Wednesday, July 22, 2015


As a followup to my previous post about #GamerGate, I really feel the need to talk about Doxing.  For those not aware, Doxing is the practice of finding a person's personal information and blasting it on message boards.  Pure and simple this is not ok.  I don't care what justification you feel you have, there is absolutely no good that can come of this.

I've seen people justify it by saying that they were guilty of hate speech.  One gentleman said "don't even give me that First Amendment nonsense.  You have every right to say it, and I have every right to find your address and put it out there!"  What's scary is he said it to a fairly large audience that cheered him as he said that.  No!  That's an invasion of privacy.  That's absolutely wrong.

Let us say that an individual is opposed to transgenderism, and says he believes our current method of treatment is feeding the delusion.  Its understandable that maybe there might be some hard feelings there.  It's also understandable that people's reaction to a transgender saying "do you want to go home in an ambulance" might be a bit passionate.  Ok but that might be the end of it.

But then some random guy has the audacity to say that people calling said transgender "classy" don't understand the meaning of the word.  That same transgender releases the information for said random critic on twitter [note: I have a link for the tweets in question but as it shows this man's address I won't post that on an open forum].  It went from light scorn to nuclear option in .02 seconds.

Now let's depart from reality for a second and acknowledge that there are some crazy people out there.  Let's also acknowledge that whenever theres an issue that strains passions, it'll illicit strong reactions.  Maybe the light scorn that the critic had gets blown way out of proportion (like it already has), and someone whose emotions are high decides to act on those high emotions.  We've seen examples of assault, that people think is completely justified because it was "provoked."  We've seen people who thought assassination was perfectly justified (see Lincoln).  How hard is it to imagine someone taking a random tweet WAY out of context and acting on it?

In recent years there's been protests at houses of people of prominence.  Privacy rights seem to have gone right out the window.  I don't know if it began with the NSA, or what, but suddenly people think that this form of harassment is perfectly justified.  That anyone who disagrees with the politically "correct" position must be punished.  When did we in the West begin to think this was ok?  You fear harassment so you'll preempt the harassment by harassing someone?  Why?

Take it from someone whose lived in situations of 0 privacy, privacy is one of those freedoms they don't talk about until it's taken away.  Life can go from hunky dory to insufferable hell in the blink of an eye all because you lose privacy.  There is absolutely NO justification for doxing.  While I'm generally against saying there should be laws about somethings I find doxing so insidious that in this case I'll make an exception.  If its not already, Doxing should absolutely be against the law.  

Monday, July 20, 2015

Thoughts on #GamerGate

I've played games ever since I got an NES and Super Mario/Duck Hunt for christmas as a child.  I've played games for years without ever thinking it was an identity or lifestyle.  Guess I would be called a "gamer" but I'm not as hard core as some folks, and I've always stayed out of the politics of the gaming industry.  I don't really play indie games mostly because I don't have the time in my life to be trying out new games all the time.  I typically find one game I like, immerse myself into it, then move onto another game (with occasional wistful trips back to old favorites).  I like FPS, RTS, and RPGs typically.

So with all that said, I'm passionate about getting good games.  That's why when I heard about #GamerGate, I dived into it with gusto.  I'm both sorry and glad I did.  I'll explain my mixed feelings later, let's start with one simple question; What is #GamerGate aside from a widely used hashtag?  Well it's certainly a scandal (worthy of the "gate" title).  It started with a manifesto of sorts, from a jilted lover.  The manifesto wasn't kind either.  His ex lover was a game developer that had cheated on him with a game journalist to get a good review for her game.

Almost immediately, the responses decided people strongly into two camps in the gaming community.  I'm really not going to get into the back and forth, because it would require you figuring out who is who and even attempting to explain all the back and forth would take hours.  What I found most interesting about the entire debate around #GamerGate, is that the two sides seem to be saying something completely different.  The Pro side is demanding ethics reform in games journalism.  The Anti side is accusing the Pro side of being incredibly sexist and harassing women (in development and gaming).

