Why Can’t Sailors Make Their Own Food Choices?

The United States Navy has gone on a diet.  While deployed on ship, sailors will no longer be served any fried foods.  Whole milk is also gone.

While this may seem like a good idea at face value, it shows a gross misunderstanding of calorie needs while underway.  The US Navy standards for high activity jobs recommends over 4,000 calories per day to fuel the activities these personnel perform, and when ramping up for a mission even higher amounts are suggested.

I worked in the ship’s engine rooms while in the Navy.  We had a 6 on 6 off rotation, meaning every six hours we were working in “The Pit” as we not so lovingly called it.  We burnt a lot of energy just doing our jobs, and we had very limited time to “refuel”.  In our two 6 hour off periods we had to shower, eat, get some sleep, work on repairs we couldn’t do on our normal “on” period, and anything else we needed or wanted to do.

While burgers and fries may not seem like a healthy choice, they are easy to prepare and simple to eat.  When you have a carrier that can hold between 5,000 and 7,500 people, you have to get the food out fast and have it ready for many hours.

Also, even when pressed for time, my shipmates and I would often make healthier choices because eating the same thing gets old.  The term “sliders” actually started in the military, referring to burgers, because they were so greasy they would slide from one end to the other.  Sailors know that fried food is not always good for them, and they choose accordingly.

Additionally, most of the ship’s crew took time to do some form of exercise outside of their work schedule.  Even when we weren’t actively working out, just getting anywhere on the ship usually required going up or down a few ladders. which burns up fat as well.  When I was on watch in the engine room, I had to use six sets of ladders every half hour.  On top of all this, over 40% of enlisted personnel are aged 25 or younger, when most people have an exceptionally high metabolism and need more calories in a day even when not very active.

Even though the White House denies it, I am sure the poorly thought out changes in school lunches prompted this effort.  While a more structured diet may have merit in elementary school, grown men and women in the military should be given credit for having the brain power and strength of will to make good meal decisions.

I am going to hazard a guess that the person or people responsible for these new dietary practices has not spent one minute shipboard, seeing the activity level of deployed sailors.  It is insulting enough that men can be drafted at age 18 but can’t have a drink until they are 21.  Why are those entrusted with defending our country not even allowed to choose a diet that will serve their readiness needs?

WEA cares about union dues, not students

On September 5th, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that voter approved non-profit charter schools were unconstitutional, as they did not fit what they deemed to be the definition of a “common school.”  A “common school” is one that is overseen by a voter elected school board.

There is a gaping fallacy with this argument, however.  Charter schools are contracted by and answerable to their local school boards, elected by the voters.  Charter school students must also pass the same assessments as every other student in the state.union vs students

So why would the court say this?  As with many things, one must only follow the money.  In this case, the money is coming from the Washington Education Association.  Seven of the nine sitting justices received the maximum allowed direct contribution from the WEA.  There is no way to account for the soft money the union pushed its members to donate, as well as the amount of money spent sending repeated mailings to the membership telling them which candidate to vote for.  Membership that is mandatory to work in public schools in Washington, whether or not you think the union actually represents your interests.  Then there is the four million dollars the WEA spent to fund the lawsuit resulting in the ruling by the court.

The WEA also insists that voters do not have control over charter schools.  They like to use this talking point a lot, as if voters have any say over textbooks, hiring decisions, or anything that happens in the existing public schools where their tax dollars are used.  Operating and building levies are passed or not, and that is the extent of control voters have over money used in public education.  The WEA’s assertion of voter control is also hypocrisy, as they are using a lawsuit to thwart the voters’ will.

What is really at issue, and why the WEA is spending so much of their coerced dues averaging about $1,000 per year per school employee, is charter school employees are not unionized.  They are typically compensated better than their traditional public school peers so they don’t see the need for one.  Additionally, charter school employees can choose their health care and retirement plans, rather than being forced to accept the plan forced on them by the union.  Plans that put even more money in the union’s coffers.

The WEA also tries to assert that charter schools steal money from traditional schools.  The money they are speaking of is the portion of tax revenue assigned to each student at each school.  It seems to me that money is for the student and not the school, so no one is stealing anything.

The WEA has also donated the maximum hard money publicly allowed to Governor Jay Inslee, who has repaid them by deciding not to call a special session to change the 80 year old and frankly inapplicable statute the court used in its decision.  We don’t live in a world of one room school houses anymore, but Governor Inslee clearly cares more about his benefactors than the voters.  For someone who campaigned on education reform, he certainly shows no interest in actually allowing something that could lead to reform.

