List of Previous Titles

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Trigger-Happy Police

First, let me say that as a black man I am so happy that I don't live in the United States of America. If I did I think I would be far more afraid of the police than I would be of the criminals.

Shootings of black men, most of whom turned out not to be armed has become a rallying cry for Black Lives Matter, because it seems to the police that they don't. America, I know you like to think you are a great country, and there are many things about your country of which you can be justifiably proud. Race relations is not one of them. Your greatest weak point is your widespread ownership of guns, which will lead to your downfall.

During 2015, there were about 1200 people killed by police. So far this year your police have killed between 790 and 844, depending on who you listen to, and if all deaths have been recorded.

Let's acknowledge that the police in America have a tough job. The policeman on lone traffic patrol needs to pull over a car at night. He approaches the car not knowing what he will find, including a possible gun in his ribs. In most other civilised countries he doesn't have to worry. So, perhaps its no wonder the American policeman is trigger happy because in America the citizen may not hesitate to shoot.

The media make much of the fact that another white policeman has shot another unarmed black man. The image that we get from that is that the police are infiltrated by a bunch of racist and depraved killer thugs in uniform. This may be the case to a certain extent, but then came September 20th and Charlotte, North Carolina and the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott by a black policeman. What are we to make of that?

The police say that he held a pistol in his hands as he held them over his head, and that he refused to drop it. That would be an act of suicide by police. Members of the public and his family say he held a book in his hand that he had been reading. That might be an unlawful death by police.

Whichever, the media are playing down the fact that the policeman was black. Should this continue it would lessen the stigma of racism and strengthen the perception that all police are probably too trigger happy.

On September 16th, the media informed us that a white female officer, Betty Shelby,  shot and killed unarmed Terence Crutcher unnecessarily. She has been charged with first degree manslaughter. Even her fellow officers witnessed the shooting, however, during 2015 there were 1200 people killed by police, some under extremely depraved conditions, and although twelve police were charged not one was convicted. The chances that Betty Shelby will spoil that record seem minimal.

The police can do anything they want to do with immunity. Or so it seems.

Although it certainly seems like it, blacks are not the only chosen race in the U.S. in this regard. This year it has been reported that 5.49 Native Americans per million population have been killed; 4.86 Blacks; 2.3 Hispanics, 1.95 Whites; and  0.72 Asian / Pacific Islanders. (Dylan Petrohilas/Think progress)

Confidence in the police is at an all time low, although whites strongly support them while I think most blacks would prefer to simply do away with police departments all together because they seem to be more trouble than they are worth.

America, you have to do better. Refugees from America has already started as a few families have found excuses for moving to Canada.  In time I think it reasonable to expect this to become a torrent

Copyright (c) 2016
Eugene Carmichael.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Crime and Punishment

The way our system works is that a person commits a crime and the police bring him to justice. Once found guilty the judge will pronounce sentence of say, ten years in prison. The victims of the crime all nod in satisfaction that he was put inside for a significant period of time.

However, what the judge has said, in effect is that for the next ten years you are hereby declared exempt from the normal costs of life. You will have a roof over your head, and we will provide you with three meals a day. You will not have to worry about water, gas, heating, electricity or telephone bills. You may not even have to do any work.

As an added bonus you will get to live with horrible people like yourself.

So, where's the punishment in all this? I don't know. Where the judge adds the extra words: "at hard labour," this might actually mean some hard graft. You may get to feel the pinch of paying for your sins. Without the hard labour the rest is a vacation.

In some countries if you are poor and unable to pay your bills, for the sin of owing people money you get sent to prison. For such people I imagine they find prison horrifying, difficult and painful. It's also pointless! If some of the silly people who commit others to prison for this crime of not being able to pay their bills should end up in similar situations, I think the practice would soon stop.

Being male and a homosexual has been a heavy burden to bear. Depending on the country a man might be killed, or beaten, or discriminated against. Many men, in the more understanding countries have been sent to prison for sex related activities as the State have invaded their bedrooms. So, in addition to the above list of freebies these guys land in a kind of heaven where men who are so starved for sexual release will not think too hard about finding it with a man who is already gay. The problem here may be sentences that are too lenient and short.

For those criminals who hurt people I think they should at least be flogged. Rape a woman, go to jail and be flogged. Feel the pain you have inflicted on another person. The damn Nazis did unspeakable horrid things to their prisoners, including beating them and ending their lives and the best that society could retaliate with is holiday camp-like conditions in jail? The guilty Nazis should have been flogged often and hard. It should have been made so terrible that they would have started crying two days in advance of their next punishment.

True, I haven't spent any time behind bars. That's because I haven't done anything to merit such treatment, nor do I ever intend to do so. That's the secret: Don't do the crime and you won't have to do the time.

Copyright (c) 2016
Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Statin Drugs

Friday, 9th of September, 2016 it was reported by a medical association that the beneficial effects of statins are greatly understated, and the negative effects are grossly overstated.

These are the experts speaking so I had better not get myself into an argument with them, however, I do have to wonder.

