Monthly Archives: March 2021

DC’s proposed sugary drinks tax is patronizing, targets the poor, and doesn’t address the damn problem (brings in tax revenue, though)

One of the great parts about being a real grown-up boy, beyond saying up as late as I want (which isn’t that damn late any more) is the ability to eat and drink what I want, when I want. Outside my primary care physician, no one gets to give me crap about what I eat.

As a responsible adult, I like it that way.

Then again, I don’t live in the District of Columbia, which may enact a new 15 cents per ounce tax on sugary drinks, such as sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks. Presumably, the big vat of desert you get at Starbuck’s that also includes seven drops of coffee isn’t part of this utopian plan to end all bad things in the nation’s capital.

41 million calories in this picture, but this is not a sugary drink in DC

The surcharge, which would be directly applied to the cost of the drinks, presumably as opposed to being added at the register. (That way it’s not the city government gouging you, it’s the soda company or the store.) It would add $2 to a twelve-pack of sodas.

The tax’s sponsor, council member Mary Cheh, calls it the Nutrition Equity Bill because…I don’t know exactly. I’m not sure how it’s equitable for people with money to jump in a car and drive to Maryland or Virginia to save money on their fix while people who can’t afford that are stuck paying more.

The goal is to reduce obesity and diabeetus, especially among lower-income neighborhoods, which have higher rates of both.

In council member Cheh’s world, it’s okay to extort money from poor people for drinking soda. Beyond that world, it’s not okay to have a conversation about obesity and diabetes, because of hurt feelings and body shaming. While it’s okay for Meagan Trainor to trash skinny bitches (it’s all about that base) and that’s okay, we all have to say Lizzo’s body is absolutely perfect the way it is and there’s nothing she might need to improve for health purposes.

In summary, there’s no problem that can’t be solved by adding to the city’s tax revenue.

What council member Cheh doesn’t take into account is the law of unintended consequences. People who aren’t inclined to eat veggies and tofu won’t start because you made their Coke fix more expensive. They’ll:

  • Figure out a way to get it from Maryland or Virginia, or
  • Switch to diet, which has its own host of health issues, or
  • Buy it on the newly established Mountain Dew black market, or
  • Cut back on the small amount of healthful food they do eat so there’s money for the Cokes.
Come on, man. The first one is free. You know you want it.

The money raised by the taxes will fund a program by which the District’s homeless shelters would be required to serve urban camping enthusiasts (the homeless) healthier meals because the only thing standing between them and health is the option of having riced cauliflower at the soup kitchen.

Some of the money will also be used for grants to support nutrition education, cooking lessons, and gardens at shelters and transitional housing.

Meanwhile, the evil capitalist oppressors (that is, taxpayers) will get all sugared up on their vanilla latte mochaccino belt buster while they run to the suburbs for a 19,000 calorie lunch of bacon-wrapped chicken strips fried in lard with a vat of Coke that would cost $12 million if it were served in the District.

Or we could start raising children that could be coached on healthful habits and the understanding that while Krispy Kreme’s are fun once in a while, the Krispy Kreme Diet will make you look like the Sta-Puft Marshmallow man, and raise Wilford Brimley from the grave.


Dr. Walensky is right, and entitled to having her voice crack a bit

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky’s voice cracked as she described what drove her fears of what she sees as a new wave of infections hitting the United States in the coming weeks.

Dr, Samuel Johnson is right about Rochelle Walensky being right. (Blazing Saddles reference)

“I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom…right now I’m scared,” Dr. Walensky said. “I know what it’s like as a physician to stand in that patient room, gowned, gloved, masked shielded, and to be the last person to touch someone else’s loved one because their loved one couldn’t be there.

“I know what it’s like when you’re the physician, when you’re the healthcare provider, and you’re worried that you don’t have the resources to take care of the patients in front of you. I know that feeling of nausea when you read the crisis standards of care, and you wonder whether there are going to be enough ventilators to go around and who’s going to make that choice. And I know what it’s like to pull up to your hospital every day and see the extra morgue sitting outside.”

