Random Firings of Neurons

The rest of your life is going to be spent getting back up after life has knocked you down again. You might as well just get used to it.

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Location: Round Rock, Texas, United States

Saturday, July 31, 2004

On strange coincidences

So, here I am, listenting to one of my favorite albums, and a song start playing that seems to say far better what I posted earlier about salvation, and the obstacles to it.

So, without out further ado, I will post the lyrics to this song, and you tell me, Jars of Clay says it better than I ever will.

It's not my problem anymore
You see it never really was
So you can stop 'caring' as you call it
and I'll be fine right here

You see that I can play a pretty convincing role
So I don't need you, I don't think I need you


But you see through my forever lies
And you are not believing
And I see in your forever eyes
That you are forever healing

You can't hear what I'm not saying
And I can hold out long enough
Treading water I keep from sinking
I'm not one for reaching

You see that I can play a pretty convincing role
So I don't need you, I don't think I need you


Deny myself, deny my heart
Deny your hand, deny your help
and you offer me eternity
but why should I buy that?

You see that I can play a pretty convincing role
So I don't need you, I don't think I need you

[Chorus x2]

I think I might start quoting Jars of Clay a little more often. They say most things better than I ever can, and do it in three part harmony, to boot. *sigh* I wish I was that talented. Oh, and buy their albums. You won't be sorry you did.

On making changes

Okay, peoples and people-type things. I have made some changes to my site, which have not yet become apparent. Once they do, I'll actually have the power to do some of the things I want to be able to do. Unfortunately, that will mean all previous comments will go bye-bye. I didn't have the patience to figure out how to bring them back, so I didn't even try.

This is all dependent on whether or not I made the changes correctly, of course. Which wouldn't be a safe assumption. So, let us find out together if the Humble Devildog is smart enough to follow intructions! 50-50 odds on whether or not he can...

On savage glee

It is with no small amount of joy that I link to this. I love it when bad things happen to bad people. I need to work on that, I know. But, for now, I'm just going to cackle evilly as I contemplate the humiliation he suffered!


On Salvation

About two weeks ago, over at The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller, I participated in a discussion on a rather horrific decision by a woman to abort two of her three children. As is usual, and as regular as clockwork, someone trotted out the "All of you who are opposed to abortion are just Bible-thumping Jesus Freak men" arguement. I will definitely admit guilt to the accusation of being a "Bible-thumper" and a "Jesus Freak" and a "men". But, "All of you"? Like I am the ONLY person who abhors abortions (ALL abortions, just in case you were wondering), or that no women are opposed! But anyway, some statements were made that I had to respond to. So I did. The first of my responses was :

Sin does not keep one out of Heaven. Well, it does, but EVERYONE would go to Hell, if God hadn't allowed Jesus to accept the sins of the world. So, whoever tells you that you are going to Hell because you are a sinner is also going to Hell, because they are a sinner, also. BUT, those who accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior (meaning they accept His sacrifice to wash away their sins) will NOT go to Hell, but rather to Heaven. That's it. Simple as that. No perfect life required. No radical pennance required. (although God may move someone to perform pennance for their sins, He doesn't require it in most cases) So, you have my blessings to apply a ClueBatâ„¢ to the skull of ANYONE who claims you are going to Hell for being a homosexual. You are going to Hell for not believing in Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

Now, I would love to claim credit for the thoughts that went into this little rant, but I can't. All I did was push some buttons while the Holy Spirit (God's ClueBatâ„¢, for those who don't know) told me what to write. Because this is almost the single most important part of the teachings of Jesus. We are ALL going to Hell, without God's Grace. None of us is pure, no, not one. We are all sinners, and to deny otherwise is to lie to ourselves, and to all within hearing. How hard of a concept is that for people to grasp?

Actually, I think it was revealed to me WHY many people don't like that concept. The Holy Spirit was kind enough to have me type this a little while later:

you have arbitrarily decided that anyone who has the gall to point out your sins is evil, even though you admit that you are a sinner. If you don't admit you are a sinner (and I mean in a more metaphorical, rather than Christian theology sense), then you are a liar. Which is usually a sin, by most moral codes. If you admit you are a sinner, why are you so upset about someone merely stating something you already know?

It seems that people don't like it when their guilt is exposed for all to see. No one likes to be accused of anything, EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW THEY ARE GUILTY OF IT! Admission of guilt is the most difficult part of accepting Jesus Christ as one's personal savior, because no-one wants to admit they are guilty. That little quirk has led to much of the hostility towards Christianity, even within Christian circles! You see it in the abortion arguement, you see it in the many schisms within Christian denominations, and you see it in courtrooms every day. No one wants to admit they are wrong, even when they know they are. They just don't want to be accused of anything.

In my (not-so-humble, don't let the name fool you!) opinion, the hardest thing about being a Christian is admission of guilt. Because many, if not most, people, would rather BE wrong than be told they were wrong! As a (not-so-perfect) Christian, I find myself asking for God's forgiveness for my sins on a rather frequent schedule. I should do it daily, but I don't. But I do it when I work up the nerve. Because God already knows I am guilty, so I am not telling Him anything He doesn't already know. I just don't want to say the words! And I am a person who has come to grips with what I am! How difficult can it be for someone who doesn't want to change what they are doing! Very difficult, it seems.

The reason it is so difficult for people to admit their guilt is that Humans are guilty by nature. It is only through outside intervention that Humans can approach something resembling innocence. Don't believe me? Watch television some night. Watch a reality show. You will see people at the start of that show mouth all the same lies as everyone else: "I am going to do this by being a good person, and I will show everyone how good of a person I really am!". But watch the show for a few weeks and, with VERY few exceptions, the people who were all Gung-Ho! about being good people are lying, cheating and backstabbing along with everyone else! What happened to their desire to be good people?

