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¡Viva Mexico!

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

The Original Intention

Mexico wasn’t my first option of places to live when I left Vietnam. My original plan entailed moving to Chile. I spent several months putting together an Excel spreadsheet with a list of countries. I conducted extensive research. I would give each nation X amount of points in every category. I ranked them with at least forty factors. Among those were cost of living, safety, crime rate, air pollution, universal healthcare, importance of religion; distance from Russia, the Middle East, the United States, China, and North Korea; fragility of state, economic stability, corruption, female-to-male ratio, life expectancy, etc. I was very thorough and went the whole nine yards. At least I thought I did. I’m talking OCD accuracy. I was driving myself mad trying to find the most suitable country. At the end I tallied up the points. Anywhere that ranked lower than Thailand was eliminated. That was where I set the bar. Ukraine, Indonesia, and Bolivia got crushed in no time. The winner was Australia while Uruguay came in second place. Both were over my budget, so Chile came next in line.

Changing the Routine

Mexico was on the shortlist but not in the top five. There was still Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Brazil ahead. I came here under the assumption I would save enough dough to move to Chile eventually. That plan has been at the very least postponed if not kiboshed. Mexico was a backup plan as I couldn’t afford a plane ticket to Chile. It costs more to fly to South America from the United States than it does Asia. At least that’s how it was at the time. This was in the middle of the winter which was summertime in South America. That it was the opposite season might have been a contributing factor. Regardless, I improvised along the way. I moved to Merida, Yucatan, under the recommendation of Jacobo – an old acquaintance. My biggest priority was safety and security. My main complaint is that the weather is the same as Southeast Asia. It’s bloody stinking hot and humid ten months out of the year. It has the exact same climate as Thailand and Vietnam. My other grievances are there’s too many stray animals here. Nobody neuters or spays their pets, and the dating pool seems too slim.

Don’t Blame Jacobo

Merida is a very conservative city and one of the Catholic church’s biggest strongholds. The majority of Yucateca women marry and have at least one child by age 25. That to me was disappointing. Jacobo had no way of knowing I was looking for a significant other, so don’t blame him. I said I wanted to live somewhere inexpensive that isn’t crime ridden, and that’s where Merida popped up. Jacobo meant well when he suggested that. He was being a good friend. It’s my fault for not doing more research or asking which city in Mexico had the best dating pool. Had I known then what I do now, I probably would have gone to Guadalajara. I knew all along Latin America was more amenable towards someone like me. Hispanic cultures tend to be more forgiving and understanding about mental health than East Asian ones. I don’t know about Mexico, but I’m told they’re cool about it in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and other places. I’ve not had any issues with Mexico in that department. All I can tell you is it’s more autism-friendly than the Far East.

The Tour of a Lifetime

I’ve taken advantage of opportunities during my time here. The tour I took during the vernal equinox still gives me goosebumps. I went with a group to Dzibilchaltun and visited the Temple of the Seven Dolls. The aperture to that structure aligns perfectly with the sun during the spring equinox. After that, I explored Izamal – the Yellow City – and climbed the tallest pyramid in Mexico. It reminded me of the time I experienced Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur. Never in my life had I seen so many yellow buildings. I was afraid I’d get jaundice had I stayed much longer. The third stop entailed Xcajum Cenote – a natural waterhole. Those things I find mystical. The best and last part was Chichen Itza – an anthropologist’s wet dream. I didn’t realize it was an entire park not just that castle in the middle. Not only was I in awe of the Mayan ruins; I was blown away by the sun shadow forming a snake along the staircase. I got nostalgic because the Mayan artifacts reminded me of Thailand and the time I journeyed through Ancient Siam. The only difference was there were no reclining Buddhas at Chichen Itza. I’d go back there in a heartbeat.

