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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Exposing FUSH: A Dark and Humorous Secret

I am writing this today to call attention to a malady that afflicts a percentage of the population, but is seldom discussed seriously. I have suffered this affliction for most of my life and for a good part of it was unaware.

For years I just thought that I was "different", that something was wrong with me. Sometimes when I said something that I thought was funny, or laughed at some situation that I thought was funny, some person would say, "That's not funny!" It would sting and I would withdraw to figure out why this person would say such a thing to me, especially when it happened in front of people. Why would a person elect to take such a lofty position to berate me and embarrass me?

After years of suffering in silence, I learned that I was not alone. There were other people out there who suffered from a Fucked Up Sense of Humor (FUSH), and they too were suffering. Sometimes I would hear a FUSH sufferer say something in public and listen as they were lambasted by some indignant person. In a show of solidarity I started smiling and giving my fellow FUSH sufferer a nod and a smile; then later, when my confidence grew, I would laugh out loud to show them that I too suffer from FUSH and they didn't have to be alone.

A sense of humor is something that is involuntary, if you try to stifle your laughter you could possibly cause significant damage to your body. You may rupture an internal seal and start to leak, or snort loudly. Trying to block laughter is not a healthy option. Besides, laughter itself has its benefits.

In an abstract authored by the Department of Social and Environmental Medicine, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka, Japan and published by The National Center for Biotechnology Information, they discuss the effects that humor can have on the human physiology. In particular, on people who suffer from an inordinate amount of stress and anxiety.

"We investigated the effect of laughter on salivary endocrinological stress marker chromogranin A (CgA). In saliva samples collected from 11 healthy males before and after watching a comic film or a non-humorous control film, salivary CgA levels were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Samples taken after watching the comic film showed increased levels of CgA. This tendency was more pronounced in individuals with lower initial levels of stress. The control samples showed no significant change in CgA levels. Stress score, subjectively evaluated using a visual analog scale, decreased significantly after watching the comic film. These findings suggest that, in addition to a stress relief effect, laughter can bring about feeling uplifted or fulfilled."

Growing older can have many negative effects on the body. In another abstract published by NCBI, it is explained that, "With aging, the detrimental effects of stress can impair a person's ability to learn and sustain memory. Humor and its associated mirthful laughter can reduce stress by decreasing the hormone cortisol. Chronic release of cortisol can damage hippocampal neurons, leading to impairment of learning and memory."

Further, Meghan O'Flynn who has a blog site devoted to psychology explains the need for dark humor and inappropriate jokes. She says that "Dark humor may be a type of cognitive behavioral strategy" serving the dual purpose of "exposing individuals to the topics they fear the most along with those super bodily calming effects."

Being a person who is prone to stress and extreme anxiety, I guess my FUSH became a way for me to deal with my discomfort and social anxiety issues. So, we employ an unconscious and involuntary device into conversation in the hopes that other people will also find humor in the things being discussed and join us in laughing, We ease our own discomfort caused by stress and anxiety to a more manageable level. Imagine then, to be blindsided by someone who deflects your humor into a more serious issue that is something that they, themselves want to call attention to, and calls you out for being inappropriate and tells you that you shouldn't find humor in a certain situation, to be shamed and vilified for having FUSH. This only serves to amplify the neurological effects that your stresses and discomfort inflict on you. So, like an addict looking for a stronger drug, you have to find more inappropriate things to engage your FUSH.

A person's need to take over of a situation and bring focus on themselves is something that Joseph Burgo, the author and owner of explains in his article, "Narcissistic Behavior and the Lost Art of Conversation", he explains the need for narcissistic people to subvert a conversation to redirect attention to themselves. For those individuals, their families were so deficient and the expected kind of parental attention so lacking that there’s an unquenchable need to have other people listen and make them feel significant."

In a sad revelation, I fear that FUSH may be hereditary, I think I have passed FUSH to my daughter. But, I will not acquiesce any longer, and I incite my fellow FUSHers to unite and take up arms against the people of the world who would silence you or try to force you to stop reacting to humorous situations wherever you find them. FUSHers unite!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Campaign 2016, a Kamekaze dive into the abyss

Sayonara, motherfucker
On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States. And as usual, a large portion of the country was ecstatic, and another large portion was despondent. There were parties and balls, there were protests and anarchistic vandalism. Democracy had either worked or failed, depending on which side of the battle lines you stood.

After suffering through a campaign season that resembled a drunken demolition derby more than a contest for one of the most prestigious offices in the world. A campaign in which everyone involved adopted a scorched-earth strategy of character assassination and nastiness in general, the results are a smoking dystopian landscape littered with the broken remains of two political parties.

