Freedom

Frank here for a bit of Angleisms. Thanks Marc, for sharing your space with me.

Depending on the perspective, there are many viewpoints around freedom: the right to act, speak and think – not being imprisoned, enslaved, or physically restricted – the absence of a government that is autocratic, tyrannical, or oppressive.

Human societies have varying degrees of freedom. They have much in common, including the foundation principle that freedom provides choices that carry responsibilities, benefits, and consequences associated with each choice. That’s freedom.

To some, freedom of speech means they can say anything they want about anything or anyone. In the USA, the Bill of Rights explicitly states the government shall not prohibit speech, but the courts support consequences such as slander and libel regarding speech about others. That’s freedom.

Functional free societies have rules to follow for a variety of reasons. Flyers know the rules during takeoff and landing: seats up, trays up, carry-on items under the seat in front of you, and seatbelts fastened. Rules that don’t restrict rights, and rulebreakers may encounter consequences. That’s freedom.

Roads and highways have speed limits to protect people from themselves. Those limits don’t stop anyone from choosing to exceed the limit, but consequences may accompany that choice. That’s freedom.

In today’s crazy times, yes – people have the choice whether they take one of the Covid-19 vaccines. I respect that – but attached to one’s choice are responsibilities, benefits, and consequences. That’s freedom.

Business owners have the right to decide health and safety decisions. If a restaurant owner wants to require proof of vaccinations for their employees and their patrons, they can. However, they must also accept the responsibilities, benefits, and consequences of that choice. That’s freedom.

Patrons with a vaccine have the right to decide on which restaurant they want to enter – one with restrictions or one without. Whatever their choice, they must accept the responsibilities, benefits, and consequences of that choice. That’s freedom.

Patrons without a vaccine have the right to decide on which restaurant without restrictions they want to enter. However, a restaurant owner refusing to seat and serve the unvaccinated is not a violation of your freedom. If anything, you are violating theirs. That’s freedom.

In conclusion, are vaccination restrictions violating personal freedoms? Not even close. Get over it people, so accept the responsibility, consequences, and benefits of the choice you were free to make. That’s freedom.

Readers, there are two songs below – a new one and an oldie. You have the freedom to watch one, the other, both, or neither. That’s freedom – and I hope you tell us your choice.

Heroes Of The Week!

Three-year-old AJ recovering well after being lost for days as NSW police continue investigation | New South Wales | The Guardian

Welp, it’s good to be back in my Friday parking space for the first time in a fortnight. I must kick off the festivities with a tip of my eleven-gallon hat to the inimitable Frank “Beach Walks” Angle and the lovely Dale for doing a bang up job in my absence. Muchas? Meet Gracias . . and take a bow, you two!

We kick off this episode with the story of Anthony Elfalak, a three-year old Australian boy who was found after a harrowing four day search of the family’s rural property north of Sydney.

AJ, as he is called by family and friends is autistic and non-verbal, which made the search for the young boy that much more challenging. The prospects of finding the toddler safe and sound diminished with each passing day, given the more than 700 acres of wilderness that comprise the property. One person described the landscape as a “maze” of canyons, cliffs and bushland.

Thanks to the efforts of police officials as well as a search party of more than 385 people, the massive undertaking had a happy ending when AJ was found a third of a mile from his home. While some feared the worst, the men and women responsible for his safe return never wavered. A paramedic who treated AJ referred to him as a “little survivor”, but we shouldn’t forget the lesson in all this.

It took a village.

ESPN announcers blasted Bishop Sycamore in IMG-Bishop Sycamore blowout

We don’t expect much from ESPN, and for good reason. But they have officially jumped the shark with their latest embarrassment.

IMG Academy- a finishing school for top prospect football players funded by the agency of the same name- played Bishop Sycamore High School on the four-letter network a couple weeks ago. If it was purely a matter of ESPN laying a wrecking ball on high-school athletics in the name of ratings dollars, we’d shrug, since they do that all the time. But this game, it was different. How different, you ask?

Well . . umm . . Bishop Sycamore . . isn’t actually a high school. When real journalists- as in, not ESPN personnel- started asking questions about the alleged accomplishments of the Ohio based school, the ruse was uncovered. It was yet another pay for play scam crafted by their ringleader/head coach Leroy Johnson, who has an arrest warrant out on him for “fraudulent misrepresentation, conversion, and unjust enrichment,”.

