Ladder Wells the Apex Predator

Living inside a naval vessel involves an extremely high amount of risk tolerance. “Ships have killed, and will kill again” is a very common saying among U.S Navy sailors. After all, we deal with many threats out in the sea, which include the risk of exposing ourselves to other countries whose intentions might not be so noble. But, also sailors run the risk of having a fire inside (or on) the galley, aircrafts, munitions bay, fuel lines, work spaces, perhaps even falling overboard and drowning in the ocean. What people aren’t aware of however, is the true enemy inside a naval vessel exists in locations so common, that you might even be walking on one every day.

Ladderwell

Ladder wells, two of the scariest words which could be used in conjunction for any sailor that has been aboard a ship. The ship has an extreme amount of these, and they all have varying degrees of danger to them, which range from: regular stairs to Mt. Everest in levels of steepness, yet they are all equally deadly. But, what makes this so dangerous Dash (you might be asking yourself)? To which I’ll answer: allow me to explain. When you are walking up regular stairs, there is always the risk of losing your balance and hitting a sharp corner, but it’s very unlikely (due to how simple it is) now imagine walking up those same stairs during an earthquake (suddenly, it’s not as easy). Ships are in constant motion; the constant rocking of the ship can throw any sailor’s sense of balance out the window in a heartbeat. You couple this with having to walk up the riskier stairs and you got a recipe for broken hands, feet, knees, and in some cases death. There are also, very few manners in which you can mitigate the risks involved, you might walk slower, but then you’ll inconvenience others who are trying to pass, perhaps even hold on to the railing, but I’ve tried this one and still fell down knee first (earned me a nasty scar with that event). I am convinced that these stairs are cursed, and or sentient.

At the very least I am convinced that the former is true. They have to be cursed to explain some of the events that have happened to me while traversing through them on the way to my office. I have fallen, lost my balance, tripped on them, and generally feel like they will eventually cause me PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I have probably gotten hurt on those ladder wells more than I have throughout my entire life. These ladders, probably account for more injuries on the ship than any other high-risk activity/object, and I think the reason is clear. It’s obvious that ladder wells are apex soul stealing predators which run rampant throughout the ship. They run no risk of ever being eliminated because they are necessary for travel; as such, they have claimed the lives of many sailors, each one adding an extra soul which assists in taking even more lives.

Now you might be thinking to yourself that perhaps the insanity of life in the boat has taken a hold of me, but how else can we explain the almost preternatural ability for these ladder wells to hurt sailors. I have heard some of the most horrific tales from other sailors, which include the one female who lost her balance and landed with her legs between the handrails, another sailor fell down and landed head first in those same handrails (he had a concussion). Most of these reports never go outside of the need to know basis, so civilians aren’t aware of them, but we are! We live our lives in constant fear that the spirits which live inside the ladder wells don’t choose us as their next victim. The reason for this fear is not unwarranted either; we have to live inside this boat for 6 months out of the year at minimum. We walk upon these cursed objects approximately 50 (or more) times a day depending on which location of the boat your work station is located. Every single day we wake up with the knowledge that if we take one single wrong step, the ladder wells will claim our lives. Read this carefully, every single step we take upon those ladder wells could be our last. This dear readers, is the definition of living life on the edge of a knife.

For reference, every single time I see a ladder well, the music in this scene plays out in my head: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks7Pjl8kM10

This article was a blast to write, I wish I could convey the emotions that are felt every single time that I have to walk through one of these. It’s terrifying.
***DISCLAIMER***
I am not the owner of the images utilized for this article, but I am the owner of the blog and article.

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The Land of the Free, and Home of the Brave

America the so-called land of the free. But, isn’t that an ironic name for the land with the largest population of prison inmates? A land where you are free to be yourself as long as it fits “my” definition of what is normal. These definitions which are based on: bias, prejudice, obsolete laws, and an outdated book. A place where being offended by topics such as sex-ed, rape, victimization are enough to claim harassment or even sentence another to jail. We call ourselves, America the land of the free and home of the brave, but are we truly so?

