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Posts tagged ‘selfish’

Whatever Happened To Real Fishermen?

I think everyone understands that fishermen are a pretty tough lot. Long before The Discovery Channel turned crab fishermen into rock with “Deadliest Catch” or George Clooney got flipped ass over teakettle in “The Perfect Storm,” the public knew that it’s a pretty special person who will get on a boat and sail over the horizon in search of food or riches. Commercial or recreational, fisherman understand that long before land disappears off their stern, their fates are in their own hands and whether they come home or not will depend heavily on a combination of skill and luck.

So how exactly did the first people to arrive on the scene after the DEEPWATER HORIZON drilling platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico turn out to be a boatload of opportunistic sissies?

Bradley Shivers and the crew of the 31-ft RAMBLING WRECK were fishing near the rig when the fire broke out and MAYDAY calls filled the radio. The Coast Guard urged any boats nearby the rig, located 50 miles offshore, to respond to the disaster. The RAMBING WRECK stowed the fishing gear and headed toward the flames. It was everything they feared it would be …

The 20 minutes it took the fishermen get to the rig felt like forever.

What are we going to see when we get there? Shivers thought.

The men kept communicating with the Coast Guard, describing their coordinates and what they were hearing over their radio as they closed in on Deepwater Horizon.

For a second, just a second, disbelief gripped them. Flames blazed across the water’s surface, jumping 500 feet. And the heat….

People were flailing in the current, hurt, screaming. Others clung to life boats.

“We’ve got friends that are missing,” someone shouted. “Please go search!”

The Deepwater Horizon was enormous, its destruction so vast that the friends had to keep using their binoculars. “You’d see something floating in the water and we’d go up and try to find out what it was. You know, is it a person?” Shivers recalled.

I’m sure becoming a sudden participant in such a disaster would be a frightening experience, one that someone could retell over the years with a great sense of pride and accomplishment. Instead, these guys are on anti-anxiety medications and talking about suing BP.

“We could have been sitting under that rig,” Mead said. “We could have been on the victims’ list.”

He said he’s taking anti-anxiety medications and though he rarely fought with his wife, he says he’s gotten short with her lately.

Only adding to the stress, Mead said, the BP oil spill has destroyed his charter ship business.

They have left messages with BP and Transocean’s hot lines and claims departments and sent e-mails to the companies, Shivers said.

“‘Hey guys, we were there. Can we tell ya what we saw? Can we, you know … I may have information that can help ya’ll out,'” Shivers said, describing his messages. “Zero calls. Nothin’. No one’s ever called us back.”

The men say they are suing BP for emotional distress.

Everyone who runs a boat – regardless of type, size or purpose – understands that the first priority of any oceangoing captain is to preserve the life of those in distress. It doesn’t matter if it’s a French fishing boat plucking Abby Sunderland off her damaged sailboat thousands of miles from shore, a marlin boat rescuing a downed spotter pilot off Catalina or fishermen called to save wildcatters about to burn to death – you drop what you’re doing, you do what you have to do, and you don’t whine about it. I don’t doubt it’s an experience that will stay with you for life, and I applaud the men for responding to the call.

It would be one thing if the fishermen suffered injuries in the rescue attempt, or the boat was damaged or they were dragging dead bodies out of the water. Perhaps it’s just the way the article was written, but there’s no evidence the crew did anything other than stand by – I’d think if they were plucking oil-soaked workers out of the water, you’d hear about it. These guys sound as if their biggest complaint is that they weren’t paid proper attention to by BP – and, until now, the media. The sad part is that in the end, there’ll be a fat check written to reward these slackers for doing what every boater I know wouldn’t think twice about doing – and wouldn’t consider complaining about afterward.

Sad indeed.

And You Think Your Neighbors Stink

As the saying goes, times are tough all over. Unemployment numbers continue to grow, bank failures are at record highs, and a trip to the mall is like visiting a ghost town. There aren’t very many good news stories in the economy thse days.

It’s the number of shuttered businesses that really catch my eye. The number of major chains that have failed is staggering, and some days it seems there are more empty storefronts than filled. It must be challenging for the small business owner as well, as they have to face the very real possibiity of abandoning their business. That’s an option that’s unpalatable under the best of circumstances, but for one town in South Dakota, the failure of one particular business has become an affront to much more than the palate.

Ilan Parente owned a small meat packing company in Bridgewater, SD, and faced the same economic challenges as most small businesses. He moved the business to Minnesota, but left behind the inventory – 44 tons of frozen bison. That’s where the story really gets interesting.

When the town about 40 miles away from Sioux Falls began to warm in the spring, the smell began to creep out. Some said the scent was like road kill. The mayor said he spent two tours of duty in Vietnam and could not recall smelling anything as bad.

