To Gawk, or to Render Aid?

Once upon a time, the New Yorker magazine asked, What was everyone else on the platform (where a man from Queens was pushed over the edge then struck by a train) doing?  Later in the piece they mentioned Wesley Autrey, who saved a man having a seizure from being mowed down by another train.  While the editorial was mainly to call attention to spectators, who mostly used to “stand and gawk…Now, apparently, we point and shoot,” they missed something crucial.
Autrey was a Navy veteran. All branches of the service demand extensive training in how to overcome the feeling that one is fearful for one’s safety and frozen in shock, and what actions to take instead. While I have not had the Navy’s training, in thirty-plus years with the Chicago Police Department I have been in my share of hair-raising scrapes and learned one crucial point: people who can be effective heroes learn to go toward trouble with an instinct to right it.
British Girl Guides and others daily beat back fear and struggled in myriad ways through World War II. I always sought to prepare my Girl Scouts for trouble, beginning with First Aid and teambuilding.  
For good or ill, not everyone has been trained to fight, or how to react appropriately, and not everyone can overcome the flight-or-freeze impulse. Let’s note this is not the same as those safe in their snug apartments, who, on hearing Kitty Genovese scream, did not even summon help. An onrushing train will put even the most stout heart in fear of mortal peril; watching in horror in that case was likely a healthy, instinctive safety mechanism.

Those who have grown accustomed to pointing their cameras and clicking pictures extensively have, regrettably, given themselves a new impulse. Doubtless many New Yorkers were following that very thoughtlessness on that sad day on the subway.  Running to the scene of the tragedy and taking pictures rather than offering assistance is always inexcusable; it demonstrates how badly they need basic training of the kind offered by the Scouts, the Red Cross, and related groups.
Let those prone to gawk put away their devices and sign up post haste.
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Life & Virtue: Old & New

Animals die

Kinsmen die

All things we know must die

This alone can never die

The good name of a person.

(ascribed to Odin)

Manafort lied

Cohen lied

Trump as we know also lied

This alone can never lie

Robert Mueller


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Why are you buying dolls again?

He was born first, with nine more following in fairly steady succession. there were supposed to be three more, but when his mother was pregnant with the twins she got mugged for the one dollar she was taking to the store to buy milk with. From the attack they were born alive in the Chicago snow then died of exposure. Before that her own mother-in-law spitefully flung open a heavy door and the massive iron handle struck her in the abdomen and she miscarried that singleton.

The four sisters of course all played with dolls.

An abuelita as the years passed, his mother, when asked what she wanted for her birthday, answered “A doll.” She and her birth family were always so poor that as a child she could never have a doll. Her son got her a doll.

As a youngster and as a teen he would get mad at his sisters and rip the heads off their dolls, the girls crying bitterly. To two or three of them, now they are all adults, he has abashedly offered his apologies.

At the end of his mother’s life there was tremendous discord: one brother had cheated her out of her house, another claimed she had appointed him medical power of attorney, and no he wouldn’t let the eldest see their mother in the hospital. The financial flim-flammer preceded her in death by a year, the oldest paying for his mass and burial. No-one would give the doll back to their sibling, the man who bought it, and it was never to be seen again.

This oldest child had a child late in life, and he bought her dolls, just as he had for the previous two from the previous wife. The last daughter was a tomboy; she did not even like dolls. After several attempts went scorned, he finally stopped buying them.  Some time later she allowed as how scared she’d been because of some horror-movie doll she had seen once on television; the young adult knowledge of what had triggered a doll-aversion did nothing to rekindle fond wishes for one.

And so he buys dolls now and then, for himself, for the Christmas tree, he claims.

I think they are atonements.


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When do we reject the media whore?

