Concerning the Anthem Protests

At the risk of losing all of my American readers, let me be the first to thank everyone who participated in today’s widespread anthem protests. You are making a difference. The fact that you are drawing the ire of the opposition just goes to show how effective your protest is being. I’d also like to offer a heartfelt thank you to the commissioner of the NFL for respecting and honoring the players’ constitutionally guaranteed rights. That says a lot about the quality of your character.

You’ve drawn the ire of our Dictator-in-Chief who seeks to transform this country into the likes of North Korea, the USSR and Nazi Germany with forced flag worship. You’ve drawn the ire of the racists, the white supremacists, the misogynists, the homophobes, the transphobes, the Islamophobes, the anti-Semites, the atheiophobes (yes, I made that term up myself), the autisophobes, you name it. You’ve drawn the ire of those who blindly and robotically worship the US without critically thinking about what it is they support.

Whether you realize it or not, your silent protest is having an effect. Please note I stand (or kneel as the case would be) with you. I have faced away from the flag during the playing of the anthem for the last 15 years or so. Kneeling or facing away from the flag can be a perfectly valid sign of patriotism in light of the inequalities so inherent within our system.

I’d like to share with you now my Facebook rant about it. I’m reposting it here but you can read it on my Facebook page here.



If you are seriously offended by people so-called “disrespecting” a fucking piece of cloth, it is you who are a snowflake. The thing with symbols is they mean different things to different people. To people like me it stands for oppression and inequality. That’s just my perception. If you perceive it another way that’s on you. I am in no way offended by someone saluting the flag despite what it represents to me.

No, I am NOT proud to be an American. Nor would I be proud to be (insert whatever other nationality here) that by the sheerest of random accidents I could have happened to have been born in. The notion of patriotism is foreign to me. We are all on this planet by the sheerest of random accidents. Why then are we proud of something as artificial as where we hail from or where we live?

That is why I will not salute this flag or any other flag (if I ever eventually expatriate). I pledge no allegiance to any country or government. I only pledge allegiance to my own conscience.

Nobody is better than anyone else due to such things as where we come from, who we love or anything else. This hyper nationalism just further divides the human race. Maybe it is time we ended these displays of hyper nationalism (including the recital of the anthem at sporting events).

That right there is probably the best solution.


To conclude this post, I encourage you to read the post I wrote on Independence Day along the same lines (link). I’m not looking to sway what you believe or how you personally conduct yourself during the anthem. That is up to you. I’m just asking for a little mutual understanding toward those of us who choose to kneel, face away from, etc. the flag.

Thank you. Goodnight.

 

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Song Lyric Sunday 9/24/17 – Acting My Age

Rules – an interesting topic for sure. I’ve got to say Helen never disappoints with her themes for Song Lyric Sunday. Alas, as soon as I read the prompt a certain song popped in my head and I’m like “nah, someone is sure to duplicate that one” so I decided to pick this incredibly obscure song but an even more obscure band.

Do you remember growing up and when you acted like a two-year old whist being a teenager your parents would always tell you to “act your age?” It’s as though society has certain expectations and rules about how someone of a certain age should act. I don’t know as though I always agree with those rules, but for shits and giggles let’s say they exist and we should act our respective ages.

So my pick for this week is a song called “Acting My Age” by a late 1970s/early 1980s band called Graduate. Graduate had very little success as a band, and unless you’re “in the pit” as it were, there’s a reason you’ve never heard of this band – their music is kind of cringeworthy. Alas, this song is hilarious and just plain fun. Although the writer is unknown, I have a definite idea of who probably wrote the song (I will disclose the probably songwriter’s name later).

Now, as hard as it might be to believe, the two individuals who headed up this band later went on to become a real powerhouse in the 1980s, but before I tell you who they became, have a listen and in this still, look at the two people on the far left to see if you can recognize them. If so, you’ll know who they became. If not, I’ll tell you after you have a listen (hint: note the earring on the dude in the lower left corner).

I always walk on the other side of the street
And I never shake hands with the people I meet
And they always dispute the things I know
Guess I’d like to tell them where to go
Guess I wish they’d stop searching me
There’s no god, there’s no church in me
There’s an evil that lurks in me
Can’t you see

I always comb my hair the other way
And I’m always obscure in the things I say
There’s a pile of opinions in my brain
They’re so different but they sound the same

Paranoia (?) it’s meant to be
I’m not a toy and it’s plain to see
Paranoia is what I mean
Can’t you see

Well you always say it’s so unusual
You always say it’s strange
Why I’m always acting like a fool
You know I’m never ever acting my age
Acting my age

I don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t shave
But I’m told i’m going through a phase
And I’m told I’m thinking like a kid
But I see the world for what it is

If you want it then you’ll receive
All the hatred that’s locked in me
Don’t forget that you hold the key
Wait and see

Well you always say it’s so unusual
You always say it’s strange
Why I’m always acting like a fool
You know I’m never ever acting my age
Acting my age

I always walk on the other side of the street
And I never shake hands with the people I meet
And they always dispute the things I know
Guess I’d like to tell them where to go

Guess I wish they’d stop searching me
There’s no god, there’s no church in me
There’s an evil that lurks in me
Can’t you see?