I say no, we are instead America the home of the victims. Where the media and social justice warriors control the masses. A land that preaches equality as long as it favors the individual instead of benefiting the whole. Where misinformation is spread as facts, and used as a shield for controversy.  Where the life of an animal is considered more important than the lives of our brothers and sisters in Africa who endure countless losses at the hands of these beasts.  Where fear is our king and money is our god; only those with affluence matter. We call ourselves the home of freedom, yet fail to realize that we are still enslaved.

We are enslaved to oppression. We live chasing a dream that ceased to be real many moons ago. We break our backs for those who don’t care about the circumstance of our plight. We sell our souls, values, and self-worth in order to please those who could not care less about your life. We place a higher emphasis on appearances than we do on self-fulfillment. The land where you can pretend to be rich, as long as you can pay your credit-card bill. It doesn’t matter if you spend the rest of your lives paying for the son of a rich banker’s college tuition as far as it is done in monthly installments of minimum payments.

This is the land where the rich hate the poor, the poor hates the rich, and those in between are hated by all. Where the middle class pays for the wages of both rich and poor with nary an opportunity to move ahead in life. Get an education they say, but with tuition prices these days you’ll be enslaving yourself once more. Jealousy is the law of the land, if you’re not green with envy then you are wrong. Where a credit score and history are akin to your worth as a human being, and three companies can dictate whether the house you always dreamed of is a reality or a fantasy. A million is a statistic they say, but the word of one person is enough to lead another towards ruination. Yet, the plights of many go unheard everyday. The brothers and sisters we have overseas are hated because they represent a cause we do not agree with. They live their lives in fear from a world that doesn’t care, yet we are free to do so. However, as a brilliant man once said “with great power, comes great responsibility”. Yet, we shun our responsibility in favor of causes that hold no bearing towards the greater good.

America is stuck. Stuck in a state of falsehood where the voices of those who are trying to once again awaken the sleeping giant which was once feared and respected throughout the world are silenced by a multitude of sheep. Those who go against the norm are treated as outcast in a society that once claimed pride in its diversity. Where you could make it big as long as you were willing to work for it. But, that’s not the reality we live in. We live in the America that has fallen from the pedestal, that is considered a laughing-stock around the world for their  antiquated education systems, and war mongering ways. We live in the America that has become complacent, and lazy.

But, there is still hope for America. We are down, but we are not out of the fight just yet. We can once again rise to the top, and become a nation worthy of its self-proclaimed status as home of the brave. An America that is intellectually forward, which is inclusive to all in need. The America that his citizens need, but it can’t do it alone. We the people need to step in and help. We need to pull our weight in order to make everything that has gone wrong with our country right once again. At this time we the people need to put aside our differences as we did in 9/11, and join arms as brothers as sisters once more. We are not each others enemies. We are in fact our greatest potential allies, yet we need to set our differences aside to find the middle-ground, and compromise in order to finally fulfill the needs of the many, instead of the sensitivities of the few. As humans we are born with limitless potential, but we squander it in frivolous things. It is time that we took ownership of our lives, and live up to the responsibilities that our power truly brings. When we break from those chains of ignorance that bind us, then we shall be truly free.

Only then, can we once again be proud to call ourselves  “The Land of The Free, and The Home of the Brave”

*Pictures Belong to their respective Owners*

**This blog is copyright of the author**

A History of Revolution, and Puerto Rico’s call to action! Pt.1

The common wealth of Puerto Rico has acquired a debt of 73 billion dollars in the last few years. Due to this factor, the United States or more specifically South Carolina has elected to create a financial control board which would in essence take hold of Puerto Rico’s economy in order to pay off the debt. This is in essence a terrible idea, but one that does not come without a certain benefit. The government in Puerto Rico has shown that it is simply incapable of ruling the country fairly; perhaps it is time to give someone else a chance at running the place. But, It’s not the first time that a government has abused its power in order to further the agenda of those who are rich and powerful. This could be a nightmare waiting to happen, or perhaps the salvation it needs.

