Royal Smoyal: Who Cares?

I do not understand the fascination with the Royals, and not just the British fascination but the almost universal interest in the machinations of a family whose position is derived from a mysterious and as yet unseen “God” and the fortunes of birth.

At least in the origins of the Crown, before a more civilized England, there were the battles, intrigues, and violent ascensions to the throne from the various competing kingdoms. The Tower of London, the scene of so many catastrophic separations of the “Head” from the “State” is reduced to nothing more than a tourist attraction.

I bet the job of Royal Executioner isn’t even filled anymore.

Why the fascination?

The current monarch, Queen Elizabeth, ascended to the throne in 1953. Prince Charles has been the heir apparent since that moment, filling his time with marrying, divorcing, and marrying again (some would say up, some down) while he waits for the long awaited “The Queen is Dead, Long Live the King.”

Wouldn’t be ironic if he went first? As the Angel of Death approached, all he could say was, “Are you freaking kidding me? I am this close…” Then, oblivion.

The British Royal Family is worth about eighty-eight billion dollars. Depending on what reference sources you use, the cost of maintaining the family is forty million dollars, but rental income on the royal properties paid to the government is 160 million so, according to some sources, the British Government makes money on the family.

Either way, it would seem to me that being gainfully employed as a Royal hardly seems of any value to society. I suppose the Queen, or King, bears certain responsibilities, but what about the rest of them? You don’t see many Princes, or Dukes, or Earls leading great armies in battle or commanding naval armadas harassing the Spanish or the Portuguese anymore.

Not only does the sun set on the British Empire, but it barely extends beyond the British Isles. All those criminals they transported to Australia have turned it into a more powerful nation than England.

Even Barbados is now independent of the Crown. It is only a matter of time before Northern Ireland regains their rightful independence. The Scots may have voted to stay within the United Kingdom, but the Brits leave them alone anyway. The Scots have always managed their own destiny.

The once mighty British Empire, the vaunted United Kingdom of yore, is but a shadow of its former self.

Yet, if any of the Royals so much as pass wind, it makes headlines in the tabloids across the globe.

The coronation of Charles, should that ever happen, will dominate the news feeds for weeks leading up to the ceremony and will be outdone only by the coverage of the funeral for the Queen.

Now I am sure the Queen is an amiable woman. Clearly she has served the Empire well in all her years as Queen, but it may be time to relegate the concept of royalty to the history books.

We shed the yoke of a royal family years ago, and it has served us well. Even when those who have come along to pretend to American Royalty, we rid ourselves of such pretensions.

Plus, we are not good at bowing to anyone.

Things Worth Remembering: The Memory of Stories

“I have never let schooling interfere with my education.”

Mark Twain

 

Every day someone reads a book to our grandson, Levi. Most days it’s his parents but, whenever he’s with us, we read to him as well.

Why would we read to an infant unlikely to remember the moment?

Because reading stories always create memories—sometimes buried deep in the synapses of the brain — that last a lifetime.

Back in the Dark Ages, before the invention of eBooks, my grandfather gave me a book that I carried everywhere. The book weighed almost as much as I did, but it seemed a worthy burden to bear. It was a collection of many stories—The Wizard of Oz, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, Sredni Vashtar, and many others that I read, and reread, and read again.

Even all these years later, when most of the things I once thought important have been lost to the dark recesses of my brain, these stories stayed with me on the forefront of memory. Perhaps it takes the mind of a child to know what is important to hold on to. Sadly, it seems it is a skill we lose as we turn our focus onto matters that we come to learn later in life never really mattered at all.

I want to create those lasting memories for Levi, the ones worth remembering, as my grandfather did for me.

There were other stories I remember. Stories from Captain Kangaroo—the model for all those shows that followed. Stories like Stone Soup, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddlar Some Monkeys and their Monkey Business.

