Not 18 Shootings, But Still . . .

There is a trending series of articles that will undoubtedly trend in the wake of the shooting in Florida. It had been reported in a lot of publications that eighteen school shootings have occurred this year. Digging through the methodology done by Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control advocacy group who supplied the statistics used by the news outlets, either six or seven school shootings have occurred this year, using a stricter definition of what a school shooting is.

According to an article in USA Today, which explains the discrepancy, “That data point … includes any discharge of a firearm at a school — including accidents — as a ‘shooting.’ It also includes incidents that happened to take place at a school, whether students were involved or not.”

Of course, conservatives, especially on Fox News, are shouting to the rooftops that this a perfect example of the liberal controlled media throwing out fake news.

I can’t just paper over the fact that this organization got the facts incredibly wrong by placing some incidents as a school shooting that clearly weren’t. What makes me angry with the right wing somewhat gleeful reaction to the numbers is the fact there were six of seven confirmed, no doubt about it, school shootings. Breaking it down, by the narrowed criteria, there has been a school shooting at least once a week this year which resulted in deaths or injuries. With the narrow definition, the new numbers exclude discharges of weapons on school campuses, which in the number count would make another eight instances. Two incidences in the original 18 were suicides.

UPDATE – A few hours after getting this written down, there were reports of gunfire at Highline College in Washington state. There are multiple agencies in the surrounding areas assisting and they are clear to state nothing has been confirmed. It has been confirmed a few hours later it was fireworks.

So, this particular incident was a false alarm, but looking at what happened there were multiple agencies that were called out to investigate the incident, the school was on lockdown and for a few hours, a lot of college students wee shaken by the idea of possible gunfire on campus. Of course, most will be relieved it was nothing but fireworks and will be able to push aside the frayed nerves and shaken emotions. They may be able to laugh about it, maybe make it part of some boring yet kind of dramatic story sometime in the future.

The sad thing I’m taking away from this incident will be the alert will be considered routine. Yes, I understand it was a false alarm, but I go back to those statistics that were sited by the Everytown group. They had incidents recorded of guns being fired on campus, but because no one was hurt, it is now considered questionable research and are discounted from the numbers. Two completed suicides are on that list. Because the deaths were self-inflicted, they are questionable results. Also, remember that what was looked at by the Everytown group were incidents of guns being used on campus, not the confiscation of guns by school officials.

From what I see, the underlying numbers, with the inclusion of non-lethal discharges and confiscations of guns on campus, makes for a potential dangerous opportunity for gun violence on campus. Furthermore, such as the incident in Washington state, the mere possibility of an active shooter on campus can be traumatic to a lot of individuals.

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Michael Cohen – Storm Provider

There are lot of issues swirling around the Trump Administration that are difficult to follow. It’s difficult, between the outside sources, denials by the White House and the spin by surrogates on both sides, to spate truth from fiction. The fun thing about watching the administration drama, is that they constantly contradict information. I guess they assume that we will be so into the woods, that when revelations that are different from statement months ago, we will dismiss it was old or settled news.

That’s the only explanation I can come up with the crazy story that was released today. It’s a head scratcher.

As you may remember, it was alleged that former adult film star Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000 in hush money by the Trump organization. There have been conflicting bits of facts in the story, such as if the campaign paid her money, did Trump know about it, was there an affair and other issues. There have been articles, corroborated by reporters, that Daniels did speak of an affair with Trump in 2006, soon after Melania Trump gave birth to his son Barron. Michael Cohen, one of Trump’s lawyers, had dismissed claims of a relationship and a payoff to Stormy Daniels as rumors.

For some unknown reason, a statement was recently put out by Cohen. After denying the allegations numerous times, he admitted that he paid off Daniels $130,000 with his own money. Now, the reason for the statement, especially the wording of the statement, seems to be in response to a legal filing by Common Cause, which they claimed the payment to Daniels was a campaign violation. That could possibly open the books, so to speak. The wording by Cohen makes it seem, with him paying the money out of his own pocket, that there’s no reason to look into the finances of the campaign because the funds didn’t come from the campaign and Cohen did get, nor was expecting to get reimbursed.

OK, possibly from a legal framework, this might make sense, but from where I sit, this is bogus. Let’s say we want to take on his word, as a fix-it guy (Cohen’s words) he paid the money to Daniels. Why would he pay her the money if there wasn’t any truth to the “rumor?” At the time the payment would have taken place, this was after the Entertainment Tonight tape came out, this was after a number of women had come forward and accused candidate Trump of sexual misconduct. If you were any sort of strategist, having Stormy Daniels come out to admit an affair would have competed with the other allegations and they could have ridden the storm.