One example of that is Kelly Wigglesworth, from the first "Survivor!". When she reached the final two, she gave an impassioned speech about how she had just been herself the whole time, and the jury should respect her for being herself, which she thought was a decent person, the whole time. Well, after she took second place, several news stories revealed why she was playing that silly game, and who she really was. It seems that she and her boyfriend plead guilty to credit card fraud shortly after she didn't win enough money to pay off her credit card shenanigans. This was a woman who was trying to show America how "good" of a person she was. A theif. Think about that. During the show, she lied, she backstabbed, and manipulated everyone she could, to show America how good of a person a theif could be. Kelly, if you hadn't asked the jury to judge you as a person, you might have had a chance. Richard Hatch, the winner, pointed out to the jury that he had been honest, from the beginning, about what kind of rat-bastard he was going to be. And he won. The liar/theif didn't. Richard told the truth about his lying, his cheating, and his backstabbing, and he was forgiven for it, by his victims. Kelly lied, cheated, and backstabbed, (and stole) and then lied about lying, cheating, and backstabbing to the jury. THE JURY THAT SHE HAD LIED TO, CHEATED, AND BACKSTABBED! See any similarities in your life?

In my past, when I was a not-so-very-nice person, (actually, more of a stainless steel rat-bastard) I used to make my living off of people who were very proficient at lying to themselves. All I had to do was convince them that the part of them that was screaming "HE'S A LIAR! DON'T TRUST HIM!" was wrong, and I had it made. So, you could say that I have some experience with lying. The day that I decided I would stop letting people lie to me, because I knew the truth, was rather difficult for me. Because if I wasn't going to let anyone lie to me, did I count as an "anyone"? I finally figured out that I did, and was not happy with seeing the truth about myself. Now, this was before I became a Christian, but the hardest part of being a Christian was now accomplished by me. (well, not by me, but that's a different conversation) It was only a matter of time before I actually admitted my guilt to myself, rather than just no longer lie to myself. The day I admitted my guilt, to myself, was the day I found out what being a Christian meant. It was about three years later before I worked up the nerve to admit my guilt to God, but I did it. And now I do it at least three times a week. Rarely in church, though. I usually do it in my car.

I have learned to not trust people who will lie in any of three circumstances. Those circumstances are:

  • Lying to themselves. If a person can lie to the ONE person in the world who knows the truth, how much trouble are they going to have lying to me?
  • Lying to their spouse. If a person is going to lie to the one person they care about MORE than themselves, how much trouble are they going to have lying to me?
  • Lying to God. If a person can lie to God, who knows the truth, and can actually do something about it, how much can I trust them?

Which ones of those three have you done? And are you still doing them? If you are doing any of them, how do you expect forgiveness, when you won't even admit to the crime?

(exerpts taken with permission from The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller)

Friday, July 30, 2004

On apologies

I am going to apologize for some things I may or may not write in the next couple of days. I may or may not be writing things that are going to be rather harsh towards some people's beliefs and faiths. I say may or may not because I am not exactly sure what I am going to say in the next flurry of posts, but I have an idea.

You see, I found out some rather interesting news earlier this week, and it got me to thinking. (Never a good thing, for those who don't know me) It seems that I had a small part (very small, from what I can tell) in someone making one of the most momentous decisions that a person can make in their life. It might even be the single most important decision a person can make. So, I started to think, "What did I do? And can I do it again?" My answer could be curious to some, but not to me. It will make sense once I am done with my ranting. (which could be a while, I'm not sure how long it will take right now) Once I asked those questions of myself, it led to some rather inevitable soul searching, which led me to decide what I was going to be writing about for the next couple of days (at least!). It also led to me to start composing several posts, which led to me deciding that two or three posts wasn't enough, so I started to compose some more posts, which made me realize that two or three DAYS wasn't enough, which led me to compose some MORE posts, which led me to believe that two or three LIFETIMES may not be enough. But, I will try and do what I can to keep it concise (stop laughing!) and relevant.

Now, my apologies.

  • If you are a pagan, or a non-Christian, I am sorry for spending what you may feel is too much time on Christianity.
  • If you are a Catholic, I am sorry for some rather nasty comments about the Roman Catholic Church I am trying to talk myself out of posting.
  • If you are a Christian, and are offended by what I say about what Christianity means, and what I view God's plan for Humans to be, I am sorry. Please consult with the Big Ranger, or His Book, directly to confirm or deny my assertations.
If you haven't figured it out by now (because you are a troll), I am going to do a Christianity marathon. I took a "Call", and it is not a "Call" one can ignore. So, unlike Jonah, I am not going to ask that the Caller "Call" back when it is more convenient. If He thinks it is convenient now, then it is convenient now. End of story.

If the person who made that decision comes here, please, if you feel you can and/or must, please do comment, and reveal yourself. I am actually curious as to what impact anything I had to say actually had, if any. I trust that, if you come here, you will recognize yourself rather quickly, once the first post is up.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

On short posts

Since I have been taking naps on and off today, to recover from my recent illness, I have not had as much time to post as I would have liked. Tommorrow ain't looking so good either, since the girlfriend and I are doing the "dinner and a movie" bit in celebration of my birthday.

Saturday morning, though, I should have plenty to post, to make up for my lack of diligence in these past days.

I may also have a picture of me up in the next week or two, just so y'all can put a face to the ranting. I'll warn you, though. It won't be a pretty sight.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

On books

Since I have had my very first request for a topic, I feel it would not be fair of me to not discuss it.

The Red Falcon (long may he soar!) posited the notion that one can tell a lot about another person by what books they have on their bookshelves. I disagree with this slightly, as I have known people who had books on their shelves, just to appear intelligent, when in actuallity, they were no smarter than the average garden slug. (Some of the smarter slugs, on the other hand...) Also, my book shelves tend to stay at about the same density of books, due to my tendency to give lend books to others. So, my bookshelf is not really an indication of what I like to read, mainly because most of the books I like have been lent out to others.

But, I can say that I do have some favorite books that have managed to remain on my shelves for longer than a couple of months. One of them is The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, by James Hornfischer. It is the book that I pulled my previous reference to Cmdr. Ernest Evans from. If you have not yet read Last Stand, I implore you to do so. Especially if you are a Navy-type who needs some ammo to shut up them darned arrogant Marines. It would be safe to say that few naval engagements in history were fought as fiercely in a one-sided battle. While Cmdr. Evans was one of the only CMOH winners, the bravery exhibited by the sailors and airmen of Taffy-3 that day were easily the equal of the bravery exhibited by the Marines at Iwo Jima. And that, my friends, is not easy for a Marine to say. But it is true. Read the book, and judge for yourself.