Tales from the Dark Side

Day in and day out, I hear horror stories about Latin America. I don’t live in Juarez or Tijuana for crying out loud. Yes, I’ve seen Scarface, Traffic, Miami Vice, El Mariachi, Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Man on Fire, and other crime dramas. I’ve watched every episode of Breaking Bad, Narcos, and El Chapo, too. Most of those incidents occurred during the 80’s and 90’s. Pablo Escobar was killed in 1993. Chapo Guzman got convicted and placed in a prison from which he can’t escape. What the skeptics don’t know is those tall tales you hear about Latin America regarding the drugs, kidnappings, and whatnot also happen in Southeast Asia where I lived three years. They don’t call them cartels in that region because there’s no cocaine. They do however have heroin, opium, and methamphetamines. Those organizations are labeled merely drug rings, but it’s all the same in the end. There’s several reasons why nobody knows or hears about the Asian underworld. The obvious being they’re far removed from the United States across the globe. Another is they’re not flamboyant like Medellin and Sinaloa were. They do their activities surreptitiously and fly below the radar like the Cali cartel did.

Mexico Doesn’t Scare Me

I’m not afraid of Mexico City, either. I’ve been battle-tested after living in Thailand in Vietnam. Bangkok is one of the dodgiest cities on Earth. Mexico City can’t be any worse than Bangkok I tell myself. There are significant Russian and Ukrainian communities there and Saigon, and I’m certain they bring heavy hitters from Moscow and Kiev. Many Japanese expats live in both locales much of whom I suspect are Yakuza. I’ve stated I watch the same movies all the ‘experts’ have. I’ve even seen American Gangster based on a true story. Denzel Washington played Frank Lucas, an African-American kingpin in New York City during the 60’s and 70’s. Lucas smuggled heroin into the United States through coffins of fallen Vietnam War soldiers. There’s a street in Saigon called Bui Vien where people get zapped out of their minds on drugs. The police are there facilitating it making sure nothing gets out of hand. Thailand is one of the worst places on the planet when it comes to child sex trafficking. Many child predators travel to Southeast Asia as sex tourists because they know the governments are so corrupt, and there’s nothing anyone can do. I lived there when they busted Jared Fogel, the pitchman for Subway. I was also there during the bombing at Erawan Shrine. My inbox was flooded over the next day because my family and friends worried I might have been blown to smithereens.

Same Song, Different Dance

There’s nothing terrible I’ve heard about Mexico that I haven’t already about Thailand or Vietnam. The only things I’m worried about are crooked landlords, pickpockets, shady expats, and petty scams. I know how to handle those folks after living in Southeast Asia. I was robbed by the traffic police at gunpoint in Vietnam. My passport was stolen there without further ado. I’m better equipped to act accordingly. Mexico doesn’t seem that bad to me because I came mentally prepared. The second time the police tried to shake me down in Vietnam, I knew what to do. I took a semester of German in college. Many of the corrupt cops speak English, but I’ll bet none know German. That’s what I deduced how to handle them. I know they’re after my money, that they think all the expats are rich, and that they can intimidate me. They’re not going to waste their time seeking an interpreter and risk getting exposed. Most criminals aren’t as slick as they think they are. Nine times out of ten, they take the quickest and easiest route to get what they want with minimal exposure. I’ve studied a lot about criminal psychology during my off-time. I’ve read The Art of War by Sun Tzu. One of the main tenets of that piece is know your enemies. That’s why I now take off my shoes and hide my money in my socks whenever I travel with lots of cash and put only a small amount in different pockets. I might even get two wallets; one with a trifle of notes and throw it the opposite direction should I be mugged and give myself enough time to run away in zigzag patterns so the thug’s bullet won’t hit me should he/she decide to shoot. I may even walk around with my hands in my pocket. I’d rather the ladies and others think me shy and insecure than vulnerable.

I See Your True Colors Shining Through

That said, I no longer use taxicabs but only Uber. I don’t trust the former after living in Bangkok. The majority of scams the Viets have tried to fool me with I caught onto living in Thailand. Many hucksters at Ben Thanh Market got offended whenever I called them out. They thought I was stupid and didn’t know what they were doing. Little did they know, they would try the same shtick at Pat Pong Market in Bangkok. I wasn’t afraid to tell them I could see through them. I may be overstating things, but I imagine the same is true about Mexico City and other megacities in underdeveloped countries. I’ve learned how to mind my surroundings and always have my guard up. Therefore, I’m not afraid of Mexico City, Medellin, or anywhere else.  My bullshit detectors have been amplified ten-fold after living in Southeast Asia. I never buy things on the street unless they have price tags. I figure they’re knockoffs or the vendors want to play me for a sucker and overcharge me. As far as the organized crime goes, I suspect those guys are smart enough not to do their business in the open. As long as you use common sense and exercise caution, you should be safe. I don’t plan to go looking for them.

