The Superbus's Thoughtpad

Archive for July, 2013

Want To Respect Veterans? Don’t Patronize Us

Posted by Chris Bowen on July 23, 2013

On my last leave before separating from the Navy in 2003, I came home and, during that time, attended a playoff game for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. My mother, unknown to me, slipped a note to the PA announcer that it was my birthday, and that I was an active service member. Later in the game, as they do during every game, they announced the birthdays. Happy birthday to this kid and that girl and this old guy and at the very end “a special happy birthday to returning Navy Petty Officer Chris Bowen!” I got a standing ovation at a Sound Tigers game, which I could no longer ignore because the camera was on me. Players tapped their sticks on the ice. People who haven’t been in that position imagine it to be something that anyone could possibly want: validation that the long nights, the yelling, and the bullets are worth it.

Frankly, I found it mortifying at the time, and as I’ve gotten older, it’s become even more so. Not because I was suddenly being applauded by thousands of people, but because to me, the whole exercise of thanking veterans for our service has rung hollow. It rings hollow because the whole notion of “thanking” a veteran isn’t born out of sincerity. It’s born out of a carefully constructed ploy to get civilians behind any war that the government advocates. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Personal | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Jumbled Thoughts On Trayvon Martin’s Unfinished Legacy

Posted by Chris Bowen on July 20, 2013

The verdict came down late last Saturday night: George Zimmerman is not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin. In the sense of the law, it was the right decision. If I sound depressed in saying that, it’s because the whole case is depressing. It really doesn’t matter which side of the partisan divide you sit on, or what your opinion on Zimmerman or Martin are. If you’re sympathetic to Zimmerman, you see a kid that would be alive if he didn’t fight the guy and force him to stand his ground, and why was he dressed like “that”? If you’re sympathetic to Martin, you see a rejected mall cop who decided to chase down and attack a teenage boy largely because he “looked” like a thug – being black and hooded and all – and ended up shooting him when he started losing a fair fight.

I haven’t been following the case as voraciously as some, but I’m obviously more sympathetic to the unarmed teenager with the Skittles than I am to the idiot with delusions of grandeur. But it’s not depressing for any of those reasons. It’s depressing because a kid was needlessly gunned down, weather the defendant was pronounced innocent or not1. It’s depressing because of how people are reacting. It’s depressing because of how we expect certain others to react. And it’s depressing that all of the introspection – what little is going on – is going to get drowned out by the next big scandal, nothing will change, and by most accounts, Trayvon Martin will have died completely in vain.

The most depressing thing about this whole issue is that it made the participants largely irrelevant while shoving so many issues with America, and Americans, to the forefront, begging to be looked at, and yet no one seems to be looking at the real issues. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in National Politics | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

USA Hockey’s Rule Changes, And The Competing Cultures Of Hockey

Posted by Chris Bowen on July 8, 2013

usahockeyIt’s rule change time at USA Hockey again, which is always a tumultuous time. USA Hockey has been very progressive organization when it comes to advancing the game for both the sake of skill and safety, and those efforts have met with predictable pushback from senior people. In a few instances, I’ve been part of the pushback. I wasn’t a fan of the Advanced Developmental Model1 (ADM) when it first started, figuring it would not help the kids enough to offset for the poor chances to develop younger officials, and would not teach proper positioning. I was mistaken in that; kids learned skills in ADM that they simply can’t learn full-ice, where all most kids seem to do is chase the puck, get rid of it as soon as possible if they get it2, and watch as one or two kids who are obviously better than everyone skate down and pot breakaway goals in the top-shelf of a net being tended by a goaltender who isn’t tall enough to reach that high. The alternative – having a way to teach children the skills of the game, keep them engaged – as noted in this must read piece, USA Hockey had been losing kids as they age – and get them ready for the higher levels at something beyond skating straight and playing dump-and-chase. They also got rid of body checking at the Pee-Wee (U12) level, figuring that children were getting hurt too easily at an underdeveloped age, and due to the fact that children hit pubescence at different times, some 80lb. kids were getting crunched by 140lbs. kids, and parents were pulling their kids. I still think this is a mistake; learning how to take a hit and keep your head up is an important part of the game, and instituting that into the game at bantams just means a slightly bigger kid is probably getting hit by a 170lb. kid moving even faster. However, I hope to be proven wrong about this once there’s enough data to go off of.

This year, USA Hockey decided to double down on past changes, and it’s going to cause a rough adjustment period for everyone involved at the intermediate stages of the game. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Conscience of a Liberaltarian

Posted by Chris Bowen on July 1, 2013

My political awakening – the merger of ideas, ideals and learned experiences that have morphed into my internal belief system – is notable in two aspects. The first is that I’ve managed to become at least semi-sophisticated when it comes to political issues despite possessing virtually no formal education of any note in that regard. While my state-run high school and locally run public schools could – and did – teach me math, English, science, and in the case of my high school, a vocational trade that I apply to my job every day, the system is fundamentally broken when it comes to teaching history and political theory. To put it bluntly, most of what I was taught is either whitewashed or outright wrong, as the majority of my 20s was spent learning that most of what I was taught about America’s selfless benevolence was wrong, usually with the same zeal that a child reacts to the news that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are fictitious. The second notable aspect is that it’s in no way complete. Unlike the college educated people that I tend to associate with, my formative adult years were spent in the military, where even someone as resistant to jingoism as I am can get caught up in the jet stream frequently. Therefore, everything I know, and everything I believe, is the product of self-teaching, asking the right questions to people I respect, being open-minded, and having the courage to admit that I’m occasionally wrong.

Like most young people from Connecticut, I started out as a solid Democrat. I adored Bill Clinton1, supported easier immigration, and supported a lot of social welfare programs. Miraculously, I managed to make it through my military career as a Democrat, despite being stationed in Norfolk and Portsmouth. However, I learned that I didn’t fit in well with Democrats; I supported the second amendment, didn’t think much of Affirmative Action, and thought it was wrong for a local zoning board to tell a private property owner how they were allowed to use their legally owned space. However, joining the Republican Party was unthinkable, so after looking at their list of ideals, I decided to formally become a member of the Libertarian Party. This was kind of like going from missionary sex to ball gags and swings, but bear with me. The thought process was that I had some very libertarian views even as a Democrat, so why not join the party that saw things like I did? Unfortunately, the reality was more grim. The Libertarian Party, as I would painfully learn during the 2008 Presidential Election, is less about ideals than it is about a bunch of rich, white, C-list Republicans trying to find another way to remain relevant. I’ll go into more of what I learned while dealing with the Party later, but I became a man with strong political ideals, but without a political identity.

Ultimately, I was less comfortable with that than I should have been. Someone running for a local office once made the point that “indies get laughed out of the polls”, and while I think he’s a buffoon, he’s right. Nothing can marginalize even good political points more than simply not being a part of some hive mind or another, which became my fear. Thankfully, I was able to meet a good combination of people from across all political spectrums, who seemed to be in the same boat. From the dedicated Democrats, to the dedicated liberals, the libertarians, a couple of conservatives I haven’t wanted to strangle yet, and one or two odd ducks with similar views to mine, we all debated our points, disagreed, and then did something that seems impossible at times in today’s charged atmosphere: we would shake hands and move on. It’s hard to find a group like this, but I’ve succeeded, and it’s helped mold a lot of what I think, either solidifying existing beliefs or making me take an alternative tack or – unthinkably, to some – causing me to change my position.

It was Jeremy Kolassa who coined the phrase that I have since come to use to describe me: Liberaltarian. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Local Politics, National Politics | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »