Thursday, June 25, 2020

Names, Nicknames and Even AKAs

This week's topic - Names, Nicknames and Even AKAs could prove interesting and fun, depending of course on the history of my blogging companions. Me? My nicknames are fairly mundane but they do offer a timeline of my life.

In the beginning there was Butch AKA Butchie. That was the family  nickname bestowed on me by some unknown family member and other than Charles those are the names I was known by when I lived in Colorado. I never  much  cared for my given name - Charles - it somehow seemed too formal even way  back then.  I was Charles in school (Carlile School) and Butch or Butchie at home and in the neighborhood. The summer before my 10th birthday we packed up and headed west to California.

Our home in Hayward was delayed and so we lived in Los Altos with my dad's parents until the builder finished our house.We even changed the house we were purchasing and ended up with a different address than originally contracted for. I didn't mind the wait though as my grandparents had a pool in the back yard and my grandfather drove a really cool old - really old - car he named Charlie to the train station daily to ride to San Francisco to work. He  was in the magazine  publishing business and a huge baseball fan. We went to quite a few Giants games at Seals Stadium in downtown SF.

On the day we had to register me for school my mother and I crossed the Dumbarton  Bridge from what was known as the Peninsula to the East Bay and into Hayward to Southgate School to get me registered. While she went into the office to make me official I hung out on the playground. When asked my name I simply said Charles. One of the kids  said "Hi Chuck" and from then on Chuck was my name. My last name went from Higgins to McConvey, which always confused kids that knew me in Colorado in later years on Facebook.

It took a few years before I inherited another family nickname - Bubba, which came about because my brother and sister, 11 and 10 years younger than me could not pronounce brother. That was a fun nickname  because of a gentleman named Charles Aaron Smith AKA Bubba Smith - an All American and All Pro defensive lineman. When I made the varsity football team my buddies in the stands would yell "Kill, Bubba kill" - that was fun and to this day my brother and sister call me Bubba and to their 5 kids I have always been Uncle Bubba. Plus, I have grand nieces that know me as Uncle Bubba and several new grand nieces along with a grand nephew  that will call me Uncle Bubba. 

I picked up what has become my most  common nickname with the advent of the Internet. When I first ventured onto the web, when a site asked for a nickname I started using Shackman - logical because I worked for over 30 years at RadioShack. That one stands to this day.

When I first joined a blogging group a decade or so ago the members of the group called me Music Man because of my propensity to include music clips in my blog entries. I still do that though the current group calls me Shackman.

There are a couple of limited use nicknames - Charlie and Chas. They are limited because to my ear they only sound right when used by people that use them - to Brian Scott I have almost always been Chas and to Dave Hitchcock I am Charlie. Also somewhat interesting - to me at least - is I have never been called Mac but that is my brother's nickname. It was also my grandfather's nickname. For some reason it never caught on with me.

One thing about being a Chuck though - whenever the Name Game comes on people tend to either giggle or cringe

That's my quick shack take on this week's topic, be sure to check my blogging compatriots blogs for their take.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Benefits and Limits of the Law and Order Approach

Law and order. Protect society by winning the war between criminals and law enforcement. Make the penalties for breaking the law severe and the punishment swift and decisive, and remember a well armed law enforcement team is best at keeping the peace. Cops as peacekeepers. Just like the old days when Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterton and their ilk established peace in the old west. Remember the beginning of Gunsmoke when Marshall Dillon outdraws and shoots the bad guy? That is old west style law and order. Our legends of the west had the fastest guns and were always ready to use them. One hired himself out regularly when someone needed his services  and contacted him in his San Francisco Hotel Carlton abode. Somehow one of his business cards - Have Gun – Will Travel (Series) - TV Tropes always made it to some far off place in the US and off  went Paladin to right the weekly wrong with his trusty six-shooter. That gun is what our western legends had in common - the good guys kept the peace by being the baddest of the bad - quite literally often they were bad guys - Earp, Masterson, Doc Halliday, Wild Bill Hickock, Buffalo Bill and the rest. Well most of them - Jim Bowie was famous for his big knife but it was an early form of law and order by the balance of terror. We employed that system through the last Cold War quite successfully we are told.

And then we had Teddy Roosevelt as President and his walk softly and carry a big stick philosophy - literally more of the same. World War I - more guns and more shooting then the great depression and the blazing guns of the mob vs the Untouchables aka the FBI. Law and Order from the barrel of a gun got more refined as the weapons got more sophisticated, and thanks to our Second Amendment  the bad guys were well armed.

What is the point of this brief legendary history lesson? We have grown up with a Law and Order enforced by the barrel of a gun system of policing all of our lives so it should be NO surprise that our peacekeepers continue to this day to enforce the law by being fast on the draw. That balance of terror still exists but it is not universally applied. People of color are more likely to be targets of those peacekeeper's guns than white people. Now that community is mad as hell and they are not going to take it any more - society is in an uproar about systemic racism and the last vestiges of racism that remain from the civil rights battles of the sixties and seventies that were tamped down and left smoldering but not extinguished are flaring up and threatening us once again.

