I was interviewing him because he was charged with murdering his wife. He shot her after an argument, one of several.
He was driving his car and she was driving hers. When they passed each other at an intersection he reached out if his car window with a gun and shot her through her window. He tried to commit suicide, putting the barrel in his mouth when police got to the scene. The cops talked him into surrendering.
It was definitely one of the oddest husband-on-wife homicides I’d covered.
He told me when I interviewed him that he was joking with her. “Playing around” he called it. He wasn’t trying to kill her, he said.
I never understood why guys confess murder to a journalist. Usually it’s for attention, I think. Sometimes I wonder if it’s to spite the detectives who they refused to talk to. He was the second defendant who opened up about his crime to me.
This guy told me he wanted to apologize to his mother-in-law. He never had a family, he explained. He grew up in a broken home, parents were never around. Neglect. Abuse. You name it.
When he married, his in-laws became his family, especially his wife’s mother.
He repeated over and over, he just wanted to tell her he was sorry about what he did. That’s why he let me interview him.
I’m not sure what that meant to her. She wouldn’t return my calls to talk to about his confession.
I did get subpoenaed. My notes were copied for the prosecutors. The guy plead out though. Fifty years. I didn’t have to testify.
I recently watched a video on the perception people have about wealth distribution in this country. Essentially they believe the richest 20 percent has more than their share of the wealth which they find acceptable.
In reality, according to the video, the richest 1 percent actually have the majority of the wealth. Ninety percent of Americans are not aware of that.
I don’t consider myself much of a class warrior. I accept the fact that America is a Capitalist system that is very much tilted towards the rich. And as CEO salaries rise exponentially and the dwindling middle class continues to lose wages, I’ve given up trying to explain to people that the system is rigged against them.
My focus is mainly on what the video deems is reality and the perception that people have. I’ve always said that reality doesn’t really exist. This is because no matter how much you relate to someone else, everything that we feel, touch, taste, smell or hear in this world is processed by our brain, ergo perception. Regardless of how much research scientists do on brain function we are not wired together. Even if we have evolved such that our survival depends on us banding together, when it comes to interpreting our senses, we are utterly alone. We all have our own reality.
There’s collective reality, whereby people share their perceptions and agree that said perceptions match up. But in the end that is all they are, shared perceptions. So collective reality is really collective perceptions. So much of our life rides on that. Juries have to agree to the facts of a case. Doctors have to agree on the results of medical research. Survival, justice, life and all action is based on comparing each other’s perceptions and moving forward.
It’s scary to think that we cannot truly know what’s really going on around us. We never know what to believe. We have to rely on our own perceptions, because it is all we have. Descartes would say that we know we exist because we know that we think. My assumption is that we can’t know anything beyond that because that thinking and personal beliefs is confined to the individual. We don’t share the same neurons.
The only thing we know with certainty is our perceptions.
Politicians, business folk and the media rely on it. Their professions are based on preying upon people’s ideology and developed perceptions. People should be aware of that but they are not. Too many of us, I believe, are on autopilot and that seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling is what’s actually going on. The senses can deceive and we need to learn to think deeper about how we perceive our environments in order to fully understand them rather than accept them at face value.
At least that’s what I think.
So there’s this tattooed, progressive, vulgar woman making the lefty church rounds spouting her particular message about Jesus Christ in her own distinct way. Minister Nadia Bolz-Weber’s delivery seems to speak to today’s generation of disillusioned youth seeking some kind of spiritual catharsis from an unconventional source.
Her style is really nothing new. But lately she’s been drawing a new audience — regular folk. Turns out that you don’t have to be some violence-desensitized, angst-ridden twenty-something in order to be turned off by traditional, organized religion. It’s a rising trend that shows no sign of slowing. The most rapidly growing religious identity in the U.S.? Athiesm, agnosticism or unafilliated.
People have problems with religion, at least the traditional model be it Catholics, Protestants or Evangelicals. They’re just not filling the pews anymore. Some feel the exodus has to do with the political involvement with conservatives in government. Others blame secularization. Personally I feel there is a bit of hypocrisy in how people act compared to what they profess to believe. I also think too many people use their religion to justify divisiveness, violence and outright avarice.
In the past maybe young people felt obligated to stick with religion despite their reservations but I don’t think that guilt is working anymore.
Movements from unconventional ministers like Bolz-Weber are growing and in different manifestations. Many of these non-denominational churches are centered on a dynamic personality, like Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyer. Others are based on a theme like Cowboy Church. I once went to a service crafted entirely for bikers. People are capitalizing on those seeking God in a nontraditional setting.
It bothers a lot of people. Even Pope Francis, the loose-talking Jesuit recently named pontiff, is facing backlash from traditional Catholics irate that he’s doing such cavalier things like not judging gays and granting interviews to athiest journalists.
I’m a faltering Catholic, a heavily liturgical denomination. The mere presence of a guitar at a Protestant service rubs me the wrong way because the only version of Amazing Grace I’ve ever heard was accompanied by an organ. Sadly, contemporary is just not my cup of tea. I can see why some are repulsed by Francis, Bolz-Weber and Biker Church.
Yet, so what? To me all of those who have been devoutly religious their entire lives should be happy that the prodigal children have found another path to the same destination. Even if they don’t like the way the message is presented, they should at least rejoice that the lost are found.
Some of the deniers are more afraid that the newcomers are changing the message. Legitimate fear, maybe, but I think that fear is usually based on the notion that unless someone’s worshiping the way they worship, then they’re not true believers. Ironically, this is the large part of the reason why people get sour on God in the first place — worshipers look at those who believe different and condemn them for being different. This irks me particularly with Christians because Jesus preached the exact opposite. There’s a certain instance in the Bible when His disciples walked up to Him complaining that there was a man performing miracles in Jesus’ name. He rebuked their intolerance.
“Anyone who is not against us is for us.”
I was 8. It was my turn at the plate. I was a scrawny right fielder who only got to play two innings a game, which was the minimum required by Little League rules at the time.
But here it was, the bottom of the fifth inning, the last inning. The game was tied, there’s a runner on third and I’m batting.
The pitcher released the ball. It’s been 25 years but what I can still remember the ball coming towards me and then seeing it rocket towards the fence off of my bat. I’d hit it, hard.
I ran nervously to first then rounded second. I saw the left fielder running to the fence to fetch the ball. I kept running until I finally crossed third base. I looked up at one of the umpires and all he said was “game.”
It was a great moment for an 8-year-old bench warmer. I had the game-winning hit. As I ran to the dugout, my coach lifted me up off the ground and into the air. The other players slapped me on the back congratulating me.
Then out of nowhere, I hear a man screaming at the umpire.
“He didn’t touch the plate!”
Apparently the opposing coach thought the runner on third didn’t step on home plate and he was therefore out, making it a tie game again. The umpire told him the runner did touch home and that he needed to go coach to pack it in. But the coach was not letting it go.
“HE DIDN’T TOUCH THE PLATE!”
It was a shocking moment for me because in my sheltered youth, I’d never heard or seen an adult act like that. And he had to do it in what was then the only shining moment of my life.
This incident was a cornerstone of what I would see in parents as I grew up. Ordinary, good people can immediately shift to ridiculous, selfish tendencies when it comes to their children. They’ll lie on scholarship applications. They’ll cheat at kids’ sports. They’ll harass teachers to get their child a second chance at a test. They’ll call in every favor they have to get their kid into the right college.
I don’t remember my parents acting like that for the most part. Maybe they skirted the rules here and there for me but I didn’t know about it.
It raises an important question though. Why do adults advocate honesty, integrity and morality then turn right around and go against that code to protect, promote and gain advantages for their children? Here’s a good piece on the subject that got me thinking.
The yelling coach really colored my view about parents’ behavior with regards to their children’s lives. It makes you wonder that if they’re willing to bend their morality for their kids, do they bend the rules for themselves too? Are they really doing these unethical acts for their kids or for their own egos?
My guess is that most parents don’t realize they do it. Some may think that they’re doing the right thing and rationalize it because they feel their kid shouldn’t have to suffer from any type of setback. Some do realize it and they just don’t care.
Quite frankly, to me, it’s disgusting. I find it especially repugnant when they do it at the expense of another child who did nothing to deserve their destructive intervention. Acting selfish on your child’s behalf is no excuse. It’s still just as wrong as if you did it for yourself. Loving your child and wanting them to get ahead in life can’t justify abject unethical behavior.
Stand up for your kid when you need to. Confront a teacher when there’s a genuine problem. Call out a coach when they’re too hard on the team. My yelling coach? At least he got mad about the enforcement of a rule to the game. Maybe he went too far and served a bad example about how to behave but his protest was coming from the right place.
But for God’s sakes, don’t cheat, lie, steal, yell or hurt other people when you know your child is: a) in the wrong b) at fault or c) lost fairly.
Eventually my daughter will grow up and will join dance, play sports, take AP classes and the like. If she fails or if she doesn’t make varsity or if she doesn’t get a scholarship, I hope I have what it takes to let it happen and not flex my ethics to save her. She may not like it and she may hate me for it but hopefully she’ll see it’s the right thing to do.
Hopefully I will see it’s the right thing too.
They’re so angry.
Watching the shutdown and debt ceiling fight unfold it seems to me that the hardest of the hardcore Tea Party members are getting white hot, more so than usual. One of two things is about to happen, either they’re not going to get what they want or they’re going to drag us into our first-ever default.
The first scenario will empower them. The second will be the end of them.
As I sit and absorb all of the political maneuvering and posturing, one question keeps sticking out in my mind. Why are these people so damn angry? Many of the Tea Party politicians and their supporters are more than willing to bankrupt this country and drive it into default rather than give an inch to Obama and his health care law. Why? How can setting up these exchanges, establishing a penalty, requiring people to buy health insurance, draw so much ire from these people? When you ask them why they’re against it, they don’t spout economic statistics or alternatives to dealing with rising health care costs. In fact, they don’t really provide an answer that remotely resembles anything to do with health insurance.
Instead you hear things like, “We’re losing our country” or “Obama’s destroying our freedoms” or “Obamacare’s a train wreck of a law.” But there’s never any specifics about what they don’t like or what they don’t want to change. They only offer a visceral repulsion.
The irony of their position about Obamacare ruining the economy is that in their ridiculous gambit to eliminate it, they will obliterate the economy with a credit default. It’s like telling a hostage-taker, “put down the gun or we’ll launch a nuclear weapon on the hostage.”
Their position reveals exactly what the problem is — they’d rather destroy the country than to give Obama something he already has. It’s about hatred of the president. Pure and simple.
I’m a southerner. I remember the days of Bill Clinton and all the rage he created among the conservatives down here. But even when he was in the middle of an impeachment process, that anger never equaled close to what I see now.
And being from the South, I can tell you that the only true explanation is racism. Are all of the Tea Party folk racist? No, I’m not saying that. But you can’t take away the racial underpinnings of their movement. Many of the things they rant about (unbalanced budget, rising deficit, the bailouts) started under George W. Bush, something that gets glossed over at the rallies I’ve been to. I’ve had to fight the urge several times to say out loud that the last president with a balanced budget was Bill Clinton. But I was afraid that I’d get tarred and feathered.
I’m sorry, it’s simply racism. White’s don’t like to hear the charge, but it’s true whether they want to believe it or not.
Obama represents the very thing that frightens many white Americans — if minorities can win the presidency, what’s to stop them from controlling everything? When he was reelected, that fear gave way to the answer — nothing can stop them, especially as time wears on. Minorities are on the winning side of statistics. Their numbers grow at a time when white numbers are dropping.
With all of this vehemence that you see from the Tea Party throughout the country and from the southerners, I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re not going to let things go so easily. As minorities begin to play a bigger role in national politics, white anger is only going to grow and intensify.
Watching the latest budget/default battle is unnerving because it shows how far some are willing to go to rail against the oncoming tide. If they don’t win this fight over the debt ceiling, they’ll pick a battle somewhere else with the same endgame—borderline anarchy. The anger will continue to boil until they finally achieve some sort of explosive victory, whatever that might be. They’re looking for anything. Like that Republican congressman said, “We have to get something out of this and I don’t know what that even is.”
It leaves me wondering who’s going to suffer more when they finally get the destruction they want, the angry whites or the rest of us.
You hear an unending torrent of complaints about Congress these days. Most of it is centered around inaction, obstinance and an unwillingness to go against a faction of radicals. This has exacerbated in the past two weeks thanks to the government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling battle.
It’s the voters’ fault though. Despite the fact that Congress has a 19-percent approval rating, 90 percent of incumbents were reelected in 2012.
As of now, polls are constantly showing that the public primarily blames Congressional Republicans for the shutdown. There’s a chance to change things in the 2014 election. Voters can send out the incumbents by either choosing the other party or finding another candidate in the primary. If you take a look back though, that’s not going to happen.
When it comes to Congress, that mid-term election in the sixth year of a president’s reign doesn’t go well for the White House. President Obama faces that problem in 2014. As we can tell so far, it doesn’t look good that he’ll win the House or even keep the Senate.
No president has ever gained control of the House of Representatives during a mid-term election in that respective president’s second term.
None of them, that includes George Washington, whose Federalist Party lost seats in the House in the 1794 election. Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Frankling D. Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan—none of them have been popular enough for their party gain seats or wrest control of the Congress halfway through their second term.
The vast majority of presidents lost seats in those elections. No incumbent president’s party, save only Bill Clinton, has gained seats since FDR.
James Madison and James Monroe did win additional House seats in the 1814 and 1822 elections respectively. Both of them though, faced a dwindling Federalist Party and both of them already had control of Congress.