The Republicans never quite coalesced behind any one candidate, and the one who survived the primaries was hardly the one they wanted. Many of them shunned him in an effort not to be sullied by his populist rhetoric. Some of them became belligerent and tried to stop his advancement. Those who stood by him looked uncomfortable, like they'd entered into an unholy alliance with a dangerous loose cannon. But, like the “Teflon Don”, none of it seemed to stick to him.

He became increasingly popular with a segment of America that had for too long suffered through the aftermath of policies like NAFTA. They felt irrelevant, watching manufacturing jobs leave them for other countries like a fickle girlfriend. These red-white-and-blue collar workers were disaffected and angry. Where once they could afford a middle-class life supported by factory jobs or labor jobs, they now were out of work and destitute. They were desperate for a change, anything that wasn’t the status quo.

Behold, dwellers in the heartland! Your champion has arrived! A plain-spoken man with bad hair, who is scrappy and pissed off. He said that he would “make America great again" and wore a red trucker’s cap to his rallies. He blurted out his plans to “do away with Obamacare” and “build a wall” between the U.S. and Mexico to stop the hordes of illegal immigrants. He said he would “drain the swamp.” Of course they loved him, he said everything they needed to hear.

Donald Trump came into the political arena through the side door, completely unexpected. He had mentioned entering politics several times over the years, but he had also body-slammed Vince McMahon and shaved his head at a WWE wrestling match. Who could take him seriously? He’s been in the public’s awareness for decades as a real estate mogul who inherited millions and turned it into billions. He comes across as a rapacious huckster who is obscene, and completely self-absorbed.

And who was his challenger? Hillary Clinton, one of the Washington elite and one-half of a political power couple who have been in office, in one form or another since before “millennials” were even born. The former First Lady. The wife of President Bill Clinton, who had sold America NAFTA and scandalized the White House with a young intern and a cigar. Hillary stood by Bill as he rode out the storm of impeachment and accusations of sexual assaults. They even managed to get a “body count” named after them, detailing all the people who were connected to them and then got violently and unwillingly shuffled off the mortal coil.

She served as a Senator for New York, and wound up as Secretary of State for the Obama administration. She was a powerhouse, a political juggernaut, the media favorite, or so the Democrats thought. Unfortunately, like politicians are known to do, she also played fast-and-loose with facts. Erroneous statements came back to haunt her. She may as well have had an albatross hanging from her neck.

Her tales of arriving under sniper fire in Bosnia withered under the weight of digital video evidence. Her flippant and dismissive attitude towards people whom she needed to win over, and calling Trump supporters “deplorables” cost her dearly. They embraced the Deplorables title and used it as a rallying cry. But worst of all, she splintered off a large group of liberals by edging out Bernie Sanders in the primary using underhanded methods. When the DNC’s emails were leaked to the public, it caused a rift among Democrats that may never heal.

So, now America has two political parties that are shattered and fragmented, and as divided as the country itself. Some viewed the inauguration as the beginning of a rejuvenation of America, the dawn of a rebuilding; some viewed it as the beginning of the end, convinced that the new administration will destroy everything good in the country and possibly the world. In any case, Donald Trump is the new President of the United States, and all that's left to do now is wait and see.

Copyright Keith Browning 2017

In the temples of hate, only the most vile will have a voice

While viewing some of the “protests” and experiencing the vitriol expressed on social media preceding, during, and after Trump's inauguration yesterday, I had an epiphany. I was struck with a moment of clarity like the proverbial “thunderbolt” from on high. An unearthly voice spoke to me as from a burning bush saying, "Good! Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you." I knew then, what the answer was, where we are now, where we are going. It is our destiny. Thus spake Emperor Palpatine.

Therein lies the truth
Don’t hate the newly elected president, or his predecessor, or even the other people who ran in the race. These people haven’t done anything to most of us, not on a personal level where you could actually point your finger at them and declare, “You! You’re the one who did this to me! You are personally and solely responsible for my miserable fucking existence. It was you!” All they did was put themselves out there, warts and all, for the public’s perusal. Like a used car lot where you could lift the hood, kick the tires, sniff the upholstery, trying to suss out what secrets were hiding behind that freshly waxed fa├žade. The skeletons were dragged from their closets and put on display for the world to see.

No, look to the people around you, that’s who is responsible for your misery. Not some politician living in an insulated fantasy where the great unwashed are never invited. It’s your neighbors, your friends, those rotten bastards you work with, all those shitty people who had the audacity to vote the way they wanted instead of voting the same way you did. That’s who’s to blame. The deplorable, ignorant, back-woods, stupid fucking hillbillies, and the commie, socialist, faggots and arsty-fartsy types, those are the ones who deserve that rabid, abhorrent revulsion.

Those ignorant fools who were sucked into the lies that the candidates were selling. Those people who have put the current president and all the presidents who came before him into that revered seat of world power. The candidates were a symptom, not a cause. Your neighbors are the disease. They don’t think the way you do. They are stupid and deserve to be impaled on thorny burning shafts and hurled into a bottomless pit. They are all too fucking dumb to see things the way they really are…the way you see them.

