Showing posts with label love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label love. Show all posts

11 July 2016

Who Matters

by Jan Grape

To say I'm upset and sickened by all the tragic news this week is an understatement. I'm angry. I'm sad. I'm discouraged. I'm afraid. All of those words apply. Yet I'm basically a positive person so a part of me still feels hopeful. I have to feel that way because otherwise is to get caught in the grip of despondency and negativity. I'm just not ready to do that.

First, I'm upset and sick over the two black men who were killed by police officers. Alton Sterling, age 37, in Baton Rouge, La and Philando Castile, age 32, in Falcon Heights, Mn. From watching the videos it looked as if these men were shot for almost no reason. But I will give the police officers the benefit of the doubt since we don't have any recordings of what happened prior to the fatal shots.

Second, I'm upset and sick over the five police officers killed and the other seven officers injured by the sniper in Dallas. One officer killed worked for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit. The other four fatally wounded were Dallas Police Officers. At this point in time, Dallas officials still think the slain sniper was a lone gunman. (I refuse to name him and give him any publicity.)

Our whole country is in a state of shock and awe and unrest from all that has happened. Dallas has worked hard to make their police force better and had attained the highest standard. Actually Dallas had become a model for the whole country for a city of its size and the community policing policies set forth by Police Chief Brown and Mayor Rawlings. Dallas has had a bad reputation since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy along withTexas Republican politicians with some of their pro-gun open carry laws and wild statements by these politicians haven't helped one iota.

In fact, a number of the peaceful protesters carried guns which hindered the police in spotting the good guys from the bad guys. One young man's picture on social media, wearing a cammo T-shirt with a lethal looking weapon slung over his shoulder was thought to be a "bad" guy. Someone the police wanted to question. Turns out his older brother, one of the protesters organizers cautioned the younger man against carrying his weapon. The young man stated he wanted to exercise his second amendment rights to carry a weapon. The young man words are not exactly in the second amendment statement. No part of the SECOND amendment states that you have a right to walk around in public with a rifle or automatic gun slung over your shoulder. For that matter it also doesn't say that you may go out armed. Even in an open-carry state.

This is a bastardization of rights as defined by the Supreme Court combined with the ignorance of GOP Texas law-makers. The open-carry law was heavily opposed by all Texas Law Enforcement for good reasons. We've all heard the NRAs big talking point: and good guys with guns can take care of all the bad guys with guns. There are twelve GOOD GUYS in Dallas who can attest to the stupidity of that statement, proving it WRONG.

I'm all for people having guns in their homes for protection of their home and family if that's what they want. I'm all for people having hunting rifles and shotguns to go hunting. Especially people who actually supplement their food supplies. I've had family and friends all my life who enjoyed hunting and I've eaten many a bird, rabbit, squirrel or deer meal and enjoyed it. I will say that my late husband, Elmer Grape, reached a point in his life where he said he thought he had no desire to hunt deer any more. That maybe he was too old. That looking a the beauty of a buck or doe seemed a little too cruel to him.

My whole point of this essay is to express my horror at what happened in La, in Mn and in Tx. And to worry and wonder if we as a civilized nation in 2016 can bring about more unity between all races? To be united by love and not hate. To ask for solidarity from our police officers and the black and brown communities in our country. To ask for solidarity in our politicians both state and national. The fear and hate and decisiveness need to stop NOW.

To keep saying and actually meaning that you can believe BLACK LIVES MATTER and you can believe  BLUE LIVES MATTER. You don't have to believe that one is right or one is wrong because ALL LIVES MATTER.

The best thing we can do today is to emphasize courtesy and respect for each other. It may seem like elementary school stuff. And it is. Yet if your past experiences with law enforcement may have been bad and you were treated like a criminal, you can change. Or maybe your past experience with a person of color makes your look on that darker skin as a bad person.  It's just that change HAS TO HAPPEN. Why not today and why not time? Your being disrespected before should be in the past. This is today and now.