Much Ado About Nothing

I’m not worried about being kidnapped when I visit Cancun or anyplace else, either. Do you really think I’d be here if I felt someone might abduct me? First of all, the US State Department would ban all travel to Mexico if it was that unsafe. Secondly, I’d notify the embassy consulate before I do that. Third, I’d post a status on social media letting everyone know where I’m headed. Fourth, I don’t come from a wealthy family like Natalie Holloway, so my captors wouldn’t gain much from the ransom. Fifth, most of those take place up north near the border not down south where I am. Sixth and finally, I’d give my family, friends, or whomever specific instructions to contact the embassy and every news outlet they can if I’m not seen or heard from within a week. I have a game plan for events like this. Imagine how it would look if all over CNN or FOX News the headlines said, “Autistic American Male Missing in Mexico.” You think Donald Trump won’t heat up the propaganda machine and try to start a war with Mexico to beef up his campaign for the 2020 election or use that as a wild card to convince voters in swing states Mexico is full of murderers and rapists to divert everyone’s attention away from another recession? For all we know, his administration may use the ICE detainees as collateral damage in retaliation. Knowing Trump, I wouldn’t put it past him. Most smart criminals don’t want to draw that kind of attention.

They’re Not All Bad

The only bad things that happened since I’ve been here were my watch getting ruined in Xcajum Cenote, and I lost my ATM card. I know my debit card wasn’t stolen because my account wasn’t emptied when I checked my bank statement online. I reported it lost, ordered another one, and had my mom send me money through Western Union. Also, there’ve been a few power surges caused by storms. Other than that, everything has gone smoothly. Mexico turned out to be an excellent fit. I’d describe it the same way I would Michael Keaton, Daniel Craig, Charlize Theron, and Harrison Ford playing Batman, James Bond, Aileen Wuornos, and Indiana Jones or Albert Brooks portraying a mafia kingpin in Drive. None of those mentioned were the directors’ first selections. Some were last minute replacements like Ford. The movie critics were skeptical at first because they worried the roles might not match the actors’ skill sets, but those people caught everyone by surprise and wound up killing those parts.

A Successful Failure

Now most moviegoers can’t imagine Tom Selleck (the original choice) as Indiana Jones. Daniel Craig is arguably the best Bond ever behind Sean Connery. Some fans like my mother think the former was better than the latter. Charlize Theron landed herself an Academy Award for her performance. You can even compare my circumstance to Christopher Plummer replacing Kevin Spacey to portray J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World. Ridley Scott scrapped Spacey from the project at the last minute when the Hollywood sex abuse scandal emerged and had Plummer fill the void six weeks before that film was released. They had to re-shoot all scenes involving Spacey with Plummer. Not only did Plummer pull it off within a three-week span; he knocked it out of the park and got an Oscar nomination. Now many people can’t envision Spacey in that role. If I were to correlate my time in Mexico to a movie, this turned out to be a sleeper hit like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Napoleon Dynamite. It might even win Best Picture like Slumdog Millionaire which was also a surprise hit. Now I can’t envision myself moving back to Southeast Asia after living here. I perceive Mexico the same way historians did the Apollo 13 mission, a successful failure.

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Terrorism Has No Religion

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Take Another Look in the Mirror

The shooting in Christchurch inspired me to speak out about two issues. The first being gun violence and the second Islamophobia. One of the primary reasons I left America and have no inclination towards returning is school shootings. I find it ironic how people tried inciting fear about me going abroad. Often others were afraid I might be kidnapped in Southeast Asia or Mexico by some organized crime syndicate. I appreciate their concern for my safety. However, their misgivings were misplaced. This is the part that burns me. Everyone is worried someone like yours truly will wind up an organ donor or get cooties from the boogeyman whenever we go abroad, but climate change and school shootings aren’t treated like national emergencies as they should. I felt safer and more secure teaching at schools overseas. Not once did I have to worry about some distraught kid coming onto campus and mowing down his classmates with an AR-15. Never have I once had that fear when I walked out in public, yet my inbox was flooded fast after the bombing at Erawan Shrine. I wouldn’t touch an American school with a ten-foot pole.