Well you always say it’s so unusual
You always say it’s strange
Why I’m always acting like a fool
You know I’m never ever acting my age

You always say it’s so unusual
You always say it’s strange
Why I’m always acting like a fool
You know I’m never ever acting my age
I’m never ever acting my age
I’m never, never, never acting my age
Source: https://www.flashlyrics.com/lyrics/graduate/acting-my-age-87

OK, if you didn’t recognize them by the picture or the voice on the lead vocal, here’s your answer: Graduate is a long-defunct band headed up by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. Yep, Graduate was headed up by the duo who eventually went on to become Tears for Fears. Talk about a seismic shift in both lyrical content and musical composition huh? Yeah, I found it hard to believe at first myself. Anyway, as Orzabal is the main songwriter for TFF, I’m assuming this song was also written by Orzabal but I wouldn’t be willing to bet money on it.

Anyway, what a difference a few years makes huh? It’s so difficult to believe these are the same two people but they are. You don’t believe me you can Google it yourself.

Anyway, that’s a wrap for this week. By all means check out some of Graduate’s other songs if you wish, but yeah, there’s a reason they never really made it as a band. I think it’s safe to say it’s a good thing for all of us Graduate dissolved and made way for TFF – otherwise we’d have been subjected to this cringeworthy music rather than the deep yet meaningful music and lyrics of TFF.

Beer/Cigar Reviews – Lakewood Punkel & Mi Querida

Welcome to another edition of my beer and cigar reviews! Let’s just get right down to it shall we?

Lakewood Punkel

You can definitely tell it’s fall – pumpkin everything and this is no exception! This pumpkin spice German-style Dunkel comes to us from Lakewood brewing company in Garland, TX (now right in my backyard!!!). The stats are on the bottle as shown, so let’s just dive right down into this review!

Pours a chestnut brown color with a frothy off-white head that recedes fairly quickly. Aromas of pumpkin, nutmeg and fresh baked wheat bread. Flavors follow the nose – they consist of a yeasty wheat bread supporting a rich pumpkin and nutmeg core. Deliciously sweet and smooth. Medium in body and carbonation. Drinks very smoothly and chuggable. Easily sessionable.

A very nice pumpkin ale for sure; satisfying for a fall dessert beer. Though pumpkin beers tend not to be my favorite, this was very pleasant and I enjoyed it. If you’re into pumpkin beers or pumpkin anything be sure to check this one out! Rating: 4/5

Mi Querida

Mi Querida cigars comes to us from Saka cigars. These cigars feature a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler. I tried the Ancho Largo vitola, a 6″ x 52RG Toro sized stick.

First light revealed a perfect draw putting off plentiful medium/full body smoke. Flavors of smooth earth and a sharp peppery bite and a slight hint of unsweetened cream and cocoa on the draw. Getting into the first third the intensity wavers between medium and medium/full between puffs. Getting into the first third smoke gets sweeter and drops most of the pepper while introducing a very pleasant maple syrup into the mix on the draw.

Into the 2nd third we have a nice transition dropping the earthiness and bringing in a nice coffee which mixes well with the creamy notes and the syrup. Retrohaling doesn’t bring out any different flavors, but just intensifies what is already there. The last third goes super creamy while retaining some of the cocoa. The maple syrup takes on a spicy character toward the end like a cinnamon. The smoke got too warm for my taste at 1 hour 20 minutes for a more than respectable burn time out of a Toro sized stick and brings in a medium nicotine strength.

Excellent construction featuring a near perfect burn that did not require any touchups. Draw remained perfect all the way down.

I have to say, this cigar was a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting a whole super lot but it delivered a lot to the table. Definitely will be entering into my regular rotation. Rating: 4.5/5.

Homophobia in the Workplace

Ugh, just when I thought things were getting better at work (now that I’m in a different office and a lot of the trash has been taken out) we’ve taken another step back and this is stressing me out.

First things first, I’ll make it very clear I do not hide my sexual orientation from anyone. It is what I am. I’m not currently in a relationship but my sexual orientation is what it is. I’ve been this way as long as I can remember and I don’t ever remember waking up and just randomly deciding I was bisexual. No, I’ve been attracted to both sexes from the time I was a kid. I’ve had both boyfriends and girlfriends over the years. It is what it is.

