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PTSD, Interesting

ScienceDailyLogoThis links to an article on a study done in Denmark. The study was carried out on Danish soldiers who served in Afghanistan.

The main thrust of the article lines up with my own experience and gut feelings on PTSD.

Michael Yon brought it to my attention with this post.

I’ve done no actual research into the matter and, as I said, only post this because it lines up with my own gut feelings on the matter. I’d be interested in your thoughts on PTSD. Please, comment freely.

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Red Meat wins again!

Red Meat 19 June 2012


My heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones in Aurora, Colorado this weekend. The kind of fear, pain, and horror their loved ones experienced in that theater, and the kind of fear, pain, and horror they are experiencing now in the aftermath have no place in a civilized world.

The urge to do something, anything, to prevent such a thing from ever happening again is a powerful and worthy one.

Like all such situations, allowing ignorance and fear to guide us in our decision-making is a bad idea.

I’ve been reading and reading and reading the internet’s response to the incident in Aurora and I see a lot of ignorance and fear that lead to statements I disagree with and which are, often, just plain wrong. The people making these statements are probably acting in good faith. They just don’t know what they’re talking about.

One of the best responses to most of the anti-gun arguments being raised can be found here at Larry Correia’s blog. I can’t add much to his words on the philosophical and legal side of the house.

However, there’s one aspect to this whole discussion that has bugged me more than any other: the idea that a CCW license holder in that theater would have just made things worse.

Idea 1: “A victim with a gun in that theatre would just have killed even more people with their wild shooting in the smoke and the darkness and the confusion.”

Wrong, and here’s why. Anyone with any familiarity with guns (I’m putting CCW holders in this group) won’t shoot unless they have a clear target and a clear backfield. In this case, if they didn’t have one because of the darkness or the smoke, they simply would not have fired their weapon until they did. You only see crazy undisciplined shooting in movie firefights, which is where the people raising the objection get their information about the use of guns.

Oh, terrorists and gangbangers also practice the “spray and pray” shooting style. Neither group equates, at all, with legal CCW holders, though most of the people objecting to the idea of defending oneself seem to conflate them.

Thus, if it were so dark, smoky, and confusing that a CCW holder would not have fired, we have no change in the outcome, certainly not a worse one. Psycho shoots who he will shoot.

Let’s say, however, that CCW holder did have a good shot. This takes us to…

Idea 2: “The shooter was wearing head-to-toe body armor so your pistols would not have worked. Duh, you scary-gun-people!”

Wrong again. People who get their information about the use of guns from the movies seem to imagine that this head-to-toe body armor granted Holmes invulnerability, the ability to walk unconcerned through gun fire like Arnie as the terminator.

Those of us who have some experience can tell you that being hit with a bullet while in body armor is like getting hit with a hammer while wearing a T-shirt. Not something you can ignore. While pistol bullets  may not have penetrated his armor, they sure as hell would have gotten his attention, knocked him off balance, possibly even knocked him down. Those precious seconds while he was dealing with hammer blows would, unarguably, have saved lives.

Please, let’s not allow ignorance and fear to rule our decision-making about guns.

 

 

 

TheAmazingSpider-ManI was not looking forward to this film when its marketing push first started. We already had one of these didn’t we? Good ones even.

And the actor playing Spider-Man looked like a goof. Especially his neck. I didn’t like the look of his neck. It was way too long.

Then as we got closer to the release of the movie and more story details crept out my ears perked up and it started sounding more interesting. As Lou Anders pointed out in a tweet there were details about this one that were ineffably right. Peter stayed in High School and had to deal with bullies and being a bully. He lived at home. He had a New York accent. His girlfriend was a blonde Gwen Stacy. He made his own web shooters. The list goes on. The film looked like it was staying far more true to the source material than others had.

Staying true to the source material is, of course, not a recipe for automatic success in a movie. It’s usually a recipe for disaster, books and comic books being so very different from film. But this one worked.

It worked well. I loved this movie. I will own it.