A Chicago Tribune article recently began the coverage of the aftermath of the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill temple with a focus on what the current White House occupants did.
The gunned-down Jewish victims were mentioned alter on, even though they were important to their families and communities, folks Trump had no previous experience with, interest in, or even knowledge of. He had not come to sit shiva with them; he decided to insert himself into their neighborhood without the slightest care for neighborliness. Indeed, he was asked by many of the neighbors to not come while the funerals were being held.
I would rather have read not a single word about the media-hound, but more on the dead, and of the local officials who declined to participate in his lust for all things media — but only if focused on him — how did they spend that day? These things are less visible, perhaps, but just as important. And the added security headaches for the “presidential” entourage — surely many in law enforcement there had their days off canceled, what scramble for child care and other arrangements did they have to make?
Respect is something the President demands for his own family and businesses — nobody else. He decided to pay the slaughtered and the people who truly cared about them lip service rather than pay true respect by changing his ways forever. Had he sincerely apologized and vowed to mend his ways and then done so, he might have given the majority in the world a glimmer of hope that even the worst individuals can change. Alas, he renewed his lies on Twitter, desperate to maintain his attention-grabbing ways.
The Tribune piece would have done a lot of good had it included this crucial optic: that many of the grieving human beings tried to send a message and deprive Trump of the cheers he constantly craves, silently, because they turned their backs on his motorcade and took a knee!
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Kavanaugh missed a step

In the early 1980’s, like Brett Kavanaugh, I pledged a campus Greek group. Away from classes at UICC (as it used to be called), there were parties and there was drinking. Youthful indiscretions arose, then subsided.

Sigma Phi Alpha was a small group at the big commuter school. We were pals with Tau Alpha Rho; a few of the girls had TAR boyfriends, and we often had dances together.

Before I got to be a full-fledged sister, I was a pledge. My pledge mom (barely a year older than me) became one of my best friends to this day. We all had a lot of fun, meeting up in the cafeteria, learning the Greek alphabet (more often than not, to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy), pledges fetching snacks on the spur of the moment for the sisters. During Greek Week TAR cheered for us and we them.

Before I came to that point, the newest girls, we who were pledging had to endure Hellnight. We did exercises and chanted the alphabet over and over because – as in the military – we were told to. Blindfolded, we ate what the sisters fed us. I particularly recall sardines in a disgusting mix with something like peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. We ate it because they told us to and by that point, hours from when we’d started, we felt we were starving!

At length, thirteen hours in, most of the other pledges had gotten the message. Not me – let’s run some more! Finally it got through even my thick head: I heard yet one more of the other girls say the exact same phrase as she sagged to the floor: Only one sit-up, one rep, because my pledge sisters are tired. When I was told to lead again and announced “One,” the sisters asked why just one, and I gave the same response. Not “I have had enough,” but “My pledge sisters are tired.” We hadn’t been allowed to talk to each other, but their relief was palpable: At last – she gets it too! And so, finally, we were finished. Aside from a wrenched ankle, nobody was hurt, and of course nobody got assaulted. A few of the sisters had had to leave, but those remaining took all the no-longer-pledges out to breakfast.

A few years later, when I was a police recruit, we were told to meet at a location where a few of us worked out sometimes, a repurposed warehouse, cavernous and dusty. The instructors suddenly weren’t our friends; they told us not to talk, just do as we were told. This seemed exactly like Hellnight, so I reasoned the worst they could do, since it wasn’t the military and they couldn’t touch us, would be to work us through what would normally be lunchtime. Surely the City would be loathe to pay thirty of us overtime just so the teachers could make a point. I could manage without lunch.

We went through the situations, the instructors pretending to be bad guys, distraught victims-turned-offenders, and so on: as each scenario played out, they switched without a word, just like real life. We greenhorns went with the flow, not speaking unless spoken to, and then only tersely.

After 8-1/2 hours, a normal tour of duty, we were dismissed. We went home, or in small groups to eat and decompress. Four similar days followed. We survived.

From these two seemingly disparate but similarly stressful events came the realization we were expected, in both cases, to reach, without anyone else specifically telling us what to say or do: we were to show concern and respect for others, and self-restraint.

It’s too bad Kavanaugh never got the message, and no-one should sit on any court who hasn’t.

