but it will not find evidence of Trump’s collusion with Putin or his government to steal the 2016 election. Not only is it a high bar to collect sufficient evidence to charge Mr. Trump, but it’s also unlikely to be true, even for a man as dishonest as Trump honestly is.

Will the investigation uncover evidence of Trump’s obstruction of justice? Yes, very likely, but more is required. Proving “intent” to obstruct justice is also a high bar, requiring nearly incontrovertible evidence. And, even then, do you think the Republican majority in both houses of Congress, who are virtual hostages to Trump, will move to impeach? Not likely—not so long as Trump distracts the country well enough for them to carry out (with the help of feckless, corporate Democrats) their agenda of pillaging the Commons.

Will the investigation uncover evidence of Trump’s money laundering? Yes, very likely. But that’s pretty far from the stated goal of uncovering collusion with a foreign power to steal the 2016 election, isn’t it? And although I think unraveling Trump’s dishonest-if-not-illegal global financial dealings is probably what he fears the most, I fear that it will not be enough to move his Congressional captives to bring him down. As Emerson supposedly said, “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.”*

So… now that we’ve caught our breath and have been reintroduced to reality, where does that leave us?

I think the corporate Democrat talking point about “Russian hacking” is simply a distraction from two real problems: (1) Republicans who are subverting democracy and delegitimizing institutions created to protect us, privatizing public services, and defunding if not destroying what helps the helpless, and (2) corporate Democrats who “enable” them; corporate Democrats who are working for their donors and against you; corporate Democrats who, as Jimmy Dore is wont to point out, “would rather lose to a Republican than support a Progressive.” The Republicans want to create a reality, one free of facts and accountability, so they can accelerate the kleptocracy. They are not working for you. The Democrats and their corporate media sycophants want to avoid reality, hence the Russian hacking distraction. They are not working for you, either.

It is all up to us.

*To a young man, who, in his college days, wrote an essay on Plato, and mentioned the subject to Mr. Emerson.

NB: Most of this essay appeared initially as a post on Facebook, composed on a smart phone. I do not know why, but in his rebuttal to the President’s first State of the Union address on January 30, 2018, Mr. Sanders appeared to have drunk the Kool-Aid of the Russian collusion assertion.

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Posted in Politics, Rant, Uncategorized

’Twas the night before the night before Christmas…

I don’t usually find myself defending strangers, but when “J” hammered “P” on Facebook, I got out my hammer and hammered back. I hope I did well in defending socialism against capitalism.

“J”: “P,” it is so cute that you feel you need to explain tax havens to someone who takes advantage of them. You are trying to sell subsidies to one of the very individuals that would have the fruits of his labor confiscated in order to pay them. I am in fact one of those people that the democratic socialists don’t want to acknowledge exists. I took myself from poverty to the top 5% through my own hard work. I am never going to buy your snake oil. The economic system isn’t broken. It functions like any natural bell curve distribution.

“Like any socialist you feel that because I have successfully achieved a level of economic independence I owe something to those who didn’t.”

Wanted-Poster-DickensMY REPLY: “J,” it is so cute that you think you took yourself from poverty to the top 5% exclusively through your own hard work. Let’s see if you are the one selling snake oil, shall we? First, I am going to assume you are a US national and that you are a white male. If so, congratulations! You have won both the national and the genetic lottery: there is no better place to make a fortune (and keep it—because of low taxes and few regulations) than in the USA. And there is no better race to be than white (due to a racist economic system) or sex to be than male (I hope I don’t have to explain that one).

Now let’s see about this snake oil of the “self-made man” you are peddling. You seem to be saying that your success is based on merit: that help from the right people, and being in the right place at the right time (“luck”), were inconsequential to your success. You’ll forgive me if I express some skepticism about that—every man is some mother’s son. And maybe you never employed anybody and profited from their labor. But, if you did, you have built your success at least in part on the sweat of other people: by definition, then, you are not a “self-made man.”

And I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that your success might have been aided, at least in part, by the legal and political arrangements that we create and maintain as a society—which are paid for by all of us. Indeed, without this “public infrastructure,” nobody could accumulate wealth because there can be no private wealth without common wealth.

But perhaps you never took advantage of laws concerning property or contracts, and the courts that enforce such laws; perhaps you never used employees educated in public schools or who rely on public transportation, that you never used roads, bridges, airports, sewers, water treatment plants, harbors, or other utilities built and maintained at public expense. Maybe you never used the mail systems built and operated at public expense. Maybe you never needed police or fire protection provided at public expense, or any public amenities that add value to commercial or residential real estate. Maybe you never made money off of a government contract, never used any government-provided business incentives or small business loans. Maybe you never benefitted from regulatory agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission or the Securities and Exchange Commission. Maybe you were never awarded a business charter or incorporation. Maybe you never used a currency legitimated and backed by a stable government. Maybe you never even used the Internet. But if you did, you know you didn’t build all that. We all did.