After three months of dropping the Covid infection and hospitalization rates have started to increase again, mirroring the start of an increase in Europe a few weeks ago. Dr. Walensky has asked that people continue to follow CDC guidance around masking and social distancing as vaccinations continue.

President Biden has asked that governors restore mask mandates if they took them away–or impose one if they never had one.

To be clear, neither Dr. Walensky or President Biden has called for shutdowns or business closures as a part of their requests. Dr, Walenkey seemed to imply that following the protocols could reduce the need for such actions.

I hate frigging masks. I hate sitting in my damn house every damn day. I hate taking a mask with me when I run in case I might need one. It’s stupid and annoying. And for the moment, it’s necessary.

As many things as Gavin Newsom has screwed up as governor or California, he’s gotten on thing right: openings and lockdowns should be data based. As the numbers go up, restrictions should increase. As they go down, restrictions should decrease. Fear, intuition, or “common sense” about what numbers might do in the future shouldn’t dictate what happens. We will always live in a world where Covid rates might go up, so we have to act when they do go up.

The Gavinator passes the Fezzik test. Sort of. A little.

Governors and state legislatures should also take the opportunity to develop crisis management plans that include a framework of data-based actions, based on something other than a governor’s or set of bureaucrats whims. Now that we’ve been through this, the arbitrary nature of such restrictions, based on executive fiat, is unnecessary.

When you’re told you can play catch with an American mini-football, but not a regular football or that you can go to the store to buy liquor and lottery tickets, but not seeds (which eliminate a need to go to the store down the road when the food grows), you can be excused for thinking there’s no rationale behind the restrictions–and including an established appears process when someone has a reasonable complaint.

No Covid here. Science Some bureaucrat in Sacramento said so.

That said, Dr. Walinsky is correct. She wasn’t a jerk about it. She was effectively begging people to wear masks and get vaccinated. If you’re put off by that, maybe you need a supplement for your paper-thin skin.

Finally, to Dr. Walinsky’s demeanor during her statement, read the quote at the top of this post. All of it’s included for a purpose. Most people have no idea what it’s like to live that life. By the end of the year, if not sooner, the mental-health bill will come due for what those people have had to see and do to get us through this.

In a perfect would, she’d have been as stoic as Mr. Spock during her update. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, the world of the last 12-14 months has been anything but perfect.

Using Dr. Walinsky’s demeanor as a reason to disqualify her or what she said is a weak-stream attempt to mute the discussion.

The bottom line remains the same: please wear a mask when you’re out in public. Follow the (recently loosened) CDC guidelines. Please get vaccinated.

None of these things are the mark of the beast. For a country that used to have the draft, but doesn’t, they’re minor things to ask.

Any day with a Sgt. Hulka reference is a good day.

If you have a problem with that, lighten up.

Francis.


In which Chris struggles with the concept of privilege.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of privilege lately. Not just the straight white male Christian privilege that marks everything I do. There are lots of kinds of privilege.

As I’ve noted before, I have a condition called Fibromyalgia. It’s a condition in which my brain reads normal nervous system chatter as pain. It also increases fatigue, malaise, cognitive functions, and digestive malfunction. My case is relatively mild, to the point where I ran five miles Saturday and walked another three. My goals right now are to complete a 10K sometime in the fall and a half marathon over the winter.

Most people with fibro can’t do that. A lot of them struggle just to get to the end of the day. And while I’m worried about having brain fog on calls late in the day, they’re struggling with holding down any job. It’s kind of like hell on earth.

As I walked Sunday morning, I thought a lot about those people and what I’m accomplishing.

No one will mistake me for a clean eater, but as I’ve taken my diet forward, my pain has almost vanished and the other symptoms are gradually getting better. I’ve worked hard at that. I’m making some of my own food and when I order out, mostly I’m getting low-calorie salads, rather than the burger I really, really want. and I’ve dropped some weight along the way.

