Recognizing the Educators

“It’s strange to think about…teachers as being people.” 

― Stephen Chbosky

I believe most people never really think about teachers, or school librarians and such, they way they do others whose valued services are readily apparent, the results of their interaction with us immediate, observable. It’s not so with teachers, we don’t enjoy the fruits of their labors until years after. Everything you know is the knowledge they implant(ed) to your mind, even if it was only the ability to understand and use what you learn(ed) from life experiences long after you’ve left school.

They are the least appreciated, last to be acknowleged, less likely to be remembered. Oh, there is always one or two that we’ll never forget from our school years for who they were and how they taught, that left a lasting impression on us, but – for the most part – most are faceless, nameless in our memories. Yet each one of them had a hand in making us who we are.

And they deserve recognition. Just as much as anyone who does us a service. 

We recognize those others who give us good service usually at Christmas time, with an envelope containing a few dollars as a bonus, a thank you. But we rarely offer so much as a verbal “thank you” to our – or our children’s – teacher(s).

If you can see that and feel somewhat contrite, remiss in overlooking all they have done (do), the holiday season is a good time to atone and let your thanks be known, especially to that one teacher that has made (is making) the most of your (or your child’s) educational experience. But doing the same at anytime during the entire year is always an option!

How might you do that, how to show your appreciation? Unlike to others, perhaps, cash is not appropriate, but there are a number of other ways to express your thanks:

• A simple handwritten note (or the less personal email). Even better, a letter.

• A gift card to a local coffee shop or eatery near the school where they could take lunch, or a gift certificate to a resturant for after one of those long after-school days spent grading papers or preparing lessons for the next.

• A movie pass for some R&R.

• Volunteer a few hours or a day to help out in the classroom.

• Offer to purchase some needed classroom supplies.

Teachers, librarians, custodians, other school staff, are the less sung heros in our (and our children’s) lives. They are rarely thought about for the service they give.

And, just like all people, they deserve (and appreciate) a sincere “thank you” once in a while.

Why not let that special teacher from your past, or that one of your child today, know how much you appreciate them for their caring efforts?

– Bill

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Unexpected and Unintended DNA Test Results?

“People can take away your assets, but not your DNA.”

– Simon Spurr

One major component of DNA testing in everyday life is finding out what our genes (the stuff DNA contains) tell us about our ancestors and where they (and thus, we) originated and migrated from, back to our biological Adams and Eves. There are any number of for-profit companies on the market that will analyze a provided sample of spit or cheek cells and send you a report. It is a billion-dollar industry. It seems a great many of us have a natural curiosity to know, and I am among that many. 

I’ve had mine done by two different well-known companies (Ancestry and MyHeritage) and I have to admit frustration in their results – they are wildly different, in both ethnic origins and/or percentages of same, and I don’t know which, or neither, to believe. 

That was unexpected.

How can the same DNA, the same genes, be read differently? It seems according to the different algorithms – the set of computer-written rules used to “read” the genetic strands – used by each company. Apparently, not all DNA testing services are equal in their results. (Twice in the last three months I’ve asked MyHeritage to explain to me why I should believe their results over Ancestry’s. I’m still waiting for an answer.) I’m sorely tempted to submit to a third company to see what they say, and if its results are even somewhat different than the other two, then maybe all this business is just that – just another business, conning us out of our money. So, be warned should you be interested.

And here’s another warning. How safe is your DNA in the database of these companies, is your privacy scrupulously guarded against intrusions by computer hackers or unscrupulous employees? It’s something of concern, considering your DNA is everything about you, much more important than your social security number or the PIN or password to your bank account, or the key to your front door.

Simon Spurr (above) is wrong. Your DNA can be stolen, if you consider someone using it without your permission stealing.

US Senator Chuck Schumer last week said there is a need for greater scrutiny over if and how the companies sell their DNA databases to others. “DNA testing firms don’t clearly disclose to consumers exactly what they are doing with the DNA once a person’s cheek swab is sent in to the company,” Schumer said. “Most people, if they knew that this information could be sold to third parties, would think twice,” he added. He is urging the Federal Trade Commission to examine and ensure that these companies have “clear, fair privacy policies.” (And security against hackers, I pray.) “[Some] are selling it to you on the front end, and they are commercializing it on the back end,” Bennett Greenspan, president and founder of Family Tree DNA (one of the more popular testing companies) has warned. Michelle De Mooy, director of the privacy and data project at the Center for Democracy & Technology, has noted that consumers may find that their DNA is being provided to outside others.