Of course, by then, Parente was long gone. He claims to have had an agreement with a pet food company to gake the bison, and that they simply didn’t come. Once he – and his money – were gone, the power was cut and nature took over. And Parente clearly has limited concerns for the good folks of Bridgewater – or anyone but himself.

A woman who answered the phone at the Minnesota business said Parente is no longer affiliated with it. Requests for someone to comment went unanswered.

Parente has said before that he checked the meat in May and found it iced over due to a broken water pipe. He’s claimed the meat might have stunk but says he never put anyone in danger.

“I feel bad for the people of Bridgewater who had to live with the smell. But that’s really where the extent of my feeling bad goes. It wasn’t ever a health hazard to anyone.”

They ways that character is forged in the crucible of crisis, and it’s pretty clear that when Parente’s character was challenged, it simply melted away. Apparently, it’s all about you, pal …

When Did Civility Go Out Of Style?

One of the things I try not to do as I get older is to sound like my parents did when I was a child.  You remember what it was like – make a mistake, and out comes the stories, usually prefaced with “back when I was your age”.  You would cringe at the thought of what was next – the car with a crank on the front … the icebox … walking to school in the snow.

While age does give a certain wisdom and perspective, I work hard to understand things in the context of today.  When I see the way high school kids choose to dress, I try not do judge, remembering that there are more than a couple questionable fashion trends in my generation’s past (hello, parachute pants). But there are those things that would seem to be unrelated to generational differences that just make me shake my head. Treating people with respect would be one such example.

I don’t know if I was raised right or just got lucky, but I’m a reasonably well-mannered individual. I open doors for women, respect my elders, and value the opinions of others. You’d like to think everyone else was as well, but we’ve had several recent examples that would indicate that’s not the case.

It started when Rep. Joe Wilson couldn’t hold his tongue during last week’s speech by President Obama to a joint session of Congress.  Now, every Republican in the room disagreed with what was being said, but only Wilson yelled out, “you lie.” 

Next up was Serena Williams, whose meltdown at the US Open over a judge’s call led to her exit from the tourney.  Incredulous at the call of a foot fault at a critical point in the match, Williams lashed out at the line judge telling her, “if I could, I’d shove this f&%$ing ball down your throat.”

Completing the trifecta was rapper Kanye West, who jumped on stage Sunday night in a cognac-fuel haze and grabbed the microphone from singer Taylor Swift as she tried to accept an award.  “Taylor, I’m really happy for you, and I’m gonna let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time!”

No one wants to deny anyone their right to believe what they believe, or give voice to that belief. But there’s a time, and a place, and a way.

Representative Wilson, if you disagree with President Obama’s policies, get in line – you’ll have lots of company. But the man is the President of the United States – respect the office, even if you don’t respect the man. I guarantee that if one of your Democratic counterparts had done that to President Bush last year, you’d have led the charge with torches and pitchforks.

Serena, we understand that you are a fiery competitor, but even in the heat of battle you can’t lose you head in such a graphic fashion. Even if you proclaimed “I’m not a role model,” as did Charles Barkley a decade ago, this kind of behavior would be totally unacceptable. When you write books and design fashion and position yourself as an example for young people to follow, the damage is even more significant. Frankly, you’re lucky you weren’t suspended for such a tirade – I suspect a player with less of an impact to the tennis bottom line would have been.

And Kanye – you were just wrong, man. As Katy Perry twittered, “it’s like stepping on a kitten” – hell, even the President thinks you’re a dumbass. Props for being man enough to go on Leno Monday and take your lumps, but you really need to take a good look in the mirror. Doing it from inside a rehab center might not be a bad idea, either.

In each case, the individual involved didn’t believe they were wrong only apologized once they realized they were facing a tide of bad press and public outrage. To me, that’s almost worst than the initial outbursts – at least take responsibility for your choices in life. But unless and until people start to face the true consequences of their actions – whether in political defeat, cancelled sponsorship contracts or diminished album sales – it is unlikely this trend will reverse any time soon.

As a people, we are all the worse for it.

You Stay Classy, San Diego …

If you’ve been around SCMO for a few years, then you already know that the MarlinBlog is an offshoot of the SCMO Fishing News, our twice-weekly offshore report.  Back in the day, we’d mix the snark in with the facts and data of the news reports to come up with something entertaining and educational all at the same time.  Now that we’ve upgraded the Fishing News to a true blog format, people like to point out the irony of the FN being about marlin while the MarlinBlog isn’t.  This, however, is one of those rare times when we’re actually gonna talk marlin at the ol’ MB.

