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  • PTSD and Sensational News Media

    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. 😉


  • We don’t need no stinking mattresses!

    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.

    Continue reading  Post ID 899


  • First Fanmail

    Armored CoverThis only ever happens once in a writer’s career. The first fanmail arrives and your world changes forever.
    Maybe I’m making too big a deal of it. I don’t know. It feels like a big deal to me. There’s someone out there, whom I’ve never met, that likes the story I wrote. Likes it enough to go to the trouble of emailing me to tell me so.
    Huge.
    The email in question came in on Jan 5 2012. It was short and to the point:

    I just finished reading ‘Heuristic Algorithm and Reasoning Response Engine’ in E-arc of Armored and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. Thank you and keep up the good writing. I can’t wait to find more of your work.

    He bought the e-arc of Armored from Baen, here:  http://www.baenebooks.com Notice that there are many other e-books from other excellent Baen authors also available.

    So, a huge shout out to my first fan, JM.  Thanks dude, I will literally never forget you, creepy as that sounds.

    If it makes you feel better I will probably never forget my first hatemail either. There’s no way to tell when it will happen but, given the nature of the internet, it surely will.

    I’m kind of excited about that too.


  • A Way to Look at National Debt

    “You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
    What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
    The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
    When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation.
    You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.” – Adrian Rogers, 1931

    So, the paragraph below is what I first posted after that quote. I, frankly, hadn’t had enough time to do more than peruse the headlines on the matter. My mother shortly reached down my gullet and yanked out the liberal talking points I had swallowed. It honestly never occurred to me, even after all these years, that the left and their puppets in the media would lie so blatantly. Fool me a hundred times I guess.

    The Tea Party and its fellow travelers may have picked a poor time and place to make a stand on taxes and the debt limit. By my understanding the obligations which the debt limit had to be raised to meet were already extant, already on the books, already spent. People were owed money and had to be paid. Paying our debts was the right thing to do, as it always is.

    In point of fact the government  (read presidential administration) could have started cutting programs and firing people, or, more pragmatically, directed their underlings to do so all the way down the chain, and crested under the debt ceiling. They chose not to do this and instead excoriated with vast sprays of scorn those who suggested that perhaps we ought not to be spending so much money.

    Bloody ridiculous. When you’re spending so much you’re approaching your credit limit you stop the spending. You cancel the cable. You tell little Susie she’s going to have to practice the violin at home for awhile as lessons are out of reach. Maybe you sell the violin. You don’t simply raise your credit limit. Unless you’re stupid.

    “But where do you cut? Which children do you send away hungry?” Excellent question. Better start figuring it out now ’cause things are not going to get better with more government spending. See the above quote.

    The root problem is still the same, the government spending far far more than it takes in. (Notice I did not say ‘makes.’ The government does not make money.) And that problem has not even been touched. The current administration is spending more, faster, than any administration previous and they make the argument everyday that the only answer to the economic problems of the country is to spend yet more. I don’t buy it.

    In spite of all the obfuscation streaming from the left and the right alike, spending more than you make is unsustainable. The solution to approaching the credit limit on your credit card is to stop spending so much bloody money, not raise the limit. If you have to raise the limit to make your mortgage, do so, and then put your house up for sale and start looking for apartments that you can actually afford. If you start badgering your employer for a raise because you can’t afford your lifestyle, he’s likely to laugh in your face and tell you the same thing. Stop spending so much money. Unfortunately, our government does its badgering of its employer, us, from behind a gun, and they want their money.

    The cold heart of the matter is that we are looking at the approaching end of our way of life and government because that government won’t stop spending too much  money, much of it on ridiculous bullshit programs.

    I’ve had friends yell at me and accuse me of killing innocents over this issue. The first place the left reaches to cut the budget is always defense, one of the most clearly appropriate venues for the spending of taxes. I suspect they do this because they know the military doesn’t vote for them and largely places the welfare of the country over their own personal convenience. And the other folks on the payroll?: GS drones, welfare recipients, academia, etc…overwhelmingly vote democrat. When you must pay for votes to stay in power, cutting spending is unlikely at best. See the quote above.