This is not meant to be preaching, it's just common sense. Treat all people the way you want to be treated. I want our country to be united. I want my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren to live in a better USA than it is today .I want to live in a better USA. Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. Most importantly ALL LIVES MATTER.

07 July 2016

Two Can Keep A Secret...

by Eve Fisher

"Two can keep a secret, if one of them is dead." - proverb
Fireworks by Samericnick on Wikipedia
But don't count on it.  Even if one of them is dead, then the living person is STILL going to have to go blab to somebody.  A rock, if nothing else.  And sometimes a secret is just too darned hard to keep. For example, for the last month, I've been keeping the great deep dark secret of a surprise 70th birthday party for my husband, Allan, which was pulled off by Michael and Reina (bless you, guys!).  During this month, I have almost blown the whole damn secret at least five times, because someone unexpected said yes! or because the whole place is being cleaned up (!) or because Allan was wondering what we ought to do for his birthday.  Or the Fourth.  Which is the same thing.  Given more time, I would have cracked. Someone would have cracked.  Whew.  Thank God we made it...

This is why I don't believe in conspiracy theories that require absolute total silence on the part of everyone involved.  At least not without death threats that will actually be carried out.  (I understand the Mafia has managed to pull this off at times.)  This means that anything involving aliens, fake moon landings, "false flag" shootings/bombings/etc., Batboy, the Illuminati, UN internment camps, Jesus as a psychedelic mushroom, and any end of the world scenarios involving secret knowledge passed down ancient astronauts / gods (especially aquatic aliens who teach humanity how to grow land crops) are all off the table, at least as far as I'm concerned.

And especially in this day and age.  I grew up in a world where we all knew that J. Edgar Hoover KNEW ALL, Nixon had an enemies list (Hunter S. Thompson, upon finding out that he wasn't on it, said, "Next time, I'll BE there."), and the FBI was everywhere.  And that was before the Patriot Act and the NSA.  (BTW, if you're Instagramming your food in between selfie-ing your every breath, and letting everyone know your constant whereabouts on Facebook, don't tell me you're worried about your privacy.)  Privacy?  Secrets? Don't make me laugh.

On the other hand, the ancient world was pretty good at it.

Back in the ancient world, the Eleusinian Mysteries were initiation and religious rites that lasted over two thousand years - from at least 1500 BCE to 396 CE. And no one still knows exactly what happened at them. The initiates were sworn to secrecy, and they apparently kept it.  (For one thing - I told you! - the penalty for revealing the mysteries was death, and people really were executed:  In the 5th century BCE a man named Diagoras "the atheist" had to flee for his life for revealing too much of the mysteries.)  Little hints got out here and there, but not a lot.  Not the big stuff.

Ninnion Tablet, Wikipedia,
copyright by Marsyas
We have no idea how many people were initiates, but everyone who was anyone was, including Socrates, Plato, Xenophon, Pisistratus, etc.  We also know that the mysteries centered around the worship of Demeter, the Goddess of Harvest and Agriculture, and Persephone, Demeter's daughter by Zeus, who was stolen by the Hades, the God of Death.  In Greek mythology, that theft/rape brought winter and death to the world as a whole:  but the Eleusinian Mysteries defied death and brought new life to the world.  According to Joshua K. Mark (Eleusinian Mysteries) "The mysteries celebrated the story of Demeter and Persephone but, as the initiated were sworn to secrecy on pain of death as to the details of the ritual, we do not know what form this celebration took. We do know, though, that those who participated in the mysteries were forever changed for the better and that they no longer feared death."

Plato (4th century BCE) wrote, "our mysteries had a very real meaning: he that has been purified and initiated shall dwell with the gods" (69:d, F.J. Church trans).
BTW, Plato was the first who argued that everyone had an immortal soul.  In case no one ever told you, a great deal of Christian theology about the soul and the afterlife is actually based on Plato, especially Phaedo.  In the same way, many of our ideas about true love are based on Plato's Symposium.  If you haven't read either before, check them out sometime.  
Cicero the Roman wrote around the mid-1st century BCE, "Nothing is higher than these mysteries...they have not only shown us how to live joyfully but they have taught us how to die with a better hope."