Anyway, I digress. I’ve not hidden my sexuality from anyone at this company and yes, I have dealt with a certain amount of homophobia the entire 2 years and 1 month I’ve been here. Unfortunately, the employees who really took up for me and acted as a buffer between the homophobic comments and myself are no longer here and thus I’m now left on my own.

It really does suck too – not surprisingly in the crane business (and any other heavy machinery business) the majority of people are conservative, Bible-thumping, chauvinistic, homophobic, hyper-masculine rednecks. I’ve come to expect that. On the other side of the coin, I expect to be treated with dignity and respect, and especially in the professional workplace.

So in the past couple of weeks I’ve had a couple of incidents of homophobic comments hurled my way. The first was one of them complaining about “fags” and how he hated us and blah-blah-blah. I bit my tongue for as long as I could but I hit my boiling point, went into full autistic meltdown rage mode and confronted the sorry bastard. After a few profanity-laden outbursts I asked him if he used the n-word among other similar types of slurs. Of course he said no, so why does that make it OK to call me (and every other LGBTQ+ person) a “fag?” Anyway, he didn’t back off so I figured I’d report it to HR who said they would intervene.

Fastfoward a couple of weeks later to this weekend. I’m knee-deep watching IndyCar and not giving a fuck about football (say what you will – I really don’t). Another one of my coworkers called me up on a weekend on my work phone to ask if I was watching the game. Like WTF is that shit? I of course told him no and that I didn’t really care about football. What did he call me? You guessed it – a “fag.” I responded with “yeah, that’s what I am, got a problem with it” and then unloaded on him and hung up. I won’t stand for that.

Anyway, after all this was done and complaints were filed I don’t know what’s going to come of it. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not federally protected classes and Texas does not protect us either. If my boss wanted to he could fire me solely on account of my sexual orientation and I would have no legal recourse. It’s actually kind of a scary thought. I didn’t know this until recently but the CEO has a gay brother so I imagine at least he is sympathetic but I don’t know about those who are immediately over me. I guess we shall see what comes of the subsequent investigation.

Until then, I guess I’ll just keep doing what I do and hope for the best possible outcome. I don’t necessarily want to get anyone fired, I just care to be treated well. That’s all.

Autistic Case Study – Michael Larson(?)

As a classic (and modern) game show buff, I can probably rattle off details about every major game show scandal that’s happened over the years, but this one has always intrigued me because I can’t help but wonder if this guy was autistic.

Michael Larson, in a single day, won $110,237** on a classic American game show called Press Your Luck. This was unheard of for game shows and especially on a show that relies more on pure dumb luck to amass cash as opposed to skill. Well, this guy didn’t need pure dumb luck to win. He had it all figured out.

For those who don’t remember, the game consisted of a question/answer round and a spin round, where you answered questions to earn spins on the bonus board which consisted of cash, prizes, bonus spins and the dreaded “Whammies” which if you landed on one you’d lose everything you had won up to that point. With the seemingly random operation of the game board, nobody could really beat the game right? WRONG.

Meet Michael Larson who did. People have always marveled at how he did it but I just get this feeling he was probably on the autism spectrum, just judging by his demeanor on the show, intense focus to do what he did and just the way he “came across.” Here’s his episode from PYL, if you have 40 minutes to watch it. Perhaps you can give me your opinions as well. As for how he did it, pay close attention to the board and see if you can figure it out yourself. As I watched his episode I figured it out pretty quickly myself, but none of my neurotypical friends noticed it. Pay particular attention to Michael’s 2nd and 3rd spins as well as Ed’s first spin. This is the easiest time to see what’s going on.

If you don’t have time or you didn’t see it yourself, here’s how he did it:

Takes a certain someone with an eye for pattern recognition, focus and a high attention to detail to notice these things. Wow. Again, as I watched the special on Larson’s episode I picked up on it pretty quickly but a lot of people don’t, and the producers didn’t think anyone would either. Alas, only 5 sequences was sure to be cracked sometime.

So what do you think? Does this guy come across as someone who would be on the autism spectrum or is my radar totally broken? I realize it’s speculation but I just get this feeling.

**Adjusting for inflation, in 2017 that would be the equivalent of $262,732. Quite a chunk of change. 

Tattoo Topic Tuesday – Tattoos in the Workplace

Today’s Tattoo Topic Tuesday is one I am glad to see changing attitudes on, but we’ve still got progress and to me the ultimate solution has not yet been arrived at yet (though I wouldn’t be surprised if we arrive at it sometime in my lifetime).

At one point tattoos in the workplace were a huge no-no. They were never accepted and more often than not those with tattoos in highly visible and/or impossible to conceal locations have faced serious employment discrimination over the years. Further, I do not know of a high-profile politician who has a tattoo (though I’m sure there are some Democrats/Liberals who do) and you know as well as I do an ultra-conservative politician would use a tattoo as an attack against his/her opponent.