The disconnect between the two messages is absolutely jarring.  It'd be like talking about China and one person discussing the pollution while the other side discusses the structure of the government.  The back and forth has pretty quickly turned into internet shouting matches.  There were also some incredibly loathsome individuals that emerged.

Perhaps the most ironic part of the whole affair is the Anti side which often complains of harassment, is extremely guilty of the very same.  People have been forced from the internet, and very real world consequences have befallen them.  I've become familiar with terms like SWATing, Doxing, and hell dumping, and it has turned my stomach.  I know death threats aren't typically acted on, but when someone calls your home phone and threatens your children by name over a post you thought was relatively anonymous you can see how far this thing has gone.

I'm not going to get involved in the whole damn thing, other than to say I've come to tacitly support the Pro side.  The more I learn about the Anti side of #GamerGate the less I want to do with them.  Whatever point they might've had has been lost in the morass of various message boards, and it's devolved int accusation and counter accusation.  The Pro side is still pretty consistent with the message that Games Journalism needs to have ethical standards.  Maybe the catalyst wasn't the best in the world, but why would anyone be against ethics reforms in any form of journalism?

There's a lot of money to be made in games.  Its an incredibly lucrative industry.  Some sources suggest the Gaming industry as a whole may make more money in a year than the porn industry.  There's crazy amount of graft that could exist.  The big developing houses could stand to lose huge investments, and indie developers stand to gain unbelievably large amount of money if they land a big hit.  The idea that journalists can be bought with favors, gifts, or sex should stop everyone in their tracks.  What if this were political journalism, or sports?  Would there really be a controversy?  Probably not to the extent that #GamerGate has seen.

I'll finally sum up why I was glad, and sad to delve into the whole controversy.  I was glad for the reason that I was completely unaware of all this going on.  I had my eyes opened to larger issues inside the games industry.  Maybe I may not just look through GameStop in the future, I may look for other places and sources for good games.  I'm sad because I got to see a side of the internet that really there are no words for.  People wishing a person suffering through chemo would have that cancer advance faster.  Organized harassment, calling a SWAT team on someone you disagree with (having police break down your door is in the very least a traumatizing event, at worst it could lead to deaths), releasing personal information and harassing employers and supporters.  Diving into even the surface details of #GamerGate has left me very wary.  I got to see the darker side of the internet, and I'm sorry to report that some of the denizens can be truly twisted.

But as I said, I've come to #GamerGate late in the game.  Whatever it was when it started it isn't that now.  Is it over?  that remains to be seen.  There's no real leader to either side.  There are figureheads that people gravitate towards, but in general this could go on as long as people want.  There have been effects in the mainstream and in the games journalism so it appears that at least on some level the Pro side won, but the Anti side is still going strong too, so where it ends is anyone's guess.  I think I'll just go back to playing Dragon Age.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


In the Middle East, summer months were always fighting months.  No one but the United states really wanted to fight in winter (and to be completely honest we didn't want to fight either).  Summer though?  It seemed like IEDs, snipers and all sorts of other fun parts of fighting would appear out of nowhere and make your life a real fun time.

Even a brief glance at casualty figures will show you that the summer months were not pleasant for US troops.  Fighting picks up in tempo, routes that had been green only a week earlier are suddenly black, people start dying.  It really starts at the end of May and picks up during June, July and Ramadan.  Those are usually the three hottest times in the ME.

Perhaps it is because of this that myself and so many other veterans report lack of sleep, restlessness, and nightmares during this time of year.  Last night for me was particularly bad.  It was the old one I've never been able to shake.  Harrelson in the truck burning, screaming for help and I'm just feet away unable to do anything.  I know he was dead before the truck started to burn, but still. . . its a thought that haunts my dreams.

I know I'm not alone.  I know I'm not the only one with nightmares, but when you face the long cold night alone, when you experience your worst nightmares over and over again. . . well you tend not to want to sleep even when you're exhausted.