As for the game, IMG routed Bishop Sycamore by a score of 58-0, but the good news is that none of the not ready for varsity players was injured in what was a seriously dangerous situation. Add that to the fact that the faux school had played a game just two days before facing off against IMG . . another little fact ESPN somehow missed.

Shameful just doesn’t say enough.

McKenzie Milton, Brian Kelly steal FSU vs Notre Dame spotlight - Sports Illustrated

A quick shout out to McKenzie Milton for achieving what many believed impossible in a game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish last weekend. Milton is the quarterback for Florida State these days, but in his last football life with UCF, he suffered a devastating leg injury that put an end to his playing days.

Milton didn’t see it that way, and almost three years later he was back on a football field, completing a 22-yard pass on his first attempt. His team came up short on the scoreboard, but Milton was the biggest winner of the night just by showing up. At the time of the surgery that would save Milton’s leg, his surgeon said the hope was that one day the kid would be able to walk without pain. “Anything above that would be a bonus,”

Dr. Bruce Levy was there on Saturday night for the bonus round.

Peter Mutabazi now shares his home in North Carolina with four kids and two dogs.

The lovely Dale is chiming in with two stories this week, one of which serves as the capper to this episode. Imma start with this tale about a foster dad who brings a new and wonderful meaning to the idea of a full house. And not for nothing, but he’s loving every moment of it.

Peter Udabazi ran away from his home in Uganda when he was just ten years old. He fled an abusive father and lived on the streets for a time until someone took him in. It was a lesson he never forgot, and he vowed to give back in that very same way one day should the opportunity arise. After moving to the states after college, he went to work for World Vision- a non-profit organization that helps children. In 2017, he became a foster parent and in the time since he has fostered more than a dozen children.

It was 2018 when he met Anthony- an 11 year old boy who had been abandoned by his adoptive parents. And that’s when the lesson he had carried with him, all the way from Uganda, showed up. “Anthony would always ask me, ‘Hey Dad, when will I be officially adopted?'” Mutabazi said. “And of course, with foster care you never know when.”

In November of 2019, it became official. After which COVID happened to the world and Peter witnessed another dilemma taking place at agencies across the country.

“With foster care, they are overloaded with kids and I could not imagine a kid wanting a safe place to be loved in the midst of this . . . I could not say no,” Mutabazi said. So he had to find a way to give more. Because people like Peter always do. And so, as of this publication, the Mutabazi household is now home to four kids and two dogs . . and counting.

It’s a stay tuned kind of deal, but nobody’s complaining.

Frank “Beach Walks” Angle sent me this next story and I’m going to provide the link (right here) since I wasn’t able to fetch the video for it. The video above is from a GMA piece that ran shortly after one of the deadliest mass shootings in Greater Cincinnati.

Whitney Austin is a mother of two who became a casualty of gun violence on September 6th, 2018. As she was walking to her job at Fifth Third in Cincinnati, a gunman opened fire; killing three people and wounding two others, including Whitney, who was shot twelve times and yet, somehow survived.

She refuses to call herself a victim though. She started Whitney Strong as a way of educating others while pushing for legislation that could help stem the tide of gun violence in this country. Listen to these two videos and I’m sure you’ll come away with the same opinion I did.

We have to do better.

Tomorrow marks twenty years since a clear blue sky turned ruinous. Twenty years ago, morning became night and it changed this country forever. For those of us who lived through that day, September 11th does not feel twenty years removed from our memory banks. Because when we think back on the day, we are right back inside the shock and anguish, the horror and grief.

As we have learned many times before and since that Tuesday morning, all of our first responders have one thing in common. They show up every day with the idea that they might not be going home. They fight fires, they respond to mass shootings and they care for the injured and the sick, putting their lives on the line in the service of their communities.

When a 15-year old lab mix named Zoey went missing in Arlington, Texas recently, the neighborhood got to stepping in their search for her. From social media engagement to knocking on doors to calling out her name countless times even though they knew it was fruitless because she’s deaf. In those desperate moments, all that mattered was finding her safe and sound.

