Monday, September 28, 2015


adjective sin·is·ter \ˈsi-nəs-tər, archaic sə-ˈnis-\

According to Webster, “sinister” means:
“unfavorable, unlucky”
“evil or productive of evil”
“presaging ill fortune or trouble”
“accompanied by or leading to disaster”

It can also be a reference in heraldry to the supporting object situated on the left side of the shield, with “dexter” being the proper reference to the supporter on the right side.

So to which of these definitions do you suppose the preschool teacher in Oklahoma was referring to when she called a four-year-old in her classroom “sinister”?

According to a report published last week in Huffington Post, the boy was writing with his left hand. The teacher allegedly made him switch his pencil to his right hand because, as the boy later explained to his mother, “This one’s bad.”

When the mother confronted the teacher, the teacher gave her a copy of an article – the Captain suspects it came from the internet – describing left-handed people as “evil, unlucky, and sinister”.

While it is not uncommon (although archaic) to refer to the left side of something as the “sinister” side, that’s not at all what the teacher meant. According to the article, the Devil is left-handed. As proof, it says, look at historical artistic representations of the Devil – usually holding his staff in his left hand.

There ya go!
The article goes on to explain that in the 17th century it was believed that the Devil baptized his followers with his left hand.

Thus the association with left-handedness being evil.


As a proud lefty, this kind of stuff really pisses off the Captain!

Several years ago the First Mate was working in the preschool program at the church where I was a pastor. One day the lead teacher was absent so a substitute was brought in for the day. It was reported to me later – probably knowing how I would react – that at one point the substitute had snatched a Crayon out of a 2 ½ year-old child’s left hand and placed in her right hand, with the admonition, “Oh, no. We’re going to start you off right!”

As if one’s predominant hand is simply a choice.

Sadly, some believe one's sexuality is also simply a choice. But that is a blog for another day.

Had the Captain been informed about the sub's actions earlier in the day, she would have been sent home immediately, never to return.

It can be difficult for a lefty living in a predominantly right-handed world – think about using everyday items like can openers, spiral notebooks, computers, and musical instruments. 

For the most part, we learn to adapt.

For example, legendary surf guitarist Dick Dale is left-handed. Instead of learning to play "right-handed" [doesn't that sound arrogant?] or re-stringing his guitar, he simply flipped it over and taught himself to play it upside down.

…lending one more testimony to my personal belief that left-handed people are smarter and more creative.

We have to be!

And I must admit that being left-handed has often worked to my advantage. As a child I excelled as a little league pitcher. As an adult I found I had an advantage in fencing class.

Captain's Note: No, I am not in this photo.
What irritates me most about this recent news story out of Oklahoma is that the teacher’s actions are based on pure superstition. 

As a teacher of small children, I expect better.

Yes, I know there are cultures wherein one eats with the right hand and wipes one’s bottom with the left, and thus the left hand is considered “unclean”. I get that.

But to tell a small child that his left hand is “evil” – of the Devil! – is just plain wrong.

The news report indicates the superintendent is “looking into it”.

“We take this very, very seriously.”

I wish I could believe the double emphasis on “very” means something will be done, but the Captain is not optimistic. To date, the teacher still has a job.

If it were simply a mother’s word against a teacher’s word, there might be something to “look into”. But the very existence of the article the teacher gave to the mother makes this a pretty clear case of willful ignorance – for which the teacher should be fired.

Or worse.

Monday, September 21, 2015

So This Happened

The attractive young lady on the left is Gaby Scanlon.

She has no stomach.

Oh, she was born with one.

But when she turned 18 (in 2012), she and her friends went to Oscar’s Wine Bar in Lancaster, England, to celebrate her coming-of-age.

The bartender, wanting to join in the celebration – and perhaps impress an attractive 18-year-old – brought her a special drink.

Jägermeister with a shot of liquid nitrogen.

Very much an 18-year-old’s drink.

Wait. Liquid nitrogen?


For those who didn’t have the quality education the Captain did, allow me to explain.

Liquid nitrogen can reach 320 degrees below zero.

This was demonstrated for the Captain when he was but a lad in junior high school shop class. A fresh rose was dipped into liquid nitrogen then immediately smashed into pieces on the workbench. 

Seconds later, the pieces were again as tender as… well… a rose petal.

Liquid nitrogen is more commonly used to freeze-burn warts off the human body.

So why would anyone drink this?

Because the liquid nitrogen, when mixed with alcohol, creates a really cool fog effect coming off the drink. When the nitrogen is burned away, the shot is safe to drink.

Tragically, the bartender left out that important detail.

Four seconds later, Gaby described “an explosion” in her stomach.

Her friends witnessed smoke coming out of her nose and mouth.

She was rushed to the hospital and had to have her stomach removed because the freezing liquid burned through her stomach lining.

“Happy Birthday to yooooooooouuuuuu…!”

The bar was fined £100,000 (or about $155,000USD) for “failing in the duty of an employer to ensure the safety of persons not in its employment”.

The family-owned bar has apologized. “The essence of this calamity was the ignorance on the part of the company.”

“Tut-tut. Looks like rain…”


In short, the blame seems to rest with Andrew Dunn, the company director, who saw a similar drink in a London bar and thought it would be cool to offer at Oscar’s.

Apparently he didn’t bother to ask the important details.

He plead “not guilty” and ended up paying £20,000 (about $30,000USD) toward court costs.

Meanwhile, Gaby Scanlon is living without a stomach. Whatever she eats now goes straight from her esophagus to her small bowel.

Mates, when the Captain says “Drink Responsibly”, I’m not just talking about quantity.

Seriously. Some of this shit could kill you!