For all my life I have struggled with elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol readings. I was put on tablets to lower my blood pressure, but when the doctor suggested a statin to regulate my cholesterol I hesitated. I had read enough press to make me wary of creating more harm than good by taking statins. My doctor cautioned that I should try the pill and if I had adverse effects I should then immediately cease.

Reluctantly I agreed. To begin with I could not feel any negative impact, and to the credit of the pill my readings fell to within the desired range quite quickly. The trouble is that I have been taking them for five years. During that period I have advanced from age 72 to age 77 and I have noticed what I thought were the effects of growing old.

My muscles have grown weak, especially in my legs. It had become a real chore to walk any distance, particularly uphill. At the gym, where I attend twice weekly, and at Pilates, where I attend once a week, I was struggling. The weight settings I have been using have been quite low and uncomfortable.

While walking an observer might well have thought I was drunk as my balance seemed to be getting worse. My problem was that I would feel dizzy, so much so that at times I would have to stop what I was doing to rest. The rest was also welcome because I seemed to be feeling constantly tired. During the Summer months everybody is tired from the extreme heat. Siesta if King! However, I would sometimes need a siesta during the morning.

I had been developing another problem that was almost un-noticed. I am an even tempered person by nature. Everyday I wake up with the same outlook on life, and I go through the day without being predisposed by ill-will towards my fellow man. Well, I found myself changing and turning into a grumpy old man. When I took stock of that situation I simply put it down to getting old syndrome.

Another most unwelcome development has been a reoccurring blurring of my vision. For my age I am proud that I go through each day without having to use my glasses very much. I do use my glasses for distance when driving at night, especially if I need to read signs. I have reading glasses but usually I make do without them. However, there are times when I have to rely on both pairs because my vision becomes so blurred. Getting old really is ugly.

The last straw was back pain that almost crippled me. It has happened to me twice over the past five years, and the crazy thing is that the pain has come on while I was not doing anything out of the ordinary. This last time I had been washing my face and when I straightened up the pain struck like a thunderbolt. It struck on my left side leaving me very reluctant to straighten that side. As a consequence I was lopsided. Eventually I just sucked up the pain and straightened myself and went and  visited my doctor, who prescribed pain relief tablets and sent me for an x-ray.

I had the presence of mind to review the prospectus for the statins I have been taking for these past five years, including side effects that are common to those that are rare.

Dear Medical Association:

The prospectus indicates the following may be applicable: Weak muscles. (check) Tiredness (check).
Dizziness (check). Depression (check). Blurring of vision (check). Spasmodic muscle pain (check). Neck pain, which had gone almost un-noticed (check).

I stopped taking the pill immediately and the following has occurred: I feel lighter and have more spring in my step. I definitely have much more energy leading me to raise the weight limits at the gym. My balance has improved tremendously. When I walk I do not have the gait of a drunk, and although I could walk a straight line with difficulty, I'm almost there with that. Best of all, I am completely pain-free as I write this!

Other than a pill-a-day for blood pressure, and a pill which is aspirin-like to keep my blood reasonably thin, I am not on any other medication.

I don't think I can be accused of exaggerating the negatives that I have experienced, if indeed all that I have listed are exclusively associated with the statin, but the prospectus list of things to beware of takes up a full column that is 34 cm  long.

That's a lot of possibilities!

Copyright (c) 2016
Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, September 4, 2016


Realistically, we cannot choose all of our neighbours. In practise we don't choose any of the people who live next to us. We can choose a neighbourhood for its social class. Our economic means will be the guiding light, but the neighbourhood is made up of individuals.

A family moved into a house and within three months their next door neighbour moved away stating his reason as the fact that the people who had moved in were black.

The only thing that we can deduce from the black family is that they are black. We can  make the following fairly safe assumptions about the family who moved: they are white ignorant bigots who would add nothing to the lifestyle of anyone who had half a brain. They are people who consider themselves white supremists, whose principal emotion is hate. Rather than contributing anything to the white race they are seen as an embarrassment and are deemed to be white trash.

Perhaps the best situation is to simply have no real connection with the neighbours. If we are left alone to live our lives with consideration for those who live next door, but without any social interaction then there is no relationship to go wrong and complicate our existence. Sometimes the people next door seem to be nice and friendly but perhaps they have expectations of us, or vice versa. Should there be a disappointment in those expectations we then have to live with that.

Having said all that I remember growing up in a community of people who lived by a mutual code of caring and sharing. Our house was not lockable, and we children were subject to the same discipline everywhere within the community as we were at home. One day my mother fell ill and was unable to produce an evening meal for us. As if by magic one of the neighbours showed up with a full meal for us. How she even knew I have no idea because we didn't have a telephone.

If there was ever any bad blood between neighbours in our community I never heard of it. Human nature being what it is we could have expected something to go wrong, but our little world seemed to be idyllic.

So, neighbourhoods are potlucks. Once we choose the social level of living the rest becomes like a potluck draw. If you are living in a quiet and secure area with people who share respect and consideration for one another you are one of the very lucky ones. However, if you are finding yourself living in the jaws of hell I do sympathise with you. You need to win the lottery real big so that you can buy a house that you can surround with high walls so that you can create your own bubble.

If only we all had that choice.

Copyright (c) 2016
Eugene Carmichael