Law and Order proponents claim we need stricter law and order enforcement and so-called progressives are clamoring for the police to be defunded. A huge cultural war is about to explode. The right supports the police and law and order, the left is for changes in how law and order is maintained. Black Lives Matter hates Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter - which is the real truth - is constantly shouted down. Interestingly enough, at one time I very much wanted to be a police officer but my wife very bluntly said she would divorce me if I went that route so clearly I gave that one up. Today, though, I doubt you could pay me enough  to be a cop. While most police officers never fire their guns in the line of duty, a growing number seem to do it on a regular basis. Rarely is a white person stopped for driving while being white but it is a regular thing for blacks to be stopped for driving while being black. I know that from personal experience, having been in cars being driven by my daughter's significant other at the time who just happened to be black. I have been aggressively challenged and questioned by police under those conditions but when stopped on my own, usually presenting my license and insurance card is sufficient to be told have a nice day and drive carefully. Once I was stopped and quizzed about why I was driving a vehicle that allegedly belonged to my daughter's boyfriend. The officer was not amused when I laughed at his question but when I showed him the registration and insurance card in my name, in spite of his apparent belief that I was up to something nefarious (I was headed to an ATM) he sent me on my way.

As  long as we promote Law and Order at the barrel of a gun we will be plagued with more of the problems we are currently experiencing. Yes we are using a system that inherited systemic racism - often times not intentionally. Yes white privilege is a fact but often not intentional. It is simply built into the "system" aka culture. IMHO the fact that it is subtly embedded within our culture makes white privilege more nefarious and harmful. Fact - a higher number of minorities by percentage are incarcerated than whites. Also a fact - people of color are more harshly judged by the courts so it is to be expected they are incarcerated at a higher rate. Fact but neither fair nor right.

History has shown us that winners write and record history, so many inconvenient truths are simply left out of our history lessons, like the Tulsa Oklahoma massacre in 1921 of an entire black middle class community. I never heard about it in high school  or college and only now is it being discussed. Interested? For starters, check it out on Wikipedia here.

I was educated in the supposed liberal bastion of California. I also learned very little about the mistreatment of Hispanics and indigenous Indian tribes until I read some enlightened fiction. If reading about the Tulsa Race Riot does not disgust you or upset you then I suspect your humanity is in doubt. Too often things like this are simply left out of text books. But you can be sure that in places like Texas you are likely to find creationism taught as fact and evolution as flawed theory. Ever heard of Juneteenth? I hadn't until a couple of years ago when my daughter's boyfriend explained it to me. It is a holiday celebrated on 19 June to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the US. The holiday was first celebrated in Texas, where on that date in 1865, in the aftermath of the Civil War, slaves were declared free under the terms of the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation. Imagine that - it started in Texas.
 But did it make it into school texts?

And this so-called shining city on a hill that we claim to be? Our country was built by robber barons. The fact that they are now praised as philanthropists and heroes shows the inherent benefits of having the winners write history.

Do not misinterpret this commentary - I love this country and what it purports to be. What it really is? Well lets just say there is some work to be done, starting with Law and Order. The benefits of our current system? It got us through the halcyon days of the wild wild west and kept us fairly stable into the 20th Century. But as many thought it worked well, it was never really examined closely for any damage it has been causing for decades. Now we are faced with deeply rooted issues that will take significant time and effort to address and address them we must as our cultural survival is at stake. No, we do not need to defund or eliminate police - we need to address how and what they do. If I hear someone breaking into my home in the middle of the night then damn right I want to call the police, But a drunk passed out in his car in a drive through line? I am not sure armed peacekeepers are called for. Surely we can come up with something better and safer.

We are at the limits and probably well beyond the limits of our Law and Order approach. Time is of the essence but something needs to be done - something that has to begin by breaking the logjam of tribalism we are presently seemingly locked into. The time has come to start chipping away at what divides us and get back to finding some common ground.

Please be sure to check my blogging compatriots comments - and I'll see ya next week, same shack time and same shack channel.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

What has the lockdown done to/for you?

Sheltering in place - aka lockdown. Depending on how you view the world politically, it has been an example of the governments fascist leanings or the government trying to manage the pandemic that is raging across the world.

At my age sheltering in place has locked me down with my  middle- aged daughter and her rather precocious son - my 10-year old grandson. As a poster child for the corona virus resulting in fatality, I have also been forced to be extra cautious in my interactions with others. Try telling a 10-year old he cannot play outside with his friends in the mobile home park in which we reside. That makes me the resented in place chief of this family unit while making Bubba the most irritating child in chief of the family unit.  Simply stated, 10 year old kids are hard pressed to shelter in place and since the school year ended with his home schooling, his volume level is stuck on high LOL.

