Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Patriotism... again

The Captain has addressed this issue before, but here we go again.

We, in America, have lost our freakin' minds when it comes to patriotism. 

This is considered patriotic:

This is somehow also considered acceptable.

But during the recent Olympic games, gymnast Gabby Douglas failed to put her hand over her heart during the awards ceremony as America’s national anthem was played.

And the internet exploded with outrage!

She wasn’t flipping a bird. Or standing with fist held high in open defiance.

Olympic Games, Mexico, 1968
Having just won a gold medal with her teammates, Douglas simply forgot to put her hand over her heart.

Despite an exceptional performance of representing the United States in two Olympic games (2012/2016), people accused the three-time gold medalist of being un-American and suggested she should move to another country since she obviously hates our country so.


Douglas immediately apologized, saying she was just caught up in the moment and didn’t think about it.

But that didn’t appease those “patriotic” haters who troll the internet looking for things to get faux butt-hurt about.

Then on Friday, the granddaddy of all butt-hurts: during a preseason football game, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the traditional pre-game singing of the Nation Anthem.

The Captain is not exactly sure what connection there is between patriotism and football, but it’s a tradition, so… whatever.

Unlike Douglas, Kaepernick was unapologetic, admitting his action was intentional. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color… There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

The Captain gives kudos to Kaepernick, who is trying to use his celebrity status to draw attention to a very serious problem in our nation. Yes, racism is still alive and well in America. The question is, is he ready to take the heat for taking a moral stand?

The internet has exploded with hatred toward Kaepernick. In addition to questioning his patriotism, they challenge his ethnicity and parentage (he was adopted by a white family as a child), his abilities (despite leading the 49ers to a conference championship in 2012 and the playoffs in 2013), and his salary. A video posted to YouTube showed one man burning Kaepernick’s jersey. WTF?!? They even accuse his girlfriend of leading him astray.

Former teammate Alex Boone has offered his opinion on Fox News, no doubt solicited by the faux news network.

"You should have some f***ing respect for people who served, especially people that lost their life to protect our freedom. We're out here playing a game, making millions of dollars. People are losing their life, and you don't have the common courtesy to do that. That just drove me nuts." 

Boone is partially right. He and Kaepernick agree they are “playing a game, making millions of dollars”, and that there are people “losing their lives”. But unlike Boone, Kaepernick sees the people dying right here in America… at the hands of the very people who are supposed to be protecting them. Which is Kaepernick’s point.

Captain's Note: Despite Boone’s protestation, the National Anthem is not really about “people who served” or “people that lost their life to protect our freedom”.

And why does everything today have to be about our veterans? If veterans were so important, surely Congress would do more to take care of them…

But I digress…

Just a brief history lesson – the national anthem of the United States is “The Star Spangled Banner”, a poem written by lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812; specifically, during the bombardment of Fort McHenry. Inspired by the view from his window, Key scratched a poem on the back of a letter he had in his pocket.

Oddly, the flag that we now revere as “The Star-Spangled Banner” is not “the broad stripes and bright stars” that was flying when Key saw “the bombs bursting in air”. We venerate the flag that was raised the next morning after the battle had ended.

Just a technicality.

Key’s poem was later set to music, but wasn’t adopted as our National Anthem until President Herbert Hoover signed it into law in 1931.

There is nothing in the song that says “I love America” or ‘Support your local VFW”.Read it for yourself:

O! say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Nonetheless, we have adopted this virtually unsingable ditty as our national anthem.

So be it.

And by law (yes, there is a law), we are expected to stand with hand over heart as the song is played; soldiers are expected to salute. But there is no penalty in the law if one chooses to not do so, and the First Amendment to the Constitution gives us the right to not do so.

Freedom of Speech and all that.

Republican candidate Donald Trump (OMFG!) has responded, as expected, with his own version of the Bush-era mantra, “Maybe he should find a country that works better for him…”

Which is odd, since, as several have pointed out, candidate Trump (OMFG!) also believes America is broken and needs to be fixed. But when a black man points this out, Trump (OMFG!) is outraged?

Others are piling on as well, including Trump’s (OMFG!) buddies over at the extreme right-wing internet site Breitbart (OMFG!), which is spreading the lie that Kaepernick converted to “Muslim” [sic] during the off-season.

Which means he now – necessarily – hates America.


According to Wikipedia, that internet fount of all knowledge, Kaepernick was “baptized Methodist, confirmed Lutheran, and attended a Baptist church during his college years.” In addition, he has several Judeo-Christian tattoos on his body proclaiming his faith and devotion to God.

