How many more?

How many more innocent children must be slaughtered before we do something?

How many more grocery shoppers, or church-goers?

How many more fellow citizens must die or be maimed in petty arguments that escalate due to the presence of guns?

How many more women must be threatened, stalked and killed by gun-wielding ex-lovers?

How many more loved ones must be gone forever, due to suicidal thoughts and access to a gun?

I’m asking Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, who just signed legislation allowing adults to carry a concealed handgun without a license or training, and the governors of 22 other states who have signed similar laws.

I’m asking every member of Congress who refuses to even consider common sense gun regulations. The same ones who tweet out their thoughts and prayers every time another senseless — and likely preventable — mass shooting happens.

Thoughts and prayers. It began as a cliché. It became a joke. It has putrefied into a national shame.

If tonight, Americans do turn heavenward in pain and grief for the lost children of Uvalde, Texas, they may hear the answer delivered in the Bible through the words of Isaiah:

“And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.”

Large font text above from this article by David Frum in The Atlantic

But I’m also asking you, Mr. and Ms. Responsible Gun Owner. Because I have more hope that you’ll do something to stem the tide of bloodshed.

The shock and horror of mass shootings focus our attention. But most of the casualties are inflicted one by one by one. Americans use their guns to open fire on one another at backyard barbecues, to stalk and intimidate ex-spouses and lovers, to rob and assault, and to kill themselves. Half of the almost 48,000 suicides committed in 2019 were carried out by gun. All of this slaughter is enabled by the most permissive gun laws in the developed world.

David Frum in The Atlantic, Sept. 1, 2021

We’ve trapped the cause of the plague

In the land of the free and the home of the brave

XTC “Melt the Guns”

While you’re sending out your thoughts and prayers, here’s something else for you to think about:

In virtually every way that can be measured, owning a firearm makes the owner, the owner’s family, and the people around them less safe. 

Same article as above.

We know the germ

Which is man-made in metal

Is really the key to your own tomb

XTC “Melt the Guns”

My prayers are that more Americans start to realize that more guns in more hands will mean more senseless deaths.

From the same article cited above.

You’ll gather your senses, I’m sure
Then agree to

[Chorus]
Melt the guns
Melt the guns
Melt the guns and never more to fire them
Melt the guns
Melt the guns
Melt the guns and never more desire them

XTC “Melt the Guns”

I’m not a Karen… I’m just carin’

In my dotage, I’ve become “that guy”…

OK, I haven’t taken to yelling at clouds yet, but I DID write to the City of Cincinnati to school them on the many benefits of the “zipper merge” when they had traffic barrels set up on the road I take to work.

(Sidebar: the Zipper Merge deserves its own post… study up here.)

And I used the Fix it Cincy! app on my phone to complain about the sinkhole forming near a drain on the baseball fields near our house. Because if someone were walking there after dark, they could break a leg. And not in the Broadway sense.

The city put up the caution tape first, and filled the sinkhole shortly thereafter.

And I also used the Fix it Cincy! app to get a Grand Canyon-sized pothole filled on a busy street near our house.

I sent in my request on a Thursday night, and the pothole was repaired by Monday afternoon. (And yes, I filled out the feedback survey to let them know I appreciated their prompt response – I can do compliments just as well as complaints.)

You can’t fight City Hall. But you can ask them to be wise stewards of your tax dollars, and fix what needs to be fixed. And if you don’t reach out, you’ve got no right to complain. But feel free to yell at clouds all you want.

A Mann of Letters

May 4th has turned into “Star Wars Day”…

But it should be “What a Mann!” Day instead. Here’s why:

It’s the birthday of the man who said, “Education is our only political safety. Outside of this ark, all is deluge.” The father of American public education, Horace Mann, was born on this day in Franklin, Massachusetts, in 1796. He grew up without much money or schooling, and what he did learn, he learned on his own at his local library, which had been founded by Benjamin Franklin. He was accepted into Brown University and graduated in three years, valedictorian of his class.

He was elected to the state legislature in 1827 and 10 years later, when Massachusetts created the first board of education in the country, he was appointed secretary. Up to this point he hadn’t had any particular interest in education, but when he took the post he dedicated himself to it wholeheartedly. He personally inspected every school in the state, gave numerous lectures, and published annual reports advocating the benefits of a common school education for both the student and the state. He spearheaded the Common School Movement, which ensured all children could receive a basic education funded by taxes.

