Monday, July 16, 2018


I had an interesting and educational interaction on Twitter today. Of course, being Twitter, it was lost of miscommunication and anger. Much of this was probably my fault.

I want to do two things with this post. Explain what my original point was trying to be and then say why it was a total failure on my part.

First, the intent.

Someone posted an opinion that using homosexual sex acts as an attempt to demean Donald Trump and his relationship with Putin was straight homophobia. I replied that it was more about dominance and submission than about homophobia and perhaps not everything that could be about a minority group is about a minority group.

I still believe that to be true.

The reason I brought it up is because it reinforces a damaging negative stereotype. Every time, the stereotype goes, that someone who is part of an aggrieved minority group gets disagreed with they trot out their catchphrase, be it homophobia, racism, misogyny, or whatever.

Ironically I was immediately labeled homophobic.

Eventually I came to realize, in some part due to the conversation, why I was failing to communicate my idea.

Part two, my failure.

Apart from the possibility of being wrong, which is always a possibility with me, I failed to take some serious factors into account. First, LGBT people have been attacked for so long from so many directions, I can see why they might assume it's just another attack. If a thousand people walk up and punch you in the face, you don't assume person 1,001 is offering you chocolates.

The LGBT community has suffered enough damage that it is not right to ask them to be the bigger party and accept what could be considered (and certainly in some cases was intended to be) an insult in order to defeat a negative stereotype.

It's up to me and people like me.

So, my apologies. It was at the very least an awkward way to communicate something and at the worse end of the spectrum, a shitty thing to say.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

White Privilege

I want to talk about white privilege. My white privilege specifically.

I am 44 years old. I am a white male. I am a husband, father of two, and a veteran. For the past nine years I have worked as an emergency room nurse. The world, I humbly submit, is a better place for my having been in it, even if only a little.

All of it, every little bit, if because of one moment of white privilege that allowed me a chance at redemption that too many people will never get.

I was 18 years old and living in a small town in Oklahoma. I don't know how much you know about small town Oklahoma, but there is a bit of a struggle for an unmotivated teen to find something to do. We had a saying, "Fight, fuck, or drag." I didn't like to fight. I wasn't attractive enough to find the partners for the second option and the drag was driving up and down the same strip of asphalt over and over and over again.

None of these sounded like good options to me.

So, one summer night my friend and I went searching for something interesting to do. We hit upon and idea. We discovered that a local convenience store threw out all their donuts just after midnight when the delivery guy brought the new ones. My friend saw them throw them all in the trash one night. We decided to go one night, about the right time, and see if maybe we could score one.

We hit the jackpot.

Of course, we had to hang around for a bit while we waited for the donut guy to arrive. While we waited, we shot the breeze with the store clerk. He was bored to hell with the overnight at the convenience store and welcomed anyone to talk with, even a couple of bored teenagers. Hell, he was maybe 20 or so. He'd run out of money going to college and come back home to work and save and maybe get a chance to go back to school

The donut guy didn't care at all. He emptied the donuts into our bag the same as if it were the trash. We got around 20. We ate a few and then chucked the rest at passing cars on the drag of people we knew. I told you we were bored. We were also young and stupid.

Really stupid.

We befriended the clerk. Mostly because he let us get free fountain drinks and buy cigarettes without any questions. Oh yeah, and the donuts. Besides, it was something to do other than the normal crap in town. One night our clerk friend told us about his classes at college and how depressed he was that he probably couldn't afford to go back for several years, if ever. He mused that it would be easier if somebody would come rob the place and shoot him. Then he could collect some insurance money and maybe go back to school.

My friend offered to shoot him right there.

I stopped that idea immediately. But, we opined, we might be able to find someone to do it.

Yeah, I said we were stupid.

The plan hatched over a week or two. We searched the place and found out which cameras worked and which were just wires leading into the ceiling and capped off. We came up with a plan and found a guy that was willing to do the deed. Yeah, there was a high school kid who said he was willing to shoot this guy for a small fee.

When the night the planned deal was supposed to go down, the guy we found backed out. He said he couldn't get his mother's car. (criminal masterminds I tell ya.) I figured he'd seen the stupidity of the whole operation and made a smart choice.

It just so happened that, that night, one of the clerk's friends from a nearby city was in town and he said he was willing to shoot the clerk.

