Tag: #

There are unquiet minds

Bipolar Disorder

And slightly less unquiet minds

Steve Kinsky’s an old friend.  We first met when we were both in a professional organization for health insurance agents.  We’ve stayed in touch since we retired. We’re both widely read, although our tastes sometimes differ since Steve has a scientific and mathematical bent that I don’t share; before becoming an agent he was an actuary.

Steve’s known for some time that I have bipolar disorder; I’m not quite sure how he learned about it.  He may have read about it in this prior post of mine.  But however he came to know, we’ve discussed it more than once.

Last time we met, he suggested that I take a look at a book he’d recently read about bipolar called An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison.   Published in 1997, the book is beautifully written and makes compelling reading.

“Racing down the hallway naked”

Like most illnesses, bipolar comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Or, to state it more precisely, it comes with varying levels of intensity.  In my case, it was relatively mild.  But that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital as a young adult.  Or that I didn’t have wild mood swings between manic, sleepless highs.  And lows that left me carefully planning my own destruction.  Rather, it means that I never, as my psychiatrist once told me of other cases he knew of, “ran naked down the hallway of a psychiatric hospital screaming at the top of my voice.”

Judging from Jamison’s book, my guess is that her disorder is of the more severe variety.  While she’s a brilliant author and clinical psychologist who specializes in this illness, she’s gone beyond the planning stage and actually attempted suicide.  She’s also gone on the wild spending sprees that are typical of the disorder.  I, on the other hand, only suggested to my business partner the completely inappropriate purchase of luxury cars to “prove” how successful we were.  He immediately, and fortunately, scotched the idea.

In short, while I’ve had more than enough “near misses” to make the lives of my family and myself plenty miserable at times, Jamison was on an emotional roller coaster that continued unremittingly for years at a time.

The agony and the ecstasy

Jamison describes her experience with bipolar as a love/hate relationship.  That’s fitting.  As is typical for this condition, I resisted taking medication for literally decades after I was first diagnosed.  Pride. Denial. And, in my case, a belief that my conversion to Christianity would make medication unnecessary.  All played a part.  As they did to one degree or another in Jamison’s life.

But at least as important was that bipolar’s the sort of illness that one can become attached to.  Jamison writes about it.  I’ve felt it.  The seemingly inexhaustible energy.  The perceived brilliance of mind.  Even now, years after the condition has been well controlled by medication, I occasionally feel a wistful fondness for those exhilarating times of mental acuity.  Until, that is, I recall the inevitable and crushing lows that follow the euphoria.

It’s estimated that 2.3 million Americans, or nearly 1% of the population, are bipolar.  Suicide is the number one cause of premature death among people with the disorder, with 15 to 17% taking their own lives.  Those aren’t good odds.  If you suspect that a loved one, or you, are wrestling with an unquiet mind, figure out a way to get help.

You can start by clicking here.

 

 

 

People and grassroots?

750x450 co caucusOr money and tech?

Did you see it?  Probably not.

It wasn’t more than a twitch on Twitter.  But earlier this year, Rob Witwer announced that he’d resigned from the Republican Party and re-registered as an independent.

So what else is new?  After all, unaffiliated registrations have been steadily rising for years and now account for nearly 40% of the Colorado electorate. While registered Democrat and Republican voters have declined to about 30% each.

But Rob’s different.  He use to represent a sizable chunk of Jefferson County in the Colorado House.  I served two years with him in that body.  He was a smart, articulate, straight shooting legislator who served his constituents well.  He’s also the co-author of The Blueprint, an insightful account of how a handful of wealthy Democrats turned our red state blue.

So how does this help?

At least in part, Rob explained his action by saying:

“Becoming an independent is not a protest against the GOP so much as a recognition that the major parties have morphed into a malignant duopoly whose primary function is to amass power by dividing Americans against one another. This is immoral. And unsustainable.”

Now if Rob were speaking of how things are done in Washington, D.C., I could probably go along.  The amount of money and raw power that sloshes around in the “swamp” is enough to corrupt all but the most incorruptible.