Another favorite book of mine still on my shelf is Flags of our Fathers, by James Bradley. I would be remiss if I didn't include at least ONE book about Iwo Jima! What I found most interesting about the book, though, is that one of the flag-raisers, the only non-Marine in the photo, lived out the rest of his days in Appleton, Wisconsin, just a two-hour drive from where I live! To think, all those years, and I was just a short drive from one of the most famous non-famous people in American history. I was awed, and very proud, to find that Jack Bradley (the US Navy Corpsman at the base of the flag) had continued Wisconsin's fine tradition of serving Our Nation well, with accolades neither needed nor accepted. His son (the author) was driven to write the book after finding out not only did his father have a little more than a passing familiarity with the flag raising (the family knew he had some connection), but that Hospitalman Bradley also won the Navy Cross at Iwo Jima. In all the years that James had known his father, Jack Bradley had only once mentioned his time on Iwo Jima to the family, and that was only in a passing reference. Imagine what it would be like, after the death of your father, to find out that he was a decorated war hero, and one of the six men in the most replicated photo in history.

One of my favorite books that I always feel I have to defend is The Cartoon History of the Universe. It's a cartoon, so how good can it be, right? Or how serious? Let me tell you, while it is a decidedly leftist, anti-religious series, the history in it is quite good. It also helps that there is a laugh a page, at least. Larry Gonick, the author, has a gift for sight-gags that do not detract from his subject matter, but rather add to it. I only have the first three volumes of Cartoon History, but I am anxiously awaiting Volume Four, and later volumes.

I have many other books on my shelf that I would love to discuss, but those are the three that are most forward in my mind right now. I may discuss some of the others at a later date.

On joy and happiness

Yay! The first battle in the war against the Evil Sidebar of Doom is ours!

Now, how to figure out how to get pictures of me up there without owning either a scanner or a digital camera...If anyone know how to work THAT little bit of magic, I'd be much appreciative. Oh, and there aren't ANY pictures of me anywhere on the internet, or on anyone's computer, as far as I know. In fact, there aren't a lot of pictures of me ANYWHERE, as I am about as photogenic as a toad.

On Heroes

My heroes have rarely been the same as other peoples. Even when I was a so-far-left-I-leaned-when-I-walked idiotarian, I still had different heroes than all of my compatriots. My heroes have always been that rare group of men who have won the Medal of Honor, awarded by Congress. I have a subset of heroes who are the men who have won the Victoria's Cross, but I don't trot them out as much, since I'm not English. That group of men is even MORE inspiring, believe it or not. But that is a topic for another day.

I have seen some knuckleheads over at the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller who trot out Senator Kerry's three Purple Hearts and Silver Star as a testament to his worthiness in military matters. Those same knuckleheads will dismiss winners of the CMOH (I know, wrong acronym, but it's easier to type than the correct one) as undeserving of their medals, so unfit to judge Senator Kerry's military service. Maybe someone needs to explain just what it takes to be awarded a CMOH (I doubt any of the recipients of the CMOH would consider themselves to have "won" it, like it was a prize in carnival). Being awarded a CMOH is, literally, the highest honor this country can bestow upon an individual. Without question, every man who has received the CMOH (since the US Civil War) has done far more than this country had even a right to ask of them. And most of them paid a greater price than this country was prepared to ask.

Without getting into too many specifics, or details, the Medal of Honor, awarded by Congress is an award given to men (no women yet) who have performed their military duties "above and beyond the call of Duty, in the face of the enemy, at grave risk to life and/or limb". It is a telling statistic that only one out of three CMOH recipients survived the actions that resulted in the award. Think about that for a minute. Or two. Better yet, think about that for at least an hour. Take all the time you want. I'll still be here. I, personally, have spent most of my life thinking about what that little statistic meant. To add to that little stat, realize that less than 200 (I think it's less than 100, but I'll go with the higher number for now) men have been awarded that medal TWICE! No one has ever survived to receive it three times. Although, there are rumblings and grumblings that the Marines have had two people be reccommended for at least three, (Maj. Smedley Butler, and Col. Lewis Puller, who may have been reccommended for FOUR!) but that could just be the vaunted USMC PR machine at work. So, we'll pretend that that is not the case. For now. :) I have read some of the citations for CMOH awards, and, let me tell you, some of them will bring a tear to the eye of all but the most heartless of men.

During the Battle for Iwo Jima, a corpsman, whose name escapes me right now, was travelling with his platoon, when a Marine was hit by enemy fire. The corpsman rushed to do his Duty, and started to perform first aid on the Marine. While this corpsman was treating his patient, the corpsman was hit by enemy fire himself, in the leg. He continued to treat the Marine, and then crawled to his next patient. He was hit AGAIN, again in the leg, but continued to treat the wounded Marine. When he was done with that patient, he crawled to his next patient, where the corpsman was hit for a third time, this time in the head. He continued to treat his patient. While stabilizing his third patient of the fire-fight, with three serious wounds, all untreated, of his own, this corpsman expired of his wounds. His patients all survived. Tell me that that man did not deserve all the accolades we could heap upon him, plus some we aren't capable of. Try it. Please. See how quickly I lose my pleasant demeanor.

At another time during the Battle for Iwo Jima, another corpsman was treating a Marine who had been injured during one of the few enemy counter-attacks that occured. During this counter attack, the corpsman crawled over the ground (the Marines were all in their fighting holes, fox-holes to you dog-faces :) ) to the where the wounded Marine was. While performing first aid on the Marine, a grenade came into the fighting hole. The corpsman threw it back. Another grenade came in. He threw that one back, also. He repeated this exercise at least FIFTEEN times. The sixteenth detonated in his hand. His patient survived. The corpsman did not.