The acting was good. The action was good. The effects were good. It was all good.

Which makes me think about originality. How original can such a film be? Nothing about it was original. Not the story nor the characters nor the concept itself. It was a complete retread.

Yet I loved it. And I did not feel like I was watching something I had seen before.

It’s certainly possible to be unoriginal with something like this. It’s been done. Yet this one worked.

I think I’m starting to understand what Brandon Sanderson means when he says that originality for originality’s sake is vastly overrated.

Whatever you’re doing, do it well, and you’ll be fine.

 

 

It’s been too long and I simply must give a shout out to Tangent Online and Joe Giddings for reviewing Armored.

Mr. Giddings liked my story and said as much  in his review , “In my opinion, the best story in the anthology.”

You made my day. Thanks, Joe!

 

Myke Cole wrote an intriguing piece over on Jim C. Hines blog the other day.

It was entitled Uniform in the Closet: Why Military SF’s Popularity Worries Me. In it Myke opined that there is a widening gap between the citizens of this nation and our military. Which is especially troubling when you consider the concept of the citizen soldier and how ubiquitous it has been until these recent phases of U.S. history. Military service members, current and former, are increasingly being considered a breed apart. Myke posits that Military SF’s growing popularity is really a manifestation of people’s fascination with the ‘other’ that the actual military is becoming in our culture.

I couldn’t agree more.

One reason for that growing separation is the fact that so few of our nation’s citizens serve in the military. One reason for that, I think, is the legacy of the Vietnam war. So much political hay was made of the military during that period, so much of it blatantly negative propoganda that the stigma was ingrained into an entire generation and is being passed on today.

Returning vets in the 60s and 70s were greeted with everything from harsh words to oven cleaner in the eyes by so-called ‘peace activists.’ Today I have received almost universal thanks and compassion for my service, usually from people who would never ever consider serving themselves. Which is the very problem Myke describes.

“Love the soldier but hate the war” does nothing to help the reputation of the military as a whole since we are the one’s prosecuting the war that is being used as political leverage.

Myke talks about wearing one’s uniform in public. He’s right. It used to be common place. It isn’t anymore.

I myself have, in the past, been very annoyed when I saw soldiers trundling their luggage through the airport in uniform. American soldiers are all taught not to do that. Travel in civilian clothes, don’t draw attention to yourself or your mission. It is the baseline SOP to travel incognito.

When soldiers travel in uniform today most (not all) of them are doing it in the hopes that someone one will give them attention or buy them lunch. That pisses me off. Being in the service is not a license to beg or show off.

But if it became common place, sanctioned and encouraged by the military leadership for CONUS travel, all that would change.

Myke gives the two big reasons why it is discouraged: OPSEC and Force Protection.

OPSEC: If every single traveling soldier traveled in uniform it would be very difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions about operations or troop movements out of the noise. Frankly, the news organizations are more than capable of betraying all that anyway, not to mention the social networking sites.

We would lose nothing and perhaps, if Myke is right, gain a great deal by increasing the visible presence of our military in the general population. Certainly worth a try. (Though I am loathe to give up the comfort of traveling out of uniform)

Force Protection: If you are a soldier traveling CONUS incognito, you are less likely to be a target. The implication of this, of course, is that some other poor schmuck will end up being the target, probably a civilian.  There is an argument to be made that this is the moral parallel of putting your bomb factory next to an orphanage.

If some bad actor wants to target Americans and would choose a soldier over a civilian, good. Make it easy for him to target a soldier instead of a civilian and see where that gets him. It’s our job to take those kind of risks so joe civilian doesn’t have to. Why then are we hiding ourselves among joe civilian on our home territory in hopes that the bad guys will choose someone else?

Of course, with our current crop of enemies, they’d much rather hit civilians than someone trained to defend themselves. Less risky that way.

I’m pleased as punch that Military SF is growing in popularity. I want to sell books and I can write that. I hope it’s not a sign of bad things to come. But it could easily be.