But Colorado’s different.  Our Constitution mandates that we balance our state budget every year.  The annual budget bill, and each session’s most important legislation, usually has broad, bipartisan support.  By comparison with D.C., Colorado is a paragon of political virtue.

And even if we do have our share of partisan wrangling, how does registering as an independent help?

The real impact of being an “independent.”

Now, again, Rob’s a sharp guy.  But from what I see on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website, Rob’s just done a couple of things that don’t make much sense.

First, he’s disqualified himself from participating in our caucus system for nominating political candidates.  They’re only open to someone affiliated with one of the major parties.

“So what?” you ask.  “No one goes to them anyway.  And no one understands how they work.”

For you, the caucus skeptic, here’s some things to consider.  A caucus is like a mini-political convention consisting, usually, of a few dozen folks in your immediate neighborhood.  At a nearby school or church, delegates are elected to go on to the higher assemblies where candidates for offices like President, governor, congress and the US Senate are selected.  It’s serious stuff.  And sometimes uncomfortable.

Like when, at my last caucus, I put myself forward, despite the disapproving looks of several of my neighbors, to represent Donald Trump at the state convention.

But the point is that the caucus system is personal.  Face to face.  Grassroots.  Low cost. Generally civil.

And the alternative?

But Rob, along with all other “independent” voters, has now opted into a primary election system that’s just the opposite.

From beginning to end, it’s money, money, money.  From the hired gun signature collectors to the huge sums of money that gets dumped into scurrilous TV and mail campaigns ahead of the June primary.  Since when wasn’t there’s enough money spent on nasty ads during the fall general election that we need to get the TV smear campaigns rolling in April for the June primary?

And talk about impersonal.  With the anonymity of social media playing an increasingly dominant role in mass campaigns, you too can have your inbox endlessly spammed with vicious campaign emails from before the primary until after the general election.  Congratulations!

At least with the caucus system, only the delegates to the various conventions are subjected to this sort of social media abuse.  And, remember, they volunteered for it.

So, Rob, it would be nice to think that your action will heal our “malignant divisions.”  But don’t hold your breath.  In fact, by further weakening the caucus system, there’s a pretty good chance that things might get worse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ho-hum. Just another day at the library

750x450 arapahoe book

This is not your father’s “World Kissing Day”

I spend a lot of time in Koelbel Library, a very nice facility in a suburb south of Denver.  While I could blog at home, I prefer the library because it lacks two very tempting distractions:  the refrigerator and television.  True, there’s usually a lively background hubbub of little voices who don’t have a clue about traditional library courtesies.  But at this point, that’s white noise I easily tune out.

Each day as I walk in, joining swarms of little kids and their moms, we pass displays that highlight books and themes that are featured for the week or the month.  This July’s?  “World Kissing Month”.  Or was it “World Kissing Day”?  No matter; it’s the books on display that count.

And “Soft Place To Fall” was enough to push me over the edge.  Front and center, it was right where hordes of little kids walked by; I think I’m finally pissed off enough to do something.  More, that is, than complain to the low level library functionaries I’ve spoken to before.  Who patronizingly pat me on the head and say, in effect, “How could you be so prudish?  We have to appeal to all audiences.  Move on; nothing to see here.”

OK.  I can buy that.  But let’s quit kidding around and start appealing to all audiences.  Why not Larry Flint’s Hustler up there next to “Soft Place”?  Or, if that’s a bit on the rough side for the little tykes, at least Playboy?

An attractive nuisance

750x450 arap library door

Once the kids have navigated the gauntlet of “World Kissing Month”, most of them veer left to the children’s section of the library.  It’s the kind of place that draws kids to it like a magnet; a full size sculpture of Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat beckons them through a child size door that, obviously, is made just for them.  And they love it; whenever I’ve come with my little granddaughters for “Story Time”, they invariably make two or three passes through their “own door”.

And most of what goes on in that special space that’s been reserved for little children is just fine.  But why not keep it that way?