During the Naval Battle off Samar Island, Cmdr. Ernest Evans, captain of the USS Johnston, a destroyer, charged his vessel, with no support, against the main body of the Japanese fleet, which was comprised of four battleships, of which one was the Yamato, six heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and eleven destroyers. He launched his torpedoes, engaged the enemy with gunfire during his egress, and suffered terrible damage to his ship. When the other destroyers and destroyer-escorts of Taffy-3 (the Task Group that the Johnston was part of) finally formed up for an attack, they met the shell-ravaged Johnston steaming away from the Japanese fleet, it's mission done. Any observer, looking upon the destruction that had been heaped upon the Johnston, would have considered the Johnston's day to be done, if not her fighting career. Cmdr. Evans, on the other hand, had a different idea. His ship, while damaged, still had functioning guns. His ship was also a fighting ship. What good is a fighting ship that doesn't fight? So, Cmdr. Evans ordered the Johnston about, to provide gun-cover for the other ships of Taffy-3 to launch their torpedoes. The Johnston was hit many more times during it's second engagement with the Japanese battleships. The Johnston eventually sank, due to the damage it had received. When the survivors of the Johnston were awaiting pick-up, a Japanese ship steamed past the group of survivors, with it's crew lined up along the railings, to salute the men, the ship, and the captain of a worthy opponent, who fought with a fierceness and tenacity far greater than their size would have indicated. Cmdr. Evans was not among the survivors.

Now, I must admit, I have used three Navy examples, rather than examples from my Beloved Corps, to show that ALL recipients of the CMOH, regardless of their branch, or area of service, are deserving of any and all respect we can give them, plus some respect we are incapable of giving, due to our human failings. The men who have been fortunate enough to survive the experience of recieving the CMOH deserve our respect, and we owe it to them to listen to what they have to say. Even Senator Robert Kerrey, Democrat from Nebraska (is he still in the Senate? I haven't checked in a while). Even though I disagree with him politically, he still has my utmost respect, because he has proven that he is willing to lay down his life for this great nation, while I have not. I have never been placed in a situation where I would have had to find out if I was willing to, but that is irrelevant. Sen. Kerrey has, and proved he was willing.

Getting a Purple Heart, on the other hand, just shows that someone wasn't smart enough to duck. Or to not fire grenade launchers at rocks. Same thing. Getting three is an indication that the recipient may want to pursue a different line of work.

No offense intended towards those who actually EARNED their Purple Hearts, but it's the one medal I'm glad I don't have.

(BTW, I served with a CWO4 who had FOUR Purple Hearts, and FOUR South-East Asia Campaign ribbons. He is the one who told me about what getting a Purple Heart means. Of course, I also wasn't going to argue with his three Silver Stars. Gunner Thompson FORGOT more about being a Marine than I will ever know. I consider myself blessed to have even served in the same Company as him. Watching him go about the business of being a Weapons Platoon Commander taught me more about the Art of Warfare than all of the books I have ever read.)

So, if it's all the same to y'all, I'll take the words of the CMOH winners over the words of a self-promoting, self-aggrandizing, self-award-writing squid any day of the week. If the men who gave their country all they had to give don't like Senator Kerry, why should I?

On giving thanks, part II

To all who have sent help to me on how to defeat the Evil Sidebar of Doom, thank you. You have not yet seen results, simply because I have not yet released the Random Firing's Assault Squads to do battle. It will happen soon enough. With your instruction, and the fierce fighting ability of the Assault Squads, the Evil Sidebar of Doom doesn't stand a chance.

Now, if I can just find out how to get the Assault Squads to stop surfing the net, and actually perform their duties, I'll be in good shape.

On criticizing the military

Since I am sitting at home for the second day in a row, which I can't really afford, due to either a minor case of Food Borne Illness, or a rather nasty stomach flu, I guess I'm going to deluge y'all with some Random Firings of Neurons. So, sit back and observe what happens when I have too much free time on my hands. Just remember, people who live with me don't have the option of going to another page when I get started...

I have seen quite a few moonbats and LLL's question whether or not it is acceptable to criticize John F'ing Kerry on his military record, while giving President Bush (he's the president, whether y'all like it or not, please use his proper title. Laziness is no excuse for not granting the basic amount of respect that title is entitled to) a "free pass" on his military record. The question is not as easily answered as "yes" or "no". It actually goes a little deeper than that, and reveals a bit about the questioner and answerer that both may not realize, or just consider to be so obvious as to not merit mention. Which is why y'all are here. To get the long-winded answer to "yes" or "no" questions.

One of the things I have found to be prevalant amongst military personnel is a decidely "results oriented" outlook on life. If it worked, don't complain. If it didn't, don't do it again. This tends to be the result of training in an environment where a mistake can cost lives (many lives in some cases), and success or failure is rather easy to determine. In the combat arms of the military, your success or failure is determined by lines on a map. If you moved your colored line to where it was supposed to be, you succeeded. If your line didn't move to where it was supposed to, you failed. How much it cost to move that line, or not move that line, is totally irrelevant. Moving that line is all that matters.

During WWII, on the Pacific Front, Col. Lewis Puller was tasked with securing the right flank of the beachhead at Peleliu. There was a ridge seperating his landing site from the rest of the division's landing site. He needed to take that ridge to join the two landing sites, as that was part of his mission objectives for that day. He tasked a company to take that ridge. The company fought it's way to the top, suffering nearly 100% casualties along the way. What had started out as a company of about 200 men was reduced to 5 men at the top of the ridge. The Captain in charge of the company did what any mission-oriented commander would do: he radioed for support, as he did not have enough men to hold the territory he had just taken. Col. Puller said his response to the Captain was one of the worst commands he had ever had to give in his career. He told the Captain that there was no support available, and the Captain would have to hold that ground with whatever men he had at his disposal. The Captain replied "I do not have the men to properly secure this ground. We will hold this ridge at all costs". They held that ridge. Even though they were counter-attacked several times during the night. 5 men. Think about that. Their mission was a success. The cost, however high, was worth the success. Col. Puller's mission was a success, also, even thought he gained the distinction of being the ONLY Marine Regimental Commander to lose 75% of his command in one battle. The cost of that battle would haunt Col. Puller to the end of his days, both career wise, and personally. But, he was successful. He was later requested for the spearhead landing at Inchon, by Dug-Out Doug personally, because everyone knew he would succeed, no matter the cost.

