Vietnam, Lamar Donuts and Motorcycles

Memorial Day 2017. 

The wall is back this year. I plan on going tomorrow and reading some names this time. No donuts. Don’t want to fill up before the barbecue. I’ll have a few things to say to my kids tomorrow about veterans.  We’ll see how it goes. Tune in tomorrow night for an update.

Yep, I went. No donuts, and I read a few of the names, actually touched the wall, getting a feeling in my hand and seeing the reflection of me on the other side. It was a time when I was enjoying the Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Grand Funk Railroad, and making sure I went to college so I wouldn’t get drafted. I probably made a poor choice of colleges, if I wanted to avoid Vietnam. Lucky for me I graduated from the Naval Academy after Nam was over.

I took pictures I haven’t posted yet of the wall, of the times when someone I knew might have gone. Haven’t been able to look at those pictures yet. . . . Someday.

 

The below is from a few years ago.

IMG_0856[1]

I think it had to do with fear. Not run-into-the-bathroom, kiss-your-ass-goodbye fear. More like fear I might see someone’s name I knew. It could happen. So I had to have a Lamar’s donut to kinda ease the worry. Maybe I ate more than one. The French crullers were excellent. Apple fritters: to die for. Probably will. But not today. I got there and actually read a few names.

(You Harley fans, yes there is something about motorcycles. Keep reading.)

I played ball and ran track with guys who graduated from Arapahoe High in ’70, ’71, and there was the off chance someone I actually graduated with in ’72 could be on that wall. What would I do if I saw a name I knew?

No answer to that one because I didn’t read more than three or four names. I’ll say it was because they were all glommed together and it was difficult. I’ll say it was because . . . Yeah. As they taught us at Annapolis, “No excuse, sir!”

I did get a picture or two of the wall.

Vietnam traveling wall in Fort Collins

Vietnam traveling wall in Fort Collins

Each column of names is a certain height to fit the upslope or downslope of the design. Each column is a length of time, usually several months to fill up the column with names of the killed. However, the middle has the tallest column of names. There were a lot of names. How many? 58,261 as of today. Next year they may come up with a few more from remains.

middle of the Vietnam Wall

middle of the Vietnam Wall

Yet, the thing that impressed me most was the right side of the hump, the year 1967.
The number of names was many more than the left side, 1968-1975, and it only took 2 weeks of time, not months as on the left side, to fill each column, with fewer spaces between names and each line held more. Lots and lots of names. Too many. Way too many.

I had to leave, have another Lamar donut. The chocolate glazed cake was scrumptious.

I’ll be as big as a house if I keep thinking about this. We got way too many donuts.

The real problem where I sit, as a doctor who sees the veterans that come back, not the ones who were killed, is that there are way more mentally killed by that war than are on that wall. And the last ten years is going to be worse. A lot worse. PTSD and TBI are already becoming our daily bread at the Veterans Hospital and clinics.

I wrote a poem about it below. It is a fictitious veteran, but based on fact. Too many facts. Way too many.

The Vet
By Milt Mays

He lives by himself, even in crowds, sometimes can’t go out at all.
Sound of a car, electric razor, makes his mind flinch,
His thoughts stall.

He’s made great progress everyone says, but he knows it’s still there, alive.
The monster in his closet plays, and can open the door
Anytime.

Was there a time before war when happiness lived,
When he looked at his hands and felt pride?
Maybe an inkling is there of a man whose hands and his heart could
Mold wood.

Hands of a cabinetmaker, heart of an artist, with proof on the kitchen wall,
And the music box that plays for her.
But the war in his mind scared her away
With his hands.

Must wear gloves even in summer, nineteen pair, nineteen, nineteen…
NINETEEN!
Cover the blood, don’t look, even washing.
Anyhow,
The stain can’t be cleaned.

He rides Harleys not cars, wide open, not closed.
The speed and the danger, the next curve, the down shift,
Occupy time.

Like gloves on the mind, meds cover the madness,
For years made him “functional,”
Stupid, and dull.

So, today he stops them to feel life again,
The Harley, the wind and the road,
Then nothing,
At last.
I need another donut. Maybe the Bavarian cream-filled Lamar chocolate special. No maybes about it. It was delicious, but way too big and way too rich. Now I’m full and feel guilty and sad. Perhaps that’s appropriate for Memorial Day.