But no.  In one shelf, literally right down at floor level, in reach of even the smallest hands, is Lesléa Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies.  It’s no wonder that the book, published in 1989, is described as “groundbreaking”; it was the first LBGQT novel aimed at the children’s market. The American Library Association ranked it the 9th most frequently challenged book in the United States in the 1990s.

But by comparison with another “children’s” book, It’s Perfectly Normal, Heather is child’s play.  In the stacks, but at eye level for our four year old grand daughter, Normal‘s only a hop, skip and a jump from Heather.  And, indeed, it is an eye full.  Full frontal “cartoons” of male and female genitalia, many images of people performing intercourse, and an introduction to anal and oral sex and masturbation.  Take it from me, this is one book where words are completely incapable of capturing its “charms”.   Particularly for little kids.

“I READ BANNED BOOKS”

450x450 banned book van

Koelbel is part of the Arapahoe Library District.  Every day as I walk into the building, I pass one of their “Bookmobiles.”  The folks that run the District seem to have a “thing” for bumper stickers.  “I BRAKE FOR LITERACY”  is one.  But the one that grabs me when I’m  in this kind of mood is, “I READ BANNED BOOKS.”

Now, bear in mind that neither Heather Has Two Mommies or It’s Perfectly Normal are banned.  The Library District has, obviously, given them their seal of approval.  In fact, they’re right out where little kids can freely pick them up and page through them.

Which makes me wonder.  Just what kind of books are sufficiently lewd for Library District employees and their bosses to ban them?  And therefore read them?

 

 

 

 

Kilts, bag pipes and drums

Against machine guns and poison gas

After dinner here in Oban, our gang walked back to our B&B along the water front, past a small, grassy square.  There were about 20 men and women with bag pipes and drums, playing, marching and rehearsing for what, I assumed was an upcoming competition or festival.  Only one man was dressed in full Scots regalia, kilts, knee-socks, codpiece, the works.  Why everyone else was in street clothes, I can’t tell you.

My wife, who’s half Irish and half Italian, always starts quietly sobbing when she hears bagpipes fire up.  Not quite sure why.  Probably a combination of the weird, mournful wailing and memories of her long dead Irish grandfather, Jerry.  And, particularly, the way Jerry became a near second father to her brother, Cliff, Jr., who was killed by friendly fire shortly after he was drafted and shipped over to Vietnam.

According to schedule

It’s gotten to the point where bagpipes often have a similar effect on me: a catch in my throat, at the least.  I might even have to wipe away a tear or two.  Why?  Similar reasons.  The mournful wailing.  And death.  But not for a relative.  It’s for what happened to Western Civilization in the blood soaked trenches of World War I.  France.  England.  Russia.  America.  Germany.  Italy.  The list goes on.  They all lost their collective minds.   Nearly 40 million dead and wounded, military and civilian.  The U.S. was a bit player in terms of casualties-but it played a decisive role in turning back a nearly successful, final German offensive that resulted in that nation’s exhaustion and defeat.

World War I has been called the “Timetable War” because of the limitations of the rail systems that were required to mobilize the hundreds of thousands of troops in the lead-up to the plunge into the abattoirs.   When that volume of trains are set in motion in such a compressed timeframe, they basically become one-way vehicles: they’re very difficult to turn around and there aren’t any passing lanes.  Once the order to go to war was given, the various hostile powers couldn’t reverse it without running the risk that their cross border enemy wouldn’t do the same.  And leave their own forces trapped in trains in a hopeless traffic jam.

So the flower of Europe’s youth perished-way ahead of schedule.

They’re everywhere

Here, the reminders of death are everywhere.  Stop in any of the little towns we’ve gone through and you’re almost sure to see a war memorial inscribed with the names of the dead from history’s bloodiest century, the 20th.  World War I.  World War II.  Korea.  But in the towns we’ve been through, WWI was by far the bloodiest for Britain.

