Regarding the Anthem and Colin Kaepernick

Now if it were me, I’d be sorely tempted to use a different finger.
Source: The Press Democrat

So, right off the bat, I know nothing about most sports. I don’t follow football because seeing a bunch of oversized people covered in sweat slamming into each other a full speed is too brutish for my tastes.

That said, what I do know is social commentary on current events. I know a controversy when I see it. And what’s going down right now with Colin Kaepernick is just another media circus.

For those not in the know, Kaepernick is the quarterback for the San Fransisco 49ers who has been making headlines lately for opting to remain seated during the national anthem in protest of the recent string of police violence against African-Americans and other people of color. In interviews, he seems well aware that what he did doesn’t sit well with some people. However, he expresses no regret in, “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” and that he’s, “not looking for approval. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

Now, we could throw around police statistics about crime and violence as it relates to ethnicity all day. But I want to focus on this moment – this single action.

Let’s start with the obvious fact; no one forced Kaepernick to stand nor could they force him to. He was, and should be, allowed to freely express himself in the manner of his choosing (provided said expression does no lasting damage to people or property) as granted by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

I actually had one friend (who, out of honor and respect, shall remain nameless) question me saying, “How do you hide behind the First Amendment, but don’t respect the flag that guarantees it?” My answer was simple; “By recognizing that the flag didn’t give us that freedom; hard-working, determined people did.”

… Which brings me to the bulk of argument.

I have not stood for the anthem or the pledge of allegiance since I was 15 years old. I’ve caught a lot of flack for being disrespectful and unpatriotic in the past for that choice. But there’s a reason why I don’t do it; that flag and the government it represents didn’t guarantee my freedom before and they don’t guarantee it now. That honor goes to people.

Strong people, brave people, people who risk their lives for decent men and women that can’t guarantee their freedom on their own, people like my own father – a sergeant first class who served in the army for years; these are the people you should be standing for; not some colored cloth on a pole that a cold, unfeeling, corporately driven government uses to blindfold you so you can’t see the shady things they do behind your back.

I reserve my respect for people on an individual basis based on the actions they have taken and what motivated those actions. I will recognize a group for doing some good, but I will not blindly throw blanket praise over the whole of them. And I will certainly not give that respect to a glorified sheet flapping in the breeze that did nothing but serve as a symbol of the people that profited the most from their effort.

The flag, the anthem, and all of their ilk are unfeeling symbols and, as a great man once said, “I leave symbols to the symbol-minded.”

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Three Interesting American Statistics (That You Should Think About Before Saying Another Country Is Weird)

I have a deep fascination with other countries and the culture of their citizens. I often find that when I explore a persons culture deeper, I find new and interesting views and practices that I try to incorporate into my own life.

However, the problem with being a cultural hobbyist is that, when I share my discoveries with breathless enthusiasm to others, I will undoubtedly find that one person who responds with a shallow, “Man, those [insert nationality, culture, or creed here] are weird as hell.”

This is hair-pullingly frustrating to me since A) that’s a statement that smacks of insensitivity and general apathy for others in an increasingly globalized society and B) if they bothered to look outside of their own head space for a second and take an introspective look at ourselves, they’d realize that there’s a fair amount of evidence that maybe WE’RE the weird ones.

We do things so radically different from other counties that it’s kind of jarring to think how strange we look to them. For instance, did you know…

Americans Are REALLY Quick To Throw People In Jail

“What’s that; a litter bug walks free? Stone him!”
Source: economist.com

It’s a problem for everyone; eventually someone is going to think that they can do what ever they want, start doing things that hurt others, and some unfortunate judicial system is going to have the task of doling out the proper punishment. However, what’s considered right and wrong is dependent on how strict that country-in-question’s laws are.

Apparently, American laws are either shockingly strict or we have too many people that think that they’re above them. According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, there are 698 incarcerated Americans for every 100,000 American citizens. That gives us the world’s second largest prison population just behind The Seychelles in Africa and a population that’s more than twice the size of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland combined.

Now, I’m not saying that we are a bunch of up-tight jerks in this country, but I am saying that we would probably do well to reassess our laws to make doubly sure there are no victimless crimes on the list.

Americans Spend A Lot of Money On Schools (Which Doesn’t Seem To Change Much)

My taxes are paying for this?
Source: Deesillustration.com

We seem to like to talk about how we need to improve our education system in this country. Unfortunately, it seems that the answer always boils down to, “Throw money at the problem until it goes away.” But it’s somewhat obvious that doing so isn’t fixing anything.

Currently, the U.S. is fifth in school spending with a price tag of $115,000 per student. This wouldn’t be a problem if not for the fact that A) we are admittedly mediocre in terms of education and B) the Slovak Republic, who scored similarly to us in 2012 assessments, spends only $53,000 per student.

The actual factor seems to be socio-economic class rather than school funding. So, maybe we should focus more on helping people to help themselves first before giving that fat sack o’ loot to the local campus.

The Fat, Lazy American Stereotype Is Only Half Right

Apparently, you do and you just didn’t realize you’re using it.
Source: fitoverfourty.wordpress.com

If there’s one universal image of America in the minds of other countries, it’s the image of a rotund slob sitting in his reclining chair with a big bowl of Macaroni and Cheese. But the truth about that stereotype is much stranger than even most of us may know.

Yes, it is true that, among 11 to 15 year old Americans, 30 percent of them are medically classified as overweight or obese; making us the leaders in the obesity epidemic. But the problem is not with our lack of activity. According to a study by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, 26.8 percent of those same 11 to 15 year olds perform moderate to vigorous exercise and physical activity daily. That makes us the third best among the other 33 OECD nations.

This leads me to two conclusions; that maybe there’s another reason why we’re all going the way of the Violet Beauregard and that maybe all the medical panic over this “obesity epidemic” is a load of crap and creampuffs.