It doesn’t make sense to pay off Stormy Daniels, and no other women, if the allegations were not true. Getting into who paid the money and if the funds came from the campaign are important in the long run, but now that Cohen as stated he paid Stormy Daniels, at the very least he assumes Trump is capable covering up the affair. At worst it confirms the affair.

The statement he added was curious. “Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr. Trump.” Mr. Cohen, you damaged Trump more that Stormy Daniels could have ever done. By your actions, confirming that a payment was made to silence Stormy Daniels, doesn’t necessarily mean the Trump team are not above payoffs and cover-ups for their actions, but it does seem a credible theory.

With the other issues surrounding the administration, it has becomes less plausible to deny the accusations of rampant corruption with the formal absolute denial turning out to be true, and admitted by someone who previously denied the rumors.

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Irony is Ignored

This message was sent out by the person in the White House.

 

 

 

 

What is so hilarious about the statement is he has no sense of irony about the statement, so sense of context, which he claims which is missing about allegations. This person has made allegations without any proof, without due process.

Do you remember the time you claimed Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States? You demanded to see his birth certificate, something that hadn’t been demanded by any other President. When presented with proof, you claimed it was fake and fabricated. You never apologized. Well, you claimed you apologized, but the simple words “I’m sorry” never crossed your lips, which is something you have demanded people to say in the past.

Speaking of another incident of when you didn’t look at due process, what about the Central Park 5? Your knee jerk reaction was to lock them up and throw away the key. When, after being arrested, jailed then found innocent, you didn’t apologize.

Your problem is you have surrounded yourself with people who think like yourself, who feel that laws that apply to other people don’t apply to them. You want to talk about due process when pertaining to yourself and those around you, but will react to mere allegations and rumors without finding out the facts with others.

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Reflections

Something I dislike with dealing with people, especially someone I’ve grown fond of, is that sometimes I have to say something that is beneficial to the person in the long term that hurts me in the short term. A better way of putting it is I essentially must submerge my selfish feeling for them to give advice for the greater good.

I just got hit with that situation again. I want to say the right things, the logical things that will mean I have to sacrifice the feelings I have, but it’s the right thing to do. I know how easy it is to manipulate and change feelings, but deep down I’m a good person and will make the logical choices. It hurts because my happiness is sacrificed, and even typing this is sounds petty and selfish.

Look, I know the decision the person is struggling with needs to be their decision. The opportunity is great, and she needs to make the choice without any hindrances, but it hurts. I’ve grown comfortable with her company. I feel selfish wanting to try for something that, for the moment, hasn’t been expressed. It seems selfish for me to try and convince someone to stay in a situation they are unhappy with. I’ve done the same thing myself and I can justify the choices I’ve made, but I can’t say I’m fully happy with those choices.

I can’t allow someone to go down a possible path I want them to go down because it makes me feel safe and comfortable. I couldn’t live with myself. My life is a complicated mess and I can’t hope that miraculously the person will see life as I do. Even thinking about it I don’t fully think I can convince someone to see the world as I see it.

I must give the logical and practical advice, as much as I dislike it. I’ve been down this road before. While I may want to hope that I’ll have some revelation that will make things work out in my favor, it’s not going to happen. Trying to force an outcome that will be beneficial, in my eyes, to me and not in the best interest of the other person is selfish.

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A Look at Corporate Retail Mentality

This is probably one of the more unusual calls I’ve gotten this month and to me illustrates something wrong with the American system. I got a call from a supervisor. His manager called up and the manager was the only employee at the convenience store. The manager was told by a customer that there was something burning in the back of the store, because this customer saw smoke. The customer didn’t see any flames, but there was a lot of smoke. The supervisor who called made a point to tell me that the manager was the only person at the store and a bus with over twenty people had just come into the store. The supervisor was calling to place a maintenance work order in for the store because of the smoke.

OK, hold up for a moment. Let’s take a step back, as I did when thinking about this call. A customer tells a manager there is smoke in the store and a possible fire. Did the manager check to see if there was a fire? Instead of calling the fire department or making a quick investigation of the issue, they called the supervisor.

