Tag: Society

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Sign of the Times

Two weeks ago, while walking around Hillcrest, my wife and I briefly stopped by the local, massive, used bookstore. To my surprise, the place was three-quarters emptied and going out of business. Yikes! I hadn’t shopped there for nearly a year, when purchasing a paperback for myself later given to my father-in-law. While 5th Avenue Books is gone, online counterpart Schrader’s Books will continue selling used titles through Amazon. As someone who almost exclusively reads ebooks, I occasionally—but, honestly, rarely—shopped out-of-prints not available in digital format, almost always finding the sought-after read.

That last purchase: The Past Through Tomorrow by Robert A. Heinlein, an old-time favorite selling for three bucks. When I first bought the anthology in high school, it came as a set with two other titles: Stranger in a Strange Land and Time Enough for Love. During the last year of my father-in-law’s life, reading became his main recreation. I donated the Heinlein title to that cause. Following the 95 year-old’s death nine weeks ago, I reclaimed the book to read and as remembrance. 

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My Comic-Con Luck Runs Out

I dreaded this day but mentally prepared—or so it seemed. San Diego Comic-Con 2017 Early Registration commenced this morning. Passes sold out in about an hour, and I got none for any of the four days or Preview Night. I attended continuously, starting in 2009—the first six years as registered press. For reasons unknown to me, SDCC did not “verify” my media status for 2015 or 2016, but I was able to register and pay for the entire event.

Open Registration is still to come, and the convention changed the press submission schedule for the July 19 (Preview Night) – 23 event. Past years: December. Now it’s end of April. Before the new week starts, I will resubmit legitimate materials that, if my luck isn’t exhausted, might lead to press certification and attendance. 

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‘Everything is an Opportunity’

A few months ago, I adopted a new, personal slogan—and it is my motto for 2017: “Everything is an opportunity”. Think of it as an adaptation of old adage: “Make your own luck”, which I Googled today out of curiosity. There’s some good advice from several of the top hits, somewhat syncing with my own thinking, that would be good new year reading for you: That phrase as headline, Psychology Today; “13 Proven Ways to Make Your Own Luck“, Inc.; and “10 Proven Ways to Make Your Own Luck“, Entrepreneur.

How interesting: Business publication stories top search results for the “luck” phrase; other than PT. I see the sense in that for someone trying to build something. My motto differs in expanse: It is a lifestyle, a way of thinking. I don’t mean to sound like some living-in-lala-land motivational speaker. As a journalist, my cynicism about everything flows deep through my psyche. But so does my optimism, based on experience. 

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Patriot One seeks to ‘Prevent the Growth of Terrorism and Gun Violence’

The cop convention is in town this weekend, and I have never seen so many men in blue-grey suits or uniformed officers strutting sidearms. Quite possibly the safest-feeling place in San Diego through October 18th is the San Diego Convention Center and the areas around it—that is unless you’re a lawbreaker or someone as afraid of men and women in uniform as clowns. What the hell is this clown craze anyway? Yeah, that’s off-topic.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police holds its 123rd annual conference, which I blasted through (poor choice of words, I know) yesterday for a specific, and interesting product launch: Patriot One’s NForce CMR1000; self-described as a “covert primary screening device for the detection of on-body concealed weapons at access points including hallways and doorways of weapons-restricted buildings and facilities”. I met with CEO Martin Cronin and Chief Science Advisor Natalia Nikolova. 

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Red Shirts Mark My Comic-Con Blues

I won’t attend all, or even most, of San Diego Comic-Con as planned this week. SDCC is the only event I look forward to all year. But an opportunity came to undergo corrective surgery in one of my eyes (the other follows in a few weeks) sooner than expected. I will be at the Con Wednesday night but not Thursday (gonna be under the scalpel—or is it laser—that day) and probably not Friday (when is the post-op exam). Perhaps the surgeon will okay Sunday and hopefully even Saturday.

My eighth year of attendance is a bust, but I am super fortunate to get July 21st for the surgery. I had looked forward to Star Trek’s 50th year, which will get big celebration throughout the four days and Preview Night—starting with the “Star Trek Beyond” premiere. Given my truncated plans combined with my paying to attend (no press pass), I will go as a participant rather than a documentarian for the first time. 