Whereas visible tattoos, body piercings and other modifications might be a death knell in some organizations, luckily we are seeing a pretty big shift in attitudes and acceptance of them. The company I work for has no restrictions on visible tattoos, body piercings or anything of the sort so long as such things do not create a workplace hazard (as body jewelry sometimes can). I’ve seen visibly tattooed people in all sorts of professional and private settings nowadays. I imagine acceptance will continue to grow as more and more people are sporting tattoos than ever and as the crusty conservative baby boomers start dying off (currently about 14% of all American adults has at least one tattoo and that jumps to about 38% among American adults aged 18-40*).

Alas, there are still those few holdouts. I interviewed for a position with a telecommunications company about a year ago and one of the things I asked about was their policy on visible tattoos and lo and behold they don’t allow them. Sorry, I’m not about to wear long sleeves in the intense Texas summers for the sole purpose of covering my tattoos. It’s just not going to happen. Not to mention should I ever get tattoos in non-concealable places (as I probably will at some point if my hair loss gets any worse) that just takes me out of the running for a lot of things. I guess it’s the price I pay but I imagine in another 10 years or so it won’t be hardly any issue and of course if I ever get to launch my own business I won’t have to worry about it at all.

Of course, I think the correct approach is to legally protect body modifications and people with them from hiring, firing, dress code, etc. discrimination. If the tattoos would not be covered with the normal work uniform I do not think employers should be legally able to make its employees go out of their way to cover their ink, remove body piercings (especially fresh ones!), etc.; I’ve offered a defense of this position in a previous blog post.

So I think the takeaway from this is go ahead and get that tattoo, but until we are legally protected exercise some caution and realize that there is still some stigma attached to it. Though not a total death knell, it still might cause you some problems in certain professions. Chances are you’ll be OK though.

*Source: http://www.statisticbrain.com/tattoo-statistics

Song Lyric Sunday 9/17/17 – Break It Down Again

Our theme for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme is predicting the future. Yet another broad theme that could be taken a lot of ways, but luckily this song could be made to fit the theme because I was hoping to feature it sometime soon. I had referenced a lyric from this song in the title of a recent post but nobody got the reference (no cookies for anyone, sorry).

When we get complacent in something we kind of sit on a metaphorical time bomb (unbeknownst to us at the outset) and we all think we know our “inner songs” perfectly until someone somewhere else shows us something new about ourselves, right? Such true and prophetic words can be applied to all of us I think.

So here then, the immersion continues with “Break It Down Again,” a 1993 song by a solo Roland Orzabal (post-TFF, but released under the band name nonetheless) and written by Orzabal and and Alan Griffiths.

Here we go!

Break it down again
So those are my dreams
And these are my eyes
Stand tall like a man
Headstrong like a horse

When it’s all mixed up
Better break it down

In the world of secrets
In the world of sound

It’s in the way you’re always hiding from the light
See for yourself you have been sitting on a time bomb
No revolution maybe someone somewhere else
Could show you something new about you and your inner song
And all the love and all the love in the world
Won’t stop the rain from falling
Waste seeping underground
(Break it down again)
I want to break it down
(Break it down again)

Break it down again
So those are my schemes
And these are my plans
Hot tips for the boys
Fresh news from the force

When it’s all mixed up
Better break it down

In the world of silence
In the world of sound

“No sleep for dreaming” say the architects of life
Big bouncing babies, bread and butter can I have a slice
They make no mention of the beauty of decay
Blue, yellow, pink umbrella save it for a rainy day
And all the love and all the love in the world
Won’t stop the rain from falling
Waste seeping underground
(Break it down again)
I want to break it down
(Break it down again)

Horsin’ around
Pray to the power
Play to the crowd with your big hit sound
And they won’t simmer, won’t simmer, won’t simmer down
Play to the crowd
Play to the crowd
Play yeah yeah

It’s in the way you’re always hiding from the light
Fast off to heaven just like Moses on a motorbike
No revolution maybe someone somewhere else
Could show you something new to help you
With the ups and downs
(Break it down again)
I want to break it down
(Break it down again)
Break it down again
(Break it down again)
(Break it down again)
Here we go!

Break it down again
No more sleepy dreaming
No more building up
It is time to dissolve
Break it down it again
No more sleepy dreaming
Source: https://genius.com/Tears-for-fears-break-it-down-again-lyrics

So here we go, another lesser-known song by this band (well, at least lesser-known on this side of the pond where the only TFF songs anyone knows here are “Everybody” and “Shout”). I know you’re probably getting tired of me featuring song after song by this group, but maybe I’m broadening your horizons? Whatever the case, hope you enjoyed.
Until next weekend music lovers!