The head of the Spokane chapter of the WEA, Jenny Rose, claims she sees no difference in what charter schools do and what public schools do.  I find it hard to believe she was willing to go on public record for saying something so counter intuitive.  I would also submit her statement smacks of ignorance as she likely has never set foot inside a charter school.  If charter schools weren’t doing anything different, people wouldn’t want them, and their wouldn’t be a waiting list about 200 students deep on average.  If charter schools weren’t doing anything different, the WEA would not be spending millions of their money to be rid of them.

The WEA does not care about better schools.  They do not care about equal access to education.  They do not care about children’s success.  They don’t care about the teachers they are supposed to represent.  They only want more money, and ironically are spending a lot to get it.  This is the same WEA that was forced to settle for nearly $500,000 in 1998 for illegal campaign financing, as well as another $100,000 paid back to the state for legal costs incurred in prosecution.  Tom McCabe, CEO of the Freedom Foundation said it best.  “It’s just checkbook justice.  No more, no less.  The union bought a majority on the Supreme Court, and now it gets to cash in on that investment.  Once again, we see Washington has the best court the union’s money can buy.”

No matter how you color it, a lie is still a lie.

By now, just about everyone has heard of Spokane’s latest infamous person, Rachel Dolezal.  I am surprised no one has commented on the irony of an area once known for proximity to a white supremacist compound now is known for a white person masquerading as a person of African descent.

The two faces of Rachel Dolezal

Many have made suggestions as to why Dolezal did what she did. Frankly, I am of the opinion that she saw herself as a mediocre person who wanted to be something more than what she felt she was. Maybe she decided that she could get better job offers as a black woman than a white woman. Really, it does not matter why. What matters is she used a lie to get some very desirable jobs passing herself off as a black woman, jobs that an actual person of African descent more likely deserved.

Continue reading

Why bother flying at all?

It was reported recently that airlines across the world are planning an even smaller standard for carry on luggage.  The International Air Transportation Association  (IATA) claim this move will ensure that everyone can fit their carry on luggage into the overhead bins.  This claim is pretty ridiculous, as the main reasons the overhead bins are crammed are charging for checked bags and cutting the size of overhead bins.  Additionally, the seats that are used on planes are usually not the ones called for by the original manufacturer, and those seats have more room underneath.  The airlines prefer to use smaller seats so they can jam them closer together and herd more passengers on per flight. Continue reading

When will we take cyber security seriously?

4 million US government employees records across several agencies have recently been hacked, and China is being blamed for the attack.  Regardless of who is responsible, it points to a larger issue. This country is woefully under protected in cyberspace.

While it may not seem like a large threat to most people’s lives, looming technology improvements make cybersecurity. Google is daily trumpeting its efforts to bring us driverless cars Many people are excited about the convenience, but no one seems to want to talk about the massive loss of life if the network maneuvering were to be breeched.  If US government databases can be breached, Google’s certainly could.

Robot doctors are also on the horizon, with many people touting the benefits as well.  What would happen if someone hacked the robot’s operating system and sent it on a rampage through the hostpital?  While this seems farfetched, a motivated hacker could easily make this nightmare scenario a reality.

One of the most dangerous scenarios would obviously be a hack into military drones, unleashing a wave of destruction on friendly forces.

Technology is a boon to our lives, and open networks are a boon to communication around the world. Vigilance at all levels must be greatly enhanced at all levels, however.  If security does not keep pace in advancement, it could be the thing that ends us.


What do you say to someone who knows everything?

Since it is the season of graduation, I thought I would leave a few words of wisdom to pass on to all the young, successful people out there ready to take on the world.

I Wish For You A Failure

I wish for you a failure so you appreciate when you succeed.

I wish for you a heartache so you hold on tight when you find real love.

I wish for you a betrayal so you see the importance of loyalty.

I wish for you a lie so you value integrity.

I wish for you sleepless night of worry so you are glad for proper rest.

I wish for you a deep loss so you cherish the blessings in your life.

I wish for you an unkindness so you cultivate empathy.

I wish for you unanswerable questions so you accept wisdom when given.

I wish for you fear so you place worth in safety.

I wish for you an illness so you more properly manage your health.

I wish for you money problems so you figure out how to budget.

I wish for you an unfulfilled need so you extend your hand to others.

I wish for you to outlive a friend so you treasure those you still have.

I wish for you to miss a great opportunity so you never let it happen twice.

I wish for you an intolerable job so you strive to never have another you hate.

And finally, I wish, after all the ups and downs, you remember a life well lived, and not the difficulty of living.

Shane Dean

Why should we let people commit suicide?

The most recent cover of People® magazine has a full cover photo of Brittany Maynard, who has chosen to end her life rather than suffer through the end stages of cancer and just take pain medication until things end “naturally”.  Blogger Ashley E. McGuire attacks both Brittany and People in this post.

