Thursday, February 26, 2015

A cold, snowy February has come down upon us, much like the Februaries we used to have in Illinois, only nobody here is really quite used to it. 82 accidents in one weekend; a 15-car pileup on the Marsha Sharp, and more snow expected tonight leaving everybody on pins and needles about whether the whole town will start up at ten, like we did the other day, or whether it's up and running at seven as usual, with or without a huge snow dump.

I tell everyone stay off the Marsha Sharp; hills are the hardest. Hey, people in Iowa and Minnesota don't know how to handle those glazed hilly on ramps either. Staying off them is the best way.

They shouldn't have messed with the groundhog, I say. I'm very superstitious. You diss the groundhog, what is he supposed to do? Six weeks of winter, that's not proper punishment, that's just the usual. But a couple of ice storms will go a long way.

Ambulances, medi-vacs, those guys are having a field day. But spring is around the corner - and what does that mean, dust?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Charles Whitman Day

I'm opposed to Chris Kyle Day. I have no feelings, really, about Groundhog Day, even though I spent some time growing up in Pennsylvania. I'm opposed to Charles Whitman Day, too. Charles Whitman was an American sniper, but he shot people from the UT bell tower, and didn't care too much who he killed at the time. To me, that's nothing to be proud of.

So the Governor thought Chris Kyle was worth glorifying. He grew up in Texas, went off to fight in the Iraq War, and became a high-powered sniper. He justified killing all those people because he felt he was saving American lives, and because he was pretty sure that the US had every right to be there doing what it was doing; in other words, we were the good guys. But he also came to see the enemy soldiers as animals, inhuman, and he even said so. After you killed one, all the rest were easy. He didn't really have a problem with it.

When he came home, he bragged about getting on the New Orleans Superdome and sniping away at looters down in the city below, around the time of Katrina. He also bragged about killing two guys who tried to steal his car on a highway outside of Dallas. What people say is that there's no evidence that he actually killed people randomly around the US and got away with it; more likely, he just told a good story, and got caught up in the fact that people liked to hear about a successful sniper. They could relate to the idea of good guy / bad guy and they pretty much decided that he was a good guy.

That was Governor Abbott's idea. If he was American, and all those guys he killed were Iraqis, then he was a good guy, and everyone he killed was a bad guy. That's a pretty black and white world, one could say, and it doesn't account very well for the fact that some of those guys had families, cared about their homes and cities, and may even have felt like they were defending their home against invaders.

The groundhog lives in Punxatawney, Pennsylvania, and by the time winter is over, everyone has forgotten what was supposed to happen, based on the fact that he saw his shadow or didn't. It's a kind of ritual, with an imaginary connection between animal behavior and cold weather, and I think that if he really wanted to sleep all along, they have to bait him out, either by offering him an irresistible treat, or putting a stick down in his hole to poke him until he comes out. But he's a groundhog; he doesn't kill anyone, randomly or not, unless he intends to eat them, and even then he's kind of lazy. But I'm sticking with him, because I don't go for this random killing idea, where you just go out and pick people off, because you've lost touch with their humanity.

I've kind of left out this guy who went bonkers and killed Chris Kyle himself. The thing is, I don't know too much about him, or why he'd go off and just kill somebody randomly. He apparently killed another guy, too, a friend of Kyle's, and is now on trial for it. May justice prevail, is all I can say, and if this guy isn't stable enough to be trusted with a gun, put him somewhere where he won't have access to one.

But don't go saying that all there is is good guys and bad guys, and since he killed a good guy, he's a bad guy. I just don't think it's all that simple.