Pride Is Here

6-2-21
   Well Pride has arrived. A time for LGBTQ+ people to be proud and celebrate who we are. Many cities and communities have a variety of celebrations, although the COVID pandemic has changed some of how it is celebrated. In normal times, there are festivals, parades, declarations by local governments, and so on. Rainbow flags as well as the flags of a variety of LGBTQ+ groups are more prevalent, and on social media, LGBTQ+ people will say Happy Pride and put various LGBTQ+ symbols and colors on their profiles. For many, it’s a time to be proud who they are, to celebrate, and help spread the word and educate others.
   But for many LGBTQ+ individuals, Pride is not so happy. It can be a tough time for quite a few people. The reasons for this are quite varied. There are many LGBTQ+ still suffering in the closet, surrounded by prejudiced family members, coworkers, and others who create such a toxic environment that the LGBTQ+ person is too afraid to come out. There are others who have suffered personal setbacks or tragedies that have tarnished their feelings about Pride. In addition to these are numerous LGBTQ+ people who don’t feel much sense of community because of intolerance and lack of understanding coming from too many members of the straight and gay / lesbian communities. Examples of people who often feel this way are those who are bi+ (bisexual, pansexual, fluid), genderfluid, genderqueer, non-binary, transgender, asexual, and intersex. Too many of us feel like we don’t really belong anywhere. And I said “us” on purpose because I’m bi+ and genderfluid myself.
   So for a variety of reasons, Pride can be a difficult time for many LGBTQ+ people. So, to those for whom Pride is an amazing time, try to be considerate and understanding of those for whom this month is difficult. Take a moment to educate yourself and learn about the reasons why some people are hurting right now. Perhaps open your mind a little bit with regards to those who are bi+, genderfluid, genderqueer, non-binary, transgender, asexual, and so on.
   And to those for whom Pride is not so happy, be strong and hang in there. It’s okay. I understand because Pride is a difficult time for me as well. Believe in yourself and never give up.
   Remember:
   Believe in yourself and never give up!