He was elected to the United States Congress in 1848 after the death of John Quincy Adams and, in his first speech, he spoke out against slavery. He wrote in a letter later that year, “I think the country is to experience serious times. Interference with slavery will excite civil commotion in the South. But it is best to interfere. Now is the time to see whether the Union is a rope of sand or a band of steel.”

When he left politics he moved to Ohio to accept a position as president of Antioch College. “I beseech you to treasure up in your hearts these my parting words,” he told one graduating class. “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

Pretty impressive stuff, eh? I’d say advocating for a basic education for all children, funded by taxes, is a “victory for humanity.”

But it’s an ongoing battle. Some narrow-minded folks are packing school boards and trying to whitewash the not-so-great moments in the history of this great nation. “Ignorance is bliss” to those who crave power instead of democratic (small d) ideas. That’s not the “force” we need.

“Education is our only political safety. Outside of this ark, all is deluge.”

Horace Mann

[tip o’ the cap to my friend Phil for putting Mr. Mann’s birthday on my radar. ]

Love your Mom, KISS your Dad

About a month ago, Paul Stanley of the band KISS sent out this tweet:

Such a sweet sentiment from an unexpected source… this is the guy who wrote “Love Gun” right? The Twitterverse responded in kind(ness):

Never thought I’d get great life advice from a guy who wears kabuki makeup, spiked boots and spandex for a living, but there you have it.

Of course, there is a flip side to this sentimental record…

Today is my mom’s birthday. She would be 87… but she only made it to 33. This photo was taken in July of 1968. By November of that year, she was gone. That dapper young lad on the far left (striking the perfect JC Penney catalog pose, might I add) left plenty unsaid… and has zero memories to cherish.

I’m not trying to throw a pity party on my mom’s birthday. But I have plenty of friends who are dealing with the many challenges of having elderly parents – multiple meds, doctors appointments, surgeries, chemo, dementia, cleaning out decades of accumulated “stuff” from a home, paying the bills, assisted living, nursing home, hospice. I’m sure it can be a pain in the butt. If you’re in this situation and feeling the burden, please re-read Paul Stanley’s notes for a bit of perspective. Remember that you’re blessed. And it sure beats the alternative.

Tell your parents how much you’ll miss them when they’re gone. Tell them how much you love them and remind them of all the memories you cherish. What you do today will give you peace of mind and comfort tomorrow.

The guy who wrote “Strutter”

Lost & Found. But more Found than Lost.

My dearest daughter sent me this email recently:

She has 10 flatmates in her student housing at the University of Glasgow… that would double my current readership! So here goes….

Leah has been in college overseas for about 8 months now. During that time she has:

  • Lost her passport
  • Lost her Ohio ID
  • Lost her student ID
  • Lost the credit card tied to our account
  • Had her phone stolen

For Leah, those incidents have been aggravating. As a parent who is nearly 2,000 miles away (sorry, flatmates, I meant nearly 3,000 kilometers away), it’s super-frustrating.

But that’s all “stuff.” It can be replaced. It has been. What’s much more important is what she’s found during her “fresher” year of “uni.” (Man, these flatmates better appreciate how I’m adapting my vocabulary!)

She’s found friends. Ones who helped her with booking a hostel and a new flight when she had to stay a couple extra days in Krakow, Poland after she lost her passport there back in October.

Friends who made an American-style Thanksgiving feast when she was missing home in November.

Friends who will stay up until the wee hours to watch the Cincinnati team play in the Super Bowl… even though they think rugby is better.

Friends who invited her to their homes…. in London:

And in Derry:

She’s learned how to navigate unfamiliar cities in foreign countries.

St. Paddy’s Day… in Dublin!

She’s met people from all over the globe, and learned about different cultures.

She’s found that’s she’s capable of much more than she thought she was just 8 short months ago.

“Stuff” can be replaced. Experiences can’t.

Cheers!

Valley Heat – the hottest podcast in the world!

I’m late to the game on this podcast (sorry, I lead a sheltered life), but Valley Heat is the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long time.