This Memorial Day enjoy a barbecue, a beer, and feel a little guilty and sad. Guilty because we let ourselves get into wars day after day, year after year. Sad for the 1% of Americans that will eat MRE’s today and risk death and more to protect us 99%.

Maybe I’ll go back and read the names. No donuts this time. Just my thoughts, the wind, and The Wall.

Milt

Gun Violence and Video Games

Gun violence only needs two things:

1) a human being to pull the trigger   

2) a loaded gun.

A recent editorial by Steve Olson in the Loveland Reporter Herald, speaks to Video Game Violence as one of the prime causes of the number of student mass murders in school.

http://www.reporterherald.com/opinion/guest-columns/ci_31889271/guest-opinion-violent-video-games-are-teaching-kids

Mr. Olson believes that he has the duty to bring this to our attention because he is a member of the city council and wants us to “stand united to take on the billion-dollar video game industry that capitalizes on the marketing of killing.” A laudable goal to help prevent school shootings in the distant future, IF his studies are not statistics of minor studies to just prove his point, AND to take the attention away from the prime cause of GUN violence.

Actually, Mr. Olson, there are numerous studies refuting that violent video games cause violence in children and adults. Just one article of many:

https://gizmodo.com/science-finds-once-again-that-violent-video-games-dont-1823811169  More a Google click away. I could review those, but I want to simplify.

 

Just like Mr. Olson, I also spent a career in the military. But I graduated from the Naval Academy, then went on to be a physician patching up wounded lives and families from war. I have spent over forty years trying to figure out WHY VIOLENCE, WHY WAR. Human beings are complicated, and so is violence.

 

So let’s simplify things. It’s not lots of studies with controlled populations. Simple.

Gun violence only needs two things:

1) a human being to pull the trigger

2) a loaded gun.

 

It would be great if we could somehow take away human beings’ tendency to be violent, take away all violent video games, violent movies, poverty that spurs robbery and murder for money, drugs that cause poverty and take away inhibitions to killing, mental illness that is improperly treated and leads to crazies who kill, war that trains humans to be killers, child abuse that leads to more child abuse and murder, etc. etc. etc. Making laws to improve all these things are not only laudable, but goals we as a society must keep striving to do, as we have been striving for centuries.

 

But all those things have not worked for centuries and may never completely remove the violence that is a human stain. I have even written books about how to remove violence from humans. But they are fiction. This is real. Real people. Real death. A child gone forever. No chance of ever making that great discovery that might end cancer. Dead and gone.

 

What if we removed guns? Sure you can kill people other ways. But guns, especially automatic or semiautomatic guns kill so easily, so efficiently. The Colt revolver was known as THE GREAT EQUALIZER in the Wild West. Anyone can kill with a handgun. Quick, easy. Just aim and pull the trigger. Even if you are smaller, weaker, not good enough at oratory arguments, tired of rules that take away your freedoms, people who poke fun at you, maybe you’re even a kid. A gun does the trick. Right now. Right quick.

Can we make laws to prevent violent video games? Sure, but even if we do, it is only ONE of the multitudes of causes of human violence. And we don’t have centuries.

So the crux is THE GUN.

Gun violence only needs two things:

1) a human being to pull the trigger

2) a loaded gun.

Can we make laws to prevent guns from getting into kids’ or other maniacs’ hands? Yes, and those laws will impact gun violence in a year or even less. Look at Australia. They made gun laws to get the guns out of the community, used buy backs of automatic weapons, and not one mass murder for the next year, or 22 years afterwards http://fortune.com/2018/02/20/australia-gun-control-success/ . Look at every other advanced country in the world and the USA is backwards as far as gun control and gun violence. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/14/upshot/compare-these-gun-death-rates-the-us-is-in-a-different-world.html There, gun laws have prevented virtually ANY guns from getting into the general public. Virtually NO mass gun violence. Yes, the crooks still get guns, but illegally and made so difficult that it limits the number of guns available. In the U.S. it’s easier to get a gun than a driver’s license. Why do you think we have over 600 million guns in this country?

