The Price of Courage

Tuesday, April 7, 2020
So yesterday the acting Secretary of the Navy, a sniveling, obsequious little toad named Thomas Modly addressed the crew of the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT regarding his decision to relieve their commanding officer, Captain Brett Crozier. Captain Crozier sacrificed his career by attempting to protect the sailors under his command from a poorly handled COVID-19 breakout on his ship.
This particular drama is one that gets under my skin in a very personal way.
When I was undergoing initiation as a Navy Chief Petty Officer, one of the things that I learned was real Navy Chiefs look after their sailors, no matter the personal consequence. And another thing that real Navy Chiefs do is train their junior officers to behave in the same fashion. We do this because it's our job. We do this because it's honorable. And we do this because that's what moral courage looks like, and it's what we aspire to.
I was... irked...when Captain Crozier was relieved of his command for attempting to care for his sailors the only way he knew how. Partly because I knew that if the Navy's senior leadership team had been doing their damn job instead of cowering in fear of the President, the Captain's actions would not have been necessary. And partly because Captain Crozier is exactly the kind of Naval officer I would have followed willingly, into the jaws of death and beyond, and the Navy can ill afford to lose him to these publicity shenanigans.
Back to the toad, Secretary Modly. During his address to the crew said their Captain was either "too naive or too stupid" to be in command. This is the same Captain, mind you, who received a standing ovation from his crew when departing his command for the last time. The Secretary then went on to say the Captain committed a "betrayal" and created a "big controversy" in Washington by disseminating his warning so widely among Navy officials.
Translation: When I was sitting on my hands worrying if the brat in the White House would fire me, you chose to publicly embarrass me by actually asking senior Naval leadership to DO SOMETHING about the clear and present danger to your crew's health. How dare you!
Was Captain Crozier naive? I seriously doubt it. Let's make no mistake, here - Captain Crozier knew EXACTLY what would happen to him when he sent this letter. He knew, and he sacrificed his career anyway. There is no way he will ever regain a sea-going command - once you've made your bosses look like ineffectual choads they are not going to assign you to a command position again, and for senior officers, this is career suicide. He knew the outcome, and he acted anyway, displaying the moral courage that all Naval leaders aspire to. He walked the walk, and lost his career because of it. 
Was Captain Crozier stupid to embarrass and jump his chain of command for what he considered to be a lack of effective action on their part to protect his sailors? I guess it depends on what you value. If the only thing you care about is the forward progression of your career, the well-being of others be damned, then yes, he was stupid. But if you care about your honor, your mission, your responsibility to the sailors under your command, then he made a profoundly courageous decision, and a smart one, too. The Navy moved with alacrity to protect and test his sailors after he informed senior leadership of the problem and started the "big controversy." This was the outcome he desired, and his decision led to this outcome.  
Another thing I learned as a Navy Chief was that you are responsible for the outcome of your decisions, regardless of what you intended. Did your decision result in your ship winning a battle? Did it result in vanquishing the enemy? Did it result in the quick action of senior leadership to protect your crew in the face of a clear and present danger? Then it was the right decision. Captain Crozier achieved his objective by this measure, and really - it's the only measure that counts.
So, as a former Senior Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy and United States Naval Reserve, I have one thing to say to Secretary Modly.
Fuck you. Fuck you sideways. Captain Crozier's sailors would follow him into the mouth of Hell after what he did for them. And they'd just as soon shove you off the fantail while underway for your reaction. You fired him for the crime of exposing your incompetence, because you lack the moral courage to stand up to the President and do the right thing, in spite of the fact that his own chain of command recommended against his relief. And perhaps that is the "right" decision for a senior political leader to take when a member of their staff doesn't cover for them. But perhaps a better idea is for you to go back to being a junior officer where you can be appropriately schooled by the Goat Locker on your responsibilities and the real meaning of leadership. Or perhaps you can relieve yourself of your own position, since the Captain's actions were a direct response to your non-action and you apparently shit your pants every time the President glances in your direction.
In January of 2021, I would like to suggest Captain Brett Crozier be appointed as the Secretary of the Navy, because I think we all know who behaved with morality and courage, here.

ETA: Acting Secretary Modly resigned from his post this afternoon after the full transcript of his remarks to the TR crew were made public. After reading the transcript, I realized he was an even bigger knob than I thought, and that's saying something.