The United States And Guns

   The United States of America has a serious gun problem. One way or another, most people know this, although some are in denial and don’t want to believe it or admit it. But it’s true.
   Too many people are dying every single day tragically and needlessly because of gun violence.
   When the Constitution was created in the 18th century, it was a different time. There were no smartphones, communication was slow, the standing army was tiny, and many people lived in small rural communities or farms that were isolated and far away from help if something occurred. If you lived on a small farm in the 1700s, you couldn’t jump in the car and go to the grocery store. Small farmers frequently had to be much more self-reliant growing a significant amount of their own food and sometimes hunting for meat. Also if a criminal came to the farm, they couldn’t call 911. In many ways, they were on their own because it could take hours or longer to alert the authorities and get help. Something else to consider is that the muskets of the 18th century were much slower to reload and much less accurate than weapons today. Someone with significant practice could get off maybe three shots in a minute, give or take. In real world circumstances, it was likely often less than three a minute. And finally, the United States of the 18th century and early 19th centuries relied heavily on militias for defense because the standing army was tiny.
   In other words, the Second Amendment was written in another time when the circumstances were vastly different than today.
  It’s now the 21st century, and the United States has a large standing military, the National Guard, extensive police and law enforcement agencies, rapid communication, vehicles, planes, trains, grocery stores, and much deadlier guns. It’s definitely a different time.
   Let’s start by comparing assault rifles to muskets. A muzzleloading musket from the 18th century would take around 20 seconds to reload and fire if you were experienced, whereas a semi-automatic assault rifle can fire essentially as fast as your finger can squeeze on top of having high capacity clips. Realistically, someone could fire 60 rounds or more in a minute with a much higher degree of accuracy than the old muzzleloading muskets. The people who wrote the Second Amendment likely had no idea that assault rifles would ever exist or be in the hands of civilians.
   Now, let’s compare gun violence in the United States to that of other countries which have stricter gun control laws. First, death by firearms in 2017 per 100,000 people. According to the statistical site, Our World In Data, the United States rate was 4.63. The United Kingdom’s rate was 0.06, whereas Australia’s was 0.18. Germany’s was 0.1, and Japan’s was 0.03. Think about the vast difference between these countries and the United States.
   Now let’s look at the rate of death by interpersonal violence using any method in 2017 per 100,000 people. In the United States, the rate was 6.1. The UK’s was 0.5, and Australia’s was 1.4. Germany’s rate was 0.8 and Japan’s was 0.6. As you can see, the rates are multiple times lower than that of the United States.
   Take a look at these numbers. Look at the vast difference between United States and these other countries. The UK, Germany, Japan, and Australia have crime like the United States does. Their crime rates overall may be a little less than the United States in some cases, but not that much less.
   So let’s be honest about what’s going on. The major factor that explains the significant difference in murder rates is guns. The other countries listed here have much stricter gun control laws than the United States does. That’s the big difference. And if you compare these rates between the United States and other countries such as Belgium, France, and others, you will find similar results.
   It’s clear as day that the United States has a major gun problem and must enact stricter gun control laws. Gun violence in this country is just plain way out of control, and too many innocent people including children are dying every single day because of it.
   I’m not saying make all guns illegal. But there are practical, common sense gun control laws that would make a difference, especially in the long term. Ideas include banning assault style rifles from private ownership. No civilian needs an assault rifle. Assault rifles were created to kill human beings in times of war. That’s what they were designed for. Not for hunting animals or sport shooting. Restricting the size of clips is another practical idea that could save lives. Again, no one needs clips that hold 30 rounds of ammunition or more. Mandatory training and licensing would be a great idea. In order to drive a vehicle, you have to take a test and get a license, so why not do something similar for guns. Also, more extensive background checks would save a lot of lives as would tighter laws on proper storage of guns and ammunition when not in use. Too many kids die in tragic accidents when they grab their parents’ loaded gun that was sitting below the bed.
   By instituting laws like this nationwide, many lives would be saved, and law-abiding citizens who want to have a gun for hunting or similar would still be able to do so. As a matter of fact, many gun owners support gun control laws like this.
   So it’s definitely time to act. People need to stop automatically opposing gun control legislation ideas. Too many Americans are needlessly dying every single day. It’s time to enact better gun control laws.
   Future innocent lives are literally at stake.

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/homicide-rates-from-firearms

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/homicide-rate

https://www.numbeo.com/crime/compare_countries_result.jsp?country1=United+States&country2=United+Kingdom

Donald Trump And Those Blindly Following Him Are Endangering American Democracy

5-10-21
   I’m deeply disturbed by how Republicans these days have become so extreme in the way so many are following Donald Trump with an almost cult-like zeal. It’s to the point where our democracy is being seriously threatened in the near and long-term future, particularly if this trend continues.
   Donald Trump lied more than any other modern American president, and his outrageous false claims and lies about the election incited the January 6th riot and insurrection at the US Capitol Building. These facts are clear. Donald Trump lost the election fair and square, yet he continues to make outrageously false allegations and claims trying to say he won. He lost. There were international observers overseeing the election. Every single state, including those run by Republicans, certified the election. Ballot counting rooms had Republican, Democrat, and Independent observers overseeing the process and present to deal with issues. In addition to all this, Trump and his people went to court making their false claims about the election and lost over 60 times. And many of the judges who ruled against them were Republicans themselves.
   And here we are with Trump out of office yet still controlling the Republican Party. It is clear that he is expecting and demanding Republicans, especially those in elected offices, to bow to his will and obey his instructions. If an elected official doesn’t do this, then Trump will lash out at them and turn his followers against them. He appears to be demanding that Republicans go along with his outrageous lies about the election and that if elected Republicans want to get anywhere politically in the party, they have to espouse these lies as well. We’re seeing this with the way Republicans are turning on Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney. These two have stood up to Trump with regards to his false claims about the election, and they’re being torn viciously apart by the Republican Party as a result.
   The cult like control Trump is holding over the Republican Party is beyond disturbing and is truly endangering our democracy. Having one person who is no longer in an elected position holding such authoritarian style control over a major political party goes against what democracy is supposed to be about. In addition to this, Trump is convincing many Republicans not to trust United States elections if the person they voted for doesn’t win.
   This situation is extremely dangerous to the future of our democracy. More people in the Republican Party need to speak out against Trump’s horrible, dangerous lies and stand up for the United States Constitution and the American people instead. Will this happen? Right now, the verdict is still out on that which is scary.