But it’s not just the lives that were lost.  Or, as awful as it sounds, perhaps even the most important thing that was lost.  The bloody Napoleonic Wars had come to an end about a century earlier in 1815.  In the 100 years between the end of those wars and the start of WWI, Europe and much of the rest of the world largely enjoyed peace.  And relative prosperity.  Britain played world cop.  Western Civilization flourished.  They call it Pax Britannica.  

But it all came crashing down on July 28, 1914.  And since World War II was really just a continuation of World War I’s bloodletting (except on steroids), the fighting didn’t really end until the atom bomb was dropped and the Japanese surrendered in Tokyo harbor on September 2, 1945.  Western Civilization still hasn’t recovered its sense of optimism and self-confidence that was lost in the madness of supposedly “advanced” societies tearing at each others vitals like rabid dogs.  

The Pals

The next morning, I looked to my right down the Oban waterfront.  There, several hundred yards away was a column.  I walked down and, sure enough, it was a war memorial.  Rough hewn and rustic, there were dozens and dozens of names.  Although all of the 20th century’s wars were represented, overwhelmingly the dead were from “The Great War.”

To encourage enlistment, the British military established “Pals” battalions.  This allowed young men from the same town or school to enlist with their friends rather being randomly assigned to units full of strangers.  The Pal system worked-with often horrifying consequences.   In the 1916 Somme offensive, of 700 Pals from the small town of Accrington, 235 were killed and 350 were wounded in the space of 30 minutes.   

Were the many Scottish soldiers whose names were etched on the Oban memorial Pals?  Did they “go over the top” behind wailing bagpipers in tartan kilts?  I don’t know.  But one of the soldiers at the top of the memorial has on a stone kilt.  And, more importantly, who can think of this madness and not get a catch in their throat?  And utter a prayer that we won’t repeat the insanity.  And that, by the grace of God, Western Civilization might someday come to a recognition that it has a great deal to offer a world that still needs what it has.  At least when it’s at its best.

 

 

 

 

There’s A Clean, Well Lighted Place

750x450 a clean well lighted place

And Then There’s Family Promise

No less a literary titan than James Joyce once described Ernest Hemingway’s short story, A Clean, Well Lighted Place, as ” … masterly. Indeed, it is one of the best short stories ever written…”

And there was a time when, as a youth who aspired to write the mythic “great American novel”, I would have unquestioningly agreed; I was a big fan of anything by Hemingway. However, I’m now, at best, ambivalent about the author.  Like many of his stories, booze and “nada” are central to A Well Lighted Place.  Which, I suppose, isn’t surprising given the horrors that Hemingway and the 40 million other members of his “Lost Generation” endured in the trenches of World War I.

But I was reminded of the story last Saturday as I was waited in a clean, well lighted place, i.e., my church, to shuttle a van full of homeless Denverites to their next stop in the Family Promise program.  And, it is to be hoped, their next stop on a road that will eventually lead them out of homelessness and to a place they can call home.

What they do.  And how they do it.

750x450 family promise

Started in 1982 from a businesswoman’s chance encounter with a homeless woman, Family Promise has grown into a national organization engaging 180,000 individual volunteers and 6,000 faith congregations.

On several occasions during the year, our church hosts families referred to us by the organization.  The accommodations are anything but fancy, but they’re clean and well lighted and safe.  Teams of volunteers feed our guests.  The bathrooms include showers.

During the day, families stay at a downtown Denver location where long term planning for employment, housing and financial stability are the focus.  It was my job, this time, to drive the van to that location.  On previous occasions my wife and I have helped provide dinner.

You can lead a horse . . .

I’ve lived in Denver my entire life.  And there’s little doubt that I’ve been blessed.  So, I’m certainly not as well acquainted with the tougher side of life with which others are familiar.

But sheltered existence or not, no-one who drives around town can miss the countless beggars and panhandlers that are seemingly a permanent fixture on so many street corners.  This is particularly noticeable to me because I remember seeing few, if any, of these people growing up here.

I hope that Family Promise can make a dent in the problem.  Especially for those-and you’ve seen them as well-who have kids sitting by their side as the mother (don’t think I’ve ever seen a man doing it) holds out a hand to cars at the red light.