When you see him kissing his tricep after a touchdown, he is kissing a tattoo of Psalm 18:39 – “You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me” – giving God the glory.

In addition to all the above, his detractors are continually trying to tie Kaepernick to the “Black Lives Matter” movement (of which he is not), which they have also painted as un-American.

For the moment, Kaepernick has some key support. 49ers Coach Chip Kelly told reporters Saturday that Kaepernick's decision not to stand during the national anthem is "his right as a citizen" and said "it's not my right to tell him not to do something."

And – for the moment – the 49ers front office is accepting of his position: “The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem."

At least they get it… for the moment. The national anthem is “an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens.” 

And when one is disappointed in one’s country, one is free – at least in the United States of America – to express that disappointment in peaceful protest.

As Colin Kaepernick is doing.

He says he will not stand until “there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent in this country — is representing the way that it’s supposed to…. [T]his country stands for freedom, liberty, justice for all. And it’s not happening for all right now.”

Jim Wright, an Iraqi War veteran, writes, “A true veteran might not agree with Colin Kaepernick, but a true veteran would fight to the death to protect his right to say what he believes. You don’t like what Kaepernick has to say? Then prove him wrong. BE the nation he can respect. It’s really that simple.”

So every time you see Colin Kaepernick sitting on the sidelines during the singing of the national anthem, hopefully you will be reminded that the idealized “land of the free” is still not realized by everyone in America.

And instead of getting butt-hurt about Kaepernick’s protest, maybe you’ll join in protesting the racism that still exists in our great country.

And just maybe you’ll be moved to do something about it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

It's the Little Things in Life

A friend on Facebook shared a photo of a tiny kitten sitting in a chair that he wanted to sit in.

He resigned himself to sitting elsewhere.

The Captain’s response was, “Isn’t it funny how the smallest creatures rule our lives!”

I know this from experience. Fourteen years ago the Captain and First Mate adopted these two kittens.

They had been dropped off at the local shelter at three weeks old; we took them home three weeks after that.

At the time, we had an aging golden retriever who helped us raise them and keep them in line, but they quickly became a part of our lives in a big way.

Unlike the typical cat, they greeted us when we woke up in the morning and when we came home in the evening. They sat on our laps as we watched television in the evenings. They usually slept with us at night.

Moreso on the Captain’s side of the bed, as the First Mate doesn’t sleep as soundly and would kick them off the bed if they woke her.

Roxy died May 31st. [See June 1st post - "A Time to Grieve".] It was unexpected, and painful. Traumatic.

Isn’t it funny how the smallest creatures rule our lives…

We realized that even Izzy, her brother, also felt the loss. He sank into depression.

So a month-and-a-half later we adopted a new kitten, not so much to “replace” Roxy, but to help perk up Izzy.

This is Lily. Short for Lilith, from Jewish mythology, the other woman in the Garden of Eden.

But it didn’t work.

Turns out Izzy had some health issues (related to aging) that we were unaware of. After several trips to the vet, exhausting all reasonable treatment options – the Captain will NOT put a feeding tube in my cat! – and realizing he actually was in distress, we made the difficult decision to have him euthanized.

"The most interesting cat in the world"
The right decision, but also painful.

They are buried side-by-side now in the backyard.

And more tears were shed.

Yes, the Captain is big enough to admit that.

Isn’t it funny how the smallest creatures rule our lives…

Upon hearing the news if Izzy’s death, “friends” began calling with offers of “free” kittens.

Captain’s Note: Mates, there is no such thing as a free kitten!

But yesterday I made a call to the adoption people. They still have three kittens from Lily’s litter. We are going to check them out and possibly adopt one of them – only one! – later this week.

And our home will be complete again.

But geez! It’s been 14 years since we’ve had kittens. We’ve got a lot to re-learn!

"Ahoy there!"
A LOT!!!

Captain's Update - 08-29-2016: Allow me to introduce the newest member of our crew!


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

This pretty much says it all.

Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross' reign of Women's Beach Volleyball appears to have ended last night with a loss to Brazil's Agatha & Barbara in two straight sets.

Kerri & April, with three golds and a silver already from previous Olympics, will play for a possible bronze medal against the #1 seeded team, Brazil's Larissa & Talita.

How disappointing.

Captain's Update 8/18: Kerri & April beat Larissa & Talita last night in three sets. It was a long, hard fight, but we're bringing home a medal!