 

Roswell-UFOI’m in Capitan, New Mexico right now. The birth and final resting place of Smokey Bear. (Not Smokey THE Bear just Smokey Bear. Get it right you soft-shoed urbanite.)

I’m learning  how to track people. When I’m done I’ll be able to wear a patch that say “Tactical Tracker” on it. My inner boy is so excited he can hardly breathe. I think it’s pretty cool too.

70 miles away is Roswell, NM, site of the infamous Roswell UFO Incident. The town apparently has no bars of note, and no clubs, so I will not be going.

I will, however, point out that an old religious leader of mine, a mormon bishop, claimed, in all seriousness, to have been one of the Air Force MPs mobilized to provide security around the crash site on that fateful day.

If the government really is covering up the recovery of an alien spaceship, well, somebody is going to pay, someday.

If by no other method than hordes of aging and disappointed SF fanboys hunting them through the streets like Han Solo after a TaunTaun on the Orient Express. There will probably be other groups involved in the gutting too.

DunceJohn Scalzi wrote an intriguing piece the other day exploring the metaphor of life as a video game, specifically the premise that Straight White Males have life the easiest of all character classes in the U.S. of A., as if the difficulty setting on our game of life is set to the lowest possible increment.

My first thought was, “Yeah, so what?” Given the level of outrage, however, I thought there had to be more to it than that so I continued to explore. There were some interesting objections to Scalzi’s piece to be found on the internets.

One interesting objection was raised by Erin Hoffman who points out that Scalzi is basically co-opting Gamer culture as a noob or even outsider and using it in an extremely shallow fashion to make his point in a way that inherently disses gamers. I found her argument to be well reasoned and, while a little shrill, extremely reasonable.

Boiled down, many others argued that because SWMs sometimes have it hard too, Scalzi shouldn’t single us out as having it easy. The problem there is that Scalzi is not saying we (Yup, SWM here) have it easy, but rather that, ON AVERAGE, we have it easier than folks with no claim on those three classifiers. Society is coded with our type of folks as a baseline.

I think he’s right. There’s some deck-stacking going on out there and frankly I wish I could take advantage of more of it. SWMs built the system we all live in after all, it’s predisposed to be biased. I honestly believe the framers of our constitution did a bang up job of making it as unbiased as possible. And also that no one could have done it perfectly, or forced people to be perfect, and there are problems. And there are already solutions inherent in the system, they’re just not being followed/enforced.

My take away from Scalzi’s piece is that his point is blindingly obvious to most people, and his cloaking of it in an elaborate metaphor was unnecessary and probably caused many people to read more into it than there was, leading to a great deal of frothy madness. His audience likes the “Enlighten our reprehensibly unenlightened brothers” meme a great deal though, so I can forgive him. I can also forgive him because he so often enlightens ME. He’s a brilliant guy who just happened to do a little talking down in this case.

The final question that seems to get asked about his piece though is, “What do you want me to do about it?” The speculations on what his answer to that question might be are legion and mostly wrong.

I already knew my own answer before I ever read the piece. It was said best by Wil Wheaton, “Don’t be a dick.”

There is no need to feel guilty for things you have never done (in this context that would actually fit the definition of racism and a whole slew of other reprehensible ‘isms’). There is no need to go on a crusade of political and social activism. Just don’t be a dick. Be nice to people. If you find yourself in the wrong, whether that be in a specific instance or in general attitude, just make amends and try to do better the next time.

Simple and familiar.

The last month has been pretty crazy for me. I spent most of it in Korea doing various mentally and physically strenuous things. Separate post for all of that.

While I was gone the anthology I’m in with Brandon Sanderson hit store shelves. I missed going to a bookstore to see it on opening day, being in the far east, but I was pretty excited nonetheless, showing tweets announcing the event to the guys in the barracks and threatening them with dire bodily harm if they didn’t evince a little more excitement for me. “Yay!”