And even if it’s not being sold or otherwise provided, “It’s really inevitable that these databases will be breached” by hackers, says Mooy, “This is just tempting, tempting data.” Data to be sold to the highest bidder. 

Whom might that be? 

How about ad agencies, all the better to target personalized products for you based on your ethnic background (for example)? 

How about life or health or auto insurance companies, or even a potential employer, if the test shows genetic predispositions to certain behaviours or diseases (which could be used to deny coverage or increase premiums, or a job offer)? Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest asks the question, “If you had a genetic test, and your genetic test showed that you might be predisposed to develop early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, and that information was made public, how would your employer feel about that?” Or your insurance company?

How about an identity thief? Pitts poses the question, “If people are trying to imitate you based on your Social Security number, imagine the damage they could cause impersonating you on the genetic level.” 

How about the government (probably the only thing they already don’t have on you is your DNA, unless you’ve been arrested/convicted)? What government ever hasn’t wanted to know everything it can find about its citizens (knowledge equals power/manipulation which equals control)? 

How about the police?

A recent news article by Claudia Lauer (Associated Press) tells how Brown County (Texas) sheriff’s investigators have tried to solve a murder case, despite having no witnesses. A sketch “was created using DNA found at the crime scene; a private lab used the sample to predict the shape of the killer’s face, his skin tone, eye color and hair color. Within a week, the sheriff’s office had a suspect in custody…the DNA sketch [used] technology known as phenotyping… For law enforcement officers, it’s a relatively new tool that can generate leads in cold cases or narrow a suspect pool.”

[Based on the drawing, public recognition of the sketched face has lead to a “suspect”. He hasn’t yet been arrested for the murder they were investigating. However, he is under arrest for another murder he’s subsequently confessed to.]

But, Lauer also noted, “[F]or some ethicists and lawyers, it’s an untested advancement that if used incorrectly could lead to racial profiling or ensnaring innocent people…Releasing a sketch of a suspect without any witnesses seems like a dangerous proposition… Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, said that from what scientists have said and written, not enough is known about the link between genes and facial features to rely on the technology to produce a suspect (‘You can lose weight, gain weight, change gender, grow a beard, have plastic surgery,’ Stanley said. ‘It risks ensnaring innocent people in webs of suspicious investigations. It risks playing on existing societal racial prejudices. It risks diverting investigations down wild goose chases. If this technology were used to set up dragnets say to bring in every albino person in an area as a suspect because the DNA seemed to show someone had that trait, that’s where we would object.’)”

Let’s hope someone would object.

I don’t want to sound like a Chicken Little, nor am I much given to conspiracy theories, but sometimes there are unintended results from the things we do. Or the things we trust others with.

Maybe having your DNA tested might prove to be one of those things with unintended results. 

Nonetheless, as I wrote above, if two of the highest rated DNA testing companies can’t agree on what your genes have to say about your ethnicity, why even bother?

– Bill

Don’t Let Alcohol Ruin Your Holidays

“Alcohol does not a change a person’s fundamental value system. People’s personalities when intoxicated, even though somewhat altered, still bear some relationship to who they are when sober. When [they] are drunk [they] may behave in ways that are silly or embarrassing; [they] might be overly familiar or tactlessly honest, or perhaps careless or forgetful. But [their] conduct while intoxicated continues to be governed by their core foundation of beliefs and attitudes, even though there is some loosening of the structure. Alcohol encourages people to let loose what they have simmering below the surface.”

― Lundy Bancroft

‘Tis that season, again (already!), the holidays where people gather together to celebrate and then to welcome in the New Year.

Parties. Lots of them. And the majority of them will involve alcohol. And it’s safe to say that most people will partake of it more (in frequency and quantity) than whatever their normal may be.

Now, I’ve posted a few “Quotes and Thoughts” this year concerning various alcohols – On Beer and Health (Feb, 3), The Virtues of Vodka (Feb. 22), A Little Wine Is More Than Fine (Mar. 24) – all part of a series on the most popular beverages drunk world-wide. In those posts I wrote concerning their individual healthful benefits for most people, but always with the caveat of “in moderation” and to consult with a doctor first if there are any medical reasons not to imbibe.