Many (not all) people with non-military backgrounds are "cost-oriented". If something is too expensive, they don't buy it. If it is cheap, they will buy it, even if they may not need it. We see this complaint from the people who are pissing and moaning about the "high price" we have paid in Iraq. Let me tell you, the price we have paid in Iraq is cheap, compared to the price that was being paid while we didn't invade Iraq. The 1000 or so lives we have lost in the past year or so is an infinitesimal amount compared to how many we lost, JUST FROM ONE REGIMENT, in WWII. It also isn't all that high, when compared to how many US servicemen have died IN CAR ACCIDENTS in the past year. While I do not have the numbers handy, I would think that you would find that nearly as many servicemen have died in the US from car accidents as have died in Iraq from combat. So, we may actually be doing our servicemen (and women) a favor by sending them to Iraq. It just may be safer for them there than here.

Now, onto whether or not it is acceptable to criticize John F'ing Kerry, and not President Bush. John F'ing Kerry, by his own admission, failed in his duties. He committed war-crimes, and did not report war-crimes that he witnessed. If he was lying about those war-crimes, then he betrayed the military and it's members for personal gain. Which is as big of a failing as actually telling the truth about those crimes. President Bush, on the other hand, successfully completed his service, with no more mistakes than the average soldier. (BTW, fun trivia fact for the day, President Bush is the first US president to have served in the US Air Force) So, to the military mind, President Bush completed his mission successfully, no matter how insignificant it was, while Senator Kerry did not. THAT is why we criticize Senator Kerry, and not President Bush.

Besides, someone who writes himself up for three Purple Hearts, for wounds that most military personnel won't even mention to their medics/corpsmen, is rather worthy of scorn, for being a wimp. One should read the citations for other Purple Heart winners, and compare them to Senator Kerry's. It would be very instructive.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

On birthdays

Yes, it's my birthday. My real one, not my blog birthday. I have been entertaining guests (actually, only one) all night, so I haven't had a chance to post. Until now. But, I need to go to bed, so this is all y'all get for tonight's post.

Playing Diablo II on my network is a kick ass way of spending my birthday, though.

Monday, July 26, 2004

On honesty

People hate honesty. Really, they do. I can assure you, with as much experience as I have with being honest, most people would actually rather you weren't honest. In fact, most people will assume you are not being honest, unless it is their best interests to believe you are honest. This is irksome to me.

I used to be a habitual liar truth-challenged individual. Many years ago, I was strongly "encouraged" by my father to not be quite so truth-challenged. So, with my typical over-compensation, I became a very honest person. Not overnight, mind you, but I did it. Problem is, I became what is kindly refered to as "brutally honest". I will tell people what I am thinking without any thought put into what I am saying. I am aware that there are times when a little fib might be a better tactic than telling the truth, but in those situations, I usually opt for silence. Usually. Every now and then, I can't help myself, and I answer questions truthfully when I really shouldn't. (I would NOT reccommend it with the "Does this outfit make me look fat?" question. Trust.Me. It will not go well for you. You'll recover, eventually, but the bills will be with you for years.)

An area where people don't appreciate honesty is requests. Most people, when they ask for something, ask for it with an expectation of the request being granted. So, when the request is denied, their feelings get hurt, because they were taught that asking nicely automatically grants requests. When people hear requests, they automatically feel that they HAVE to grant the request, simply because it was requested politely. So, if the requestee does not want to grant the request, the requestee now has to come up with an iron-clad, stone-cold, lead-pipe lock of a reason for why they cannot grant the request. Which means they have to tell a lie, usually. Because "I don't want to" is generally not considered a valid reason by the requestor.

"What do you think of this?" is another area where people don't like honesty. The asker is generally fishing for compliments, rather than seeking an honest opinion. I wish I had learned THAT one at an earlier age! A gentleman I used to work with, when told "I need your opinion", responded with "Okay. You're ugly". Not neccessarily truthful in all circumstances, but it showed the fallacy of the question. The asker isn't asking for a truthful opinion, but rather an opinion that matches theirs. Honesty is not what is being asked for.

Since my Clinton-would-have-been-my-role-model days, I have learned that my response to the above situations is rather different.

When I make a request for assistance, I mentally prepare myself for the answer to be "no". I also try to assume the answer actually will be "no". It makes it easier for me when I do hear that "no". It also relieves the requestee from having to make up an excuse that I will be able to shred instantly. Because I am trying to honestly ask for assistance, with both possible answers being acceptable, most people don't know how to react. They look at me like I've grown a second head. It confuses them. The look on their faces when I walk away in the middle of their "explanation" of why they can't render assistance is rather priceless, though. They don't realize that I actually accepted the "no" at face value. Anything after the "no" is probably a lie.

When I am asked for assistance, I automatically assume that the other person is willing to hear "no". If they are not, it might be a good time for them to get used to the word. I do not deny requests frequently, but when I do, I expect that my "no" will be accepted as all the answer they need. If I say "no" just because I am in a bad mood, I don't feel I should have to make up a reason to say "no". I was the one who was asked. Let me be the one to determine whether or not I will do it.

Most people who have known me for long enough have learned to NOT ask my opinion, unless they really want to hear what it is. I won't make up an opinion just to please another person. I have enough problems with pleasing myself, I don't need another person to try and please. Both of us will just end up displeased.

If I ask another person's opinion, (which is frequently) I expect an honest opinion. I wouldn't ask unless I wanted another viewpoint. If the fact that I have an opinion on something isn't good enough for me, why should another person agreeing with me change that? I refuse to use another person to justify my opinions. My opinions, right or wrong, are mine, and should not be influenced by another person's. I will admit that I am a little skeptical of positive reinforcement of my opinions, because I always have to ask myself, "Are they just blowing smoke to make me feel good? Or do they honestly agree with me?" So, when I actually hear a positive opinion about me or anything I do, I usually take the "no-self-esteem" route, and probe and question until I am satisfied that the opinion is actually honest.