I’ve accomplished these things when I could’ve gotten angry and turned inward. It makes me feel good about myself and how I’m managing all of it.

Until I think about the people who can’t. Not everyone has the Instant Pot to make yogurt every week. Nor can they afford the meat grinder attachment to the Kitchen Aid mixer to grind the lean pork for the homemade sausage or the ground turkey. And maybe they struggle to keep the kids fed and bills paid and don’t have time.

So, yeah, I’m doing those things, but maybe it’s only because I have the opportunity to do them.

They either don’t have the luxury to or can’t devote about an hour a day (as it’s turned out) to exercise.

It reminds me of a book we went through years ago in my men’s small group called The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis. I struggled with the content because it seemed to say that anything good in me was there because God put it there. All the bad stuff, that was just me.

And that takes me to the cultural discussion of privilege. I’ve covered this before. I can run before sunrise without worrying about what’ll happen to me. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never been followed around a store in case I decide to shoplift something. While people have made judgements about be based on race or the fact that I’m a dude, it’s been rare.

All the things I said I was privileged to do–the exercise, the cooking, and the rest–are things you can’t do if you’re trying to balance multiple jobs.

One way of looking at that would say that those accomplishments, along with the job I have, the house I live in, and everything else. are solely a product of my privilege. Sure. I’ve had bumps, but relative to women, people of color, LGBTQ+, atheists, Muslims, and a host of other people, I’ve gotten every benefit of the doubt.

In some eyes, as a white dude, I’m nothing more than an accumulation of my privilege.

In my fault, in my fault, in my most grievous fault…

You could even say that because of that fact, in a just world, much of what I have and what I’ve accomplished should belong to someone else.

To be honest, that pisses me off. It makes me functionally worthless.

But I can’t stop with that. It’s blindness to assume I don’t have any advantages because of my sex, my skin color, my heterosexuality, the fact that my Fibro is mild, and a host of other things. It doesn’t mean that I’m nothing more than a collection of my privilege.

Put another way, a lot of people without Fibro didn’t go out and do the road work this weekend. They didn’t accomplish the things I’ve done. I own those things, but even my hard roads might’ve been a little easier.

The question is what I do about that.

When it comes to answers, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

As a Christian, and not a great one, Jesus told us to love God and our neighbor. I’m not certain that’s a great comfort right now.


You survived that last year and that’s pretty bad ass

It’s been a year now, a little more than a year, in fact.

You know what happened, but it’s worth restating it, just in case you forgot the ongoing weight of it:

  • In an instant, the world went from its previous state to something we’ve never seen before. Almost everything was shut down. In many places, you had to go one way up and down the grocery store aisles. Sports went away–not a minor thing for people who find pleasure in them. And no one knew what would come next.
  • While everyone sat at home waiting, our leaders brawled about whether this was even real or just a really, really, really bad cold. (History will judge on that point.) Even talking about the Covid became a point of contention.
  • A black man was hunted down and ambushed while he was out for a run in Georgia. Then a police officer knelt on another black man’s neck for longer than the song American Pie until that man died. Then the US exploded. There were riots, it seemed, everywhere and parts of major cities declared themselves their own autonomous zone.
  • Millions of jobs were lost and people were left with no way to pay the bills and little in the way of hope going forward.
  • Kids schooled from home, meaning parents had to juggle work (or looking for work) with getting the kids online and refereeing the fights that seemed more frequent because they were stressed out, too.
  • As spring turned into summer, a low-grade equilibrium was found. The first wave faded, but there were warnings of a second wave coming in the fall. And the days fell one on the next.
  • Sports restarted, sort of. And even that was a point of contention. Why should we waste precious tests on athletes? Why should there be any additional risk? And yet baseball, basketball, and hockey managed through the best seasons possible without major outbreaks.
  • The election came with all the fear and tension of a Stephen King novel. And like everything, it turned into a food fight. Biden was declared the winner and Trump and his followers vowed not to concede.
  • Four Seasons Total Landscaping, Rudy Giuliani’s bleed hair, and Melissa Carone happened.
  • As predicted, the second wave came around the holidays and even those to whom the Covid had been distant lost people. Wearing a mask, like everything else, became a political and ethical food fight that infected even a trip to the supermarket.
  • Socially distant Christmas happened. For most, it was a pale comparison to the real thing.
  • As infection and death rates skyrocketed, vaccines started to appear in record time.
  • January 6 happened. And stunned the country.
  • The inauguration happened and though everyone held their collective breath, there was no new violence.
  • And now, as we stumble forward toward potential herd immunity, the good news of the vaccination rate conflicts with bad news of variants and a new third wave. That wave is prominent in Europe and parts of South America, but hasn’t established itself in the US. Our infection and death rates are flat, perhaps falling slightly–nothing like the step declines of January and February.
  • We probably all experienced loss during this time, and personal setbacks that may or may not have something to do with the Covid. Sleep’s a mess and stress has become standard operating procedure.
  • As we look forward, on the one hand, there are thoughts of a new roaring twenties. On the other hand, until herd immunity happens, it hard to imagine such a thing. Either way, it’s a tense scenario.
A visual representation of the last twelve months