This video explains very well all about the gun problem in the USA.

 

I hope that we continue to make inroads into violence and human behavior. But first we must eliminate the one item that allows violence to inflict death with a simple point and shoot.

 

Please, Mr. Olson, and the rest of the city council, state legislators, national congressmen and senators, make gun laws now to protect not only our children, but our nation. Otherwise we will continue to deteriorate into gun packing Wild West killers who can equalize our weaknesses and eliminate anyone, or many whom we don’t like by simply pulling the trigger of a gun.

 

Try tax rebates to hand in your automatic and semi-automatic rifles and pistols. Or other laws. But do something. And do it now. As Mr. Olson had pointed out, and I have in the past, gun violence is the new normal.

Gun violence only needs two things:

1) a human being to pull the trigger

2) a loaded gun.

Only gun laws can quickly change gun violence from the new normal and Make America Safe Again.

The New Normal. Guns, The Flip Side. We need ’em.

Parody: something so bad as to be equivalent to intentional mockery; a travesty.

Welcome to the NEW NORMAL: Guns, The Flip Side. We need ‘em.

This is a revision of a post from Jan. 2013 after Sandy Hook in Newtown. Now there’s Mandalay Bay. If you didn’t believe it then, will you now?

Yeah, I just put out my 3-yr plan to get rid of guns, Mafioso style. As if that would work. Besides, nobody read it. Hell, Congress won’t even get rid of high-bullet magazines or assault rifles. So I started thinking about the real reason we need guns. Yes we DO need them. Sorry Bill Maher.

The problem is history, freedom and, most importantly, trust.

The history: the FBI estimates the  USA has about 300 million guns (and rising daily since Newtown). Yet now they say it’s 600 million. What a difference a few mass shootings makes.

Freedom: to use them anytime. We got ‘em we can shoot ‘em. So if you make new gun laws we will ignore them, just like the old ones. We don’t even pay attention to simple laws like stop signs, speed limits, or, making it more current, lying over the internet about our girlfriend dying of cancer to gain sympathy and more votes for the Heisman, lying about illegal use of steroids so you can win the Tour de France seven years running and make millions of dollars, lying to our constituents about taking money from lobbyist to gain office, beating our wives or children . . . I could go on and on, but you get it. I hope.

The last issue is trust. Why should I trust that I won’t get robbed walking at night in New Orleans, that my wife won’t be raped at night in Chicago, that someone won’t carjack me in LA? You know, I heard of a robber that forced their way into a home in Boulder, posing as a Mormon. We need guns because we don’t trust people. Not unreasonable. Did you know that there were over 11 million crimes committed in the USA in 2009. That’s one crime for every 100 people. What are the stats in your city? Murder rate, assault, rape, robbery, vandalism, drunk and disorderly, drug abuse, impersonating a Mormon? Lack of trust is in our genes, our country’s constitution, how the West was won (White Man speak with forked tongue), the CIA, our very jobs where everything has to be in writing about sexual harassment, sick leave, using cellphones, etc., etc., etc. We don’t trust our family, our friends, our priests, our bosses, our police, our military, or any other damn country in the world.

We have 300 600 million guns, the freedom to use them, either bad or good, and there are too many bad people out there to trust any stranger. Gotta have a gun. Simple. 

So, forget gun laws. They’ll never work.

Let’s focus on the insane. If we cure all of them, we will never have another Newtown, right? Are you shittin’ me? Do you have ANY idea how many people are on valium, lorazepam, Zoloft, Celexa, Abilify, Lunesta, Trazadone, Fluoxetine, Lithium, Aripiprazole, Quetiapine, Carbamazepine, Divalproex . . . and the list is literally endless. I bet half the third grade class in the good old USA is on Ritalin. How do you identify these “crazies?” Do you subpoena doctor’s records across the country to get a list of all the crazy people they’re treating? Once you have them all identified, how are you going to make them all better? You obviously know more about treating them than their doctor. Or is it just the ones that are not getting treatment? Okay, let’s round up all the crazy homeless people and put them in institutions. That will go over big, like the movie that made Jack Nicholson famous as a crazy man in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Okay, fine, just put them in jail. Our prison system is not overcrowded. Much. Wait, you say, I just want to keep the crazies from getting guns. You need to get that MRI quick. You already forgot the first few paragraphs above.

