Michael Brown and Ferguson, the Perfect Names for a Shooting Hoax
Hells bells. I’ve been barfing up the wrong trees.
Michael Brown and Ferguson, the Perfect Names for a Shooting Hoax
Hells bells. I’ve been barfing up the wrong trees.
Previously blogged May 17, 2005
Saturday a recently acquired friend and I revisited one of the sites I spent a lot of time puzzling over during the search for the lost gold mine. The place was the focus of the ’98 search and a good many years prior to that. Sometimes it amazes me how many times I climbed and unclimbed the west face of that mountain, always finding something new and puzzling. I spent most of a month camped at the top, friends coming in for a week or so, then heading back to their lives elsewhere without finding what we were looking for, but finding enough adventure, fellowship and mountain air for a while and remember as one of the good times.This was Jim’s first time up there. We went in mainly to look at a rock pillar that’s peeling away from a cliff face.
It’s a formation that fascinated a man I’ve come to know awfully well by his work; a man I never met, but whom I followed around that mountain puzzling over what he did, how he did it and why he did it. A man who lived and died 150 years ago, roughly. A man who knew a gamble when he saw one, went into a canyon spang in the middle of Apache country at a time when the best he could hope for if he was a quick death, or if his luck was bad, hanging upside down over a slow fire.
I’ve been wearing the arrowhead that almost certainly killed him hanging from a leather thong around my neck for a decade or more. The ruin a few charred logs high, a long-tom sluice he carved with an axe out of a three-foot diameter log, a 400 pound rock he chiseled down to use as an arrastra and a hundred or so signs and symbols he made on rocks, along with his various diggings are all that’s left to tell what kind of man he was.
A gambler, he was, gambling on being caught by Apaches, gambling a broken leg in a place where such a thing was sure death. A man who believed in himself so thoroughly that in that setting that he pecked away at the base of a 50 ton pillar of rock trying to get at what was underneath until it gives a man the fantods even today to walk beneath it.
One of the things I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating as I watched Orion chasing the Pleiades across the night sky to the background music of wind in the treetops is the thought of how a man of that sort would feel about a world where low-level risk-taking is a criminal offense.
A time when edging the nose of a vehicle onto the pavement without fastening the seat belt probably won’t get you hurt, but it will almost certainly get you a conversation with an armed pair of mirror sunglasses. A time when risk is defined in how many years it might take you to get cancer from whatever you’re eating or smoking. When excessive gambling is betting the grocery money at the blackjack table.
I wonder if he’d have played a wheel, or just picked a few numbers that suited him and bought a hundred tickets with the same six numbers on them, going for broke on something he believed in, the way he did in life.
One of the ways we define who and what we are includes what we’re willing to give up to travel around the sun a few more times. That guy on the mountain wasn’t inclined to give up much.
I used to know a guy named Mike, down in Socorro. A man with a lot of ideas.
During the mid-‘90s, about the time the Internet was cranking up big-time, Mike had the idea it would be cool to start an online raffle.
Mike had some money lying around. Just about enough to buy a full-sized Harley, and a large RV. But he thought he could increase the amount of money he had by taking a risk. He’d sell raffle tickets online for a Harley and a large RV without buying them until someone won the raffle. If he didn’t sell enough tickets, he’d make up the difference with his savings. But if he did sell enough tickets, he’d give away the Harley and RV, and pocket whatever extra came in.
It turns out raffles are illegal at almost any level, though the cops and prosecutors look the other way if they feel the cause is a good one, or if it’s just small potatoes. But item one for Mike turned out to be that if he went online he’d be almost certain to be prosecuted.
Item 2, was the fact he was, in effect, proposing to raffle a motorcycle and an RV that didn’t exist. The fact he didn’t own them yet compounded the felony he would be committing.
Now what Mike was proposing to do was precisely what lotteries do. Raffling off something that doesn’t exist…. Money that they plan on earning as interest.
But, of course, when a government-sanctioned, or government-owned administrative entity commits an act that rhymes with something that would be a felony if an individual behaved identically, all’s well with the world.
Unless they happen to have a lot of attention focused on their behavior, which sometimes happens.
Similarly, I used to know a guy named Dan, who had a lot of cash lying around doing nothing. He dreamed up an online something he called a ‘money club’, or ‘money pool’. Members, Dan dreamed, would pay $5 per month into the pool. Every month the total proceeds, minus 10 percent (to Dan as operational and administrative fees) would be handed out to some lucky member by a process known as Random Number Generator…. Something nearly identical to what’s being done by lotteries. Except it would be private enterprise….. private sector.
Dan figured the payout percentages would be so much better, the odds so much better than any lottery that it would cause players to flock to him. He might have been right.
But there was naturally a catch. What he was proposing was and is a herd of felonies at almost every level of jurisdiction. Even though what he proposed was a lot better for the players involved, than the competition (the government and the various legally recognized mob) could (read ‘would’) offer.
So neither of these ideas ever came to fruition, though each represented the cleaned up versions of corrupted first-cousins we all accept as normal in the lottery systems.
It’s surprising sometimes to see people who claim to believe in free enterprise so blindly support any government monopoly.