And, of course, returning home is often not as relaxing and stress free as one imagines it will be, so the first opportunity I had to actually go see ARMORED in the wild was Saturday April 8th. It coincided with a signing Larry Correia and Mike Kupari were doing for there new book DEAD SIX.

Dead SixMike just returned from Afghanistan where he worked as an EOD tech for the Air Force. Welcome home Mike and congratulations on the book!

I stopped to say hi to Mike and Larry and to grab a copy of Dead Six before I hit the shelves to gaze in wonder at my name in print in an actual store. As always Larry was the epitome of benevolence and courtesy. He asked me to grab a copy of Armored for him too so I could sign it for him. My head almost exploded.

The computers said the store had three copies but the very helpful sales associate was only able to locate one at first.  I gave that one to Larry, (Baen sent me two contributor copies earlier) and signed it for him.

While I was scribbling at their table one of Larry’s fans perked up and said, “Hey! I just bought a copy of that book.” Which explained where the second of the three copies the computers thought the store had had gone. I signed that one too.  Missed an opportunity though. I wish I’d had a picture taken with me Brian and Larry, showing off my two very first actual signed-with-a-pen books. Definitely going to remember to do that with my first actual novel.

At about that time the sales associate returned with the third and final copy of Armored, which I bought. Which means that B&N in Sugarhouse is bone dry now. I hope they reorder.

Crimson Pact II also met Paul Genesse the very cool and friendly author of the Iron Dragon series, which I have not yet read but which my sons absolutely love. Paul is notably making an increasingly successful go of the e-book/POD (print on demand) business model with a series of anthologies called THE CRIMSON PACT. I think I may submit to that…

All in all a great first week back. Now to get back in the groove on the novel Brandon and I are doing.

dangerous_vet

Or should I say Irresponsible News Media? Or even Cynically Deceptive News Media?

They all fit.

One weekend while I was in Afghanistan (during my second straight year of combat deployment in 2003) my wife and children attended an event put on by the Utah National Guard for soldier’s families. The Utah Guard tries hard to support families and mitigate as best they can the negative effects of their husband’s/family member’s absence in service.

While there my wife was approached by a reporter from a local news organization. The reporter, a woman, told my wife she was grateful for my service and wanted to get the message out about what a soldier’s family goes through during a deployment. A human interest piece.

My wife agreed and they set a time to meet at my home and record an interview.

During the interview the reporter asked a lot of questions and the film crew recorded the entire thing. They were very ‘feely’ questions and my wife cried a couple of times. She was going through a lot that year. As you can guess, a soldier’s deployment is not easy on the family at home. She was frankly grateful that the reporter wanted to tell her story.

Problem was the reporter DIDN’T actually want to tell my wife’s story. She had her own story to tell.

When the piece aired my wife was shocked and horrified. The reporter had brutally cut and edited her tearful answers to innocuous questions so that they looked like answers to completely different questions. Then they’d play some footage of a soldier madly firing a machine gun and screaming. They deliberately made my wife look as though she was afraid I was going to come home and murder the children and maybe the neighbors.

And that was the story they told. It wasn’t a human interest piece. It was a story on how soldiers in the Global War on Terror were going to come home ticking time bombs and murder someone.

Which is why this story cuts so deep. That dishonest and sensational narrative gets endless play in the News Media and it’s a lie.

My wife’s story goes further. Having calmed down about the dishonest and disrespectful way she had been treated by that reporter she made a phone call. She called the reporter and told her how much she had liked the story. She gushed about it. Then she asked the reporter if she could pretty please have a copy of the full original interview footage for our family archives.

The reporter told her she’d need a subpoena to get that footage and hung up on her. The reporter knew exactly what she had done and had clearly done it on purpose, with malice aforethought.

You can see why I am refraining from naming the reporter or the news organization. A woman and an organization that cynical would have no qualms about breaking my little family in half for speaking the truth about them on this subject. I realize that it’s unlikely they’d care enough to target us but I remain cautious.

So, go out and hug a veteran today, or something. They won’t bite. Probably. 😉