For the sake of giving 2 sides of the argument I am splitting this post into two separate parts. Each part will explain a different piece of the argument of why it could be bad or good. I will take a look at past revolutions of multiple countries in order to analyze the similarities and distinctions between the events that are happening now, circumstances, and motives of the people who revolutionized the world. But, I hope that everyone understands  if we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.

The United States has given Puerto Rico the status of a commonwealth country for nearly a century now. In other words Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States, but don’t let anyone call it that since it has negative connotations (and it would hurt their feelings). They have the same citizenship as regular citizens, but have controlled aspects such as trade embargoes in the case of cabotage laws which effectively cripple the economy by preventing ships from foreign countries from trading directly with us (only U.S. manned and owned vessels are allowed to transport goods). To indirectly preventing us from purchasing cheap oil from Venezuela due to its status as a commonwealth. These things make it even more difficult, when you consider that Puerto Rico relies on imports for manufacture of products despite the fact that it has plenty of rich soil that could be use for food export. Sadly, this is just one of the reasons why the country has acquired the exorbitant debt it has. As mentioned earlier the government in Puerto Rico has shown to be inefficient at leading, and managing this land as well. Puerto Rico’s politics have often been marred by the highly unstable public policies which are fluctuating constantly when the countries leading party changes.

The island has various political parties of which two hold the majority of the shares with at least 47% of votes going to both Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP) or the Partido Popular Democratico (PPD). There are at least 5 more political parties, but the breakdown is substantially smaller to the point of being nearly insignificant (as explained in a pie chart). In my experience though election results tend to favor the opposite party  simply because people have become angry at the current one. But, here is a list of the results for each election ending with the year 1976.

2012: PPD won with 47.7%

2008: PNP won with 52.8%

2004: PPD won with 48.4%

2000: PPD won with 48.6%

1996: PNP won with 51.1%

1992: PNP won with 49.9%

1988:  PDP won with 48.7%

1984: PDP won with 48.7%

1980: PNP won with 47.2% 1

976: PNP won with 48.3%

There is also a deep cultural belief that political affiliations within Puerto Ricans lie in the family with each member voting for the party that their family typically supports. (I can’t confirm, how true or false this is. But, I can say I witnessed it growing up). So rarely will the political affiliations shift severely, and it is uncommon to witness an overwhelming majority win. This leaves no room for true change, it doesn’t raise the stakes for politicians to truly enact good policies because they know that regardless of what happens their party will eventually return to power (almost like a microcosm of what happens in the continental U.S.). Indeed if anything will destroy Puerto Rico it will be its own government.  Why do I say this? Because Puerto Rico has had good ideas effectively shut down by the people in power.  For example in 2009 a legislator proposed that we reduced the amount of municipalities (78) into larger, but less numerous ones (20 link is in spanish) this bill never made it into law despite the fact that it would have reduced the amount of government spending in salaries for the mayors.

I did not make this chart and I'm merely sharing it from the Wikipedia Article
I did not make this chart and I’m merely sharing it from the Wikipedia Article

If we keep all of these factors in mind, then perhaps it is a good idea for the U.S. government to gain control of the finances in Puerto Rico. Perhaps then we will finally see some change being enacted, and a positive move towards action from Puerto . But, it could be dangerous as well for the government to take over with such hostile tactics. You see Puerto Ricans  are a fighting breed. Their fighting spirits have been lying dormant waiting for an opportunity to rise against once more. But, the end result could go one of two ways. Revolutions of the past such as China’s or Cuba’s have shown that societies tend to overthrow relatively open governments in exchange for more oppressive ones. If Puerto Rico is to avoid these mistakes then it needs to heed my words and learn from history.  For history can be a harsh mistress, and she will repeat a lesson until is it cemented in humanity itself.