So, in light of the above quote’s, “Alcohol encourages people to let loose what they have simmering below the surface”, for those of us who do partake of adult beverages, a study published in the journal BMJ Open reveals “that certain types of alcohol drink[s] appear to be linked to particular emotions”, specifically spirits (hard liquors) to “tearfulness” and “aggression”, whereas wine induces “relaxed” emotions (as, apparently, does beer). You can read about it at:

www.theguardian.com/society/2017/nov/22/type-of-alcohol-determines-whether-you-become-merry-or-maudlin-study?

The bottom line is that for a number of reasons, the use of alcohol and inner emotional expression outward, are entertwined. And it’s been my personal observation that there is no predicting how someone will become after a few drinks – the usually angry one can become overly aggressive and hostile, or become the maudlin, crying in his cups; the normally introverted wallflower can hide in a corner, or become the life of the party.

My advice? Take stock of how you’re feeling before you drink this holiday season, especially if you’re feeling down for some reason, or angry about something. Observe how others are behaving around you and be prepared to quickly exit if someone begins to act badly.

Maybe forego the hard stuff and just have one or two glasses of wine.

And if you don’t care for wine, stick to the punch. Unless it’s been fortified.

Remember, water or soft drinks have never been known to cause embarrassment or get anyone into trouble.

– Bill

The American Fascination With the English Crown

“Although diminished by subsequent waves of immigrants of different ethnicities, the descendants of the Anglo-Americans have never lost a sense of attachment to the mother country – England, its institutions and royalty – no matter how strong their republican fervor may be.”

– Geoffrey L. Rogg

“Part of this enduring obsession, surely, has to do with curiosity about the path not taken, the what-ifs and might-have-beens.”

– Arianne Chernock

It’s announced, England’s Prince Harry, the ginger-haired and bearded, independent-spirited second son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, is to marry American actress Meghan Markle, a divorcee and bi-racial (black/white) commoner, three years his senior, next May.

You might have an “Uh-huh, who cares?” reaction to that, but then you won’t be the typical American if you do. Seems, in all likelihood, based on past American attitudes and behaviour, this event will completely enthrall us Americans, just as about anything English-royal has throughout our history.

We British colonialists were subjects to the English crown from 1607 (Jamestown, Va.) until 1776 (with our Declaration of Independence), for 169 years. Even then, and throughout (what many historians refer to as a civil war) our Revolutionary War of Independence, most of our colonial (but not all “Founding Fathers”) forefathers still held King George III in esteem as their king – they regarded him as distinct from the British Parliament, who they blamed for the onerous taxes and other things put upon them that caused the revolt (as Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father, said, “To disclaim the authority of a British Parliament over us, does by no means imply the dereliction of our allegiance to British Monarchs.”)

And it was barely 77 years after we won the war in 1783, that in 1860 (then) Prince Albert (soon to be King Edward VII) visited the US and was mobbed by fans wherever he went.

That my seem curious, but considering what historians tell us about how we colonists viewed the Revolution, it may be explained:

Patriots in the Northern colonies amounted to approx. 30%, Loyaltists (to the Crown) 20%, and 50% (to use today‘s polling language) had “no opinion”; In Virginia (the largest and most populous colony), 25% were patriots, 20% Loyalists, 50% “no opinion”; In the Deep South colonies, 10% patriots, 20% loyalists, 70% “There’s a war?” If one were to add the “no opinions” to those who were oblivious, only around a third were for (or cared about) independence. 

Of course, that third was the most vocal and made the headlines, and had the money to finance the thing, just because they didn’t like the taxes (isn’t it always the way – it’s the rich who object the most to taxes – witness the current tax code reform arguments now happening in Congress about lowering the taxes on the wealthy!)

And then there was King George VI who visited us in 1939 (79 years after Albert), who ate his first hot dog in Hyde Park, New York, with President Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor.

And then there was our utter enrapture over Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding, where tens of millions of Americans got up in the middle of the night (time zone differences, you know) just to watch it on Tv, or their visit to Washington in 1985 – who can forget Diana’s turn on the dance floor with John Travolta?

The routines, symbols, rituals and attitudes we value and have towards the Crown have never diminished, independence or no.

Before and after our independence (except for that historical blip called the War of 1812), England has been our closest ally, our best friend, the source of our language, most of our customs, our law, our heritage. And, despite of everything else, she will always be our mother country. 

And who doesn’t love their mum?