I haven’t heard these stories since I heard them on that show, but I remember enough to tell them to Levi from memory. His reaction was mostly to smile, frown, laugh, or blow spit bubbles, so I also bought the books to read them to him and watch as the memories take root.

Reading is the critical foundation for learning. On average, Americans read just twenty minutes per day (https://www.statista.com/topics/3928/reading-habits-in-the-us) which is actually an increase over previous years (likely related to the involuntary limitations of Covid-19.) Could it be our lack of reading, and lack of encouraging others to read, negatively impacts our success with education?

I have always wondered what is it that makes some successful at learning while others struggle. It seems today that many would blame teachers for their kids’ failures in school or the dismal state of public education in many parts of this country.

My sense is nothing could be further from the truth. Teachers aren’t the problem, they are the filter that catches the problem and brings it painfully to our attention.

So I asked teachers, if they could point to one marker of success in students, what would it be?

The answers were remarkably similar.

A willingness to learn and work at it…

An enthusiasm to learn…

Parent(s) who make their children’s education a priority… parent(s) who were actively engaged in their children’s education…

… students that have the eagerness to learn have the most success. Of course, that eagerness, especially with the primary grades, comes from the attitude of the parents.

The point is, like the quote from Twain implies, schooling is just a part of education. It is fundamentally necessary but just one aspect of learning. The rest comes from living and the influences of those around you.

So if one book, given to a child all those years ago, can light the spark of an enthusiasm for learning, imagine what reading to them every day can do.

… and that’s why we read to him and will continue to do so until he is such an age to read on his own or to tell us not to… I hope that never happens.

If you want to create a legacy that will live on long after you’re gone, read to someone.  They will remember…

 

A special shout out to Colleen Campbell Hagen (my cousin), Pat Nixon-Gwin (a classmate from Cumberland High School Class of 1974), and Joan LaPlante and Dan Walsh (two of the finest teachers to grace the halls of Cumberland High School), for sharing their thoughts and experience as teachers.

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Excerpt from I Am Dexter

Now Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and everywhere books are sold!

Order your copy here.

Imagine every sound you hear could be something trying to kill you. Imagine being alone in the dark—cold, hungry, without shelter yet better off than the place where you suffered unimaginable torment. Imagine having to fight for every moment of your survival.

This is the life Dexter, a sweet lovable dog, endured for many months until he was rescued and rehabilitated by two remarkable people, Steve and Dr. Dru Pollinger.

This is their story…

EXCERPT

Through the big picture window of our animal hospital, I see an unfamiliar car pulling up to the front entrance. My plan was to have the leash handed off to me and immediately go for a walk that would begin to build a bond. Little could I have imagined the large crate that is carried out of the back of the vehicle and into the reception area.

In person, Florence is nicely dressed, fortyish, very sweet, with a concerned expression on her face. She introduces herself and Mark. Mark seems amicable, with somewhat of a more commanding presence. Our greetings being said, I am now anxious to meet Dexter who is confined in this cage.

I’m suspicious of the fact that he is not leashed. He appears terrified. He is standing up, head down, tail between his legs, ears hung low, and he is unwilling to make eye contact with me. Will this plan for an immediate walk be the right one? I don’t think so, but I will try to engage him. Further conversation is not something that I am desirous of right now.

I say to Mark, “No leash?” He responds by pulling one from his pocket, opens the cage door, and with great difficulty, slides it around Dexter’s neck. There is no aggression coming from him, but much more fear in his body language than I anticipated.

I take the leash and gently pull Dexter out. It is time for them to go and for me to begin my work. Florence hands me the paperwork regarding Dexter, and I let her know we’ll be in touch.