Let’s take a look at the Chinese revolution. Indeed, the Chinese Revolution of 1949 headed by Mao Zedong which led to the creation of the People’s Republic of China, and the Chinese Communist Party. The revolution itself was a massive success, but the politics that came from it while very forward thinking, and egalitarian did not have the overwhelming success that the revolution expected. The revolution itself wanted to destroy everything that China had been before Communism, and in this it did succeed.  However, the rapid implementation of changes to social structures and industrialization did unfortunately bring many negative consequences. Women did gain equal rights, at the cost of family values. Famine is estimated to have killed anywhere from 20-46 million people (keep in mind this was a location that had natural resources for manufacture) due to heavy exportation of food items such as grain. Doctors were trained, but morale was overwhelmingly low due to the practices implemented by the government. Religion was banned and looked as antiquated, churches were destroyed and clergymen killed (the only churches allowed to exist preached communism). The CCP implemented strict propagandist policies, but while literacy rates were radically higher, social re-education was mandatory at least weekly (more if you were disgruntled). There was no trust amongst neighbors because they were encouraged to denounce each other in order to sort out dissenters. Culture died, artist were prevented from free expression, many committed suicide, others conformed to writing/creating communist propaganda. But, despite all of these negative aspects, there were some truly major technological/medicinal advances as well as sectors which continued to perform successfully in terms of economy. In the end it’s hard to determine if this revolution was truly a failure or a success

When Cuba gained independence On December 10, 1898. Cuba saw many social and political changes in structure, however it was still suffering the aftereffect of the war. Many of the industrial and economical sectors of the country were ruled over by the United States. The provisional military government (provided by the U.S.) used its funding for infrastructure development instead of aiding farmers restore their fields in order to provide agricultural stability. This did not appear to be incidental because many American businessmen came in to buy cheap farmlands and properties. It has been speculated that if the government had focused on helping farmers, Cuban economy could have stabilized at a steady rate. These movements in which the American industry was slowly taking over the Islands’ complete economy. A senator from Ohio tried to create the Foraker amendment in order to make these franchises illegal, but did this not prevent the industrialist from taking over business and other resources from the land. For all intents and purposes, the industries which should have belonged to the Cubans after the Spanish allowed independence, now belonged to the Americans.

Cuba still wanted independence though. Americans were clamoring for the annexation of the country, but the Teller Act forbade such actions. While annexationists did exist in the island, the overwhelming majority did not want to go on being a colony. The New York Sun, on April 13 1900, summed it up quite eloquently “The attitude of the people of Cuba toward annexation seems to be this in brief; the wealth and intelligence of the island are generally in favor of it, and the agitators and their tools, the ignorant Negroes, are opposed to it” (It’s nice to see how racist newspapers were back then). This meant that the U.S. had to work around the issue and instead made the Platt Amendment which made the country a pseudo-colony. If the Cubans did not agree to these terms then the U.S. would not leave the Island. This was a dark time in their Cuba’s history if we consider that the Cuban flag would not fly over the island until 1902, when their first president was elected (Tomás Estrada). In 1903 a Permanent Treaty gave the U.S. the rights to uphold peace in the country as well as use of Guantanamo Bay (a very hot-button issue to Cubans).

The Cuban Revolution happened from 1953-1959.  This was another great revolution towards the Communist  movement. It was also the war that gave Fidel Castro power over Cuba. To this day Cuba remains under the control of the Castro family with his brother Raul taking over after his siblings retirement. This was also brought a battle that brought along many changes to the country. Equality was a top priority with social reforms seeking to grant greater rights to minorities (i.e. blacks, women, etc.). Housing, medical facilities, education, and communication saw improvements during this period as well. The government had also reduced crime and unemployment rates by a significant amount. By the end of the decade every child had received some form of education (an incredible achievement when compared to previous statistics). Cuba also had to institute land reformation policies due to the majority of fertile lands being owned by foreign entities with the results actually improving living standards. But, all was not well within Cuba after the revolution. After Castro gained more political favor, he instituted informant committees in every neighborhood to maintain control against revolutionary activities (a hypocritical move if we consider how he came about power) this would keep track of any activity (and I mean any) that could be deemed remotely suspicious. Political assassinations were the norm for a while in the country. Religious freedom was nulled country declared itself officially as atheistic (despite this homosexuals’ were still persecuted). Lands were taken over by the government without any opposition (as they would like us to believe). Despite these last few details, Cuba enjoys a somewhat stable economy, has one of the highest rated literacy rates with 99.8%, some of the best health care in the world (with one doctor per 170 citizen; second only to Italy), and it is free.

