Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Red Flag

So this happened:

Yesterday the news hit that a Confederate heritage group called "Virginia Flaggers" has leased a plot of land south of Richmond on Interstate 95 where they will be flying this flag:

Virginia Flaggers maintains that this is part of the group's goal: to honor their ancestors and the area's heritage.

In response to the announcement, there has been very vocal opposition to the hoisting of the flag. Many people are offended and upset, angrily decrying the flag as a symbol of hate, oppression, racism, white supremacy, and outdated dogma. Some feel the flag will negatively reflect on the area, deterring tourists, and serving as an embarrassment to residents. According to King Salim Khalfani, Richmond NAACP Executive Director, “It’s going to continue to make Richmond look like a backwater, trailer park, hick town.” 1

Of course you *know* I have an opinion.

I'll be brief on this point: I take umbrage with Mr. Khalfani's statement. "Continue"? Are you implying that we already look like a backwater, trailer park, hick town?

We do not; we are not. Please don't insult my hometown like that, sir.

And that'll be my most succinct opinion for the rest of the entry.

There are going to be many who look at that flag, as they drive past it on 95, and shake their head. I'll probably be one of them. Whenever I see this flag flying outside a home, on someone's t-shirt, or displayed in the rear window of someone's truck, I roll my eyes, shake my head, and sigh.

The VF has taken the positions of regional pride and historical preservation.

Truth be told, I'm proud to be from the South, to be a Virginian. The simple truth is that I'm proud of my home and what it's taught and given me. It's a part of my heritage, just as Ireland and Italy are a part of it too. And in that same vein, I am very proud of the fact that Virginia has played a historically significant role in some of the biggest moments of this country's history. The Historic Triangle with Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown that served as the cradle to American liberty, Richard Henry Lee securing the endorsement from the Virginia legislature to move that the colonies declare their independence, the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, countless battles for multiple wars, including more Civil War battles being fought here than in any other state; they're all parts our history. It's all part of why I love Virginia.

So on a very basic level I get where the Virginia Flaggers are coming from.

Still, and this where things get sticky, their argument isn't exactly airtight. The same argument for heritage and historical significance could be made about the Nazi flag. Many who fought under its colors died. They had families, they had a homeland, and they had convictions about what they were doing. Maybe your average Nazi soldier was concerned about the balance of power and the state of the economy. Maybe some wanted to have domination over groups of people, dehumanizing their very existence. Or maybe some of them were good guys that fought a bad war. We could talk shades of grey all day. But given the emotions the Nazi flag inspires and what it symbolizes to the world over, do we go to sites of related historical significance and fly that flag? Probably not. (Granted, there are groups who would be fine with the flag. Neo-Nazi political parties are still vocal in several countries.) Do we have the flag displayed in museums though? Absolutely.

Oh yeah, I just compared Nazis to Confederates. Believe me, I know I'm going to get nastygrams for that one.

And yet, while I give a look askance when I see it displayed, I'm okay with the VF flying the flag on the property they've leased.

The First Amendment states, in part, that the government shall not abridge one's freedom of speech. The Museum of the Confederacy at Appomattox and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts have both previously declined to fly the flag, and as a result, the VF has organized protests in response. Neither of these museums is under any obligation to provide a means for the VF to exercise its members' right to freedom of speech. However, on their newly leased property, the VF is perfectly at liberty (har har) to say whatever they like. Obviously they have to meet local zoning standards and local laws, but assuming they do, the group is free to display their flag under the First Amendment.
Though it is not something I would choose to display, I take this attitude:

(Side note: The person who originally said this wasn't Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, or Voltaire, though it's certainly Voltarian. It was a woman named Evelyn B. Hall who wrote under the pseudonym S.G. Tallentyre.)

Basically what I'm saying is I don't have to like it, but the truth is we have a Bill of Rights, and sometimes we don't always like what it covers.

You might have noticed my usage of "the flag" throughout this entry, and that's absolutely deliberate on my part. The VF and many of the publications writing/commenting on this story have failed to make an important distinction, and it is a huge pet peeve of mine.

This is not the Confederate flag:

That would be the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, or the Second Confederate Navy Jack Tennessee Battle Standard, depending on the shape (Northern Virginia is square vs. Tennessee is rectangle.) That is not the flag of the Confederate States of America.