So, eschew the message-mixing confusion of displaced anger and aggression and be honest, political correctness be damned! I say to you, go forth and hate each other, for that is where the truth lies.  It is down in that smoldering, despicable shit-hole of fear and distrust of people who aren’t like you, that’s where the truth lives and thrives. The world is a festering pustule, a dung heap, filled with idiots who dare to think differently. Hate them. Hate them all.

I believe that many people out there are actually already practicing this message. I think they secretly hide their true message in their slogans with shitty punctuation. When I see "Love Trumps Hate", I really see "Love Trump's Hate". That’s why, when I saw businesses being vandalized and cars being set on fire, people throwing bottles at police officers, people stealing clothing because it displayed messages not in line with the mob's group-think mentality, I was elated. “There it is, the wanton hate focused at each other, there is indeed the truth of the matter,” I thought, “people are really getting it now.”

The person who set this on fire did not buy it, I assure you
I vote Libertarian, which is such an insignificant fraction of the population that only a handful of people that I personally know think the same way that I do, and the rest of you think we're idiots. So, in my world, nearly all the people are assholes, therefore, I hate almost all of you.

"Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease." ~ Agent Smith

Monday, November 16, 2015

Paris: The latest in a long list of really fucked up world events

THEY'RE HERE!!!  10,000 Syrian refugees have landed in Louisiana and are looking for shit to blow up! Well...not yet. Before you start having nightmares about swarthy Syrians climbing your ramparts with knives in their teeth, know this.  There have actually been 14 Syrian refugees settled in Louisiana since Jan 1, 2015, 13 of those in the New Orleans area.  As of Sunday, the U.S. government had resettled a total 1,809 Syrian nationals since Jan. 1, 2015 the State Department said. Thirty-two states have taken in Syrian refugees, with the highest numbers in California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida. The 10,000 comes from the number of Syrian refugees Obama plans to take in. Not a popular decision on his part.  As of Sunday, In the wake of the Paris attacks, the Republican governors of Maine, Nebraska, Texas, Arkansas, Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Georgia, Illinois, Alabama and Michigan have said that they would no longer help settle Syrian refugees. One Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, joined them in rejecting Syrian refugees. By Monday, the number of states had risen to 23. Oddly enough, 16 of those states have accepted Iraqi refugees between 2012 and 2014. In 2012, one-fifth of refugees settled in the U.S. were Iraqi, but by 2013 and 2014 the figures were over 25 per cent. The 23 states that are currently refusing Syrian refugees welcomed 28,000 refugees from Iraq over the last few years. Rest assured though, all of them were thoroughly screened. Did you get that?

How Many Syrian and Iraqi Refugees Were Settled In Each State Since 2012, In 3 Maps

People have a right to be worried, it is a strange and frightening time; a time of paranoia fueled by the media and terrifying news of world events. We have a president in office that few have any confidence in, and we live among savages to whom human life isn't worth a plugged nickle. We have had our 9/11 and haven't forgotten about it and would just as soon not have another. One of the Paris attackers was a native Parisian who became radicalized. So, he went about his terrorism business not giving a damn whether he was killing neighbors or not. Another of the attackers was a Syrian refugee who had entered France via a roundabout trek through Greece.  These people need to be vetted and checked well.  After all, the Tsarnaev brothers (the Boston Marathon bombers) had immigrated to the United States as refugees from Chechnya in 2002 and said they had “self-radicalized” and had no ties with any of the known terrorist organisations. Just your average "boy next door" terrorists who learn to make bombs from the internet. Thinking statistically, if one in ten Muslims are radicals, that 1,809 refugees still doesn't bode know, mathematically speaking.

I consider myself a patriot.  I love my country, so skewer me.  I’m glad that I live in a country where I have the freedom to express unpopular ideas without fear of winding up with my head on a pole surounded by gibbering primitives.  Do I love the government?  Hell no, who in their right mind would? So, let’s not become blinded by patriotism or nationalism, too many people tend to develop tunnel-vision when it comes to finding fault in ourselves. Orwell said, “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them”. But here's the kink, our government has funneled billions of dollars into the pockets of puppet regimes who were run by “our kind of guys” for decades. Most of the time it turns around and bites us on the ass...well, just about every time. The much reviled Osama bin Laden was financed and armed by the U.S. to fight the Russians, when they ran out of Russians what happened? We got ass-bitten. The government puts people in power in foreign countries who are sympathetic to whatever agenda they are trying to push be it business or to fight perceived enemies without getting their hands dirty.  We were a supporter of Saddam until he stopped playing the game the way we wanted it played. Then he had to be spanked. It is all about business. I am not a conspiracy nut, but I do like to read and I read from a lot of sources. We (speaking of the U.S. government and us as citizens) have (directly or indirectly) caused genocidal massacres, governments to fall, economies to crumble, leaders to be assassinated, because we manipulate.  That’s what governments do, they manipulate.