Too Many People Are Hurting Due To A Lack Of Acceptance From Much Of Society.

   Hey there folks. I’d like to talk about something that’s very important which many people don’t realize. The fact is that there are a great number of LGBTQ people who are hurting, isolated, and alone because too many members of the Straight and Gay / Lesbian Communities don’t fully accept us. And this needs to change. It’s the 21st century for crying out loud.
   Who am I talking about you may wonder. It’s actually a lot more people than you may think. Bisexual+, Genderfluid, Genderqueer, Nonbinary, Transgender, Asexual, Intersex, and others (BTIA+ for short) often feel like we’re not fully accepted by most of society so that far too often, we end up very isolated and alone.
   Many people fear, and even ostracize, individuals whom they see as too different. Often, they assume the worst. That somehow we must be confused and untrustworthy. Or that we’re just plain too weird. The result is that they don’t fully accept us.
   The consequences are that too many BTIA+ people end up feeling like we don’t belong anywhere and that people don’t want us. It makes finding true friends incredibly difficult and often dating becomes virtually impossible, despite the fact that we can be just as faithful and monogamous as anyone else and that we want love too. Unfortunately, too many of us are having to face the brutal reality that we are probably going to be alone for the rest of our lives.
   Things need to change.
   The Straight and Gay / Lesbian Communities as a whole need to open their minds and their hearts. BTIA+ people deserve acceptance and a chance. Don’t automatically reject us because of who we are. Try to open your minds and get to know us. We also enjoy the same interests and activities that you do, whether it’s movies, TV shows, and art or good food, travel, and the outdoors. Plus, diversity should be celebrated, not feared.
   We are people too.
   We have hopes and dreams.
   We want to have happy productive lives like everyone else.
   All we are asking for is a chance.
   If everyone strove to be kind, considerate, tolerant, open-minded, and accepting, imagine how wonderful and magical the world could be for everyone.

Proposed Anti-Transgender Bills Reveal How Much Ignorance, Intolerance, And Prejudice Still Exist In This Country

4-28-21
   Where in the hell did all this hate come from?
   I’d really like to know.
   It’s the 21st century, and one would hope that we’ve come a long ways as a species. And while there are people who are tolerant, open-minded, and compassionate, it seems there are many these days who are full of intolerance and prejudice. And what’s even more disheartening is how they seem more vocal and are even trying to pass laws based on their intolerance. This latter is particularly disturbing and frankly disgraceful because it harms innocent human beings.
   Think about that. People are trying to pass laws that will harm innocent human beings. And that’s exactly what is happening with these anti-Transgender laws that many Republicans are trying to pass in states throughout the country. And Transgender kids are a particular target with these proposed laws.
   They’re targeting kids for goodness sakes!
   Kids!
   Kids who are already struggling as they try to be who they are and how they want to live their lives. Far too many Transgender kids are already the victims terrible bullying in school from other kids, and on top of that, a great number also have to deal with intolerant teachers who don’t use the correct pronouns and look at them with derision and even disgust. Such incessant, vicious bullying and treatment are major reasons why Transgender kids have higher suicide rates. They need encouragement, support, and help. Not more bullying, intolerance, and hate.
   Yet many Republicans are trying to pass laws that would make the lives of Transgender kids even more difficult by doing things like banning them from participating in sports with the teams that match their preferred gender. What’s even worse is that several of these laws prevent doctors from prescribing medical therapies that help Transgender kids in their journey to be who they truly are. An example of this is how several of these laws prevent doctors from prescribing puberty blockers. Puberty blockers are medications that are entirely reversible and give a Transgender kid time to discover who they are and want to be. We’re not talking about surgery. Doctors are not performing gender surgeries on minors. We’re talking about medication which is reversible and that research proves support and improve the lives of many Transgender kids.
   People who are pushing these anti-Transgender laws clearly do not understand what being Transgender is all about. Yet instead of trying to educate themselves, they are working to pass laws based on their ignorance, intolerance, and prejudice against Transgender individuals.
   This is so sick and wrong. It makes the lives of Transgender kids even more difficult and will increase the likelihood that some will commit suicide. To be frank, those who pass anti-Transgender laws will have blood on their hands.
   It’s time for all of us to speak up in support of the Transgender community and against these horrible anti-Transgender bills. Put pressure on politicians who are pursuing such disgraceful legislation. And when they come up for re-election, vote them out of office.
   It’s time for people to open their minds and their hearts. Educate themselves and strive to be more compassionate and understanding of others, even when those individuals are different from themselves.