"Stars and Bars" is derived from this flag, the original flag of the CSA:

Stars were added throughout the time it flew as more states joined the Confederacy. This flag was ultimately changed because some felt it looked a little too much like the flag of the United States of America. It flew from March 1861-May 1863. 2

The 2nd flag of the CSA:

This flag was changed as there was concern that the abundance of white might give the impression that an army was surrendering, if the flag was not entirely unfurled or the wind was blowing in the wrong way. This flag flew from May 1863-March 1865. 2

The 3rd flag of the CSA:

Called "The Bloodstained Banner," this was the final flag of the CSA, but very few saw service, as the war was concluded only weeks after the flag was designed and produced. 2, 3

Why does any of this matter? It matters, because if you're going to use the argument that you're honoring the flag of your ancestors, you better sure as shit be flying the right flag.

So while I'm a proponent of the idea that society defines the symbol, I take some amount of pleasure (mixed with a dash of irritation) that there are a lot of people running around using the incorrect flag. Maybe it's not much consolation to those who are offended by the flag, but it's something.

In conclusion, people are going to do what they do. History, heritage, freedom of speech, honoring sacrifices of those who served under the flag, as well those enslaved under it, being mindful of the zeitgeist, personal values, etc., all go into the debate. There's no clear right or wrong answer except that the flag they're hoisting is historically inaccurate.

Related: For those of you with a sense of humor and/or who've already secured their hand basket to Hell, please enjoy this episode of South Park:

Edit: Special thanks to my friend Byron, who helped make this a more accurate post! "...The Second Confederate Navy Jack is exactly the same as Tennessee's Battle Standard but is a brighter colored blue and not navy blue. The Confederates definitely weren't known for their originality lol." Thanks Byron!!

Works Cited:
1. Strong, Ted. "Flag Flap: Confederate Flag Will Fly Along I-95." Richmond Times-Dispatch. N.p., 7 Aug. 2013. Web. 07 Aug. 2013
2. "Flags of the Confederate States of America" Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 07 Aug. 2013.
3. "Flags of the Confederacy." Museum of the Confederacy. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Aug. 2013.

Hell yes, I did a 'works cited' section. BA in English is being put to work!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Edward Snowden = Carmen Sandiego

Edward Snowden is Carmen Sandiego.

No, no! WAIT! I know what you're thinking, but stick with me for a minute!


He stole something from the Chief.

Read: The US. And they want to capture the thief and get back that which was stolen.

Snowden has international syndicate of people helping him get around the world and cover his tracks, so as to prevent apprehension.


Read: China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Wikileaks, etc. Obviously Russia is Eartha Brute.

There's a gaggle of teenage gumshoes (at times in raspberry berets!) trying to catch him.

Read: The FBI and NSA.

And no matter how much people shout at the gumshoes, they just can't manage to find him.

One of the main sources of shouting from my early childhood. QATAR IS NOT EAST OF INDIA, YOU DERP!!!

His name even syncs with the theme song.

Even as an adult, I hear something else when they sing, 'on a slow boat to China.'

Given all of this information, PBS has more than prepared the US for this manhunt, but has equally prepared Edward Snowden for evading capture.


Edward Snowden = Carmen Sandiego.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lose vs. Loose or "Don't be a loser: Know the difference between lose and loose."

I never intended this blog to so frequently harp on grammar/correct word usage, but the rampant abuse of vocabulary just pisses me off so much, I can't sit idly by. Plus I think I'm developing a twitch from resisting the urge to smack people when they misuse words. It's normal to react violently to people using words incorrectly, right?

You cannot be an adult and not know this one. People are going to look at you when you use one word when you clearly mean the other, and they are going to judge you. Harshly.

Lose: As in to fail, as in to not win, as in to misplace or go missing.

Loose: As in to be set free, as in not tight, as in a joke about your mom.

A good way to remember the difference is to consider related words:

Lose: Lost, loser, loses.

Loose: Loosen, looser, loosely.

The best example I can think of to help someone remember is this:

There is no show called "Loost." These people are missing and are therefore LOST.