Holy shit. This was going to actually happen.

The clerk said we could take whatever we wanted from the store, none of the cameras worked anyway. So we took some beer. We were teenagers.

We left.

The next day the news was about the robbery at the convenience store. We went to visit the clerk in the hospital. I was called to the station the next day.  Police got free fountain drinks too. We frequently chatted with them on their daily rounds and somehow, being genius detective types, they decided those teenagers that hung around the convenience store at all hours might know something.

They put pressure on and I snapped like a dry cracker.

I gave up everything. You see, the clerk had used his own gun. His friend, not packing his own, borrowed the clerk's gun and then tossed it back into his car when they were done. They had him. I had just turned 18 and was looking at felonies.

I got a felony charge of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.

They booked me and took me to jail. I sat in the cell all alone and pondered my future.

I was cooked. I knew that, if I was convicted of a felony, I was done. Every job application I ever filled out again would have that box on it. Have you ever been convicted of a felony? And I was fucked.

So I figured I would be a criminal.

Hell, I had yet to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Maybe that choice had just been made for me. I figured if I had to be a criminal, I need to study and be a good one. Jail sucked.

My mom scraped together the money to get me out and then yelled at me for being an idiot.

I got a lawyer. He was a former prosecutor and started our meeting by asking me if I knew a guy. I said no. He asked again and I continued to answer no. I didn't know any of the people he was talking about.

"So you're not a player."

"I guess not."

He informed me that I was an idiot. Had I talked to a lawyer before I talked to the police there likely would have been no charges.

Again with the idiot.

I went to court and that is where my biggest moment of white privilege really happened.

I got one year probation. And, after the year was up, if I hadn't been in trouble since, my record would be expunged.

Let's examine my privilege, and these are just the ones I recognize.

I was asked to come to the station. They called my mother and she told me to go in. I wasn't arrested on the street. I wasn't killed while being arrested for what was, in the end, armed robbery.

I got bail and got to go home instead of sitting in jail for however long. Since I didn't have the experience, I don't know what would have happened in that time, but I'm betting it wouldn't have helped me develop into a well-adjusted citizen.

I got a lawyer. Even though my family couldn't really afford it, my mother found a way to get me a real lawyer instead of a public defender.

I lived in a good enough neighborhood that I didn't know any of the people my lawyer named. So I came off as a good kid. Someone worth fighting for.

I got probation and the chance to have my record expunged.

Were I a young person of color, I don't harbor any illusion that the situation would have turned out the same.

Instead of being given a chance to go out and do something positive with my life, I would have been forced to be a felon.

I'm the same person. But, there would have been no military service. There would have been no nursing degree and no nursing job. I would have limited opportunities at best. With limited options for success in traditional channels, the decision to improve my situation through crime would have been much more appealing.

Instead, I got off. I got a chance. Too many people aren't given that chance and we, as a society, are poorer for that fact.

Even felons deserve a chance at redemption. Give them a path back to full citizenship. Look for places where people of color are not given the same benefits and assumption of inherent goodness as white citizens and help change that.

But for one or two choices, some of which were totally out of my control, all the good that I have done in this world would have not only been erased, but likely replaced with bad things.

Give people that chance. We all make mistakes. We're human that way.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Our Current Catastrophe.

Why do they get to live a fantasy life? They didn't earn it. 
I'm not against fighting your way to success; I hope to do it myself someday. But,the Donald Trumps of the world, the Hilton kids, or any number of ultra-rich people that inherited millions get a free pass in life due to their birth. They never have to work. They never have to worry about bills, or insurance. Probably never washed a dish in their whole lives. 

They used to call that an aristocracy. We built our country trying to get away from it, remember? People are given the idea that each individual is equal politically in this country. Most at least pay lip-service to it at least. You know the idea one man, one vote. That much was the baseline. But talk about one woman and one minority, and suddenly we have Citizens United. And, if you are lucky enough to be born with money flying from your ass then you can buy more than a vote, you can buy a Senator. 

You think Roy Moore is getting in on his character?

Now, you might think this is a comment about the current administration and you'd be right. But, it's bigger than that. 