It’s like A Confederacy of Dunces meets Arrested Development meets Fernwood 2 Night…. Doug’s deadpan delivery, a wacky cast of characters, fun music references, the bogus promo spots, and great theater-of-the-mind audio all combine to create a perfect storm of humor. Every element is note-perfect!

It’s a bit tough to explain because the folks responsible for the podcast have created a whole wacky world within a Burbank, California neighborhood. Tosthe protagonist, Doug, ostensibly is trying to crack the case of who is using his garbage can as a drug drop. But really that’s just a doorway to all sorts of shenanigans involving an accident-prone attorney, a house that’s also a nightclub/arcade/pizza parlor/car wash, a mean father-in-law (who also runs a muffler empire), a DEA agent who does stakeouts with his mom, legendary frisbee golf players, mean foosball players, Jan that Movie (listen to learn), and a weaselly optometrist. Speaking of which, here’s Doug talking about his teenage son, who was prescribed transition lenses:

I wound up binge-listening to all the episodes over a weekend and was cracking up the whole time. I don’t know what sort of mind can come up with a Simon & Garfunkel alternate version of the Cheers theme song, but I’m totally here for it!

The Patreon offers bonus episodes, which are equally entertaining. Here’s an excerpt about a new product that sounds perfect… other than the fire hazard:
Don’t just trust my judgment on this, trust Eliza Skinner:

Or my buddy Howard:

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have some Jannie Cakes for breakfast…

The Wild, Wild West is in our backyard

Here’s a hot topic: your kid shouldn’t get shot while shopping at Hot Topic.

Your son shouldn’t become a target while shopping at Target.

A teenage party shouldn’t turn into two funerals.

A trip to the grocery store shouldn’t end in a trip to the E.R.

What do these shootings have in common? Well, they weren’t “random acts of violence” according to the police…

South Carolina: “We believe the individuals that were armed knew each other, and there was some type of conflict that occurred which resulted in gunfire,” Holbrook said in a Saturday afternoon news conference. “This was not a situation where we had some random person show up at a mall to discharge a firearm and injure people.”

https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/16/us/shooting-at-south-carolina-mall/index.html

Target store in Cincinnati: “The early stages of the investigation reveal the victim was targeted outside the store by the suspect,” a police spokesperson said. “This was not a random act of violence.”

https://www.fox19.com/2022/03/17/1-person-killed-shooting-outside-oakley-target/

Kroger store in Cincinnati: The March 25 shooting in the parking lot of the Hyde Park Kroger began as a “physical altercation” between a Kroger employee and another man inside the store, prosecutors said Wednesday. After the altercation, the man left the store. Prosecutors said the employee, 23-year-old Kevion Howze – who had a 9mm handgun – chased the man and shot at him four times in the parking lot.

https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/crime/2022/04/13/deters-fight-involving-hyde-park-kroger-employee-led-shooting/9462077002/

Pittsburgh party: “Unfortunately, guns came into play, and we had shootings that occurred inside and outside the structure,” Schubert told CNN’s Kate Bolduan Monday. “We’re trying to piece everything together.”

https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/17/us/pittsburgh-east-allegheny-shooting/

So they weren’t random… that should put everyone’s minds at ease. Oh, other than the folks — many of them innocent bystanders — who were shot, or shot at, or had to jump out of windows to avoid getting shot. Oh, and their friends and relatives too, many of whom are attending funerals.

One other similarity among these “non-random” shootings? The people pulling the triggers were all under the age of 25.

Although brain development is subject to significant individual variation, most experts suggest that the brain is fully developed by age 25…. This means that some people may have major struggles with impulsive decisions

https://mentalhealthdaily.com/2015/02/18/at-what-age-is-the-brain-fully-developed/

Wait, there’s one other thing these incidents — and hundreds more across the country — have in common: unfettered access to guns. There’s a huge difference between a fight among teens and a gunfight among them. When “beef” meets bullets, when testosterone combines with Glocks, when bullets are flying instead of just fists, we all lose.

I’m not naïve enough to think that every argument among teens or young adults will end with some sort of West Side Story finger-snapping dance. But I sure wish that were the case. Kids and young adults make bad decisions – that’s part of the growing up process. But when their brains are clouded and their hands are on a gun, it turns deadly.