That’s the Reader’s Digest version.

Imagine if your best friend had gotten through something like that while you were off vacationing on the moon. You’d struggle to believe it was true, and on the end of your struggle, you’d be impressed.

Be impressed. You had it through all of that. There might be some new scars, but here you are.

And that ain’t nothing.


Fibro Saturday: Taking control of things, kitchen adventures, and links

Important disclaimer: I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one of TV. I’ve been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia for less than six weeks and I appear to have a relatively mild case. As with everything Fibro-related, your mileage may vary and probably will. Finally, if you know someone with Fibro, please do not use this post as a guidepost for where they should be. Some days, I spent a lot of time on the couch. Take them at their word. No one would make this up.

When I was first diagnosed, I took a challenge-accepted attitude to this thing. For one thing, I didn’t have cancer or ALS or something that spelled certain or likely death. For another, my mom, sister, and friend all have it and they live relatively normal lives. For a third, if you have to have Fibro, this is the best time in human history to have it. There are resources to help.

Six years ago, I went through something similar, which I now think was a fibro flare. It kicked my ass and I let it. This time would be different.

This time, I wanted to take control of whatever I could.

Last week, I talked about my tracker. which allows me to keep track of what I eat, my exercise, mindset, and symptoms. There’s a really annoying business mindset that says you can’t improve what you don’t measure. It’s annoying, but it happens to be right. My hope is that the tracker will eventually provide enough data to see patterns–the things that help and the things that hurt. It’ll also shame me into healthier choices about what I put into my body. It’s been uneven, but so far, that’s worked, too.

I’ve also started cooking things. More details below, but if I make it, I control what’s in it. That helps me control what goes into my body.

Every morning I get up and exercise. Usually, I walk or run. It’s been six weeks and two days since I’ve started and in those 44 days, I haven’t missed one. That’s been uneven. One day, I walked 1.8 miles in half an hour and that was it. No matter how I feel, I get out of bed and do that.

I also make sure I post to my blog every day. That habit started as a way to make me a better writer. It’s grown from that. I write about things I believe in and find important. There’s a purpose to it.

It all comes down to purpose.

As I said above, I have a mild case of this, which gives me the ability to do things. This morning I ran five miles and walked another three (I may pay for that later. I’m jonesing for a nap like crazy right now). Maybe you can’t walk more than half a mile. That’s okay. Whatever you can do is something you took control over today.

But the important thing is to find purpose in life. I’ve been dealt this card. It’s not my entire hand. I get four other cards. So I’ll do everything possible to use those four cards wisely. With luck (the residue of design), I can draw four aces. That’ll beat everything except a straight flush.