Now, after all this soul-baring, would I want the rest of the world to act the same way? Many times, I would like that. There are other times, though, when I think that maybe I am the weird one, and everyone else has it right. I'm not sure how I would react to someone who viewed honesty the same way that I do. Too much honesty can be a bad thing...it's usually not, but there are times when a little fibbing is just what the doctor ordered.

In my long-winded way, what I am saying is, if this site sucks, and you think I should do something differently, please tell me. I won't neccessarily enact the suggested changes, but I will consider them. Even from trolls. It may not be for long, but I will consider them.

That's not a carte blanche to criticize. It's a request for ideas.

If y'all want me to discuss something, or to delve into a topic with more depth, please, let me know. The "other topics discussed by requests" at the top of the site is not tongue-in-cheek. It's an honest statement about what will be discussed here.

On feelings of awe

I know it's early, but I am awed, AWED, I tell you, that I have almost 100 visitors in just about two days of posting. I had no idea that I would ever get my counter off of 10, once I figured out how to get the counter to ignore me. (It would be in the thousands already if it didn't ignore me!) To those who have run my site counter up, thank you! Even if many of you viewed and ran. To those who have actually visited on purpose, thank you again. I hope I won't dissappoint you.

On naming rights

I would like to take this time to discuss the actual meaning of the name of this blog, to maybe reveal to y'all what y'all are in for. Don't worry, I'll resume ranting shortly, but I think that maybe, just maybe, by explaining how this site was named, you might see what sort of conversations I like, and how I like to converse.

When I was married, my father-in-law and I used to have a barley-pop or 30 (not kidding, either), and start some conversations. Well, because I have a tendency to go off on tangents, he used to ask me "Does your story have a point? Or is this just another random firing of neurons?". I could never understand what he meant, since I didn't see how my story was a tangent. Well, from reading other blogs, I know understand.

I have a tendency to approach conversations in two ways, at the same time.

First, if I can think of a similar example to the one just presented, I will present my example, even if it only has no pertinence to the first example. I see similarities in just about everything, so I think my example is relevant, while the other person(s) views it as a needless tangent, or an attempt to change to topic.

Second, if I think that someone has just made an inaccurate statement, I tend to try and correct that inaccuracy, many times with the tenacity that made the Marine Corps famous, and lent them their nickname. I have always been that tenacious when pursuing inaccuracies, so the Marines did not instill it in me. They just encouraged it, and forged it, and refined it.

So, when I find someone spouting nonsense, I will brutally and ruthlessly hound that person until they submit and realize the errors of their ways. Or until they tell me to buzz off. Which is more common.

But, when I'm just conversing amongst friends, then they are subjected to the Random Firings of Neurons. And they still tell me to buzz off.

Y'all have been warned. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 25, 2004

On giving and recieving gifts

I hate presents. I hate recieving them, and I hate finding the right one to give. I have such different priorities than almost everyone I know (or am related to), that I can almost garauntee that any gift that has me in the procurement chain will be inappropriate for the recipient.

Take my favorite thing in the whole world, for instance. Books. I love books. I would rather turn a page than scroll down any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. I have a Bible concordance on CD for my computer, and I have misplaced it, and I haven't missed it in the least. Why? Because I would rather use the limited concordance in my KJV Bible than the one on my computer. It just seems more "right".

Now, for a book lover like myself, one would assume that books would be the perfect present for me on any occasion, right? Well, one would be half-right. I love books, but I hate getting them from other people. Because they almost ALWAYS get me a book, or books, that I have no interest in reading, or will hate just because of the subject matter. This is because I have very picky tastes when it comes to my reading material, and will not waste my rather limited time reading crap, or crap I know is just flat out wrong. I don't need to read what the "other side" is thinking, because I've been on the "other side". I don't need to read them in their own words to know they are idiots. I was an idiot when I was on their side, and I have seen no evidence to show me they aren't still idiots now.

What set me off on presents, and books as presents in particular? My birthday is in a couple of days, and my mother sent me two books as a present. Now, my mother and I haven't spoken to each other in just under a year, so I know my mother is sending me these two books as a way of communicating to me what she is thinking. But, she did so with two books she thought would hold my interest with the subject matter, while being just far enough away from my stances so as to try and show me where she was coming from. Her attempt failed miserably.

If she wanted me to see how much she had changed regarding her stances on religion, sending me a book on how a Roman Catholic priest, who felt the only sin was selfishness, changed a man's life would NOT be the way to do it. I don't like Roman Catholicism. I especially don't like the belief that "sin" is a metaphorical concept, and that the Bible isn't the final word on what is and isn't a sin. So, I have no interest in finding out how much this book changed her life, because I don't neccessarily see that it was a change for the better, if it was a change at all.

The other book she sent was almost as bad. Sending me a book on Marines will ALWAYS pique my interest, right up until I find out that the book is from an imbedded reporter from Iraqi Freedom who wants to show how a Recon platoon turned into ruthless killers during the first months of the war. It would come as no surprise to find out that Marines (and all combat arms personnel) are SUPPOSED to be ruthless killers during combat. Being ruthless drastically improves one's chances for survival in combat. He who hesitates is dead. Do I feel bad that civilians were killed? You bet your sweet bippy I do. Will I lose any sleep over it? Nope. Not one second. The reason is simple. If civilians don't want to get killed in a war-zone, DON'T LIVE IN A WAR ZONE!

A couple of years of inconvenience is a small price to pay for those couple of years spent on this side of the dirt. It may sound heartless and cruel, but this country has benefitted IMMENSELY from foreign civilians who wanted to get away from the war-torn hellhole they lived in, so moved here. When I was growing up, the low-income area I lived in had a huge number of Hmong, or Montangard, refugees. Were they living in near-squalor? Sure. Were their lives uncomfortable? You bet. Were they alive? Yes. Many of those refugees I grew up with are now store owners, city council members, and property owners in my hometown. They wouldn't have been able to accomplish those thing if they hadn't left everything they owned to flee Viet Nam. If they could do it, why can't other civilians do it?