The Republican Party Appears To Be On A Dangerous, Dark Path

4-22-21
   Seems to me that the Republican Party is going down a seriously dangerous, dark path when you stop to consider what has been going on lately. Think about it. I’m not talking about tax rates or the like. No. I’m looking at the way too many members of the Republican Party are going along with disturbingly extremist influences that are terribly harmful to other people and undermining to our democratic values.
   We saw this trend pick up steam during the Trump Administration when Donald Trump and others in the Republican Party did things like attacking the free press, encouraging xenophobia, denying science, and viciously going after the election process itself. On multiple occasions, Trump seemed to go out of his way to avoid criticizing white supremacists and other extremist elements, which in turn emboldened them to come out of the woodwork and spread their vile, disgraceful intolerance, bigotry, and hate more than they had in many years.
   Trump’s unfounded, dangerous attacks on the 2020 election then exacerbated the boiling cauldron of intolerance, xenophobia, paranoia, and hate to the point where it exploded on January 6th when the entire world saw the angry mob of Trump supporters literally attack the United States Capitol Building. Even now with Trump out of office, he is still spreading despicable, dangerous lies about the election which is further encouraging these far-right extremists to the point where there is serious concern that they will conduct more domestic terror attacks upon our nation.
   Despite all of this, a large percentage of the Republican Party is continuing to go along with (and even blindly follow) Donald Trump’s twisted, self serving, dangerous, narcissistic whims and lies. They are frequently denying science so that many refuse to wear masks or get vaccinated against COVID (thus worsening and prolonging the pandemic). A scary percentage still question the validity of the 2020 election despite the overwhelming evidence that it was free and fair. This in turn has led to efforts by many Republicans in numerous states to try to pass laws which would make it more difficult for many people to vote, which is clear voter suppression.
   There are other disturbing trends emanating from the Republican Party. One is the way many Republicans continue to deny human-caused climate change and often promote the use of fossil fuels despite the fact that this worsens the climate change crisis the planet currently finds itself in. This is also very narrow-minded economically because the future is not in fossil fuels but in renewable energy instead. Another sickening trend is the way the Republican Party in many states is attacking the Transgender Community, particularly Transgender kids. These attacks are extremely harmful to innocent Transgender people and increase the likelihood that some may take their own lives.
   How long will this go on? How many lives are going to be lost and how much damage will our country have to endure before these dangerous trends by the Republican Party finally abate.
   Many Republicans see themselves as rugged individualists. But their behavior says otherwise. Instead, many have shown themselves to be blind followers who are unwilling to think for themselves, stand up for what is right, or speak out against what is clearly wrong.

Suicide Is NEVER The Answer

   I know these are difficult, troubling times with many people feeling hurt, nervous, uncertain, and afraid. Isolation from the pandemic has worn lots of people down, and all the viciousness that seems to be permeating our society is heartbreaking and disheartening. With everything going on, a number of people feel like they’re at the breaking point and think things are hopeless.
   But folks, suicide is not the answer.
   I’m going to say that again: suicide is not the answer.
   No matter how difficult things may be or how hopeless a situation may seem, taking your own life is never the answer. You’ve got to hang in there. Try to remember there are good things in life and activities that you enjoy. It could be a trip you took once upon a time that you really enjoyed, or it could be a movie that makes you laugh. Or a good book that you enjoy losing yourself in for a little while. Or perhaps a walk through a pretty park on a beautiful day. And even if it feels like hope is in short supply, don’t give up on it. Hope is still out there. Believe in yourself. You have the ability to persevere and get through to better times. You can do it.
   And don’t be afraid to seek out professional help. There’s no shame in that, and it could save your life.
   I’m including links to several sites which provide support for people in crisis. Check them out and share them with others.
   And remember: never give up. Believe in yourself. No matter what happens, you always have yourself.