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After #metoo

The day feminists have long dreamt of is here, rapidly gathering steam, and powerful men (who’ve abused women and expected grateful or grudging silence in return for the women holding onto their jobs) are falling like dominoes.

Now that the #metoo movement is established, having made it possible for victimized women to have their say, let’s start a parallel track, and tell our stories of how we, or a woman we know, defeated an attack of any kind. Here I expound on some things that can help.

Get physical if you receive an unwanted touch.

I’ve written before of my young adult anger at a man I didn’t know draping his arm around my shoulders. I hope the others with him in those 1978 South Side park sidelines got more than a laugh at their buddy’s expense, that they learned something from watching me stagger him with a backfist across his chest. But the resistance began long before that.

Use your voice.

My mother told us for as long as I can remember that when she was a young MD leaving Cook County Psychopathic Hospital by herself in the wee hours one morning, a man announced a robbery. She started yelling that she was going to meet her friends at the deli, and no she would not give him anything! Stunned, he stopped in his tracks and said, Well, how about two dollars? This served only to set her off on a fresh tirade as she stormed away. Her friends said she should’ve thought how she might’ve been killed! This she shrugged off and laughed at her win.

Outwit verbal harassment.

The Academy behind me, I had been on the streets of Chicago as a recruit for all of about 2 weeks in late 1982 when, after roll call one afternoon, the slightly older female who worked the desk called me over. Since I’d already learned she was catty at best with almost everyone, I approached warily. “Maja, we’ve decided you need a nickname.” I said, “Oh?” Basing her next remark on how she thought my maiden name sounded, she said, “Yeah, I like – weasel.” I said “I won’t answer to that,” turned on my heel and walked away. Nobody ever called me Weasel to my face. That was 36 years ago. Now everyone who might’ve remembered it is retired or dead; I outlived many of my tormentors or am still on the force where they are long gone, so I’m a survivor, of sorts.

Recruit an ally.

Maybe the memory of my fearless mom was in the back of my mind when I was a freshman at Lane Technical High School, which until the year before I got there had been boys only; their self-appointed quota said a mere 200 girls per class were to be admitted each year — and 1400 boys. I was in the second class with girls. In English that fall, the regular teacher was absent, and with the substitute occupied, the boy behind me saw fit to yank my bra strap through my shirt and snap it. The banshee rose howling in me as I wheeled, cursing and lashing out as he cowered.

The sub went to the powers that were. I was ordered to do five periods of the in-school suspension I can now laugh off as “discipline,” for “swearing, inciting a fight, and fighting.” The boy got nothing. I went to the first under duress and protests which went nowhere.

The next day our teacher, an African-American woman, was back. I told her the situation exactly as it happened. She nodded and told me she was going to fix this! She got me excused from the remainder of my punishment — and the boy who touched me ten periods of discipline. I suppose word got around, because none of them yanked my strap after that.

Take a martial art.

One of our Chicago Transit Authority assignments was to stand with a partner in a subway station for the two hours that comprised morning rush hour, then go on patrol in a squad car. At the Congress Blue Line stop one day, a raving man approached me, at which I set my stance: feet apart, slightly toed-in, arms up in a loose circle, fingertips barely touching. I looked in the middle distance. He went raving around me from side to side, partway and back, never entering the circle. To an untrained eye like his, I was paying him scant heed.  Eventually he tired, perhaps off to try for an audience elsewhere, and left.

As a child I’d had judo, and perhaps that helped with the guy who made my walk in the park no walk in the park. It was certainly years’ worth of tai chi chu’an, shaolin, and wing ch’un training that taught me to stand ready. En guarde!


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So-Called Ruler Of The United States: You’re Fired!

Are we condemned to live even another week in the USA (read: the United States of an Asylum?) which is no longer the long-revered asylum for refugees fleeing violence and unspeakable horrors in their own countries?

The so-called president’s handlers seem more concerned about their own political ambitions than one of Vlad-the-Poisoner’s critics – an American green card holder – having been poisoned for a second time.

