Monthly Archives: May 2022

Buffalo, New York, USA

It never occurred to me to ask my father for an automatic rifle for Christmas, at sixteen or any other age.  If I had, my father — among the 54,000 Americans who stormed the shores of Normandy on D-Day in World War II — would have (a) had my head examined, as they used to say, and (b) seriously questioned himself, as in, where did he go wrong raising me?

If only such attitudes about guns and gun ownership were the norm now.  US civilians own an estimated 120 firearms per 100 residents.  This rate of ownership is 50% higher than it was the day President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Gun Control Act of 1968.  Johnson marked that occasion with the statement, “Today we begin to disarm the criminal and the careless and the insane.”  Or not, as it were.  The Act certainly did nothing to reduce the number of gun fetishers, who view any regulation of firearms as the moral equivalent of castration.  Instead, their numbers have swelled and their fetish has been normalized.

While fear for one’s safety is often cited as the reason for our high rate of gun ownership, psychiatric researcher Dr. Joseph Pierre pointed out that “the largest demographic of gun owners in the US are white men living in rural communities [who have] higher incomes and greater ratings of life happiness than non-owners.  These findings suggest a mismatch between subjective fear and objective reality.”  In other words, many gun owners don’t fear for their safety as much as they feel unmanly without a gun.  That is why, Pierre noted, “the threat of gun restrictions [remains] an important driver of gun acquisition.”

I often refer to U.S. Gun Obsessive Disorder (or GOD) as a fetish, but a better analogy might be mass addiction.  The tobacco industry was able to convince hundreds of millions of Americans it was cool to smoke cigarettes, despite the fact that doing so killed people.  The gun industry has managed to accomplish the same thing, using the patriotic allure of the U.S. Constitution, rather than nicotine, as its lethal hook.

Or maybe GOD is not a fetish or addiction but an auto-immune disease.  Our constitution (not the bodily one) enshrines the people’s right to bear arms, a last-resort line of defense against tyranny.  But the deceptively short sentence which expresses that right has been  hijacked and perversely turned against ourselves by viral agents like the NRA.  Every new insult of mass gun violence, which should — in a healthy organism — stimulate a healing response, instead provokes the gun nuts to marshal their forces and attack any perceived threat to gun ownership, inflaming the situation rather than resolving it.

• • • 

“I live in Tennessee.  Good luck coming here and get anyone’s guns,” remarked one fan of professional inflamer Tucker Carlson after one of Carlson’s fear-mongering rants last year. “Most people I know would rather be dead than give up their guns,” said the Tennessean.  This prompted a barrage of me-too replies:

  “Same with most people here in Michigan that i have talked to/know”
  Same in Kentucky”
  “Good luck in Alaska.  Everyone is armed”
  “Texas here too”

These were followed by an incoherent rant by someone named “Annie Ray” who sounds disturbingly like Payton Gendron, the Buffalo supermarket shooter:

  “Demorcrat want us dead you know The old population control trick, we’ve been sought out every since president Trump went by Law and Order and respectful for our constitution. We real AMERICAN PEOPLE have decades of this country it’s OURS and I believe it’s time for us who will to UNITE and take back what’s rightfully OURS

Payton Gendron is behind bars at the moment, but the real identity and whereabouts of “Annie Ray” are unknown.  Probably armed, possibly dangerous, but definitely not alone in her paranoia.  We discount the Annie Rays out there at our peril.

• • • 

Things are so different now, with respect to guns, than when my parents raised me.  I had a toy cap gun, which I no more saw as a stand-in for the real thing than baseball cards were for live players — it created no desire in me for a real gun.  Real guns, I understood, were part of another world, a very adult and responsible and intimidating world, where guns implied death and not something to embrace if you could possibly help it.  That’s the message I got from my parents, even though I don’t recall any explicit warnings or lessons.

That attitude about guns seems quaint now.  It certainly wasn’t the attitude of 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley (Oxford, Michigan), 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse (Kenosha, Wisconsin), or 18-year-old Payton Gendron (Buffalo, New York).  For them, guns were part of life.

Whether America’s gun disorder is a fetish, an addiction or an infection, it is evident that our culture is sick and our response to gun violence is pathetic.  The only remedy, I think, will come from the next generation.  So my message to today’s parents: if you want your children to make this country great, then put away your guns and don’t pass along your resentments.  Teach and show kids kindness and how to deal with life’s unfairness.

I’m not sure there is any other answer.

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Y’all may love your pets, and that’s fine.  However, for some folks (including my spouse), pet allergies are a real pain when it comes to booking hotel rooms.  Here’s the problem: so‑called “pet-friendly” hotels will proudly advertise that fact, whereas hotels that don’t allow pets tend to bury that info in their policies page.  Seems that, in the hotel business, the dictum “never tell the customer no” is always in force — even when certain customers (again my spouse) would benefit by being told so up front.