“Dex” is reddish-brown in color and resembles a beagle lab cross. He is medium-sized with stout legs, a long, thick tail, and droopy ears – but it is his face and his gaze that grip you. Numerous puncture scars cover the lips, muzzle, and the fossa between his eyes. His tear ducts have been damaged, and he subsequently suffers from tear overflow. His right ear has a large black hairless patch where it folds over. The front legs show linear scars arranged in a diagonal pattern. The right hind limb has a two-inch black patch of skin that never healed properly. He walks clumsily with a subtle left front lameness and his hind-end sways, perhaps from hip or back trauma. His right rear toes drag when one watches his gait from behind. There are no visible marks on his belly or back. He never rolled over in submission! In his quest for food, he may easily have encountered raccoons or a bobcat – who knows? Could he have been hit by a car – possibly? Was he caught in barbed wire fencing? We can only surmise, but we do know that no one was there to help him. His body slowly healed on its own, leaving only traces of the trauma he endured. Perhaps his earliest days were even worse, with beatings; as we will come to know with certainty later on, he was never socialized, only maligned. It is the hand approaching his face that terrorizes him…

I Am Dexter by Steve and Dru Pollinger

Order your copy here.

A Connoisseur of Distinction

Over the years, throughout the various stages of my life, I’ve become an accomplished connoisseur of fine foods. It was not a talent I inherited, or one that came easily—being raised in a household of predominately Irish cooking thus, you might note, the dearth of fine Irish cuisine restaurants in the world—it required much effort through trial and error.

Yet the list of the fine foods that my palate embraces is a hallmark of a life well lived.

  • Peanut Butter and Marshmallow Fluff Sandwiches, aka the Fluffernutter
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • SPAM, fried or straight up(the true indication of a gourmet master)
  • Deviled Ham (the sandwich spread from the gods)
  • Pizza with Anchovies (lots of Anchovies) and, I will admit, the occasional pizza with pineapple (don’t cringe ye of the uneducated palate.)

These are but a few examples of the highly developed tastes I have nurtured over the years.

Gary Larson, Farside

But there is one item for which I required no long-term familiarity. No consistent exposure to this enigmatic wonder food needed. From the first moment I experienced the distinct texture—crunchy on the outside, soft, warm, fluffy center—I knew this would be a food I would enjoy my entire life.

This love affair with this delicacy also shows how I could embrace something long before the masses.

This exquisite culinary delight became a staple of my youthful diet and has remained one of my guilty pleasures my whole life.

An Angelic Gourmet’s Delight

The simple, yet succulent, potato puff.

Just the words alone imply a celestial (dare I say, Heavenly) experience.

I embraced plant-based foods long before the huddled masses. I understood the essence of fine foods in the simplest of presentations.

And I cannot wait to educate my grandson in the art of fine foods. Out of sight of his mother and others with less sophisticated palates, of course, they eat way too healthy a diet to understand such true gourmet matters.

Innocent Until…Unless We Say Differently

An article from the Guardian about a petition by some Arizona State University students caught my eye. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/nov/29/kyle-rittenhouse-arizona-statue-university-classes.

Apparently, several groups  Students for Socialism ASU, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Multicultural Solidarity Coalition and Mecha de ASU, want the university to withdraw Kyle Rittenhouse from his enrollment in an online program at ASU.

“Our campus is already unsafe as is and we would like to abate this danger as much as possible,” a spokesperson for Students for Socialism ASU told Fox News in a statement. “The goal of these demands is to let the ASU administration know that we do not feel safe knowing that a mass shooter, who has expressed violent intentions about ‘protecting property’ over people, is so carelessly allowed to be admitted to the school at all.”

See above link to article.

Where do I begin?

This is not a defense of Rittenhouse, who I suspect is a misguided pawn in the rightwing world, but it is a defense of the basic premise of our justice system.

Like it or not, Mr. Rittenhouse was found not guilty of all charges. He went into the justice system bearing the undeniable mantel of innocence and, after trial, was found not guilty. To demand he be withdrawn because some lunatic fringe leftist groups are “afraid” is laughable on its face.

If they are “afraid” of the environment at ASU, then they are free to withdraw and find a “safe” place for them to espouse their philosophy without facing criticism. I hope they find such a haven. But if they expect such tolerance of their positions to be based on excluding all others, they aren’t going to find it in this country.