Snoozing...On a Sunday Afternoon (With apologies to The Rascals)

Monday, April 6, 2020

During these times of isolation, social media is more important than ever. It's a way for us to share a joke, feel connected, and keep in touch with our friends and family. It gives an avenue to recognize the courage and efforts of those who risk the most to keep our population healthy and happy, namely the medical establishment and people who work in the supply chain. It's a way to share ideas, tips, and recipes while we're all stuck at home.

Unfortunately, it's also a place where people are completely unembarrassed to display their ignorance, nastiness, and general assholery, now more than ever.

Enter Facebook's lovely feature called "Snooze."

This feature allows you to put people in a 30 day time out when their social media presence in your life is just too much. It hides their posts for 30 days, and when it expires, you can then see their content once again, giving you the opportunity to either snooze them again, remove them forever, or read what they post.

I love this feature, and until this pandemic is over, I'm going to be using it with reckless abandon. RECKLESS ABANDON, Y'ALL.

  • You believe 45 has suddenly decided to suspend his pathological need to lie about every fucking thing specifically for this emergency? SNOOZE!
  • You think your high school diploma makes you as qualified as an epidemiologist to discuss how far the disease will spread, and how fast? SNOOZE!
  • You believe that this entire thing - including the U.S.'s lack of sufficient medical supplies and the federal government's late response - is the fault of a President who has been out of office for over three years? SNOOZE!
  • You believe you know more than an infectious disease specialist who has literally spent their entire adult life studying and preparing for this specific emergency? SNOOZE!
  • You think our current President knows more about disease vectors, effective preventative measures, epidemiology, and hospital usage statistics than those who have made the study of such things their life's work? SNOOZE! 
  • You hypocritically attempt to take people to task for criticizing the federal government's response because it's "mean-spirited," but then run right out and post personal attacks and other nastiness on a daily basis? SNOOZE!
  • You are thoroughly convinced your belief in conspiracy theories that would make Chuck Norris blush makes you a qualified intelligence analyst? SNOOZE! 

SNOOZE! SNOOZE! SNOOZE!

I started snoozing yesterday, and today my feed is already less tainted by the Dunning-Kruger Effect and other forms of hypertension-inducing dumbassery. SNOOZE!

All Hail the Heroes

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

So. Coronavirus. Here we are, sitting on the couch, binging on Netflix, and hoarding dry goods. For the general population who is able to work from home, the sacrifice barely registers on the annoyance scale, let alone reaches the community efforts required for many of history's worst calamities.*

Reputable experts in infectious disease have assured us that this epidemic will get worse before it gets better, and that people should be prepared to shelter in place for at least another 30 days (or longer), depending on which expert you listen to. Please note I said expert, not the third bullshitter from the left or some media personality who thinks their presence in front of a camera suddenly makes them a qualified epidemiologist. This is a science based problem, and we should be listening to scientists.

Ahem. Sorry about that digression. I'm a little irked by the misinformation being spread about for political, selfish, or economic reasons.

ANYWAY.

The purpose of this post is to point out that we, as a society, owe a debt of gratitude to some unsung heroes in our midst. Not the medical professionals, although their professionalism in dealing with this crisis has been exemplary and selfless.

No, I'm talking about the supply chain. You know, the process that everyone takes for granted. The process that moves goods from one place to another, and then distributes it to retail establishments so we can buy SpaghettiOs and sausage, toilet paper and tampons, beans and broccoli. It starts at the source - farms and manufacturing plants, and then moves these goods to distribution centers who then move it to retail stores.

These people are working their asses off. They can't keep up with demand, and with people acting like selfish knobs with their hoarding and other dumbassery, their lives are pretty sucky right now. They're trying to meet the demands of their companies, even though they have families of their own, people they need to take of in this crisis, and doing so puts their own health and the health of their families at risk. And they're doing this so that people can buy their groceries and other goods they need on a daily basis.

And what do they get for their trouble? They get shouted at. They get called names. They get their companies failing to recognize their efforts with extra pay and additional safety measures. They get bupkis. And that's just not right.

These people are the unsung heroes of this crisis. They deserve our thanks, our gratitude, and to be treated with courtesy and respect, especially given their current working conditions. So when the grocery store employee tells you there are limits on how much you can buy of a certain item, the correct answer is, "I wasn't aware of that, thank you so much for letting me know," not a public rant about your rights or how much more YOU need a bag of rice rather than your neighbor.

