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Stop Signs are Forever

STOP SIGNS ARE FOREVER: American gripers

When I was a kid just past the age of enjoying G.I. Joes, I stumbled upon a great book called “Marine Sniper,” a 1988 nonfiction tome about the Vietnam War career of Carlos Hathcock — at the time considered the deadliest sniper in American history. That title would eventually be taken by SEAL marksman Chris Kyle, who recounted his time in Iraq in his best-selling memoir-turned-movie, “American Sniper”.

STOP SIGNS ARE FOREVER: That’s (unfortunately) showbiz

Many things happened on Christmas Day this year that were par for the yuletide course. Presents were opened by rapturous children and then quickly forgotten. Millions of people darted to and fro, ticking off the checklist as they moved among each family outpost. Preachers kept everyone five minutes too long at Christmas Eve Service. Countless boyfriends and husbands were cajoled into their yearly viewing of that treacly Christmas staple, “Love Actually.”

Tortured decisions

First, a thought experiment: Imagine the one person to whom you’re closest is in danger. Mortal danger. Someone, somewhere is threatening to kill them. And you have that person’s accomplice literally in your hands.

What’s fair about corporate taxes?

Corporate taxes in the United States are frequently in the news, as they’re a favorite subject of both the left and the right. Republicans unsurprisingly want them lowered, as America has the highest such tax rate in the world, among developed countries. Democrats, on the other hand, like to single out specific industries for either having to pay too much — e.g wind and solar farms — or benefiting from “unfair tax breaks,” which usually track closely with a company’s proximity to an oil well.

Discussions of ‘culture of rape’ ask wrong question

Writing about rape, as a man, is a fool’s errand, but it’s one I feel compelled to undertake. Men are imprisoned for rape at a 99-1 ratio to women, according the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics. So since men are all-but precluded from suffering the consequences of rape, some people believe they therefore have no ground on which to stand while debating rape-related issues.

The neutrality of tact, or vice versa

As a point, I make an effort in this space each week to avoid mentioning politicians by name. That’s not to say my record’s perfect; on one occasion , I took aim at Barack Obama and George W. Bush for their vacation policies. And there are probably others as well. But I really try to avoid it.

Stop signs are forever: I voted (and you can too!)

Peer pressure is a bit of a two-edged sword. It can be used for good, like how societal shaming has resulted in tons of progress curbing smoking over the last decade. Or it can be not so good. Like when eighth graders pressure their friends to sneak out to the parking lot for a quick cigarette at half-time of the JV basketball game, but then you have to run around the far side of the school when you’re done so no one suspects anything and in doing so crash into an unseen T-post and bleed all over your shirt and then never try smoking again because it was clearly a sign from God.

Mo’ money, no problems

Election Day is upon us, which means the inevitable fallout of partisan, finger-pointing opinion pieces dissecting the outcome is similarly nigh. And if Republicans retake the U.S. Senate, as they are expected to do, a good number of those fingers will be pointed at Charles and David Koch, two brothers who own an eponymous manufacturing company that just so happens to be the second largest privately held business in the nation.

Who holds the keys to wedlock?

Growing up as a preacher’s kid, I would conservatively estimate the number of weddings I’ve attended at 1.7 billion. And over those years of watching my dad do his thing between the bride and groom, I learned quite a bit about weddings.

Judging fourth-dimensionally

In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. On that much, we can agree. The list of things beyond that which can be stipulated is pretty scarce, but in summary: someone at some point decided Columbus should get credit for discovering the Americas. Someone else, in turn, decided that was reason enough to declare a holiday on the anniversary of his “discovery.” And bingo-bongo, bank cashiers have been big fans of Cristoforo Colombo ever since.

Stop signs are forever: Who’s ruling?

Congress was not in session on Monday, October 6, 2014. No bills were passed. No votes lodged. No floor speeches speechified. Most of our elected representatives weren’t even in Washington, in fact. And yet the federal government took a step on Monday Oct. 6 that will affect more people than every piece of legislation that has passed through Congress in the last four years.

Putting the ‘err’ in ‘Teacher’

Back in my home state of Colorado, there’s been a ton of hullabaloo recently over teacher-led protests in a Denver suburb. People are angry because a school board member said she favored slanting the AP history curriculum toward conservatism, but the reason for the protests isn’t really germane, anyway.

Crime and punishment

When we’ve been bad little boys and naughty little girls — or rather, when we’ve been caught being bad or naughty — the government has two main ways it likes to get even: it takes our money or it takes our freedom. Run a stoplight; your penance is some cash. Run a stoplight naked, they take you to the clink. That’s our criminal justice system in a nutshell.

Scotch on the rocks

I am no expert on Scotland. I can point to it on a map — which, troublingly, puts me among only one-third of Americans — but I’ve never been there; never even known someone who was born there. What I do know about Scotland has basically been gleaned from Mel Gibson and that one episode of “Parks and Recreation” where Ron Swanson visits the Lagavulin distillery.

Clapped out

In his 1973 opus “The Gulag Archipelago,” Russian novelist and historian Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn relayed a story from a Soviet party conference during the rule of Joseph Stalin, noted dictator and late-night cinema enthusiast . The Communist leader had just given a rousing speech — or at least I assume it was rousing, given what happened next:

Putting the ‘you’ in utopia

It’s a great premise, I’ll give them that. Executives at Fox have green-lit a new reality show, slated to hit your boob-tube Sunday night, called “Utopia.” The network is dumping 15 people onto a secluded compound and tasking them with creating a society from scratch. It’s a little bit “Survivor,” a little bit “Lord of the Flies.”

Stop signs are forever: Checkpointless

It’s Labor Day Weekend across this great nation, which means a three-day weekend of barbecues, trips to the lake, and, of course, the temporary suspension of the Fourth Amendment. It’s one of those rare occasions when we can reconnect with old friends, provide the kids with some life-long memories, and be subjected to search and seizure methods on par with a third-world country.

Buckets of misplaced charity

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks — and even then, I imagine the icy images would have found their way under your slab — you’ve likely heard of the “Ice Bucket Challenge.” If you haven’t — maybe you’re an Unfrozen Cave Man Lawyer , I’m not here to judge — it’s a bunch of people ostensibly trying to bring attention to Lou Gehrig’s disease by dumping freezing water over their heads. For all its faults, at least that step in logic makes sense.

The pain game

Finding yourself in a predicament whereby you’re forced to come into contact with the American health care system is the very definition of a lose-lose. You already have a serious problem, or you wouldn’t be at the hospital in the first place. Very likely, you’re in pain. And you know there exits all these tremendous substances of chemical amelioration that could make you feel better. But in order to possess and ingest one of those substances, you have deal with a bureaucratic system that seems purposefully designed to prolong your suffering.

The need for speed … limits

So begins the Wikipedia article on inertia: “Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its state of motion, including changes to its speed.” Simply put, things don’t change on their own. It takes force. It takes friction.

The cold, cold heart of the anti-capitalists

So there’s this movie called “Snowpiercer,” and it has quietly become the darling of the Internet over the past few months. It was created by South Korean director Joon-ho Bong, stars “Captain America” Chris Evans, and exists in that B-level, indie mezzanine between blockbuster and straight-to-video.