* * *

Kitchen adventures. One way you can take control of what you eat is to make it yourself. Last weekend, I made a flank steak and broccoli recipe that would’ve been better if I hadn’t burnt the steak. If I make it again, I’ll use sirloin.

I also made yogurt and granola. I got three meals out of the steak and still have a bit of granola left over. When I get a little more confident, I may start to video the cooking. But I’m not there yet.

Yogurt. If you have an instant pot, it’s ridiculously easy to make your own yogurt. You put two tablespoons of store-bought yogurt in your instant pot and add a carton of Fairlife milk (52 ounces). You whisk it together and put the lid on. Then you press the Yogurt button and eight hours later, you’re good to go. It typically lasts me a week for breakfast or a snack. I’ve mixed it with oatmeal or granola. This recipe calls for more milk, but one carton of Fairlife works.

If you can’t have dairy, there are a number of instant pot yogurt recipes, as well. Many use coconut or cashew milk.

Granola. The granola you buy is stores isn’t as healthy as you might think. There’s a lot of sugar in it and it’s high fat. so I found this recipe and made it twice. It’s pretty easy. You take four cups of oatmeal, a cup and a half of nuts or seeds (I like walnuts and cashews), some salt, some cinnamon, olive oil (I use extra virgin), honey, and vanilla. Spread it out on a cookie sheet and bake it.

Before, after everything’s added and mixed.

The recipe calls for 21 to 24 minutes, but I’m finding I probably need to pull it out at 18 minutes to prevent burning. It makes enough granola that you can snack on it or eat it for breakfast and your primary care doctor won’t yell at you because it’s high in fat.

After. Let it sit at least 45 minutes, break it up and put it in a bag. You’re set for the week

Using turkey. If I splurge and get a burger, I want a burger. But for recipes where the beef is primarily a flavor-delivery system, I’m open to alternatives. I figure for chili (for instance), turkey’s worth a try. I have a grinder attachment for the Kitchen-Aid mixer, so I bought a frozen turkey breast, let it thaw, and ground it up. I got a little more than three and a half pounds. You can but it already ground, but it’s a little cheaper this way (and I just wanted to use the grinder.)

I’ll let you know how it goes.

I wanted to start doing these things with my diet anyway, but I probably wouldn’t have if not for the Fibro. Ultimately, I’m out ahead a little here.

Links

A final word. You put another week in the books. Maybe it was an easy week, or maybe not. But you made it when a lot of other people would’ve give up. Take a second and think about that.


A jacket and tie wasn’t oppression at Bishop Scully High School; it’s not oppression in legislative session

This post started as a rant that started when a Facebook group that I’m in for a male perspective of a health problem blew up. I think I was part of the problem for saying that there’s sex and there’s gender and certain things are specific to people who were born male, regardless of how they identify. I stand by that statement and assert there’s not a bit of bigotry in it.

It pissed me off.

Then I read about how Jay Leno is apologizing for jokes about Asians, including a joke from 2020 indicating that Koreans eat dog meat. He’s going to host a reboot of the game show You Bet Your Life (apologies to gambling addicts, the dead, and the undead, but I didn’t name it when Groucho Marx started hosting in in 1947).

Then I read how legislators in Rhode Island, Montana, and Iowa are arguing over dress codes during session, because dress codes are “colonization language.” Wearing a jacket and tie is now apparently a vestige of racism and colonialism. (If I’d have told Sister Mary Kay that in Bishop Scully High School, I’d still be staying after school even though it closed in 1990.)

Earlier in the week, I wrote about protests against Chuck Lorre’s new show The United States of Al, in part because it romanticizes occupation forces. That would mean not only does that show have to go away, but everything from Hogan’s Heroes to M*A*S*H to Magnum, PI (the outstanding original) to Magnum PI (the gaudy unnecessary reboot) would have to go away.

A lot of women romanticized this occupation force 40 years ago.