Don't be a tool, y'all. We're in this together, and if everyone makes an effort to follow expert advice and take care of each other, we'll come through it that much quicker. Allow this crisis to bring out the best in us, and not the worst. Take care of your neighbors. Thank the supply chain heroes who bring you your essentials, taking a chance of getting sick to do so. Be kind.


*Yes, I know people who work in the service industry are struggling, and many small businesses need immediate help. I feel for them, I do, especially since members of my circle fall into both categories. But that's a blog post for another day.

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Beware the flying vector

He's coming for you.
Every time I write about coronavirus, in my head I hear COVID-19, but my fingers type CORVID-19. I know I'm not the only one who does this, and I find it pretty amusing. Clearly my affinity for crows is getting the better of my subconscious mind.

What is wrong with people? 

I just don't get people. Why are they hoarding paper products and stocking up on ammo? This isn't Doomsday Preppers. It's an epidemic that can be managed if we pay respectful attention to facts, follow the advice of those who have expertise in this area, and don't act like a bunch of selfish knobs. Speaking of selfish knobs, while all these hoarders were buying up all the TP in the store, did they remember to pick up a few things for their neighbors who are at higher risk of dying if they contract COVID-19, or are they just lining the shelves of their basement? I think we all know the answer. If we can all manage to be cautious and decent to one another, this entire thing will end sooner rather than later, with no one needing to lead armed raids to steal their neighbors' toilet paper.

Speaking of cautious

There's an excellent article in the Washington Post today that includes simulations about how fast the virus spreads, why quarantines don't work, and how social isolation is the best way to combat the spread of the epidemic. The bottom line is this: If you're not someone who provides or is in the supply chain of critical services to the population such as food, water, power, healthcare, or emergency services, stay home. It won't kill us to cook our meals at home for the duration, use available technology to stay in touch with loved ones, and telecommute if our employers have the infrastructure to support it. Everyone has to go out for supplies periodically, but other than that, don't go places where you might infect or get infected by other people. Is it a huge bummer, especially during Spring break? Yes. Yes, it is. We've already cancelled two trips as a result of the epidemic, and the rest of our Spring/Summer travel plans don't look too good, either. But my desire to lounge at a resort or visit a National Park doesn't matter one bit when the health and safety of everyone is at stake. Again, don't be a selfish knob.

Charity begins at home

Speaking of cooking our meals at home, there are now thousands of people all over the country who are unemployed for the duration. I'm speaking, of course, of those who work in the food service or hospitality industries in states where those establishments have been closed by order of their state or federal authorities. Many of these folks are living under the poverty line anyway, and being out of work for some period of time is going to be devastating. The Smart Son is in this position, and while the Smart Man and I are prepared to help him if necessary, not everyone has the safety net of well-off parents. We'll be donating the money we're saving from not eating out (which we tend to do a lot) to a local food bank or other charities who provide help to this demographic for the duration. It's the least we can do, given our own circumstances and how little we'll be affected by the epidemic. Please - join us if you're able.

This is not about politics

You all know I'm a big ole flaming liberal, but here's the thing - this epidemic, and our response to this epidemic, is not about politics. It's about everyone doing their best to ensure the risk to our entire population is reduced as much as possible. That absolutely starts with our elected leaders who have to make the tough decisions about how we, as a people, respond to this crisis. But I am not going to ignore recommendations from the federal government because our current President is a vapid piece of shit. Nor do I expect my conservative neighbors to ignore recommendations from our Governor because he's gay and liberal. I am going to take it on faith that everyone involved has the best interest of the American people at heart, and not use the crisis as a means to tear down (or build up) politicians. There will plenty of time for a post-mortem once the danger is passed.

So you think you want to vote

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

I've been a bit frustrated of late with social media, and the non-fact based populist crap that's currently running rampant there, and will continue to run rampant probably forever.

So I created this handy-dandy voter flow-chart to help people work their way through the voting process without being a complete rube about it.

Warning: It's more than a little snarky, and so not suitable for my Facebook page, where I try to keep the partisan sniping to a minimum.



(c) Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men

Voting my Conscience

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The primary ballots for this year's election were mailed on Monday from our County Clerk, and so it's time for me to think in earnest about the Presidential election.