“People should be outraged at what is currently going on. No one should fear getting shot while they are simply trying to shop at their local Kroger.”

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, in the article cited above

Yes, we should be outraged. More than half of us are… and favor common sense restrictions.

Source: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/09/13/key-facts-about-americans-and-guns/

But… and there’s always a but… special interests have used political donations and fear-mongering to their advantage. In Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine just signed a new law that allows adults (21 or older) to carry a concealed weapon without a permit or training. And they don’t even have to tell a police officer that they have a gun unless specifically asked.

“Passing Senate Bill 215 and repealing Ohio’s concealed carry permitting law is another dangerous step in the wrong direction and it is a serious threat to public safety in our communities,” the Ohio Mayors Alliance Board of Directors wrote in a statement this month. “Our bipartisan coalition of mayors has stood with law enforcement groups in opposition to this bill because we know it will make our police officers less safe, it will increase gun violence in our communities, and it recklessly blurs the line between criminals with guns and properly licensed gun owners.”

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/ohio-gov-dewine-signs-bill-allowing-people-carry-concealed-firearms-without-permit

DeWine is 75, so we can’t blame it on an underdeveloped brain.

Kevin Necessary editorial cartoon in the Cincinnati Enquirer

“By signing this bill into law, Mike DeWine has sold out Ohioans and law enforcement officers to special interest groups and extremists in the legislature. This bill will make all Ohioans less safe. Time and again, DeWine has promised to support law enforcement officers and ‘do something’ to combat gun violence in our state. Once again, he’s failed on both fronts, putting his own political interests over the safety and well-being of his constituents.” 

Ohio Democratic Party Chair Elizabeth Walters 

So, my rootin’ tootin’ gun-totin’ friends… how does this — the “constitutional carry” and the “stand your ground” and the fact that it’s easier for a teen to get a gun than to see an R-rated movie… make us all safer? Please let me know soon – I need to go grocery shopping.

To Be a Winner, Be You

Jon Batiste took home a fistful of Grammys a couple of weeks ago, including the highly coveted Album of the Year award for We Are.

In that moment, it would’ve been very easy for him to thump his chest. Instead he opened his heart.

So classy, so gracious, so humble… and he spoke the truth. We don’t find music so much as music finds us… when we need it the most.

I loved his parting words: “Be you!”

We each have our own path, our own craft. Work at it every day. You may not make the Grammy stage, but you come out a winner in the game of life.

I listened to Jon Batiste on the Broken Record podcast a few weeks ago and was really blown away by his heart, and his wisdom, and his love. Check it out at the bottom of this post- it’s mandatory listening.

In the interview, Jon Batiste makes it clear that he didn’t get to where he is on his own. He talked about his mentors. Their role is crucial.

One of Jon Batiste’s mentors was his father, who urged him to “tell the truth.”

Another was his cousin Alvin Batiste, a legendary New Orleans jazz musician. Alvin pushed Jon out of his comfort zone, and it made him better at his craft:

Your ability, your talent, the innate thing that you have within you… can be applied to anything. It doesn’t just have to fit the thing that you know you’re capable of doing today…. that’s why I don’t believe in limitations of genre or limitations of creativity in any way.

Jon Batiste

Sometimes the highest hurdles are the limits we impose on ourselves. Congrats to Jon Batiste on his Grammy success. And congrats to YOU on your continued success in whatever path you choose.

Here’s Jon Batiste’s full interview on the Broken Record podcast:

0016: Licensed to Drive

Our “baby” boy got his driver’s license yesterday morning, and went to his school’s prom last night.

2008 CR-V with 200K miles… rollin’ in style!

Just like that, we went from one phase of life to another. From Parent Uber to keeping your phone unsilenced and on the nightstand. Better the devil you know…

He’ll turn 17 in a month, so he’s a bit late to the driving game (thanks pandemic!). I’m fine with that. My auto insurance premium was fine with that too. He’s a cautious driver, and he’s put in his hours, but those are no guarantee of safety. Far from it.

Our baby has a lot more freedom. My wife and I will get a few more gray hairs. That’s how the wheels of life turn… and you can’t slow them down.

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