Had the 70 or so percent of we colonials not been a silent but rather a vocal majority in 1776, what of Chernock’s “what-ifs and might-have-beens”?

God save the Queen and best wishes to Harry and Meghan.

– Bill

 Priorities: Animals vs Humans

“The better I get to know [humans] the more I find myself loving dogs.”

― Charles de Gaulle

There is something in that quote to agree with. Dogs don’t judge a person by physical looks or dress, income or occupation, religion or politics. They are always excited to see you when you come home no matter how many hours or days you’ve been away. So long as you feed and water them, and occassionally pet and play with them, they will love you forever and lie or be at your side regardless of what you are doing. They are loyalty defined and fiercely protective; they will lay down their life for you.

I have owned both dogs and cats, and I honestly liked my dogs. But I have to admit, as attractive as all those accolades are to dogs, I find cats more to my liking. Cats are almost the exact opposite creatures. While they can be just as loving and attached to the human they live with, they are not as slavishly subservient as dogs are and are quite capable of amusing themselves without human interaction. However, I’ve never heard of a cat fighting to the death to protect its human companion. Except for that, I find cats more like myself than dogs and readily identify with them, more of a kindred spirit than with a dog

To each his/her own, I suppose, but what I really want to address is how we think of animals (using dogs as the example) when also thinking about human beings. And to question just where some people put their priorities.

A couple of weeks ago my local newspaper ran an article by Scott Berson (sberson@ledger-enquirer.com) entitled, “People care more about hurt dogs than hurt humans, study shows.” He related that if shown two pictures, one of a small dog with its legs obviously broken and lying in an alley, and the other of a 22-year-old woman, in an alley beaten with legs broken, and the caption on both pictures stating the unknown assailent(s) were still at large, a study by the journal Society & Animals found that “most people find the idea of dogs being hurt more upsetting than the idea of humans being hurt…researchers surveyed 256 undergraduate students and had them read fake news reports. In the reports, either a dog, puppy, human child, infant or human adult was described as brutally beaten, and subjects were asked to rate how empathetic they felt for the victims. Concern for adult humans, the study concludes, came in dead last. The only time, in fact, that humans trumped dogs was when the dog was pitted against a human infant.”

Jack Levin, a sociology and criminology professor at Northeastern University who lead the study also noted, “Age seems to trump species, when it comes to eliciting empathy. In addition, it appears that adult humans are viewed as capable of protecting themselves while full grown dogs are just seen as larger puppies.”

Another study,  reported by Business Insider, noted “Subjects did not view… dogs as animals, but rather as ‘fur babies,’ or family members alongside human children.” 

Another example, as reported by the Huffington Post in 2015, “(A) charity printed two advertisements asking for donations to research treatments for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a terminal disease of the muscles. They were identical, and both asked, ‘Would you give £5 to help save Harrison from a slow and painful death?’ One advertisement, however, had a picture of a child, while the other one had a picture of a dog. The one with the picture of the dog received more than twice as many clicks.”

I don’t know how you are reacting to all that, but I was – as our Brit friends would say – gobsmacked, utterly astonished.

How in the name of all that’s good and holy could anyone have more compassion or sympathy – let alone empathy! – for an animal than for a human being?!

I’m sure I’ll get some feedback from those who have “fur babies”, but I have to ask: If I had to choose, in a life or death situation, which would you rather I save – you or your pet, which would you prefer?

If the answer is your animal, I just might do it.

Not because I value the animal more, but because your priorities I value less.

And while that might be a contradiction to what I’ve said about valuing human life over that of an animal, and it would be acquiecing to your beliefs, I could live with it.

Like a dog, at times I can be slavishly subservient.

– Bill

Pre-emptive Nuclear Strike? I’m Uninspired.

“Truth and falsehood are arbitrary terms… The force of an idea lies in its inspirational value. It matters very little if it is true or false.”

– Unknown

If you think about it, psychologically and emotionally that’s a truism. A prime example is religion; it matters not if any of it – or all of it, regardless of whatever religion – is either truth or fiction, all religions are inspirational, all speak of a promise of a better way of living that brings about happiness in this life and the next, and they inspire us to think and act accordingly. On the whole, that is a good thing, and who can argue with happiness?

War is another prime example; once attacked, or perceived to be imminently so, governments (in democracies, at least) hasten to justify to their citizens the reasons to go to war and, once involved, inspired to continue them.