Two days after she went missing, city water crews located Zoey in a storm drain. They set up a camera to monitor her condition, after which the city’s first responders went to work saving her. Firefighters, police officers and paramedics worked tirelessly; using everything at their disposal, from jackhammers to pneumatic saws. They worked in the extreme heat for almost half the day until they were finally able to pull the lab to safety.

Zoey is going to be just fine thanks to first responders whose mission it is to overcome any challenge and help anyone who needs their help. And it brings to mind the last passage in the firefighters creed, which, truthfully, speaks for anyone who puts on a uniform in the name of service.

‘ . . I shall endeavor to be one of His noblest works . . .”

God bless all our heroes.

The Big Business Of Name Calling

NFL Fines Washington Football Team $10 Mil After Sexual Misconduct Probe

Remember when winning made headlines? Yeah, that shit’s over.

Take the Washington Football Team (I’m thinking they stole this moniker from the classic video game, Tecmo Football), which has announced they will have a new name in 2022. Last year it retired the nickname Redskins; a name it carried since 1933 when they were still based in Boston. After years of refusing to do the right thing, team owner Dan Snyder finally came to his senses. Or maybe it was because his reign as King of the Iron Deficient Throne was being threatened and he needed him a positive news day . . either or.

Washington Football Team vs Eagles - Week 1 | Tecmo Super Bowl 2021 - YouTube

The once perennial contenders have won a single playoff game since the turn of the millennium. Which is one more playoff win than the Washington Sentinels. Seeing as how the Sentinels are a fictional team from the Keanu Reeves movie The Replacements, that’s no bueno.

None of this matters because the football team in Washington (the realish one) is as relevant now as it was back in the time of Gibbs and Theismann and Lombardi trophies. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a decent football team as things currently stand. But for most of the past two decades they’ve been winning headlines without winning much of anything else, which, come to think of it, makes them a perfect fit for that town.

Game of Thrones' 101: Who's Left from House Bolton?

We’re talking about an organization whose work environment was on par with anything the Fox News skirt hounds had going on. Washington was fined $10 million in January of this year for its “highly unprofessional” treatment of women. Which makes all the talk about banishing the derogatory nickname Redskins quaint in comparison. But since this post is about a more positive form of name calling, I will stay on message. For once.

A few ideas? On it . . .

Filibusters- Because the games will feel as if they’re never going to end, and yet . . nothing gets accomplished.

Vetos- For the team that has delivered rejection to its fan base for more than a quarter century. It’s perfect, really.

Scandals- I’m sorry, but it’s a slow news week without a good scandal in our national’s capitol.

Pork Barrels- It’s more dramatic than “The Hogs”, which was under consideration.

Motions- I really dig this one. It merges Congress with Motown.

Parliamentarians- Okay, maybe it’s a tad long, but it can always be abbreviated. Call them “The Parliars”.

Presidents- When they lose, they’ll make a federal case out of it. Never mind.

Luncheons- If you want to pack the stadium, this name will get ‘er done.

Monte Cristos- Can you imagine the concessions? It would be the best part of the game!

Hashtags- It merges a contemporary term used on social media with the term for lines on a football field. As an added bonus, slap a hashtag on the helmet and you’re trending, just like that.

Buckaneers- Add the k so as to avoid any legal hassles, and maybe . . just maybe, someone will confuse them with a Super Bowl champion this year.

Hollabacks- It’s a song from back in the aughts of 2000, fashioned in brass knuckle pearls by the great Gwen Stefani. I’m not gonna lie, I always thought this would be a cool team name. If I ever play Fantasy Football again, Imma go with it. And as the Pina to this Colada milkshake, an homage to girls wouldn’t be the worst idea for this franchise.

Of course, this entire exercise is a moot point since the new nickname for the team formerly known as the Redskins has already been chosen, probably. In the event there is still time and someone from the Washington front office is reading this and sees something they really, really dig? Have at it. All I ask in return is that you don’t offer me season tickets in return. I’m good.

Washington has some company when it comes to name changes, as the Cleveland Indians will also roll out a new nickname in 2022. Unlike their gridiron counterparts, however, the Tribe didn’t wait to unveil theirs. They will be going with the Guardians, and I cannot wait until they play the Angels for the first time. Think about it . . .

