Town Home


A home town is where you’re from. After a while, a home town is now where you’re from. Later on, the home town is where you’re from now. Finally, there is no finally, the home town is where you are.

The trouble is, who agrees? People in the current hometown see you as a newcomer. To be an old-timer you have to be there X years plus oh maybe some extra Y years. Where the X and the Y are variable, depending on the stakes, of tenure.

The earlier home towns don’t count, don’t count as home towns that is. But they’re important — good things and bad things happened in those places, that got you where you are now, God help you.

The first home town, well, that still is your home town. Even the people still back there, who remember you, call it your home town. Not that they’d welcome you back for good, of course. You’ve changed, they haven’t.

Someone not living in this home town told me last month, “You can’t make old friends.” She was right, friends if they last turn out that way.

There’s no place like home. Damn it.

©2018 Ben S. Pollock Jr.

2020 Vision in 2018

Arkansas flag
Wikimedia Commons

Remember Conner Eldridge? He was the Democratic opponent to Republican Sen. John Boozman in the 2016 general election. Because Republicans are hot stuff these days and it’s tough to tackle an incumbent he lost. He’s back to lawyering.

There’s any number of good people like Eldridge who at least for the moment end their political aspirations once defeated. This is why I’m not stating which candidate I will choose in Tuesday’s party primaries.

Also, my record on endorsements and election predictions is under 50 percent so I likely could jinx my pick.

Over the weekend, I posted a problem on Facebook. My neighborhood is in the 86th District of the Arkansas House. If you’re on the liberal side of things, we rock: It’s so traditionally Democratic there’s no Republican candidates. Whichever Dem wins the May 22, 2018, primary heads to Little Rock in January.

[UPDATE, May 22, 2018: I was reminded at the ballot box today that we live in the 85th District, represented by Democrat David Whitaker, who faced no competition today and has no GOP opposition in November. Otherwise, the rest of this column is cq.]

This time out, the 86th is considering two similar candidates, Fayetteville City Council member Mark Kinion and community organizer Nicole Clowney. (Names are linked for their vitals.)

Both would be strong legislators for Northwest Arkansas.

The response was lively. Supporters of both, and opponents of either, wrote in public comments and private messages.

A third side also wrote in, calling for “strategic voting.” As Arkansas has open primaries — a voter asks for the party ballot on signing in, rather than being on the record as D, R or I — we can for the moment belong to the other party. In this case, choose a Republican to the right of incumbent Gov. Asa Hutchinson and one to the left of 3rd District U.S. Rep. Steve Womack. This mid-term year has few contested races. In this neck of the woods, little might be lost by crossing over this time.

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ASP Rejects Gun Ban for Tiddlywinks

Email from ASP Cpl. Lewis, 26 March 2018It’s time to go renegade. After all, I fought the law and last night the law won.

As manager, coach and occasional player in the University’s Tabletop Sports team, I had sought to continue the weapons ban at r’Asadinks Tiddlywinks Stadium, here in Office 248. The longstanding ban at school athletics facilities was turned into an annual permit request by 2017 legislation.

So on March 14 I requested a gun ban permit (Word doc), going by the rules set up by the Arkansas State Police for the new laws. The main law allows for firearms on campuses, concealed carry, if their owners have the accompanying new permit, enhanced, which refers to a few hours additional training for fending off active shooters.

My effort, described in the column “Stadium Security’s a Peach,” has been rejected.

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Stadium Security’s a Peach

Wednesday’s a big day.

Besides being National Pi Day — 3-14, get it? — for this year it’s also #NationalSchoolWalkout. That’s 17 minutes outside of class for students K-12 (likely more the older grades) starting at 10 a.m. in each time zone. The purpose, according to the group Empower (organizer of the anti-hate Women’s Marches), is “to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship.” The 17 represents the fatalities of the shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, exactly a month ago, Feb. 14, 2018.

College students generally are not participating, outside of administrators assuring high schoolers that their civil action will not hurt their chances of admission, going by news reports — well, students at two Memphis institutions are an exception. After all, the inspiration came from the teens of the Florida high school. Yet, universities and colleges have been the sites of other senseless massacres. Like elsewhere, political leaders are either slowing these down, doing nothing or seemingly increasing the threat.

Page 1, Sensitive Area Designation Tiddlywinks redacted 031318
Slightly redacted

About a year ago the Arkansas Legislature passed a bill to repeal the ban of weapons on campuses, allowing firearms to be carried hidden by those holding enhanced concealed carry permits. The “enhanced” is part of the 2017 legislation, adding a few hours of active shooting training. It approved another bill continuing a gun ban at athletic events and a few other locations. Collegiate sports have to request the weaponry ban, submitting a form every year to the State Police. Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed these into law, and state offices proceeded to policy making, for the finer points of enactment.

The laws got a poke in my column “Play Games at Work So No Guns” where I revealed my campus office happens to double as r’Asadink Tiddlywinks Stadium, Home of University Tabletop Sports. A second column, “‘Winks at Gun Ban Security Plan,” explored my arena’s answers to the points that the facility request form was to ask.

The welcoming yet removeable sign for r'Asadink Stadium
The welcoming yet removeable sign for r’Asadink Stadium

The arena in my office should qualify, according to policy (bold face in original):

“A collegiate athletic event is defined by Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-101(2) as “a sporting or athletic contest, event, or practice of an individual or team of individuals in which one (1) or more individuals or a team of individuals sponsored by, funded by, represented by, or associated with a public or private university, college, or community college competes against themselves or another individual or team of individuals.”

Recently the Arkansas State Police published the “‘Firearm-Sensitive’ Areas Application Information” and the “Security Plan” form. I accepted my own dare, studied the former, completed the latter and emailed it this morning to the ASP senior corporal listed.

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Bad-bad and Bad-good Choices

Insight on waking today: We daily make bad-good decisions and bad-bad decisions.

These are common calls, far milder than “Should I drop out of school” or “Should I marry this person.”

Logo of Tofutti BrandsBinging on chips and dip — make mine vegan if you please — is a bad-good decision. Dwelling on grim news that is more than a couple of steps distant from you is a bad-bad decision.

Wouldn’t sound better to write good-bad not bad-good? Certainly. Both pairs, however, are bad decisions, so “bad” is the primary modifier.

Junk food you can digest your way out of. Well, a few extra pounds might grow on you, but in moderation snacks won’t be what kills you in the end.

Obsessing on grim news outside the closer circles of one’s personal space radiates through the rest of the day like fountain pen ink on Kleenex.

Someone I know well just learned of a tragedy on Facebook. It’s not the closest connection nor a distant one, in the middle, more near than far. It’s a person whose day-to-day life is full of all sorts of lame luck and bad choices, according to their frequent social media posts. More a sad sack than schlemiel. One cringes when one hears in conversation or from posts the latest to befall them.

The bad-bad decision comes from considering the latest catastrophe (not ironic but indeed tragic disaster) longer than a moment. If you reflect or investigate on it further, your whole day, your thoughts and even activities are infected with the gloom of fate.

If you’re not in a position to help, it’s just poisoning yourself.

I realize in drafting this that I have been making a bad-bad choice for 14 1/2 months. Unintentionally infecting myself.

Several times a day I read on reliable news sites the latest chicanery of DJT (pronounced digit) and his administration. I’ve been steaming not just since Inauguration one year six days ago but his election in November 2016, when everything he said and did began to have a calamitous impact on my beloved country. Continue reading