A brief aside.  By law, service dogs have free access to hotels, and hotels cannot ask guests with service dogs to pay room-cleaning fees.  So, when one is searching for a hotel room, neither the absence of a pet-friendly badge nor the presence of a service-dog-only policy means much to an allergy sufferer.  Nothing guarantees the searcher that any given room was not most-recently occupied by Fur-Flying Fido, shedding whatever bio-bits that Fido had a federally-protected right to shed and the hotel has no federal obligation to clean up.

And the designation “pet-friendly” is itself ambiguous.  Does it mean the hotel not only welcomes pets but charges a low cleaning fee (or none at all) when pets stay in your room?  Or does it mean the hotel has no designated pet-free rooms?  Or that the hotel makes no extra effort to clean rooms where pets have stayed?

I have a sneaking suspicion (aren’t all suspicions of that kind?) that the extent to which a hotel room is cleaned has zero correlation with either the presence/absence of a pet or the pet-friendliness of the hotel or the size of any room-cleaning fee.  Those who know better may correct me if I’m wrong, but my guess is, you get what you get.  And what you will get if the hotel has a no-pet policy or charges more than a nominal cleaning fee are guests who sneak their dogs and cats into their rooms anyway and then lie about it.

So what can one do?  My spouse and I were discussing this the other evening while I was searching for (you guessed it) a pet-free hotel in north Ohio.  To make things easier in my searches, I have been bookmarking pet-free hotels in a folder named No Pet Hotels and — so I don’t waste time on them — the pet-friendly hotels in a folder named Pet Hotels XXX.  (Which is not the name of an adult film, shame on you.)

Wouldn’t it be easier, we said to each other, if there were a way to filter searches so that only pet-free hotels pop up?  Inspired, I did a Google search for “pet free hotels” and while I got lots of results for hotels where pets stay free, I found no results for no-pet hotels.

That got us to thinking (always a dangerous thing) that some website should fill this void.  It could be called petfreehotels.com.  Or, just to be safe, petfreehotel.com.  So, in a giddy, pre-millenium thought-spark of how anything is possible on the internet, we decided to buy both those domains for $15 a year each.  I admit, I was surprised they were available.

So now we have a domain, and its alternate spelling, just begging for a website that fulfills the promise of its name.  It’s a quandary.  If I were an entrepreneur, I might contact all the major hotel chains, inform them that I’m the owner of petfreehotels.com and that I will list their pet-free hotels on my site in exchange, of course, for an annual per-hotel listing fee.  But I am not an entrepreneur and never have been.  The non-entrepreneur in me tells me to run a site where volunteers add their own pet-free hotel information and I take it upon myself to organize it all and figure out how to make it show up in search engines and run a few ads to try to pay for it.  That would serve the purpose but… is that my mission in life?

And, even if I were successful, wouldn’t I be quickly co-opted by TripAdvisor?

Ideas?

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U-Pick Limericks

What better way to waste a few seconds of your time today than with this short collection of write-your-own-ending limericks?  Pick the last lines you like best, or invent your own.


A.

My zoo friend, Sir Çedric Gorilla
likes to flaunt that initial cedilla
When asked why, he will say
“Sounds like S not like K

(1) “Of français I have learned a scintilla!”
(2) “But of course, you would know that, Prisçilla.”
(3) “Now gimme back my banana, will ya?”


B.

One day in the House of Kardashian
Kim was dragging a gown out her mansion
Pete, glaze-eyed, looked on, mumbled
“Babe, sump’n wrong?” and Kim said,

(1) “This dustrag is sooo out-of-fashion!”
(2) “It was just something old to put trash in.”
(3) “It’s a shirt Kanye wore to smoke hash in.”


C.

Mister Paranoid wailed to his shrink,
“So tell me, Doc, what do you think?
Is it them?  Is it me?
That guy there?”  Replied she:

(1) “It’s the trolls hiding under your sink.”
(2) “No, we all hate you here at the clinic!”
(3) “What really matters is what you think.”


D.

José, guacamole aficionado,
could not tolerate ripe avocado
If even one bite was yellow,
he would curse you and bellow,

(1) “How dare you muck up my tostado!”
(2) “¡Tirar esta meirde el escusado!” *
(3) “This tastes like a vomit tornado!”


E.

There is an old orange man from Florida
who made our lives horrid and horrider
He would rant long and loud
to his unruly crowds

(1) And those dumbasses think he’s an orator.
(2) ‘Til he got them to storm through the corridors.
(3) Now he wants to come back and do more of it!


* Translation of Limerick D, Ending (2): “This shit should be flushed down the potto!”
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