Teddy Roosevelt and the Republicans managed to gain three senators in 1906. Clinton famously beat the odds in 1998 when, despite a looming impeachment, Democrats gained seats in the House.
As far as shifting power, only Andrew Jackson and the Democrats won control of the Senate from National Republicans in his sixth-year Congressional election in 1834. Democrats already had power in the House at that time.
No president has gained control of the House from the opposing party.
Every election is unique and there are a lot of factors that play into them including the economy, wars, redistricting, scandals and presidential approval ratings.
Congress is immune to approval ratings and history is stacked heavily against Obama. Democrats have to win 17 additional seats. No party has come close to doing that in the sixth year election.
But Obama is the country’s first black president. He was also reelected with an unemployment rate at 8 percent.
But it’s still not likely.
My first experience with God wasn’t a happy one.
It was in a CCD class. My teacher was going over the experiences of hell. Some woman had gone to the depths of the inferno in some dream and came back to tell people what it was like. She was some sort of inverted prophet.
The teacher told the story as though she was recalling a memory about a past storm. She described the fire and how the flames burned hotter than coals.
I don’t know why, but her talk got to me. I was only about 12 or so. Since I’d been born, God and the devil and heaven and hell were nothing more than theories, beings who were out in some ethereal world that had nothing to do with me.
But that day, the reality hit me that my actions did matter. Somebody was watching and keeping tally. I didn’t look at it though, from the stance that I had heaven to gain by doing good. I became all about avoiding hell. For all I cared, I could get stuck in some dentist’s lobby for eternity as long as the fiery coals weren’t sticking to my skin.
How did the talk from some volunteer Sunday school teacher get to me? It wasn’t as if she were a nun or a priest. She was just some mother who was trying to get through to a group of teenage kids.
I never shared with anyone that experience and how it thumped my soul into action. I started sitting closer in the front pews, while my parents stayed in the back. I paid attention to the homilies and the gospel readings.
Profound effect. Still didn’t know why.
I looked at ways to avoid hell. Someone told me if you died wearing a scapula or a rosary, you were guaranteed refuge in heaven. Then they taught me about confession and how if I died after confession my soul would be cleared and I’d be safe. Others told me to lead a good life and do good things and God wouldn’t condemn me. The inferno and my escape from it was always on my mind.
What bothers me now is I never questioned it. I never tried to investigate the teacher’s claims or ask myself why I got so scared.
Since then, I’ve come to believe that it was because of my first memory as a child. When I think back as far as I can, the first thing I remember happening to me was burning my hand on a barbecue pit. I was at some family get together, some second cousin’s graduation or something. I was walking around and I remember my hand sticking to some 55 gallon drum cut out as a pit. Searing pain, that’s what stuck with me. It burned and wouldn’t stop. Family members scrambled around me, some relative grabbed a bag of ice and put it on my arm. I’m not sure if it helped or not.
That’s it, that’s all I remember from that day, that moment. Talking to my mom about it one day, she was surprised that I remembered that, I was only about 18 months old, she said. She told me she kept bandages on my hand for a long time, even had to put a sock on it to keep me from hurting it again while there was raw skin exposed.
Maybe my mind connected hell with burning my arm. Maybe it’s bullshit. I don’t know.
It’s taken many years but the effect of putting hell off has waned, though not entirely.
Now, 34, I don’t know how God works and how people go to heaven or hell. I see good people, great souls, who don’t go to church or tout any religious ideology. I’ve met righteous muslim people and Jewish There are good “church-going” people, judgmental, narrow-minded, who have no business being rewarded for their intense dislike of things that are different.
I do believe there is a God but I think He’s more of a mystery to me than that day in Sunday school.
So, at a crossroads now, not knowing where I’m heading or what to do about it. Boat listlessly drifting in an open sea.
I’m not an atheist but I now see where they’re coming from. There is so much unfathomable evil in this world and this God that believers describe doesn’t seem to fit with that reality, or reality as we know it.
How can a God who drowned the whole world let genocide go unchecked? I mean a vile genocide, like Rwanda or Cambodia. People hacked to death, heads cut off in public. Women raped. Outsiders tortured. But no God.
Athiests see so many people utilizing religion as a channel to dominate and justify heinous activity. I see now how evil the institution can be and how they really believe that it’s ok to kill, rape, torture and destroy those who think different.
How can you blame someone for thinking that no divine would let these things happen?
Sure there are testaments, Bible passages, inspirational stories that are offered by ardent believers that there is something great and unknown.
I can’t say I don’t believe in that ideal. What I can say is, I’ve slowly shed off the memory of the day I became firmly entrenched in the idea of hell. I’m awake now. The afterlife is uncertain again and I can’t go back to sleep.