So, I hate getting books as presents. They are never books I want to read, simply because the gift giver either doesn't know my tastes well enough to get me the right ones, or has an agenda to fufill with the gifts. Which makes the agenda-books not worth much as gifts, right?

On arbitrary rules

I suppose I should take some time and lay down some of the rules I had in mind when I created this little window into my twisted psyche. Blogsite rules are always tricky, because they are usually not posted, and if they are, they usually aren't enforced strictly. Well, let me tell you, all of my rules are completely arbitrary, and may be ignored or enforced at my whim. They may even be enforced differently for people I like or dislike. Heck, I may even be in a bad mood someday, and start enforcing rules that I make up on the spot! Just so y'all know.

Rule the First: Profanity, while not completely verboten, is frowned upon here. I was a Marine, so I can use language that would make a longshoreman blush when I get my dander up. But I don't like to do so, so I would ask that visitors please observe the "Profanity is strongly discouraged" signs posted at the entrances and throughout the meeting area.

Rule the Second: Thread hijacking is STRICTLY forbidden. Threads that morph into another topic altogether are not, however. I find that conversations that are not bound by strict limits on what is discussed to be the most fascinating. But, I find people who just change the subject, just because they don't like it, or can't contribute to it, to be very rude. Don't be rude. It makes me irate. And then I will be forced to violate Rule the First. Right before I delete your comments.

Rule the Third: No one has any rights here, other than the most basic. Threats, promises to beat up, statements made concerning possible shortening of life-span due to outside intervention, and posting of relevant personal information NOT THE POSTER'S OWN, will be dealt with. Harshly. And not just with a simple delete command. All legal recourses will be pursued. I don't like that shitstuff, and will do all I can to prevent it, and to punish those who do it. On the other hand, no one has any rights to post here. Except me. If you are deleted, don't complain about how I violated your rights. You have a right to say what you want. You do not have a right to make me listen to it, or read it. So, be warned, all you little trolls. I have very little patience with idiots. Try me in this, and see if I do not deliver.

Rule the Fourth: Trolls are NOT to be fed. Moonbats should be handled with extreme caution. LLL's should be directed to the nearest cliff. Healthy disagreement is acceptable, or even to be expected (except when you are disagreeing with me. What could you possibly be thinking?!), but just outright moonbat-tery is tiresome. If I have heard an arguement from three other sources, or from the New York Times, it will be ignored, and possibly deleted. My time is too valuable to waste shooting down yet another idiotic circular arguement from yet another nincompoop. (I am assuming everyone else's time is a little less valuable, because they are spending some of that time here!)

Rule the Fifth: Please keep all comments jargon-free. I am a Plain Language Pragmatist, so I view any arguement made with fancy, field-specific, terms to not be worth my time to understand. If you can't say it in plain English (only because that's the only language I remember these days), don't say it. It does your arguement no good to only be understandable to yourself and the three or four other PNG's in the world who knew the meanings of the terms you used. Military-speak is an exception. I am not as fluent in it as I used to be, but I still understand it, and can speak it well enough to pass for a native these days.

Rule the Sixth: If you have questions, ask. If you are here to learn, learn. If you are here to be a pest, pest someplace else. I believe that ignorance is curable, but only by the sufferer. Trying to educate someone is an exercise in futility. The only person who can educate you is YOU. So, don't try to change my mind with vehement argueing, or nasty comments. It won't work. If you want to change my mind (good luck! you'll need it), do it with evidence and reason. If you want to link to something, go ahead. If you want to reference a dead tree (actually preferable to me), go ahead. (If you want to reference The Onion as a news-source, don't. I've been reading The Onion since LONG before you even knew it existed. I was suspended for two days in high school, almost 18 years ago, for distributing The Onion.) Just don't expect me to be impressed with your research skills. I do not need evidence to prove what I already know. I won't post many links to prove my point, simply because I tend to view my stances as self-evident.

Rule the Seventh: I have a very dim view of the Roman Catholic Church. I will try and keep my nasty comments about the Roman Catholic Church to myself, but if I can't, or just don't feel like it that day, I won't. Just remember my animosity is toward the Roman Catholic heirarchy, not the laiety. I do not think it is the laiety's fault that they are being lied to by the Pope and his minions.

Rule the Eighth: I like Islam even less than the Roman Catholic Church. If I make a nice comment towards Islam, rest assured it was unintentional.

Rule the Ninth: All rules are subject to change without notice, or warning, or even expectation that the change isn't just being applied for one event. Live with it. Or go someplace else.

That concludes our training session for the day. Please, do not hesitate to ask the crew for any assistance you may or may not need during your stay. Thank you for flying the not-so-Friendly Bandwidth.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

On traditions

Tradition. What an interesting concept. In my Marine Corps days, tradition was everything. Many things are still done in my beloved Corps, simply because that's the tradition. When my Corps put name-tags on their uniforms, part of me felt like I had died. We were proud to not have lost-and-found tags. We didn't need them. Besides, it was Tradition. Our officers KNEW our names. They didn't need to be reminded. To this day, I still say "head", rather than "bathroom". Or "bulkhead", rather than "wall". Why? Tradition.

On the other hand, when I was a manager, I hated tradition. Our restaurant chain had always had a tradition of scheduling drivers from the store, and managers from the home office. I hated that tradition. But it was the Tradition of the company, started way back when, when the owner started the company. He got that idea from the company he had previously worked for. So, he continued it. Simply because it was tradition he was used to. Of course, the owner ran his company into the ground, after 30 years of successful business, so I may have been right on that one.

Why am I so concerned with tradition? Simple. Random Firings HAS no traditions. So, I'm going to start some. Sundays, henceforth, shall be forever (or at least until I get tired of it) be Christian Living discussion day. I know I'm not the first, nor will I be the last, to set aside Sunday to talk about Christianity and what it means, but I hope that I am one of the only to do it without leaning on Bible quotations as a crutch. That's right. I will avoid any direct quotations of Scripture.