The price to pay can often be higher than most expect. At times the cost of independence ironically becomes freedom itself. I have shown some of the good and bad that a revolution can bring when they trade off relatively open governments in favor of military communist ones. If the U.S. does create a financial control board in Puerto Rico it might finally become the push it needs to awaken the fighting spirit of Puerto Ricans. Puerto Rico needs to choose between freedom or being baby-sat by a country whose only interest lies in furthering its own agenda. Unlike the States which can have their debt forgiven by the government; Puerto Rico has no such benefit because of its status as a commonwealth. I doubt they will take this sitting down, though apathy rules the land at this moment it will not remain so much longer. You see when a dog is backed into a corner after fleeing for so long it takes the only logical step and fights back. They must not be silenced, they can not  be calmed. Puerto Ricans everywhere must finally band together and fight for they will not be treated as children. They must rise against those who have crippled their potential and strike back with full force. Even when their first fight happened and the U.S. government quelled the movement with lies and propaganda, a spark of fire remained. This small glimmer of hope is waiting for the moment to ignite a forest and set those hearts and souls ablaze with the flames of justice.

This article will be continued with a more positive outlook on revolutions that have overthrown oppressive governments in favor of more liberal ones. The content in this article was written and belongs to the author and respective original writers. If you enjoyed this article please share and like it. We have a fan page on Facebook that is starting to grow and will keep the updates posted.

The Confederate Flag Debacle

A new controversy has been plaguing Facebook and Twitter for the last few days. It seems that the government wants to take down the Confederate flag from being flown and sold in certain locations in  the Southern States of America. This flag bears a lot of significance to many of the citizens in those areas, and as such the loss of privilege means a great deal to them. However, we must acknowledge that just because it’s historical does not mean, that it is not a symbol of something much darker.  I spent a fair amount of hours researching the history of this flag before making a decision on which side I stood on. But, what I discovered was certainly eye-opening to the beliefs that were held in the past.

First of all I’d like to mention that this flag has had many itinerations. The symbol that we know today as the Confederate Flag has changed at least 3 times before it became the one it is today. These flags were all made with the same intention; to symbolize the meaning of what the Confederacy stood for. When viewed from this perspective it allows us to understand that a flag is simply a symbol from a country itself (our flag flies one star per state and will add more as they continue if the trend goes on). What the general populace tends to forget is that simply because you change the design of a flag, and add a new meaning, it does not change it’s history or what it once stood for.  While it’s certain that the Confederacy did stand for independence, it’s values were not the most positive ones when viewed from our modern perspective.

The first Confederate flag called the Stars and Bars was very similar to the United States Flag, and was actually criticized because the Union stood for the abolition of slavery. Due to the massive negative reaction that was had the government was actually incited to look for a new design. The people did not approve of this flag simply because it was similar to something that opposed their beliefs despite the fact that the reason for the similarities was because these two groups originated from the same location/people. What was even worse was that due to the similarities they had this caused major confusions in the battlefield and thus it was deemed necessary to change it. They rejected the design because it was similar to the Stars and Stripes which was a symbol of something that the Confederacy opposed. You will notice that symbolism is a recurring theme in this article.

