Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Survivor!



Captain’s Note: I know. I know. I still haven’t written anything yet about Las Vegas.

I suppose, as the commercial says, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Sorry about that.

Just know that Vegas is not the Captain’s cup o’ tea.

But yesterday! Wow!

To be honest, the Captain was not looking forward to the Great American Eclipse of 2017.



Two 1/2 minutes of darkness... Whee...

And no, it’s not some mysterious sign from God.

It’s science.


But the First Mate could hardly contain herself. She took a vacation day just for this event.

We live along the path of “totality” (yes, the Captain has learned some new words this week), so the area chambers of commerce began hyping this one about a year ago. Area emergency services began holding mandatory monthly training sessions.

For the past several months we received daily updates on the status of hotels in the area – yes, they claim every hotel room in the area was booked…

Although I can name a few local fleabag motels that probably still had space.

Some were charging as much as $900 per night.

Then there was this.


We were warned that ½ million visitors were going to converge on the area.

We were warned about gas shortages reminiscent of the late 70s, long lines at the pumps, and price-gouging.

Around here, the price actually went down 4 cents per gallon!

The local TV station recommended treating this like a snow storm.


A friend warned me to watch out for pick-pockets.

Even after I told her I was going to be out in the middle of the lake in a private boat!

Someone took to Facebook to warn parents about child-snatchers who would travel for hours just to snatch your precious little one while you and everyone else are gazing at the skies, and in those two brief moments would be long gone before you realized it.

Really?

Captain’s Note: The Captain is not a parent, so, yes, what do I know about these things…

And we were amazed that, despite months of hype, people were still scrambling for the special protective eyewear as late as that morning!


And then there was one idiot who didn't think he needed any eye protection at all...
 
The weekend arrived and we began receiving almost hourly reports on traffic conditions.

Look at all that traffic!
Sunday night at the Home Port felt like Christmas Eve… except without the tree, the lights, and the presents.

Sleepless nonetheless.

And then the big day arrived. We left home at 8:30 in the morning, fearing the marina would be full and we would have no place to park.


Nope.

Where were the crowds? Where was the traffic? Where was the madness and mayhem?

What am I going to do with all this bread and milk now!?!
 
All those fears may have been realized somewhere… but not here.

Perhaps because all the emergency services were on the ball and had everything under control.

Perhaps because it was a Monday. 

Some people have jobs…

Perhaps because many people didn’t really care.

Or, perhaps because when you spread ½ million visitors over a 2,000 mile swath of America, it’s not really going to have a major impact anywhere along the way.

So, much ado about nothing?

No. This was awesome!

Before...

During totality...
The First Mate's photo!

The Captain & First Mate
Next solar eclipse that passes near us occurs in April 2024. We’ll be there too!







Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Brilliant!



Last night, under cover of darkness, the city of Baltimore removed four statues honoring Confederate soldiers.


After a year of back-and-forth, the events in Charlottesville over the weekend firmed the City Council’s resolve. A day after the vote, the statues were removed.

The discussion of removing Confederate statues is sweeping the nation. 

Some activists are taking action to help remove some of these.


Captain's Note: While the Captain supports the intent, I cannot support the vandalism and lawlessness of their actions.

Those who still have warm feelings towards the Confederacy insist that those statues represent America’s history.

The Captain agrees. The Civil War is an unfortunate part of America’s history, one of several dark blots. Our Southern economy was built largely on the backs of dark-skinned human beings who were stolen from their native countries and forced to work hard labor for no compensation. That is our history and it should never be forgotten.


Those who do not have warm feelings toward the Confederacy point out that the statues honor men who intentionally broke away from the United States of America and took up arms against us to preserve the institution of slavery.

The Captain has already made this point elsewhere. Americans taking up arms against the United States is called “treason”. I called them what they are: “traitors”.

Those who still have warm feelings toward the Confederacy argue that the removal of the statues is an attempt to “sanitize” history, to “rewrite” history.

The Captain disagrees. The statues, for the most part, were erected more than 50 years after the war ended in an intentional effort to sanitize and rewrite history. They were paid for by private citizens and placed on public lands to remind them of their “heroes” and to warn the former slaves that the South could rise again.

But in the midst of all this bickering about the statues, the Captain has come up with a brilliant idea sure to appease both sides.

Leave the statues where they are.


Stay with me here.

This idea came to me when a friend shared a photo of the statue of Jefferson Davis on the Mississippi Riverfront in Memphis, TN.

The inscription ends, "HE WAS A TRUE AMERICAN PATRIOT".
Truth is, these great bronze statues are impressive works of art. It is rare today that such statues are erected, due to the sheer cost of the project.

For example, the Korean War Memorial that stands on 2.2 acres in Washington, D.C. contains 19 stainless steel figures and cost $16.5 million in 1995. The most recent addition to the Mall is the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, a granite sculpture that cost $120 million in 2011.


That kind of grandiose art is becoming increasingly rare.

So for aesthetic purposes, that Captains says let’s leave the statues where they are.

But…

Let’s change the inscriptions to better reflect who these men were. Instead of hailing them as “patriots” and “heroes”, let’s tell the true story.

Because history.


For example, let’s change the inscription on Jefferson Davis’ monument to indicate that in taking leadership of the Confederate States, he betrayed his country and should be remembered by history, not as a “patriot” but as one of the greatest traitors of all time.

Perhaps we could add to the inscription the legislation passed by Congress concerning treason:

     “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.” (United States Code at 18 U.S.C. § 2381)

This change to the inscription would put it in a more accurate historical context, don’t you think?

Or how about ol’ Robert E. Lee? 


He actually took up arms against the United States. Son of a Revolutionary War officer and a top graduate at the U.S. Military Academy, let’s carve into his monuments the truth about this traitor.

With all of his military training and experience courtesy of the U.S. Army, General Lee later joined with the Confederacy against the United States. While he won many of his battles against superior Union forces, due to his aggressive style he also suffered higher troop casualties, and his two incursions into Union-held territories failed.

And let’s remind those who pass by his monuments that on April 9, 1865, General Lee was the one who surrendered the entire Confederate Army to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House.


Add to the inscription, of course, that Lee was a slaveholder. That is an important historical note that shouldn’t be overlooked.

In fact, when his father-in-law, George Washington Parke Custis, died in 1857, his will (executed by Lee) required that Custis’ slaves “be emancipated by my executors in such manner as to my executors seem most expedient and proper, the said emancipation to be accomplished in not exceeding five years from the time of my decease.”

But Lee opted to keep them as slaves and continue to operate his father-in-law’s plantation. The slaves, however, expecting to be freed, did not much cooperate with their new master, much to Lee’s frustration.

Now, some apologists argue that Lee was a reluctant slave owner, previously mentioned history aside. So with all due respect, let’s also include the following, Lee’s own words in a letter to his wife in 1856:

     “…in this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral and political evil in any Country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known and ordered by a wise Merciful Providence.”

If you want history, that quote is much more representative of Robert E. Lee’s life and times.

Why, he and his fellow slave owners were actually doing the African people a favor!


Foreordained by God Almighty, no less!

So once such corrections are made to all the Confederate monuments, the Captain suspects that the Klan and White Supremacists will not be so excited to rally around one of the statues of these losers, because with history rightly told, everyone will truly understand the scourge these people represent.

The more I think about this, the more I like the idea.

The Captain is just surprised no one else has suggested it before.