I've been sleeping in short spurts over the last week or so.  a few hours here a few hours there.  It leaves you constantly feeling drained and devoid of energy.  Unfortunately there's nothing to do but suffer through it.  There isn't a sleeping pill I've yet tried that actually works and will knock me out for a full 8 hours.  I doubt that there ever will be, and if there was I wouldn't want to get addicted to it.

I'll deal.  It is what it is and I can't really fix it.  I'll wake up with a start.  Remember some horrible dream that leaves me shaken and go on about my life until I can get back asleep again.  That's just the way of things for the summer months.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Let Us Talk of Graves, of Worms, of Epitaphs

The 12th of July.  For many it is an insignificant date.  For me, well it's a reminder that war is a confusing condition.  That innocent and guilty are hard to tell in a shooting war.  As the events of 12 July 2007 fade into the grey fog of history.  The heat of the day has faded, as has some of the furor surrounding the events that occurred in a small district of New Baghdad.

I've talked at length as to what happened that day.  I've written essays, and accounts.  I've compiled eyewitness testimony and documentary evidence.  Despite that people who were never involved in anything to do with what happened that day have lectured me, someone who was actually there, on what happened.  They've told me what soldiers on the ground or soldiers pulling overwatch felt.  People who never put on an IBA have told me all about my motivations, not realizing the person they're talking to was actually there.  

At one point I had the distinctly odd experience of someone pointing to two pictures that actually had me in it to emphasize a point.  It kind of took me out of the argument for a moment, and I looked at the person, and asked them if that was a joke.  Needless to say I had him zoom in on the picture that actually showed my face and told him clearly he didn't know what he was talking about.  That particular individual was somewhat shaken, but still stuck to his guns.  So let us sit upon the ground and tell the sad tale of the death of soldiers.

In war, information is always chaotic.  Those making decisions, or reacting to the situations presented rarely have the best view.  A rifleman on the ground may see something suspicious, but be unable to make the company commander aware of it because he is busy trying to coordinate his company.  But, say people, there's video.  Yes.  There's a video, but what the video doesn't show is at least as important as what it does.  You won't see the soldiers on a rooftop firing a grenade launcher at the reporter.  You won't see how utterly impossible it is to tell who is inside a van from a 5 inch screen while flying in a helicopter.  You won't see the contacts that happened around the event, or the reason the TIC call was made prior to the gunships arrival.

What's most important, is that you con't tell what individuals did that day.  You can't tell what was said or felt.  You can't tell who is a medic, or an infantryman.  You can't tell who is a FiSTer and who is an intel attachment.  If you know what to look for you may be able to tell officers and NCOs, and even tell them apart, but rarely does anybody that hasn't lived that life be that perceptive.  There is a video that offers a quick snapshot of a much larger fight.  It's ugly.  It's to look at.  But ultimately the real tragic part of the video is that rather than people trying to understand what happened they they to use this video as justification for their world view.

Were the soldiers heartless?  Is killing like a video game?  Not in the slightest.  This video didn't prove that soldiers are thugs anymore that it proved that we're saints.  It proves that in war, sometimes "getting it right" is next to impossible.  The Apache gunner keeps shooting even as one person flees, but what you miss are the hundreds of suicide vests, and the harsh reality that with insurgency, mercy is rarely a boon.  You also see a judgement call.  Was it a mistake to shoot the van?  Not entirely.  But again I've spoken on that to death.

I'd like to think that in the end everyone was able to move on.  Truth is I think people are still dying because of this day.  I know at least one has committed suicide, and I'm afraid to ask how many more have.  I think for my part I'd like to put this day to bed.  I don't want to talk about it anymore.  I don't want to defend my actions that day to people who wouldn't understand the first thing about warfare.  I don't need to justify myself or my beliefs to anyone.  I was there.  I saw what I saw.  You can read exactly what I saw in the 2nd Bde 2 ID official 15-6 investigation.  You can read it if you want.