The handlers and hangers-on have to clean up after Trump every time he opens his mouth. They make excuses for him, explain “what he really means” as “alternative facts,” and walk back his bluster. The man can’t get through one entire day without sidestepping/stepping in his own hot messes. But neither he nor any of them offer us anything close to a sincere apology.

Trump – to whom the rules don’t apply, according to him – basically threatens to bludgeon anyone like the teen protesters who he considered out of line. Yet the autocrats and dictators who harshly silence their own dissidents and who pose the greatest threat to the planet’s peace? – Oh, those types say nice things about him, so he’ll be sure to say nice things back. He wants “his” people to fall down and worship him or sit up and take notice like Kim Jong Un’s people do. We won’t do either and you can’t make us!

What a juvenile we’re saddled with! Over dinner with his son-in-law he cavalierly ordered a raid, in Yemen, where almost anything that might go wrong did. On to more clandestine conversations about his mistresses and businesses, I’m sure.

As a child I learned bare-bones military strategy by playing Battleships. I don’t think the Donald ever played that, the card game War, or the even more important war game: chess, all of which my peers and I know well.

Rob Mueller’s finding cannot come soon enough.

Message to the current White House occupant: you might have surrounded yourself with the grovelling sort, but the rest of us don’t owe you obeisance. Don’t know what that is? – Look it up! This isn’t your gilded penthouse anymore. The rest of the world thinks we’ve lost our collective minds because of you. You claimed to be concerned that they were laughing at us, and yes they are laughing at us – because of you! Your foolishness and bad attitudes have come home like a pigeon to foul the lot of us. You think you’re above the law. You promised to work for us, but you’ve wasted a quarter of your so-called presidential time on your myriad golf courses instead, so better still: You’re fired!

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Call In Sick for Father’s Day? DON’T!

This is not unique to the Aviation department in our big city – this is for the beleaguered worker everywhere stuck with having to take on someone else’s work when that person isn’t really in dire straits, with more work than is wanted – really, almost more than is humanly possible, and certainly more than is humane.

Just a shout-down to the day shift Aviation Police Officers N.K.A. chuckleheads (etc), eighteen of whom called in sick, early Sunday morning several weeks ago, which meant most of the midnight watch got shafted, I mean stuck/mando’d (mandatory overtime that most of them didn’t want), because Mothers Day.

Like the Cook County jail guards who acquire the flu en masse on Super Bowl Sunday, you missing Aviation Officers reveal the depths and dregs of your own selfishness. You don’t give two $#!Ts for anybody else, certainly not for your coworkers on midnights and their need to sleep those abnormal daylight hours. Oh, and because unlike with big city police departments, you know, officers SWORN to tell the truth and do their best), nobody’s coming out to your house to make sure you really are there and sick!


We hope they change the rules without warning and you chuckleheads get gigged when you call in sick but are then found to be out to lunch, because we all know you’ll sick out again for the World Series, or Christmas and New Years Day, maybe Fathers Day too, right, because you’re a dad and only you and your offspring matter, you deserve whatever days off you damn well please.

What, did your wives or mommies put a bug in your ear early on Mother’s Day Sunday because you forgot to request time off sooner? It’s not like nobody you stuck with your shift had to get to their own homes for anything insignificant like to try desperately to catch up on their sleep or see their own families or doctors or take their g-DAMNED MEDICINE.

If you don’t want to do ALL the jobs the work entails and you won’t be allowed the time off, then grow up, QUIT, and go work somewhere they’ll put up with your asshattery!


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Against school shooters? Prove it!

Texas’s lieutenant governor Daniel Patrick and the NRA’s Oliver North have said prayer in schools is what’s lacking,what’s responsible for young men killing classmates, plus laid blame on schools having too many doors and on video games. Too bad they don’t seem to be kidding — or reasonable.