If you’re wondering what happened to all the Redskins merch, check Trump’s website.

 

 

 

 

Heroes of the Week! Well… Mostly

 

Celebrating Everyday Heroes | TABarron.com

Hmmm… Somehow my good heart allowed me to be drafted for this week’s Heroes post.  Not that I mind, of course. How could I say ‘no’ to such a sweet request?  Now I know I cannot even pretend to come within the margins of Marc’s prowess with the written word but I shall strive to do my best by being myself, which shall have to do.  And I know you are all so sweet, you’ll accept me with open arms!

Without further ado, shall we?

Hurricane Ida landed in Louisiana on Sunday.  You can only brace so much for such an event.  When you are part of a special task force, you are proactive. Craig Mignogno is one of forty members from the Ohio Task Force 1 who not only showed up to help with anything they could (flooding assistance, evacuation, wide-area searches), they drove down from Friday to Saturday, arriving before the storm.

“We have over 600 volunteers that are either on the ground right now working in the evacuation shelters or we have people positioned outskirts of the damage area,” Marita Salkowski with Ohio Red Cross said.

I have just realised that the video I added done “distappeared”!  So, here is the link to the story in which you can see said video!

But Ida wasn’t done.  She moved her way north and caused, at the time of my writing this, 45 deaths so far in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Connecticut.  To say the east coast was stunned, is to put it mildly.  Tornados (six!) and rainfall as has never been seen, caused flooding in places you can’t even imagine.  What happens then?  As I just read:  “There are a multitude of nicknames for those who step up at hard times to help their fellow citizens. Most of the time, “New Yorker” suffices.”  From bus drivers, to the FDNY to the NYPD to special ops, the stories jumped out.  A great article can be read right here.

 

I won’t go in too deeply concerning the evacuation from Afghanistan.  So many were killed needlessly including 13 service women and men.  You can read a tribute for each of the ones killed here.  I feel all of them were heroes.  The “martyrdom attack” was a heartless one.  Out of respect, I list them:

The Marines are Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover of Salt Lake City; Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo of Lawrence, Massachusetts; Sgt. Nicole L. Gee of Sacramento, California; Cpl. Hunter Lopez of Indio, California; Cpl. Daegan W. Page of Omaha; Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez of Logansport, Indiana; Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza of Rio Bravo, Texas; Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz of St. Charles, Missouri; Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum of Jackson, Wyoming; Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola of Rancho Cucamonga, California; and Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui of Norco, California.  Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak of Berlin Heights, Ohio, and Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss of Corryton, Tennessee.

How many times have those of us who are parents told our kids to turn off the TV and go outside and play?  What if the show they loved to watch inspired them to be heroes?  This is the case with 14-year-old Lily Swanson, of Leyland, Lancashire.  She is obsessed with 9-1-1.  This came in particularly handy when, while walking her dog Isobel, she detected a strong burning smell.  Upon investigation, she noticed the black smoke billowing out of an apartment building.  She ran home and woke her dad, Mike, and called 999 (the British version of 9-1-1).  Mike grabbed his ladders and together they ran back to the burning building just as a window blew out.  They leaned the ladders against the building near another window and people started evacuating, just as the fire brigade showed up.

“We did everything we could do and thankfully everyone got out safely, which is the best that could have happened.” How humble is she?

Now… it’s not in my habit to get political but today’s ruling forces me to give a big, fat zero to the American Supreme Court who voted 5-4 NOT to block a new Texas law banning most abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, usually around six weeks and before many women know they’re pregnant. Oh, and you or I can denounce anyone who dares try.  We can all become bounty hunters. Pays pretty well, too. $10,000. Too bad if you were raped. Too bad if you have irregular periods. And, as for the guy who got you pregnant? Crickets…

Texas Just Outlawed Abortion as We Knew It

 