Mr Rittenhouse, until such time as he stands convicted of a crime, is entitled to the same rights and privileges as any other American citizen. Nothing could be further from the spirit or letter of the law in this country than to demand a person suffer consequences for a crime they have been judged not guilty.

Perhaps, instead of demanding the withdrawal of an innocent student and submitting idiotic petitions, they should spend a few moments and actually read the Constitution.

Desperate Times Call for Temperate Measures

“Kill ’em all, God will recognize his own.”

Massacre at Beziers, the Albigensian Crusade

Some of the most common reactions to a piece I wrote about the Kyle Rittenhouse trial verdict (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2021/11/21/juries-judgments-justice/) were to point out the criminal record of the two men killed by Rittenhouse, the violent nature of the protest allegedly by mostly outside agitators, and lack of action by authorities.

What the criminal record of these two men has to do with the matter is beyond me. Unless it is to confer added justification to Rittenhouse shooting them as if he did society a favor. After all, Rittenhouse had no idea who he was shooting. He had, under Wisconsin law, no duty to retreat and the right the stand his ground, and nothing else.

Would it have made a difference if Rittenhouse shot a nun, a rabbi, and an imam who threatened him? Who knows? But, perhaps with his track record, nuns, rabbis, and imams might be wise to use caution in dealing with Mr. Rittenhouse, or those who will inevitably try to emulate him.

Do we really think 17-year-old pretend militiamen—or anyone else for that matter whose only qualification is a gun and the willingness (but perhaps not the wisdom) to use it— are the best choices for avenging angels to rid society of evil people?

After all, one person’s evil is another person’s…

The violent actions of some participants in the protest overshadows the underlying cause—outrage over the police shooting of Jacob Black and the continuing outrage over similar situations, such as the murder of George Floyd—and offers a convenient smokescreen to ignore it.

As to the allegation of inaction by the police, authorities made over two hundred and fifty arrests during the protest the night of the Rittenhouse shooting incident. Contrary to popular belief—fueled by misinformation out of the then Trump White House and other right wing sources—most of those arrested were from Kenosha or surrounding areas. They were not organized outside agitators. (FACT CHECK LINK HERE)

And the police were not ordered to “stand down.” Clearly, the law enforcement presence, which included local, state, and federal resources was inadequate, but they were not told to ignore violations of the law. In moments of such unrest, like during any high demand on law enforcement services, priorities must be set. And in some situations doing nothing is the most efficacious action, something professionals understand.

But two hundred and fifty arrests hardly reflects a “standing down” by the police.

And the only incident involving a fatal shooting was the one by Rittenhouse. Not one officer killed anyone.

Yet, the clamor for a more forceful response persists.

In the late 70s and early 80s, a Black Liberation group known as MOVE rose to prominence in Philadelphia. Over the years, there were various confrontations with the police, including the fatal shooting of a police officer.

The MOVE members barricaded themselves in their homes and refused to come out or allow the children inside to come out. Ultimately, a decision was made to drop a “small explosive entry device” on the roof to penetrate the barricade. A Pennsylvania State Police Helicopter deployed two of the devices. The explosion ignited gasoline stored on the roof, and the ensuing fire killed several MOVE members, including five children.

Now one might argue if the MOVE members had just left the compound, the fire never would have happened. One might also argue that, while force may always be effective, it can also be counterproductive.

None of the officers involved in the decision process to deploy the devices intended to kill children, but children still died. One can blame their death on the actions of the MOVE leaders, but it fails to consider that there were alternatives available to the authorities.

This was an incident where an American police department essentially called in an airstrike on civilians. We often deploy our troops to countries that take such actions to protect the innocent from such governmental actions. It is incidents such as this that prompted serious reviews of policies and tactics in these situations.