Careful When You Play with Straws

Many times I worry about my niece and nephew in Texas where gun control laws are toothless at best. I had nasty fallouts with two long-time friends on Facebook on separate occasions over this not long ago. Things got ugly when they tried using strawman arguments about the government infringing upon their personal freedom, and they insisted it was their divine right to own firearms. They would state the same platitude, “Guns don’t kill; people kill,” we hear from yahoos like Alex Jones. Both situations went sideways when I told them, “You tell that to the parents of the Sandy Hook children. What do you care as long as it’s not your kids caught in the crossfire?” I’ll bet they wouldn’t share the same sentiment if it someone they loved were killed.

No Way to the NRA

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I hope the next shooting massacre happens at the NRA headquarters and that it’s worse than Orlando or Las Vegas. I’m serious as a heart attack. Plead me guilty now. If a masked gunman turned Wayne LaPierre and his evil henchmen and followers into Swiss cheese, that would be plenty alright with me. Maybe what it takes is to bring the war home for the American public get it through their thick noggins. Before anyone panics and reports me to the FBI, I’m not planning a shooting spree myself. All I’m saying is the National Rifle Association will get exactly what they deserve if that happens, and I won’t bat an eye. They’re a biggest threat towards our national security than Al-Qaida or ISIS ever were. The NRA has way more American blood on its hands than those other two.

If They Can Do it, So Can We

I find it ironic how the American media views it as a terrorist attack only whenever a non-white person commits it. If a black person or Muslim kills several civilians, then it’s an act of terror. Whenever a white person does the opposite such as the case in Charleston, South Carolina, then it’s a hate crime. The same was said about the Christchurch, New Zealand. I’m glad New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, and other developed countries dropped the hammer and have strict gun control laws. This makes me loathe the Republican Party to no end. They have no right to call themselves pro-life. They care more about fetuses than the lives of children already born. Any party that opposes gun control and universal healthcare and supports war and capital punishment is in no position to call itself pro-life.

Go See For Yourselves

Now for the second part, Islam does not advocate terrorism. I’ve found myself defending Muslims more than I care to. I can guarantee the readers none of those folks bashing Islam have been to a majority Muslim country like I have. I had no idea Malaysia is sixty-percent Muslim when I went there during Chinese New Year 2018. I’m not going to lie. At first I was apprehensive when I landed at the airport in Kuala Lumpur. I was afraid I might be stoned to death if I look at a woman more than three seconds. I believed the same hogwash about which they pontificate on FOX News. I found out that was anything but true about the second or third day there. I didn’t know even with my background in geography and anthropology because nobody discusses it on the news, and it’s not in the Middle East. That I suspect is why most people are unaware Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country.

It’s Not What You Think

These things you never hear because they’re Shafis. They’re not at all like the radical Sunnis in North Africa or the Shiites in Iran. In fact, many Malays hate the Saudis. Malaysia is a very progressive country. Half of the women wear burqas and hijabs, but the other half walks around in tanktops, Daisy Dukes, and flip-flops. There are ladyboys walking around in plain sight. Everywhere I looked, there were bars that served alcohol. Kuala Lumpur has an incredible nightlife comparable to that of Bangkok. They even have soapy massage parlors with happy endings, and nobody cares. That should tell the reader something. Further, I recommend anyone who travels to Southeast Asia visit Malaysia. It has all the magic oh Thailand, and it’s a more developed and family-friendly country. I liked it because Kuala Lumpur is squeaky clean like Singapore but not as highbrow. Everything you can find in Bangkok exists in KL. The difference is the Malays don’t wave it in your face like the Thais do. They’re more discreet about it. Obviously, they don’t have Sharia Law because the country is about 20-percent Buddhist and 20-percent Hindu. They all have to live in peace and harmony, so Sharia Law wouldn’t fly.

Let Freedom Ring Everywhere

The women there have the same rights Western women do. They have college educations, careers, and positions of power. Just because they don’t hyphenate their surnames when they marry, decorate themselves with tattoos and piercings, cut their hair short, and dye it freakish colors doesn’t mean they’re all barefoot, pregnant, and stuck in the kitchen. The Malay ladies drive cars, go shopping, and speak their minds just like Western women. I’m sure some even think their opinions are the law of the land. One time my credit card wasn’t working. I entered a local bank, and the branch manager, a woman in a hijab arrived and said, “May I help you?” I explained the situation and got it sorted out. Everybody there speaks English because it was a British colony. That’s why I couldn’t find a job there no matter how hard I looked. Some of the best Indian food I’ve had in my entire life was in Kuala Lumpur. That stands to reason when a quarter of their population is of Indian descent.