Unfortunately, there are always those hucksters who know the human bent to be inspired by, and believe anything, that promises a happy end and know how to manipulate the truth and lead people down the primrose path, inspiring them to believe whatever that prophet preaches.

When WWI broke out, President Woodrow Wilson, a highly religious man with a great aversion to war, who none-the-less led this country into that war, determined to end the penchant of our government to hide from its citizens at home the horrors of war by creating the Committee on Public Information, so that the “spirit of ruthless brutality [of war would] enter into the very fibre of national life.”  (A noble cause, and in no way do I fault him with his goal. As is said, war is hell, and if people are shown the horrors of it, they may be less inspired to allow their government to get involved in one, or more inspired to end involvement in one.) This committee’s creation was inspired by a presidential advisor who (all accounts I’ve researched name no name, but all agree that he – whoever “he” was) gave us the above quote.

Whether or not the person who made that statement was referring to what was expressed to the populus as the need to go to war in prior wars, or to whether or not what was told about the conflict was mostly true or false, I cannot say. Nor has it been reported how honestly the Committee on Public Information reported the brutality of WWI – was it under-reported or over-hyped – with the intent to inspire continued public support for the war, or to hasten its end?  

WWII came along, 12 years later (for US involvement), and while it was a different kind of war – a war of national survival as opposed to a war of (debatable) choice (as WWI had been) – the public was constantly innudated with films of actual combat (in theaters before the movie, as tv didn’t yet exist) in the effort to show the population how successful our and the allied armies were in overcoming the Axis powers and to inspire continued suport for the war effort.

Then there was the Korean Conflict (another debatable war of choice). Tv was just becoming a household thing and, while news clips of the war were still being shown in theaters, only ocassionally were they on the nightly news programs. People were naturally curious, but for the most part detached, merely trying to get their lives back together after the hardships of WWII, a scant 6 years earlier. It was President Eisenhower who negotiated the end of that conflict 6 months into his first term. He knew the horrors of war first-hand and he recognized 2 things: there is a difference between wars of need and wars of choice, and, as he stated in his farewell address, he warned us against a new unholy alliance, the “military-industrial complex”, that would in the futire actively encourage civilian administrations to consider war as a first option over diplomacy, and which would justify a large standing military as well as corporate profit-making at the taxpayer expense.

And yet (or because of that) barely another 10 years would pass before our military involvement in another (debatably of choice) war, Viet Nam. It grew incrementally as support for the French there until they failed and the US assumed control over the war. It was inherited by President Kennedy who said he would extract the US from it by 1964. Of course, had he lived and managed that, we would have been spared the horrors of that war which were viewed by the world, with graphic combat scenes, medevac extractions of wounded, and daily killed-in-action numbers. The nightly news services aired government provided footage that showed it to us, and that inspired the public outcry to end the war.

But something changed in how war was reported begining with our involvement in the Middle East from 1987 to the present. The government learnt its lesson from Viet Nam and has clamped down on disseminating daily information. In comparison to all the 20th century wars, there has been very little public awareness, other than our military is fighting there ostensibly to destroy terrorists. No government Committee on Public Information, no regular nightly news updates of the daily horrors. Ask anyone on the street how it’s going and you’ll likely get a shrug. Because they aren’t being told and they’re too busy in their daily lives to think about it. With so little reporting of what is actually happening on the battlefield, there is little to inspire for or against the war (all the while still inspiring support for our military members.)

The same can be said about whether or not we should use a pre-emptive nuclear strike against North Korea, just because they are developing missiles capable (it is claimed) of delivering nuclear warheads to the continental US and are threatening to use them if we should attack them. (Have to remember, there was an armistice to the hostilities in Korea, and we are still technically at war with them, and both our and their leader seem inclined to start hostilities afresh if each continues to insult the other verbally.) There hasn’t been much public outcry over its even being considered by the president and his high-ranking administration figures. People are apparently too busy in daily living to give it much thought.

“Kierkegaard, in Either/Or, makes fun of the ‘busy man’ for whom busyness is a way of avoiding an honest self-reckoning. You might wake up in the night [thinking about all the things undone during your day]…or that you need to think about… the next day you have a million little things to do, and the day after that you have another million things. As long as there’s no end of little things, you never have to stop and confront the bigger questions…” (- Jonathan Franzen.)