I can't think of any other way to make this clearer, and really, neither can the internet. There are a bunch of resources on this word mix up, but most of them reiterate pronunciation, which doesn't seem to be helping anyone. Their complicated explanations which utilize z's, u's, and other letters that do not belong, were confusing, even for ME.

So the next time you're confused about lose vs. loose, just remember that Lost is not a show about an island of castaway whores (or your mom.)

You're welcome.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Time Machine: Rupaul's Drag Race, Season 4

Alright, so it took me a while to finally track down and/or buy episodes of Season 4 of RuPaul's Drag Race (no thanks to Netflix!) but as of a few weeks ago, I finally got caught up on all but Season 1 of RPDR.

There are only a few things highlights from Season 4 that are worth mentioning:

This Fantastic Bitch, Willam:

That's a gif from her hilarious (and NSFW!) YouTube show, "Willam's Beatdown." Her sarcasm in the face of infuriated competitors is just one of the many reasons why I love her so much. Plus her crocodile tears were so hilarious.

This Professional, Chad Michaels:

She's Cher, bitch! Seriously, best Cher I've ever seen. She might do a better Cher than Cher. Unrelated: I have repeatedly typed 'Chef' when I meant 'Cher.' Chef =/= Cher. I don't think.

This outfit from Little Kenya Michaels, which she unfurled in a wing-like fashioned:

This is only a highlight because when I saw it, I thought this:

She can say she's a phoenix all she wants, but I'm not buying it. That queen spits venom and ate Newman.

And last, but certainly not least, the best thing about the season, my soul sista, Latrice Royale: "She is large and in charge, chunky, yet funky. Bold and Beautiful, baby!"

Oh, and this happened in February!

Yep, I got to meet her at Nu Nightclub! A friend of mine, Eric of "Pop My Flash" snapped the pic of us together! (Heads up, Eric's page features fitness model shots, which may be considered NSFW, depending on your office's policies.)

Yep, these are my pics for highlights. The other contestants aren't really worth mentioning... and you'll note I didn't even include the winner in this bunch. While she is a talented performer and artist, and her work is clean and well thought out, I just didn't find her look overly appealing. And that's okay.

She's still a Glamazonononon...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Conscious vs. Conscience

My vaguely insulting blog entry that discusses the difference between Specific vs. Pacific is consistently one of my biggest traffic generators. I had no idea there were so many people who needed the clarification. And yet somehow, I'm not surprised.

I had several snide remarks ready to explain why I'm not surprised, but then I remembered that I probably shouldn't insult people taking the time visit my blog. Besides, I live to better society! I'm kind of like Batman, when you think about it.

And in the spirit of Batman, I'm going to teach you the difference between 'conscious' and 'conscience.' That way you can avoid looking stupid. I'm like a vigilante; preventing vocabicide!

Conscious has several meanings, but for our purposes, we're going to go with these definitions:

Example: Cartman proved Kenny was not conscious by waving a dollar in his face.

Classic episode.

'Conscious' is used pretty often as a part of other words like 'unconscious' and 'consciousness.' The former word indicates a lack of the latter word.

Conscience has a completely different meaning and application. Namely this:

This is what crickets looked like in 1940.

Or more precisely:

Your conscience is that voice that tells you the difference between right and wrong. Depending on who you are, it can be kind of aggressive.

Hopefully that clears up any confusion there might have been. It bothers me to no end that people were unclear on the proper usage of these—but wait! Citizens! It is the Bat-Signal! I must go and render assistance!

Which can be purchased from this vendor.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sunday Funday & Community Support

So we got that last bit of snow I wanted! Haha..ha..ha....oops. Sorry to everyone for ruining your first week of spring with my unfulfilled wintertime wishes! I can’t say I’m completely sorry though! It was really quite pretty. I was fortunate enough to remember to take pictures of some of the spring time flowers in the area before this weekend--something I’d been meaning to do!

I love crocuses (croci?) because they're the first hint that spring is coming!

Sadly, most of the flowers I’ve seen post-snow look a little bit worse for wear.

Sad flower is sad.

Another casualty of the snow, Church Hill’s Irish Festival was forced to close early on Sunday. But that was not before a few friends (@rvaplaylist, @kevinclay, and Cristina) and I had a chance to peruse the festival.