But I fear that making a dent in the problem will be tougher, and more complex, than we imagine.  One of the issues that defies easy solution is the deinstitutionalization of individuals with mental illness.  This “reform” may have seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  And relieved severe over crowding at Pueblo’s state hospital.   But how many of those patients wound up begging on street corners?  And not really interested, or able, to lead lives off the street?

I don’t know.  I just know what I can do.  And invite you to do the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But there came a time, after I became a Christian, that I soured on Hemingway.  His nihilistic atheism.  His misogyny and the way he treated women as mere objects.  His he-man bravado on African safaris and lion hunts.  And the tough guy bravado in the many war stories he wrote from personal experience.  And, finally, the alcohol and even binge drinking that played into so many of his novels.

 

 

Trump and The Wall: smart like a fox?

Or dumb as a stump?

At the library where I blog, there’s a table displaying IRS information booklets.  An ever present reminder that tax season is, alas, upon us.

But in addition to the booklets, there was, up until a few days ago, a sign declaring that “Due to the Federal government shutdown, IRS services may be unavailable or delayed.”  Which, given that about 8 out of 10 Americans get refunds, probably made the blood freeze of about 8 out of 10 library patrons.  You know, the ones counting on refunds for little things like house or car payments.  Or even groceries.

But who, now that President Trump has caved on the wall, are probably breathing a sigh of relief.

Blinking first

The shutdown lasted for 35 days, the longest in the nation’s history.  Of course, the hold up was over funding for the wall on the southern border to limit illegal immigration.    It was President Trump’s signature issue during the 2016 election and it played a large part in why he’s President.   He’s demanding nearly $6 billion for the wall; not even enough to finish it.

Democrats in Congress who, since last fall’s elections, have a solid majority in the House, flatly said “No!”  They claim the wall is “immoral” and ineffective-despite having voted to fund a wall on the southern border in the past.  And despite Democrat support for the massive amounts of US aid that we provide Israel (well over $3 billion for defense), which, at least in part, has helped fund their highly effective barrier.  And despite the fact that walls have proved their worth in terms of border security and limiting conflict in many countries all around the world.

Was it a fit of absent mindedness?

But, in retrospect, the truly puzzling question about this Mexican standoff is: why now?

Republicans firmly controlled both houses of Congress for the first two years of Mr. Trump’s presidency.  Many of those Congressmen were swept into office on the President’s broad coat tails.  Sure, lots of incumbent Republican Congressmen were firmly ensconced in the DC “swamp” that Trump promised to drain.  They had few warm feelings for an outsider like Trump.  And they never really bought into the President’s “big, beautiful wall.”

But in the end, it’s hard to imagine that they wouldn’t have given the President pretty much anything he asked for in terms of the wall.

So why did he wait until Democrats, the true “never Trumpers,” took control of the House to push the issue that, above all others, landed him in the Oval Office?

This article suggests that the wall just got lost in the shuffle of starting up a new administration.  This one, from the New York Times, suggests the issue is more complex than it appears.  But neither are persuasive for me.

The wall is political life.  Or death.

So the real explanation for this two year delay?  Who knows for sure.

But this much seems pretty certain to me.  When the President surrendered on this issue, his reelection prospects took a nose dive.

The otherwise reliably Democratic, industrial states of the upper mid-west, the fabled Blue Wall, the states that Hillary was so confident of winning that she virtually ignored them, but in the end voted for Trump, can easily flip back Blue.

And, if they do, Trump will probably have the Presidential rug jerked out from under him.

But who knows?  Most pundits counted Trump out of the Presidential sweepstakes before he even got to the bottom of the escalator at Trump Towers.  So just maybe, like the wily Mohammad Ali, The Donald is doing the rope-a-dope.

We shall see.  But, unfortunately, don’t hold your breath.

 

 

 

 

 

Bud’s Warehouse: Rebuilding lives

750x450 buds

How we do it

Bud’s Warehouse is a Christian ministry helping individuals rebuild their lives from prison, addiction and homelessness by providing entry level jobs and discipleship.