The use of nuclear weapons as a pre-emptive option is one of those “bigger questions”.

I’ve stopped to consider that bigger question. 

To me it’s the ultimate war horror. There is no happiness to be found in its aftermath.

And in my book, anyone who tries to sell the idea that it is truthfully a viable option is a huckster and false prophet.

My only hope is that people will stop their busyness for a moment, think about where we may be headed, and be inspired to do what they can – even just a quick email to their congressional representatives – and speak out against any such consideration to use a nuclear pre-emptive strike without first exhausting every diplomatic resource and a united consensus of our intelligence services telling us there is no other option, the threat is not just real but imminent.

I’m not inspired to believe it is.

– Bill

 

Sports and Our National Anthem

“Sports and politics don’t mix.”

– Eric Heiden

Maybe they shouldn’t. But they do. And how that came about might suprise you.

How did a little known, mostly ignored, song about an incident involving our flag from the War of 1812 come to be the American national anthem?

But more importantly – given the on-going ruckus over the perceived disrespect by some to it and the flag – how did it become an intergral part of our sporting events?

“The Star-Spangled Banner” (adapted from an 1814 poem, “Defence of Fort McHenry”, written by Francis Scott Key) wasn’t our first “anthem”, nor was it a publically popular one for the first 117 years since it was first written. “Yankee Doodle” (1776) was the first. It was quickly replaced by “Hail, Columbia” (1798), which became the de facto national anthem (until an act of Congress proclaimed “The Star-Spangled Banner” as our official national anthem), and “America” (1832), which became an instant hit. Another, “America the Beautiful” (1910), has rivaled “The Star-Spangled Banner” – for more than 100 years there have been efforts to have it proclaimed a national hymn or as a second – or replacement for the current – national anthem.

In fact, “The Star-Spangled Banner” wasn’t first non-militarily-only performed publically until an 1862 baseball game in Brooklyn, New York, and only became an on-and-off again baseball ritual after Game 1 of the 1918 World Series between the Red Sox and Cubs at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, when a military band played it during the 7th inning stretch, and it’s reported that the Red Sox third baseman, Fred Thomas (playing while on furlough from the US Navy) stood at attention toward the flag flying at the stadium.

“The yawn was checked and heads were bared as the ball players turned quickly about and faced the music,” read the New York Times’ account the following day. “First the song was taken up by a few, then others joined, and when the final notes came, a great volume of melody rolled across the field. It was at the very end that the onlookers exploded into thunderous applause and rent the air with a cheer that marked the highest point of the day’s enthusiasm.”

Notice of that was not lost on the owners of major league baseball. While united in their support for American involvement in WWI in 1917, they where not pleased about their ball players getting drafted into the armed services. They also noted that, in addition to farmers, employees of businesses essential to the war effort were not subject to conscription. And morale-building was very essential to the war effort.

“Professional sports needed to define themselves as patriotic in order to be seen as a part of the war on the home front and center for morale rather than as an expendable entertainment which is how they were initially,” according to Mark Clague, an associate professor of musicology at the University of Michigan, one of the nation’s foremost experts on “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

So, it would seem that it was in the team owners’ financial self-interests to insure the anthem was played, with players appropriately standing patriotically at attention before the fans at every game, that kept the players out of the draft and baseball not just viable but profitable.

Even though “The Star-Spangled Banner” was officially adopted as the national anthem by congressional resolution in 1931, it wasn’t until WWII came along that professional Football also sought to wrap itself in the flag and the anthem; it had figured out that patriotism was good for business and protected them against being defined as a non-essential buisness, thus insuring its players protection from the military draft, just like the official national past-time, baseball.

And so, back to the ruckus over anthem etiquette at sporting events. It is nothing new (in 1954, Arthur Ellers, the WWI veteran and Baltimore Orioles’ general manager, once complained that spectators talked and moved around while the anthem was played.) Kaepernick (et al) are just the more recent incarnations of “disrespect” in the eyes of some.

That the NFL is in the center of the debate about what respect is due the anthem and flag is curious, when you consider that players weren’t even asked to stand for the anthem (with the exception of the Super Bowl) until 2009. That the current ruckus is over an only eight-year-old “tradition” is amazing.

Maybe the best solution is to stop playing the anthem at sporting events.

Sports shouldn’t be political. We have enough political drama everywhere else.

Shouldn’t we be allowed to escape it for a few hours a week?

– Bill