Did the supervisor call the fire department? No. His first call was to us, because his worker was alone (which brings up some other issues I can think of). The supervisor didn’t tell me he was going to call the fire department, nor was he heading to the store to look in on his lone manager.

What about the customers? A customer went up to the manager and reported there was smoke and a possible fire. There were at least twenty people in the store, more concerned about purchasing cigarette, snacks and soda rather than leaving a smoke-filled room. I’m sure other people complained about the smoke, judging by experiences I’ve had with past calls, but no one did anything.

What bothers me the most about the call is that a lot of people down the chain, including the customers in the store, seemed to be oblivious to the danger at hand and wanted to continue business as usual. I’ve taken many calls with emergency situations happening at stores, such as flooding or sewage backups, and in those situations it seems funny to me that, for the most part, the store is more concerned about staying open and making sales rather than the safety of the employees or customers. In this case, there was a possible fire and visible smoke, but it didn’t occur to the manager or supervisor to call the fire department, or to evacuate the customers out of the building.

The concern seems about continuing to make sales and profit. It would be easy to blame the corporate culture on this, giving it an us against them portrait, but as the supervisor told me, there were twenty people in the store, with smoke in the room, who were more than willing to buy stuff in the store. Even if the manager were to say, hey, there’s nothing to see here with the smoke around, I would figure common sense would make people go out of the store with the smoke.

They stayed and continued to shop.

I’ve heard a lot of crazy things since I’ve been on this job, which is why the call about a fire in the store had me pause of a bit, but it didn’t freak me out. I’ve heard similar stories. There have been floods in stores, busted pipes, drains backing up and crap in the aisles, yet stores were still operating. You know what causes the most panic at the stores, more than running out of gas? Have the soda machine or coffee machine go down. For those types of calls, I will hear at least 1 to 3 times every hour a caller will tell me, “The machine is down and I’m losing sales.”

It just crazy that a possible fire in the store and business can go on, but the Coke or Pepsi is not dispensing or the ice maker goes down, then heaven and earth must be moved to appease the customer base. I get it from a business standpoint, but wouldn’t contacting the proper authorities, such as the fire department, make more sense to call first rather than the supervisor and then us being called to send a technician?

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Growing Wiser or Protective?

An interesting issue came up this morning. I was walking to the bus stop at 6am. Normally, there’s no one at the stop that early, but this morning there was a crowd of about 3-4 people at the stop. It wasn’t a quiet crowd. They seemed to be shouting, and I heard a woman’s voice as one of the shouters. I got a glimpse of them, while I didn’t see any physical contact with the people, they were extremely animated.

Because I heard the woman, I thought about going to the group to investigate, but I quickly halted. I didn’t know what I was going to get into. Were they drunk and fighting? Was my being there going to get the group agitated? Could I possibly get into an altercation?

It took me a few moments, but I decided to avoid everything and walk to another bus stop down the street. Part of me was angry that I had to go to another stop, but I was equally disappointed that I didn’t do anything because of the shouting by the woman. I didn’t want to get involved, and that really disappointed me.

A few years ago, I want to think I would have ventured to the bus stop and would have figured out if the woman was in trouble. Now, I see myself as older, a little slower and not so willing to protect or stand up for someone in distress. I have been thinking I’m not sure if my trepidation is a sign of reasonable caution or an indication of not caring and keeping to myself.

When I caught my bus, the route took me to my usual stop. It turns out the crowd turned to eight people, not counting the usual two people who are at the stop. They were a motley, disheveled group of people who reeked of urine and alcohol. I have to assume the shouting I heard earlier was alcohol fueled bravado. I felt sorry for the two regulars that I normally see at the bus stop who had to endure the group of people, but by the same token I was relieved I didn’t have to spend time with them.

I have mixed emotions about what I did. Ironically, the feelings I’m struggling with now is something mirrored in the new Black Lightning TV show. This might be a reason why I relate to the storyline so much. In my younger days, I was less of an insular person. I would speak up for things. I had opinions and would respectfully defend them. I would try to get others involved, trying to rally them to a cause I felt strongly about. I want to say it’s been the past five years, but I suspect it has been longer, but I’ve been more protective of the routine I have. I haven’t wanted to stick my neck out for the other guy. I feel like I’m a rebel with a pause; wanting to stay in the background, keep my head down and not make waves. I feel like I’ve been domesticated.