Check It Out; You Won’t Regret It

My third day, I went on a tour of the city. One place where we stopped was the National Mosque of Malaysia. In plain was a giant sign that said, “Terrorism has no religion.” in three languages one being English. Like Indonesia, Malaysia has a zero tolerance policy towards domestic terrorism. I wish we’d induce the same in the United States. Obviously, Malaysia doesn’t have prohibition for the reasons I mentioned. They don’t have child marriages or practice female infant circumcision. They don’t stone people to death for adultery, behead homosexuals in town squares, or hang them from cranes. They don’t have child marriages. The legal age of consent is 16. The men don’t do acid attacks and disfigure women who reject them. They don’t have gang rapes, blame victims, or implement honor killings. The police don’t go around whacking women with batons for wearing cosmetics, nor do they force them to go at night with male chaperons. Trust me on this one. I sure as hell wouldn’t have considered moving to Malaysia after leaving Vietnam if any of that was true. The main thing travelers must worry about is crooked cab drivers trying to rip tourists off, but that happens everywhere.

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Living in the Wild, Wild West

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The Need for Gun Control

One of the primary reasons I no longer live in America is gun violence. I’m tired of turning on the news and hearing stories about school shootings and deranged gunmen mowing down several people. The NRA is a terrorist organization in my humble opinion. They have more blood on their hands than the IRA. Of that I’m certain. At least the latter has a righteous cause. The National Rifle Organization cares nothing about the lives they’ve destroyed. The Irish Republic Army wants to repatriate Northern Ireland back to the Republic of Ireland. The latter had the audacity to disband after 9/11. The NRA fills people’s heads with hogwash in that they’re convinced we’re safer when everyone carries firearms. Funny how they ban guns at their headquarters. Nutjobs like Alex Jones exacerbate the dilemma when they pontificate nonsense about the government coming to take our guns and enslave its citizens. The Sandy Hook parents had every right to sue that jerk. Wackos who listen to that tripe are convinced they stand a chance against a platoon of Marines donning kevlar, a regimen of armored tanks, or a squadron of drones.

Shoot ‘Em Up There, Partner

In spring 2016 after my return from Thailand, I heard on the 6 o’clock news about a gunman in West Houston who wounded and killed several people at a Conoco gas station. The perpetrator was a military vet who served in Afghanistan. I’m surprised the media didn’t blame it on Asperger’s, but that’s another story. I suspect battle stress had something to do with it. How does this relate to gun control? The last guy he killed was carrying a concealed handgun. I wasn’t there, but I know what happened. I know Texans and how they think. Rather than run for cover, the dumbass was trying to be a hero and engaged the gunman in a showdown. Then the shooter offed him like a fly. The moron learned the hard way he was outmatched. That doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out. Though he may have fired his handgun at a range, I’m positive the guy never saw any action like the gunman. It never occurred to him the police and SWAT team are trained for these situations. These idiots watch too many movies. That’s another part of the problem.

I Dub Thee Unforgiven

Speaking of which, one of my all-time favorite films is Unforgiven. There’s a reason why that flick is only one of three westerns to win the Oscar for Best Picture. The other two were Cimarron and Dances with Wolves. I liked Unforgiven because it de-romanticizes all the spaghetti westerns Clint Eastwood and others made during the earlier part of the 20th Century. It debunks all the myths we grew up believing about the Wild West. It’s one of the few movies I liked the antagonist more than the protagonist. Clint Eastwood plays the antihero Will Munny, a retired bounty hunter traveling to Montana to kill two outlaws who mutilated a woman. The main antagonist, Little Bill, portrayed by Gene Hackman is the sheriff of the town where Munny is headed. Somewhere in the movie, English Bob, played by Richard Harris arrives for the same reason. He travels with a writer from back east named Beauchamp who’d never ventured out west before. All the while, Beauchamp is drafting tall tales and urban legends he’d heard about English Bob and such.