In 2019, Oklahama mom (of 11! including 9 girls) and Harvard graduate Allyson Reneau bonded with an Afghan all-girl high school robotics team known as “the Afghan Dreamers”, at a Washington D.C.-based Humans to Mars summit. These girls, legit geniuses, invented an inexpensive new ventilator model that would be used to help the thousands of Covid-19 patients in their homeland.  Fast-forward to the Taliban takeover.  Reneau found herself worried about their safety.  Frustrated by the lack of cooperation from her own government, Reneau made her way to Qatar and with the help of  the Dreamers’ Digital Citizens Fund and Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs managed to get the process going.  So far ten of them have left Kabul, the remaining, still stuck in Kabul though efforts have not let up (as of August 25th).  Allyson Reneau considers these girls her adopted daughters (what’s ten more when you already have eleven?) and they, for the first time in their lives, feel they have a choice for their own future.

What mom doesn’t want that for her kids?  To see them be all they can be without fear…

The Death of Swagger

Mets players let their booing fans 'know how it feels' with strange thumbs down celebration - CBSSports.com

There was a time when people showed their lack of hip by spewing antiquated proclamations meant to denounce the impetuous qualities of progress. Old timers castigated the kids of my generation for not schlepping through five feet of snow for miles just to get to school. We didn’t dare complain during a heatwave, because to do so meant we had to endure stories about a time when houses were nothing more than giant microwave ovens. Our parents took every opportunity to tell us how lucky we were to have playtime, since their lives consisted of chores, working odd jobs and avoiding polio.

Us kids didn’t get it, probably because we were too cool for old school. As Generation Xers, we got high on Tang, we got educated by Schoolhouse Rock and we got religion via 8-track players that ushered in an audacious expansion of music delivery systems. We were iconoclasts, leading a rebellion against an establishment yearning for a return to the days of Ike and Holy Hours and the Jitterbug.

We dreamed of third-parties, we gloried in the solidarity of the pet rock and we became soul proprietors of the Hustle. Not only did we make nerds relevant, we made them giants of industry. And it was during this glorious time that spanned the Beatles to Bon Jovi, where swagger was redefined. From the protagonist hegemony of John Wayne to the proletarian movement of Charles Bronson to Clint Eastwood, who obtained the patent.

Swagger wasn’t something you stuck a hashtag on. Simply put, if you had swagger it meant you walked your talk. You got shit done. You didn’t brag about having swagger, because to do so meant you most certainly didn’t have any. And so here I am, wondering what the hell the current generation has done to a venerated principle? Shit. these days all you need is some provocatively placed body art and an Instagram page to rate.

Which brings me to the present day New York Mets. As things stand, they are the baseball equivalent of the pet rock; a 200 million dollar paperweight with no definable purpose. They head into today’s action with a record of 63-67, 7.5 games out of first place and 7 games out of the wild card.

In all fairness, they have dealt with the injury bug in 2021. In more fairness, so have the San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox; and that hasn’t prevented them from staying atop their respective divisions. Injuries and bad luck happen to every club . . every season. Nobody gets a mulligan just because the baseball gods decided to piss on their chances. You either overcome or you get to stepping on your Christmas shopping.

Now, the Mets are a team I have a soft spot for thanks to my grandfather, who loved his whiskey and his baseball with the very same passion. I predicted the Mets would win their division this season because they had a roster I happened to dig on. They’ve got some swagger to them, sure, but up till a couple weeks ago it wasn’t getting in the way of the results on the field.

In early July, Pete Alonzo was defending his Home Run Derby crown, the team was talking up moves to bolster their playoff lineup and they were in first place, hell bent on stealing back the town from the Yankees. Today? They’re buried under two also ran football teams on the sports page depth chart.

In no uncertain terms, they have shit the bed, going 8-19 in August as they fight for their playoff lives. And hey . . whatever, that’s why the baseball season is an unforgiving crucible. I have zero problem with a club that falls short of expectations, seeing as how it happens to more than half the league.

What I have a problem with is when swagger meets stupid, and it happened this weekend when several players mutinied against booing fans by introducing a “thumbs down celebration” during their 9-4 win against the Nationals. Javy Baez is the ringleader of this clueless rebellion. While supremely talented, he also can’t be bothered to run out ground balls or hit the other way and God forbid his manager ever asked him to bunt. Baez is a feast or famine player who glories in home runs and shrugs off his many strikeouts. The Mets weren’t ignorant to his tone-deaf game when they acquired him from the Cubs at the trade deadline. Maybe they hoped for better, but thus far, Javy has lived down to his one trick pony act. Meanwhile, shortstop Francisco Lindor, who inked a $341 million dollar contract in the spring, probably has Steve Cohen wishing he had bought the Tampa Bay Rays instead.