Here in Colorado, any registered voter may vote in any one primary. So as a registered independent, I can vote in the Democratic Primary or the Republican Primary. I strongly approve of this law, because in our strongly partisan political system, the Primary is where the real decisions are made. Given their current platform, there's no fucking way I would vote for a Republican for National office, because seriously, racist, bigot, misogynist, asshole much? But I would like the Republican candidate to be someone other than an amoral, narcissistic, stupid, incurious, lying sexual predator. Someone like Romney, for example. I rarely agree on policy issues with the good Senator, but at least   I believe he's a politician of good character.

I've never even heard of the Republican challengers to 47, and Colorado does not permit write-in candidates for President. So really, what's the point of voting in the Republican Primary?

Which leaves us with the Democratic Primary.

Cory Booker dropped out since the ballots were printed, so I have eleven to choose from for this primary, and here are my thoughts:

  • If you're an old, white, rich guy, you're out. This particular category of Boomers have done more than enough to screw up our nation and our world, and they are out of chances. So go home Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, and Bernie Sanders. Your time has come and gone. Accept it, and retreat gracefully. 
  • There are three women still in the race - Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, and Amy Klobuchar.   Having a woman in the White House would make my heart sing, but that's not a good enough reason for me to vote for one of them purely on that basis. 
  • There's one Black candidate, and I like what I've heard from Deval Patrick. He's moderate, and a negotiator who wants to heal the country. Unfortunately, he hasn't made any of the debates, so I doubt his ability to get elected against Trump, especially since a majority of Trump supporters have "issues" with people of color, bless their hearts. 
  • Pete Buttigieg is the youngest candidate, and the first openly gay Democratic Presidential candidate. I have to admit, I loves me some Mayor Pete. He's smart, thoughtful, moderate, and by all accounts a person of good character. I don't worry about his age, but I am concerned about his lack of national political experience, and his electability (see comment regarding bigoted Republicans above). 
  • I like Michael Bennett. I like him as my Senator, and I think he's a good candidate for President. However - electability. He's not very well known outside of Colorado. 
  • Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang are both Ritchy-Rich Rich. This doesn't necessarily eliminate them from contention with me, but it makes me look at them a bit harder. 
In all honesty, I think I'm going to just vote my conscience without regard to electability. The Republican Party has become the Party of Mean, the Party of "Fuck you, I've got mine," the Party of "We Don't Need No Rule of Law," the Party of "Character Doesn't Matter," the Party of "Let's Elect an Amoral, Narcissistic, Stupid, Incurious, Lying Sexual Predator and then Convince the Haters he's the Second Coming." Yeah. Fuck you, Republican Party. At this point in the political cycle, I'd rather have a Libertarian than you, and that's saying something. 

So I will absolutely vote for the Democratic candidate unless they're dead. And even then I might still vote for them. So in this primary election, I will cast my ballot for the candidate who most closely aligns with my values, and let the chips fall where they may. 

My Reasons for Gratitude, 2019

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

This year the Smart Man and I had an opportunity to go to Disney World with my Awesome, Awesome Niece and her staff. It was our first time, but the Smart Niece is an old pro, and spending that time with her and her parents is a gift to be cherished.

For Pride 2019, I joined a group of fellow LGBTQ+ allies at the Denver Pridefest to provide "Free Mom Hugs" to any and all who needed or wanted them. It was my first year doing so, and I found the experience emotionally exhausting, and utterly, utterly necessary and worthwhile. I'm grateful that I've come far enough on my grief journey to have the emotional fortitude to be able to do this work.

Our AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk team, Maureen's Marchers, were the highest fundraising group this year, and I was the #1 individual fundraiser. I'm grateful for the friends, family, and colleagues who donate in Moe's name in an effort to support and defend those who fall into despair. 

I also joined a group called "The Parasol Patrol," who provide escort and shielding services for LGBTQ+ youth who are attending events designed for the LGBTQ+ community. Not only am I grateful to provide support to this marginalized group, I'm proud that I have not yet allowed my anger and rage at the protesters who make my participation in the Parasol Patrol necessary get the better of me.

I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my hip this year, but it could have been in my spine, which is much harder to manage and would affect my mobility more severely. I'm grateful there's a surgical remedy for my decrepitude when it's required.

The Smart Man and I finally went to see an independent financial advisor. The one I had from Fidelity irked me, and we really like our new guy. We're in much better shape than we assumed, and while we still have some actions to take in order to retire in the style in which we'd prefer, we're absolutely on track to do so. I'm grateful to have the means to be able to plan effectively for my retirement.