Category: Social


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.

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.

 

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.

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. 😉

13 Syrians die attempting to rescue foreign journalists from Homs

13 Syrians die attempting to rescue foreign journalists from Homs

In the days after the 9/11 attacks I was treated to footage of ecstatic crowds on the ‘arab street’ celebrating our tragedy. This joined the many years of footage from places like Israel and Lebanon depicting the joy with which the ‘arab street’ greeted suicide attacks, bombings of innocent civilians, and the murder of men in wheelchairs.

I saw this unseemly glee condemned by responsible members of the muslim world who were, unfortunately, extremely thin on the ground and very short on action or even calls to action against the responsible groups. I was told again and again that the atrocities committed by the few extremist jihadis, were not in line with the teachings of the Koran and should be condemned by all true muslims. Yet the attacks continued unabated and evidently unopposed by the nations and communities from which the jihadis sprang and operated. In fact, quite the reverse, in ‘Palestine’ the people put the murdering terrorist group Hamas into power in a popular election. And other murderers enjoyed a kind of Robin Hood status in muslim communities around the world, their faces adorning boxes of children’s candy and cereal like a wheaties sports hero among a hundred other things.

This soured in my soul.

However, during my service in the Middle East, in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan I met and worked with local people in all three countries who were brave and committed to the principles of peace, personal responsibility, and the rule of law.  They exist.

Now we have this story. Syrians putting their lives on the line to resist the murdering regime and fulfill their human duty to correct the reprehensible actions of other members of their community.

I salute those Syrians fighting for freedom. I would gladly deploy again to help them in their struggle.

Rather telling I think.

Breaking the Law

This story has set me thinking.

To summarize: Man comes home to find his home burglarized. Man sees the burglar crawling out of his neighbor’s window. Man yells at the burglar to ‘Freeze’. Burglar does not freeze. Man fires handgun into the ground and repeats his command to freeze. Burglar freezes until cops come and arrest him. Man is charged with ‘reckless conduct’ which carries the same penalty as the burglar will get for his two counts of burglary.

What is wrong with this picture? So many things.

My first answer is obvious. The Man should not be charged with reckless conduct. He acted wisely, courageously, and responsibly. He stopped a burglar from getting away with his ill-gotten gains and also prevented the burglar from committing further burglaries, adding to the safety and security of his community. Bravo. On top of that, if the guy crawling out of his neighbor’s window had NOT been the burglar, the worst that would have happened is one citizen being detained by another for a few minutes. So, the Man was doubly responsible for not shooting the guy since there was no way for him to know for sure that the dude in the window was the burglar. Double bravo.

Yet, his actions do fall under the legal definition of reckless conduct. And I think I’m OK with a law against discharging firearms in residential neighborhoods. And I’m also OK with their being a law against detaining random people at the point of your gun. It gives the cops something to throw at the asshole being stupid with his legally owned guns. This result, however, I am not OK with.

So what to do? The answer, obviously, is to show some common sense.  The Man should simply never have been charged. Someone in that police department or prosecutor’s office didn’t have the stones to take personal responsibility for the situation and simply say, ‘The Man acted properly, he shall not be charged.’

Yet, more objections can be raised. Am I really advocating that the law be selectively applied at the human whim of the government? I suppose I am. It’s not as bad as it sounds though. This selective application of the law is an inescapable effect of allowing ourselves to be ruled by laws.

We’re simply not capable of writing laws that would lead, mechanically, precisely, to the just outcome in every case. Can you imagine the wording of a law that would prohibit dickwads from firing their guns into the air in residential neighborhoods but yet would be granular enough to not catch the Man in their net?

It all comes down to actual humans applying common sense. Always.

Yup.

demotivational-poster-mistakes

 

Complaints.comOn Thursday before my last drill weekend my wife started looking for a couple of twin mattresses and box springs for my two boys. We’re changing their sleeping arrangements. She found two for sale on KSL.com. A deal was struck. She and her mother showed up at the seller’s house with her dad’s pickup truck.

The seller rolled up his garage door to reveal a plethora of mattresses in heaps and rows filling his garage. There were the two twins on the front row.

But, lo and behold, a Certa  King mattress presided over one corner of the stack.

“How much for that one?” my wife asked.

Because it had fallen on the ground at some point it was slightly smudged. For this reason, the seller said he would let it go for $95. An excellent price.

“I’d like to buy that one too,” says wife.

“Excellent,” says the seller.

“I only have the $100 dollars for the two twins but I can get you the other $95 later today.”

“Excellent,” again. Money was offered and received.

The two twins and the King, sadly, would not all fit in the pickup my wife and her mother had brought.

“Not to worry,” says the seller. “I will deliver all three tomorrow and you can give me the $95 for the king then.”

“Wonderful,” says my wife. “Thank you so much.”

“No problem,” says the seller.

The next day, Friday, comes and goes with many phone calls between wife and seller but no delivery.  Wife starts to get a little nervous because she has paid $100 but has no mattresses.

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smallpox victimAt one time, small pox was a big thing. It was horribly contagious and it was usually fatal. It needed to be stamped out. Vigorously.

As a culture we did that. We campaigned against it, vaccinated everyone we could and were ruthlessly efficient about it. As it’s prevalence began to fade we pursued it into the dark corners and vaccinated it out of existence. We never rested until it was gone gone gone.

We wiped it out. Not only did we wipe it out, we still have the vaccines and occasionally groups of people still get vaccinated against it. I, for one, have been inoculated and I bore the third eye for two weeks as proof. We have not forgotten.

I see racism following a very similar path.

Racism is by no means stamped out. We are not at the end of that struggle and since racism is an idea instead of a physical organism we may never see the end as we did with small pox.

But it is in the later stages of the stamping out process. I think we’re over the hump. Racism is retreating to the dark corners and we are pursuing it, ruthless as ever. I fervently believe that someday we’ll get it all.

Unfortunately we’re seeing a phenomena with the struggle against racism that we did not see with the one against smallpox. There are people who make a profit from the struggle rather than the cure.

Some folks take donations to help further their cause in the political fight against racism.

Some people sell things that purport to further the cause. Things that promote diversity and expand other people’s minds. Books, Music, Magazines, etc…

Some people simply enjoy a bit of positive notoriety and media buzz because of their penchant for speaking loudly and voluminously about the evils of racism.

All of these people, as truly angelic as some of their intentions may be, have a vested interest in racism as a going concern. They make money as long as racism is something that must be trumpeted from the rooftops and rabbleroused against.

Such people tend to see racism, or at least say they see racism, where there is none.

This is as damaging to the struggle against racism as it would have been had the pharmaceutical companies attempted to turn every cold, every flu, and every sniffle into a smallpox outbreak.

People would have stopped listening. They would have started to doubt the dangers of smallpox. Let’s not go there folks.

Racism is real. Let’s keep it that way.