Aphelion Issue 295, Volume 28
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Aphelion Editorial 036

May/June 2000

The Senior Editor's usual drivel about whatever...

by Dan L. Hollifield

Hello and welcome!

Well now... By the time that you read this I'll be laying on the beach, watching the pretty girls walk past, and soaking up the sunshine- both electromagnetic and liquid. In short; I'm on vacation! If you live near Daytona, look for me at the Sunshine Motel from May 5th thru May 15th. I'll be the third drunk on the right. But... I'll be home again all too soon to suit me.

(Ahem, it's now well past time that I meant for you to read those words, for this issue of Aphelion has been delayed by equipment failure at our ISP. Also, one of our editors suffered from a bit of bad luck, himself. The staff had to wait for me to come home and re-upload some of the files for the new issue. Being on the beach, I was out of e-touch with the world for some two weeks. OK, here's what we're going to do- This issue is going to run until July to make up for the late start. I'm also including both the May and June Mare Inebrium stories that I had slated. This is our Contest issue also, so I doubt that the quality of the stories will lead to complaints that they've been online for an extra week or two. I apologise for the delay, but hard drives will crash, I just thank heavens for the tape back-up. Kudos to Aphelion's ISP's employees for working round the clock to repair the damage! I guess that I need to buy a laptop to keep in touch on vacations from now on. Well, back to the editorial as I wrote it last month...)

But you don't want to hear about that, you want to know what I'm going to rant about this month.

Crank telephone calls, that's what.

We lost a dog during the last week of April. She jumped out of my father-in-law's car at a local store and was seen to jump into a stranger's vehicle. I made fliers, posted a reward all over a five-county area, and collected dozens of false reports that so-and-so had the dog. So far, all were fakes. I can accept that some of these people had seen the wrong dog and were just trying to help, but the ones that pissed me off were the fabrications. We called or drove to check out reports that were just lies. My Lady-love was reduced to tears time after time as we checked out pranks by people that thought that making us run all over the state for no reason was a fun thing to do.

That sucks, frankly.

Have we descended that far? Is a momentary giggle worth causing pain and suffering to an innocent woman? Has humanity sunk that low?

Evidently. Causing random pain to people that one doesn't know seems to be the newest American pastime. Baseball runs far behind. (Forget that I don't even like sports to begin with. Forget that our lives are too short for such bull. But don't forget that a woman is crying even as we speak. She's not the only one- life is full of real pain with real causes that need to be fought.) So, what's so important about a lost dog?

From the evidence, it gives all kinds of wise-asses the opportunity to be cruel... to someone that they have never and will never even meet.

Makes you proud to be an American, don't it?

OK, trivia. I can hear you say it. It’s only a dog, who gives a rat's aperture? So, what if some dim-wits use that as an excuse to cause random heartache to someone that they'll never meet?

But doesn't that reflect poorly upon the rest of us? I think that it does. We should all care about what one another is feeling. Don't we lose a bit of our humanity when some joker makes one of us cry? And what of the parallels between a snatched dog and a kidnapped child?

Most pet-owners love their pets as if they were their children. Love knows no species, in this case. Where is the reasoning behind such pranks? What has caused humanity to become so perverse as to get pleasure from hurting someone that is helpless and already in enough pain as it is?

Well, if you're expecting me to have some glib, flip answer you're going to be disappointed. I just don't know. Somehow, our last couple of generations have been very lax in our parenting duties. We've failed our children, you see. We've screwed up.

This is the same thing that allows kids to tote guns to school and kill their classmates. As parents, we screwed up. I doubt that any more of an awkward, socially-inept, clueless teenager could exist than what I remember as myself growing up. I was one of those guys that you see as the butt of all the jokes in the teen flicks of the last thirty years. I wore glasses, was un-athletic, read actual books rather than Cliff Notes, knew lots of the answers in class, moved from state to state as my Father changed jobs- so I was usually the "new kid in town", and was invisible to females until I went to college. I got beat up a lot at school. Weekly- some weeks it was daily. I've been thrown up against brick walls by drunken upperclassmen, kung-fu-ed at by bullying peers, had knives pulled on me, heard my family and myself insulted. In short, I was the typical '70s geek. You've heard it all before, I'm sure. I endured, I occasionally fought back to some effect, and I withstood a lot of abuse- but it never occurred to me to shoot someone.

I was raised around guns and was taught both accuracy and safety before I was taught to ride a bicycle. I often went out into the woods and practiced with my Father's pistol. I knew where it was kept, I knew how to load and shoot it effectively, I knew how to take it apart and clean it- all before high school. Both of my parents worked full time- I was one of the first of the "latch-key kids" and was unsupervised for several hours each day after school. Any day I pleased, I could have taken the pistol to school and blown away my tormentors- but it never occurred to me to do so.

So what made me different from those kids today who massacre their classmates?

It wasn't religion- I don't want to go into it right now but as long as I can remember I've always felt faith to be more important than religion. (If you want me to explain that, tell it to the Lettercol and I'll finally sit down and relate my beliefs in a webpage. I hate arguing religion- I try to avoid it always.) It wasn't provocation- I had oodles of that! It wasn't television- I saw JFK assassinated when I was six. There were lots of killings and beatings on TV in the '50s and '60s. It wasn't easy availability of weapons- I had that.

So you tell me. What was different? I can't tell you, I'm not an oracle. I'm an editor- a writer- no more, no less.

I lay it on parenting, myself. Mine evidently did a good job, or so I must assume.

By the way, how did I get from crank calls to here? LOL! Well, that's stream of consciousness for you.

Thanks for your time.



2000 Dan L. Hollifield

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