Author Archives: John Gilstrap

Must the Internet Be So Nasty?

It occurs to me, judging from the nature of discourse on social media platforms, that as a culture, we have become progressively ruder to one another.  Even absent the anonymity of Internet bulletin boards where people are likely to troll, platforms like Facebook—actually, Facebook in particular—have become a venue for people to spew ugliness, sometimes even to their “friends.”  This being an election year here in the U. S. of A., I expect things to get even worse this year than they have been to Continue reading →

Excuse Me, Is That A Pistol In Your Pocket?

The news of massacres in public places has become disturbingly common in recent years.  The pattern seems nearly predictable: a disturbed, suicidal young man with a gun opens up on a room full of innocents, and people die.  I cannot imagine the terror of those endless moments, cowering helplessly as some nutjob wanders among my fellow victims and I, deciding on his whim who lives and who dies.  It’s so horribly . . . unfair. The news always carries the panicked 9-1-1 calls after the Continue reading →


I am a sap for tradition, and no season preys on my weaknesses as thoroughly as this.  Every ornament on the tree has meaning, as does every decoration elsewhere in the house.  A hideously ugly treetop ornament that has grown too fragile for the top of anything is now the centerpiece of a candle arrangement.  The ugliness is irrelevant.  What is relevant is the fact that it’s the tree-topper of my youth, given to my parents by my mother’s parents. During the rest of the Continue reading →

Lee Harvey Oswald and Me: One Degree of Separation

As it happens, my inaugural post here at AR coincides with the 50th anniversary of one of my great research obsessions—the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Last name notwithstanding, I am of Irish Catholic heritage, and in my house growing up, the Pope and President Kennedy were held in equal esteem. When the news came that the president had been killed, my mother was devastated. I was six at the time, and while I couldn’t fully comprehend the enormity of the crime, I knew that Continue reading →