I really want to rant about it. And maybe I just did. Maybe that’s just me leaning hard on my white, male, heterosexual, Christian, work-from-home privilege. (Yes, I was instructed work-from-home privilege is a thing, too). Maybe I’m just an asshole wanting to be an asshole without being called on it. Maybe I’m a racist son of a–, well, you know, but that work is misogynist, so…

Maybe I need a heepin’ helpin’ of cancel consequence culture for not treating every sin like a moral one.

So I thought about it some more and decided that maybe I need to listen a little more, but maybe it’s possible to say “No I don’t think so” to some of this stuff without being a horrible privileged asshole who needs to be canceled (by the way it’s hard to say that cancel culture doesn’t exist when that’s the verb people use when they gather to pronounce someone unemployable on Twitter).

I went to Catholic school and wore a tie for three years. I worked in the New York State Legislature for a couple years and wore a tie every damn day to session. It’s part of the gig. If you don’t want to follow the rules of the gig, don’t take it. It’s not like you can’t wear a jacket and tie and honor your heritage.

Wear a damn tie to session. (And that one’s pretty awesome.)

For the record, targeting anyone for violence because of their race, color, creed, sex, gender, religious affiliation (or lack thereof), disability status, or anything I missed isn’t what you do in a free society or as a Christian. And all of those people should have equal opportunity for the life you and I enjoy without thinking about it.

That doesn’t mean that every slight is a federal case or that you don’t sometimes say “Dude, if you don’t like the TV show, don’t watch it.” And maybe the uneven, “oooh, look a new shiny thing” justice of the massive Twitter jury shouldn’t be the final arbiter.

With each of the gripes in this post, I seriously considered that I might be wrong and that people really are oppressed by it. Maybe the answer is, as Commissioner Goodell once said, that if one person is offended you have to have the conversation. And maybe I’m just an asshole justifying my assholocity. (New word, I own intellectual property rights.)

Or maybe there’s a balance.

Or maybe I’m wrong.

I don’t know.


George Segal, 1934-2021

Sitcoms are hardly a high art form. Even the best–All in the Family, Cheers, Seinfeld–are filled with ridiculous plots and two-dimensional characters that wouldn’t be much fun in real life.

The Goldbergs isn’t among the best of them. Rarely has a piece of absolute fiction pissed me off the way it has. Did you see the one where the mom blew through all reasonable boundaries and embarrassed the hell out of her kids? Or the one where Barry was a self-important jerk who proclaimed himself great at something he never worked at? Or the one where Adam perplexed his did with his love of robits and disdain for sports? Or, and this is the worst one, where Jeff Garlin took his pants off and showed you his tighty whities?

Of course you did, because that’s every stupid episode.

And yet I keep watching. Somehow, in spite of the fact that I frequently want to beat each character to death with a brick, the show’s comforting.

And the brick thing isn’t totally fair. I never wanted to beat Pops, the grandfather, played by George Segal.

Pops is clueless half the time and dripping with wisdom the other half. When he’s clueless, it’s because the rest of the family is so insane that no reasonable person would understand.

He kind and wise and infinitely accepting and forgiving. In short, he’s everyone’s ideal grandpa.

Both of my grandfathers died when I was young, and though I loved them both, I had a special relationship with my mom’s dad. I’m pretty sure his death changed me. Both of my grandfathers and that little boy are long since gone. But maybe my affection for that character allows to me scratch an itch I didn’t know I had.

Whatever the reason, it’s Segal’s work that made me want to watch the show. He radiated warmth and made you feel like, to steal a phrase, he was always glad you came.

George Segal’s career spanned six decades on stage, screen, and TV. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Who‘s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and won two Golden Globe Awards. He was a leading man and a supporting actor. In terms of guys I watch because I like their work, he’s never been one of them.

But I really loved him as Pops.

There are worse things in life than for your work to make someone sad when you pass away.

Thanks, George Segal.


After Boulder, something has to be done. But beware of unintended consequences.