You see, the Democrats suck too. But, the current administration is too big of a tire fire to do anything but put out right now.The rich idiots in charge bought the wrong candidate. They thought it was a sure fire choice. He hits all the good demographics: Older white male. Very wealthy. Had a hit TV show. How could anything go wrong? 

So, we have to focus on getting the current party out and then we need to focus on us. Not the Democrats and not the Republicans. We are the people of this country. 

We have different viewpoints on guns. So.

We have different viewpoints on god. So. 

We have different viewpoints on sports, alcohol, cars and every other damn thing too, but we get along. 

I am a hairy-toed, tree-hugging, male nurse. I am trying to live in a sustainable way on my on my own land in a rural area. Yet I have worked construction. I was in the military, (U.S.Navy 1993-96). I work in an emergency room. I grew up in Oklahoma and still have family and friends there. I've worked with all types of people, from all walks of life, all over the globe. We can all get along, I've seen it. So, why are we at each other's throats all the time?

The Republicans and the Democrats are a good place to start. The people that bought them are worth a look too. 

I mean, look at the GOP. It's supposed to be the party of responsibility and prudence. Yet, here they are in full charge of everything. They passed a tax bill with absolutely zero need for restraint. They didn't have to give up anything and what did they do? They increased the deficit and gave tax breaks to private jet owners. Given a free hand like that, did they go for a flat tax? Nope. Progressive taxation is good. Especially if it gets worse and worse up to a point and then gets radically better. That's a barrier to entry. Think about it. Gotta keep the plebs out, even the really hard-working ones. That private jet tax break doesn't go to doctors and shop owners.  

They don't care about you any more than the Democratic party cares about the middle class. They both serve to take power and money from the middle class and move it. The Republicans want it for themselves and the Democrats want to give it to the poor. The poor certainly need some of it don't get me wrong. But it's like choosing the best charity. Some of them have a lot more overhead for executive pay. There's a smarter way to do that than anything we are really looking at right now and I'm pretty sure we can find it. We just need to look at things logically instead of dogmatically to start with. 

But first, the tire fire. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Dear Racist Asshole

Yes you.

Fuck you.

You think Black Lives Don't Matter?

You're a coward.

You moron jack ass, pig-fucker. Newt Fucking Gingrich admits the drug laws of the nineties destroyed the black population of this country disproportionately. It's fucking math, like physics. How many white people in the population versus how many blacks? How many white people in the population versus how many blacks? It's like you don't understand how light switches work, you brain-dead shit.

Newt Gingrich.

And yet you still think shooting and imprisoning them at will is just fine because, hey, they're black? You are the shittiest of people I know and guess what?  I've met some pretty shitty people.


Covered in shit.

Now, if this makes you mad, that's on you, not me.  Look back at the words I've written and tell me which of these statements told me I was talking about you?

What name did I call you that told you I was talking about you? Which of those statements is wrong? You fucking pigs? You don't understand how light switches work?

You think black lives don't matter?

That's the problem.

Monday, September 25, 2017

An open letter to the NFL from a former fan.

You've done it again NFL, you've done what you always do. You have the attention of the entire country. What you do with it will determine your future this time and I think I can help tell you why.

For the first time in almost two years, I watched football this past Sunday. I did it to see who had the courage to protest in the face of potential loss of employment. I was not disappointed. In order to explain why all of this is so important, you have to understand why I stopped watching football in the first place.

I am forty-three years old. I've been watching football my whole life. Growing up in Oklahoma, I watched the Cowboys. But, you see, it was more than that. My dad loved the Cowboys as did my older brother. Yelling at the television and hoping Drew Pearson caught that monster pass unleashed by Staubach was a rally point for a fracturing family. I believed in football the same way I believed in professional wrestling. The lights shone bright on the VonErich brothers, but no light shone brighter than the one pointed at the Dallas Cowboys.

Many great life memories surround the NFL. I served in the United States Navy. I was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Shasta, which was based out of Concord, CA.  That meant I was a Cowboys fan in San Francisco from 1993 to 1996. One of my best friends was a fellow Cowboys fan from Odessa who married a Niner's fan. Game day was epic. I was a die-hard in enemy territory. Us against the world and we were winning.

One of my favorite memories was the Super Bowl where the Cowboys beat the Steelers. We were in Dubai. I stayed up all night and watched the game live at somewhere around three in the morning. They had spread out a carpet and projected the game feed on to the side of a panel van in the sand just off the pier. I had the early watch the next morning and didn't care. They Boys had beaten the Steelers to claim a championship.