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

https://afsp.org/lgbtq-crisis-and-support-resources

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

Republicans Are Pushing For New Laws That Would Make Voting More Difficult For Many Americans

4-5-21
   Republicans around the country are pushing for new laws that would make it significantly more difficult for many Americans to vote. They’re particularly targeting mail in voting and ballot drop boxes, both of which were used heavily by people who voted for Democrats in the last election.
   This is no coincidence. It’s very clear that the Republicans are trying to make it more difficult for people to vote, especially those they fear will vote for Democrats. Historically, Republicans have often feared large voter turnouts in elections because they worry that it may favor the Democrats if more people come out and vote.
   This is clear voter suppression. Republicans are trying to increase the odds that they might win future elections by making it more difficult for those who may vote for Democrats to cast their ballot. This is sick, disgusting, and goes against what democracy is supposed to be about. Frankly, it starts getting dangerously close to authoritarianism and clearly goes against what this country should stand for.
   Everyone who cares about our freedoms and democracy should be furious and speak out against these horrendous laws that Republicans are pushing all around the country. Mail in voting has been shown over and over to be very effective and quite secure. The military has been using it for years. We should be encouraging people to exercise their constitutional right to vote and have a voice in American democracy.
   People need to speak up and speak out against these outrageous new laws.
   Let’s stand for democracy and the United States Constitution.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/30/politics/voting-rights-republicans-restrictions-key-states/index.html

The United States And Guns

   The United States of America has a serious gun problem. One way or another, most people know this, although some are in denial and don’t want to believe it or admit it. But it’s true.
   Too many people are dying every single day tragically and needlessly because of gun violence.
   When the Constitution was created in the 18th century, it was a different time. There were no smartphones, communication was slow, the standing army was tiny, and many people lived in small rural communities or farms that were isolated and far away from help if something occurred. If you lived on a small farm in the 1700s, you couldn’t jump in the car and go to the grocery store. Small farmers frequently had to be much more self-reliant growing a significant amount of their own food and sometimes hunting for meat. Also if a criminal came to the farm, they couldn’t call 911. In many ways, they were on their own because it could take hours or longer to alert the authorities and get help. Something else to consider is that the muskets of the 18th century were much slower to reload and much less accurate than weapons today. Someone with significant practice could get off maybe three shots in a minute, give or take. In real world circumstances, it was likely often less than three a minute. And finally, the United States of the 18th century and early 19th centuries relied heavily on militias for defense because the standing army was tiny.
   In other words, the Second Amendment was written in another time when the circumstances were vastly different than today.
  It’s now the 21st century, and the United States has a large standing military, the National Guard, extensive police and law enforcement agencies, rapid communication, vehicles, planes, trains, grocery stores, and much deadlier guns. It’s definitely a different time.
   Let’s start by comparing assault rifles to muskets. A muzzleloading musket from the 18th century would take around 20 seconds to reload and fire if you were experienced, whereas a semi-automatic assault rifle can fire essentially as fast as your finger can squeeze on top of having high capacity clips. Realistically, someone could fire 60 rounds or more in a minute with a much higher degree of accuracy than the old muzzleloading muskets. The people who wrote the Second Amendment likely had no idea that assault rifles would ever exist or be in the hands of civilians.
   Now, let’s compare gun violence in the United States to that of other countries which have stricter gun control laws. First, death by firearms in 2017 per 100,000 people. According to the statistical site, Our World In Data, the United States rate was 4.63. The United Kingdom’s rate was 0.06, whereas Australia’s was 0.18. Germany’s was 0.1, and Japan’s was 0.03. Think about the vast difference between these countries and the United States.
   Now let’s look at the rate of death by interpersonal violence using any method in 2017 per 100,000 people. In the United States, the rate was 6.1. The UK’s was 0.5, and Australia’s was 1.4. Germany’s rate was 0.8 and Japan’s was 0.6. As you can see, the rates are multiple times lower than that of the United States.
   Take a look at these numbers. Look at the vast difference between United States and these other countries. The UK, Germany, Japan, and Australia have crime like the United States does. Their crime rates overall may be a little less than the United States in some cases, but not that much less.
   So let’s be honest about what’s going on. The major factor that explains the significant difference in murder rates is guns. The other countries listed here have much stricter gun control laws than the United States does. That’s the big difference. And if you compare these rates between the United States and other countries such as Belgium, France, and others, you will find similar results.
   It’s clear as day that the United States has a major gun problem and must enact stricter gun control laws. Gun violence in this country is just plain way out of control, and too many innocent people including children are dying every single day because of it.
   I’m not saying make all guns illegal. But there are practical, common sense gun control laws that would make a difference, especially in the long term. Ideas include banning assault style rifles from private ownership. No civilian needs an assault rifle. Assault rifles were created to kill human beings in times of war. That’s what they were designed for. Not for hunting animals or sport shooting. Restricting the size of clips is another practical idea that could save lives. Again, no one needs clips that hold 30 rounds of ammunition or more. Mandatory training and licensing would be a great idea. In order to drive a vehicle, you have to take a test and get a license, so why not do something similar for guns. Also, more extensive background checks would save a lot of lives as would tighter laws on proper storage of guns and ammunition when not in use. Too many kids die in tragic accidents when they grab their parents’ loaded gun that was sitting below the bed.
   By instituting laws like this nationwide, many lives would be saved, and law-abiding citizens who want to have a gun for hunting or similar would still be able to do so. As a matter of fact, many gun owners support gun control laws like this.
   So it’s definitely time to act. People need to stop automatically opposing gun control legislation ideas. Too many Americans are needlessly dying every single day. It’s time to enact better gun control laws.
   Future innocent lives are literally at stake.