So, forget curing all the crazy people. That’s out.

We are left with lots of guns, lots of bad people we need protection from, lots of crazy people who can easily get guns from good people, bad people, or Wal-Mart, because it’s a free country and nobody wants to enforce the existing gun laws or change them.

Maybe we should just require all those good people who have guns to keep them from the bad or crazy people. Make them prove how well they secure their guns, keep them under lock and key. Problem is then we have to find all the gun owners, go to their humble and sacred abodes and inspect their security systems. That’s out, too. Hell, the NRA won’t even let doctors ask patients if they are keeping their guns locked up.

So, forget keeping guns safe by any laws. Period. Lock that one away. Throw away the key.

We just have to rely on all those gun owners to be good people, keep their guns secure and make sure no crazy or bad people get ahold of their guns.

What a new thought. We’ve been doing that for over a century. Worked well so far. Back to square one.

Let’s face it: We are at the NEW NORMAL. Yep that’s it, folks. The New Normal is that schools, sports games, movie theaters, crowded highway underpasses, any place you used think was safe is now a danger zone for a crazy with an automatic weapon and a grudge. Or maybe he is just a smart psychopath and no one in the world will ever know he’s crazy. But he has a gun! (Could be a she, too. Don’t count them out. Think of how many abused wives and raped female veterans there are, not to mention all those repressed in jobs due to their sex. God help the man from a woman scorned. Women caught up to men with lung cancer, so why should this new cancer of the gun be any different? Give ‘em time. )

The New Normal requires the same thing we did after 9/11 with airport security. We need security in all those previously safe places, and more, roaming the streets at night in those bad neighborhoods, keeping us safe from invasions. The good thing is there will be lots of jobs for those veterans returning from Afghanistan. There are others we want to hire, too. Job qual: can shoot and likes to wear a uniform, a bullet proof vest, Taser, Glock 17, and enjoys patrolling around movie theaters or being close to little kids. (Hmm, that sounds a little crazy to me.) You might have to make a law at the school so they won’t be watching videos or playing games or Tweeting on their smartphones instead of patrolling. Another law. Geez.

The NEW NORMAL: The USA is a war zone. The only thing we have to fear is each other. Bring us your tired, your poor, your starving, your mercenaries. We have just the job for them.  

I don’t know about you, but this sucks. I’m going to buy a gun.

And then I’ll write another thriller with lots of killing and maiming and torture, how we can’t trust the CIA or our doctor, how an ordinary citizen hiding in your midst could be a serial killer, because that shit is here to stay and everyone loves it. (Tongue out, Nanny-nanny boo-boo.)

 

Milt

300 million. Guns or people?

A little less than 5 years ago I posted the below about Newtown. Since then, we’ve found out there are way more guns than 300 million

We have become a nation of gun massacres. We’ve blamed it on crazy people, on terrorists, but somehow the elephant in the closet keeps from being addressed: GUNS, GUNS, GUNS. Now we have a new shooting. Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Gun owners say they need guns to protect themselves. How many of those at that country western concert at Mandalay Bey were gun owners. Didn’t help them a bit.

The shooter they keep trying to make into a crazed monster, but they can’t quite make it stick with this guy. He was touted as a nice guy, even wired $100,000 dollars to the Philippines to pay for a new house for his girlfriend’s family. Why would he do that, then kill all country western music fans at Mandalay Bay? Did he secretly hate the NRA and hope that killing some of it’s staunchest supporters would get some action? Wow! How stupid would that be. Or would it? We may never know. But we do know he had guns, and lots of them.

What is the common thread in all of these mass shootings? NOT CRAZY PEOPLE, NOT TERRORISTS, BUT GUNS, GUNS, GUNS.

5 Years ago at Newtown.

Yesterday, the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut struck me and many other parents hard. My wife wept. President Obama shed tears at a news conference. Gun control advocates across the world harangued. What did the NRA do? Hid in a closet. No comment. Don’t call us to your gun control debate the morning after, Chris Hayes, because we want things to settle out before we say anything.