I think it’s “cute” to hear from people who were born on third base and believe they hit a triple. Yes, the economic system isn’t broken for the top 5%. But if the system is so good, why is its success limited to the top 5%? It would seem that such wealth inequality is not a feature but a flaw. If the system can’t deliver a living wage to the bottom 95%, in the wealthiest nation the world has ever known, you don’t think something is amiss? Why is half the nation in poverty? Are they all lazy? Who is really selling the snake oil here?

Now, do I feel, “like any socialist,” that because you have successfully achieved a level of economic independence that you owe something to those who didn’t? Most definitely yes! Because you have benefitted most from what the rest of us provided, you should be delighted to give back to us some of what you have taken.

I will go even further: why should society even allow anybody to get obscenely wealthy? This leads inevitably to the abuse of that wealth, and its concomitant power, to alter the political system in favor of the wealthy, thereby leading inexorably to oligarchy and the resulting death of democracy. But I’m guessing, like most oligarchs, you don’t really support democracy. How could you? To paraphrase Sinclair Lewis, “It is difficult to get a man to support something, when his salary depends on his not supporting it.”

But I think you know all this, J, and that, as “cute” as you are being, you are still a troll.

Posted in Economics, Politics, Rant, Uncategorized

Capitalism Enables Sexual Harassment

29-11-2011Let me take you on a little thought experiment, courtesy of Prof. Richard D. Wolff, lately of his weekly podcast, “Economic Update.” Dr. Wolff has opened my eyes on many things about economics and always makes relevant to me “the dismal science” (so calumniated by Victorian historian Thomas Carlyle). This past week the professor was topical, giving an economist’s take on the recent tsunami of sexual harassment claims in the media, especially those claims made against men in the business world.

In brief, Prof. Wolff claims, if a business enterprise is set up wherein a few people (mostly male) have the power, while the many people (especially female) are desperate for work (take our top-down, hierarchical, capitalist system, for example) one may be disheartened but not surprised that some men use their power over hiring, advancement and firing to extort “sexual favors” from female workers. And some male ones.

But just suppose, for the purposes of this little thought experiment, that the business enterprise is set up democratically, so that the “bosses” and the “employees” are one and the same. That is, what if the business were run as a worker-owned co-op? The workers would be the owners of the enterprise, so they would make the decisions, democratically, over what to produce, where to produce it, how to produce it and, most important, what to do with the profit.

Under a democratic, co-op system like this, there would not typically be such a disparity of power, and therefore, so Prof. Wolff avers, almost no sexual harassment. Without the few having power over the many, how could there be? It seems that, of the many flaws of capitalism, sexual harassment is one of the worst, and one of the most inevitable.

And, if you think this kind of democratic business arrangement is a novelty, look up Mondragón Cooperative Corporation. Democratic Socialism, anybody?

Posted in Rant

Giving Up the Ghost. Thankfully.

I had a birthday recently and, as is my custom, I use the occasion—which, this year, fell on Thanksgiving (as it did in 2006, 2000, 1995, 1989, 1977, 1972, 1967 and 1961)—to reflect on what I have to be thankful for. Not thankful to God, of course (that would be a WOFT); but thankful, instead, to my good family, good friends and good fortune.

Give-Up-the-Ghost-CloudGood friends helped me and sometimes even collaborated with me. I remember contributing to a live, weekly Internet radio show called American Heathen, posting “Reflections” every other week. My involvement with the long-running show was from July 2010 to August 2012, when, with heavy heart, we shut it down and turned our gaze on other horizons. One week’s “Reflection” was peculiarly out of character for me: I decided to “rap” on religion. It was a stretch, and my friend who provided the music to my lyrics called me “the whitest rapper he ever heard,” but I thought my effort bears republishing. The lyrics are reproduced below, along with the original recording. Enjoy!