Debunking the Myths and Legends

The part that caught my eye was that firearms were banned in the town. Little Bill roughed up English Bob and arrested him for carrying concealed firearms. Most people by default would cheer for the protagonist but not me. I liked Bill because he demystified all the legends about outlaws being the fastest draws in the west. I admired Little Bill because he not only was good at his job, but he had excellent bullshit detectors. The viewer could tell the man was way before his time. After awhile, Beauchamp put two-and-two together and ascertained English Bob and the rest of those guys were full of beans. Unforgiven gave a real life depiction of how life was in that era. People didn’t walk around carrying six-shooters and have duals periodically. Most of the cowboys were either black or Mexican not white guys settling on the frontier. The majority of firearms they used were shotguns and rifles to defend their livestock from predators or hunting. The only people carrying pistols were the sheriff or the outlaws, and we all know how much the latter respected the law. Even when the sheriffs had to engage them, they wouldn’t go alone. They’d organize a posse full of trained gunmen.

Draw Partner!

That’s the problem with Hollywood and gun culture. All the charlatans out there like Alex Jones only know what they see on screen. The reason Wyatt Earp was so famous was because he was calm, steady, and collected. The guy had nerves of steel. The same was true about Wild Bill Hickok. Most of those ‘cowboys’ would get drunk saloons and get themselves hurt or killed doing something stupid. We all know how brave and bold men are when they’ve had too much to drunk. I’m sure they never puffed themselves up as the meanest baddest sons-of-bitches who ever lived. Even if you read about Wyatt Earp, you’ll learn they had gun control back in Tombstone. During the shooting at O.K. Corral, Earp, his brothers Virgil and Morgan, and Doc Holliday killed the brothers Tom and Frank McLaury, Billy and Ike Clanton, and their compadre, Billy Claiborne. The latter refused to bequeath their firearms upon arrival in Tombstone and tried to challenge the former. It cost them their lives. Most of those famous outlaws we hear about like Billy the Kid and Jesse James killed their victims when they were most vulnerable. Sometimes they’d shoot them in the back. They wouldn’t dare challenge the town sheriffs in a draw. Wyatt Earp or Doc Holliday would’ve wasted Billy the Kid or Jesse James in no time.

In Cold Blood

There’s more to a gunfight than the ability to aim and pull the trigger. The military and police are trained to dodge bullets, take cover, and handle stovepipes and misfires. There’s even breath control which was snipers must master. That’s not so easy when you have a target shooting back at you and your heart rate is jacked. Will Munny in Unforgiven knew these things which is why he an effective killer. Sadly, most viewers only see action in these films and never see the substance within the storyline. Towards the end, you finally see the guy’s true colors realize how evil the man is. In a nutshell, this validates my argument about gun control. I can promise the readers if they learned about the outlaws in the Wild West, they’d realize they were cowards who killed their victims in cold blood like the Orlando nightclub and Las Vegas strip shooters. When was the last time you heard of anyone trying to rob or shoot up a police station? Never, right? The Fort Hood shootings were committed in gun-free zones, and the second one blew his brains out like the spineless fiend he was. Gun control isn’t about taking away the firearms of ordinary citizens who wish to defend their homes and businesses or go hunting. It’s about background checks, thorough vetting, and keeping guns away from criminals and the mentally ill. It also entails banning automatic weapons. Nobody needs an AK-47 or an AR-15 to defend oneself. If we have no gun control, we might as well have no law enforcement.

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You Gotta Keep ‘Em Separated

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The Long Flight to Japan

Some segregation I find necessary. Before anyone screams bloody murder and accuses me of bigotry, hear me out. None of it pertains to race, religion, creed, or any of that sort. On my way home from Saigon to Texas, I changed planes in Tokyo before venturing to Houston. The trip to Japan was a nightmare. The seats were uncomfortable with limited leg room. They’re made for short Asian people not tall Westerners like me. The flight full, and I had difficulty sleeping. A couple across the aisle had a 2-year-old infant crying her head off. I know nobody can calculate how fussy their children will be. I suspect the cabin pressure made her ears hurt. She was probably scared of the turbulence, moreover. I wanted to catch rest on the plane, but I deduced that would be impossible with that baby wailing non-stop. It was hard practicing restraint and not yelling, “Shut up!” in their direction. Not giving the parents scornful look was a greater challenge. Being the nice guy I am, I said nothing.