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The Man on the Street

This afternoon, while walking along Adams Ave. in Normal Heights, I passed what appeared to be a homeless man sitting on a cement step inside an abandoned storefront doorway. He was grizzled but neat, with the leathery-brown skin hue common among people overexposed to the Southwestern Sun. His hair and beard bled gray all over what might have one time been black.

As I passed, he stopped over, arms resting on knees, alongside a small, black luggage bag with wheels and pulled-out handle. About 5 meters beyond him, my pace slowed. I rarely carry cash but today had a 10 dollar bill, which is more money than I usually give—and he had asked for none. I turned around and walked back, finding him up and moving. We passed. I hesitated once more then spun back and spoke. 

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Jesus Christ Superstar

Soundtrack for my life this Good Friday is the rock opera written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Track “Superstar” released as a single in October 1969 and the entire album on Oct. 27, 1970. The first stage musical production followed the next year and a film in 1973. Jesus Christ Superstar was a phenom, benefitting from timing.

JCS arrived at the peak of the Jesus Movement spreading across North America to Europe. Jesus People riding in brightly, multi-colored painted buses remains a stereotypical icon of the era. June 21, 2971 Time magazine celebrated the “Jesus Generation”. Like other Baby Boomers, these young people sought love and change but by getting high from shared spirituality rather than sex and drugs. 

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The ‘Cesarean is Safer’ Lie

So I’m sitting at McDonald’s with my 93 year-old father-in-law, who likes to eat from the all-day breakfast menu for lunch. Behind him, across the aisle, sit three elderly gents who don’t look to be quite as old but nevertheless it’s a 70-plus group. They gather daily apparently.

One man announces that he can’t make lunch tomorrow. “My daughter is having a baby”. When, another geezer asks. “At 9:30 in the morning” is the answer. “How do you know?” I could answer that one, and the reason why. I lean forward and listen with greater focus. “She’s having a Cesarean”, the man answers. What he says next chills my bones and inflames my anger: The doctor says that the procedure is “safer” than natural childbirth. 

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A Lesson in Perception

So I’m driving down my street behind this white pickup truck going unusually slow before speeding up then hitting the brakes. Repeatedly. My frustration mounts. But at one-cross street, I finally see around. There is a sedan in the lead, driving in obviously taunting manner. The scenario is obvious: Pickup truck tail-gated, and the other drive retaliates. His vehicle moves along, the truck moves in closer, and he slows down. I’ve seen this kind of thing before.

All the while, I can see from arm waving in the cab that the pickup driver grows increasing angry. Road rage in front turns into retaliation rage behind, I trail both vehicles. Finally, after a few more abrupt slowdowns, the sedan comes to a four-way stoplight, where the truck roars left around, cutting in front of the car and making an illegal right on red. When the light turns green, the four-door pulls up behind the white two-door. Now aggressions are reversed. 

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Bump Art

Sometimes I am shocked to find myself out of touch with popular culture—and that’s a terrible admission living in Southern California, where pronounced body art can be seen everywhere. Yet, not until yesterday’s Flickr Blog post “Belly Paining” and link to small gallery of photos had I ever seen such a thing.

Yeah, my wife and I are middle-aged parents with a daughter in college—removed from immediate contact with expectant-mother lifestyle. Nevertheless, how in the land of tattoos could I miss something so interesting, creative, and personally expressive? What a wonderful way to celebrate the joys (and hardships) of pregnancy. 

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Where No Values Have Gone Before

For more than two weeks I have kept open in a browser tab essay “How Star Trek Explains the Decline of Liberalism” by Timothy Sandefur. Someone shared the story in one of my social feeds in mid-September—and apologies for not recalling whom. I don’t agree with the title, set against the writing, but I do largely agree with the analysis about Star Trek’s reflection of our society over the course of 50 years.

I loved the original series, which aired in 1966. Much as I liked, and even imitated Spock, Kirk’s bravado and moralism rapt my attention. He acted rather than hesitated. Meanwhile, series creator Gene Roddenberry and his producers, directors, and writers used the storytelling as metaphors and allegories commenting on American society and its values. I aspired to be like James Tiberius Kirk: Do the right thing, for the greater good of all, regardless the risk.