Category: Rights

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Better Than Two Barrels of Monkeys

I wouldn’t call 2022 a barrel of fun, would you? But barrel(s) of laughs is appropriate enough, if chuckling at the ironic or insanely non-sensical means anything. There was plenty of that.

For example, Elon Musk made a bid to buy Twitter, then walked away only to return and take ownership. He then started releasing, through journalists, starting with Matt Taibbi, the so-called “Twitter Files”, which shockingly showed a level of collusion between the social media platform and government agencies to influence, if nothing else, U.S. elections. Oh that influence includes the Biden campaign in 2020.

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No Christmas Cheer Here

One of the nearby assuredly festively-decorated houses isn’t this Christmas season. You can get a sense of what’s typical from the profile of Queenie, who joined my “Cats of University Heights” series in December 2021. Sadly, she vanished last month, and her owner assumes coyote.

Sad as that may seem, the family suffered another emotional assault a month earlier, when the homeowner came home to find that the four towering palms outside her house had been marked for removal (e.g. clearcutting). Reportedly, San Diego Gas and Electric ordered the curbside destruction.

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What the Past Means to the Present

Strange sometimes are the things tucked away—and forgotten. Our gas stove is acting oddly, with the clock resetting and occasional, but different, error codes flashing from the control panel. Surely something is in the process of failing; perhaps a fuse or circuit.

Appliances were new when we rented the apartment five years ago, and the owner’s manuals came with them. We stuffed the folder containing each in the cupboard above the range, which is from where I retrieved the lot today. How foolish of me to expect meaningful troubleshooting that reveals what are the codes. Instead, the manufacturer instructs to call for service should one of them appear. Oh yeah? Thanks for nothing.

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New Poster Child for the Pro-Choice Lobby

As Halloween approaches, decorations proliferate and some become quite elaborate. This caged kid in a tree had me chuckling, earlier today—for elaborate staging and opportunity for me to be snarky. Disclaimer: My sarcasm is sure to offend somebody. If that’s you, please accept my no apology.

Pro-lifers are giddy as a bear slopping honey from a fallen beehive, following the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v Wade. They aren’t too bothered by stings from swarming Pro-choicers, who are losing their minds over the 6-3 decision. Since they are absolutely crazy—uh, crazed—let’s pretend this shrieking girl is their marketing maven—warning about the horror show progeny that you could produce because you can’t legally have a doctor cut it out.

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About Those Mail-in Ballots

Americans vote in the Midterms on Nov. 8, 2022, but Californians can do so now by drop-boxing or posting the mail-in ballots that all registered voters received—and who can guess how many people moved out of state or have died (sure, blame SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19); are the voter rolls ever up to date?

By my count, across San Diego County, there are about 149 dropbox locations, but local news media claims more than 200. Unlike Election 2020 many, if not most, are not staffed. So who’s voting for whom is the question, which applies as much to those dispatched by USPS?

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Membership Matters

Tonight I contemplate the polarized, partisan divide about voting, enlightened by an experience while shopping during late-afternoon. I had gone to Costco for kitty litter, which cost $2.30 more for 42 pounds than a few months ago. At least the manufacturer raised prices without shrinking size—surely such action is inevitable.

As I approached self-checkout, a new procedure greeted. An employee asked each customer to show the back of his or her Costco card—for photo identification. In some instances, the staffer also asked to see a driver’s license. I inquired why, when making my presentation. Answer: To prevent people from using someone else’s membership, which is not free ($60 to $120 annually).

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Don’t Fall In

On June 29, 2006, a sinkhole mysteriously opened in our backyard. We lived nearly 5 kilometers—about 3 miles—outside the Washington Beltway. I wouldn’t want to be too close to the District of Columbia this weekend, in the wake of today’s momentous, or shocking (depending on your politics or values), Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v Wade. States will now individually dictate when, if at all, abortions may be performed.

I use the Featured Image as a metaphor, so to speak, for the sinkhole into which people praising or condemning the decision will fall into. Seems like there is no solid ground under this topic; anyone and everyone opposing your position, whatever that may be, will be pushed in and buried. To some, abortion is murder. To others, it’s a right taken away.

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Juneteenth is a Terrible Name

The second celebrated Federal Holiday of the oddly-named Juneteenth is nearly over as I write. Oh, remembering the less formally-designated but also wide-celebrated: Happy Father’s Day to all the dads. My fingers are crossed that you’re happy being one and that the kids share the same sentiment.

Back to the other, the name unruly rolls off the tongue, doesn’t at all tell anyone what the celebration is for, and—go ahead and argue—poorly respects what the holiday represents. Quickly: On June 19, 1865, the Union Army rode into Galveston, Texas and announced the end of black slavery. Emancipation deserves better.

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How Did Guns Come Into This?

Today, while making a purchase at a used bookstore, I spotted a booklet containing the United States Constitution on the counter. I asked the price. “Free”, the owner answered, “from ACLU”. He emphasized the acronym for the American Civil Liberties Union like either I didn’t know what the organization was or that there was special significance by the group producing the handout—perhaps both. Whichever, or neither, he wanted to impart something.

Was either my surprise or interest at all the reason? His next statement, unprompted, perhaps explains: “It says nothing about assault rifles…[but] well-regulated militia. Most militias are illegal”. That was so left-field—politically, not just figuratively—I couldn’t rightly respond. He referred to the Second Amendment: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”.

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Strike That: Nine More Class Days to Freedom

Is the timing deliberate or coincidental? March 11 will be the last day that California school students will may be required to wear face masks. On that date two years earlier, the World Health Organization declared SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 a pandemic. Shall we just call the crisis over, with lifting of the order that compels kids to cover up?

Update, next day: On the morning news, officials from the San Diego school district held firm to masks—meaning students and staff will be compelled to continue wearing them. Reasoning: True that the governor has relaxed rules, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the county to be high risk and the organization’s guidance supersedes that from the state.

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Russia Roars, and It’s War

Russia’s incursion into neighboring Ukraine began in the wee hours local time there. I started seeing news stories early last night; California is about 10 hours behind. A tumultuous day of military advancement, impotent response from the U.S. President, and relentless news commentary, editorialization, and misinformation followed.

I watch and wait, understanding that Russian leader Vladimir Putin acts now for many reasons—perceived, and real, ineptitude of American leadership is among them. The troop withdrawal debacle in Afghanistan demonstrated U.S. military weakness, including decision-making capabilities of the Commander-in-Chief. Surely, Putin—and other autocrats—calculate opportunity.

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The Humiliation Games

On the same day the 2022 Olympics opened, February 4, I passed by something appropriate and timely: discarded pair of thirtytwo brand snowboarding boots. Their abandonment, along the North Avenue alley in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, could be a metaphor for what’s being chucked away in Beijing right now: fair competitive spirit, human dignity, and truthfulness. It’s all humiliating.

Let me count the ways: Humiliating that, because of surveillance, athletes were instructed to bring burner phones to China—and, for their own safety, not to publicly criticize the host nation. Humiliating that China presented as propaganda a token Uyghur during the opening ceremony; what genocide? Humiliating that Russian President Vladimir Putin joined Chinese President Xi Jinping, while Western nations, including the United States, chose not to send diplomatic delegations. Humiliating that Chinese officials dragged away a Dutch reporter during a live broadcast. Humiliating that athletes quarantined for positive SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 are mentally and physically impaired by poor food quality and living conditions. Humiliating, and convenient, that some foreign gold medal contenders test Coronavirus positive and can’t compete. Humiliating that most NBC Sports commentators and hosts are broadcasting from the United States rather than China.