Maybe because I’m older, the ramifications of what I can lose has made me protective of the little I do have. In some ways, especially in this political climate, I don’t see the reason fighting anymore because the struggle seems incredibly large. I fought in the Reagan years, fought in the Bush years, but this new administration, I don’t know. It’s demoralizing to think that all the battles and injustices I’ve seen and fought against seem to be for nothing. I would have thought others would take up the mantle, and this is where I’m going to sound like a grumpy old man, but these young kids today think that a Like post on Facebook or Instagram is a blow against the Man. Going to the keyboard or hitting the streets in protest takes effort. A click of a Like button is nothing.

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Slowly Getting My Voice Back

I’m not sure what is going on. I feel like I’m a spokesperson for a medical product when I write something online. Its a few seconds of opinion with a minute or two of disclaimers. Chaotic Fringe, when I’m on fire, it’s opinionated, passionate and fierce. However, I get those times when I need to retreat and get out of the spotlight.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of personal issues the past year, notably the poor health of my parents. It’s been pretty stressful and honestly I haven’t dealt with the issues too well. As soon as I think I’ve turned a corner, something happens to give me a setback.

This month I was hoping I was turning a corner. Some positive things have happened and I was sure I was moving in the right direction, but this weekend was a slight setback. I found myself retreating to bad comfort behavior. After last weekend doing a lot of activity and energy, this weekend I got thrown off by a number of things and cocooned myself.

I keep beating myself because I know the person I was and I desperately want to be that person again, but I think with the many setbacks I’ve had I’m stuck in a rut and routine I’m slowly becoming comfortable with. I’m struggling to push myself forward.

What I need to remember is I have to push myself forward because I want to do it. As much as I want to look for an anchor, a hope or goal to push me through all this, I can’t rely on a “crutch” to get me through. Here’s the thing; I’ve been disappointed in relying on others to give me strength or to lean on. I’ve had people who have “had my back” but have turned around and wanted to change me. I can’t be accepted for who I am, but I’m supposed to accept them unconditionally for their faults.

I’m trying to find a happy middle.

I don’t know how much of myself is principled and what is old person stubbornness. I’m was feeling I was moving forward until this weekend. Part of the reason I’ve not written a lot is that I feel like I’m having a whine fest, without the Shonda Rhimes engaging dialog. It comes of sounding like a pity party and that’s not I want. I’m struggling to feel confident, to have my voice, and I feel like I’m failing at that. I’m angry and frustrated that I’m writing about all the issues I see before me. That’s what Chaotic Fringe is all about, but I sometimes feel, especially now, that words are not helpful.

I’ve been told what I need to do is reconnect with my passions. That’s been a struggle with my current situation but I have to get myself back to the things that I’m passionate about. I can’t get emotionally dragged down because all that leads to is sitting around and feeling sorry for myself. That only hurts myself and no one else.

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It Is Not Jessica Chastain’s Fault

There was a cover to an LA Times special article where six white actresses, including Jessica Chastain, was presented with the headline “Actresses call for a change in the way many stories are told – A Shift in Focus.”

The story was about empowering actresses, but a vocal few spoke out noting there was no diversity in the picture.

Well, I get it, but I’m not sure what Jessica Chastain, or any other actress on the cover, could have done realistically. First and foremost, and this is always my go to in a situation like this, what was the real focus of the story? Was the article a question about diversity in Hollywood or was it about representation about women in Hollywood? It could be a bit of both, but when the focus in the last few months has been about how many actresses have been harassed in Hollywood, that may have been a focus of the article.

Here where I think the thinking went with the set up of the article. I checked and saw that this was a list of possible contenders for best actress. The actresses on the cover are Annette Bening, Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger, Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, and Kate Winslet. To be honest, I’ve never heard of Saoirse Ronan but when I looked her up on Wikipedia, I recognized some of her films.

What I did was look at the list of women and their film careers and nominations. All very impressive. The problem is, and I’m giving LA Times maybe too much credit on this, but it was entirely possible that with the criteria they placed on the panel of women, the field was narrowed down by the fact there aren’t a lot of recognizable WOC given starring roles in film.

For instance, you could possibly put Jada Pinkett Smith on that panel, but Girl Trip isn’t a contender for an award. Just like Chastain, she has been an advocate for inclusion in Hollywood, but by what it seems like the LA Times was going for with the criteria, her film isn’t really up for awards. In articles written about Chastain and the supposed hypocrisy for posing for the photo, she mentioned Salma Hayak as a person who could be included. Agreed she would have been an excellent choice, especially with the Harvey Weinstein incident, but the focus of the article wasn’t abuse in Hollywood but opening up opportunities going forward for inclusion of women stories and representation in general.