In Noam Chomsky's book, "Rogue States: The Rule Of Force In World Affairs", he states that In 1997 President Clinton was credited for having brought foreign policy to a “noble phase” with a “saintly glow”. Meanwhile, NATO ally Turkey was carrying out atrocities against its Kurdish population, killing tens of thousands of people and destroying thousands of towns and villages. Clinton was providing 80 per cent of the arms, increasing the flow as the atrocities mounted. Since 1980, the U.S. has shipped $9 billion worth of arms to Turkey and provided $6.5 billion in grant and loan military aid to purchase U.S. equipment. Before 1999, Turkey had been the third largest recipient of U.S. military aid. In 1999, Congress phased out this type of military aid to both Greece and Turkey stating that these relatively well-off states could finance their own arms purchases. Noble phase indeed. Words...manipulation.

If you think that all the money that flows from the American taxpayer, into businesses and through our government doesn’t wind up in pockets all over the world, you are deluded. The charts are out there, look them up and see how much money we give Pakistan (our allies against terrorism…also where terrorists go to school) and other “friendly” or not-so-friendly countries. According to the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, Pakistan is set to receive funding of $803,800,000 Fiscal Year 2016. The Congressional Budget Justification Fiscal Year 2014 states “as the United States withdraws its troops from Afghanistan, it is critical that the U.S. Government’s assistance program funding levels in FY 2014 reflect its continued robust engagement of Pakistan and its role in the stability and prosperity of the region". Worldwide, we have sent $19,286,636,619 in aid in 2015 alone with plans to send $33,703,168,000 in 2016. The top two recipients of U.S. military dollars are Israel at $3.1 billion and Egypt at $1.3 billion this year. If Turkey and Greece are wealthy enough to fund their own military, why aren’t Israel and Egypt? Syria comes in low at $470,587,978 in 2015 with $255,000,000 planned for 2016.
I spent it all buying friends.

The news media and their coverage, or seemingly biased coverage of recent world events have left some with a bitter taste in their mouths.  One day before the Paris attacks, Beirut, the capitol city of Lebanon, was hit by two suicide bombers leaving 43 dead and 239 wounded and there was hardly a ripple. In April, Garissa University in Kenya was attacked by gunmen leaving 147 students dead. Again, this incident didn’t carry the media weight that the Paris attacks did and some people are upset about this. I'm sure it's nothing personal, it's just business; and I guess these incidents didn't involve people we are in business with. The media is no longer simply journalism which is presented in an unbiased form, it has an agenda, that agenda is to sell and manipulate.  Johnny Carson (sure do miss him) once helped set the stage for what became known as The Great Toilet Paper Scare of 1973. No...seriously. There were a few rumors and some misinformation going around so, Mr. Carson made a joke about it on television. Well, things went to shit from there...manipulation. The militants who attacked the university in Kenya singled out Christians and shot them. Well, there we go again, killing in the name of an some imaginary entity. Will people ever stop trying to hide the fact that they are just really, really shitty people behind a veil of mythological religion? Now, before anyone gets all sanctimonious or feels left out, Christian militias have been perpetrating what amounts to genocide upon the Muslim minority in the Central African Republic, killing thousands and displacing thousands more since 2013. Did anyone get that rush of “damned right they are”? That’s that self-justifying mindset I mentioned earlier, the “our side is right and just and everyone else deserves to be annihilated because they're the devil” mindset.

Does any of this mean that I'm a sympathizer? Hell no, I'm just as paranoid as everyone else. I just like to dig in and try to find the truth in things. Like it or not, we are all manipulated. We are fed headline news and flashy stories with sexy, Hollywood-sounding titles. Not many people dig deep into world news or get news from different sources, preferring to stick with a news outlet that tells them what they want to hear. The news media is so overtly skewed and biased that it’s easy to see. All you need to do is listen closely and then change the channel and listen some more. From one station to another you will hear the same stories but with different spins, commentators and analyses. So many get their news from social media where it is shared by bloggers (ironic) or memes.  Anyone can make a meme, the app is free.
See? I made one myself.
I certainly do empathize with the victims of the Paris murders. But do I blame some mythical entity?  Absolutely not. Religion needed an adversary.  A perfect god wouldn’t create an imperfect world, if he did he wouldn’t be much of a god, would he? So...the origins of the devil. These terrorist’s actions are carried out by a deluded, fanatical fraction of humanity, not Satan. That’s just an easy cop-out. The Muslim handbook teaches them to be intolerant of any other belief…even non-belief. That’s okay, the same can be said of Christian teachings as well. Yeah, okay, start hurling Jesus stuff and love and all that shit at me. I'm used to it. How deeply do you know different religions?  Allah and Yahweh are the same entity coming from Abrahamic beliefs according to tradition. The difference is the way that the followers go about interpreting the writings.  Do they have the Taliban, ISIS, Al-Qaeda? Yep. Do Christians have snake jugglers, the KKK and Westoboro Baptist Church? Yep. People are easily susceptible to charismatic charlatans who prey on their weaknesses. The promise of an afterlife, being better than everyone else, being right while everyone else is wrong, exclusivity. People keep wailing about Mohammed being a pedophile, he probably was, he wasn’t shy about it in his writings. But calm down, the bible is rife with pedophilia, incest, rape, etc. So, pray for France, fidget with your rosaries, light candles, and kneel on your prayer mats, it won’t make any difference.  There are over 5,000 gods being worshipped currently, not a damned one of them ever stepped in to stop anything. Pray after the fact? For what? To whom? That’s okay, I’m sure that whatever god you’re praying to is the right one.
Man, I bet I get blamed for everything from now on.