One of the basic tenets of hostage negotiation is to slow things down. Time can be an ally as the adrenalin of the initial incident fades, and rationality can be encouraged.

Why does this matter today? Because despite the clamor for strong enforcement, authorities in Kenosha chose restraint over overwhelming force. Not one officer was forced to use deadly force to make arrests or quell the protests because they were trained and professional in their actions.

In contrast, self-proclaimed militiamen—something Rittenhouse claims as a calling — see armed confrontation and unrestrained use of deadly force to protect themselves from a situation they placed themselves in and are often unequipped to handle as the correct solution.

They, and those who seek a hardline Police response absent well-articulated rules of engagement, are wrong.

These militiamen like to portray themselves as modern-day versions of the patriots of the Revolution. Yet, what they seek—the government using overwhelming military-style force to quell disturbances—is precisely the thing those original Patriots died to prevent.

Some would think in the face of protests…

If we sent just one Blackhawk helicopter, we could annihilate anybody in the street.

One tank, and we could crush all the insurrectionists (Hmm?).

One Marine rifle squad, and we could eliminate all the looters.

And this would solve the problem. Like the quote at the beginning of this piece says, some innocents may die but it is the price of strong enforcement in the face of rebellion.

So why don’t we?

We don’t not because we lack the will, but because we shouldn’t.

Where some see weakness, I see wisdom.

When some see reticence, I see reasonableness.

We haven’t lost our strength or the will to use it. Instead, we’ve learned to employ it wisely through experience.

These militiamen like to portray themselves as modern-day versions of the patriots of the Revolution. Yet, what they seek—the government using overwhelming military-style force to quell disturbances—is precisely the thing those true Patriots died to prevent.

They are not emulating the call of the Patriot; they are acting out as schoolyard bullies, albeit armed with deadly weapons, playing at the complex and challenging task of fairly and equitably enforcing the law. The are playing video games without a reset button, which is where most of them probably got their “training.”

I wonder what the reaction would be if someone—acting under the same premise of self-defense—shot a couple of the “patriots/insurrectionists” violently destroying property and killing cops on January 6th?

Methinks the outcry would ring differently.

Juries, Judgments, Justice

“Not Guilty, so sayeth we all” was the decision of the jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial and, as distasteful as it may be, we must accept the verdict. To paraphrase a quote (often attributed to Winston Churchill who actually said it but was quoting some other unknown orator)

“The Jury system is the worst form of Justice except for all the others that have been tried.”

Judgment by jury of our peers achieves a balance of power between the government’s obligation to enforce laws and the peoples’ right to be free from unfettered prosecutorial zealots. It is a costly but necessary price.

In the Rittenhouse case—if one read the jury instructions and understood the elements of self-defense embedded in the state law—the jury’s focus was narrowly defined. And, given this focus, the verdict almost inevitable.

What it leaves unanswered is why a seventeen-year-old boy—carrying a powerful semi-automatic rifle, with no formal law enforcement or military background to prepare himself for dealing with chaotic and dynamic situations—was in that situation in the first place.

“The Jury system is the worst form of Justice except for all the others that have been tried

Author

It also calls into question the competency of his mother who allowed her son access to the weapon and, implicitly at least, encouraged him to place himself in a situation he was ill-equipped to handle.

If Mr. Rittenhouse aspires to be a law enforcer or protector of life and property, let him join the military or work towards becoming a police officer and prove his mettle to assume such a role. (Let’s hope he never does. Police departments are already dealing with a dearth of competent candidates and the last thing they need is someone joining the ranks who will likely put two notches on his gun when he gets it back . And he will get it back.)

Merely having the means (without the requisite skills or competence which is more than the ability to load, aim, and fire a weapon) to pretend to be an armed guardian angel is nothing more than delusional vigilantisms.

Here is what is clear and troubling. Mr. Rittenhouse had the right to defend himself in the face of perceived threats. Those who posed that threat—at the risk here of blaming the victims—put themselves in the situation and paid the price. What’s troubling is that there seems to be little or no consequences for Mr. Rittenhouse creating the situation in the first place.