The second flag was known as The Stainless Banner. This design was probably the most controversial due to it’s nickname “The White Man’s Flag”.  While this flag caused a separate array of confusion for the poor Union because when the wind was not blowing it would look like a flag of surrender. I’m fairly certain this must have caused much heartbreak amongst Union soldiers looking for an easy battle. This flag was originally designed to symbolize the Confederacy’s ideals that the white race was superior to all others by it’s creator. It was also very different to the Stars and Stripes which was another perk to the people of the south who hated the Stars and Bars. In 1863  William T. Thompson had the following to say “As a people we are fighting maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical (sic) of our cause”. A flag like this would never fly in this age, and is another page in the muddled history of this flag. However, I must clarify that the significance of the white part of the flag was never formally incorporated by the Confederate Act in 1864 so people took various liberties with it’s meaning. But, due to the reasons mentioned above regarding confusion in the battlefield, another flag was created.

This led to the creation of The Blood Stained Banner. This flag was designed in order to avoid confusion by the troops when the wind was not blowing. This flag was more like a revision than a major change and did not add anything major to what this flag represented. I theorize that the flag’s red stripe at the edge was significant of the blood shed by the soldiers whose lives were lost in the war. If looked at it from this point of view this flag might have held some very emotional significance to some. Yet, this would be the last design before the surrender of the south, and after this event the flag would proceed to hibernate until it saw its popularity resurface by military units composed of southerners in World War II. But, this was not a very popular act to a certain descendant of one of the generals of the Civil War, since it was a war fought by people from all over the United States.

As the 1900’s passed certain groups like the Ku-Klux-Klan or the Skinheads started using this flag as a symbol with historian Gordon Rhea stating that “They did not appropriate the Confederate battle flag simply because it was pretty. They picked it because it was the flag of a nation dedicated to their ideals: ‘that the negro is not equal to the white man’. The Confederate flag, we are told, represents heritage, not hate. But why should we celebrate a heritage grounded in hate, a heritage whose self-avowed reason for existence was the exploitation and debasement of a sizeable segment of its population?”.  This is what it all boils down to when congress is working to eliminate the sale, and flying of this flag because it symbolizes something that is marred by a history of hate. People who complain about political correctness have probably never been in the receiving end of racism or unwarranted hate. It’s not a good feeling. I understand that sometimes political correctness can go overboard, but in this case it’s the same concept as the name “Redskins” for the Washington football team. There will always be people who defend negative symbols because changing them would be like destroying tradition (I will elaborate on later on).

I’m not opposed to the observation of this flag in a museum or a history book. I am opposed to what this flag once symbolized, and the history that it carries. As a Puerto Rican I am aware of the plight of the underdogs, but in this case we must understand the comparison between the Swastika and the Confederate flag. Both of these flags symbolize something very negative to two respective groups of minorities, which is their oppression.  When people look blindly at tradition as a motive for keeping the status quo it inhibits societies progress. But, this is simply not a good reason for flying this banner. I will admit the Confederate flag deserves respect, in as much as any historical artifact. It also deserves a place in the history books with a thorough explanation of what it once stood for in order to avoid the confusion that is happening at this time with future generations. We must never erase our history because without it we simply cease to grow as a society. But, sadly it sometimes appears that society is terrified of change.

There is a theory that this is due in part to a certain fear that is instinctive in humans to dislike change. When we can’t follow customs it feels like we deserved to be punished. To challenge the customs that our forefathers set for us is a betrayal that we must never commit. But, this is wrong. Most individuals simply don’t see this as fear, and instead see it as an infringement of their “Freedom of Speech”. However, if this bill passes it’s simply not going to make it a crime to fly the flag yourself. It’s not going to stop you from sewing a copy of the flag. It’s simply not going to be as easily acquired or flown in Government buildings, and is that really a bad thing? The government doesn’t want to be associated with something that stood for racism and hate at one point (oh God, the humanity will somebody please think of the children!!!). The way politics are these days it’s not like the Government is very popular either so it’s definitely got to work on its image. Traditions evolve all of the time. This case is no different than any of the ones that have come before it. If we are to look at a brighter future then we must be willing to make sacrifices even if those include symbols that we hold near and dear to our hearts.

As always like and share if you enjoyed the article and let me know if you have any suggestions for future topics. I hope you guys enjoyed reading on the history of this treasured American artifact as much as I liked researching it.

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