Judge Not Less Ye be Judged

I shared a status on Facebook venting my frustration stating they should make families sit at the back of the plane in an enclosed area with soundproof curtains. I imagine the readers want to tell me the same thing one woman said – “It’s easy for him to say when he has no kids.” Like I haven’t heard that a thousand times before when I got irritated. It’s easy for them to scold me when they weren’t the ones who had to sit on that plane. None of those naysayers are on the autism spectrum and hypersensitive to high-pitched sounds, either. I’m sure the parents were embarrassed and felt they were being judged. Periodically, the dad would sing a tune or the mother would carry the tyke to burp her. Just because I didn’t wear my heart on my sleeve doesn’t mean I don’t empathize. You wouldn’t believe the flack I caught. Left and right, I got bombarded with remarks from parents giving me the runaround about how insensitive I was. Despite what my critics concluded, I was thinking about that child. I was also factoring the well-being and comfort of the other passengers. I’ll bet if I spoke Japanese and took a consensus, most of those other travelers would say they wanted that baby to keep quiet.

Separate But Equal

Having a designated area for families in the back with a soundproof wall for a few hours is nothing like forcing African-Americans and other minorities to live in separate parts of towns with inadequate facilities. I don’t know where someone came up with this grandiose idea to use that strawman argument, but it holds no water; apples and oranges. By that logic, I guess we shouldn’t have people fly first class or coach. I don’t see anyone lamenting over the airlines allowing folks with greater finances to sit at the front of the plane. Oh, wait! That’s different! We’re supposed to give them preferential treatment because they paid more money, right? Like I said, having a region towards the tail of the plane is no worse to me than having first class and coach seating or smoking and non-smoking sections in restaurants. On that note, I say restaurants should adopt the same practice or have certain hours which children can attend. While the PC police might jump on this like white on rice, I stand by my point. Most people don’t want kids running around terrorizing the other patrons while they want to eat their meals in peace or kids screaming at the top of their lungs when people are trying to unwind. I don’t recall hearing about any time civil rights leaders caused that kind of disruption unless you count Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama back in 1955.

Remember the Heysel and Hillsborough Stadiums

There is a time and place for everything. I don’t expect everyone to opine like me, but I’m using facts and first-hand experience to state my argument. I also believe they should separate fans of home and visiting teams during sporting events. Not only do I declare alcohol shouldn’t be served; I also feel there should be family and adult sections. I’ve been to more than one ballgame in my life to see alcohol brings out the worst in people. I’m more familiar with the mob mentality than I care to admit. One particular event that molded my standpoint is the Heysel Stadium Disaster in 1985. Several soccer fans gathered to cheer a match between Liverpool FC and AC Juventus. Numerous British fans assaulted the Italian spectators causing a human crush. In the end, 39 people were killed while 600 were injured. Something worse unfolded four years later during the Hillsborough Tragedy in Sheffield, England. Not only were the stadiums overcrowded, many victims in both cases were children.

The Long Track Record

There’ve even been incidents during NFL games where things have gotten out of hand and brawls have broken out. This is one reason the Oakland Raiders left the Coliseum in Los Angeles. They didn’t want to be affiliated with gang culture which was another causation towards their relocation to Las Vegas for the 2020 season. Philadelphia Eagles fans have a long track record of causing ruckuses, too. All the reason more why I think sports fans should be segregated, and alcohol should be either prohibited or at least limited during events. To put it bluntly, I’m more concerned about the safety and security of everyone around than I am the revenue alcohol brings in towards an organization, the feelings of emotional hemophiliacs who expect everyone to do things by their universal PC playbook, or entitled parents who want everyone to accommodate them because they have children. Nobody ever afforded me that courtesy for having autism, so I don’t owe them the same in return.

anxiety, aspergers, autism, changes, culture, depression, education, gangs, health, ideas, psychology, violence

With a Grain of Salt

clear glass with red sand grainer
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Rose-Colored Glasses

Have you ever listened to old people bellyache about modern society and compared it to the past? Did you ever hear them say something along the lines of, “Back in my day we did this and that, and we had A, B, and C and we didn’t do this or that, and there was no X, Y, Z, and everything was grand.” It gets tiring, doesn’t it? Senior citizens always talk about the past with their rose-colored glasses on as if everything was dandy, and then the world went to hell in a hand basket once they reached middle age. I’ve heard this song and dance a thousand times before from my parents and others. That’s because the ‘good old days’ was back when they were young and in their prime. They had more energy and fewer health problems. They were probably out partying, getting laid more, and more in tune with pop culture. They weren’t staring down death’s doorstop. And I’m sure the prior generations never did the same because life was so grand. I had this conversation with my Uncle Michael a few years ago. He concurred and added they weren’t as aware then as they are now. Because they weren’t in tune with all that’s happening is why they’re so cynical.