“Give Up the Ghost”
Music by Grandmaster Douché
Lyrics by John Mill (aka Ronald Bruce Meyer)
Broadcast Friday, 7/8/2011

My mother told me, “Son, you got to pray to save your soul;
You got to hit your knees because to heaven is your goal.”
My father added, “Son, you better go to Sunday school;
And learn the Bible stories and obey the golden rule.
It doesn’t matter what you do to ease your neighbor’s way,
Good works will never count until you close your eyes and pray.”
But when I opened up my eyes and took a look around,
I learned nobody listens when your knees are on the ground.
That Bible stories never come up to reality,
That Golden Rules are older than the Sea of Galilee,
That holy books are made by men, that only nature’s fact—
And there’s but one conclusion that would leave my mind intact.

Give up the Ghost, you got to give up the Ghost.
No Father, Son or Holy One, yes give up the Ghost
Give up the Ghost. Give up the Ghost.
The only way to make it right’s to give up the Ghost.

Now Father Faithful loved the kids and taught us Sunday songs,
He fed us candy, played our games and taught us right from wrong,
He taught about God’s heaven so the children understood
That Jesus will accept you in his bosom if you’re good.
He taught us life’s not over when we lay us down to sleep,
That there’s an afterlife for children if the law we keep.
But when I saw my childhood friend who lived God’s law and died,
I thought that God abandoned him, so on that day I cried.
It only seems a soul survives when death takes breath away,
That if your flesh falls to the worms, just as your clothes decay,
Then either ghosts are walking naked or the story’s fake,
And Father Faithful fibbed and fooled me, for my soul to take.

Give up the Ghost, I had to give up the Ghost.
When Father Faithful fibbed, I had to give up the Ghost
Give up the Ghost. Give up the Ghost.
The only way to build your brain is give up the Ghost.

My church has always taught me that to live a life that’s godly,
I have to learn the catechism, sing the hymns and, oddly,
To give up judging proper, just and moral on my own,
And leave my ethics up to Jesus and my priest alone,
To justify my conscience with appeal to holy writ,
And marvel at the mystery of God’s commands in it.
But I confess addiction to this mortal mind of mine,
To knowing right and wrong is so inborn in my design.
I see some gracious godless folk, as well as churchy clods,
Who loves theft, murder, rape, and lying, with or without gods?
My conscience out on loan to skygod’s minion makes me tense.
It’s human brains that forge the social rules: just common sense.

Give up the Ghost, you got to give up the Ghost.
No borrowed sense of justice, yes just give up the Ghost
Give up the Ghost. Give up the Ghost.
The only way to live it right is to give up the Ghost.

When I walked out the vestibule, I breathed the sun sweet air,
I thought I’d miss my friends inside, but found more friends out there.
I pondered why, if God is everywhere, we must build churches
And pay some holy huckster just to aid us in our searches.
I’d always wondered why a God that knows each heart’s desire,
And knowing from the first, up to the end, what will transpire,
Would listen to entreaties and the silly things we say,
He knows our hearts, his will is done, so what’s the point to pray?
If God is just, why fear that he will blame us for our flaws?
If God’s all-powerful, how could we ever break his laws?
If God is inconceivable, why think on His design?
If God has spoken, why has not the earth stood up in line?

Gave up the Ghost? I went and gave up the Ghost.
No Father, Son or Holy One, I gave up the Ghost
Gave up the Ghost. I gave up the Ghost.
The only way to save some sense – I gave up the Ghost.

SPOKEN: I’m just sayin’
When my last stanza’s playin’
There won’t be no prayin’
No hands’ll be layin’
No chorus be swayin’
’Cause the truth I’m, conveyin’
I gave up the Ghost.

Posted in Uncategorized

On the Nose

Can a simple sign be unwittingly offensive? Can it be (unwittingly) racist to advise people about proper hygiene?

I ask because it never occurred to me until my wife pointed it out. And now, like that song that keeps running through your head, the one that won’t stop playing, I can’t unsee what my wife saw.


A little background: As most of you know, my wife was born in the ancient, mysterious land of Cathay, modern China. She is descended from the mighty Hànrén (漢人), the Han people, who (she says) are proud bearers of the Han nose—to my mind, one of her most attractive features.

Furthermore, as some of you know, we both patronize a local gym, where she usually swims and I usually lift weights (but I swim a few laps afterwards to cool down). Last night, as we crossed paths in the pool area, I saw her complaining to a lifeguard about this sign. As I never do these prohibited things, I had never before paid the sign any mind. But my wife seemed offended about the pictures at the bottom, so I took a closer look.

And if you look at it in a certain way, it does indeed (well, kind of) look like a stereotypically “Asian” representation of a face—the hair, the eye shape, the roundness—along with the close-up of the “Han nose.” She took a picture of the sign, so, being a good husband, I did too.

Here’s my question: Does it look racist to you?

Posted in Uncategorized
John Mill