I have been caught out several times because of a knee-jerk response to something I’ve seen and failed to fact check. Everyone has fallen prey to the old “this celebrity or that celebrity is dead” thing only to find out later that it was bullshit clickbait. Shit happens, although my old Pop used to like to say, “Not to me, it doesn’t”…but it does.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What law is the City of Vicksburg enforcing here?

What comes to mind when you think about criminal activity?  Robbery?  Rape?  Selling drugs?  Murder?  Jaywalking?  Standing on a city sidewalk in front of a business that you own?  Wait...what?  Yes, apparently standing on a public sidewalk in front of your own business is an offense that can get you arrested.  At approximately 1:00 am Saturday morning, July 26, 2014, Pat Belden, the owner of The Upper End and the soon-to-be-open Rivertown Grille in Vicksburg Mississippi, was locking the door to his restaurant downstairs after allowing someone to go inside to use the restroom when he and one of his employees were told to get off the sidewalk by a Vicksburg City police officer.  When Pat told the officer that he owned the business he was told, "I don't care who you are, get off the sidewalk or get arrested".  Pat then told the officer, "Well, you're just going to have to arrest me then".  He was arrested and charged with Disorderly Conduct and Failure To Comply.  He wasn't drinking, there were no disturbances, no brawls, no nothing going on.  Just "get off the sidewalk because I said so".

We have been trying to figure out what law, exactly, was being enforced.  In the Vicksburg Municipal Code, which can be viewed here, there is this:

Sec. 17-8. Obstruction of public places—Drawing crowds.
It shall be unlawful for any person to employ any device, noise or performance tending to the collection of persons on the streets, or other public places to the obstruction of the same.

Sec. 17-9. Same—Loitering, loafing.
It shall be unlawful for any persons to loiter, loaf or gather, or assemble upon any sidewalk or street of the city in such numbers or in such manner as to impede the free use of such street or sidewalk, or to interfere with persons passing along the same.

So far, we can't find one that describes what was going on when Pat was arrested.  He wasn't impeding anyone's free use of the sidewalk nor was he interfering with anyone.  Maybe the officer should have been arrested for impeding his free use of the sidewalk.

Later, around 8:00 or 9:00 pm Saturday night, the police were back in front of the two bars on the 1300 block of Washington St., The Upper End and 1311.  They were enforcing the "no standing" rule again.  I observed three men sitting and talking on parked motorcycles in a parking space being told that they couldn't be there and had to move.  Wouldn't that be similar to being told that you couldn't sit in your parked car in a parking space and have a conversation?  Maybe there is a law against that, I don't know, I haven't found it yet.  Another time, I saw a couple stop on the sidewalk watching the activity (that many police officers in one place is sort of an attention-getter), they were immediately approached by an officer and asked, "Are you waiting for something?"  The man answered, "No, we're just looking."  The officer then told them that they had to go inside one of the bars, they couldn't be on the street.

At times there were multiple officers and at one point even the Chief of Police was there monitoring the activities.

12:27 am 7/27/2014
See the benches in the upper right-hand of the photo?  Yeah, they're just for looks.

If this had been one officer's misunderstanding of what their orders were it would be almost understandable but, with multiple officers all enforcing the same inexplicable order and the chief observing them, that's not a viable explanation.  The only reasonable explanation is that they were told to do this and were carrying out orders as stated.  One source told me that they had been told to "take the streets back" and, with some of the activity that goes on in this city, that's completely valid.  To start out by arresting a law-abiding business owner in front of his business is not.

The scene of the crime.  The front of Mr. Belden's currently-being-renovated Rivertown Grille where Mr. Belden was arrested for being on the sidewalk.

I won't sugar-coat this, the bars downtown have had their share of incidents with some disorderly crowds and some fights, it is getting better though.  Since the first of the year, both bars have updated their security and made some policy changes to try to get a better handle on crowd control and reduce these incidents, and it is working.  There are still some nights when things get out of hand but every bar everywhere has that.