I was in the stadium when Emmitt broke the record. I stayed for the entire post-game program. 

All of that changed when the Cowboys hired Terrell Owens. After his antics on the star at midfield and his continued disrespect of the Cowboys, they hired this cancer. Much like professional wrestling, the heel was trying to turn hero. But, this is real life and the heel stayed a heel and I saw that the NFL was really only about money. Just like wrestling. Obviously, the people in control of the game didn't really care about it the way I did. It was just an investment and maybe bragging rights for rich people. That started the turn.

I never bought another piece of merchandise or a ticket after that.

Two seasons ago I watched as Tony Romo, one of my favorite players of all time, was brutalized and returned too early only to be brutalized again. The evidence for the damage done by CTE to the players was mounting and it became more and more difficult for me as a human being with any shred of empathy to support a game that destroyed these men and hypocritically hyped the violence while punishing the players for the very thing they wanted most from them.

It was no fun to watch anymore.

As a veteran and an American, I saw Colin Kaepernick protest. Most of the men and women I served with, even if they disagreed with his actions, would have literally died for his right to take those actions. Yeah, even for a Niner.

I stopped loving this game when it showed me it was only about money. Colin Kaepernick has shown it can be about more. Yeah, they are still rich by all but the most obscene standards, but I don't think most of them do it for the money. Or, at least, they didn't initially. They did it for the love of their teammates, their brothers. This is the same reason soldiers, sailors and airmen die: For their brothers. Not their flag, their people. That is the same reason Colin Kaepernick and the others kneel. For their people.

The support of the owners and executives I saw this weekend was a wonderful start to proving this game means something more than money. But, it's only a start. The NFL can be the force for positive change all the ads and community service announcements show it to be. It can mean something again, but only if you are courageous enough to let it. As a veteran and a former fan, I say take a knee. The Cowboys play tonight.For the first time in a long time, I'll be watching.

We all will be.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

My friend Joye

My friend died the other day because she didn't have insurance.

She was intelligent, articulate, and beautiful. She had wonderful children that she loved very much and who loved her back as well. 

She had abdominal pain. People told her to go to the emergency department and get it checked out, but she was a single mom without insurance. That's a hell of a place to be. 

Do you go to the emergency department? What if it's nothing big and you are saddled with a bill that can run into five and six-figures? You literally have to make a decision about whether you risk putting your family into a financial hole it could take years to get out of, or maybe you die. Of course, maybe it's nothing. But, it's going to cost you your kid's school clothes money and maybe next month's cable bill to find out. Maybe more.  

So, she did what parents do. She put off her own needs and rolled the dice. Now, her children grow up without a mother. Her family is devastated and the community will have to deal with another broken family. There is no positive here. 

All of this so we can add extra weight to the pockets of insurance companies. We could eliminate the redundancies present with multiple insurance companies and guarantee a level of basic care for everyone in this country. We have the resources.  But, greed prevents it. 

As an emergency department nurse, I know what our capabilities are. I don't know if we could have saved her, hell, I didn't even know she was sick until it was too late. But, I think we could have if we were given one day to try. And, even if we couldn't, we could have given her the gift of saying good bye to her children. 

But none of this happened. Because of insurance.
You were weird, you were beautiful, and you will be missed.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Fighting back is balance.

Sometimes you have to take a side just to get back to balance.

The Paris Climate Accords are important.  So, I'm fighting back.

Someone posted this article from Breitbart and I decided to take it down.

I decided nothing less than a point by point take down would do and I discovered a thing or two in the process.

Point by point.  
From the article: "It’s likely that it was already acting as a drag on the U.S. economy. After President Barack Obama unofficially committed the U.S. to the Paris agreement, businesses began preparing for its impact. Knowing that it would diminish U.S. economic output, businesses invested less and directed more investment toward less-productive technology to meet the climate deal’s mandates. Banks and financiers withdrew capital from sectors expected to suffer under the climate deal and pushed it toward those expected to benefit. A classic example of regulation-driven malinvestment."