Largely self sufficient financially, Bud’s sells gently used, donated construction materials out of our 30,000 square foot retail space a few blocks west of I-225 at Mississippi.  A favorite donation are kitchen cabinets being changed out in a remodel.  As we like to say: DON’T PUT ‘EM IN THE LANDFILL.  DONATE ‘EM TO BUD’S!

kitchen cabinets recently sold at Bud's

A set of kitchen cabinets recently sold at Bud’s

What was meant for evil, God used for good

You wouldn’t guess Pat Stewart’s rough past if you ran into him at Bud’s.  At least, I didn’t.  Always ready with a broad smile, he does customer service with a will.  And pretty much anything else that needs to be done around the place.

In high school he excelled at sports, playing defensive end and kicker; also a Golden Gloves boxer.  He earned the cuddly sounding nickname, “Papa Bear.”  But don’t let that fool you.

Born under a bad sign

He grew up in Denver in a normal family:  father, mother, brothers and sisters.

But at age 11, he went to a nearby park with some buddies and, without really understanding what was happening, he found that he had suddenly become a member of Denver’s notorious “Bloods” gang.  The initiation process?  Getting “beat in.”  When I asked, “What’s that?”,  I learned it’s like it sounds; Pat woke up in a hospital.

The initiation continued with him taking occasional pot shots at rival gang members.  “I didn’t hit anyone,” he told me.  “Almost impossible to hit someone with a pistol.”  Especially for an eleven year old kid.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all

450x450 Pat

But while Pat wasn’t a great shot, he had a knack for making enemies.  And they were better shots.  “I was shot twice,” he says, “and died twice on the operating table.”

A few years later, Pat’s “luck” ran out during a drug deal gone bad.  To even the score when a customer failed to pay him for some drugs, he burst into an apartment, gun drawn.  He didn’t have much success getting back either his money or drugs.

But he did succeed in bringing the police down on his head.  For an eighteen year old, the charges were pretty impressive.  Robbery.  Firearms.  Home invasion.  Drug possession.

The sentence was equally impressive: eighteen years.  He served six years, followed by three years of parole.

What’s it take to change?

But as is so often the case when God steps in, what Pat thought was rock bottom, was when the Lord finally got his attention.

It was the death of his mother.  Or as Pat puts it, “The Lord had to take the biggest part of my heart to let me know that I had to trust and believe in him for the rest of my life.  So that’s what I did.  And he’s blessed me abundantly.”

Taking a chance.  Transforming lives.

Pat is the kind of person for whom Bud’s exists:  taking a chance on hiring a him-or her- when no one else will.  And our investment in Pat has paid big dividends.  Spiritually and otherwise.

“When,” as Pat relates it, “I came to Bud’s, I couldn’t read a measuring tape.  But,” he continues, “I wound up leading the New Beginnings Custom Woodworks cabinetry operation.”

From a man whose life was in tatters, he now mentors others with daily Bible studies.  “For me,” he says, “it’s Jesus every day.”

So, come on down.  Say “Hi” to Pat.  Learn about the other businesses that we’ve started which, yes, make a profit (not a bad word for us), but, just as importantly, transform lives.  And where, of course, we get by with a little help from our friends:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

And, while you’re at it, pick up one of those whatchamacallit construction thingamajigs you know you need.

On Behalf of a Grateful Nation

national anthem at a football game

national anthem at a football game

The NFL.  Or, the National Felons League.

The Veterans Memorial Day Tribute is an organization run by and for the benefit of American patriots.  Although I can’t claim to know the entire story of how it began, I know for sure that Louetta Smith has spent countless hours well behind the scenes to make sure that it comes off flawlessly every year.  Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night has prevented Louetta and her small, but intrepid, band of volunteers from honoring Colorado veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice in our nation’s various wars.

When I first began attending the observance several years ago, it took place in Civic Center Park at the Veterans Monument just west of the state Capital.  Then, perhaps because of our unruly May weather, it was moved into the nearby Pillar of Fire Church on 13th and Sherman Street.