The streets of downtown Vicksburg are beautiful.  They are paved with bricks and have been landscaped with trees and shrubs and even have inviting benches scattered along Washington Street.  Unfortunately, it seems that the benches are strictly ornamental and not to be used because, hey, that's an offense which can result in being arrested.  Downtown Vicksburg also has a large population of homeless and vagrant types, some are just colorful characters, some of them will chase people from their vehicles to their destinations begging for money and/or other desired items and some are just plain scary.  This is not representative of the normal bar patrons nor is it representative of business owners.  Why aren't they using more discretion when carrying out orders to "take back the streets"?  Are they enforcing this same no stopping/standing law in front of other businesses or is it just the two bars on the 1300 block?  What about the bars and restaurants that have no-smoking policies, will their patrons be told to 'move along or get back inside' when they step outside for a cigarette?  Will the police be out en force to make sure the tourists are kept in constant motion on their downtown treks during the daylight hours?  Will they arrest them for stopping to ogle the historical architecture or stopping to take pictures of their grandmothers posing in front of the scenery?  The one thing that is great about our laws is that they are supposed to be equal and fair for everyone...everyone.  This seems to be a case of "some people are more equal than others".

7/29/2014 5:49 pm
Enjoying one of the deceptively inviting benches along Washington St. about 50 ft. south of where Mr. Belden was arrested.

A little discretion would have gone a long way in this situation. These bars and restaurants contribute to this city.  They are trying to operate in a part of Vicksburg that has had some problems and hasn't exactly been thriving, even the casino business is down.  There are a lot of empty buildings in this area of town.  These businesses generate revenue and pay taxes, why make it more difficult on them by disrupting business and scaring customers away?  I have a lot of very good friends on the force and we welcome the police presence.  My boss, Pat Belden, has even requested it.  It's nice to have law enforcement in close proximity when you need them, but for them to come down there in a show of force, chasing people off the sidewalk willy-nilly is a little too aggressive in my opinion.

I feel that a big part of the problem is the mixing of nighttime businesses like bars and restaurants with people moving downtown to live in the, for the most part, recently added upscale apartments.  The people who want to live downtown should do a little research and consider the businesses in the area.  To me, that's like moving next door to an airport and then bitching about the noise from the planes.  I used to live in the downtown part of Vicksburg and wish that I still did.  I enjoyed the unique characters and the beautiful old buildings and, yes, I enjoyed going out and walking around the downtown streets at night..  My suggestion to the people who are considering living down there would be this:  Be sure you want to live in an area populated by unusual people where the streets can get noisy and there is traffic twenty-four hours a day.  If you want the Ozzie and Harriet lifestyle move to the suburbs or the country, not downtown.  For crying out loud!  It's not that complicated!  Research the area you are moving into!  Don't move there and then try to rearrange it to suit your wishes.  Eddie the Wino is "grandfathered in", you know.  He ain't going anywhere!

If they really want to clean up the downtown streets, why not enforce a law that is definitely on the books and is not vague at all.

Sec. 17-36. Begging.
No person over sixteen (16) years of age and not blind shall go about from place to place begging and asking subsistence by charity.

And just for shits and giggles, they could travel a little further south on Washington Street and stir up something with this one.

Sec. 17-42. Fortunetelling.
It shall be unlawful for any person, his agents, or officers, to engage in the business of phrenology, mindreading, palmistry, fortunetelling, or attempting to foretell the future by mindreading or any occult science, within the city.

This blog may upset some of my law enforcement friends but that is not my goal.  My goal is to point out some, in my opinion, mistakes made by the city officials who are calling the shots and, quite possibly, unfair agendas which are driven by money and connections.  The officers, after all, are only doing their job and doing what they're told.  It's the people who are doing the telling and their motives and agendas that I am questioning here.  When the law is being used as a tool operating for the benefit of the wealthy and influential it becomes a weapon, and that's not what it is supposed to be, that's corruption.

Something interesting comes to mind while thinking about all this.  Once, years ago, young people congregated in parking lots and socialized and listened to loud music.  You could see them, parents could drive through and check on them, law enforcement could monitor what was going on, but they were deemed a nuisance and the authorities eventually chased them away.  Now, no one knows where the hell they go or what they are up to.  If you keep chasing people deeper into the cover, it's going to be harder and harder to keep up with them.  Maybe the philosophies that our City Elders are operating under are sort of "out of sight, out of mind", like with the homeless beggars.

For more about the downtown bar life read

The Upper End Bar, The Vicksburg Post and the truth

Twitchy and his two-headed anaconda

Epitaph for Doc Schlosser

The Upper End's Facebook page

For even more unrelated nonsense read

The Rise of the Douche-Bag

Faster than the speed of thought

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Small-Scale Social Experiment or...Poking the Monkeys

For the past few days I have been having a little fun on my Facebook page.  It was a little bit revolution against the metric shit-tons (hyperbole) of warm and fuzzy religious platitudes that are plastered all over my news feeds constantly, a little bit curiosity as to what would happen, and a little bit of genuine desire to debate and get some feedback.  Some may call it trolling, I prefer to think of it as social experimentation with an out-of-control control group.