Anyone who knows our history knows that my position on killing marlin is well-established. You can read more about it here, but in a nutshell – you shouldn’t. Whatever reason you use to justify the killing simply doesn’t stand up, with very rare exception. That said, I respect the right of an individual to choose to do what they want with their fish, provided they are willing to take responsibility for their ramifications of their decision and disposition the catch in a responsible manner. The only thing that will piss me off faster than someone who kills a marlin for nothing more than a boost to their ego is someone who then wastes the fish … especially when it happens in the 619

It started with the discovery of a mutilated, striped marlin that had been dumped in a drainage ditch along Morena Boulevard, north of Claremont Drive. The marlin was intact, except for its beak. Someone had sawed it off and, presumably, taken it as a trophy. This was an estimated 100-pound striped marlin. Some trophy fish, eh?

It could have happened anywhere, I suppose, and there are certainly places in the world where this might not have been all that uncommon a sight.  But in this case, it was San Diego, and I just can’t say I’m surprised.  Over the years, SCMO has had a love-hate relationship with the anglers in the SoCal’s southern fleet.  They’re some of the most dedicated fishermen on the West Coast, and the distances they’re willing to run for fish during the short offshore season is amazing – particularly when most of it is in Mexican waters.  But they’ve also been the slowest to adopt conservation measures, particularly when it comes to marlin.  Search the archives of the Marlin Club during the past decade and you’ll see a long series of arguments between SD anglers and myself with regard to their unwillingness to change their behavior.  That doesn’t mean that there aren’t dedicated conservationists who call San Diego their home port – I know many who are embarrassed by the neanderthal-like attitude displayed by their brethren – and it’s true that the attitude is changing … slowly.  But this kind of waste cannot be allowed to happen, and the loudest cry needs to come from the same anglers whose reputations are tarnished every time something like this happens – the marlineers of San Diego.

As for the jackass who thinks the bill of a rat marlin is somehow a credit to his manhood … I’ll be in Avalon this weekend, most likely at the Marlin Club.  Drop by, and bring that bill with you.  I’ll show an appropriate method for you to display it and the ignorance it took to claim it as a prize.  Just make sure you bring the lube …

In an item that’s unrelated other than it being mentioned in the same article, SCMO’s own Bob Hoose managed to shoot off a toe with a shotgun over the weekend.  This is one of those funny-but-serious things that we’d never laugh at, other than the fact that Bob already is.  If you have a strong stomach, you can get the details here

What Ever Happened to Personal Responsibility?

I’m a pretty easy-going guy. It takes an awful lot to really set me off, but when you do, I’m usually off for a while. Few things set me off as quickly – or thoroughly – as people who shirk responsibility for their own circumstances in life … particularly if they’re at the same time busily blaming others for them.

That kind of “responsibility blind spot” is nothing new, of course. It was on full display in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when the residents and anyone else who could come close to a microphone were busy blaming the government for everything from the speed and amount of relief to the presence of the hurricane itself. Never mind the fact their families had been living below sea level for generations – they couldn’t possibly share responsibility for their situation … could they?

Today’s news headlines includes three prime examples of that basic failure to even acknowledge that people in difficult circumstances just might share in the blame for their woes.

Yesterday, Bernie Madoff was sent to jail for what is effectively a well-deserved life sentence. He can’t possibly pay back the money he swindled away, but he at least stood up in court and took responsibility for his actions, such as it is. Meanwhile, a series of his victims tearfully stated their cases to the judge, explaining how their life savings had been lost, they’d been force to liquidate all their assets, or they’d been reduced to using food stamps.

Here’s the question I’d like to ask: sure, you’re a victim of Madoff’s crime, but don’t you feel some sense of responsibility for your position? Did you never question the unusually high rate of return or the wisdom of placing so much of your future in the hands of one man? A quick read of “Investing for Dummies” would have saved you from all this grief – unless just maybe greed got in the way? Don’t you feel at least partially responsible?

Next story – the mortgage meltdown. A lot of unscrupulous folks offered mortgages to people who couldn’t qualify for them and had no possibility of paying them off. The bankers knew this, of course, and factored it into the plan. The financial markets tanked, and they’re largely responsible for it. At the same time, thousands of people are at risk of losing their homes because they can’t pay the mortgage.

No one questions the crimes of the bankers, but why doesn’t anyone hold the homeowners accountable as well? No one forced them to sign the mortgages, or threatened to shoot their dog if they didn’t – they looked at the amount of money they needed to pay back each month and decided to go for it. How can this not be at least partially their own fault? The media is inundated with advertisements for law firms that will sue the banks to get your payments or balance decreased, but why is it not acceptable to suggest these people move into a home they can actually afford?