And Plutarch, writing around 100 CE, said "because of those sacred and faithful promises given in the mysteries...we hold it firmly for an undoubted truth that our soul is incorruptible and immortal. Let us behave ourselves accordingly... When a man dies he is like those who are initiated into the mysteries. Our whole life is a journey by tortuous ways without outlet. At the moment of qutting it come terrors, shuddering fear, amazement. Then a light that moves to meet you, pure meadows that receive you, songs and dances and holy apparitions" (Hamilton, 179).

Demeter receiving an offering from
Metanira, Queen of Eleusis
So what did they actually do in these mysteries?  Well, we really don't know.  Do not be fooled by websites who claim to have the truth:  THEY DON'T.

What we do know is that there were the Lesser Mysteries and the Greater Mysteries.  The Lesser Mysteries took place around the January or February full moon and involved purification and sacrifice.

After that, the initiate was deemed worthy to attend the Greater Mysteries in September/ October (again, depending on the moon).  The ten days of ritual began publicly:  a procession from the Athenian cemetery (no symbology there...) to Eleusis, complete with branches, chanting, and, at one point, ritual dirty jokes because (according to the original myth) an old woman named Baubo [or Iambe, and don't ask me why] cracked jokes and made Demeter smile even with her daughter in Hades.

Then came an all-night vigil, where everyone drank a certain potion - kykeon - that may or may not have contained psychotropic herbs.  Then into the Great Hall, where the Mysteries were unfolded. After that, we don't know.  There were dromena ("things done"), deiknumena ("things shown"), and legomena ("things said").  But what were those things?  There was a sacred casket.  There was a "triune" wheat sheaf.  There was a presentation.  Everything revolved around the Demeter/ Persephone/ Hades myth, which basically revolved around the changing seasons. But that's really all we know.  The secrets were kept.  Seriously.

Afterwards - one hell of an all-night feast, with dancing, merriment, undoubtedly more alcohol, perhaps more potions, a bull sacrifice, and some time the next day an exhausted, satisfied, perhaps hung-over but happy crew, revitalized and resworn, went home.

For two thousand years, this ritual was reenacted and the secret was kept.  We could probably learn something from that.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, Allan was totally surprised at his birthday party, and a great time was had by all!  Whew.

02 July 2015

What We Do for Love...

by Eve Fisher


Here are a few tips regarding those who wish to remain among the unincarcerated:

(1) Don't pick up work-release prisoners and give them a ride anywhere but directly to the pen.
(2) Don't pick up work-release prisoners and take them over to your house for a cup of coffee, much less a six-pack of beer.
(3) Don't pick up work-release prisoners and take them over to your house for sex.
(4) Don't have sex with inmates, even if it's in your car, and you're sure there are no cameras around.
(5) Don't take anything from an inmate, even if it's just a little picture that they want to give you because you're so nice.
(6) Don't give anything to an inmate, even if it's just a picture of you so that they'll always have a memento.
(7) Don't agree to bring anything in to an inmate, even if it will make them so happy and you're their only friend.
(8) Don't agree to give/buy/sell anything to/from an inmate's relative, friend, significant other, etc., even if their grandmother is dying.
(9) Don't have sex with an inmate's relative, friend, significant other, etc., even if they really, really, really find you attractive and always have.
(10) Don't have sex with an inmate, even if the supply closet/classroom/staff bathroom is open and unoccupied and no one's in the pod watching and/or another inmate will keep an eye out for anyone coming.
(11) Don't have sex with an inmate.