    Currently I’m suckling from the government teat. I’m in the National Guard on full time orders. I’ve deployed to combat three times. My full time job with the guard also involves me risking my life for this country. I’ll volunteer again. Cut my job. Do it. I dare you. If it’s part of reigning in the insanely out of control spending we’re perpetrating right now I’ll welcome it with open arms.

    And you know what? I’ll land on my feet with another job, probably making more bloody money, and I’ll still vote republican because as ridiculous as they are lately they’re still better than the left.

    A MODEST PROPOSAL

    Stop all foreign aid. All of it. Every dime. Our house is not in order and we, frankly, need to put that first. Take all the foreign aid money and start shoveling it against the debt. Anybody know how much we spend in foreign aid every year? I don’t. I don’t have time to figure it out either. I’ve got a bloody job.

     


  • Back From Montana

    And a good time was had by all.

    We actually got back a couple of weeks ago but life  has been too busy to post here.

    So, apparently there’s a push coming down from on high that units in the Utah NG and elsewhere provide ‘proof of training’ beyond the word of their officers and NCOs. As a result the command had a photographer/videographer along on our AT in Montana. Thousands of pictures and videos are promised to the men of the unit but so far all we’ve gotten is this teaser video.

    Note that the guy twisting in the wind at 1:30 is our company commander. He may not know how to exit an aircraft but he sure knows how to put on good training.


  • PATV

    I once referred to Penny Arcade as the ‘one true comic.’ I still feel this way.

    Lately, I’ve become addicted to PATV. I’m pretty sure ‘addicted’ is the wrong word, actually. I don’t binge. I’ll watch, sometimes, two episodes at a time.

    My restraint is not a symptom of apathy toward the product. It is only possible through iron self-control. For PATV is an extremely limited commodity. There are only so many episodes glistening in their neat rows, waiting to be harvested at my leisure. Once I watch the last there will be no more, until the gods dole them singly out at a shameful pace. So I limit myself.

    My fascination with the victories and secret shames of the .jpg business has been a puzzle to me. I’ve finally decided, though, that the show is a glimpse of the promised land. I’m like the fisher boy peering past the City of Enoch as it passes through the fiery portal far above my head.

    I’ve worked in cubicle farms. I work in one now. To work and get paid in an environment such as is portrayed in each episode of PATV… Joy.

    Of course, I have no relevant skills. I sketch. I can run five miles in forty minutes. I do monkey work in InDesign and Photoshop. I know how to find and kill bad men up close and from afar. None of these skills or their corollaries would be useful…there. They would likely be handicaps.

    Yet I can’t stop watching.

     

     


  • Schlock Mercenary

    I know Howard Tayler, the creator, author, and artist of the web comic “Schlock Mercenary.” He’s a great guy, smart and fun to talk to. A few years ago a mutual friend recommended that I read the comic as I’d probably get a kick out of it, I being in the military and the strip being about mercenaries and all.

    I looked up the site, went to the beginning of the strip, and did not read it. Aside from being an arrogant typer of words I fancy myself an artist. Strictly part-time and amateur, but I do draw. The art in Schlock Mercenary was terrible. So terrible that I didn’t like looking at it. I feel guilty saying this now because, for heavens sake, here was a guy drawing a comic strip day-in-day-out and making money at it and all I’d ever done with my drawing was sketch in my little sketch books that I never show to anyone. But it was bad.

    First Strip

     

    So, jump to March of last year. I’d finally met Howard and we got on famously. I decided to try again on the strip, just jump into the middle as it were and start with the current strip and keep reading every day until I had a handle on the story line. Joy of joys the art was no longer bad. It was, in fact, fantastic. And the story, which I hadn’t really given a chance on my first attempt, was fun and smart too.