What do you think gun owners did? The same thing they did when Obama was elected president, when there was a mass shooting in Aurora, when Gabby Giffords was shot, the same thing they did and will do after every bad thing that happens related to guns: They go out and buy another gun, or two, or five, especially something that might be outlawed soon, like an assault rifle.

So the question I keep asking myself is what can we do now, right now, to keep another Newtown from happening in two days, or two weeks, in my town, to my daughter or my son the teachers, to my grandson with his whole life ahead of him? Can we take away every gun from every gun owner? Hardly. So there will still be three hundred million guns out there, in another two weeks, probably way more because all the current gun owners will go out and by more, fearing stronger gun laws in the near future.

Should we give every teacher and principal and movie-ticket counter a gun to shoot at anyone who starts opening up? Nope. They’d probably shoot the wrong person, or freeze up when called to action. Even trained police officers freeze and their aim is off when confronted with an assault rifle-toting madman.

The whole purpose, according to NRA members, for allowing us to carry guns is the second amendment: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” supposedly to prevent the military from taking over, allowing citizens to fight off an unwanted police state, to make those gun owners feels safer. Yet, over the years, Americans amassing three hundred million–make that 600 million guns has made a culture where we feel just the opposite—more afraid—and it is not from the military, or the police, it’s from everyday ordinary places: a movie theater, a grade school, a high school, a McDonald’s. We are afraid to send our kids to school without a cellphone to let us know if something bad is happening. We sit at the theater in an aisle seat to be able to run if someone starts opening up with an AK-47. And now we all want to homeschool our kids. They will never leave our sight.

 

Almost old enough to go to preschool.

How do you change a culture that believes they must have guns to protect themselves? You make that fear go away. You develop laws that prevent the police and the military from taking over. Haven’t we done that? Or do we still fear the police? The military? The government? If we trust the government to do the right thing, because, after all this is a democracy, THE DEMOCRACY, where we elected those officials we trust to do the right thing, then why don’t we let them protect us and we throw away our guns? “Not unless you pry the gun from my cold, dead hands,” says a gun owner.

We won’t get rid of the guns we have, won’t let the government come in and take them, so we’re left with three hundred million guns (Oh, yeah. I forgot, much more in a few weeks).

All I can think of is we bump up security in every place there might be a possible mass murder by a madman. We require everyone to go through a metal detectors at all schools, movie theaters, sporting events, super markets, department stores, restaurants, train stations, bus stations, business meetings, etc., etc., etc. We hire people who won’t freeze up when they must fire their guns, prior military; those that would be mercenaries in foreign countries will be back here, protecting Americans, and contributing to the local economy. Lots of jobs would open up, help immensely with the recession. And all those gun owners with the need to use their gun against a bad guy would be able to do just that.

Of course, there might be one or two bad apples in those security mercs hired to protect your kids at Columbine High School. They might have had an issue with one of the teachers when they were there, before they went off to Afghanistan, and now can get rid of a bunch of teachers in one fell swoop.

Hmm. Beefing up security might not work. Maybe it boils down to changing the culture, teaching people to deal with disagreements, with adversity by using something besides violence. And maybe it would help if we stopped selling weapons of mass destruction, like AK-47’s or other semi-automatic guns. Maybe, just maybe, if we three hundred million people learned to get along with each other, disagree without hurting, work out differences by talking and looking for peaceful solutions, maybe we would ignore those three hundred million guns, they would rust and become antiques. And if the United States of America, the most powerful country in the history of the world, could do that, maybe other countries would follow our lead.

I guess, in the end, it boils down to both things. We must beef up security right away, as much as we can afford, prioritizing the right places to hire extra people, the right people, and put in metal detectors, or personnel searches. At the same time we have to work on the culture of violence and need to have guns. It must come from leaders as well as parents, teachers and anyone involved in teaching about dealing with adversity, and anyone involved already with guns. Rethink why you own one, what would happen if the wrong person got it. Agree that we must tighten the laws of gun ownership so 100%, not just 60% of guns bought have a thorough background search of the potential owner.

