True Patriotism in America

Despite the unfathomable killing, killing, incongruous brutality, stupidity, monumental stupidity all over the headlines, there are still severely misguided people bizarrely upset over something else entirely insignificant by comparison. I’ve not weighed in publicly, or even privately, on a the matter of Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand during the playing of the national anthem at a football game, and after considerable reflection – and still seeing angry posts about it on The Facebook –  I’ve decided to share some thoughts on the matter.

seal_of_the_united_states_department_of_the_navy-svgBefore I go further, in case you don’t know this, I am a 20 veteran of the United States Navy. I served both as an enlisted man and and officer in the cec-emblemCivil Engineer Corps, finishing my career in South Korea, at “the [bottom of the] pointy tip of the spear”. Thirteen years after I retired, I still shift items to my left hand…just in case I have to salute – which, of course, I never have to do. (I still get saluted when I make the rare trip to a military base, but unlike the Army, I can never salute out of uniform!) Is that patriotism? To some, maybe. For me, it was just something I did. And it isn’t really patriotism.

img_5972img_6117No…it is not.

Neither is wearings an Uncle Sam suit …

or …

…red white and blue socks.

And neither is getting self-righteously angry about perceived slights to symbols. Quite to the oh so contrary. As I get older, I understand that I’m supposed to be getting more “conservative”. Rather, I find myself offended more and more by so-called conservatism. People crowing about a particular unConstitutional phrase in a pledge prompt me to observe:

The Pledge is a peculiarly unique instrument of nationalism. I did a little research and it turns out that there doesn’t appear to be any other country that has the ritual of swearing allegiance to a flag. Now, some dictators demand oaths of allegiance to them as people. But not to flags.

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…people trotting out the stupid Red Skelton video (note, he was not stupid…just the people using his video), ignorant of the history of the pledge. And now, foolish umbrage over a passive protest to highlight a larger, even more given the disturbing numbers of killings pertinent than in the past, issue.  If the context so far is too subtle, let me say that I am outraged…

…at anyone who is “outraged” at Kaepernick’s actions. Yes. You read that right. I am profoundly offended by the people taking offense at something that is to the core of our founding principles Patriotic through and through.

Let me tell you what Patriotism truly is… When I am in a public place and someone prays “we pray in Jesus’ name”…I am outraged…it matters not if I agree with the sentiment or conversely consider it presumptuous; rather, I care more about and consider the feelings of anyone who doesn’t pray in Jesus’ name. I side with the minority – even if, or especially if, the minority is a simple one of a single person. If it never occurs to you that this is a serious problem, then you don’t realize how unpatriotic you actually are.

I am outraged when I hear that a field worker has to pay $6,000 out of pocket for medical expenses. I am outraged that America is the last country in the world to have health insurance driven by profits (the only thing that has changed since this article is that it has gotten worse.) If you mindlessly rail in ignorance about Obamacare – a flawed law, but at least a start – you don’t understand patriotism.

I am outraged that corporations have more rights and pay less tax than actual people. Thanks to Citizens United, it is even easier for corporate “citizens” and the extremely (obscenely) wealthy to buy politicians. If this does not set your teeth on edge, I submit you are not patriotic.

blog_god_hates_2I am outraged that a religious majority actively campaigns against and impugns the fundamental right of a significant segment of our society’s to be able to marry with all the benefits as everyone else. Marriage is a legal, not religious, institution. A ceremony might be religious, but unless recognized by the State, it is not legal. Simple fact.  If you are not outraged by Anti-gay vitriol spewing from people who can’t mind their own business, who use their religion as a false superiority shield to hurt others, who are harmed personally in no way whatsoever by LGBQT people, who do not understand (nor most likely actually read) their flawed and inconsistent holy books, I have little hope that you can understand true patriotism.

I am outraged that certain convicted rapists get light or, stunningly, no sentenceatall (one cannot compare probation to jail time), when wrongly convicted persons of color serve severe time, or a marijuana user get four years, or…wait for it…life without parole! I am outraged that the CEO responsible for a large part of the economic recession of 2008 not only walks free, but had his stock increase…increase…by $200+ million as a result of his direction at the expense of millions of Americans and hundreds of millions world-wide. If you are not outraged, I fear the gap between us is too much. You need to work on closing it.

The fervor of dangerous flames of nationalism fanned by an opportunistic user candidate obscures a sad thing about the ignorance of the umbrage: Kaepernick has taken to kneeling, 636093166429164256-2016-09-12-colin-kaepernick…something intuitively obvious to the most casual observer that is a sign in religious context as respect (disturbing to true Patriots as unConstitutional in mixing State and church); something that should be considered more respectful than a hand over a heart. And yet, his respectful protest is still vilified. That baffles me.  If you do not understand what Kaepernick and others are doing, and why they are doing it, and you insist on spreading ignorance with misguided umbrage, then you are no patriot! I’ll have to save my thoughts on the dangers of nationalism for another time – that is far too complex a subject to be tackled in a couple of paragraphs.

nationalism1

(Einstein actually said that – a pet peeve of mine is sharing incorrect or unsubstantiated quotes.)