    Strip I Read Last Year

    Which brings us to today. I still read the current strip everyday. Howard is apparently famous, and rightly so, for posting a new strip everyday without fail since day one (12 June 2000).

    Now, however, I’ve started over at strip one and kept going.  I’m watching his art evolve as I do. I’m talking both story and line art here. It just gets better and better.

    Nicely done Howard. Nicely done.

     


  • Back From Africa

    I’ve been out of the country for a while and busy for longer than that.
    I deployed to Senegal Africa with the National Guard and had a grand old time.
    Senegal was interesting. Among other things it was almost entirely populated with black people. Who knew? Coming from Utah, this was quite a difference. It wasn’t long though, before it became apparent that most things were still very much the same. The Senegalese seem to be primarily concerned with putting food on the table and generally making their way in the world.
    Among other things, Senegal is very proud that their country has never had a military coup. Also, they have the largest Baobab forest in the world. This forest was, apparently, about 10 kilometers south of where we were in Thies. I wouldn’t know as we were too busy to make it there. I did get to go into downtown Thies on several occasions as well as see a bit of Dakar but raw tourism was pretty much off the table.
    There were some trinket vendors just outside the section of the Senegalese military base we were on, well, not really trinkets, most of it was nicer than trinkets but you get the idea.
    I determined that I wasn’t going to buy statues of any exotic animals unless I saw those animals during my stay. As it ended up, I could have bought a statue of a goat, a pig, a horse, or maybe a cow. The elephants, lions, giraffes and monkeys were not in evidence. Very exciting. So next I asked if I could get a wooden piece made from baobab wood. I was sternly informed by a women manning one of the tables that baobab wood was no good for carving. It’s really not even good for making fires. You can make rope or clothes out of it if you’re really desperate. Instead I wanted some nice teak pieces. Yes?
    I don’t know if baobab wood got such a bad rep because the woman didn’t have any to sell me or if it’s really no good for carving.
    Gris Gris were no good either. Gris Gris are charms, good luck charms in particular. I asked if they had a gris gris specifically for luck in battle. Nope, just luck in life in general. I went back and asked for a battle specific gris gris a couple of times until finally it became apparent that they would probably hand me one the next time I came back and tell me it was for battle just so I’d shut up.
    I did see a nifty mask though. It’s an ugly little thing, totally unlike the other masks on the table. Upon questioning the woman told me that it was a bird mask of the Seti people in the old style. It was so ugly it kind of grew on me in only a few minutes so I bought it.


  • The Leading Edge

    So, the word just went out that the humanities department at Brigham Young University has cut funding to The Leading Edge magazine yet again. I am not surprised. The Leading Edge is a good magazine that publishes genre stories, science fiction and fantasy. The humanities department at BYU is littered with literary types who desperately want to be respected by their peers in the rest of academia but are stymied at every turn by the moral standards BYU holds them to. (I know this because I got a degree in English from that august institution)

    Imagine their horror when they gaze upon The Leading Edge, churning out genre drivel (otherwise known as thoughtful and well written science fiction and fantasy stories as well as articles relevant to the field) and using up valuable budget dollars. Horror of horrors, The Leading Edge also gets submissions from all over the world and subscribers (sadly few in number) who aren’t other literary academic professionals. How dare they? Let us cut their funding, ignorant proles.

    I myself had a limited experience at The Leading Edge, mostly reading slush and doing the occasional illustration. But that was because I ended up working with “Life the Universe and Everything” the scifi and fantasy symposium that gets put on in spite of itself every year at BYU. However, the basic desktop publishing and photoshop skills I started with and which landed me the last job I held, for seven years, I learned through The Leading Edge and the symposium together.

    Dan Wells had a much more interesting and intensive experience there and he explains why it was valuable.  I can only concur.

    Help out The Leading Edge by subscribing. I did.