Most of you that had your passions stirred will go on.  Most of you have already forgotten it.  I won't.  I'll live with the memories of that day forever.  Its just what happens, but I think it is time and past time to put this episode to rest.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

I Fear For My Republic

For me, patriotism isn't about frenzied flag waving.  It's not about frantic attempts to prove that being a disrespectful jerk is covered under "Free Speech."  Patriotism is not about going to war for your nation or defending it against critics.  For me patriotism is a deep and abiding love.  You have to love your country, hold true to its ideals even when those ideals aren't currently popular.

America is seen by some a racist bigoted nation that is a giant bully on the world stage.  They see the "post-American" world as a good thing.  Some people would do anything to tare at the very seems of the fabric of our society determined to prove in our nakedness that we are the vile filthy sight they claim.  The very people who deny the beauty of America are the same people who claim beauty in the violent orgies of mobs.  

We were never intended to be a truly Democratic country.  Votes matter.  That's important.  But if we voted every week our political landscape would change like seasons in an Ohio spring day.  Republic was there to give us stability.  There was method to the "madness" behind the structure of our Republic.  

Even the Electoral College, much bemoaned and greatly derided, has a purpose.  There is a method to the madness.  Imagine we just went by the popular vote.  Then a president could focus his or her sole attention on the cities and completely ignore the rest of the country.  Most of the usable land area is used for farming.  America produces a noticeable percentage of the world's food.  If you focused only on what the cities want, the farms, and the way of life that supports them would be left to rot.  You also have to imagine what would happen if a presidential candidate only focused on a geographic region.  What if the South had enough votes to outvote the rest of the country?  

The problem is it's more than just the structure of the government.  Our very history is under attack.  I could point out the recent flap about the Confederate Battle Flag, but there is too much ignorance on both sides.  For me the greatest example of this is the future removal of Alexander Hamilton from the $10 bill in favor of a woman.  What woman?  We don't know right now, some woman, you can vote on that if you want.  The point is YAY WOMEN!  The problem is they're removing one of the ultimate symbols of what it is to be an American in favor of some vague amorphous desire to promote "women."  Why?  Because her sexual organs are more in vogue than Hamilton's?  If you really want a woman on US currency why not ditch Andrew Jackson?  Jackson may have started an "era" but it was not a good era, and his actions with Native American resettlement alone should be reason enough to remove him from the currency.   

Alexander Hamilton is a great exemplar of American ideals.  He was born into poverty, a bastard child whose mother died when he was 13.  He taught himself most of the skills he would need, then on his own left his home in the West Indies for America.  When war came to his new home in America he volunteered for a New York militia company, and taught himself military tactics.  His unit called "the Hearts of Oak" stole artillery pieces while under effective fire from a British ship, and became an artillery battery afterwards.  Later when he became Washington's aid, he was treated like one of Washington's (many) surrogate sons.   

Hamilton might have ended his career there, a bright spot in the Revolution, yet, Alexander Hamilton became one of the most fundamental reasons America exists at all.  Without Hamilton, at the right place at the right time, the Constitution might not exist.  Hamilton and Madison were the chief architects for the compromises between the Virginia and New Jersey plans.  As if that weren't enough, he set up the national bank, and oversaw the assumption of the state's debt.  Yes, his personality was arrogant and often abrasive, even to people who were on his side, and he had a rather bad habit of sleeping with other people's wives.  All of the Founders had character flaws.  Their humanity makes them more compelling not less.  So why would we want to remove him from our currency?  

What of our society?  We spend so much time focusing on the surface details of a person.  Social Justice Warriors seem determined to put everyone in a box.  To prove that narrower and narrower classifications of people.  Your value is less and less about what you do, or what adversity you can overcome, and more about how you are "oppressed."  Notional chains seem to bind, and imaginary barbs lash out at people who seem to be in a constant state of hysteria.  The slightest wrong word will set them screaming crying wailing.  I'm all for reasonable accommodation but what happens when the accommodations become unreasonable?  