Sadly, it happens all the time.  Every year at volunteer/guard training, we hear the stories:  this guard picked up a prisoner on their way home from work-release, took them for a ride, took them home, took them here, took them there...  Had a little coffee/soda/beer/drugs/sex with them.  That guard brought in cell phones/chew/drugs for a prisoner, who paid them with sex and/or cold hard cash. Another person had an affair with a prisoner, and when another prisoner found out about it, the person got blackmailed into having sex with that prisoner, too.  And when yet another inmate found out about that, suddenly the person had to start smuggling contraband...  And then there was the case of a person who got caught having sex with a prisoner, and the prisoner turned around and sued the person for sexual harassment and rape under PREA.  And won.

In each case, beginning the long march to losing job, family, and freedom.

Prison inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat are seen in enhanced pictures released by the New York State police

I'm sure you've all been following the story of convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat, who escaped from the Clinton Correctional facility in upstate New York with the help of two prison employees, Officer Gene Palmer (a prison guard) and Joyce Mitchell (who supervised inmates working in the prison's tailor shop).  I know I have.  (Just as I was finishing this up, Mr. Matt was killed, and Mr. Sweat was wounded and  back in custody.)  Now, I wasn't surprised at all that the prisoners tried to escape, and not that surprised that they succeeded - it happens.  After all, they have all the time in their sentence to sit and think up more or less inventive ways of getting out.  And every once in a while, they come up with a doozy.  One that actually works.  I'm just glad that this time no one was killed in the escape.

But what did surprise me, what always surprises me, is that some employees helped them.  To put it in the simplest English, "WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING?"
Danged if I know.

Gene Palmer: 5 Things to Know About Second Prison Worker Arrested in Escape Plot
Gene Palmer, in custody, looking shell-shocked

I do know that many inmates are really good at manipulating people.  If it wasn't their way of making a living out on outside, it sure is now.  Here's a great article which outlines a basic prison con:
http://www.correctionsone.com/corrections/articles/6349020-Downing-a-duck-How-inmates-manipulate/

First, they groom a person. This usually takes the form of either flattery or comfort.  Inmates pay very close attention to staff and volunteers, what they say, how they look, how they act.  (And, no, they literally don't have anything better to do.)  And so they might pay that staff member a compliment, or talk about what a difference the volunteer has made, or how good they are at something.  Given enough time (and believe me, the prisoners  have plenty of time), warm fuzzies abound...

Secondly, they talk, talk, talk, and get the staff/volunteer to talk, talk, talk.  Friendship blossoms. Confidences are made.  Perhaps about something that is slightly... illicit.  That's called instant blackmail.  And suddenly the staff member agrees to look the other way when the rules are bent a little.  And then that little indiscretion is used to hook the person into overlooking rules being really bent, broken, and thrown out in the trash.  And then the prisoners own the staff/volunteer, and anything is possible.  As we've seen.

Personally, I almost feel sorry for Joyce Mitchell (51), who was obviously led to believe that David Sweat (35) was in love with her.  I'll have to hand it to him, he took his time in landing her.  And, even though she still denies having sex with the man (while other inmates are heavily ratting them out and saying yes, they did, over and over again), I kind of hope she got something out of it besides the sickening knowledge that she was used, used, used, because she's going to prison herself, and it would be awful to trade away your entire life for absolutely nothing.


Joyce Mitchell is accused of helping two killers escape an upstate New York prison David Sweat remains at large

But I do not understand, at all, Officer Palmer trading his career and his freedom away for paintings. (At least the cell phone smugglers got money.)  I heard that he's claimed he was getting intelligence on illegal behavior in prison - but everything he did was (1) illegal according to the rules and (2) completely backfired because he ended up giving them at least some of the tools they needed to escape.  He appears to be one of those workers who came to sympathize more with the prisoners than with the institution.  Not that uncommon.  Prison is not a pleasant place to be in, no matter which side of the bars you're on.  But at some point, you've got to be aware of what you're trading when you become the duck.  You're trading your career, perhaps your family and friends, and all of your freedom in order to be a sucker.  A big fat waddling duck.