The last example is the state government here in California. Talk about your dysfunctional family – these guys are terminally screwed up. At midnight tonight, unless a budget is miraculously passed, the state will be out of money – again – and will try to pay its bills with IOUs. It’s not like they didn’t know there was a deadline or that there might be ramifications if they failed to act. But you have a bunch of dogmatic ideologues lining up against each other, perfectly happy to blame everyone else for the situation they – and we – find ourselves in. One side refuses to cut funding, the other to increase taxes. Of course, your average 6th grade civics student would tell you that it’ll take a combination of both to get the job done, but these guys won’t hear of it. Instead, they’ll start lining up in front of the cameras starting at around 11:30 to make sure that everyone understands it’s the other guy who’s to blame.

I’m all for holding people accountable for their actions, whether corporations, governments or individuals. But seldom is responsibility an isolated entity – like a mouthful of fresh peanut butter, it tends to stick to everything. You just can’t fling accusations at everyone else and not expect someone to point out when you’re splattered yourself.

Oh, Suck It Up

You’d think that in our litigious, it’s-all-about-me society, we’d seen pretty much every possible selfish abuse of the justice system. And you’d be wrong.

Back in January, USAirways Flight 1549 completed one of the shortest flights in commercial aviation, departing New York’s LaGuardia Airport and splashing down minutes later in the Hudson River. Among the passengers onboard that day were Tess Sosa and her family. While everyone agrees that USAirways has done a good job of dealing with the needs of the passengers, Tess isn’t happy. Why? Because they won’t keep paying for post-crash therapy for her … and her 4-year-old daughter.

Relief over her family’s survival can’t undo the trauma she endured after the January 15 landing, during which she had to scramble over seats with her infant son, Damian, in tow.

Water rushed into the plane as she turned and saw her husband, Martin, sitting at the back of the plane with their then-3-year-old daughter, Sophia. She recalled her husband “in shock with my daughter being held up high, the water coming in, and hoping they’d see me.”

Another passenger “bear hugged” her and Damian and escorted them to the exit.

Today, Sosa still remembers how she felt that day: “the possibility, the imminent death, just waiting to see if the plane was going to plunge any further in the river.”

OK, let’s level-set: You and your family all survived the accident without injury, received $5,000 each from USAirways, who also paid for three therapy sessions, and you have health insurance. But that’s not enough?

Here’s where the “all-about-me” syndrome surfaces:

“I expect my family to be taken care of in the very best way possible, and I don’t feel like that’s happening when you’re balking at my claims to a therapist and you are setting limits on that,” she said.

I’ve got a news flash for you, lady – in life, things happens. Every day, people get on airplanes or buses or trains or cabs and some of them don’t come home. Yes, there’s a basic obligation to take reasonable measures to insure your safety, but this was a damned flock of birds – rather than flapping your greedy gums, you should be kissing Captain Sullenberger’s ass that you still have a family to worry about.

Or perhaps you’d like to switch places with one of the families on Air France 447?

Appalachia … Argentina … No Real Difference, Right?

Where have all the good people gone? Clearly not into politics, as we once again learned today.

For the last few days, the political buzz has been about South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and his disappearance. First, his wife and staff claimed to not know where he was, then they said he’d gone off solo hiking in the Appalachians. Today, the truth finally came out – he’d been in Argentina … with his mistress.

The press had found his state issued car at an airport in South Carolina, so clearly someone was lying. When he was spotted at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, a news conference was hastily arranged, where he explained everything – and it was more than his political foes could have possibly hoped for.

“I’m a bottom-line kind of guy. I’ll lay it out, it’s going to hurt, and we’ll let the chips fall as they may,” Sanford said as he spoke with reporters.

Sanford said his affair began as a friendship, but “over this last year, it developed into something much more than that.”

“All I can say is that I apologize,” he said, adding that he would appreciate a “zone of privacy” for the sake of his family.

Right – like that’s gonna happen.

When this story first appeared, my initial response was to give the guy a break. I can completely understand how a governor would want to take a break, particularly after a bruising fight with his state senate. Here in California, Arnold has his cigar tent to retreat to; this just sounded like Sanford’s way of blowing off steam away from the spotlight.

But when your staff doesn’t know where you’ve gone, and you’re out of communication with the world – and your wife doesn’t seem to care that you’ve gone missing – you’ve really crossed the line. Sanford was going to be in some pretty hot water even before admitting just where he’d gone. Now, he’s done.

At the news conference, he was apologetic, and announced that he was stepping down as the head of the Republican Governors Association, but that’s just not enough – he needs to resign as governor. As a politican, your word is the only real capital you have, and his is now meaningless. He can play the “I’m only human” card and ask for forgiveness, but he lied to the people of South Carolina, to his staff, and to his family. He has no credibility whatsoever, and does the state a disservice if he opts to remain in office to fight the inevitable impeachment charges. If he’s really interested in doing the right thing for his state, he’ll step down now.