I don’t think Jessica Chastain or any of the other actresses could have been criticized for the photo. To be blunt, they just showed up and posed for the picture. The editorial staff at the LA Times is responsible for the photo and its representation. They chose the actresses to have the discussion, they did the prep work and they did the photoshoot. It wasn’t Chastain or any of the other women who presented the LA Times with the idea of the article or the photoshoot.

Who should be responsible, who the frustration should be focused on, is the LA Times for not doing the research to find diverse voices for the discussion. It should not be the actress who have to respond after the fact and who had no control of the article or the photo.

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Merry Holidays

Of those that are doing this over the phone, and thankfully it’s not a lot of them, people are wishing me a Merry Christmas. All of them. No Happy Holidays, no Happy Hanukkah or even Happy Kwanzaa. I don’t recall so many well-wishers or exclusive Merry Christmas greeting. Maybe because I’m keyed into it because of this post-Trump era I’m sensitive to it, but I’ve always been a Happy Holidays guy, if I have to say it.

Too many times, and I get it because of the times we live in, we just make an assumption our perceived status quo is how everyone lives, and that just isn’t true. I haven’t done this in years, but for over five years the tradition we had was a Christmas Eve dinner at this Thai restaurant in San Diego. It started with five of us, because we didn’t have any family, not particularly religious and the Thai restaurant was one of the few places open late. It was incredibly fun the first few years, but we started making it “a thing” and it grew big. Way too big. The largest group we had was 75 people! By that point, us originals realized it got way out of our control. It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t an intimate gathering and there was no way to have civil conversations with that many people.

I’ve thought of starting the tradition again, but I’ve become very leery of strangers at my age and because I’ve been working most times during Christmas Eve and Day, I haven’t had the motivation to organize something. This is the first time in eight years I actually will have Christmas Day off. In fact I’ll have three days off starting Saturday morning. I don’t know how I want to celebrate, if I want to celebrate.

I just realized I haven’t seen any of the traditional holiday specials. I have to remedy that in the next few days. How can I miss Rankin Bass classics? I need Heat Miser and Cold Miser songs dancing in my head. I need an elf dentist. How about Burgermeister Meisterburger? I might need to seek out some childhood memories in the next days.

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Bye Omarosa, Don’t Let Door Hit You

Here is the one statement I want to dive into on the story about Omarosa getting fired/departing the White House.

“When I have a chance to tell my story, Michael, quite a story to tell. As the only African-American woman in this White House, as a senior staff and assistant to the President, I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people. And when I can tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear.”

Robin Roberts, one of the anchors on Good Morning America, responded to Omarosa’s statement with the statement, “Bye, Felicia.” So, I’m going to circle back to illustrate something that many people have heard but may not understand the full meaning of.

Many times, especially when used in racial charged statement, many people will talk about “dog-whistle” statement, and I believe there’s not a real understanding of the statement because of a real factor. The message is usually used on a majority audience who might dismiss or inaccurately interpret the meaning of the statement. They may say the minority who understands the meaning as being overly sensitive or they cannot understand why it cannot be interpreted as a literal rather than an implied and dog whistle statement.

I know Roberts knew exactly whom she was talking to when she made the statement, and the fact that the internet, especially Black people on the internet, knew and understood exactly what she means and that is flew over the heads of most is such a funny turn of events.

It’s interesting that a major network morning star had to bring the phrase from the backroom to the front room, and did it in a way where it went over a lot of people’s heads. When it was explained to the non-minority audience, through websites and social media, people got what Robin Roberts meant.

I think a lot of people realized, after hearing the explanation, how simple the phrase was, because it perfectly fit the person who was being talked about. People don’t care about Omarosa’s version of the White House. They don’t care, other than a sick curiosity, about how things upset her in the White House. What she may say will be taken as a self-serving lie.

Look, I can’t hate that she was given an opportunity to grab the brass ring and get into the White House. That was an Olivia Pope style move, to be sure, but Omarosa was never a likable person and some of the things she did and said was done for her, not her community or her people. I’m sure when the real truth about Omarosa’s time in the White House is disclosed, instead of a maverick or a trailblazer she will be seen as a self-centered egotist who cared about herself more than her community or her people.

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