I can't possibly know what a person's desired pronoun is.  Hell I can't even tell when a person is anything other than the simple "male" and "female."  I also have to tell you as a medical professional even if you've had all the surgeries, and take all the hormones, it doesn't matter if you identify as the opposite sex, you are still at your core, whatever gender you started out as.  This is a truth.  It might be harsh, and I might seem uncaring.  The truth is quite the opposite.  I have the greatest sympathy for a person that feels like they are a woman trapped in a man's body or vice versa, but no amount of surgery or hormone therapy can change what you are. 

Race too seems to be a box that people want to be pigeon holed into.  How does your ancestry change you?  Do you experience discrimination because of your skin color, or because of how you project yourself?  I keep getting told to "check my privilege."  What privilege?  In what way do I have more privilege than another person?  I can't see it, or understand it.  I'll grant that there are racists out there, and I've run into them, I won't deny that there are people out there that will judge you based solely on your race.  But the important question is are these people isolated or part of a larger trend?  If they're isolated individuals, which I suspect, than you deal with the situations as it arises.  If not, if you truly believe that the problem is institutional, then you need to point towards more than outcome.  Correlation is not causation.  

I fear for my Republic.  Low information voters don't even know the basics of US history.  Our culture is under attack from all angles.  Our institutions are becoming bloated masses that seek more power than they need.  Whats worse is that the people who are losing their liberty are cheering them on.  Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of government they'd created in Philadelphia.  He responded "A Republic.  If you can keep it."  Like so many of the Founders he knew that every generation must maintain liberty.  That the successes of one generation do not automatically guarantee the success of the next.  This Republic will quickly fall to ruin if we do not take ownership and possession.  If we do nor remember why saying "I am an American" is a source of pride for so many, than we will soon fall into all our scattered boxes and bicker incessantly.  As Abraham Lincoln said "If distraction be our lot, than we ourselves must be its author."

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

After M*A*S*H

I have to admit that one of my favorite shows was M*A*S*H.  Even before I joined the army, I laughed, and at times, cried at the antics victories and defeats of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.  When Radar announced the death of Henry Blake, I cried.  When Major Frank "Ferret Face"Burns was mistaken for a dead body I laughed uproariously.  Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce had a way to reach into me and catalyze complex emotions that I couldn't explain.  

I wanted to be an Army doctor because of M*A*S*H.  Failing that, I became a medic, and let me tell you, they captured the essence of the US Army Medical Corps.  The antics, the drama, and the personalities of the 4077th, might as well have been ripped right from my experiences in the Army.  I've seen every single episode of M*A*S*H. 

What I was not expecting was to run across After M*A*S*H.  Someone posted the pilot episode to a debate board I occasionally haunt.  It was surprising.  I laughed, but there were a lot of issues that somehow seem ripped right from today.  Post Traumatic Stress, terrible VA managers, stickler administrators, even a Korean War Veteran that wanted to commit suicide.  Tell me what you think about it.  Personally I wish I could find a higher quality video, and I wish that the show had been given more than one season, but. . . if wishes were fishes. 

Tell me what you think.  Be on the lookout for Arliss Howard, the actor that played Private "Cowboy" Parker in Full Metal Jacket. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015


I wrote a little poem for the 4th of July, and I hope you all like it.


The craziest fireworks I ever did see,
were the ones that were aimed at me.

I was a young man in I-roc,
and let me tell you it was quite a shock,

There were all sorts of colors and sounds,
and I thought "holy shit those are live rounds!"

They came with a terrific fury,
and so bright left my sight blurry.

Orange tracers lept out to meet green,
hoping to silence the enemy unseen.

Rockets whistled and banged,
as we responded with mortars hanged.

Back and forth ranged the fireflies,
as I silently prayed nobody dies.

I worried for the safety of my nice butt,
as the explosions rang in my gut.

It was a long night that was for sure,
and afterwards I felt a little less pure.

see here's the thing I want you to know,
as you celebrate the rocket's red glow.

I don't want you to huff and sigh,
I want you to enjoy the 4th of July.

I might jump at the odd whistle or blast,
but I want you to enjoy those fireworks to the last.

I guess what I'm trying to say,
is happy Independence Day.