It was August of 2010. I saw the lights of Anchorage from the seat of my plane as we prepared for landing at Ted Stevens International Airport. My family had lived in Anchorage for a few years when I was very young but at age 32, this was my first time back in Alaska, as an adult. This trip had begun in my imagination, about a year before, as I walked around the Indianapolis Zoo. I was fascinated by a placard about grizzly bears, located nearby to a rather sad looking, caged Griz. The placard told of how a woman was attacked by a grizzly bear, in the city of Anchorage no less, while out for a jog in the park. For some reason that resonated with me. It wasn’t a sadistic thing, I don’t take pleasure in the suffering of joggers. I was just completely enchanted by the idea of a state like Alaska, where bears and moose made their presence felt, even in the biggest of cities. It was strange, that moment, but …
I started watching Ken Burns’ 18 hour documentary on Vietnam, and after five episodes I’m hooked in, way more hooked, in fact, that I would have ever thought possible given that this is a war documentary. I’ve generally stayed away from watching or reading about war, whether it’s a novel or a blockbuster moview or a documentary, I’ve tended to find other subject matters. For some reason, though, this series has me intrigued and glued to the tube.
“Drugs are menacing our society. They are threatening our values and undercutting our institutions. They are killing our children. From the beginning of our administration we’ve taken strong steps to do something about this horror.” ~ Ronald Reagan, 1986 speech, with Nancy Reagan by his side
Sagan cuts through the crap in this 2 minute vid. And like many reporters, this one would rather move things along to science fiction rather than deal with reality:
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. ~ Matthew 18:5-6 Perhaps this verse might be something of a counter to the White House theologians as they weaponize the Bible so as to justify their attacks on the world’s most vulnerable.
I was recently having a conversation on Facebook with a conservative woman about gun control and school shootings. She gave me the typical nonsense: guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Being a writer and not wanting to miss the chance to one-up a cliche with a more truthful turn-of-phrase, I responded by saying that yes, guns do kill people because gun violence is impossible without guns. I went on to say that among developed nations, America had a fairly unique gun violence problem. We can’t continue with business as usual and keep watching students get gunned down. Something needs to change. The conservative responded immediately by posting the Israel teacher meme, it’s a pic of an Israeli teacher standing behind a group of kids with an assault rifle slung over her shoulder. Do we really want that for our schools and for our kids? Most Americans don’t, but if we armed teachers, that sure would be good for gun manufacturers. Profits would boom, stock prices would soar, and the money would come rolling in.
Manhunt is an intriguing series. It dramatizes the story of Ted Kaczynski, aka the UNABOMBER. Those of us who grew up in the Nineties remember the story of bombs that arrived by mail and exploded in the hands of the recipients. It went on for years and years, the FBI’s most expensive manhunt. The new Netflix series, Manhunt, is a compelling crime story, but it’s far more. Before he was caught, Kaczynski was actually able to negotiate to have his manifesto printed in the Washington Post. At the time, the public dismissed the manifesto whose premise seemed ridiculous: The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race. It was easy enough, back then, to reject Kaczynski as mentally insane, but this Netflix series raises the provocative question: was Ted Kaczynski right?