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A hearing involving a United States Coast Guard administrative action is convened at a criminal courtroom in Manhattan. Veteran merchant marine captain, Joseph K., has been charged with Misconduct for failing to urinate according to a narrow regulation for a random drug test and for failing to properly document his nonurinator condition. The associated court transcripts and legal briefs serve as an introduction into modern day maritime culture. Personal journals, vessel log books and navigation work books are used to examine related topics including social interactions aboard modern merchant vessels and technical aspects of shipboard life. The theme of modern man and the sea is interwoven throughout the book and serves as as background for a bizarre run-in with the drug testing establishment over federally mandated random drug testing.
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The author, Joseph J. Kinneary, is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy. He holds an unlimited US master mariner license and has served as a deck officer, including captain, on over 30 inland and ocean-going commercial vessels while sailing to all cornors of the globe. Mr. Kinneary has a Ph.D. in biology from Rutgers University and has published several scientific papers.Review:
Book Review The Good Lord Hates A Coward (An Account of Life As A Merchant Seaman) By Joseph J. Kinneary, Ph.D. (2005) Captain Kinneary is a man who, in recent years, has lived up to Rudyard Kipling's advice, keeping his head when all about him seemed to be losing theirs and blaming it on him. His 144-page book, published privately by his own company, JK Marine, for the most part begins its narrative with the author's entry into Kings Point in 1971, then charts a course through a seagoing career that, on December 27, 2001, was unexpectedly dashed on the rocks by a random drug test required by United States Coast Guard regulations. Kinneary has a documented medical condition known as shy bladder syndrome. Individuals suffering from this not-all-that-rare neurological malady find it extremely difficult, even impossible, to urinate under stressful conditions. At his December 2001 callup for random urinalysis, which occurred while he was employed as Master of a sludge tanker for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Kinneary was unable to produce a urine specimen within the allotted time. His on-the-spot offer to submit instead to blood testing was summarily rejected, and within a short time Kinneary found himself out of a job, with his license under attack, charged with refusal to submit to a urine test. In a real-life narrative eerily reminiscent of a George Orwell novel, Kinneary (who may suffer from shy bladder syndrome but who is not shy about discussing it) takes the reader through a disturbing saga of work suspensions, administrative hearings, medical benefit denials, and so forth: a plethora of bizarre and draconian consequences of a single failure to produce a specimen, which, collectively, can only be described as symptomatic of an administrative agency malfunction of the highest order. When one reads of the troubles thrust upon this experienced, learned mariner (he also holds a Ph.D. in Marine Biology from Rutgers) despite the fact that there was never the slightest indication that he had actually used any illegal drugs, one cannot help wondering whether the complex web of regulatory oversight that is being spun around maritime personnel in recent years can possibly be achieving its stated goal of increasing shipboard safety. The book is a mustread for every seafarer, marine personnel manager, maritime lawyer, and concerned citizen. Jim Maloney --The Fort Schuyler Mariner
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