Perhaps put off by the forecast and cool temperatures, the crowds were thin--which made Andrew and I VERY happy, as we despise being rammed in the ankles by strollers (being driven by distracted parents who also forget the importance of the phrase, ‘I apologize for that!’) Kevin got his “best ever mac and cheese” made by the lovely people of St. Patrick’s Church. I’m not the biggest fan of their mac and cheese--though I know many would disagree with me. I have ridiculously high standards for one of my favorite foods. Still, that didn’t stop Kev from enjoying it.

I could watch this .gif for hours.

Andrew too. He’s enjoying it so much he had to look away from the camera in order to hide his tears of joy.

After that, it was a quick loop around the festival because the temperature was dropping RAPIDLY. I picked up my long sought after RVA Beard League sticker from Dash.

I fucking love mustaches.

And I got some green beads from the Irish American Society to add to my ever expanding collection.

I really love beads.

And we perused the wares of the vendors. We particularly enjoyed the Say Something Hats.

Don’t they look so handsome? Those hats are definitely saying something. Sadly I neglected to get a picture of Cristina in her fabulous fuchsia chapeau. She definitely looked Strawberry Hill ready!

After the hats and nearly getting run over by a herd of bagpipers (Kevin screamed when he turned around and saw them bearing down on us,) we all decided we wanted a sweet treat, so we headed to one of my favorite places in Church Hill: Sub Rosa Bakery. While en route, the impending winter-esque weather we’d been hearing all about began to come down in the form of painfully sharp bits of ice. (“You know how I--OW! DAMNIT!”) Sub Rosa was a welcome haven, after a few blocks of having this stuff pelted at us.

This picture is from their Google Places page.

It’s amazing. This bakery is one of my favorite places in RVA. It’s so amazing, I didn’t get any pictures of the food because I could only think of consuming the delicious baked goods when I got them. This “problem” has been the case every time I’ve gone there. My favorite item they have is, so far, the seeded braids. They’re chewy and buttery, and they have a spice that I can’t quite identify that makes the flavor so unique and lovely. We headed back to my place after the bakery where pastries were consumed and couch cuddles were had.

Soon thereafter everyone else left, and I got into my PJs, cuddled up in front of my space heater with Season 2 of The Simpsons, and proceeded to take a nice nap. Only to wake up to this:

It was so pretty out! I got a chance to enjoy the snow on my walk with the lovely Brittney, with whom I went to Patrick Henry Pub for some drinks and dinner.

Sunday Funday indeed! It was a really great day, I must say!

It’s worth noting that people attending the festival were much more well behaved this year than last year, aside from continuing to forget that you’re not supposed to park next to a fire hydrant. I’m not really worried about that though, because I have faith the Richmond Fire Department won’t hesitate to do this if my house catches on fire and there’s a car parked next to the hydrant:

Update: So I held off on posting this entry for over a week because I was determined to get up early, go back to Sub Rosa, and get pics of the pastries, but I never was able to get up early enough. Sadly, around midnight on 4/3/13, a fire broke out and Sub Rosa and the above apartment were badly damaged, which led to the building being temporarily condemned. It’s so sad and my heart goes out to the Sub Rosa family and the residents affected by this. I’m really glad everyone is okay.

Efforts are being made to assist both parties in the interim, while insurance does its thing. The community has been rather amazing in their response. It's made me an even prouder Richmonder. Three fundraisers have been organized, and I hope you’ll participate in one.

There's Indiegogo, which is raising funds to help both the residents and the bakery. Over $14,000 has already ben raised!

food truck event has been organized, featuring some of Richmond's best mobile restaurants!

And The Roosevelt, along with several local (FANTASTIC!) chefs are holding a dinner next week--something I'm really looking forward to!

Also, very important, the residents managed to get their cats out, but they ran off in the chaos of the night. Please help them find their pets!

Here’s hoping the bakery will be up and running in some capacity soon (the owner thinks it could be anywhere from 4-6 months.) I'm so happy they'll be rebuilding!

And since that update was a bit depressing, even with all of the community support, here's a .gif of Kevin dancing in a wig.