And now we are slowly reopening society, North Carolina is seeing a spike in coronavirus infections, but the snowball is rolling down hill and in no way will it slow down

With that as a backdrop, I have been reflecting on a life winding down as I circle the drain. The progress I was so proud of in the sixties has been shown to be woefully inadequate and incomplete in the wake of events recently. As hard as we worked to get it right, it took a perfect storm of circumstances to show there is still work to be done. We had eight years of the first black president in our history followed by nearly four years that saw our current president try to eliminate the previous eight years from our memory. The current president has worked to divide the American populace along largely racial lines while at the same time blaming his predecessor for the division.

My time has passed - there is little left for me to do and so the mantle has been passed to newer generations. They will be the ones that push the racial divide off the cliff, hopefully for the last time. I read the thoughts  and writings of Sanjannah, my young teen-age blogging compatriot in India, and I am heartened by her attitudes and her willingness to tackle the problem. I see the same thing here in this country 
Play the anthems one more time - we'll finish the job this time.

That is what the lockdown had done to/for me. It has made me reflective and upbeat about the future and I think maybe my life wasn't wasted - maybe it really did matter.

Sanjana, Padmum, RajuConrad, Ramana.

Please be sure to check my blogging compatriots comments - and I'll see ya next week, same shack time and same shack channel.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Xenophobia 6/5/2020

Do you hate the Central Americans marching from their home countries to seek asylum in the USA? Do you hate Arabs? Are you fearful when you walk through a black or brown neighborhood? Welcome to the world of the Xenophobe. But relax - at least you are not a racist - at least according to Merriam Webster. Xenophobia is the fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners, whereas racism has a broader meaning set including "a belief that racial differences produce the inherent superiority of a particular race." Although they are similar, they are different enough that it is possible for one to be both xenophobic and racist. Frankly I think it is a simple, logical step from being a Xenophobe to being a racist.

We are witnessing the effects of having a President who has absolutely no intent nor desire to unite the people of this country and has done everything within his considerable power as POTUS to divide us along national and racial lines. Couple that with 45's infatuation with dictators - look at how he treats North Korea's Kim, Russia's Putin and the President of Turkey. Look at 45's actions earlier this week when he had peaceful protestors - all well within their rights - tear-gassed and shot at with rubber bullets to clear the way for his photo op in front of St John's Church. I personally have never seen a POTUS orchestrate such a despicable act as having US military personnel and Park Police move on US citizens. Then examine his hatred of former President Obama. 44's popularity sticks in 45's throat like an enlodged piece of raw meat and 45 is doing everything he can to dismantle the legacy of 44. And, of course the racial divide is 44's fault and Obama has been blamed for literally everything that has happened that can be considered departing from 45's chosen path to who knows where.

I was a college student in the sixties and seventies and was part of the struggles for racial justice and was quite proud of what I thought we had accomplished. I damn sure did not expect to be revisiting those struggles in my seventies. It was frankly quite depressing - in my lifetime only exceeded by how I felt when my wife passed away, But last night - in the middle of a phone call with an old friend I had something of an epiphany. While 45 has done despicable things and caused old pain to be brought to the forefront again I decided this was a good thing. That we could be so divided by an individual of so little character - amoral at best - then we really are at a pace where we can cross this racial divide once and for all. We are near the top of the hill. It is time to push that boulder of racism off the cliff. We just need to push together.

There are many hurdles to clear. I know of NOBODY who supports the violence and looting accompanying the wave of protests we have been enduring. The protests have been populated by people following in the American tradition of peaceful protest but then the anarchists and thugs that make up the looters steal away the focus of the protests. It is similar to a boxing match wherein one of the fighters steals rounds with late round flurries at the end of the rounds. The looters should be jailed. Their organizations must be rooted out once and for all -

members arrested and jailed and it bothers me to say this, but they should be treated like domestic terrorists, and if they are directed from other countries then they are simply traitors and terrorists, and they should face the appropriate punishment. If the leaders are antifa so be it. We need to get at the truth. The definition of terrorism is "the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims." Domestic terrorists are traitors and should be dealt with as such. We have the means and resources to investigate and that should be made a priority.

So here we sit - peering into a deep, dark tunnel but this time the light is visible. If we suck it up and make a final push to identify, disassemble and detain the domestic terrorists and treat them as the traitors they are, we have within our grasp the means to reestablish our country as a beacon of light on a hill. We need to finish the job my generation started in the sixties and if that requires the participation and help of millennials well good on them. After all, it is their world we are fighting for. Xenophobia? It is just a 25 cent word racists hide behind when they are afraid to be honest with themselves and everyone else. Please be sure check with the other bloggers in our little group and see what They have to say about Sanjana's chosen topic

Sanjana, Padmum, RajuConrad, Ramana.