I don’t know what it’s like to lose someone to a mass shooting. Odds are overwhelmingly good I’ll never find out. But I imagine I’d have a hard time not being angry at both the shooter and the circumstances that allowed the shooter to do that damage.

In the case of the Boulder King Soopers shooting, I’d struggle to forgive Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa. I’d like to think I’d get there. And if you can’t forgive just yet, wanting to be able to forgive must count for something.

But the shooter’s brother, Ali Aliwi Alissa reported that Ahmad was significantly mentally ill. He was paranoid and according to a quote in The Daily Beast, he’d talk about “being chased, someone is behind him, someone is looking for him.”

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa. (Photo courtesy of Boulder Police Department)

To be clear, I support the Second Amendment as an important part of the US Constitution. In a free society, you get the right to protect yourself, to hunt, and to sport shoot. In a responsible society, we also monitor rights to make sure everyone is safe.

That monitoring needs to be stepped up.

Assuming Ali is correct, it’s fair to ask how the hell someone as messed up as Ahmad was able to own a firearm that would do that much damage. (If he didn’t own it, it’s fair to ask how the hell he got it.)

Because we’re a responsible society, it’s reasonable to put a process in place to remove firearms from people who aren’t mentally stable enough to use them responsibly and to have mental health screening be part of the permitting and ownership process.

But there are complications. The requirements have to be reasonable and follow due process. It’s not paranoia to think that a subset of gun control proponents will use that clause to make it functionally impossible to own firearms. When proponents say a specific proposal is a good start, that means they want more restrictions, potentially a lot more.

Whatever regulations are put in place have to have clear, measurable requirements. In other words, flipping off the person who cut you off in traffic is orders of magnitude away from potentially killing someone and it needs to be treated that way. The standards must be clear and objective.

More important, the regulations cannot discourage people from getting the mental illness help they need. If I own guns and I struggle with depression, I shouldn’t lose my guns simply for seeking counseling to get over a problem, or for taking anti-depressants. If regulations require that, they’ll create an incentive for people who need help to forego it–meaning they won’t get the help they need, resulting in a net increase of risk.

What we have now clearly isn’t working. But that doesn’t mean all forms of gun control are equally valid.

Given the number of firearms available in this country, if you severely restrict legal ownership, we’ll wind up with a crime wave like we’ve never seen before.

In the meantime, there are a lot of stunned and angry people in Boulder today. Because of their loss, they should get to do that.

You ought to be able to go get groceries without getting shot down in cold blood.


Cancel culture exists and the reaction to Chuck Lorre’s new sitcom might be it

Chuck Lorre has made CBS a ton of money, His stable of shows rivals Norman Lear, Garry Marshall, and Dick Wolf (among others) as the most successful runs for any show-runner in television history. Although the Allison Janney/Anna Faris vehicle Mom ends its run next month, Lorre still has four CBS shows: Young Sheldon, The Komiskey Method, Bob Hearts Abishola, and the new United States of Al.

Chuck Lorre (Photo by Brian To/FilmMagic)

It’s the last of those shows that’s causing a ruckus on the socials. Sin number one is that the main character, Al, is a Afghan translator for the US military–and he’s not played by an Afghani. Actor Adhir Kalyan is from South Africa and is of Indian descent. For another, the show romanticizes the relationship between US forces and Afghan translators. For a third, it’s racist. As writer Rekha Shankar tweeted, “Can someone tell Chuck Lorre that ‘what if a white person liked a brown person’ is not a TV show concept.”

And all of this ruckus stemmed from a 90-second trailer that’s aired over the last week or so.

Resa Aslan, who worked on The Leftovers is also working on the show and said the show actually has four Afghan writers and takes a risk in portraying an Afghan Muslim. He said “There are dozens and dozens of Afghan interpreters living with US soldiers. We know cause we actually spoke to them. This is literally their story.”