It started Sunday night with this image accompanied by the comment, "Oh, look, a new Inquisition/Reign of Terror proposal"

It has continued on through the SCOTUS decision in the Hobby Lobby case.  Now, I wasn't just having fun, there was a genuine desire to have a little bit of my own say (after all, it is my Facebook page) and to stir the pot some and get some input from different sources.  I have fun debating certain current events, especially when it comes to matters of freedom and religious dogma and other absurd abstract ideas. 

The main thing that got me cranked up was the fact that every single day my newsfeed is filled with the above-mentioned warm and fuzzy religious platitudes and cutesy religious postcard type things that I have to scroll past to get to something that really interests me...or means anything at all to me.  Think about all the people you know who become outraged at game requests.  I see infinitely more of these religious posts than I ever have game requests.  Anyone who has been paying attention, knows that I am an atheist and sometimes these things get under my skin.  Particularly when I wake up on Sunday afternoon feeling like shit from breathing bar air for three nights in a row and a lack of rest and want some cerebral stretching exercises but instead I am faced with things like this:

didn't do much for the other guy
So, these things are strewn willy-nilly throughout my newsfeed and no one ever bats an eye.  So, for a little entertainment and equal time (to be the counter-weight, so to speak) and because I tend to get cranky, I post something that is contrary to these messages and sure enough, I find myself beset from every side by people who want to argue down my views.  I guess, if you don't subscribe to the popular ideologies and fall into step you should expect that.

There are religious people out there, I know that, I'm cool with that.  I am an atheist, why can't I put things on my page that reflect the way I feel without having to answer and justify?  I don't go on my friend's and family's pages and debate them or challenge them when I see their religious posts.  You know why?  Because I respect their right to feel that way.  Why is it that anytime I post something about atheism or poking fun at people like Pat Robertson or the Duck Dynasty patriarch, or something else that I view as goofy-as-hell dumbassery, I have to defend myself?  I made a joke about Pat Robertson once and posted a video of him saying that the devastating tornadoes that ripped Oklahoma a new asshole could have been prevented by prayer.  I was promptly attacked by one of my in-laws like I had been caught emptying their bank account.  What causes this knee-jerk defense?  Is it a lack of tolerance?  A lack of confidence?  What is it?  And by-the-way, that Kevin James looking guy that "Shreds Evolution in 3 Minutes"?  Yeah, he's a dumbass and the stuff he spouts in that three minute video doesn't amount to a squirt of hamster tinkle.

And now, just to finish pissing people off...
"Hey, can I get another nail down there?  My sandal keeps falling off!"

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Jimmy Bishop

Jimmy Bishop was a good friend of mine.  He could be one of those over-the-top personalities, depending on the day you were with him.  We worked together some back in the mid-eighties at the old PJ's bar across the river in Delta, LA, when it was really rough.  We also hung out together a good bit when we weren't working.  Jimmy could party about as hard as anyone I've ever met.  He was also a regular guy who liked to fish and loved old rock music.  He was one of those people who, when the mood struck, had no limits and knew no speed other than wide open.  He had a great sense of humor and if he couldn't make you laugh, well, you just weren't paying attention.  And with Jimmy, that could be dangerous.

Jimmy Bishop AKA Jim-Bob

When Jimmy was living at home with his parents, his dad used to get mad at him almost daily.  Jimmy's mom always made his dad's lunch for the following day and put it in the refrigerator so it would be ready for him when he left for work.  Jimmy liked to stay out late and have a good time and had a habit of coming in after his parents had gone to bed and eating his dad's lunch.  It seemed that they had an understanding; Jimmy knew it was going to make his dad mad and his dad knew that Jimmy was going to eat his lunch.  It was a system that seemed to work for them.

When we worked at PJ's Jimmy was always there when I was working the Sunday afternoon shift.  None of us ever felt very good on Sunday afternoon.  Jimmy showed me a trick that I still practice to this day.  He kept a bottle of Visine in the beer cooler and every Sunday we'd all take turns squirting cold Visine into our eyes, it not only helped with the red, burned-out eyes, it also just seemed to make you feel better in general.  Then he would go to the jukebox and begin the afternoon's musical entertainment.  One of our favorite hangover songs was “Hang Fire” by The Rolling Stones.  It just had that certain “something” that could lift you out of the doldrums and make you feel human again.