I realize it’s a thankless game and so I didn’t have an issue with the less than stellar results, until they broke out their inane celebration on Sunday. After which Baez talked about how the booing makes him feel bad, while in the very same breath saying it doesn’t really get to him. Hence, an orchestrated attempt by Baez, Lindor and Kevin Pillar to exact revenge on a fan base that is paying stupid money for even stupider results. But wait, there’s more! (Or less, depending on how you look at it). Hours after Baez and Lindor explained how the thumbs down gesture was their way of booing the fans, Pillar sent out a tweet telling fans not to read anything into it.

You cannot make this shit up.

The good news for Mets fans is that there is a month of baseball left to be played. That also happens to be the bad news. And no, booing the club ain’t making things any better, but it’s not making things worse either, no matter what a few players might think. Because last time I looked, the Hall of Fame is filled with players who heard their fair share of boos and somehow prevailed.

I wish the Mets well but I’m dubious, seeing as how some of their best players are more intent on choreographing rebuttals to all that booing than actually working on the fundamentals. This Shakespearean tragedy of a baseball team is a sad reminder that swagger has become the domain of posers. Hell, in my day we would never have booed these guys.

We would have stayed home instead.

 

Friday’s Heroes: A Frank Edition

Happy Friday to all! As Marco announced last week, this is my meager attempt to occupy the big chair during his absence as he galivants to somewhere unknown to spread his goodwill, wit, and charm. I suspect he is attending a symposium sponsored by the International Institute on Sarcasm. Meanwhile, onto the heroes who are examples of goodness in the world.

Getty Images

The Olympics provides a plethora of outstanding stories about humanity’s good side – so here’s one more with multiple heroes. Miloszek Malysa is an eight-month-old Polish boy needing life-saving heart surgery, so the family started a fundraising page to pay for surgery in the USA (at Stanford U). Maria Andrejczyk, a silver-medalist Javelin thrower, stepped forward by auctioning her metal from the recent Tokyo games. The Polish convenience store chain Żabka won the bid that supplied about one-third of the goal, then declined to accept the metal from Maria because they thought it rightfully belongs with her.

From the Holy Shit Department, here’s a story with multiple heroes. Lindsay Bull is an employee at a Utah petting zoo. While working with Darthgator, the large reptile decided to snack on Bull’s hand. With her hand in his mouth and instead of pulling, Bull entered the water and rolled as the alligator tried to dismember her. Donnie Wiseman, an innocent observer, not only enters the area but also wrestles the alligator, and then pries the mouth open so Bull can remove her hand. Another bystander, Todd Christopher, encouraged Bull and helped pull her out. Amy Christopher’s nursing background helped treat Bull until the EMTs arrived. By the way, Bull is anxious to return to work after she heals.

I must include an honoree from Cincinnati. In summer 2018, six-year-old Payton started a lemonade stand to buy new toys for patients at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center because she received a new teddy bear when she was a patient. She repeated the venture in 2019. Today, Payton’s Lemonade Stand is a foundation and 25 stands exist across Greater Cincinnati this past summer … and children host all of them. Cheers to Payton for starting a chain reaction.

A 1992 car accident left Sabrina Cohen as a quadriplegic at age 14. Today she is the founder and president of the Sabrina Cohen Foundation, an organization focusing on meeting fitness and recreation needs for the disabled – especially the beach and the warm waters of Miami. A tip of the hat to Sabrina, her foundation, and all the volunteers for all the goodness they share.

During the virus lockdown’s peak, we in the US received daily briefings from a governor. Unlike federal officials, the governors (at least that I saw) also had a sign language interpreter present on the screen. Now that I have twin great-nieces with hearing disorders, I appreciate those signers much more than I already did. A shout out to these public servants!

Marc returns soon. Although I’m on blog break, I invite you to stop by Beach Walk Reflections. Enjoy your weekend.