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/homicide-rates-from-firearms

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/homicide-rate

https://www.numbeo.com/crime/compare_countries_result.jsp?country1=United+States&country2=United+Kingdom

There Are Multiple Factors Leading To Intolerance And Hate

   Where did all the hate and prejudice that is pervading society today come from? It’s the 21st century! Many of us want to think that society would be better than this, so why does it feel like so much intolerance is all around us.
   We live in an age of incredible advancements in terms of technology and communication. We have access to more information than anyone in human history and the ability to exchange information with one another faster than ever before. You’d think this would help broaden people’s minds as they learn about other people and far away places. And for some people, it has. But for others, it appears that this is not the case.
   So where is all this hate and prejudice coming from?
   I think the answer to that question is very complicated and varies from person to person. Often, it’s probably a combination of multiple factors that come together and lead to prejudice and hate.
   Lack of knowledge is a big one. People often fear what they don’t understand, so when they are confronted with something that they know very little about and is different from their own life experiences, many people respond with mistrust and intolerance. Their automatic response might be suspicion that it must be something bad and that they must stand against it.
   The influences of people and/or organizations in a person’s life which that person trusts are also major factors. If those influences consist of open-minded and tolerant attitudes, that could help broaden an individual’s mind. But when the influences are intolerant and close-minded, that increases the likelihood that an individual will adopt those attitudes as well, especially if the person was already leaning in that direction to begin with.
   Another issue is how so many people these days surround themselves with (or follow) individuals, websites, organizations, and other sources of information that tell them what they want to hear instead of giving them objective information and showing them diverse points of view. Again, this can reinforce intolerant and prejudiced attitudes that a person may already have and even make them worse.
   Fear of the unknown and of change also frequently comes into play. Many people don’t want to step out of their comfort zone. They want to surround themselves with what is familiar and what they prefer.
   So when you think about it, it’s easy to see how all these factors can combine in leading to intolerant, prejudiced attitudes.
   As a society, we must do better than this. People need to have the courage to open their minds and broaden their horizons. Think for themselves and don’t automatically believe some individual, organization, or website. Seek out sources of information that are varied, independent, and reputable. Have the courage to seek out new ideas and learn about different points of view. Recognize that there is often multiple ways to do things and accomplish goals. That this is a diverse planet and that we need to learn about one another, learn from one another, and strive to work together as best we can.
   It’s time to do better.