I could have saved you some time with a BLUF – Bottom Line Up Front – but if you did not like what I have to say, it’s pretty apparent that you needed to see it most. If however, if you were outraged by my words, yet still a human with some degree of emotional intelligence, maybe by reading this you might gain a different perspective…

My definition of True Patriotism is championing the minority. True Patriots strive to ensure that the rights of the one are never trumped by the wants and whims of any majority. True Patriotism is caring enough about the rights of others to embrace, or at least disagree with only in personal silence, something that really bothers you.

With a vile, misogynistic, racist, xenophobe getting attention daily and not being held accountable for his pernicious and pervasive lies, more police killings, I fear that a stupid fuss about Colin Kaepernick over something absurd might not subside anytime soon.

Go be a True American Patriot.

Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers – book thoughts

Whose Body?  (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #1)Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Delightful introduction to a character found by way of a suggested other book in the series. Fascinating that it was published in 1923. I found it more enjoyable, engaging, and intelligent than Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories. I might have pushed another star were it not for the Melvillian hyper-detail tedium of an inquest proceeding in the middle.

Ms. Sayers was quite the literary polymath. I hope to find time to read more of these. I’m dead in the water with Doyle’s Holmes as it is just dull, but the non inquest parts of Whose Body? were far from it.

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Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman – book review

Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone SmarterMultipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Like too many of these books, this could have been a tri-fold tract, or a ten page pamphlet and conveyed the message quite adequately. It’s a short, actually sound treatise unfortunately blown up with sensationalist repetition (sadly, not in a reinforcing way.) I saw “thought-provoking” in a reference, and was intrigued enough to read it, but really, it isn’t. I don’t know why books like these are presented as something that “makes us rethink many of our old assumptions.” Use your talents to help bring the better product out of others…no brainer, right? Of course, the counter examples are those we all know…the ones who think (consciously or not) they are the smartest ones in the room, to the never ending detriment of the team…

I’ll summarize:
“Multipliers” multiply the capabilities of others by being Talent Magnets, Liberators, Challengers, Debate Makers, and Investors (typo in a chart late in the book had “Inventor”…odd it hadn’t been caught)

“Diminishers” diminish the capabilities of others by being Empire Builders, Tyrants, Know-It-Alls, Decision Makers (not in a good way), and Micro managers.

A frustrating part of the repetition is not just similar stories over and over, but actual repetition. I had a few quibbling points with Ms. Wiseman’s narrative. She said many, many times throughout that Multipliers “extract” capability and intelligence of people, while trying to demonstrate that the good ones are not trying to be the “smartest in the room”. Semantics maybe, but the pervasive use of that word “extract” implied to me that she was saying these Multipliers are the smartest in the room, because they have to “extract” those capabilities and intelligences from the lesser minions. Better word choices – and better mental model – would be nudge, tease, prod, cajole, encourage… “Extract” means the Multipliers have to pull out of others what they need. I prefer to encourage open thought.

She asks “How would you: Manage talent?” Poor word choice. A common fallacy. People aren’t managed, they are led.

But my real heartburn was over this:

Not only do Multipliers extract capability and intelligence from people, they do it in a way that extends and grows that intelligence. In our interviews people often said Multipliers accessed more than 100 percent capability. They would say, “Oh, they got 120 percent from me.” Initially, I pushed back, citing that getting more than 100 percent is mathematically impossible. But we continued to hear people claim Multipliers got more than 100 percent from them. Greg pushed this issue, suggesting this pattern was an important data point. We began to ask: Why would people insist that intelligence Multipliers got more out of them than they actually had?

This could have undermined their entire premise, and did make me question more of what they said. How can anyone with a critical mind present this, and follow on with more of the same? You can never get more than people can do. You might be able to help people get more than they think can do, but clearly they are already capable of doing whatever it is that the Multipliers take or are given credit for else they wouldn’t be able to do it. I found that assertion disturbing.

Regardless, take the nuggets of value and put them to use. And there are some nuggets of value.

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The Brain Fog Fix by Mike Dow – book review

The Brain Fog Fix: Reclaim Your Focus, Memory, and Joy in Just 3 WeeksThe Brain Fog Fix: Reclaim Your Focus, Memory, and Joy in Just 3 Weeks by Mike Dow

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Don’t waste your time on this. I thought there might be a possibility that there would be more, but no. That “…in Just 3 Weeks” should have triggered a host of warning bells. My mistake, and my gut was right.

Nothing new, nothing earth-shattering, too obviously contrived scenarios…this is a tri-fold tract blown up to sell a book for a self celeb that I’ve never heard of on worn advice: eat right, sleep and exercise and your brain will be great. Flour and sugar are the devil. Throw in a mind-numbing “spirituality” component that no intelligent and rational person buys, and … move over Oz,you’ve got company. If this works for anybody, well…

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