As to the casting, Aslan–who’s hardly a MAGA fan–said they tried 100 Afghan actors, but couldn’t find the right person for the role. He also said the show works “hand in hand” with a group called No One Left Behind, a non-profit “dedicated to ensuring that America keeps its promise to our interpreters from Iraq and Afghanistan.” Their website actually includes the trailer posted above.

A NYU author Arash Azizi tweeted, “Adhir Kalyan is an Indian-South African actor born in apartheid South Africa. In 2021 America, he is told he can’t play characters outside his own ‘race’. I guess he is familiar with this Apartheid thinking?”

In other words, it’s not like they made up Fisher Stevens or Mickey Rooney up to be an offensive stereotype of one of them fer-ners.

Fisher Stevens in the 1986 movie Short Circuit.

Lorre’s been criticized for insensitive content on The Big Bang Theory and former CBS show Two Broke Girls, but has also been praised for Bob Hearts Absishola. And I’ve found Mom to be a snarky, but poignant look at the lives of alcoholics and the struggles with their relationships.

This show seems to be one of the first to try to deal with some of the thorny issues stemming from the second Gulf War. If it romanticizes occupation forces, as one critic charges, then Magnum, P.I. would’ve been guilty of the same. Yet its treatment of the aftermath of the Vietnam War was roundly praised by war veterans.

That’s Tom Selleck as Magnum, not some other guy.

To be fair, this type of outrage over a show that hasn’t aired yet isn’t new. In the early 80s, while Tom Selleck was romanticizing occupation forces, Tony Randall starred in an NBC sitcom called Love, Sidney, in which he played a gay man. Before it aired, there was an uproar by the same type of people bitching about cancel culture now, demanding that they cancel the show because Randall’s character was gay.

The show aired for two seasons to so-so ratings and the world didn’t end.

This show could be a steaming pile of racist crap. Or it could use comedy to expand the way we see something.

We’d never know if people got their way because of a 90-second promo and and a high-level understanding of the show’s premise.


After being vaccinated, people will still get the Covid and die. We need to be ready for that.

My Covid parole date is May 3.

That’s two weeks after my second shot and the point at which (at least for now), the CDC says I don’t need to stay home as much as possible. It’s the day I can enjoy time with people without sitting outside on the driveway with all the trays and the folding table we got just for that purpose.

It might be before May 3 or after, but there’ll be news, breathlessly reported, that someone–or maybe a group of someones–got vaccinated, waited the appropriate number of days, and still got the Covid. Eventually someone–maybe even me–will get fully vaccinated, wait the appropriate two weeks, and get sick and die.

We need to expect that. That’s what it means when a vaccine is less than 100 percent effective.

The Atlantic posted a great article about this, and pointed out that of the people who’ve been vaccinated so far and who got the disease anyway, the cases were “mostly mild.” The article says, “The goal of vaccination isn’t eradication, but a détente in which humans and viruses coexist, with the risk of disease at a tolerable low.”

The article also illuminates why it’s still a good idea to wear a mask and take some precautions after being fully vaccinated.

On the plus side, you still won’t have to worry about those laugh lines.

“If vaccinated people are spending time with groups of unvaccinated people in places where the virus is running rampant, that still raises their chance of getting sick. Large doses of the virus can overwhelm the sturdiest of immune defenses, if given the chance.”

So the Roman orgy you may have been planning is probably still a bad idea, at least for the moment.

But getting together with friends? Going to a ballgame? That’s probably something to do–especially in Tropicana Field, where there aren’t many people ot begin with.

Tropicana Field, where social distancing has been a thing since 1998

The road back won’t be instant. There will still be cases and surges. We’ll probably have some additional bumps as we head back into fall and the holidays this year. We need to expect that and accommodate that in our thought patterns.

A Covid death toll of zero is desirable, but not realistic. In that regard, Covid is like the flu. We have to accept the new reality that people will continue to get sick from this, and some will die.

It doesn’t mean we become callous to it. Losing someone is hard, whether it’s from the Covid or any other disease. But we have to expect that and be determined to go on anyway.

That’s not greed or hatred. It’s what we already do.