We must continue to push basic human values of respecting one another without getting in their face. After all, what’s more important, those three hundred million guns or three hundred million people? A little love might help. Add music, some dance, and pretty soon we would all be partying instead of shooting. One could only hope.
And then there’s cookies.

Don’t fight. Have a cookie.

Have one, you might chill out. And if you haven’t hugged your grandson, your daughter, your son, your spouse, your friend, do it now. Trust me, it’s much better than holding cold steel.

If you haven’t contacted your Congressman about getting rid of guns, please do.

Milt

The next post is a follow up on this.

How to get rid of guns: The 3-year plan

This post was originally written after Newtown. I’ve added some things.

So here we are, one week after Newtown, one week after 20 children were killed in minutes by another man with a gun. Do we have any new laws about guns yet? Ummm. No.

Lot of talk. Yibber, yabber. “Make all those automatic rifles illegal.” Yeah that’ll do it. Probably get passed in 2013, or maybe 2014 or 2015, or maybe never–Yup!

We never passed a gun law against assault weapons after 2002 law was rescinded.

2017 Update on gun laws

Why haven’t we got any new assault weapon gun laws?

The NRA lobbies all those Congressmen who want to get elected with NRA money,  Texans and their oil money contribute to TV ads about why changing gun laws won’t matter. After all, “Guns don’t kill. It’s the people who pull the trigger, particularly crazy people.”

If there wasn’t a trigger to pull, no one could kill 20 kids in minutes with a gun. Not crazy people, not smart premeditated sociopaths, not teenagers with a grudge. Of course there are still bombs. There you go again, trying to change the subject. Let’s concentrate on guns.

I’ve got a great proposal to get action faster, in the next year instead of a decade. You see, I know how hard it is to get things changed in people. I see it every day. Ask someone to stop smoking to prevent a heart attack, a stroke, lung cancer, or worsening asthma in their kids. Nah, Doc, I like my smokes. But when they actually get that heart attack, or stroke, or lung cancer, or their kid almost dies in ICU from an asthma attack? Everything changes in a Marlboro minute. You just need motivation. Ask any mafia boss: Threaten their lives? You get action.

So here’s my Mafioso suggestion: It’s a three-year plan, gives gun owners a chance to get used to the new world.

First year, the kicker year:

Put a trace on all registered guns. Find out where they are in the community. Put their names on the internet. Top of the list, put anyone who owns an assault weapon. At the same time make a law that they have one year to turn those assault weapons in, or go to jail. If you turn it in in that year, you get a tax deduction. A BIG TAX DEDUCTION! BIGGER IF YOU TURN IT IN WITHIN A WEEK.

Now here’s the kicker:

On day 364, at the stroke of midnight, not a second longer, all those guns are taken, confiscated, by force if necessary, and the owner jailed, five years for every automatic weapon confiscated that is registered. Any illegal ones found—life sentence. Any resistance, shoot ‘em. If they are in public office, other than a legal gun-toting law enforcement officer, they get fired, no pension and put in federal penitentiary for treason along with a front page mug shot on the New York Times, and of course the internet.

I think after a year, instead of 300 million guns there will only be 200 million.

Second year: go after ALL rifles.

Third year: go after ALL the handguns.

 

Of course there will be holdouts, illegal ones at that. They get death sentence if illegal. Others, double time in jail, no parole.

After three years you might have a few hundred thousand guns out there. Now that’s action.

What about people who hunt? They can only rent a gun from a bona fide, licensed outfitter, and only for the time they are hunting. They can only practice at registered shooting galleries, be they outside or in, after first renting the gun there.

Who will enforce it? Why those we trust in law enforcement and the military. You do trust them, don’t you? You better. They will soon be the only ones with guns. As it should be.

Maybe a little harsh? Ask any parent of a Newtown kid killed. They will agree, and may want even worse, like maybe shooting the owners first born.

THE END RESULT: a country without guns.

How it worked in Australia.

How many police would we actually need? The police we had might actually be able to concentrate on the illegal guns. There might be a lot more urban families with fathers.

Granted, after the first year you might have more crowded jails. But I think if you were really serious, and the gun owners saw that, maybe they would give up quicker. Of course maybe you would have a war on your hands. But at least the war would be about something important, saving kids and innocent people instead of oil.

Milt