One of my favorite Jimmy Bishop stories is from 1986 and sort of explains the way he was when he was in full party mode.  It was a night off for Jimmy, and I was working with the other bartender, Spot.  Spot was a big guy with a big heart, he'll get his own story soon.  Well, Jimmy had come in and started the typical Jimmy drinking pattern, anything and everything.  He would order three different drinks and before long would mix them together in one glass.  One example would be a Rusty Nail, a Screwdriver and maybe a beer or a Jack and Coke.  It looked like mud and scared the hell out of me but he'd drink it down like it was water.  It didn't take too many of these to get him wound up.  On this particular night, Jimmy had acquired some, shall we say, M&M's.  He came to the bar mad as hell.  He said he'd paid for some M&M's but the guy never gave them to him.  I told him, “Yes, he did.  You already ate them.” We argued back and forth about that for a while then he forgot about it and went on about his business.  A while later, I told Spot that I was going to drive Jimmy home, there was no way he could drive.  Hell, he could barely function at this point.  I arranged for a girlfriend to follow us to Jimmy's and then take me back to work to finish my shift.  I got Jimmy strapped into his dad's car and we set out. If you never had the opportunity to drive across the old Mississippi River bridge between Delta and Vicksburg before they closed it down, you don't know fear.  It was barely wide enough for two cars to pass and if you happened to pass a truck or, god help you, be behind a truck as it passed another truck you don't understand the term “pucker point”.  Truckers used to slap mirrors with other 18 wheelers when meeting on that bridge occasionally.  Halfway across the bridge, Jimmy became convinced that he had dropped his M&M's down beside the seat in his dad's car and opened the door to look for them.  This forced me to move to the center of the bridge so the door wouldn't hit the side.  I looked up and, of course, there was a car coming.
“Jimmy, there's a car coming.”
Nothing, he kept looking for his M&M's.
“Jimmy, there's a fucking car coming.  Close the door.”
Still no response.
Nothing, nada.  So I reached across the car and grabbed the collar of his shirt and jerked him back inside, slamming the door in the process.  I was able to get the car back in our lane in time for the other car to pass us without a collision and very little organ damage.
“Shit dude!”  I was a little tense.
“I think I saw my M&M's.”
“Fuck that man, leave that shit alone.”
I got him to his house without any further life-threatening incidents and, after parking in the driveway, I turned off the car and gave him the keys.
“Where are we?”
“We're at your house."
"How'd we get here?"
"I drove."
"There's your front door.  All you gotta do is walk inside and take a left.”
“Oh, okay.  Shit, where's my dad's car?”
“We're in it.  This is your dad's car.  Here, here are your keys.”
“How are you going to get back to PJ's?”
“Susan followed us.  She's right behind us in the driveway.”
“Oh, okay.  Thanks.”
“No problem.  See you tomorrow?”
I got in Susan's car and we watched him amble up to the door, unlock it and go safely inside.  She backed out of the driveway and took me straight back to PJ's.  When I got back I walked in on the rock side (PJ's had a rock side and a country side, it was huge) and went behind the bar.  Spot said, “You get him home all right?”
I walked behind the bar and through the door leading to the bar on the country side and looked out the big window into the parking lot.  A couple of guys were fighting and a crowd of people had gathered around to watch. There, on the edge of the crowd with his crooked grin, watching the fight with a drink in his hand stood Jimmy Bishop.  I watched him for a few seconds just to make sure, shook my head, said, "Holy shit." and retreated over to the rock side and went back to work.  I will never understand how he managed to beat us back to PJ's, much less have time to park, go in, get a drink and wander back outside to watch a fight, all before I could even get back in the building.

Jimmy, myself and our misfit, scofflaw friends all got into a lot of mischief over the years and had a lot of fun.  I went to bonfires at the house he shared with his wife and family and sat in bars with him and told tall tales about the glory years.  Life came along and I got married again, became a family man and tried to work at real jobs and so did he, so we didn't see each other very often.  I was reading the newspaper while having my coffee one Sunday morning in 1999 and Jimmy's name caught my eye, it was his obituary.  On October 1, 1999 Jimmy had fallen asleep behind the wheel and ran off the road.  He wasn't doing any of the things that probably should have caught up with him in earlier years, he had just gotten back into town from a job and was trying to get home, he was just tired.  I called a mutual friend who was living in Vegas and told him about it.  We talked for a while about the old days and agreed that the world just wasn't going to be as much fun without Jimmy in it...and it's not.

I've since become friends with Jimmy's son, Logan, who recognized me in a bar one night and came up and introduced himself.  He remembered seeing me at their house when he was little.  I like Logan, he's a good guy and looks a lot like his dad.  It makes me miss him.

"Yeah, take a thousand dollars.
Go and have some fun
Put it all on at a hundred to one
Hang fire
We hang fire
Put it on the wire baby."  ~ Jagger/Richards

Epitaph for Doc Schlosser

Twitchy and his two-headed anaconda

Origin of 'The Howler'

Anticipating the apocalypse