It’s a solemn, moving ceremony.  Accompanied by the slow tolling of a bell, the names and ranks of the fallen are read.  Then, family members are presented with an embroidered pennant recognizing their loss by a ramrod straight member of the armed services who moves through the sanctuary with measured, deliberate steps.

Now that the “War on Terror” has dragged on for more than 16 inconclusive years, some of the names, such as Navy Seal Danny Dietz’, have been read repeatedly.  Lamentably, new names are added with each passing year.  I’ve also noticed that Sergeants are disproportionately represented among the fallen, something that a cursory search of the internet seems to bear out.

This past Memorial Day, I happened to be sitting close enough to a family that was given a pennant so that I was able to overhear the service member lean forward and, in a hushed voice say, “On behalf of a grateful nation, we honor your family’s sacrifice.”

I can’t speak for other members of the audience, but if mine were a good measure, there were few dry eyes in sanctuary by the time the ceremony was over.  The mournful wail of the bagpipes closed the service.  When I emerged from the church, into the glare of a hot May afternoon, I was as emotionally wrung out as an old piece of drift wood.

And now we’re treated to the spectacle of our favorite faux warriors, NFL players, taking a knee during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner to protest racial injustice.

Like, I suppose, the injustice of the average salary of NFL players, about 70% of whom are black, being a cool $1.9 million.  And, yes, I’ll concede that NFL players suffer more than their share of the dings about which football fans endlessly hyperventilate. But their pay still compares pretty favorably to the average salary of something less than the $30,000 that a sergeant in the U.S. Army pulls down.  Especially given the risk those sergeants run of the “ding” that leaves them without one of their limbs.  Or, even worse, a wife without a husband. Or kids without a father.

But even the NFL’s spoiled knuckle draggers know that they aren’t underpaid.  No, these protests are about the alleged racial grievances of which we hear no end.  So, yes, let’s talk about those beefs.

How about police brutality against blacks?  If the somber, black faces on the Sunday TV screens are the measure, it must be horrific.

But what if I told you that that in 2015 a cop was 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male was to be killed by a police officer?  And that ratio has undoubtedly gotten worse given the 53% increase of gun murders of cops in 2016-committed overwhelmingly by blacks.

So, yes, read ’em and weep.  But not for the NFL phonies shedding crocodile tears for black criminals.   But for the shattered families and colleagues of the multitudes of police officers who have been cut down by those criminals.

But, at least these players know of what they speak.  While studies show that the NFL’s pampered millionaires aren’t committing property crimes at a rate higher than the population at large, when it comes to violent crime, they’re MVPs.  You know, the “little” things like murder, manslaughter, DUI manslaughter, robbery, aggravated assault, sexual assault, rape, battery, domestic violence, child abuse and kidnapping.

Some may be offended that I am even drawing attention to this information.  In their minds, this kind of data qualifies as “hatefacts.”  And anyone who unearths it in government crime statistics and points it out is guilty of the Orwellian thought crime of “noticing.”

I mentioned this post about the NFL controversy to my personal trainer, Mike, the other day.  He responded that another client “Predicted that the NFL will be gone in 10 years.”

“Really,” I answered, “why does he think that?”

“He believes nothing that can be done about the traumatic brain injuries caused by the game. It’s not the bit hits that do the damage, it’s the constant small ones.  And, yes,” he conceeded, “they’re constantly improving the helmets, but there’s really nothing they can do to prevent concussions when you have those huge men running into each other.”

You can probably imagine that it wouldn’t break my heart to see the NFL go the way of the dinosaur.  Or, for that matter, Division I college football.  What, after all, is big time college football other than a farm league for the NFL?  Both are profoundly corrupt.  And, as our equivalent of the Roman Empire’s bloodthirsty gladiatorial games, inure us to violence. And coarsen our culture.

Think about this for a moment.  Is it really the best use of your time to sit in front of the TV and watch a bunch of thugs knock each other down into the wee hours of Monday night? And Thursday night? And pretty much all day Sunday?

Just asking.