The Usual Suspects

Almost every problem we hear about on the news didn’t begin yesterday. The real issue is nobody ever talked about it until now for fear of shame and humiliation. They’ve had gang violence in America at least since the Great Depression with Al Capone, Bugsy Siegel, and company. The media didn’t make a big deal out of it until the 1980’s the Crips and Bloods emerged with the crack epidemic. Not until we saw dangerous black and Hispanic men and boys in the inner cities carrying automatic weapons did everyone begin lamenting. The crime rate in Chicago is lower than it’s been in sixty years. The number of rapes and sexual assaults in America has decreased 50-percent since 1993, but you would never hear these statistics from the mainstream media, third wave feminists, the NRA, or any of the geniuses in Washington. The violent crime rate in America period has continued to surge since the early 90’s, but most people don’t know this because the number of murders, rapes, assaults, and whatnot being reported has increased.

The Good Old Days

All that clamor with Bill Cosby and Brett Kavanaugh happened during the 70s and early 80s. The other folks mentioned by the #metoo movement like Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, and Kevin Spacey committed sexual harassment at least twenty years ago to my recollection. It’s just nobody discussed this then. This is one reason I loved that show Boardwalk Empire. That program starring Steve Buscemi was about the mayor of a New Jersey town during the Prohibition Era who moonlit as a bootlegger. It showed what took place behind closed doors during the 1920s and 30s and that life wasn’t a bed of roses. Sure, the fashions and music may have been soothing, but I can’t even imagine how difficult things were during the Great Depression or the Dust Bowl. There wouldn’t be enough jazz or swing music to cast away my woes.

Choose Your Battles

Yesterday, at the VA hospital, I had to practice restraint while conversing with two old men. We talked about martial arts before one went on a tangent about Stephen Seagal and wondered why Seagal didn’t make movies anymore. Things started going downhill when I stated the reason Seagal’s more recent movies are all in Eastern Europe and why he’s no longer famous is because he’s been Hollywood blacklisted after several sexual harassment suits filed against him. The guy tried using a strawman argument stating there should be a statute of limitation and that he’d report it right away as if his car were stolen. It did no good when I tried elucidating most people would have discredited those women then because they didn’t have the recourse they do today. The other guy said if he was rich and famous like Seagal and had women throwing themselves at his feet, he’d do the same thing. That’s when I knew it was time to walk away. A few years ago, I would’ve been shocked. I might have even scorned them and told them they’re old enough to know better. I wasn’t surprised, though, seeing this was the VA hospital with military veterans many of whom were lifers. I may be autistic, but I’ve been socialized to know how to choose my battles. I therefore chalked it up as they were just men of their times.

A Grain of Salt

My first gig after graduating college was that of an enumerator during the 2010 census. I remember discussing kids with some 70-something Irish-American retiree from New York I’ll call George. He would regurgitate the same platitudes I heard from every other guy from his generation. George would say, “Back in my day, when I went to Catholic school, the priest swatted us good with a paddle whenever we misbehaved, and it made us tough.” Hogwash I say! Back in your day, people would lose their marbles if they saw a black person living in the same neighborhood or using the same facilities as you or a woman. Back in your day, it wasn’t uncommon for men to get drunk and beat their wives, so let’s not kid ourselves, George. I’m sure those priests expressed their love for children in other ways, but we don’t need to go there. Nobody knew then that corporal punishment causes depression and anxiety and makes kids more aggressive. The general public knew jack about psychology. It might have worked in the short run, but it was detrimental in the long run. I’ll bet the truancy and teenage pregnancy rates were high back then, but I’m sure George and others wouldn’t acknowledge that. While they may be wise and knowledgeable in some areas, many of their ideas I find outlandish and obsolete. This is why I don’t bother explaining autism to most folks over 70 and take what they say with a grain of salt.