What businesses invested what money where? That's a really vague accusation with no evidence to back it up.  Which companies lost shares and why? How do you attribute this directly to these accords? The Accords were adopted 12 December 2015. The DOW was at 17, 128 on December 18th. As of today it is 21, 201. The economy looks fine. All of this is rhetoric completely lacking any evidence. If you discount peer-reviewed scientific studies about climate change, you must be kidding me that you believe this. No review, no evidence, nothing of any substance at all.  

Even the S&P energy index was at 438.48 at December 18th 2015. It currently sits at 476.57.  Probably not the growth the energy CEO's wanted, but not dead, and still growing. 

From the article: "To get the rest of the way, the U.S. would have to make major investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and cleaner motor vehicles. This likely explains why the Paris climate deal was so popular with many in Silicon Valley and many on Wall Street. It promised a bonanza of spending and investment, most likely subsidized by taxpayers, in technologies that wouldn’t otherwise be attractive. It was practically calling out for making self-driving, solar powered cars mandatory."

About that money invested in technologies that would not otherwise be attractive.  What technologies?  How would those technologies look if it were subsidized to the point fossil fuels are and historically have been? What specific regulation would make that self-driving, solar car mandatory?
From the article Point 1: "Goodbye to ‘American Last.’ The Paris agreement was basically an attempt to halt climate change on the honor system. Its only legal requirements were for signatories to announce goals and report progress, with no international enforcement mechanism. As a result, it was likely that the United States and wealthy European nations would have adopted and implemented severe climate change rules while many of the world’s governments would avoid doing anything that would slow their own economies. The agreement basically made the U.S. economy and Europe’s strongest economies sacrificial lambs to the cause of climate change."
The other countries are already moving on this. 

The agreement was a political mechanism for encouraging better behavior.

From the article Point 2: "Industrial Carnage. The regulations necessary to implement the Paris agreement would have cost the U.S. industrial sector 1.1 million jobs, according to a study commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. These job losses would center in cement, iron and steel, and petroleum refining. Industrial output would decline sharply."

This is where things got interesting. I decided to look up that study by the Chamber of Commerce. It was completed by Steven Tule. 

Steven Tule is the vp for climate change and technology for the US Chamber of commerce institute for 21st century energy.

His bio is at
Well, what the hell is EnergyXXI? Google

It's an energy company in Houston specializing in oil and natural gas development.  You think that's a coincidence?  Maybe the bought both .com and .org at the same time? 

I looked it up and the domain registrar for is which is a company that specializes in, and I quote "Protecting brands in the digital world" 

A marketing firm. This isn't a government website. It is a cover for oil and gas interests. That study is worse than useless, it is actively biased to favor those oil and gas interests.

I'm guessing this study never underwent a peer review process. 

Point three references the same bullshit and biased Chamber of Commerce study and should be ignored exactly as much as point two. No proof.

From the article Point 4: Smashing Small Businesses, Helping Big Business. Big businesses in America strongly backed the Paris climate deal. In fact, the backers of the climate deal reads like a “who’s who” of big American businesses: Apple, General Electric, Intel, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, General Mills, Walmart, DuPont, Unilever, and Johnson & Johnson. These business giants can more easily cope with costly regulations than their smaller competitors and many would, in fact, find business opportunities from the changes required. But smaller businesses and traditional start-ups would likely be hurt by the increased costs of compliance and rising energy costs."
This essentially tells you that the major representatives of many other industries, retail, technology, banking and investment, chimicals, cereal and agriculture think the U.S. should stay in the agreement.
All those other industries think it is a bad idea to pull out. One industry thinks it is a good idea to pull out. That one industry who just so happens to be funding all these studies telling you how bad the agreement is.  

Point five actually cites a Heritage Foundation study.  A conservative think tank funded by the Koch brothers who are heavily invested in fossil fuel production?  Again, you get this study peer-reviewed by competing interests, just like the climate change science papers that are denied by these think-tanks, and I'll listen. Until then, shove your Heritage Foundation in the garbage where it belongs.

All of the evidence points one direction. This is the fossil fuel industry fighting for it's life in the face of opposition.  They are directly behind all of this. The last time we let the representatives of the fossil fuel industry take charge of our government, we went to Iraq for no reason and destroyed the country. Now, we have ISIS as a direct result of that era.

If you deny climate change and think we should be out of the Accords because of this crap, your whole belief is built on a foundation of lies.