Prison Gangs
It's really simple:  don't violate the rules and don't trust the prisoners.  Be courteous, professional, even friendly (as in business friendly).  Do your job.  Be present.  Listen.  Care.  But don't trust them with your stuff, your mind, your body, your family, your freedom.  The con games never stop, and you are the obvious target, because you can get them something they want, something they need, and who knows?  You might even get them out of prison.  And put yourself IN.







16 February 2014

Heart to Heart

Victorian Valentine
by Leigh Lundin

Valentine’s Day just passed, but let’s face it: Whether fact or fiction, crime writers seldom write about people at their best. Of all the SS colleagues, I tend to write about the dark side more than most, studying true crime to bolster my understanding of fictional deeds.

But this season is about love. People don’t complain Valentine’s Day has become too secular, indeed, we freely spread the love. Other cultures embrace the custom, which can do nothing but promote human relations.

In personal relationships, some say the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. That need for love and the anger when it’s thwarted can cause people to react in pain, even violence.

What if they gave a war and nobody came?

Lorena
Love is also our most potent positive emotion. According to a recent NPR report, American Civil War generals so feared the power of love, they banned the popular song Lorena, afraid soldiers might abandon the war to return to loved ones they longed for. Indeed, Wikipedia makes an uncited claim that at least one Confederate officer blamed the song for the South's defeat due to low morale and homesickness.

When it comes to the broader fields of race, religion, and politics, love and hate are polar opposites. However one might criticize young generations, they are relegating racism to the trash heap of history.

David Duke and Julius Malema are two brilliant, charismatic politicians. They have the intelligence and leadership skills to effect positive change to their parts of the world, but each has chosen the darkness of hatred.

A month ago, I came upon “14 Unexpected Responses To Hatred” and I knew I wanted to write about love and hate for my post-Valentine’s article. That article and others feature a number of heroes, men and women and children who've taken a stand for goodness and light. It leads with the story of German and English World War I soldiers who laid down their arms and celebrated the Christmas of 1914 together. Naturally, generals on both sides called up replacements, but who can argue the ordinary soldiers in the trenches weren’t greater than their politicians?

Once a Teenage Heroine

I particularly draw your attention to my favorite heroine, an 18-year-old girl. The incident took place a long time ago, but if you can read about her without tearing up, you’re a better man (or certainly a better woman) than I.

Meet Keshia Thomas. At a Klan rally, she put herself at risk to save the life of a presumed Klansman or neo-Nazi.
Valentine's heart

The Ku Klux Klan is experiencing a resurgence here in Florida and likely other places as well. The new Klan takes credit for saving America from carpetbaggers, Catholics, and commies. More than ever, we need people like Keshia, like Pardeep Kaleka and his friend, former white supremacist Arno Michaelis.

Today’s article is less about crime and more about love, but failing to recognize the inverse relationship between the two would be a crime.

10 January 2013

Hello, My Lovely

by Robert Lopresti

Agatha Christie
said it was a myst'ry
what in the world you see in me.
Dashiell Hammett
said Goddamnit
you won't solve this one with a pot of tea.

Dorothy Sayers
turned to prayers
hoping for clues from worlds divine
Raymond Chandler
and David Handler
said oh lord, I wish that she were mine

Even Rex Stout
couldn't figure it out
so he turned the whole case over to Nero
Robert Parker
took a view much darker
and mumbled 'bout the state of the modern hero

Edgar Allan Poe
said he couldn't know
'cause all of his love affairs ended gory
Walter Mosley
says this ends coz'ly
but I prefer a hardboiled story

Ed McBain
and Mickey Spillaine
muttered some words about physical attraction
Ngaio Marsh
said don't be harsh
It's probably just an artistic reaction

Arthur Conan Doyle
said no need to roil
I'm sure that the answer is elementary
Amanda Cross
said who made you boss?
You're a dead white male from the nineteenth century

Then you come in
wearing a grin
and give me one of those looks.
There's method I see
and opportunity
but the motive doesn't show up in one of those books


What you see in me
that's a mystery
and I don't even have a clue.
But it would be a crime
if I'm
not glad you do.