Why? Because I don't want anyone to take my word for it. I want them to look it up for themselves. One of the problems that Christianity has faced over the last 1900 years or so is the 'faithful' taking someone else's word for it, when it came to their salvation. This led to some rather egregious abuses by the Church. The Inquistion would be a rather obvious example. It was started to root out Jews who might not have truly converted to Catholicism when the King and Queen ordered them to. Why? Because King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella had taken the Church's word for it that the Jews were responsible for the Crucifixion of Jesus. (If those names sound familiar, they should. Isabellla and Ferndinand financed Christopher Columbus's first voyage to the New World) So, because a King and Queen had taken a Church's word for it, several thousand people were tortured and killed. For no reason. The Jews who didn't convert fled to Almohad-held Spain, leaving all their possessions behind. (the choice they were given was "convert to Christianity, or leave and leave your possessions behind") The Muslim Almohads let the Jews practice their religion in peace, and Catholic Spain suffered one of the worst brain-drains a country has ever experienced. The Almohad Caliph (whose name escapes me at this time) said "I should thank the Spanish King and Queen. Their policies towards the Jews have enriched my country greatly." That may not be an exact quote, but it was close. So, because a King and Queen took a Church's word for it, they set themselves back, knowledge-wise, by at least 20 years. If not a century.

Although, because of the seizure of assets policies of the forced conversion AND the Inquisition, Catholic Spain did enlarge it's coffers greatly, allowing them to fund Mr. Columbus's voyage, and many others. It also allowed them to build a navy rivalling that of England. So, it wasn't a total loss for Spain. But look at where Spain is at, now. Might the results have been better if they hadn't taken the Church's word for it?

On giving thanks where thanks are deserved

"Thank You"s are a funny thing. When someone says "thank you", our culture has a tradition of the recipient of the "thank you" demurely begging the thanks off, saying "oh, it was nothing". I am as guilty of it as anyone. But, isn't it the right of the giver of thanks to determine whether the activity generating the thanks was "nothing" or "something"? I believe that it is. So, I will not accept ANY "it was nothing"s from the people who are deserving of my thanks in these past couple of months. They have done me a GREAT service by just being who they were, and doing nothing more than keeping me company through some very tough times. I know they don't know what they did, and I also haven't felt that I should burden them with the full impact of what their actions have done. But, they are deserving of thanks, none-the-less.

So, in no particular order, and with apologies for not mentioning everyone who deserves them (I don't always remember everyone I should thank), I now give some thank you's to the following people:

  • Mr. Minority
  • Emperor Darth Misha I
  • Steve KotE
  • the_redfalcon
  • Joseph Dromedary
  • Elephant Man
  • Brian, WotaP (although I should remove the thanks for those terrible puns of yours)
  • and all of the other citizens of the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller, whether I named you or not. Even the trolls have performed a service worthy of thanks, by being so stupid, and morally bankrupt, so as to make me look like a saint in comparison.
The people I have named stick out in my head for kind words, or timely comments, that have bolstered my flagging spirits in some VERY trying times for me. The ones that I haven't named have just been good company. Both groups are equally deserving of thanks, and I hope they realize that just being who they are is all I have ever needed from them. And that was enough to deserve the thanks.

On the nature of respect

Respect is a funny thing. You are either getting it, or you are not. You are either giving it, or you are not. There is no middle ground.

Take the typical television sit-com family. The father is a bumbling fool, and the mother is just barely holding on to her sense of sanity amidst the chaos that running a family, holding a job, and cleaning up after her husband can cause. The father is portrayed as an idiot who only remembers his name because his wife keeps yelling it at him every twenty minutes. The father also has to deal with children who only tolerate his presence, as if they cannot understand why their mother ever saw fit to marry that buffoon. He also has to deal with a mother-in-law who constantly tell him that their daughter should have done better. His father-in-law gives him knowing looks, because he knows what the father is going through, because he went through it himself. The neighbors are in the same boat.

Now, what is missing from this situation? Respect. That's what is missing.

These shows do not show a wife treating a husband with respect. Nor do they show a husband treating his wife with respect, or the children treating anyone other than their mother with respect. Why is this? And why do we even care? And what does respect look like, if television shows won't show it to us?

What does respect look like? It looks like the wife not nagging her husband about everything he has done in that day. It looks like the wife actually consulting her husband on family matters, rather than issuing decrees from on high. It also looks like the husband doing what is in the best interests of his family, rather than what is in HIS best interests for entertainment. It looks like the children, while not agreeing with their parents, actually doing what they are told to do, rather than doing what they want to do, or just asking the other parent to get permission for something the first parent has denied. There are many other ways we could see respect, but these glaring examples will do for now.

Why do we care? Simple. Because these shows are just one way the everyday people form their ideas of how to treat others. Find me someone who treats their family with respect, and I will bet you that they are VERY picky about what shows are on their television at any time.

Now, the tricky question. Why do these shows reveal this type of family to us? The obvious answer is "for laughs". But, I think it goes a little deeper than that. I think that many of the writers of these shows are unhappy with how their childhood went, or how their marriages went, and are putting them out for the world to see. Problem is, by only showing how BAD a family can be, they don't show how good a family SHOULD be. So, while they are trying to get laughs from their earlier pain, they are unwittingly perpetuating those situations for future generations. No one wants to think that they are different from anyone else, so, if these writers had such bad family lives, then every one must have had bad family lives. These shows are an unconscious attempt to change everyone else's family lives to the same miserable state that the writers experienced. And I believe that is wrong, and a very bad trend for America.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Well, I took the plunge...

That's right, boys and girls, the Humble Devildog has started his own little rant-fest. I am barely computer literate, and I can't promise I will have something relevant to say every day, so this won't be the most polished site out there. Nor may it even be all that interesting to anyone other than myself. But here it is. My little baby. Please, make yourself at home! And please don't encourage the host. He's got enough problems with ego without y'all adding to it.

Semper Fidelis: Always Faithful, to God, Corps and Country