Schools have many doors because they have been known to catch fire. Anyone who wants a repeat of the notorious, needless school fire (December 1958, Chicago) at Our Lady of the Angels’ school fire in which children were told by the nuns to pray – not to run out – and which resulted in ninety-two kids dead from flames and smoke – then listen to Mr. Patrick and Mr. North. Praying didn’t help those little children of God, and fewer exits won’t help future scared students get away from shooters.

You want to talk violent videos? Start long before that, at the beginning, with football. Football has until very recently encouraged young men to pray, then crack each other in the head with your own helmets, knock ’em down, pile on, binge-drink afterward. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy has increasingly shown up in football’s victims, causing some to have violent outbursts and/or to commit suicide. Hello Danny, Ollie? Why no “credit” where credit is due?

While we’re talking violence, let’s not tippy-toe around toxic masculinity anymore; let’s call misogynists what they are. Start with a look in the mirror: do you boss your wife or girlfriend around? Do you refuse to listen to her, change the subject to shut her up, and/or enjoy making her cringe, then tell her she’s too sensitive? That doesn’t make you a partner or a real man, it makes you a gaslighting bully!

Feminism is the “radical” belief that all people (not only women) are equal under the law. Feminism has started no wars, starved no-one, tortured no-one, killed no-one.

The belief or implicit expectation that our daughters owe attention to any unpleasant men is the trouble, and more parents, coaches, teachers, and other leaders are overdue to correct these nasty misperceptions. Toxic masculinity is the root evil. Its adherents call the miscreant who went hunting sorority girls (May, 2014, Isla Vista California) a “supreme gentleman,” when nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who blames everything BUT this vile attitude, that men get to do what they want, allows this disease to fester and replicate. You know what else replicates and festers, Ollie? Cancer!

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Let’s help kids for real

Jubilation was what I felt at the Golden State Killer’s capture thanks to his relatives’ DNA, even though I did not know any of the victims or their families. Concern is what I feel now that the ACLU says it’s worried about privacy. I am more concerned for the millions of other victims the world over, whose abusers and killers have gotten away with their crimes not just for decades but through the ages.
Women have borne the brunt of men’s hostilities since, well, forever. I think my brothers and sisters in law enforcement should avail themselves of all applicable DNA technologies with all due haste, to ensure the men who left behind unwanted pregnancies, unsupported babies, and impoverished women will be forced to account for their crimes against humanity.
Let’s say a man off on an Indonesian sex jaunt was found to have left behind a fertilized egg (or several), and that the women were in any way forced to carry the pregnancy/ies to term, or were physically harmed. New international laws, preferably through The International Court of Justice (at the Hague), which forced the careless, negligent, or deliberately hostile at-fault men to pay for the children, would mean women all over the planet can get at the very least financial relief, which could enable them to lift themselves out of poverty.
Anyone who says he despises abortion but is pro-child can then put his money where his mouth is, because seed money will be necessary, for collecting and maintaining the victims’ children’s DNA. When a match is found and the male perpetrator has his check garnished as recompense for the shattered lives he left behind, a portion of the money can also be used to replenish a small portion of those coffers, and grow them.
Sure, some men who will shriek that their own fathers weren’t around to teach them how to be real/manly men, or their own pop was just the sperm donor the mother knew and who would only come by when she got her check. Not a reasonable or legal excuse!
A guy who’s old enough to risk sex with someone he’s not committed to? Sooner or later the tests will come back, at which he should be of age to get his wallet out. And if those men can be forced to get jobs, the taxpayers will no longer have to pay for children not theirs/issues they didn’t cause.
Unscrupulous organizations that steal donors’ money could be put out of business. International agencies could switch from saving the children to replanting farmlands and forests. Pimps who feel entitled to rape virgins, claiming, “We’ll get married, but you need to sell yourself to get us money” might become a thing of the past, and if those evil men kill themselves at the scope of the harm they already caused? Oh well, no great loss, and the DNA coffers can be allotted to help get their victims on their feet..
At last, a war chest can be put toward making up for the war on women.
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