Juries pass judgment, they do not dispense justice. Neither does Mr. Rittenhouse, who I fear we will hear about again, nor those who will be emboldened by the verdict and see it as an opportunity to emulate such behavior.

I fear we have opened a Pandora’s Box of vigilantism and are yet to find hope in the chaos.

Coming this December from JEBWizard Publishing

Written by Steve and Dr. Dru Pollinger, VMD with Helayne Rosenblum

Cover Design by Jeff Slater, Slater Creative LLC.

Imagine

every sound you hear could be something trying to kill you.

Imagine

being alone in the dark—cold, hungry, without shelter yet better off than the place where you suffered unimaginable torment.

Imagine

having to fight for every moment of your survival.

Imagine

For Dexter, that was the life he led for many months. Alone, often starving, without shelter, afraid of any contact with people. He bore the scars of unimaginable abuse. Yet, the only thing that could save him were the same beings who caused him such agony—people. And he feared them even more than the predators he avoided daily.

Enter Steve Pollinger and his wife, Dr. Dru Pollinger, VMD, a resourceful veterinarian.

Learning about Dexter’s circumstances, they devised a plan to rescue this beautiful dog And that is exactly what they did. Come along on a journey from the darkness of an abused dog’s seemingly hopeless situation to his resurrection.

An unforgettable journey of hope in an often-uncaring world. This story will restore your faith in the fundamental goodness within people.

I Am Dexter is the culmination of the Pollinger’s long experience in treating animals brought to bear in a most touching recovery story of a wonderful dog named Dexter.

Assisted by Helayne Rosenblum, the Pollingers weave a wonderful story—-told from not only their perspective but from Dexter’s as well through their intimate understanding of animal behavior—of the rescue, rehabilitation, and restoration of Dexter to a healthy, happy member of the Pollinger pack.

This story will restore your faith in the fundamental goodness within people.

Praise for I Am Dexter

..magnificent—a true love story. I want to reread tomorrow again. It’s a love story on so many levels. It was emotional for me as I could also relate to Dexter. I was orphaned at age 12. Not abused, just abandoned. It was hard to read about the pool concrete incident. Hard to get that picture out of my head… magnificent writing.

Cheryl – Financial Controller PVCA Solar, California

Available soon in Print and eBook versions on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and everywhere books are sold. Contact the publisher for pre-release copies and special group rates for book clubs or other organizations.

JEBWizard Publishing

Info@jebwizardpublishing.com

401-533-3988

Wrestling Nightmare

As a police officer I spent many a moment wrestling drunks into submission, wading into barroom brawls, and separating combatant couples.

But nothing compares with the sheer exhaustion of trying to put a six-month-old into a onesy (who designed that nightmare?) and a one piece pull over sweat suit.

Dragging away drunken outlaw biker gang members engaged in a battle with a rival club is child’s play compared to dressing an infant…and they often smell better.

You get a leg in, start on the other, and the first one is out. Get the snaps done, and find a extra one. Undo it all, and a leg pops out. And the socks. Don’t even get me started on them. It would seem like they have built in handles at the toes designed to allow the child to yank them off as quickly as you put the on. I briefly flirted with the idea of duct taping them to his legs, but decided it would likely be frowned upon by his mother.

Want to become rich? Invent infant resistant socks

And, to add insult to injury, the little guy thinks contorting his grandfather into a tangle of arms, legs, and random pieces of clothing is the most hysterically funny moment of his life.

As it turned out, my choice for the wardrobe met with harsh criticism. I thought he looked very stylish, although it turned out I put the onesy-thingy on backwards.

And the peaceful, almost cherubic look on the little guy’s face is but a public relations ploy to conceal the devilish sense of humor unleashed as I try to dress him.

And I enjoyed every moment.