Previously posted June 9, 2005
There’s been a lot of discussion on various threads about the statements people who think they know, (politicians, academians, religious zealots, know-it-alls, do-gooders and others with the wisdom to know what’s best for people who aren’t fortunate enough to be them) that most of the people who play the lotteries are poor and under educated.
I’d be the first to agree that people who are one or another level of ‘poor’ play the lotteries. Most of us are poorer than we’d like to be…. that’s why folks such as Hollywood Henderson and Jack Whittaker bought tickets.
But how poor can a person be and still buy lottery tickets?
The poorest people I know are living on the streets panhandling. They have their values straight, as a rule. Priority one, when some money falls into their lives: A bottle of something, a fix of something.
Priority number sixteen, or thereabouts: Something to eat.
Priority number twenty-seven: A lottery ticket.
Those folks aren’t buying a lot of tickets.
The somewhat higher level of poor people do buy some tickets, I’ve observed standing in line behind them at the convenience store. They drive up in automobiles, buy a case of beer for the evening, some chips, and probably go home to watch the results on television. They mightn’t have a nice home…. maybe a trashed out mobile home in some park full of human lessons to be learned, anger and loud music, but they aren’t actually poor.
In fact, by any standard besides the one we judge such things by today for social reasons, these ‘poor’ people are generally enjoying a level of wealth seldom experienced in human history. There’s food available to them through food banks all over this nation to keep them from starving. They have shelter from the weather and warmth in the winter. They can purchase clothing at any garage sale for a quarter. They drive automobiles or use public transportation unless they choose to walk.
In a world where the history of human living conditions have predominantly involved worrying about where the next meal is (or isn’t) coming from, where death by exposure to the elements has almost always been a reality, the US doesn’t have more than a smattering of poor people by standard that existed a century ago.
Those poor people referred to by the politicians and statisticians are adults, making choices about what risks they wish to indulge with the money they have in hopes of improving their lot. They’re submerged in wealth. If you don’t believe it, imagine those pictures you probably see on television of villages somewhere with kids lying around with pot-bellies, flies walking all over their faces, them without the energy to lift a hand to brush them off, one step away from exiting the vehicle because there’s nothing to eat and there’s not going to be. That’s poor.
I happen to have a pretty fair formal education, though I’m ‘under-educated’, as is everyone I’ve ever met. Which boils down to all lottery players being under-educated, and that being a shared trait with all those who don’t play. Until someone invents an educational level that includes being ‘over-educated’, and ‘just-the-right-educated’, none of the above tells us much about who plays the lottery.
But it does tell us a lot about manipulative rhetoric, politics by guilt, religious posturing, hypocracy, and a willingness (or unwillingness) to allow adults who might be just as smart and savvy as we are to make their own choices about how they want to spend their money. About what risks they’re willing to take in life. That comes under the heading of something called, “freedom”. Not a lot of it floating around these days.
I’ve encountered this other places, but the first time was several years ago from the man in the picture.
Dean Kindsvater. Deano. A man who never saw $50,000 free and clear in his sixty-four years of life. He played the lottery, but he’d scoff when the prizes weren’t in the high millions. He’d buy tickets for the big jackpots and wouldn’t even check them if nobody won. “Hell,” he’d say, “those small prizes aren’t even worth the trouble!”
Here’s a guy, never finished high school, left home in his low-teen years, bounced around as a dish washer and short-order cook for years. Finally got into the HeeChee jewelry manufacturing business in the early `70s. Bought an old railroad hotel in Belen, NM, ran a team of illegal aliens out of the top floor until someone discovered Heechee could be made cheaper in Southeast Asia.
Deano rode through, living in one room of the bottom floor of that hotel the remainder of his life. Windows all boarded up, top floor a vacant ruin of pigeon droppings and the debris of the life of the man. He opened a junk shop and sold odds and ends and made up the difference moving a little jade on the side. Lived downstairs with a propane bottle for heat, extension cords running all over the place from the one outlet, keeping the TV going, the microwave oven for coffee, refrigerator for TV dinners. Cold water sink to wash his utensils.
Three mongrel dogs living there with him.
The only book Dean ever read in his entire life convinced him he could make a living playing Blackjack, which he couldn’t. Visiting him in that hotel the first time, knocking on that door, hearing him coming from the interior coughing, reminded me of a Frankenstein movie, him as Igor.
I was with him once when someone asked him what religion he was. “Christian.”…. “No… I mean what denomination? Catholic? Baptist?”
Deano thought about it before he answered. “Catholic.” But the conversation afterward suggested Deano didn’t know the difference between a Catholic and a Baptist. He’d never stopped to think about it. To him those churches he never went into were all alike, all the same bunch of folks. Never entered his mind that it might be something worth thinking about. Never been in a church in 64 years of life, never paused to wonder anything at all about anything at all, so far as I could tell. A unique man.
But Deano thought the prizes too small to bother with if the jackpot was just $10 million. Never even bothered to check if he’d won the $100K someone had a ticket for in NM, but had never claimed. He had, in common with a lot of other people, that scorn for the smaller prizes that could have changed his life. He’d probably be shyly flattered, knowing his picture was up here for strangers to see. Flattered and a little suspicious. “How’s this going to make anyone any money?” he’d ask the universe.
Hope the prizes are bigger wherever the heck you are these days.