I don’t like going after someone personally, and I don’t intend to try to shame or attack Ms. McGuire.  I do hope to give some perspective on a more compassionate view, as I take exception to her proselytizing to someone else over something I gather from her article she has not personally experienced.

I have lost five very dear people to cancer, and know many more still fighting with it.  Cancer destroys in a huge swath, hurting not just the person with the disease, but family, friends and community as well.  The disease itself can affect motor and brain function, and the treatments themselves can sometimes speed a patient’s demise.  Even if they don’t, the medicines used seriously weaken a person, and can cause all manner of mental issues like strange mood swings and even hallucinations.  There are also the emotional impact of disfiguring issues such as losing hair and, in the case of breast and cervical cancers, parts of the body that a person feels makes them who they are.  Sometimes a person has to chose between getting treatment and losing an unborn child or refusing treatment and not living to see the child born.  In short, cancer is not a life event to be taken lightly, and it is unfairly judgmental to preach to someone afflicted with this about how they chose to deal with it.  Especially in Mrs. Maynard’s case, where the doctors have told her her only option left is administering pain medication until her body shuts down. Continue reading

Why can’t we learn to be good losers?

People worry about how they want to raise their children.  Their babies should be smart, strong, well-mannered, industrious, confident, and many other good qualities.  Basically, we all wish for our kids to be winners.  No one would dream of teaching to lose or to fail.

Teaching kids how to lose is as important as teaching for success.

Unfortunately, we are pushing so hard to make sure our special snowflake never has to feel the sting of coming up short at something, they are ill-equipped to handle adversity when it sneaks through our hovering.  That may not happen until we turn them loose on the world, and then they are in emotional crisis because they never had to figure out how to bounce back from anything. If everyone gets a trophy just for showing up, they get no value out of their effort.  Additionally, without a little adversity and struggle, winning seems empty as well if everyone gets the same reward.  So in our battle to make every kid a champion, they never learn how to be good losers or winners.

Continue reading

Why Couldn’t We See The Tears Of The Clown?

Every Thursday starting in the fall of 1978, I had one thing on my mind: Mork and Mindy was on tonight!  I often used television as an escape from a not very happy childhood, and the wild and unpredictable humor of Robin Williams was cathartic.  When he started making movies, I did everything I could to see them all.

Robin Williams soon became one of the most-recognized comedians in the world, on par with the likes of Bill Cosby and George Carlin.  He brought joy to millions with movies like Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs. Doubtfire.  He also sought to raise morale for the military with dozens of USO excursions.  What none of us knew was that Robin Williams’s ability to make us laugh was fueled by hiding behind humor to avoid his inner demons.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, over 170 million people in the world suffer from some form of depression.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates one in four adults in the US suffer from some form of mental illness.  Mood disorders such as depression are the third-most-common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both children and 18-44 year old adults.  One in 17 Americans live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.

Robin Williams had been fighting bi-polar disorder for years.  He masked his pain with the laughter of others.  Many people who are bi-polar find ways to hide their suffering because they don’t want others to know they are hurting.  Attitudes toward mental illness are getting better around the world, but we are a long way from removing the fear and stigma it carries.  Continue reading

Why Should People On Welfare Be Allowed To Vote?

I saw something on Facebook a while back that got me thinking.  At first I was completely behind it, as it was talking about ways to reform public assistance.  It talked about taking most everything but basic staples off of food stamp programs.  If you wanted things like “steak and frozen pizza” you had to get a job.  It also talked about mandatory birth control and drug testing if you wanted to stay on public assistance.  Not sure I fully agree with the birth control thing, but it would keep from putting new kids on welfare rolls, and I definitely agree with the drug testing.  If you want to have children or do drugs, then you should be getting a job.  Next was public housing, which would be expected to be maintained in good working order and inspections would be possible at any time.  Again, if you wanted housing you could destroy as you saw fit or wanted things like an Xbox, you had to get a job.

But then things started to get a little questionable to me.  The next part talked about either presenting a pay stub from a job or you would be assigned a government job, such as cleaning highways or government housing.  Unemployment insurance exists so that if someone loses their job, like many Americans have lately, you can get by until you find work similar to what you had and for which you have the skills.  Forcing someone to take whatever job the government sees fit to give you sounds a lot like Communism to me and I will not get behind that.

The part that really got me came next.  The post asserted that while on public assistance, you would relinquish your right to vote as it would be a conflict of interests.  Regardless of your employment situation in this country, or lack thereof, everyone over the age of 18 in this country has the right to vote.  That right is only dependent on citizenship and not having committed a felony.  Taking the right to vote from people just because of no employment would lead to huge amounts of disenfranchisement throughout the populace. Continue reading